The Matumbi of Tanzania

Population: 183,000

Location and Background: South Eastern Tanzania.The Matumbu live on the South-eastern coastal delta area between the Rufuji River and Kilwa and from the Indian Ocean to the Matumbi Hills.

History: The Matumbi believe they have been in their present area for about 700-800 years. Before that they reportedly made their way northeast from what is now Malawi. They came under the influence of Muslim traders and many converted to Islam. German colonists arrived in Tanganyika in 1885, and forced many to be slaves. In 1905-1906 the Matumbi staged a major rebellion against the German colonial rulers, called the Maji-Mai Rebellion. The Germans eventually put down the rebellion in 1907, at a great loss of life among the African tribal peoples. After the Germans lost World War I, the British colonized Tanzania. With the coming of independence, the first President, Julius Nyerere, strongly emphasized that Tanzania was a unified country. All peoples were to learn and speak Kiswahili with the use of tribal languages discouraged and today, Kiswahili is widely spoken among the Matumbi people.

Culture: They are of Bantu origin, closely related to the Ndengereko and Rufiji. They are described as having an independent spirit and are proud and honest. Many Matumbi are forest dwellers. They use herbal remedies and have knowledge of about 200 medicinal native plants. Most Matumbi people live in small villages, doing subsistence farming and agriculture. Some are fishermen along the Rufiji River. Others own small shops along the main highway. Most build huts of pole and stick frame with mud wattle for the walls. Roofs are made of thatched palm leaf. If finances permit, some will plaster the inside and outside of the house walls with cement and put in a cement floor. The Matumbi Caves in the Matumbi Hills were an important hideaway for local rebel troops during the Maji Maji revolution. The most impressive cave, Nangoma, is revered locally for housing an important deity, and its name probably derives from the Swahili ngoma – dance – suggesting a history of use for ritual celebrations and worship. Matumbi children are expected to attend government primary schools, located in major villages.

Religion: Islam and Folk Islam. Ancestor worship, Islam, spiritism and superstition are all part of present-day Matumbi culture and religion.

Ask the Lord to lift the veil from the eyes of the Matumbi, that they could proclaim, “And we have seen and testify that the Father sent His Son to be the Savior of the world.” (1 John 4:14)

Latest Prayer Updates:

Story Project

We are in the testing phase of our stories. Last month I was able to meet with groups in 3 different locations and get feedback for our stories. A highlight for me was being able to travel to one of the villages with two ladies who I’ve invested in much this last year and hearing them explain the stories to the group we met with. Many people loved listening to the stories and expressed interest in knowing more about the Word of God saying, “These stories are important!” and “We need to listen to them again to really learn them!” In November we are hoping to have the stories available on memory cards so that people can do just that! Pray for us as we make the changes we need and final recordings over the next two months. May God’s Word move with power among the Matumbi people!

God is building His church

God is at work and continues to draw people to Himself. We are praising God that the groups of believers have continued to meet despite the various challenges they face and that there has been some recent growth. The group Masi is leading in the village where he was poisoned has a new person that has joined in the last couple weeks! This is also the village that had no known believers before this group was started.

Please continue to pray for these groups to continue to grow in their understanding of who Jesus is and what He has done for them. Please pray for their protection, especially for those who are leading.

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