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:

Progress! Now Ask For More

We had two days of amazing meetings. We all met to discuss and find voice actors for the Jesus Film that is almost ready for recording in Matumbi as well as the Luke text in Matumbi that is almost ready to print! It was very encouraging to see the progress being made. God’s timing is so good! We are now planning a discipleship making movement training to happen here in our village in November to encourage and equip Matumbi believers. We will share more details about this in the near future but for this week please be praying for all the logistics of this training to come together and for God to raise up these Matumbi believers to be disciple makers who will catalyze a movement that will spread through the Matumbi hills and beyond.

For The First Time*

Please be praying for a team of translators for the next two days. They’ve completed a draft of the book of Luke in the Matumbi language and have asked us to gather friends to read thru it together. They are also recruiting voices for the Jesus film. Praise God that these discipleship tools will be available soon. Matumbi people will be able to read the Word in their own language for the first time! Some friends we’ve invited are believers. Please pray for protection over our meetings, unity among all the believers and good understanding between working in 3 languages. The others we’ve invited to these meetings are seekers. Pray that even in these meetings, God’s word would move with power as He makes Himself known here. Pray that in these two days we would be walking in the Spirit and in His plans for our time. Pray that the Lord would raise up Matumbi disciple-makers that would catalyze a movement throughout the Matumbi Hills and beyond.

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