The Earliest Attempt To Found the Church: Portuguese Friars:
Although very little is known about the presence of the Catholic Church in Zanzibar during the 200 years between 1500 and 1700 when the Portuguese were on the east coast of Africa, there is some evidence of its presence. A small chapel at Mambo Mzige, used by the Augustinian Friars and later by the Capuchins and for seven years by the Spiritan missionaries until they could build, is incorporated in the Old Fort. which was built by the Portuguese in Zanzibar Town and still stands today. There is also the Swahili word "gereze", meaning "prison", which has its roots in the Portuguese word "igreja". meaning "church", but we don't have a record of how the two words became related.
Was a church turned into a prison?
Reference is made in John Baur's 2000 YEARS OF CHRISTIANITY IN AFRICA to an Augustinian Friar in Zanzibar who "enjoyed the friendship of the Sultan". Augustinian archives refer to Zanzibar as "the most fruitful mission centre". East Africans associated these Friars with service to the Portuguese traders and military personnel. Whatever else their activities might have been, all came to an abrupt end when Sultan . responding to a call from the people of tacked Zanzibar in 1650, killing many of the foreigners, including Augustinian Friars.
The Second Attempt: Capuchins
In 1857 the Vicar Apostolic to the Gallas. Guglielimo Maasaja. sent two Capuchins to re- establish the Church in East Africa. The first to come to Zanzibar was Gabriele da Rivalta. However, da Rivalta aroused the suspicions of Sultan Majid by his questions about the mainland and had to leave soon after when the Sultan withdrew his "Letters of Introduction" to local chiefs on the mainland even though the Letters had already been given. He was followed by Leon des Avanches. who, it seems, did some research on pastoral possibilities because in March 1858 he suggested to Propaganda Fide that Zanzibar could be a starting point for missionary work in East Africa.
Later in that same year. Des Avanches also had to leave as a result of a political incident in which the Sultan of Oman was trying to maintain his independence of the vying powers of France and England. In 1822 Britain had obtained a treaty with Sultan Sayyid Said which banned the sale of slaves to India and the French islands in the Indian Ocean. French traders nevertheless continued to get slaves for their sugar and coffee estates. In 1848 slavery was abolished in all French colonies. The islands continued to bring in slaves as "contract workers". When Des Avanches, in May 1858. bought a slave girl in the market in Zanzibar, he was accompanied by an American named Greer captain of a ship from Reunion. He baptized the girl and gave her to the wife of a slave dealer who intended to send the girl to Greer's sister. Des Avanches was accused of violating anti-slavery treaties. His passport and consular protection were withdrawn.
The Third Attempt: Spiritan Missionaries
While Reunion had been the catalyst of the trouble in 1858 it now became the starting point of the Church in East Africa. The Bishop. Armand Maupoint of St.Denis/Reunion, wanted to open a mission station on Zanzibar. The Governor Baron Darracan, seeing this as a way to solve the labour problem by covering recruitment of East Africans with the cloak of religion promised his support. But when Msgr. Armand-Joseph Fava. a Spiritan and Vicar General of Bishop Maupoint came to Zanzibar in 1860 he was greeted warmly by Sultan Majid who was being accused by the Arabs of destroying the economy by signing the treaties abolishing slavery. From the very beginning. Msgr. Fava had a vision of what the mission should be. His plan was to emphasize agricultural and industrial work and his explanation of the plan raised expectations of workshops and trained craftsmen. This attracted the Sultan who then gave his full support to Msgr. Fava.
The Church Planted in Zanzibar:
Having made the necessary preparations, Msgr. Fava went back to Reunion and then returned on 22nd December with two priests, a French Navy surgeon, three craftsmen, and six Sisters of the Congregation "Daughters of Mary". In a small place named Gulioni there was a spacious residence that had been built in 1864 by a brother of the Sultan. Said-abd-el-Houab. He had often entertained Europeans, among them the famous Livingston who stayed there while preparing for his last great exploration. The Sultan was very fond of the Spiritan Congregation and Fr. Bauer was often his guest.
After the Sultan's death, the property passed to a rich Indian, Taria Topan. and continued to be used as a health spa and resort. It then fell into disuse and because the house and surroundings lent themselves so well to the purpose Msgr. Fava had in mind. he signed a seven-year lease for it on May 16, 1884. Alterations to prepare for its use as a hospital took until the end of July and on August 2nd 1884, the feast of Notre-Dame des Anges, it was blessed by Msgr. Courmont and given the name Our Lady of the Angels.
A statue of The Virgin was placed in the chapel by seven ladies under the title "Our Lady of Zanzibar". The archives note that "...on the 1st of May 1885 the number of persons who had come to be attended, amounted to two thousand one hundred and ninety-six."
To win acceptance of the people, the missionaries began with social services in a dispensary and in hospitals. The Sisters visited the sick. Workshops were set up. Because Msgr. Fava had refused the recruitment of ex-slaves for Reunion, he won the trust of all parties. By not seeking at that time to expand the Church into the interior, he also gained the confidence of the Sultan. The Arabs seemed friendly and the Sultan paid frequent visits to the mission. Britain proposed a joint guarantee of territorial integrity of the dominion of the Sultan and a treaty was signed in Paris in March 1862.
Spiritan Activity Spreads:
In 1860 when the Congregation of the Holy Ghost took the mission over from the jurisdiction exercised in Reunion, they followed the plans of Msgr. Fava to ransom slaves, educate them, and convert them to Christianity. Allowed to buy land. they purchased a very large building from an Arab landlord and slave trader who had many wives. Many cubicles in the building were used to keep slaves waiting until the monsoon winds would bring the ships. Among the cubicles there is also a prison where the slaves were chained if they tried to escape. Since the missionaries bought slaves in order to give them their freedom and advance their human dignity, the Church was therefore associated with slave traders. Because of that confusion in understanding, the Catholic Church preferred that this old building not he considered an historical monument. Nevertheless, the historical signs of their activity are present as they are in the Anglican Church. The latter, which was built earlier and turned into an auction market of slaves, stands close by in Zanzibar City and is a well known historical monument to this period of slave trade.
St Joseph's Cathedral:
Construction of the Cathedral Church was begun in 1867 but was stopped when they became aware that the site was a Muslim grave yard. There is no record of when the construction was resumed but the first official Mass was offered in the new building in 1897. Still the only Catholic Church in the Town, it was very much respected by the Sultan for the work that was being done.
The Church Reaches Out:
The Spiritan archives have a paper on Our Lady of the Angels Hospital written by Msgr. De Courmont. a Spiritan who was Vicar Apostolic of Zanzibar. He notes that the population of Zanzibar was growing and that it was composed not only of Arab conquerors and the black slaves but also of people from Madagascar, India, commercial cities of the Parsis, and those who continued to come from Europe. "The population ... reached about 40.000..., i.e. half the total amount of Zanzibar inhabitants." Since some few were Christians, a way was opened for a mission at Mahonda. 36 kms. from town.
Setting Foot in Pemba:
An interesting account of the early mission is found in the Diary of St. Patrick's Blackrock - Dongoni - Pemba. With the legal status of slavery having been abolished in the Islands, there were two missions started almost simultaneously on Pemba. One was by the Quakers, the other by the Universities Mission. It was believed that nothing had been done on Pemba and this was true while slavery existed. With the changed situation. Christians began to think of the spiritual freedom of these freed slaves.
Fr. Schmidt, a Spiritan and member of the oldest missionary society in East Africa, did not want to be left out of the work to be done in Pemba. Consequently, he wrote to Dr. O'Sullivan, British Vice-Consul at Chake-Chake in Pemba to ask about the particulars of the situation and whether the Spiritan mission had any chance of success if they were to settle in Pemba. Although Dr. O'Sullivan's answer was rather discouraging. Fr. Schmidt decided to pay a visit there himself at the end of May 1897. Fr. Schmidt was well received and the following Sunday offered Mass at Dr. O'Sullivan's house, very probably the first on Pemba Island since it is doubtful that a Portuguese priest had ever gone there.
There were two or three shambas (land property) for sale and Fr. Schmidt fixed his eye on one located on the south side of Chake-Chake Bay. Known as Dongoni, it comprised about 300 acres along with Junvini. On it was a plantation of 800 to 1,000 clove trees and another of as many coconut trees. There was also a small stone house with three rooms. Fr. Schmidt had no authority for buying any land. but on the other hand the Quakers intended to contract for this very same property. So Fr. Schmidt induced his companion, Dr. Spurrier, to make the contract in his name, being almost certain that he would be approved at Zanzibar. Shortly afterward. Bishop Allgeyer arrived at Zanzibar and he did not hesitate for a moment to accept the shamba under such favorable conditions.
For a year and a half Dongoni was left with only an overseer. So much was earned from the shamba that the mission incurred no expense. Then in October 1898 Bishop Allgeyer charged Fr. Schmidt with opening a station at Dongoni. He left for Dongoni from Zanzibar on 12th December with three young families and two mission boys. They arrived on the 14th but found to their dismay that the chalice had been left in Zanzibar. They could only hope that they might have Mass for Christmas.
The next thing to do was to make the old house at Dongoni habitable. Fr. Schmidt took possession of one of the two rooms that were in good condition. The third room was occupied by keeper of the cloves. A mud house with three spaces was used to serve as a kitchen and store rooms. A second mud house about 300 yards distant was given to the young Christians. With an abundant harvest of cloves expected, the next immediate need was for a boat and a donkey.
On the 18th the people living on the shamba were invited to appear at the mission. They numbered 45 to 50. All were liberated slaves and had been put there by Mr. Jarler. the Sultan's commissioner at Pemba. Fr. Schmidt explained to them the object of his coming, that it was for their spiritual good. All promised to attend his instruction and they became faithful Christians. On the eve of Christmas a messenger arrived from town with the hoped for chalice. All Christians would attend. It was a festive day for the new mission which Bishop Allgeyer chose to name St. Patrick's Blackrock.
In January 1898 Br. Martial, who had received his obedience for Pemba arrived there. He installed himself in the little chapel until a new room could be completed. Although nothing could be planted because there had been no rain for a considerable length of time, he began clearing out a space where he intended to have a garden. The people of the shamba were principally occupied with cleaning the clove plantations and preparing the ground for new plantations. With the arrival of a dhow from Zanzibar on the 20th of February, bringing timber planks and windows. Br. Martial undertook the work of construction. It was a slow process since they had only one mason. However, on this big peninsula the Fathers' House (a one-storey building) was still erect until the roof was removed and the house collapsed in 1988. The foundations of the Chapel and other buildings are left. So, too, are some coconut trees, cashew, and mango but little trace of cloves.
Ministering from Dongoni:
Across the water, in Chake Chake. there was a small Chapel, St. Francis Xavier. Some 3 or 4 Goans, British government officials, the representative of the Universities' Mission, and the Quakers also lived in the area. All were favorably disposed to the mission and Fr. Schmidt was an invited guest on all sides.
A larger community of Goans had settled at Wete in the north of the island where they had a Chapel constructed in 1897 and dedicated to The Immaculate Heart of Mary.
While giving service at the Peninsula and at Chake Chake, the Spiritans found that a Chapel was needed at Mkoani, the port town. Some few Goans lived there also. Land was acquired for this purpose from the British Government but this Chapel. St Theresa of the Child Jesus, has been closed now for 25 years.
The Goan community, staunch in the faith introduced to them by the Portuguese missionaries to India, remain a strong part of the Church today although their numbers have decreased constantly since the time of the revolution when their properties were seized and many were killed..
The Missionaries Move Inland:
When the Holy Ghost missionaries moved the short distance across the water to Bagamoyo on the mainland in 1868. the center of missionary activity moved also. Only vestiges of that early attempt are still visible but Christianity remained up to the present.
The One Hundred Year Interim:
While not isolated, yet the geographical position of the islands that make up Zanzibar largely accounts for its very slow response to a changing world. A still stronger factor lies in the strong religious motives of the Muslim people. Germans before World War I and the British until Independence in 1962 did not have much influence on the life of Zanzibaris.The Church merely maintained its presence, coming under the Prefecture of Kilimanjaro, later under Mombasa. and then under the Archdiocese of Dar-es-Salaam with a Vicar here on the island. In 1963. it came under the Diocese of Morogoro until 1980 when the Diocese was formed under Bishop Bernard Ngaviliau.CSSp. During this time the Church was tolerated in a culture that continues to be Arabic in nature and Islamic in religion.
Winds of Change:
All over Africa the indigenous peoples were becoming aware of the move for independence from the colonial powers in Europe: Belgium. Britain. France. Germany, and Portugal. They wanted to rule their own countries. Tanganyika gained its independence from Britain in 1961 and the next year so did Kenya. The change of rule affected the influence of the missionaries in every aspect of evangelization since they were identified with the foreign powers. Both were white and the Africans did not distinguish. To them the ministries of religion and government were the same and in fact, some missionaries were paid by colonial governments and served political interests.
The Emergence of Political Parties:
Political parties arose in the struggle for independence. In Zanzibar there were two. One was comprised chiefly of Arab land owners and people of business who had had the opportunity for education and were used to ruling under the British who maintained an indirect rule over the colonies and territories. Britain was ready to give the indigenous peoples independence hut did not prepare them for voting nor see them to have a good leader. They left the situation to resolve itself and the Arabs took over.
The second party was that of the Africans. Supported by other African countries, they would not accept the Arab rule again and revolted. The leaders were assassinated and Arabs were either killed or escaped to their home countries.
After independence. African countries became aware that they had to seek assistance if they were to become a State. This required both material and ideological assistance. Africans had always been ruled by Chiefs but now the people had to unite. Kenya. Tanzania, and Uganda formed the East African Community. Zanzibar, even after becoming part of the Union of Tanzania, could not exist without more help. Tanzania turned to the East - to the USSR and China - while Kenya and Uganda turned to the West. Tanzania chose the path of socialism.
In 1967 the government of Tanzania moved to provide free education, health care. housing, etc. Schools, health facilities, industry were nationalized. This policy of nationalization of church schools and dispensaries, which followed independence, severely hampered the works of education and health care. Without these services, the Church had no social influence, and these constitute the instruments of dialogue. Christians, being so few in number, felt the effects of this policy as the quality of these services deteriorated over the years. The Goan community, no longer having property or jobs, were harassed as an upper class. Many were killed. Since they held British passports, those who could migrated to Commonwealth countries, especially
Canada, and elsewhere.
Increase in the Christian Population:
Having taken responsibilities for all services, the government had also to supply those services to Africans. The cloves trade was emphasized, and in the late 1960's the government began importing casual laborers from the mainland for work in the coconut and cloves estates. They came in the thousands during the seasons when employment was needed. In the 1970 refugees from Mozambique (and from other countries who were on the mainland), also came to Zanzibar. Very likely the revolutionary government did not realize that most of those comimg would be Christians. Some refugees had in fact been in Zanzibar before and even assisted with the Zanzibar revolution. Many of these were given land by the new government. Many of those who came after the revolution in response to the call for work do not have land and they are the majority. These are the Christians.
Christians in a Foreign Setting:
While the general population increased greatly, the number of facilities for basic human services did not. As a result many children did not have the opportunity for even a primary education. Those few who did had to attend overcrowded classes. But class time was reduced in order to provide two sessions of school so that more could he accepted. Christianity-less tolerated as a religion, and lacking in education, many had great difficulty finding job opportunities.
A Church Limited to Sacramental Ministry:
The first revolutionary government did not allow the building of permanent church because it was intended that the migrant workers go back home. However, since Zanzibar had no choice but to seek protection by uniting with Tanganyika, the Islands adopted the national constitution which allows "freedom of religion" and hence the freedom of worship. Only two church buildings were recognized — the Anglican Cathedral and St. Joseph's Cathedral (Mina Mwili - the Two Towers Church) . Unable to provide educational and health services because of nationalization, and unable to proselytize because such activity would tarnish the relationship with the Muslims, the Church was reduced to sacramental ministry only.
Part II "Today's Church";
A New Situation:
The fall of the Berlin Wall greatly affected Tanzania. While the Socialist State owned the means of production, claiming to provide for the people, the people having positions in government in fact used their position for selfish interests rather than for the common good. By 1985 socialism was no longer viable. The economy had been destroyed. The common people had been abused and had become passive, even fatalistic. They had little power to work for their own well being. Tanzania and Zanzibar had to open their doors to the rest of the world. President Nyerere, the Father of the Nation, resigned and a new order came into being.
A Golden Time for the Church:
The recent policy of privatization and even more recent move for a multi-party system in politics has brought significant change to the Islands as also to the whole of Tanzania. The economy, which had stagnated under nationalization and worsened when the world market for cloves collapsed, is recovering. Having little in the way of natural resources and lacking industry, the struggle for income is now focused on the tourist trade. The newly signed agreement between two major political parties has given hope for a government truly concerned with the welfare of the people and the development of the State.
The Church could now establish relations with government and private persons, It could now be recognized as having a right in the country. This new sense of freedom enabled it to research the situation in which it found itself, observe the needs and look for ways to rebuild the society. In this changed environment, the Church has not only recognized its potential to assist in the work of rebuilding the society hut it has also benefited from the Government's realization that it needs the help of the private sector if it is to provide basic human services. In 1997, it called for private groups to assist by establishing schools and health facilities.
A New Response:
Responding to the opportunity, the Diocese decided to focus its resources on setting up Kindergartens in every Parish and Outstation and to provide health care and related services at their dispensaries. Committed to caring for the well being of all persons regardless of race, class, gender, or religion, all Church facilities are open to both Christians and Muslims. It is the conviction of Church personnel that in the mingling of these two groups they will come to know, understand, appreciate, and respect each other. In such an environment of good will. harmonious relationships will develop, bringing about justice and peace.
A surprising development occurred within the first year of implementing this Diocesan decision. Mothers of children in the kindergartens, most of them Muslim, and women attending the health facilities began coming together to discuss the welfare of their children. This quickly led to their sharing about family problems. Observing what was happening so naturally, the Church saw in this evolution the opportunity to advance the position of women by organizing a new program: WOMEN IN DEVELOPMENT AND DIALOGUE. This program was formalized and is now ready to begin the second phase of a three-year project in which women, Christian and Muslim, from both Islands are participating.
In its first year under a priest and a sister Director, 27 groups have been formed. Most are mixed groups of Christians and Muslims: a few are not mixed: one is unique in that it includes men. The program is implemented through regular seminars throughout tlie islands and follow-up supervision. Women on the African continent have a general role that places them in the heart of the family. It is the women who form the children, do everything for the family. Muslim women in the islands have the same role but other roles are more established and enforced by their religion. African women in general do not get to develop their inborn talents and are very limited in personal freedom. Some cultures do not allow them to arrange their own marriages. Subject to easy and numerous divorces, they must either care for their children by themselves or ask family members to bring them up. They are passive recipients rather that active agents of their own growth.
Recognition by the State:
The Women's Development Program, therefore, begins with helping women to discover what it means to be a person, who has dignity and deserves respect, is the subject of rights as well as responsibilities, and is obligated to develop her natural gifts for the benefit of herself, her family, neighbors, and society. The content of the seminars includes home-making skills, child care, family life, reading and writing, and business practices for initiating small self-help projects. A few weeks ago. local TV news carried pictures of a seminar in progress and commented on how much the Catholic Church in Zanzibar is doing for women. A week later the President of the Islands encouraged the development of women, saying they are the agents of peace. The occasion was the Pan-African Women's Conference - a press-worthy event because it took place in a predominantly Muslim country and means that we are open to change.
Part III "Tomorrow's Challenges".
A Changing World:
Technology, tourism, and other new businesses have brought the islanders face to face with an outside world that is very different from what they have known. Most affected are the children, youth, and women. The new generation has a new world view. They are meeting people of other cultures, other races, other nationalities, other religions, other interests, other and fascinating opportunities. They have become aware that they have not had even a normal education and, as a consequence, have no opportunity for a different life in the future.
For the Well-being of Children:
Children are formed in their earliest years. To change the mentality of fatalism which they get from their parents, and open them up to others who are like themselves yet have different values, it is necessary to provide an appropriate education beginning with kindergarten. This is the reason for establishing Kindergartens in every Parish and Outstation. But the formation begun there must continue. Already, the Diocese has introduced its first primary school.
Beginning with one of the larger Kindergartens, it is being developed by adding one year at a time. We are now up to Standard IV and preparing for Standard V. Requests for enrollment continue to increase and this year it became necessary to begin a double stream for Standard I. When the full number of grades is in existence, a Diocesan Secondary School will he started.
The good of youth presents an even greater challenge. The young people are in need of something that will help them make up for what has been neglected in their early years. Young women are being assisted to teach in the Kindergartens by offering twelve-week seminars in Montessori instructions under trained Montessori teachers twice a yean A small Montessori training school is envisioned for the future. Youth on Pemba Island, who wanted to burn our holdings in 1995. now are coming and asking for help, too. They would like a fishing boat to capitalize on one of the island's chief natural resources. Vocational schools are needed for these youth and a small Hotel Management School is also envisioned.
A special tutoring school is in operation for the purpose of upgrading the level of primary school leavers so that they can compete successfully in the qualifying examinations for good secondary schools on the mainland. Because the cost of sending students to the mainland is too great for the parents, we are now planning to expand the tutoring school into a secondary school. Those who complete the tutoring year in this Christian Formation Center will then stay on as the core of the FORM I class. Expanding to a secondary school will make it possible for many more young people to receive further education. Not only will more Christian parents be able to enroll their children but also Muslims will be able to enroll in Form 1 and continue. Only through such activities will youth find their place and resist the temptations offered by the drug culture, which is now very prevalent and creating many related problems.
For the Betterment of Women:
Women, too. present a challenge. The groups that have been formed are active, searching for means to better their life through small projects undertaken individually or as a group. They are becoming the mature adults they were meant to become.
The Role of the Church:
Facing these challenges, we are forced to ask what we can do. Do we have the competence and the means required for an adequate response? I few faithful are we to the demands of the Gospel of Christ? Do we and our Christians know those demands? Are we aware of our obligation to be witnesses of the Gospel, able to share it with others? Are we aware that the living witness of Gospel values can bring others to know and live those same values? Do we see this as a means to justice and peace between families, communities, nations? Are we willing to express and able to explain the hope that is ours in virtue of our baptism?
Our Five-Year Plan;
Diocesan Goals: Through its educational, health and related social services program, which is open to all persons without discrimination of any kind, the Church envisions these goals:
1) Qualified persons prepared to assume responsible leadership roles:
2) An improved standard of living;
3) Harmonious relationships between persons of different religions and cultures based on mutual understanding, respect, and cooperation..
Implementing the Vision:
1) Initiated essential organizational Diocesan structures.
2) With personnel on loan from other Dioceses, began sending Diocesan clergy and Sisters for specialized study to provide competence in ministry needed here.
3) In order to change negative attitudes, chose the establishment of kindergartens in every Parish and Station as the base of its educational program, aimed at two or three new ones per year.
4) Developed a Christian Formation Center with a tutoring program in English and Mathematics to enable promising primary school leavers to qualify for admission to good secondary schools on the mainland.
5) Provided some workshops for other youth to learn practical skills for self-employment.
6) Set up a three-year program of Montessori seminars for kindergarten aides leading to a teaching certificate for those who complete the course.
7) Planned on-going seminars for general educational needs of various groups of people. e.g. Catechists, Leaders, Women, and Children.
8) Organized village women for a three-year program in Women's Development.
9) Started two new dispensaries in order to extend health services.
10) Began upgrading one dispensary to a health center.
11) Began extending a large kindergarten to a primary school at the request of Christian and Muslim parents.
12) Is searching for means to extend the Christian Formation Center into a Marine secondary school.
13) Secured funds for a cooperative project of Catechists as a means to provide some income for them.
14) Has involved laity in committees, boards, etc.
15) Have brought Christians to give evidence of the faith by using their Christian names.
Initiatives Under Consideration:
1) Christian communities in Mpendae and Kiboje on Unguja Island and Chake Chake on Pemba Island are to be developed from Sub-Parishes into full Parishes.
2) Proper religious dialogue in this predominantly Muslim population requires that our Church personnel receive specialized education, both formal and informal, in the Islamic faith and culture.
3) As a means of evangelization, the ecumenical aspect of the Christian community (notably Catholic, Anglican and Lutheran) needs to be strengthened so as to present ourselves as followers of Christ.
4) Due to the limitations and constraints in which this migrant Diocese exists, we must find some way to generate income. A house which had been nationalized has been returned to the Diocese. Located in Old Stone Town, it can be renovated to provide office space and some upper storey apartments which can be rented out for income.
5) In order that the Christians take ownership and responsibility for the Diocese, a Parish tax has been introduced this year. However small an income this will provide, it is a step toward self-reliance which, with help from outside in the present, we hope to achieve.
6) At the back entrance to the Cathedral is a fallen down building that belongs to the Diocese. There is no Catholic Bookstore here. Renovation of this fallen building would provide space for a Bookstore and two or three offices on the upper storey.
7) St. Joseph's Cathedral is the oldest Church in East Africa. The building was completed in 1897 and is greatly in need of repair. Because of its historical value, the government has placed certain restrictions on the work. It will he extensive and will require technical competence.
8) Because education is the most fundamental need of this society, we need to help those parents who have very talented children but are too poor to pay the small fees needed in our school. We need to develop a special fund designated for scholarships to he given from the yearly interest on the capital.
9) We need to provide the necessary training in development work for a full-time Director of the Development Office.
10) In 1997 we had no Diocesan structures. Gradually we have been organizing the needed offices but they are scattered where we find we can make available space.We need to establish a small Chancery Office.
11) We won't he able to build another Primary School on Pemba or on the small Islets where other people live, so we hope to build a hostel for boys and one for girls at the Primary school being built up in Tomondo, allowing for talented youngsters to come from the other Islands and to care for gifted but impoverished children.
12) A Youth Center is needed on Pemba to minister to the large number of idle and uneducated youth.
13) We need to support a trained Montessori teacher to direct the three-year in-service program we have for the single mothers who volunteer to teach in our kindergartens and to carry out the necessary supervision of their work in the Held. This demands both special training and transport.
14) Adult education, formal and informal, must go hand in hand with gender issues in order to bring awareness of joint responsibilities and complementarity of the sexes in accomplishing without tensions activities in which both are engaged.
15) Nothing has been done to set up a real Archives of this historic Diocese. Someone has to be trained for that important task.
16) Once the basic work in Archives has been accomplished, we are thinking of providing a tourist center where tourists can come to see and learn about the Cathedral and the work of the Church since the faith was first established in East
17) Building must be constructed to show development on property that the Church wishes to own in order to ensure legal title deeds.
18) The value of land is constantly rising. We need to secure a plot where a house can be built for the priests to meet. enjoy a free day of relaxation, spend quiet time when needed for recuperation. At present there is no such place. Development must take place on property in order to ensure title deeds.
Possibilities for Partnership:
There are many possibilities for partnership with the Diocese of Zanzibar. It might be in terms of acceptance of sponsorship for certain ministries such as School Fees for deserving students. In terms of strengthening our educational program in line with our primary goal. we are in the process of extending a large kindergarten into a primary school. The same is needed at our Christian Formation Center. The tutoring in English and Math has been so successful that each year we have made it possible for students to qualify for good secondary schools on the mainland. However, we have excellent young people who are very bright but are unable to go on with school because parents cannot pay the higher fees on the mainland nor the cost of transportation. To counter this problem we need to extend the Center to a full Marine Secondary School. Not only will that enable more Christian parents to have their children in school: Having such a school will also then allow for Muslims to send their children to school. Additionally, this will assist in bettering the relationship between tlie two religions. The Muslims in the area are eager to learn English and many older people come to informal classes just for that, even though they do not receive any formal recognition.
Another possibility in the field of education is assisting young single mothers who carry the brunt of the work in the kindergartens to get a certificate in the methodology of Montessori teaching. The program is designed and taught by qualified Montessori teachers over a three-year period of seminars. Those who complete it are then qualified to teach in the schools here. During the time they are in the program, a supervisor is needed to work with them in the villages where they volunteer in the kindergartens.
Because it is only now that we are trying to provide the special competence needed by our Priests and Sisters working in these Islands, a partnership in obtaining scholarships for such study as well as for laity to be qualified in the various professions such as medicine or law would be welcomed. There is much need for Christians to be educated in the professions. The Church needs to have someone who can assist with respect to understanding the law or as doctors in charge of our own dispensaries for example. Such persons could be educated and then fulfill a contract for some years in return for the gift of study.
A further area of partnership could be in the line of support for our Religious Sisters. All come from the indigenous congregations on the mainland. They have to be supported with living expenses, yearly retreats, medical care. etc. and a contribution must he given to their congregations yearly so that the congregations can continue to provide education for the young and needed care for the sick and elderly.
It might also be preferable to choose to be a partner in more general terms that could be worked out together. In either case. the relationship would be of tremendous help to Zanzibar in more than just financial ways. It would be an occasion of and provide opportunities for the enrichment of our people, something that is beyond us now. It would be equally an opportunity for the enrichment of the people of the Diocese in partnership and a means to deepen their awareness of personal responsibility for the Mission of Christ as baptized Christians.
This article is taken from the website of the Catholic Diocese of Zanzibar.