Choose your language EoF

Italians in Tanzania

On Wednesday 10 April 2024, a number of Italians present in the Diocese of Iringa and in the newly-established – on 19 March 24 – new Diocese of Mafinga, gathered for one of their customary annual meetings

Present were 9 priests, religious and lay people, who work in various parishes in the area, in cities and towns or in remote villages in the diocesan territory. Some have been in Tanzania for more than 30 years, some have alternated periods of mission in different African countries, some have arrived only a few years ago… some are of Sicilian origin, there are Sardinians, Bolognese, a Parmesan, some from Lombardy, a Triestino, and an Italianised Croatian…

The occasion, as always, is to get together, first of all to ‘make family’

Getting to know each other with those who have just arrived or joined the group, exchanging experiences of life ‘on the ground’, good memories of past experiences, even with those who were there and are no longer there but are watching us from above, the adventures we have lived… But also the challenges of Christian communities that “only” 100-150 years ago received the proclamation of the Gospel in these territories thanks to the first missionaries who arrived, and are walking, logically with their own times and ways in deepening their faith.

Priests are few and the churches are full…

Each parish has from 3 to 12-15 chapels scattered in the remotest parts of the parish territory and only once every 2-3 months is the parish priest able to go and celebrate mass… not to mention the condition of the roads – dirt roads of course – which become torrents of water or mud deposits when it rains… The catechists run the local communities and on Sundays there is a service with the reading of the Word of God and a commentary. Baptisms are only done on certain special dates (often Easter night) with 30, 40, but also 80 children and more…

Cultural and religious tradition

All this in a context where cultural and religious tradition is very relevant in everyday life, but especially in the spiritual field, and it is felt that it still takes time to give solidity to belief. One often witnesses easy changes of ‘church’ (Catholic, Lutheran, Anglican, Pentecostal, sects…) for the most diverse reasons, trivially because it is closer to the new home or the only one available, or even because of easier access to the sacraments in one rather than another. You turn to the local ‘magician’ if after praying you do not get it; you believe that if things go wrong, someone has ‘sent’ you a curse… And this especially in the villages, where traditions still resist the most, as is normal…

God is always present in the days of the Tanzanians

On the other hand, God is always present in the days of the Tanzanians, one never forgets to pray, before eating and after eating, before drinking even a single glass of water, before starting a journey and when one has arrived, before starting a meeting, or when one has finished thanking him for the results obtained…

But one also thanks God on the street, greeting people in the morning as soon as they leave home: “Habari za asubuhi, bwana?” (Good morning sir, literally “News of the day, sir?”) and the reply: “Tumushukuru Mungu” (Thank God! As if to say, it’s all right, thank God…)

Here God is there! Like everywhere else, we know it, but here it is as if we feel it, experience it more, God accompanies the lives, the days of each one closely, He is more than ever in the heart of the man who trusts, abandons himself to Him and continues, not without difficulty but with great faith, to walk and to hope.

Stefano Matcovich – Iringa, Tanzania


  • Stefano Matcovich


You might also like