The History of Matengo Highlands

Mandiluli O. Kapinga




It was common for European missionaries to call Africa a dark, barbaric and pagan continent. When the Benedictine missionaries came to the Matengo highlands to introduce Christianity they had the same belief. As part of the continuing effort to reverse this wrong perception, this article examines the historical socio-political and economic situations which gave rise to the transcendental religious ideas of the Matengo people before the advent of Christianity. The study adopts the theory of human agency which recognises the role of human beings in the shaping of their society and its destiny. It examines the history of religion and religious practice among the Matengo of Tanzania in the pre-colonial period. The data were collected from both primary and secondary sources and analyzed qualitatively. The study found that the pre-Christian Matengo people were constantly changing and had a clear sense of religiosity. The Matengo religion had its base in their indigenous culture, and had a very strong influence on the entire life of the people. The article also illustrates how the coming of Christianity to the Matengo highlands impacted negatively on the cohesion of the local religious principles and practices. 



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