News Story

Focus on Mwanza - Northern Town of Tanzania embraces LDS Church

There is a beautiful place in northern Tanzania called Mwanza. The Mwanza region touches on the borders of Lake Victoria, known locally as Lake Nyanza. About 85 percent of the people in Mwanza live in rural areas and rely on agriculture, livestock keeping and fishing activities for food and income. These activities are the backbone of the Mwanza economy. In 2012 the greater Mwanza area had a population of 2,772,509.

There’s more though to the story of Mwanza than the nuts and bolts of their population and economy; it is the establishment and rise of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the area.

Sylvia Akinyi Nyambita of Mwanza had to wait 28 years to be baptized a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Her husband, Abich Nyambita, joined the Church while attending school in London, England in the 1980’s. Upon his return to Tanzania, he taught his wife about his newfound religion, but since the Church was not yet officially recognized in Tanzania, baptisms were not allowed and Sylvia couldn’t be baptized. As children were born to Abich and Sylvia, they diligently taught them all about the gospel even without the benefit of baptism or the formal organization of the Church.

Finally, in March of 2011, missionaries for the Church were sent to Mwanza. The missionaries who opened up the Mwanza area for teaching were Elders Raymond Munyaradzi Lipengah and Brighton Jimu, both of Zimbabwe. Sylvia was the first person the missionaries taught. Elder Lipengah later recorded his feelings of this experience: “In our broken and limited Kiswahili we tried our best to share the principles of the gospel. It was an amazing experience.”

On 24 March, 2011, the Mwanza congregation of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints was officially organized by Mission President, Steven H. Broadbent of the Kenya Nairobi Mission. He was assisted by Elder Ron Burgener, the 2nd Counselor in the Kenya Nairobi Mission. Sylvia Nyambita and 10 others were baptized and confirmed members of the Church on that historic day. Abich Nyambita was called to be the first Branch President of the Mwanza Branch, with Brother Tom Obuya as his first counselor and the missionary, Elder Brighton Jimu, as his second counselor. Elder Brighton Jimu has since passed away in a road accident after returning home to Zimbabwe. The Mwanza congregation now has about 60 members.

Tanzania has over 1000 members of the Church congregating in 4 branches in Dar es Salaam and another in Mwanza and Arusha. 

Style Guide Note:When reporting about The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, please use the complete name of the Church in the first reference. For more information on the use of the name of the Church, go to our online Style Guide.