Introduction / History
The Kwere people group is a Bantu tribe who migrated from Mozambique to Tanzania's coastal area north of Dar es Salaam about AD 1000. They maintain trading relationships with their Bantu neighbors: the Zalamo to the south, the Zigula and Doe to the north. Their languages and cultures are similar making it easy for them to communicate. They are matrilineal societies and frequently intermarry.
Where Are they Located?
The Kwere homeland stretches from Bagamoyo to the Wami River on the north and westward to Msata which is on the main road connecting Dar es Salaam and Arusha.
What Are Their Lives Like?
The Kwere live in rural villages; the boundaries dictated by Tanzania government policy. Before a cluster of people can be called a village, they must meet a numerical standard. In order to do this, several small villages join together under one name and thus qualify for a village status. Consequently a village may span a three-mile area.
The benefits of being a village are quite significant and worth the organizational effort:
(1) A primary school is built, maintained and staffed by the government with the only expense to the villagers being that of providing a school uniform for their child.
(2) A dispensary is built by the government and a doctor (registered nurse) provided. It serves the community with basic health needs, immunizations, pre- and post-natal care.
The chieftaincy system continues to exist but the top leader is a village chairman who is an elected official. Then, there may be 4 to 6 villages in a ward with an elected ward counselor. The local people have a way of defining this structure by saying, "The people obey the village chairman but don't recognize him as their leader. 'Permission is given by the chairman but blessing is given by the chief.'"
Farming is the main occupation of the Kwere. They are doing an excellent job at holding their youth in the village following graduation from primary or secondary school. Often the chief presents them with an attractive offer by giving them a two-acre plot of land to farm and on which to build their home.
Another dynamic concerning property is the number of people from Dar es Salaam who are coming into the area to buy plots on which to build a retirement home. This is changing the demographics of the society and pumping big money into rural villages.
What Are Their Beliefs?
All of the people groups on Tanzania's coast are predominantly Islamic all but for the Kwere. The majority of their community is Christian, primarily Roman Catholic and Anglican. David Livingstone moved through their area on his second expedition. His visit impacted their world and continues until today. Each year a tour group from Great Britain, usually including descendants of David Livingstone, retraces his steps in the Kwere/Bagamoyo area.
Roman Catholic and Anglican Church services are available in Bagamoyo but seldom offered in the village setting. In one large Kwere village, there are three Pentecostal churches, each with less than ten members. A pastor from Bagamoyo comes each Sunday afternoon to conduct services at one of these churches. There are two mosques and one madrassa in the village with one imam, and for Friday prayers about 30 Muslims attend.
What Are Their Needs?
It is apparent there are few, if any, strong Christian leaders in the Kwere villages. The greatest need is for Kwere believers to arise with a passion to proclaim the gospel to their own people.
The Kwere are a Forgotten People. The evangelicals seemingly have ignored them because their people group bears the image of "Christian." They need someone to "see them" and respond with personnel to establish vibrant churches among them.
Clean drinking water is probably the greatest felt need in the Kwere villages. Many villagers travel 3 to 5 miles to obtain water to quench their thirst. To purchase water marketed in their village, the people pay about one cent per liter. They need deep wells to slake their physical thirst but they need living water to satisfy spiritual thirst.
* A revival to sweep across the Kwere nation. A move of the Holy Spirit to occur, resulting in each village and every individual sensing a deep conviction of sin, repenting and putting their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
* The evangelicals in Tanzania to open their eyes and look at the fields! May they see the Kwere "ripe for harvest!" May they be stirred to action: praying, researching and determining by God's grace, the Kwere will no longer be forgotten!
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