Tanzania: The First Catholic Church in East Africa

A lazy afternoon in the costal Tanzanian town of Bagamoyo unexpectedly turned into a religious experience like none other I have had before. Biking along on the outskirts of town we came across the old Catholic church (apparently the first in Eastern Africa and a springboard for the anti-slavery movement). Curious, we parked and ventured inside through one of the slightly ajar side doors. Inside we found:

A young man playing Celine Dion on an electric organ with a beat box background
A bright green-turquoise, yellow, and white color scheme
A nativity set tucked on a shelf under the stairs so that Joseph teetered right at eye level, threatening to jump off the shelf at any second
Two dusty cupboards with random pieces of old textiles
Innumerable benches that were only 6” in depth and with hollow backs so that if you slouched you would fall completely through to the floor behind
A brightly colored painting over the alter – clearly master artisans were not deemed necessary to call in – it seemed as if scaffolding had been set up and the town’s children were given paintbrushes and free reign
A dozen stained glass windows designed so that the center third could have built in wooden shutters
Algea coated bowls of holy water at each door

Check out the following photos for a visual:

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