Easter prayers at Lango la Ukristo, Bagamoyo Msalabani

Saturday March 30 2024

Bagamoyo historical site in Tanzania. PHOTO | POOL


Dozens of Christians have recently been visiting Bagamoyo town on the coast of Tanzania to pray and donate to the poor and needy as part of Lent celebrations.

Bagamoyo Msalabani, or the Cross site is popular among Christian faithful especially during the Easter period. Big groups of believers, mostly Catholics, Anglicans and Lutherans, throng the park with the cross at the exact place where the early missionaries landed their boats to spread Christianity in Tanzania and neighbouring states of Rwanda, Burundi, Congo and Zambia.

Mostly known as Lango la Ukristo, or the Christianity Gate, the Cross Site attracts crowds who donate money, food, clothes and other essential items to the poor people in Tanzania.

On my recent visit, a group of 45 Catholic faithful went on to donate blood at a neighbouring hospital for supply to different health facilities in Tanzania.

Read: Life in Dar es Salaam during Christmas holiday

The worshippers had braved the prevailing heat at the time to walk 30 kilometres to the site and then to the hospital in Bagamoyo.


“We have been encouraged by our priest at Bunju to organise this trip with the sole purpose of blood donation”, said Elizabeth Mapunda from Bunju Church.

Bagamoyo is located 75 kilometres from Dar es Salaam, Tanzania’s commercial capital.

Christian missionaries from Europe, about 156 years ago, made this small historical town the Christian gateway to East Africa and Central Africa.

On March 4, 1868 the Catholic Holy Ghost Fathers were granted land to build a church and a monastery, the first in the history of Christianity in Tanzania.

French missionaries established Freedom Village at Bagamoyo as a shelter for ransomed slaves the same year (1868).

The town served as a station for missionaries travelling from Zanzibar Island to the interior to spread Christianity.

It was also the first Catholic Mission in East Africa that was established in Bagamoyo after successful negotiations between the early Christian missionaries and representatives of Sultan Said el-Majid and later Sultan Barghash, the rulers of Zanzibar and the Tanzania coastal zone.

Bagamoyo Mission was then established in 1870 to house children rescued from slavery, but later expanded to accommodate a church, a school, technical school workshops and a farm.

The Catholic Church there runs Marian Secondary School, vocational training centre, shops and the 105 Room Stella Maris Hotel.

Walking through Bagamoyo's narrow streets, one will observe the ruins of the mid-19th century buildings, which indicate the earlier settlements on the East African coast and the terminus of the trade route between Congo and the Indian Ocean coast.