Who are the Nyamwezi?
The Nyamwezi are the second largest people group in Tanzania, living mainly south of Lake Victoria in west-central Tanzania. Before Europeans arrived, the Nyamwezi had an empire consisting of four clans and an ancient king, Mirambo, who was a brilliant military leader. Today the Nyamwezi are known for being melodic, the womenfolk will come to your door as a singing telegram delivering wedding invitations, as well as singing in cadence to the rhythm of their hoes as they till the soil and mound up rows. About 30% of Nyamwezi live and work outside of their 35,000 miles of land, in Tanzania’s commercial and agricultural centres.
What do they believe?
Most claim to be Muslims and follow the five pillars of Islam, but in reality, they live by their animistic worldview, believing in a creator God, the spirit world, and the importance of using witchdoctors and other diviners to communicate with the spirits. On farming plots, amulets are placed at the corners of gardens to ward off evil.
What is being done to reach them with the gospel?
The Africa Inland Church has planted a hundred churches in the area but the majority of attenders are thought to be from neighbouring people groups rather than the Nyamwezi. Some say up to 15% of Nyamwezi could be Christian, but most are nominal believers. In 2020 the Tabora Bible School was established to equip Nyamwezi Christians to share the gospel with their communities as well as those from nearby people groups to be evangelists and church leaders.