- Published on Wednesday, 29 August 2012 02:55
- Written by STAFF WRITER
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THE life a human being can be divided into two forms, namely physical and spiritual. Laurian Cardinal Rugambwa, a native of Bukoba, a Tanzanian and the first African to be consecrated cardinal, was among a few lucky people who reared and liberated Tanzanians physically and spiritually.
Because of this undertaking, one of the believers in the Catholic Archdiocese of Dar es Salaam wants the church to consider the possibility of enhancing Cardinal Rugambwa’s process to sainthood. This man notes that if it was not for Cardinal Rugambwa’s love for all people, he could not have cared to assist in sponsoring his son for higher education in the early 1990s.
“Actually, the late Rugambwa was the liberator of my son’s life” he proudly says. A survey conducted recently has shown that during his lifetime, Cardinal Rugambwa sought for the scholarships of various students including laypersons and especially the youth from other religious institutions who had approached him for assistance. This demonstrated that this prelate was not discriminatory when it came to the issue that was beneficial to the whole nation.
It is understood that some of the beneficiaries of Cardinal Rugambwa’s assistance were able to secure various posts at national and international levels such as being diplomats and workers in the United Nations system. Professor Wenceslaus Kilama, a native of Mugana in Bukoba District, thanks Cardinal Rugambwa for saving Tanzanians healthy wise and spiritually, stressing that if it was not for him it could not have been possible to build the Mugana hospital which has saved scores of Tanzanian lives.
It is now a designated hospital for Misenyi District, Kagera region. “I very much remember this hospital, because before her death, my mother had an asthma crisis but she was given adequate care which enabled her to live longer,” he says. Professor Kilama adds that there is a confirmed report that 12 medical doctors from Europe will soon visit the hospital to learn how to treat goiter and later shift to Mwanza’s Bugando hospital for further treatment.
“How many people would have lost their lives for lack of health service had Cardinal Rugambwa not initiated the construction of this designated Mugana hospital,” asks Professor Kilama. On education, Cardinal Rugambwa is remembered for being the brain behind the construction of the Rugambwa Secondary School and the expansion of Ihungo Secondary School which now provides ordinary and advanced levels of education.
The Bukoba Catholic Diocese is currently making preparations for the 100th birthday anniversary for Cardinal Rugambwa. He was born in 1912 and died in 1997 as Archbishop of Dar es Salaam archdiocese. Bishop Nestory Timanywa of Bukoba Diocese has been quoted by a weekly Catholic newspaper, Kiongozi, as saying he remembers Cardinal Rugambwa as a leader who spearheaded the construction of Rugambwa Secondary School and the expansion of Ihungo High School.
“He was the one who built the Rutabo Preparatory Seminary which used to enrol students from Standard Five and later on he consolidated the Rubya Seminary which rolled out the first priests in Tanzania in 1917,” said bishop Timanywa. “I very much remember Cardinal Rugambwa because he was the one who ordained me a priest in December 1966 and in 1974 he consecrated me as bishop of Bukoba Diocese.”
Quoted from the book “Laurian Cardinal Rugambwa (1912-1997; Mwana Mtukuka wa Afrika; Tulivyomfahamu” written by Bishop Methodius Kilaini, retired president Benjamin Mkapa says it was not surprising to find Cardinal Rugambwa talking with ordinary people and showed that there was no problem however small he could not work on.
Mkapa says: “This clearly shows how he had loved all people, irrespective of their religious or race background. He was my spiritual leader whom I had expected would have been arrogant and snobbish but to the contrary he was a humble and very polite man.” Retired Bishop of the Diocese of the Evangelical Lutheran Church of Tanzania (ELCT), Elinaza Sendoro is quoted in that book saying that “This old man was a quite, respectful and principled person.
He liked to cooperate with other Christian clerics but maintained his church’s stance and reputation. He was very careful in whatever he spoke, thus avoiding being talkative especially in gatherings of various people. According to Bishop Sendoro, Cardinal Rugambwa was not vocal in meetings, but whatever he uttered, his words were weighty and convincing. That’s how he knew this man for the entire period he worked with him.
Forwarding the book, Archbishop Polycarp Cardinal Pengo of the Archdiocese of Dar es Salaam says that shortly before Cardinal Rugambwa died he used to pray and offer sacrifices for Dar es Salaam archdiocese. “Despite repeating the right to bury Laurian Cardinal Rugambwa in Bukoba in accordance with Catholic church’s regulations, I wish to stress that the deceased had always loved the Archdiocese of Dar es Salaam.
Personally, I cannot tell how he could express himself better for his love for this archdiocese. Certainly, he continues to pray for us from heaven” says Cardinal Pengo. Bishop Kilaini who is the Assistant Bishop of Bukoba Diocese, says people could not know what kind of respect befitted Cardinal Rugambwa, thus the Haya created the word ‘Nyakutununta’, meaning in Swahili ‘Mwadhama’.
Therefore, he unveiled this grand respect for him. In addition, the Bishop of Bukoba Diocese Right Reverend Nestory Timanywa says the transfer and re-burial of the remains of Cardinal Rugambwa on October 6, this year, at Bukoba cathedral Church, which is due to completion soon.
“Steps taken to transfer the remains from Kashozi at Bukoba after he died in 1997 stemmed from the cardinal’s preference and directive that he should be buried in the diocese whose repair work started way back in 1996. The Chairman of the Anniversary Sub-committee, Prof Mark Mujwahuzi, on behalf of members, invites believers and other well-wishers to the ceremony at the Bukoba Diocese and asks for their moral and material contributions to make the event a success.
He says: “Those who feel to contribute should use Cardinal Rugambwa Education Trust Fund Account No. 00111401636301 of the Mkombozi Bank, St Joseph Street Branch, in Dar es Salaam. This is the certified account for the contributions.” The chairman of the committee says: “Preparations for pool transport and accommodation are underway.
Those who will travel on a bus or participate in the pilgrimage should contact Pontian Kashangaki using the following number 0786 846883. Those who will travel by air or use their own transport means, are advised to report to the sub-committee so as to get invitation cards,” he says.
Bishop Timanywa says: “When we look at this issue from the spiritual perspective, we feel it is great honour to lay Cardinal Rugambwa in his place because he built this church…Although regulations require a cleric to be buried in the archdiocese where he worked and died, still he was also free to decide on his burial place.” He says he’s happy to learn that his church has heeded the request of Cardinal Rugambwa that he be buried in Bukoba.
Adds he: “Although he died in the Dar es Salaam archdiocese, he preferred to be buried in Bukoba, therefore I’m happy that we’ve implemented his wish.” Prof Mujwahuzi says: “The anniversary entails transferring his remains from the Kashozi Church in Bukoba and taking them for final burial at Bukoba Cathedral.”
“In addition, the ceremonies would include upgrading the church on October 7, after having undergone a major repair, and a special pilgrimage will be held at Nyakijoga (Lourdes of Africa) on Otober 8, this year,” says Prof Mujwahuzi. It was Cardinal Rugambwa who built the Nyakijoga Pilgramage Centre at the Mugana Parish in honour of Virgin Mary as well as the Yohane Maria Mzeyi Pilgramage Centre. Mzeyi was among the Uganda martyrs at Minziro.