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KARIYANGWE MISSION

The readers will remember that about 1935 the German Fathers of Marianhill went to the Zambezi and starter some schools. These schools were later supervised by the Spanish Fathers, when they took over Wankie, but with the building of the Kariba Dam people had to abandon their land, and remained without schools again.

The years 1956 -58 were the most decisive and history making for the Tonga tribesmen the most poor, primitive and backward tribe in Rhodesia. Up to these days, Batonga lived for years along the Zambezi River, cut off from all civilization and Christianity.
With the reconstruction of Kariba Dain, the massive shifting cuff the Batonga took place, from the-valley inland and up to the mountains. For such an exodus a labyrinth of roads was built up. With new roads open the traders came in with all sort of goods, specialty salt, beads and clothing. The missionaries came too with schools, hospitals and the Message of Christianity.

Up to 1958 the whole of Binga District was still part of St. Mary’s Mission (Lukosi). While stationed in St. Mary’s I used to visit Syachillaba, the only school we hat in Batongaland, and from there I organized, long and adventurous trips to visit the 16 chiefs in the area, trying to convince them and their people of the need of the schools. At the time I was preparing the ground for a new Mission.
In January 1959 after three days of painful and laborious journey, the first missionaries, one father and a brother, arrived at Kariyangwe to start the first mission among the Batonga. The beginning was hard and difficult, yet very interesting and full of hopes. After choosing the mission site near a stream ever with water we started to open the road, to clear up the thick bush and there we put our iron house where we lived for four years, till the building of a permanent house.
Very soon the people got used to us and we to the people. Our influence grew with the opening the new school and some preaching centers along the Zambezi. Our parish covers 10.000 sq. miles with about 50.000 people.

In October 1959 two sisters, Daughters of Calvary arrived bringing with them a great
Change to the Mission.  They lived for four years in let us call it a house, thatched with three mini-rooms. In 1962 we opened a new and well equipped hospital where a sister and an African nurse give treatment to 60.000 people a year. Since 1967 we have a flying doctor who visits the hospital periodically.
In 1964 the mission was in full growth. We had seven schools with over 500 children (no girls), 250 Christians and over 200 catechumens.  Father Christmas came to Kariyangwe with the best of his gifts, a new father and a new sister.

In 1966 we opened a boarding school at the mission to help the upper primary education to our Batonga.
Today there are two fathers, one brother three sisters two catechists, twenty-eight teachers ten schools with 1000 children (about 30 girls are already learning) 350 Christians and 200 catechumens.
The bushy spot that in 1958 was isolated today is the centre of life of the Batonga connected to the mission, a little town, by paths and roads leading to the school, hospital and the church.
Through and by improving their social conditions, in education, health, cleanliness, housing, clothing etc. the Church is preparing the Batonga tribe to receive more consciously and wholeheartedly the Christian message.
After eight years of living among then I see the Batonga community has taken a great step towards Christ.

Fr. Emmanuel Castellá.
(Written in +- 1968 in a Newsletter for the Holy Family directed by Fr. Thomas del Barrio. Diocesan Archives. Hwange Diocese)

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