Talented man who put TZ in the world map

ONCE upon a time my close friend told me that it was difficult for him to enjoy life without knowing how to read and write.

“I am very sympathetic to someone who cannot read, so how does s/he communicate with other people in terms of letter writing?” the friend said.

But behind that story, there is a hero, a talented Tanzanian who is not with us today, as he has been laid to rest. He amazingly put the country in the world map due to his talent that helps him to know how to read and write without being enrolled at a school for formal education.

This is no one else, but Aniceth Kitereza, whose life history started back in the year 1896 in Ukerewe Island, where he was born to Mr Kitereza Malindima and Ms Machuma. The clever son of the earth was not able even to remember the face of his father, as the latter died with chickenpox disease while the former was at the age of five.

According to Professor Charles Musiba from the University of Colorado in the United States of America, during his childhood, Kitereja who was living near Church leaders knew how to read and write by observing at how church leaders were writing.

Prof Musiba is the one who recently brought in the country one of Kitereja’s hand written letters, some documents and his book written in his vernacular titled ‘Bwana Nyombekele and Bibi Bogonoka’ from St Olaf Minnesota University in USA.

“He is a Tanzanian who knew how to read and write without going to school and thus entered in the record of few people in this country and the world with professional as his own. If you read his book you will hear his voice, and through the book he narrated how much he loved her wife,” he says.

Prof Musiba says due to his talent, his documents were taken by the family of his American friend and researcher, Gerald Hartwig in 1968 who was written letters by Kitereja and made research on the history of Ukerewe Island.

His talent led the St Olaf University leadership to bring back his hand written letters and various documents, which were compiled and written by him during his lifetime.

The hand written letters, various documents, book and historical trophy, Ukerewe jewel made from smelting iron in a natural way and traditional food preparation equipment were handed over to the St Augustine University of Tanzania (SAUT) Vice Chancellor, the country’s renowned Ambassador Professor Costa Mahalu. Prof Musiba says Dr Hartwig’s family, through his wife, Shoonie Hartwig, sees the importance of returning back the documents in the country, so they could be like teaching tools to schools and universities in telling about traditions of Ukerewe residents.

“Hartwig family said the documents should be sent to the place where Kitereja was born and that‘s why we brought them here at SAUT university, although we planned earlier to send them at the University of Dar es Salaam”, he explains.

Prof Mahalu says the varsity will store the documents in the website, so as to enable different kinds of people to access them online for the aim of using them in learning about Kiteleza’s history and his book.

The SAUT Vice Chancellor (Academic Affairs), Professor Hosea Rwegoshera says the storage of historical records in the country has great advantages in keeping the country’s history sustainable.

“This initiative which was implemented by our colleagues from the USA is the biggest issue in our country, because our culture and traditions are starting to disappear”, he says.

He urges various researchers in the country and abroad who took documents, cultural tools and cultural equipment to bring them back to the country so as to promote it internationally. Historic trip made to Ukerewe Due to his uniqueness, intelligence and the talent the man was awarded made a team of eight professors from St Augustine University travelled up to his Kagunguli village in Ukerewe district to find out his information and historical background.

The team of professors and the media was led by Prof Mahalu who praises Kagunguli community for their warm welcome in the village, where among other things they went to Kitereza’s grave by the directives of Church leaders in the village. Prof Mahalu says SAUT will collaborate with the church leadership at the village on how to protect the good history of the late Kitereza.

Fr Andreas Msonge, the Bunda Catholic Diocese Vicar General says in a bid to know the secret of power and European education, Omukama Chief took his male children to Kagunguli Missionary school in 1905 under the German rule, where one of his son was baptized by the name of Aniceth.

“After the death of father, Kiteleza with his mother he moved to Nassa to Chief Omukama empire who was Kitereza uncle and Kitereza was taken care like the children of Chief”, he says adding that in 1907 Omukama Chief died and was inherited by his son, Ruhumbika who was baptized, given the name Gabriel, and later assisted Kitereza to know the importance of learning.

He says the later Kitereza was sent to Rubya Seminary, where he learnt French Germany, theology, Kiswahili and philosophy as aa part of his upbringing and development.

He says Aniceth was employed as clerk officer and a buyer at Mwanza Rice Mill, representing the company in Ukerewe, Ukara and nearby areas and in 1978 he quitted his job and joined the East African Rice Mills Limited.

“In 1919 he left Rubya and returned to Ukerewe, where he married Anna Katura from Tabora region and worked as catechist at Kagunguli Mission,” he says, adding that in 1945 he started writing his first book in his Ukerewe language. In the first part of his book, Kitereza shows the power and importance of love in marriage, as the foundation of a healthy community and human dignity.

“He is just asking a question, on how better we can take care of our children! Kitereza believes the words that are spoken perish like winds, but those written lives forever”, he says.

Priest Nicholaus Echazi from Kagunguli mission praises SAUT leadership for its decision to honour Kitereza stressing that the honor that bestowed to him is the honor also for his parents and members of the Kagunguli community.

Prof Patrick Masanja from SAUT says the varsity is benefiting from Kitereza’s documents and the book he published, urging Tanzania teenagers to conduct various researches on the missing history of older people in order to build the new Tanzania that honors and cherishes the history of its people.

Kitereza’s neighbour, one Rose Butale says Mr Kitereza was the one who made her to be married by Melikior clarifying that he loved her wife Anna much.

A researcher and journalist from Netherland, Mar Oomen says wrote the book which attracted many readers and research of languages around the world.

Gabriel Ruhumbika, one of Mr Kitereza family says, the family is aware that Kitereza worked hard and knowledgeably with the best intention of developing Tanzania’s culture and traditions.

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