Bishop in the United Kingdom

Ridley Hall entrance signboard
Ridley College photo taken on last day of Lent term
Andrew Norman, Principal of Ridley (middle) with international sabbatical guests Stelian Stofana (Romania) and Mwita Akiri (Tanzania)
Bishop Mwita with Dr Ian Shaw (Director of Scholarship Programme, Langham Partnership UK & Ireland). Langham and Ridley co-funded Mwita's UK visit.
The front of Ridley College, Cambridge University
Some of the buildings at Ridley Hall, Cambridge
Bishop Mwita with Canon Andy Lines, CEO & Mission Director, Crosslinks UK.
Signboard, School of Divinity, Edinburgh University
Bishop Mwita with John & Della Rea during the Edinburgh visit. John is a member of the Overseas Committee, Scottish Episcopal Church.
Ridley Hall entrance signboard
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Immediately after the Canterbury conference (23-31 January) as reported long ago on this website, Bishop Mwita Akiri of the Anglican Diocese of Tarime, Tanzania, spent the rest of his time in the UK (1 February to 31 March) at Ridley Hall, Cambridge University as a post-doctoral scholar.

His scholarship was co-funded by Langham Partnership International (UK and Ireland) and Ridley Hall, an Anglican College at the University of Cambridge. Mwita used this opportunity to start writing a book on the indigenous agency in the growth of the Anglican Church in central Tanzania, 1876-1933. He made use of a specialist mission library at the Henry Martin Centre within the University.

Mwita was also able to travel to parts of the UK, mostly at weekends to meet with partners such as the Diocese of Wakefield, the Scottish Episcopal Church and Crosslinks – an Anglican mission society in the UK, as well as introducing his Diocese to potential partners. He also paid a visit to His Grace the Archbishop of Canterbury at Lambeth Palace, and the Secretary General of the Anglican Communion.

On Being A Bishop

Mwita (third from left, second row) with other Bishops attending  a conference for Bishops in the early years of episcopal ministry
Bishop Mwita Akiri (Tanzania) sharing a light moment with Bishop Jonathan Meyrick (England) at the Cathedral Study Centre
Bishop Mwita at the Cathedral Study Centre in Canterbury
Mwita (third from left, second row) with other Bishops attending a conference for Bishops in the early years of episcopal ministry
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Bishop Mwita together with other 25 Bishops in their early years of the episcopal ministry from around the Anglican Communion have been attending a course on 'On Being A Bishop' at the Canterbury Cathedral Study Centre since 23 January 2012. Bishop Mwita says "this has been a valuable time for prayer, reflection and fellowship with other church leaders from a wider Anglican family. I feel refreshed and challenged, and thank God for the organizers, especially the course director Canon Ed Condry and the course administrator Cathi Martin." The conference is an annual program of the Canterbury Cathedral, England. Canterbury Cathedral is a unique and historic place, not least because the Archbishop of Canterbury has his seat or chair there. In this way, it connects the Archbishop of Canterbury and indeed the Church of England with the rest of the Anglican Communion. The conference ended on 31 January.

Searching for Justice, Peace and Development

A cross-section of clan leaders at the meeting with Bishop Mwita.
Bishop Mwita with ACP Kamugisha, the Regional Police Commander for Tarime-Rorya
Bishop Mwita in a group photo with Community-Clan Leaders in Tarime  after the meeting at Mogabiri Agricultural Centre on 23 July 2012.
A cross-section of clan leaders at the meeting with Bishop Mwita.
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Searching for Justice, Peace and Development – the Bishop Meets Clan Leaders

The Bishop of Tarime, the Rt Rev Dr Mwita Akiri held a meeting with 26 senior leaders of 13 major clans of the Wakuria in Tarime district to discuss justice, peace and development. The meeting took place on 23 July 2012 at the Diocesan Agricultural Centre located at Mogabiri village – some 10 kilometres east of Tarime. Apart from the clan leaders, the Bishop also invited all the clergy and senior elders of the Diocese of Tarime as well as the Regional Police Commander for Tarime/Rorya Special Police Zone.

The meeting discussed ways to reduce and eventually end incidents of land disputes, cattle theft, and the clashes between the police force as well as the frequent clashes between the unemployed youth whose parents have lost farm lands to North Mara gold mine, while getting unfair compensations from the mining company.

The Bishop acknowledged that the highland part of Tarime is densely populated, and land was becoming scarcer by the day. However, he insisted that in most cases, peace is disrupted by acts of provocation by few individuals who encroach on their neighbours’ land, and by those engaged in cross-border cattle theft. This could be avoided if the youth, community members and the security organs embrace the principles of justice for all.

The Bishop urged the clan leaders to ensure that they use their position and influence in society to educate the youth within their clans to refrain from being used by criminals. He equally asked the clan leaders to be sincere and honest when resolving land disputes.

Bishop Mwita also asked the Police Commander to ensure that the police handled cases justly so that they gain the confidence and the support of good citizens instead of alienating the communities by using excessive force. He also urged the police to develop a culture of responding quickly when cattle theft or land disputes occur and offer support to the clan and civic leaders and government officials on the ground.

The meeting made the following resolutions and statements in three main areas in order to maintain peace in Tarime district.

a) Land

We note that land disputes are one of the main causes of conflict in Tarime district. Therefore we resolve that:
i) Clan leaders shall respect and supervise land boundaries for each clan.
ii) Clan leaders of the clans involved in a conflict should meet as soon as possible to resolve a conflict before involving other clans. In the event the two leaders of the clans concerned fail to agree, then the full meeting of all clan leaders in the district shall be convened.
iii) Clan leaders shall continue to uphold justice when resolving land dispute and cattle theft issues.

b) Cattle Theft

We note that sometimes the leaders were slow to respond whenever cattle were stolen. We therefore resolve that:

i) If cattle theft occurs, leaders of the clans involved must meet as soon as possible to find a solution quickly.
ii) The youth involved in tracking the stolen cows must be given the support they need when they reach the place where cattle footprints end.
iii) If the stolen cows have been located in a particular village and have been recovered, they must be returned to the clan from where they were stolen.
iv) Clan leaders in the place where stolen cows have been located must name the culprits and hand them over to the police for prosecution in accordance with the law.

c) Facilitating Meetings of Clan Leaders

We note that clan leaders lack the necessary resources for their work for justice and peace in Tarime.

Therefore:
i) The Diocese and other peace-loving institutions and individuals should offer financial and logistical support to facilitate the meetings and work of the clan leaders in general.
ii) Meetings should be as frequent as possible in order to resolve issues and save Tarime district.

d) Government

We note that there is a need to strengthen the relationship between the government, clan leaders, peace-loving institutions and individuals at all levels in Tarime.

Therefore:
i) Government officials at divisional, ward and village levels should work with clan leaders to resolve land conflicts and issues of cattle theft as soon as possible.
ii) The Government should convene regular meetings between clan leaders on both sides of the two neighbouring countries, namely Tanzania and Kenya to discuss common security issues especially cattle theft.
iii) The district and regional Government leaders should support clan leaders in Tarime district and the communities in general whenever cattle are stolen and taken to the neighbouring country.

Sewing Class Begins in Tarime

Mrs Jane Nyageswa instructor, with the students.
Some of the students at the sewing class started by the Mothers Union
Students - focused!
The temporary classroom is located in this house in Tarime town.
Mrs Jane Nyageswa instructor, with the students.
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On January 16, 2012, the Mothers Union - our women's organization - started a sewing class in Tarime town for young girls. The project is part of the Diocesan plan, namely, empowerment of women and girls. This is achieved by providing them with skills and thereby creating opportunities for employment. Sixteen unemployed girls who have completed seven years of primary education but could not proceed to secondary school are enrolled. They will learn and practice the sewing skills that will help them to earn income. The project also has a social dimension in that it delays early marriages for young  ex-school girls so common in the wider district. The girls pay a concession fee of $15 a month. The course lasts for six months.  

Three immediate challenges are facing the sewing class that have to be addressed quickly. First, the shortage of sewing machines. At the moment the class has 10 only sewing machines for 16 girls! These were donated to the Diocese by the Christians from Canada who visited and participated in mission in July 2011. A basic sewing machine costs $100. Bishop Mwita appeals to all people of goodwill to support this initiative that has a huge potential to give many young girls a better future.  Secondly, there is a need for a larger classroom to accommodate more students. Finally, a hostel is needed for the girls from the rural areas. More girls from the villages applied to join the class but could not do so because they could not afford accommodation in Tarime town. "This is one of the major challenges that the Diocese has to address", says Bishop Mwita. When asked how the diocese would address the matter, the Bishop replied, "we will have to raise funds to build and furnish a hostel with beds and other essential facilities and services such as electricity and water. However, to make this a sustainable project, the Diocese will have to charge a reasonable but affordable fee to cover some overhead, maintenance and service costs."

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