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Tongwe in Tanzania

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Population [2] Language Religion % Christian % Evangl Online NT Jesus Film Progress
58,000 Tongwe Islam 20.00 % 1.10 % No No   

Tongwe in Tanzania

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Introduction / History
The Tongwe are a small African tribe. The Tongwe originally came from eastern Congo and crossed over Lake Tanganyika into Tanzania. They settled in what are presently Mahale National Park and the surrounding area. When Tanzania gained its independence, the newly elected President Julius Kambarage Nyerere, forced all Tanzanians to move from their rural homelands into major villages, towns, and cities. This relocation was called Ujamaa. The Tongwe were drastically affected, and many of them were forced to move and spread into towns and villages, such as, Uvinza, Ilagala, Kalya, Kashaguru, Mgambo, Rukoma, Kaparamsenga, and Mgambazi. After Tanzania's independence, all the Tongwe that lived in the Rukwa region were renamed the Bende tribe.

After Nyerere left office, something interesting happened. Many of the Tongwe who lived in Uvinza and Ilagala did not stray far away from the main villages. In the regions south of the Malagarasi River, the Tongwe returned in large numbers back up into the forests and the hills, and refused to become acclimated to life in the main villages. It was not, however, the last time the Tongwe had to be relocated in Tanzania's modern history. The Tongwe, who lived on the land that is now Mahale National Park and Katavi National Park, were forced once more to leave their homes and land when the parks were established in 1990. The Tongwe are now very suspicious of the government, and even Westerners, because of the numerous forced relocations from their homelands.

Where are they located?
The Tongwe are located as far north as Ujiji (near Kigoma), as far south as Kashaguru and Kalya, and as far west as Nguruka and in villages along the road to Mpanda via Uvinza. Places where there are large populations of Tongwe are Uvinza, Ilagala, Mahanga, Sunuka, Kaparamsenga, Mgambazi, Rukoma, Igalula, Mgambo, Mkonkwa, Ikuburu, Rubalizi, Sibwesi, Kalya, Kashaguru, Lufubu, and Isonga.

What are their lives like?
The Tongwe are farmers (mostly rice farming), gatherers, and hunters. Hunting has become extremely difficult in recent years because of a crackdown by the government forcing the Tongwe to buy hunting permits, which cost more than a year's wages to kill one animal. When they do go against the law, they use either spears or homemade muskets (one-shot guns) that use gunpowder and some type of homemade metal or lead projectile. They make beehives and collect honey at various times of the year.

They are a very destitute people, who lack much of the education that is available to Tanzanians in other parts of the country. It is very probable that a Tongwe child will never get a formal education, though for sure some have attained a high degree of secondary education and work in highly skilled jobs. Medical services are also another large problem. Some walk for sixty hours to reach the nearest semi-efficient hospital. Many mothers lose their lives giving birth to children because of poor or non-existent medical services. Many children do not even make it to adulthood because of malaria and cholera epidemics that are rampant and out of control. Life is extremely difficult and harsh south of Kigoma Region.

What are their beliefs?
Islam is the religion for many Tongwe. The Muslims told the Tongwe that the Christians hated them and that Christians wanted nothing to do with their kind. The Tongwe are infamous throughout Kigoma and other parts of Tanzania for being inseparable from witchcraft, demonic, and animistic worship. The legends and spirits of great witch doctors, and Tongwe kings and queens, still lurk heavy in the air throughout all the mountains, forests, lakes, streams, and villages that they have inhabited both now and in the past.

What are their needs?
Their needs are so incredible that it is almost overwhelming to think about. First and foremost, they need to come into relationship with Jesus Christ, who can change their lives forever. Secondly, they need basic infrastructures, such as, education, medical facilities and trained professionals to work them, roads to boost their economy in transporting agricultural produce, wells to produce clean water and eradicate water-borne diseases, Christian witnesses, such as African missionaries and pastors who are willing to live and work amongst the Tongwe.

Prayer Points
* Please pray that God changes their whole tribe, we cannot settle for one or two here and there to come to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.
* God is moving amongst them in the most peculiar way and whole villages are on the verge of comming to Christ. Pray that God sends people who can meet both their physical needs and their spiritual needs.
* Pray for translation of the Bible to begin in this people group's primary language.
* Pray for the availability of the Jesus Film in the primary language of this people.

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Country: Tanzania
Continent: Africa
Region: Africa, East and Southern
10/40 Window: No
Location in Country:Kigoma region: Kigoma district; Kigoma and Rukwa regions east; Lake Tanganyika west shore; small groups (20%–30% of the population) in Uvinza and Nguruka villages.
(Source: Ethnologue 2016)
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Country Map:Political map
Linguistic Map:Ethnologue language map
  Peoples [3]
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People Name in Country: Tongwe
People Name General: Tongwe
Alternate People Names:
ROP3 Code: 110158
Joshua Project People ID: 15555
Indigenous: Yes
Population in Country: 58,000
Population all Countries: 58,000
Least-Reached: No
Affinity Bloc: Sub-Saharan Peoples
People Cluster: Bantu, Central-Tanzania
People Name General: Tongwe
Ethnic Code: NAB57o
Ethnic Relationships: Affinity Bloc -> People Cluster -> Peoples Ethnicity Tree
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Primary Language: Tongwe (58,000 Speakers)
Language Code (ISO): tny    Ethnologue Listing
Total Languages: 1
Religion [4]
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Primary Religion: Islam
Major Religions:
Buddhism0.00 % 
Christianity20.00 %(Evangelical: 1.10 %)
Ethnic Religions10.00 % 
Hinduism0.00 % 
Islam70.00 % 
Non-Religious0.00 % 
Other / Small0.00 % 
Unknown0.00 % 
Christianity Segments:
Anglican0.00 %
Independent0.00 %
Protestant35.00 %
Orthodox0.00 %
Other Christian0.00 %
Roman Catholic65.00 %
(Evangelicals distributed across Christianity segments)
Progress Indicators [5]
Progress Scale[6]   Evangelicals have only a very small representation among all who claim to be Christians.
Least-Reached: No
GSEC Status:Level 1   Less than 2% Evangelical. Some evangelical resources available, but no active church planting within past 2 years
Bible Translation Status
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Bible Portions: Help start a Bible Translation
New Testament: None Reported
Complete Bible: None Reported
Ministry Resources [7]
Audio RecordingsMegaVoice Audio Bible and Stories
Audio RecordingsAudio Bible teaching (GRN)
Ministry Activity
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Description: Register your ministry activity among this people group. Contact the Adopt-A-People Clearinghouse and Unleashed for the Unreached to learn about others that might be focused on this people group.
Data Notes
Data Sources

Tongwe in Tanzania

Global                 Global
  Affinity Bloc             Global  
People Cluster
    Bantu, Central-Tanzania     Africa, East and Southern    
      Tongwe Tanzania    
            People-by-Country (Profile)          
            Tongwe in Tanzania          
      Religion Language  
      Islam     Tongwe  
    All Religions                              

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