The Primitive Methodist Church: Kanchindu Mission

The Primitive Methodist Church

Kanchindu Mission

The Primitive Methodist Missionary Society (PMMS) expanded its reach in Northern Rhodesia (Zambia) to the BaTonga (Tonga) peoples with the establishment of Sijoba Mission in 1901.  Soon after arriving at Sijoba in 1907, Rev. John R. Fell moved the mission down river, leaving Sijoba as an outstation.  The new mission station became known as Kanchindu.  Rev. Fell constructed a large brick building and opened the area’s first school.  Located in the remote and inhospitable Gwembe Valley in present Southern Province of Zambia, Kanchindu Mission suffered chronic drought resulting in reoccurring food shortages, disease, isolation due to rugged terrain and lack of roads, and oppressive heat and humidity.

Rev. Stanley E. Buckley joined Rev. Fell at Kanchindu in October 1913. After succeeding Rev. Fall, Rev. Buckley made a number of improvements.  In 1918, he was responsible for cutting a 150 mile wagon road through dense forest and an “unbroken line of mountains” to reach the railroad line at Livingstone.  To improve access to food supplies, particularly in light of the continual famines, he cleared 50 acres of forest to grow crops.  Rev. Buckley setup brickworks and supervised the making of ½ million bricks, which were used to construct a number of permanent buildings.  The mission also had a dispensary and provided medical care.  By 1925-26, Kanchindu and surrounding area had 25 schools attended by over 500 students.  There were 46 church members and 30 catechumens (converts awaiting baptism).

Activity at the mission wound down in the late 1920’s.  The mission school closed and moved to the newly established mission at Masuku in 1928.  Kanchindu Mission closed altogether sometime after 1931 when the remaining PMMS missionary there, Rev. W. Curry, left on furlough.  The mission would not reopen until 1948, this time under the control of the re-united Methodist Church.  The Kanchindu Basic School was established at that time.

In 1958, as part of the forced resettlement of the BaTonga peoples in connection with construction of Kariba Dam, the mission was moved inland to its present location near Maamba village in the Sinazongwe district of Zambia.  The United Church of Zambia assumed responsibility for the school in 1965.  The school was taken over by the government in 1975, but handed back to the church in 2011 and now runs as a “grant-aided mission school.”  As of 2015, the school had 569 students (10 boarders) up to grade 9.