Church of Sweden: Manama Mission

Church of Sweden

Manama Mission

The Church of Sweden Mission (CSM) initially concentrated on the Karanga peoples in the Belingwe (Mberengwa) district of Southern Rhodesia (Zimbabwe).  Beginning in 1928, the church took responsibility for an additional area south of Gwanda by agreement with the Dutch Reformed Church.  This new territory became known as the church’s “Western Deanery”.  Manama mission, established 1938 and located approximately 15 miles from the boarder of Botswana, became the main center.  The mission’s mailing address is “P.O. Bingale via Gwanda.”  Bingale is a mission postal agency opened in 1966, closed 1976 and re-opened 1985.

Mrs. Ruth Andersson, one of the pioneering CSM sisters, was the first missionary to run a clinic at Manama.  She soon handed the clinic over to Sister Köhlquist.  By 1950, the Manama Missions hospital was in operation. Its first doctor, Dr. S. Bergman, arrived in 1959.  In the 1960’s, Manama Hospital established 7 rural clinics, all staffed by Medical Assistants and visited regularly by the Manama Hospital doctor.

The Evangelical Lutheran Church in Zimbabwe (ELCZ) opened a Secondary School at Manama Mission in 1964.  The control and operation of the CSM missions were transferred to the ELCZ in 1963, although CSM continued to provide missionaries and support.

A dramatic and pivotal event in the mission’s history occurred on January 30, 1977 when 3 “freedom fighters” associated with ZAPU (Zimbabwe African People’s Union) abducted approximately 400 students from the Manama Secondary School (along with teachers and two nurses).  Other accounts state that the students “voluntarily” left and refer to the incident as the “exodus” of Manama students.  Students were led to the Botswana border, trucked to Francistown and then flown to Zambia (formerly Northern Rhodesia), where they were taken to ZAPU camps for military training.  In addition to causing the closure of the school, the incident strengthened ZAPU, opened a corridor of support for the guerrilla fighters via the Botswana border and caused the Church of Sweden to be more engaged with the nationalist opposition to the Rhodesian government.

After the school’s closure, Rhodesia forces occupied the mission.  The school temporally relocated to Bulawayo.  The hospital remained in operation until September 1979 when the entire mission was closed.   Manama Secondary School and hospital re-opened in 1980 following independence.  In addition to the school and hospital, Manama Mission also includes a church and Bible School.

References

Contributors
  • Mark Loomis