Rev. Fr. Reginald Mwanyasi

            Fr. in Charge - Bura Catholic Parish

 

HISTORY OF BURA MISSION

Bura Mission is the first Catholic Church in Kenya and was started in 1892 by Monsignor De Courmont who was an Apostolic Vicar and Fr. Jean Flick of Holy Ghost Fathers.

Bura Mission was started for Kilema (Kilimanjaro). By then Mombasa Mission was used as a procure house  for Kilimanjaro Mission and in order to transport Construction materials, Church furniture and house requisites to Kilema, large caravans had to assemble in Mombasa. The Porters (slaves), for the caravans, were mostly from Taita community. As  a result, the Missionary Fathers learnt of the Bura Valley. It was from the Wataita porters (slaves) that first invitation to found a Mission to Bura came. Chief Mbogholi who was the elder by then was also supportive of the same.

Monsignor De Courmont decided to move up and build a Mission in  Bura that would serve as an  excellent ‘’half way house’’. They then travelled for 11 days and nights to Bura with a caravan comprising of one Muslim leader, six askaris, and sixteen Taita porters( slaves) who carried a 40 kg load.

On arrival, Monsignor De Courmont walked along with Fr Flick and Chief Mbogholi. He chose a spot near the mountain stream as the site for the Mission and named it Our Lady Of Hope because the water which they found they believed it is our Lady who provided. Chief Mbogholi announced that he was giving the land as a gift but later demanded for payment and was given some bales of calico clothes as payment.

On 30th September 1896 the church was complete and the first mass was celebrated the same day. On 15th October same year the first baptism of a girl in danger of death was conducted. She was named Ludovica. Later many were baptized including the wife of Chief Mbogholi.

Introduction of the mission saw many traditionalists convert to Catholicism and it also opened doors for the local Community to acquire education which has resulted to the birth and growth of current Bura Girls High School and St Mary’s Teachers College. 

 

In 1909  Sr. Lumberta and other sisters arrived in Bura to assist in teaching and nursing. Later Monsignor De Courmont appointed Jean Maria Marvel as superior and Fr Martin Rohmer and Br Sollanus Zipper as assistants.

The missionaries however faced some challenges in that the Wataita were very faithful to their traditions like consulting Waganga(seers) and it was hard to convince them to convert. A critic arose that the missionaries were teaching their children new strange things and as a result so many parents stopped sending their children to classes. The locals were also addicted to ‘’tembo’’ a local brew made from palm leaves. Another challenge that the missionary overcame was competition form Rev Wray of the Church Missionary Society who also wanted to set up a mission in Bura valley but Monsignor decided it is a first come first served and emerged the winner.

After 22 years a war broke out in Bura Mission and it became hostile. Bura Mission was closed by the Missionaries and used as a hospital for Indian Millitary. The Porters (slaves), were imprisoned in Lamu and Sr. Lumberta together with other two sisters were brought back to Mombasa where they later died of Typhoid Fever as a result of drinking water from an infested well. Later hostilities moved from the area, the military hospital was closed and the mission allowed re-opening.

Why name the Mission our Lady of Good Hope?  It was a stopover for missionary and caravans where they could have a rest and relax after a tiresome Journey as they continue with their journey to Kilema, also it was a stopover for hunters on their way to Serengeti. It gave good hope to the missionaries because it reached a moment they had a predefailling despair and loss of more conversions.

It was a site of good hope, gaining healing for Indian and African troops and the slaves since the mission was used as a hospital and they could get healthcare and gain back their health.

 

 

 

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