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Rugambwa: A portrait of honesty, humility

Updated Thursday, August 12th 2010 at 00:00 GMT +3
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When Cardinal Laurean Rugambwa died 13 years ago, he left an indelible mark in the Catholic Church in Tanzania.

Rugambwa, who was ordained as a priest in December 1943, is remembered for his simple life, pastoral work and concern for the church’s pastoral workers.

The late cardinal’s relations with the faithful and Government officials were effortlessly cordial. He left a rich legacy to all, especially in the places he worked.

"Both in Bukoba and Dar es Salaam, he was the undisputed leader of all religious denominations, the Catholics, Protestants and Muslims. They all accepted his leadership in common negotiations with the Government. All governments respected him and took his word seriously," read a statement posted on the church’s Bukoba Diocese website.

The prelate had royal roots in Bukongo village, Rutabo Parish, Bukoba Diocese, North West of Tanzania, on the Uganda border.

In recognition of his successful work of spreading the gospel in Tanzania, Pope John XXIII elected him the first African cardinal in March 1960.

In 1969, Rugambwa was nominated the Archbishop of Tanzania’s capital city, Dar es Salaam. He was its pastor until 1992 when he retired, aged 80.

In Dar es Salaam, he introduced the Catholic religion to congregations from different parts of Tanzania and helped open many parishes in the predominantly Muslim city.

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