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Taveta’s century-old church calls for rehabilitation

COAST
By Renson Mnyamwezi | June 2nd 2021

Mahoo ACK Church in Taveta Sub County has withstood the vagaries of weather for years.[Renson Mnyamwezi,Standard]

Tucked away on a hill in the outskirts of Taveta town, Mahoo ACK Holy Trinity Church is still revered to date.

Though small in size, it is one of the first churches built by the early missionaries and stands derelict to this day.

Following its gazettement by the Government as a national monument, residents and leaders are expected to protect it for future generations, but this is not happening.

Historians and scholars say the first inland church was built at Mahoo by the Church Missionary Society in 1890s. Rev Albert Remington Steggall, the superintendent of the CMS station and founder of Taveta Chronicle used to preach in the church.

History shows that John Rebmann was the first to venture into the interior and went as far as Kilimanjaro, a time, which Krapf built his residential house, which still stands to date.

In the same house, Krapf built an upper house, which served as the church office.

When Rebmann returned, he also built his house, which was more of a classroom. Krapf ventured as far as Usambara in northeastern Tanzania and on coming back, introduced formal education.

And when Krapf went back to Europe, Rebmann took up the task of evangelism and built the current church between 1883 and 1887; this was 35 years after the first church had been built.

Inside the church, pieces of old furniture, the structure of a vicarage that had been corrupted are still in existence. Also standing tall is the First World War Watch Tower at the church.

“I had earlier cautioned the ACK church not to interfere with the structure but they ignored. The church building has been interfered with hence losing its historical heritage,” said Kimaru Folonja, an elder in Taveta.

He noted that behind the church, there are military bunkers for the soldiers who fought during WWI from 1914 to 1918 pitting the British and the Germans in Taveta sub-county, the epicenter of the war.

Folonja, 68, says the bunkers are falling apart due to old age, human activities, and lack of preservation.

“People just see the church as a local feature but historically, the structure is an important landmark that should be preserved for future generations,” says Folonja.

“The congregants have painted the building and expanded it instead of preserving it as a historical heritage. Interference has made the monument lose its value. The building has a historical background that needs to be protected,” he added.

Folonja warned that the church's history will die if it is interfered with.

“No preservation is going on at one of the oldest churches and a historical monument,” he said, adding that its historic importance will disappear if deliberate efforts are not being made to preserve it.

“The problem is that nobody has bothered to protect the national monument. It pains me to see that feature going into waste,” he said.

The region was one of the epicenters of fighting between British and German forces and the devastating effects of WW1 are still evident in parts of the county.

During the war, Kasigau location was turned into a theatre, and residents were evicted from their ancestral land and deported to Malindi. 

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