Geographical features



And you, mountains and hills, O bless the Lord. And you, all plants of the earth, O bless the Lord. And you, fountains and springs, O bless the Lord. To him be highest glory and praise for ever.A nd you rivers and seas, O bless the Lord. And you creatures of the sea, O bless the Lord. And you, every bird in the sky, O bless the Lord. And you wild beasts and tame, O bless the Lord. To him be highest glory and praise for ever. And you children of men, O bless the lord.To him be highest glory and praise for ever. " Canticle of Daniel.

By its borders Songea Archdiocese is situated in the civil Ruvuma Region in South Tanzania. The Archdiocese is lying between Longitudes 34.40 E d 36.45E degrees and between Latitudes 9.15 S and 11.30 S. Its borders are identical with those of the up to July 2002 civil District of Songea. The geographical extension of the Archdiocese covers a surface area of 34,319 square kilometers. This makes traveling within the Diocese to be difficult because of the long distances: Ifinga Parish is 219 km north of the Bishop's House. Lingusenguse outstation church in Ligunga Parish is 280 km away from the Cathedral. And Kilimasera village is 160 km away. The neighboring catholic Dioceses are: Mbinga in the West, Njombe in the North-West, Mahenge in the North (Kilombero and Ulanga Districts), Lindi in the North-East (Liwale District), Tunduru Masasi in the East (Tunduru District) and Lichinga Diocese (Peoples Republic of Mozambique). The seat of the Archdiocese, Songea town, is 976 km of road distance south west of Dar es Salaam and is ca. 1158 Meters above sea level.
Songea town is the Headquarters of Ruvuma Region and hence the seat of the Regional Government for the four Districts of Mbinga, Tunduru, Namtumbo and Songea itself. It is also the Headquarters of the District of Songea, which is made up of nine Divisions (Tarafa) of which two do make up the township of Songea and the other seven are all rural. The Divisions are: Songea East, Songea West, Ruvuma, Mhukuru, Hanga or Mputa, Undendeule, Mkongo, Sasawala, and Madaba. Each of these Divisions has got Subdivisions (Kata). In all there are 35 Subdivisions in the Archdiocese (equivalent by area to Songea and Namtumbo Districts), which together are made up of 125 Villages. Our Archdiocese, by its surface area and borders is concurrent with the District of Songea and the new District of Namtumbo. Thus there are 125 villages in the Archdiocese which are in 35 Subdivisions, in 9 Divisions and in two Districts.
Up to 1968 Songea Archdiocese geographically covered the entire area of the present civil Districts of Makete, Ludewa, Njombe in the present Iringa Region, the Districts of Mbinga, Songea and Namtumbo in the present Ruvuma Region. In 1968 the new Diocese of Njombe was created covering the surface area of Makete, Ludewa and Njombe Districts. Nine years later in 1987 another new Diocese was erected. It is Mbinga Diocese covering the surface area of the present Mbinga District. Hence from that time the borders of Songea Archdiocese are concurrent with the borders of the present two Districts of Songea and Namtumbo. It covers a total area of 38,600 square km. The area extends between Longitude 34.41 Degrees and 36.45 Degrees East, and between Latitude 9.15 S and 11.30 S. The Cathedral and Archbishop's House is located on Latitude 10.41 Degrees South and Longitude 35.35 Degrees East at an altitude of 1020 Meters above sea level.
The landscape of Songea Archdiocese has an altitude of between 1450 m above see level and 600 m above sea level. The highest areas are to be found in the Northern part of the Diocese at the border with the Diocese of Njombe. The Parish of Wino is in the highest position of about 1400 Meters above sea level while Ligunga Parish in the South East and Ndongosi Parish in the very South lied at an altitude of 600 m above sea level. Most of the Parishes in the center of the Archdiocese are located at an altitude of between 1000 m. (Songea and Matogoro), and 800 m above sea level.
The towering Matogoro Rock near Mahilu Village in Songea Township As you drive from Wino to Iringa you see these beautiful mountains taken on 3rd October 2003 This is the Ruvuma River at the most western point of the border between Tanzania and Mozambique - Kivukoni, Nakawale Village, Mhukulu Division. The Archbishop crosses the Ruvuma to go to Congress Village in Mozambique. This was in October 2003
In the North Lilondo, Wino and Igawisenga are on Wino hills and Lukumburu Mountains. The central part of the Archdiocese is fairly lowland with small hills which can be seen sporadically here and there with more hills appearing in the southern half as one approaches Songea town from the northern side. More prominent hills as one approaches from the north are: Matogoro Mountains in Songea and Mpandangindo hills. Further south one meets higher hills like Mara near Chipole as one approches the border with Mbinga Diocese. As one drives southwards from Songea, via Mpitimbi, past Namatuhi Village towards Mhukulu and Mitomoni, hardly 50 km from the basin of Ruvuma River, and hence the border with Mozambique, one approaches quite a number of beautiful hills: Lumbingu, Lundamwende, Manole, Mpinganjuchi, Chiwulunge, Litembo, Nambunju, Kipululu. And as one drives towards Ndongosi Parish, a parish also on the border with Mozambique one sees Ndanje, Lihiga, Lihuhu, Lihiga, etc. In the South East, on the road from Litora Village towards Mkongo Parish one sees the high hill point of Nakawale mountain just on the side of our Mkongo Parish. Other beautiful Mountains are those surounding Mpingi and Milola (Kikunja) Village on the east of Matogoro. Equally beautiful are those hills on the eastern side of our Matimira Parish.
The Litimbanjuhi Mountain near Namatuhi Village North of Mhukulu Village is Kipululu Mountain Manolo Mountain in Namatuhi Village again
Once, on pastoral duties, we had to visit an outstation which is about 100 km away from the Parish. We could drive on a very good road for about 50 km. For covering the rest, i.e. 50 km. we had to cross eight bridges, it means eight rivers within this short distance. It is again in the southern border of the Archdiocese where many small rivers flow from the hills as mentioned above, and these rivers flow down into the Ruvuma River before forming the southern border of our nation. These rivers are to be crossed as one travels westwards from Lilahi -Mhukulu towards Mipeta Village: Lilahi near Mhukulu, Mkayukayu, Mhukulu, Ngunguti, Mkurumo, Nakagugu, Masimahuu, Namahomba, Makangau. Nevertheless bigger rivers in Songea Archdiocese are the following: In the very South there is the famous Ruvuma River which starts in Matogoro Mountains, flows towards the west for about 60 km, then turns south to Lupilu and Masimeli villages, then turns east to Mitomoni, down to Newala and into the Indian Ocean in Mtwara. Towards the North, on the tarmac road to Dar es Salaam one crosses Hanga River and Lutukila Rivers. In the East, on the road to Lindi there is Luegu River which separates the Parishes of Namabengo and Chengena. This river is the source of the great Rufiji River. It starts in Ngwinde Village, flows down to Libangu and Mgombasi and Likuyu Uhamiaji Villages.
Again from Tanzania crossing the Ruvuma for Congress Village in Mozambique at Kivukoni, Nakawale, Mhukulu The Archbishop of Songea on the Ruvuma River, South of Songea, on the Border with Mbinga Diocese (near Mbepai Paris) At Mitomoni, where Songea Archdiocese borders with Mbinga. People cross with canoes.
Almost all over, the soil is red-brown except in big valleys like the Ruvuma Valley. It is a soil which readily absorbs rain water and dries up within one or two hours of hot sunshine. For this reason people cannot cultivate during the dry season. Within two or three days after the rains have stopped, then the earth becomes dry such that no hoe can break it. On the other hand, immediately when the first rains fall, the next day people start cultivating frantically. We are fortunate to have this soil because it is fertile. Cereals do grow easily and fast. There are no rocks. Here do grow maize, beans, cassava, tobacco, and fruits like bananas, pawpaws, oranges etc. In the valleys where water is abundant in swamps people do cultivate rise.
Temperatures do vary from 20-22C in the cool season which runs from April to July. During the hot season temperatures do rise up to 28 or 29 C. Rains to set in early November, do fall heavily in February and March, begin to diminish in April. And shortly after Easter is the end of the rain season. Cool temperatures are in the month of May and June.
THE PEOPLE: Tribes residing in the Archdiocese
Almost all of the people of the Archdiocese are Bantu by origin. According to the 2002 Census, they make a total population of ca. 464,391 people of whom 237,846 are women and 226,545 are men. Ethnically the population of the Archdiocese is made up of the large tribes of Wangoni, Wandendeule, Wamatengo and Wabena. While people of these tribes are to be found in every parish and village, the Wangoni are the majority residents in the West of the Archdiocese i.e. in the Parishes of Peramiho, Mgazini, Liganga, Magagura, Lusonga, Mpitimbi, Ndongosi, Songea, Matogoro, Matimira, Mpandangindo and Litapwasi. The Wandendeule live mainly in the East of the Archdiocese in the Parishes of Namabengo, Msalaba Mkuu, Hanga, Kitanda, Mtyangimbole, Mkongo, Namtumbo, Chengena, and Ligera and partly in Mahanje Parish and Ligunga Parish. The Wabena tribe resides in the two northern Parishes of Wino and Mahanje. The Wanindi and the Wayao are to be found mainly in the Parish of Ligunga which is on south eastern border with Mozambique. The Wamatengo and Wanyasa are people who have come from the neighboring diocese of Mbinga in the West. They reside more in the western border of the Archdiocese and also with a strong presence in the town of Songea. In the four urban Parishes of Songea, Matogoro, Bombambili and Mjimwema we have people who come from almost all tribes of Tanzania but still the Wangoni and Wandendeule and Wamatengo and Wabena and Wanyas are prevalent. There are also a a few Indians and a very small number of Arabs residing in Songea town. Europeans are to be found only among our missionaries and a few volunteers. Although the native bantu people are ethnically different in their origin and hence despite their diversity tribal customs, in daily life, they live in such good harmony and mix with one another that one can hardly notice the difference in their origins. That is the blessing we have in Tanzania. While the Eastern part has predominantly Moslems, the Western has predominantly catholics. Despite this difference in faith, the people live happily together as brothers and sisters. We enjoy good and brotherly coexistence and cooperation between christians and moslems.