The mainly Sukuma Ethnic Group adult catechumens
(between 30 and 50 each year) in Shinyanga, Tanzania have been journeying
together for two years. In their villages and outstations they have been praying
in their regular Small Christian Communities (SCCs) or in a special Catechumen
Community. During Holy Week the adult catechumens live together and pray
together at Mwanhuzi Parish itself. They develop their own communal identity by
praying, singing and dancing (an important part of the Sukuma culture) together.
During the Easter Vigil Service the local community presents the candidates for
baptism. The symbols of the Paschal Candle, water, oil of chrism and white
garment are rich in meaning as they are inculturated in a local Sukuma setting.
Different kinds of drums and bells are played during the singing of the Glory Be
to God. The women and girls’ ululation (a special trilling sound made in the
back of the throat) punctuates the singing. The whole congregation acclaims the
newly baptized with clapping, shouts of joy and ululation. The sponsors,
friends, relatives and SCC members flow into the sanctuary and the aisles to
sing and dance. The new adult Christians are reminded of the missionary call of
their baptism in two African sayings: To be called is to be sent. Every baptized
person is a missionary.