... is closely linked with the development of the Apostolic Vicariate of South Zanzibar, which was entrusted to the Missionary Benedictines of St. Ottilien in 1887. After the destruction of the first monastery at Pugu and some lost years in the capital of Dar es Salaam, which was dominated by Islam, the Apostolic Prefect Maurus Hartmann set out in 1894 to occupy the huge territory of about 400,000 km2 entrusted to him by Rome. His first foundations were Lukuledi and Nyangao in the hinterland of Lindi.

Left: Founder Andreas Amrhein; Right: Current 5th  Abbot Placidus Mtunguja, 2015 -


After the devastating rebellion of 1905 in which all the mission stations in the south of German East Africa (present-day Tanzania) were destroyed, Ndanda was started by Bishop Thomas Spreiter on August 15th in 1906 as a replacement for these two stations and a new central mission for the south-eastern area of his vicariate. In spite of difficult setbacks caused by the First World War (1914-1918), the expulsion of Bishop Thomas and all his missionaries of German nationality, Ndanda developed constantly and in 1927 together with the inland mission of Peramiho was elevated to the rank of an abbey nullius, called Lindi, with Abbot Gallus Steiger at the helm.

Left: Joachim Amman, Abbot-Bishop I, 1932,1949; Right: Dionys Lindenmaier, 4th Abbot, 2001-2015

Most of the German missionaries were evacuated, many schools and outposts had to close down, and Abbot Joachim became seriously ill and in 1947 resigned. Viktor Hälg was appointed his coadjutor and in 1949 became his successor as abbot-bishop. Under his leadership and a renewed supply of missionaries, the Church really took root and even the Muslim coast could be opened up for the Gospel.   In the late sixties Ndanda numbered about 40 parishes, 220 outstations, 200 primary schools, three hospitals and 22 dispensaries, six middle schools and the famous Abbey School at Ndanda. All this was cared for by about 120 missionaries and 10 African diocesan priests, 50 Tutzing Benedictine Sisters, 65 African diocesan sisters and 250 catechists. In December 1972 the Territorial Abbey of Ndanda was raised to the rank of a diocese. At this point Bishop Viktor was able to hand over the pastoral leadership of the territory to an African bishop, Maurus Libaba.

Left: Victor Hälg, Abbot-Bishop II, 1949-1975; Right: AB Siegfried, 3rd abbot 1976-2001


Bishop Viktor remained the abbot of Ndanda as an exempt monastery in the new Diocese of Mtwara.   In the course of time the vast territory of Ndanda was divided into three dioceses: Mtwara, Lindi and Tunduru-Masasi, which now number about 260,000 Catholics, cared for by 120 African diocesan priests and 280 African sisters. Abbot-Bishop Viktor died in December 1975 and in February 1976 Abbot Siegfried Hertlein was elected as his successor. Step by step the monastery took on a new dimension. It has now definitely become a monastic center and mother-house for the Benedictine missionaries. On November 30th 2000 Abbot Siegfried resigned and the community elected Abbot Dionys Lindermeier as its new leader. He was blessed on January 5th 2001 and since then is fully in charge of the abbey's activities.

Left: Bro. Clemens, one of the early missionaries; Right: Local Chief Mr. Hatia with one of the Missionaries


 Major events in Ndanda History

1887  Fr. Andreas Amrhein, founder of Missionary Benedictines, opens mission house at Emming, St. Ottilien in southern German province of Bavaria.

1888   First monastery in Tanganyika is established in Pugu near Dar es Salaam.

1889   Pugu is destroyed during Bushiri Uprising. Two brothers and one sister are killed.

1894   An exploratory journey to the south (Lindi area) is carried out with an opening of a mission house in Pilipili.

1895   A foundation is made in Lukuledi.

1897   A foundation is made in Nyangao. 

Left: one of Tuzting Missionaries in Ndanda. Right: Some of the community members around 1928.

1905   Both Lukuledi and Nyangao are attacked by Maji-Maji insurgents. 

1906  Ndanda is chosen as the site for  new mission. On 15th August, Bishop Thomas Spreiter says his first Mass at Ndanda.

1908   Bishop Spreiter consecrates St. Joseph’s Cathedral in Dar es Salaam.

1909   Ndanda Hospital begins with extremely simple buildings.

1917   One of the WWI battles is fought around Ndanda. Ndanda is taken by Allies. Departure of German Benedictines; replacement by Swiss Benedictines.

1931   Abbey Nullius of Ndanda is erected.

1932   Fr. Joachim Ammann is appointed the first abbot of the Abbey Nullius of Ndanda.

Left: Fr. Marus Hartmann; Right: Von Lettow - a German officer during WWI operations around Ndanda

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