Obituary Father Tuzinde (OSB) 1969 – 2023


It is with great sadness that we at Imagining Futures mourn the passing of Father Tuzinde, a great loss to so many. We are grateful to have had a chance to work with him and learn from his wisdom, of how to think into the future, with great and gentle energy.


Rev. Fr. Simon Mgassa (Tuzinde, OSB) passed away on Wednesday, 23 August 2023, at Lourdes, France, aged 54 years old and was laid to rest today, 1 September 2023, at Saint Otilien in Germany. Born in 1969 in Tabora, Tanzania, Fr. Tuzinde was ordained priest in 2002. We have known Fr. Tuzinde too much, yet very little. Since he was introduced to the project as the custodian of the Ndanda Benedictine Archive and contact person for the Imagining Futures Project, we have had the opportunity to meet and discuss the academic/intellectual part of his life besides his priesthood and personal life. We have also discussed Catholicism beyond religious personnel but theologian and intellectual per excellence. While we thank Fr. Tuzinde’s ministry to the people we witnessed until our last meeting in July 2023, we would like to cherish the use of religious teaching beyond the dogmatic perspective—the three most recent occasions in the life of Fr. Tuzinde we would like to recall.


In July 2023, on the occasion of the burial of Abbott Siegfried, a Professor of history, we happened to be with Fr. Tuzinde at the cemetery during the evening hours. One of the things we discussed was about the burial of the Abbott away from home and the simplicity of the grave. Plausibly, Abbott Siegfried was buried in Ndanda by choice and lived long enough to prescribe his burial. During our work with Fr. Tuzinde in the Ndanda Archive in January 2023, the late Abbot Siegfried—a nonagenarian was jokingly alerting us that his days were numbered. Fr. Tuzinde recounted that the cemetery in Ndanda contains people of different racial backgrounds, some with no history or relatives known. These are primarily of the deceased clergy rather than the ordained. With his charismatic spirit, Fr. Tuzinde recounted that on several occasions, he had collected collapsing crosses and erected them in their original place. This conversation turned to torment when we learned about his passing and final rest. This is a difficult death for all it is worth. It is the first time that a missionary from Ndanda Abbey has been buried home away from home. Fr. Tuzinde was young, energetic and enthusiastic, and he died a sudden death unfathomed by no one but his creator.


Before he left for Germany, Fr. Tuzinde shared with us his publication in the Lumen Chassis (LC 62) on Pugu. Reading this intellectual piece confirmed that Fr. Tuzinde was a historian not by training but by calling. His analysis of historical information, details of the African historiography and perspective of the missionaries who lost their lives during the 1888 Abushir resistance is an exciting form of writing and an imprint he has left for us to cherish. Contrary to other missionaries who refer to the colonial missionaries who died during the colonial resistance between Tanzanians and Germans as martyrs, Fr. Tuzinde contests their nature of death as unqualified for such an honour. What makes this more interesting is Fr. Tuzinde is named after one of the Uganda martyrs. This topic was thus important and pertinent to be written by him.


Fr. Tuzinde accompanied us to Mahiwa, the last First World War battle before von Lettow escaped to Mozambique in 1917. While at Mahiwa sub-Parish, Fr. Tuzinde realised that the children who were to receive their first holy communion had yet to receive penance. Fr. Tuzinde called the Parish Priest to let him know that he would offer penance to them and that he should not bother coming to that side again. He left while we were conducting interviews and joined afterwards. He did the same in Lituhi when we visited for archive work related to the Peramiho Abbey. Fr. Tuzinde engaged the children who were gathered for catechism lessons. His ability to easily engage with the young and old in fulfilling his calling while at the same time fulfilling his intellectual pursuit is an example to emulate.

We salute Fr. Tuzinde for these and more, and the Imagining Futures Team will dearly miss him.  May he rest in peace, Amen

                                                            Obituary composed by Nancy Rushohora and Valence Silayo


The St Otilien Abbey of Germany have marked the passing of Fr. Tuzinde which you can read about HERE.