Saturday, August 28, 2010

Trailblazing Pioneers in Uganda

The following photos and experiences (on pgs 68-71 of the 2010 Yearbook) *really* demonstrates whole-hearted, whole-souled devotion to Jehovah and the ministry. Imagine preaching and living in this wild, safari-type environment! =)

True Pioneers
The first record of the Kingdom-preaching work in Uganda dates back to 1931, when the South Africa branch office supervised the preaching work in all of Africa south of the equator. To open this tremendous territory, the branch assigned two pioneers, Robert Nisbet and David Norman, to preach in the area that is now Kenya, Uganda, and Tanzania.

Brothers Nisbet and Norman were determined to take the good news of the Kingdom deep into the interiors of Africa. They launched their campaign in Dar es Salaam on August 31, 1931, with 200 cartons of literature. From there they went to the island of Zanzibar and then on to the seaport of Mombasa en route to the highlands of Kenya. They traveled by train, working the towns along the railway line to the eastern shores of Lake Victoria. Crossing the lake by steamship, the two intrepid pioneers arrived in Kampala, the capital of Uganda. After placing much literature, as well as subscriptions to The Golden Age, the two brothers continued by car even farther inland.

Four years later, in 1935, four pioneers from South Africa undertook another expedition into East Africa. They were Gray Smith and his wife, Olga, along with Robert Nisbet and his younger brother George. With two well-equipped delivery vans fitted out as living quarters, these enterprising pioneers negotiated bad roads and battled their way through elephant grass up to ten feet high. "They often slept out in the wilds," says one report, "and could see, hear, and feel the throb of the heart of Africa with its abundance of wildlife—roaring lions at night, peacefully grazing zebras and giraffes, and the ominous presence of rhinos and elephants." Undaunted, they visited towns that had never been reached with the Kingdom message.

While Gray and Olga Smith spent some time in Tanganyika (now Tanzania), Robert and George Nisbet headed for Nairobi, Kenya. Later, when colonial authorities ordered the Smiths to leave Tanganyika, they made their way to Kampala, Uganda. This time, however, conditions were not so favorable, and the Kampala police kept them under constant surveillance. Undeterred, in just two months, the Smiths placed 2,122 books and booklets and arranged for six public meetings. Eventually, though, the governor issued a deportation order compelling the couple to leave Uganda. They traveled to Nairobi, where they met up with the Nisbet brothers before returning to South Africa.

With Jehovah's blessing, these preaching campaigns were exceptionally successful, and an excellent witness was given. Despite religious opposition and mounting pressure from colonial authorities, the pioneers distributed over 3,000 books and more than 7,000 booklets, besides obtaining many subscriptions. After these campaigns, many years passed before preaching activity was resumed in Uganda.

(photo of the Nisbets and following info continued on pgs 85 & 86)

In September 1963, the preaching work in Uganda came under the supervision of the newly established Kenya branch, and William and Muriel Nisbet were assigned to visit Uganda as part of their Nairobi-based circuit. Remarkably, William was following in the footsteps of his older trailblazing brothers, Robert and George, who had preached in Uganda some 30 years earlier. The publishers now benefited from the hard work of a "second shift" of Nisbets.

Interest was growing, more groups were being established, and the publishers were scattered over a wide area. So, regular visits from traveling overseers rendered a vital service in providing training and encouragement and reassuring isolated brothers and sisters that "the eyes of Jehovah are upon the righteous ones."—1 Peter 3:12.