Pastor Venance Mgani of Samaria Temple Gospel in Dar es Salaam preaches the word of God with the vehemence and the sincerity of a devotee, who wants to save poor souls from destruction by the Devil. "Praise the Lord!" he cries.
"Amen!" cry back aloud members of his congregation seated on plastic chairs in an all metal building with an earth floor. Praise the Lord!" "Amen!"
But the Devil he wants to protect his believers from dwells boldly among the community and is working hard to create discord among them, prompting others to declare resolutely their dislike for the Samaria temple Gospel.
"We don't want them here because they invaded the place," says Shaban Salum Mhulo, their neighbour and resident of Cell No 2 (Shina number mbili) in Mburahati Barafu of Mburahati suburb of the city, where the church is situated. "The area was previously a dump, but we were told to stop disposing of our garbage there to keep it as a playground for our children. It is therefore an open space."
Pastor's proclamations of peace have not therefore quelled the residents anger because the metallic structure for prayer is hollering godly songs accompanied by loud music most of the week where their children should be playing in a more quiet presence.
The area was named Mburahati Barafu, explains Mhulo, 'because this is where the mega-business man of Dar es Salaam Said Salim Bakhresa began his business of selling ice cream. Samaria Temple Gospel, the locals explain, began in another part of Mburahati Barafu close to where the ruling party CCM's office is.
"But it moved here when the authorities wanted it out of that place and invaded this area for lack of where else to go without proper authority," Mhulo, a devout Muslim told the 'Sunday News' on July 19. Residents of Mburahati Barafu, who oppose the church's presence of say it makes a lot of noise at their time of prayer.
"They play loud music during worship," Mhulo explains, pointing to another church by Samaria Temple Gospel. "That church plays loud music and now this one too! We can't take it. We want this one out." The area's ten-cell leader, Saidi Lumelezi, says their rejection of Samaria Temple Gospel's presence is caused by the suspicious permission of the authority to be there.
"We think there is dishonest and money must have changed hands somewhere because we were not consulted. Pasto Mgani counters by saying the basic reason residents of Mburahati Cell No 2 residents do not want his church there for religious reasons.
"They just don't want us here because we are Christians and they are Muslims," he says. "Our presence here is legal because we were given permit to construct a temporary building for our church by the local government leader chairman Mr Dickson."
Mr Dickson, whom Mhulo said is also called Tungaraza, but who refused to be photographed, said he had allowed construction of a temporary structure for the Samaria Temple Gospel. "We allowed them to remain there until the end of May 2013," Dickson told the 'Sunday News.'
They still remain adamant that the permission Dickson gave the church as the area's chairman to build a temporary church was corrupt and unacceptable. "Dickson should have sat in a council with members of our local government, at least five of them," says Lumelezi.
In what appears to be supportive of what Pastor Mgani says, Mhulo explains their outrage, saying they had taken the matter to their councillor one Mwakalinga, who had appeared surprised by the news, alleging that the church had tried to give him 40,000/- to let them build a church on the plot.
But Mhulo, speaking for the area's residents, says they won't relent on their demand for the removal of the church from the area. He says Muslim youths in the area have attempted several times to pull down the ramshackle structure, but he has stopped them. "We have no quarrel with christian believers and we don't want to look like hooligans, but this place is supposed to be an open space," Mhulo explains.
"Several times our youths have asked me to let them pull down the church's building but I have said to them no." In what appears to exonerate their condemnation of the church's presence in the area from being a religious reason, Mhulo says it is not only the area's Muslims who want Samaria Temple Gospel out of the area.
"Even the neighbouring Tanzania Assemblies of God (TAG) church also wants them out." Pastor Mgani says truly their relationship with the area's TAG was once thorny because of the cows TAG kept and whose dung the TAG used to throw over the dividing wall into the Samaria Temple Gospel's compound.
"But we have settled that," the STG pastor says. Mhulo also accuses Samaria Temple of Gospel, saying that the believers are not exemplary godly people because they have turned their house of worship into some kind of a guest house.
"Some of them spend the night in that church. That is not a good picture for our community here," he says. Pastor Mgani admits there indeed are people who sleep in the church, but emphasizes that they are merely guards.
"We have such expensive properties as musical equipment and other things," Pastor Mgani says and adds. "We are peaceful people and have seen that they don't want us here. After the expiry of our allowed time we shall leave."