23 September 2006

Africa 2.:.The People


Beautiful and tragic. These are two words to describe my impression of the people with whom I met while I spent February 2006 in Tanzania.

Beautiful. The color and life that the African people bring to planet earth is breath taking. They love to smile and laugh, spend time together in community and family. They work for and with each other to accomplish task. Now sure, there are problems--Some crime, drunkenness and sexual addictions—but every culture has its vices.

What struck me more, was the tragedy that is the African continent. Before I left for my trip, I read up on life in Africa as seen through the eyes of D.A.T.A., One Campaign, World Vision, Bono, etc. I watched Hotel Rwanda and The Constant Gardener. I read novels written by and about Africans. It seemed like the left was trying to make the problems seem worse than they really were for funding and support, spinning stories to make it look like the need was so great.

Little did I know that yes, while drama is drama, life in Africa is bad. Where we were in Tanzania we were greeted formally by the children. They said a word to us that sounded like “shook-e-ma.” I’m not sure how it’s spelled, but I was told what it means: “Allow me to kiss your feet.” To which I was told to reply “Matta-haaba,” which literally means, “You may kiss them a thousands times.” I was taken back as this seemed so wrong. And really, it was, but it is there tradition. It is a formal greeting left over from colonialism and slave-trade. This example just scratches the surface. So much of life on the island we visited seemed like it was a result of hundreds of years of being told what to do. The people don’t have much initiative to accomplish work. They would rather just hang out together and work enough to live. It is only when someone comes in from the outside and shares with them that they could have fresh drinking water if they dig out a spring will they band together and work for something that is greater than themselves.

Yet, that said, they are really content people with love for each other, tribe and family. They are wonderfully created by the Father. To say this was a lesson in mission was an understatement, this was a lesson in human anthropology – seeing a developing nation, well… develop life on the island as they find and dig for water, work the land to feed themselves and barter for goods. I was lucky to be a fly on the wall of their lives.

2 comments:

Twisted as a Redvine said...

What an experience :D

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