Friday, November 6, 2009

Wednesday, November 04, 2009
Today we went with Mwankenja, and John, the College driver, on a tour of the more rural areas of Konde diocese—the centers of Manow, Itete, and Makaleile, stopping at the diocese headquarters along the way for a brief visit with the Bishop. The trip to Tikuyu was interesting. Just a few minutes from Uylole Junction, once we got up into the hills that we can see from our house and where it appears to have been raining nearly every day the landscape became green, looking much like Spring, which of course it is here, although temperature and day length have hardly changed at all. Some of the areas between Manow and Itete, however, looked as if there had been no rain in a long time. Going to Manow we skirted the side of one of the dormant volcanoes. In places along the road where earth had been cut away we could see what appeared to be different layers of ash put down by earlier eruptions. The area is still geologically active, and small earthquakes are common. A few years ago there was a larger earthquake that damaged or destroyed many houses. “Experts” attributed the quake to excessive carbon dioxide withdrawal by the gas mining operation at the foot of the volcano. Along the way we passed by many houses with smoke, apparently from cooking fires inside, seeping out of many apertures, and in some cases where the roofs were thatch, through the roof itself—no chimneys. On can only imagine how smoky it must be inside. Speaking of the “Centers” that we visited—Manow is a church run secondary school, Itete a church run hospital, and Makaleile a church run vocational and life skills training center, the people at Mbeya speak of them often, and I am sure they provide valuable services, but to us each of them appeared to be out in the middle of nowhere, with only a small village nearby. Of course culture never stands still—all three were centers of early missionary activity, with churches dating back to the turn of the 20th Century or before, and Manow was formerly the diocese headquarters, but still to us they seemed very isolated. I have been told that the European missionaries favored those areas because the climate was more hospitable to them. It was a very long day. We left at 7 AM and did not get back until a little over twelve hours later. On the way back we bought some maswisa, local fruits that resemble hand grenades, and which taste a little like blackberries.

Saturday, October 31. Halloween is totally unknown here. Karen asked Mwankenja if it is celebrated in Tanzania and he totally drew a blank. Today Mwankenja was officiating at a wedding at Uyole Lutheran, and he invited us to attend, as a cultural experience. Once again, although we would have been content to sit in the pews we were escorted up front to sit on the chancel. It turns out we had met the Best Man when at a previous Sunday service. We did not remember him, but he remembered us—white people are easier to remember. There were two choirs and a brass band. The ceremony was over an hour long. The Groom’s mother invited us to the reception, but because Mwankenja could not go due to business in Mbeya, we declined also—we would have felt very out of place without an interpreter. Nevertheless, we got lunch—the evangelist had arranged for food at the pastor’s home—the usual Tanzanian fare—rice, meat in sauce, beans, and bananas. The congregation insisted on paying our taxi fare as an act of hospitality. The official Tanzanian marriage certificate has space to indicate whether the marriage is monogamous, potentially polygamous, or polygamous. If monogamous is elected, the man cannot later change to polygamy—the wife has legal standing to block the change.After we arrived home we realized that it was the end of the month and we had not paid Hiari. She had already left for the day, so we walked to Mwankenja’s house to give her her wages. I had always expressed doubt about being able to find the house by myself, and it turns out I was not mistaken. Fortunately, we were close by, and Mwankenja’s son, Elisha, recognized us and came out to greet us. Neither Mwankenja nor Hiari were at home, but we left the envelope with Elisha, with a note for Hiari. This afternoon students were watching a soccer game on TV in the dining hall—it must have been quite exciting, for we could hear the cheering inside our house as if the game were being played in person on campus.
Thursday, October 29
The weather pattern for the past week has been, with but one exception, that of clear, cloudless sky in the morning, with rain developing somewhere in the area by late afternoon. When rain comes it is hard and cold, and sometimes the air remains cold after the rain. Several days this week the local people were bundled up against the cold. Supposedly temperatures rise as the rainy season approaches, but that does not seem to be the case thus far. The rains we have had thus far have certainly settled the dust—it is almost nonexistent compared with what we had been coping with since we arrived here, even though the surface of the ground appears dry in most places. Patches of green are starting to appear on the hills and mountains to the south, which have been getting rain more consistently that we here in the valley.
Monday, October 26
Today when we went into town we saw the “Hanging Tree” where the Germans supposedly hanged prisoners after the Maji Maji rebellion (1905-1907). Neither Mwankenja nor Verywell knew anything about it until we pointed it out from one of our guidebooks. The tree has a very small metal hoop imbedded in one of its branches. At one time there was a wire apparatus hanging from the hoop, but that has supposedly been removed to the nearby fire station. One of the firemen offered to show it to us but apparently he wanted money to do so. Verywell vetoed that suggestion so we did not go to see it. This afternoon it rained again. Another cold hard rain that lasted a couple hours. Amazingly, when we went for a walk after 6 PM neither the ground nor the vegetation seemed wet—apparently the continuing effect of the long dry season. We have now had electricity for three days in a row.

No comments:

Post a Comment