A Call to Nations; A travel through and among the People of Tanzania.
In nations you see many things, people and places that define their heritage. On the Kenya and Tanzania border you are checked by the immigration and borders officials-the beauty and magnificent of the land is irresistible Tanzanian culture is a delightful mix of influences with over 120 tribes.
One of the things to keep in mind is that for the past few weeks Kenya and Tanzania were treated to hilarious drama and stand off for obvious diplomatic shows emerging from these countries that were and has always been on the forefront for East Africa Community Integration.
To the students of history it’s a repeat of similar or closely related events with different actors. In early 1970 first President Jomo Kenyatta had pulled a trigger with the late President of Tanzania Mzee Julius Nyerere-who is considered by the majority of Tanzanians as the father of socialism or Ujamaa as it’s commonly referred. It was based on ideological differences while Jomo Kenyatta favored capitalism, Nyerere adopted socialism in Tanzania.
They had sharp disagreements that almost led friendly these two neighboring nation into a titanic battle- Nations have always worked hard and even sometimes beyond their strength and ability so as to protect their sovereignty in the midst of escalating potential for occurrence of conflicts.
In other world nations have erected walls just to keep the enemy at bay. And with intervention of key leaders-standing issues were addressed amicably and diplomatic relations restored between two key players in the socio-economic transformation of East and Central Africa. However much dreadful conflicts can look, they can be destructive but not always destructive.
And in developing nations those conflicts can spur socio-economic growth if resolved with a bipartisan approach. Through those tense moments whether as nations or individually within the conflicts-its actually when the progress emerges and thrives. Conflicting situations provides opportunity for dialogue, reconciliation and emerging of new thoughts and philosophies.
In our encounters with the local people and our curiosity to learn why Tanzania is going slow as far as the unification and integration of East Africa, they view the push by other East Africa countries for the integration as not for their best interest as a nation-Time will tell if indeed their feelings are facts or just desire to protect their way of life which is characterized by a sense of brotherhood, vast land that is owned communally amongst other endowed resources.
There is a general feeling within the local people in Tanzania that maybe other citizens from Kenya, Uganda and Rwanda may occupy freely occupy their vast land and unsettle their way of life that has been preserved for many years. And hence a need for proper mechanism to be in place so as to protect and aid the process successfully where all countries in the East Africa Integration Community will mutually benefit.
And they as much as other countries that form the East Africa Community desire and are fully committed to the integration process. However the process must be based on transparency, honesty and sense of nationalism.
This reminds of my upbringing in the northern region of Kenya, where endless conflicts have tears the fabric of the society. For decades the tribes in northern Kenya have fought over water points and grazing field. The church can provide a platform to bridge these walls. And in our commitment to conflict transformation as the people of God, we will be proclaiming for the shalom experience in our communities and countries and at continental.
On the northern side of this beautiful country you will encounter Oldonyo Lenkai, it rises about 2100 meters above the East African Rift Valley. According to the locals the name of the mountain is derived from the Maasai community of East Africa, and it refers to the mountain of God. The mountain is considered the only active volcano mountain in East Africa. The nature around and beyond the mountain is intact and well conserved for posterity.
I was surprised to hear that God has a mountain in Tanzania, as a Maa speaking from Kenya- It was easy to understand the concept though. Our God has mountains and his cattle are everywhere grazing. In their movements through East Africa the Maasai as a community have had a high respect for God who they believe not just as the source of life, but as their main provider of cattle, goat and sheep. God is associated with the most powerful or even attractive features of the land.
We had an opportunity to marvel at the attraction and beauty of Arusha town, which is considered the highest tourist centre for the northern region. It provides a passage for people who are keen at savoring the heritage of Tanzania. In this northern region you have accessibility to Ngorongoro plains, Arusha National Park, Loliondo game reserve and Lake Manyara which is viewable at close range. Arusha is located in the lowland of Mount Meru. This provide good climate which is favorable for farming and pastoralist as a way of life.
In our safari we dropped down to Dodoma which is not just the first capital city of the United Republic of Tanzania but also the centre where Parliament is located. The elected representative travel from all over to come and attend house business. According to the 2012 census the total population of Dodoma is 2,083,588.
In our conversations with the local people- the idea of having Dodoma was mooted by the first of President the republic, the late President Nyerere. This was the most convenient town as it’s considered the central of Tanzania and people either from north, west, east and south would access it fairly. The locals in this town treat everyone with respect and courtesy.
In the outskirts of the city- there is one of the most modern and well built universities with the highest standard of architecture that is only second to Egyptian pyramids. University of Dodoma is located in these beautiful small hills that surround the historical city- that host the country parliament. Its serene environment makes it a convenient place to undertake studies. Actually there is a high probability that this university is one of the largest in East and Central Africa.
Our host, Rev Alfred Ndaro and his beautiful wife Happiness Ndaro are probably the most beautiful couple on earth provided us with an opportunity to relax, retreat and reflect at their home which is less than 10 minutes drive outside the town of Dodoma. In their home you find happiness, joy and companion-and it’s incredibly a great time together every evening as we worship God together in reading the scriptures as we narrate our day experience.
There inspiring testimony of God’s lead and the continuous tremendous impact they bring to the kingdom of God through their personal decisions to follow and live a Christ centered life is modern day perfect model of what it means to grew up in midst of life challenges and opportunities.
Rev. Alfred has lived in Kenya where most of his children grew up and studied until he returned to Tanzania where he was appointed to oversee the AICT Kizota and provide oversight to the process of creating Dodoma dioceses. They are people that God is using to build transformational societies as the lead Africa Inland Church Tanzania. They have amazing stories of how God called them through their mission experiences. We continue working together in training and developing the next generation of leaders together through seminars and conferences.
Before coming to Kenya for their studies-they had committed over 13 years in mission work among the unreached people group in Kondoa District, the southern part of the district with a people group known as Sandawe. They are known for being hunterers and gatherers so as to meet there basics needs. Originally they are closely related with indigenous group found in Namibia and South Africa whose primary language is sound click. The sandawe language is atonal language with clicks apparently related to the Khoe languages of Southern Africa.
The Sandawe practice an insular and deeply spiritual culture with an emphasis on animism. Caves in the hills were believed to harbor spirits and were respected and even feared. So as not to disturb these spirits, the caves were avoided, no animals were herded there, and no wood cut or twigs broken.
Once a year as tonal and click people group the Sandawe, whose the Ndaros as family reached out for many years as missionaries would go to the caves to perform traditional rituals of sacrifice in order to make sure the spirits would not be spiteful and interfere with the community's general well-being.
It’s this experience of working even with the modern indigenous people group such as sandawe that Ndaros as family bring to the ministries in Dodoma. God has led them through years of faithfulness and humility as they stretch amongst their communities to disciple and train laymen for effective ministry in areas of missions, theology and discipleship
Their remarkable testimony is a symbol of hope and courage for those that want and desire to follow Jesus Christ even in the remotest regions of Africa. In these conversations one could not miss the joy and satisfaction shown in their faces as they narrate the faithfulness of God in their missionary journey. They weave poignant reflections on the true meaning of servant ship in their missionary journey from their home in Mwanza and through there years in Kenya as students at seminary and today as the led MAPANA and provides pastoral leadership to AIC Kizota
Today the Ndaros as a family have settled in Kizota which is in the outskirts of Dodoma where they are providing training and creating mission awareness for the church and the community. They are reaching out to high traditional and Muslim influenced communities of Dodoma.
This Sunday, 29th March 2015, we were witnessing over 42 believers graduate after successfully completing mission training that provides them with more Godly perspectives on missions and the place of ordinary Christians called by an extraordinary God to ordinary places. In fulfillment of Mapana vision which is to create unique and high standard of mission training among Africa believer through equipment and resourcing them with necessary tools to grow deep and flourish, The Ndaro have poured there head, heart and hands wholeheartedly
I am committing myself to go back and teach in the next intake as God leads and provides. God is working through indigenous people to strengthen the church and prepare it to be the channel of societal transformation. And in places with a Muslim influenced and strong attachment to Africa Traditional Religion in the form of witchcraft, the church is evolving to be a community of life giving, change and hope within a pluralistic society.
In reaching and equipping the Christian community in the region, they have created MAPANA. This is basically an initiative for Mission’s Awareness Program for Africa Nations Abandoned. Their philosophy is seeing ordinary believers carrying out the mission work-the whole church being fully committed to the whole work of God. Bishop Charles Salalah graced the occasion while encouraging the growth and expansion of the MAPANA as an effective mission’s strategy.
On the sidelines we held talks with him and found a man of great wisdom and humility which makes him stand out as a true example of servant leadership that the continent is in dire need. As a bishop based in Dar salaam-the capital city of Tanzania, he provides oversight to a wide region which stretches to northern Tanzania where the majority of the Maasai are found.
It’s a commitment to make missions and outreach as part of their daily life. Unfortunately the work of gospel proclamation has been preservative of few ordained and trained clergy. The Graduates from MAPANA highly regard it for its impact and immense knowledge gained through integration of theory and its practicality.
The integration of MCPI manual and Mapana gives broader perspective on pastors and the process of homiletics. This partnership symbols new dawn of hope and transformation as the people of God in there remotest and scattered villages come together to be sharpened. And there was other better way for MCPI to be represented that committing to send us all the way to Dodoma
As I reflect our stay among the Tanzania community, doing ministry together, encountering stories of one’s struggle and triumph with life challenges, obstacle and even sometimes surprises of God in the form of kind and amazing brothers in faith- I can only say that truly when God call he doesn’t only qualifies the called but also goes ahead as we follow him in obedient and humility.
A decade earlier I had been a high school student in Nakuru, those years are remarkable and bring good memories. And no other way to bring them a new than to bump into Raphael and Gitemi who relocated from Kenya to work in Tanzania. God can do what man can do and no man can do what God can do. These two brothers came to receive the Lord as their personal savior and God has blessed them with lovely families here in Tanzania. As we rekindled the old stories as student and them as teachers-tears of joy and appreciation for the immense impact they had in my life were noticeable.
While meeting Bishop Salalah, Ndaros amongst other believers during our stay in Dodoma we have been extremely blessed, enriched by friends and felt part of the body of Christ through networks and collaboration. We have learned so much and continue growing as we interact with the people of God called from different races, tribes, language, culture, clan, social status and even educational levels.
MAPANA as a mission and outreach has dream and future plans for equipiing the church. They see possibilities of replicating it in the whole of Tanzania and beyond. Its our hope that we can do whatever we can to be part of its growth and spread so that we actualize the kingdom of God in East Africa and Beyond. They have enormous need and God has seen the enoourmous potential in them. From trainers to resource centre-the future looks bright for MAPANA.
And as we return back to Kenya through towns such as Singida, Manyarra, Mijingu. Mbuyuni, Kisongo, Arusha and finally Nairobi our hearts could not stop pondering what God is doing through his servants in Tanzania. We have so much to learn from them as we network and collaborate to proclaim the establishment of God’s kingdom
It’s our prayer and earnest desire that even as we partner and walk alongside these faithful believers into the world to carry out the great commission mandate-that they will look up to God for strength, look around for fellowship from other Christians and look deep within for ways to grow .
May these stories of ordinary people called to serve God, inspire, challenge and even remind us that in every nation amongst peoples and cultures God has chosen and sanctified people to lift up his name and draw people to the kingdom of God. In the words of Isaiah the prophet, God of Israel has said "I am the LORD, I have called you in righteousness, I will also hold you by the hand and watch over you, And I will appoint you as a covenant to the people, As a light to the nations” And in obedience the Ndaros have heeded to the calling.
Pray for the Diocese of Pwani under the able leadership of Bishop Salalah, it’s probably one of the widest and vast dioceses. In the month of November this year, they will be commemorating 20 years of God’s faithfulness and providence as a diocese. Rev Ndaro too has some commitment as he works and provides leadership not only to Mapana-but also to a process that is going on to create Dodoma Diocese.
Pray for Happiness Ndaro as she works alongside her husband in expanding the vision and mission of Mapana, a methodology that holds the promise for Tanzania and beyond. And in witnessing the faithfulness of God to Mapana, AIC Tanzania, MCPI and the believers who are considered to be 60% of the population in Tanzania, we can confidently proclaim that indeed "Thus far the LORD has helped us." And even as we look into the future of Mapana we can always trust God for the path.
To God be the glory!