Bwana Asifiwe

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Art & About in Arusha

Today was certainly very different to our recent experiences in Kenya! After a leisurely breakfast it was Sunday school time for the kids. This was not the usual Sunday School, but was a family affair in the lounge room. Mike played guitar, Katie sang and they all did craft together. Harry is 5, Miriam is 2.5 & Sam is 18 months. Then Katie insisted we ate a snack (some delicious home made sultana buns) because, she said, we would need sustenance to get us through church, which can run for up to 2 hours or more. Mike & Katie gave us a crash course in a couple of Swahili phrases we would need. “Bwana Asifiwe” means “The Lord be Praised” and is a greeting. “Shikamoo” is how young people address their elders, to which we needed to respond “Marhaba”. Katie said there is no English equivalent for that one!

We walked to church, which is part of the Munguishi Bible College campus (Munguishi means ‘God lives’). We were late but apparently the starting time is rather fluid, so no-one seemed bothered. We really enjoyed the experience. The whole service was in Swahili, but the head pastor Mchungaji Joseph,(mchungaji means literally shepherd, and is equivalent to Reverend) sat with us and interpreted for us, which was very helpful. We were personally welcomed (in Swahili) by one of the elders, and we responded (in English) with greetings from Australia. The singing was wonderful, there was a small choir of young people who sang and harmonised beautifully, and Joseph’s wife Martha (more properly known as Mama Mchungaji Joseph) lead (from her seat) in a couple of songs. We didn’t understand the words but she has a magnificent voice. It turns out she has recorded a couple of CDs so hopefully we will be able to bring one home with us.

After lunch and a siesta (still recovering from all those pre-dawn starts) Katie & the kids took us on a tour of the college. It is quite a large block of land, with a number of different buildings – lecture hall, dining room, dormitories, staff offices, the principle’s house, the library & computer room. The buildings are solid, plainly furnished but in quite good condition. We also saw the worker’s cottages, which were very small & primitive, sharing one toilet (just a concrete hole in the ground). There is an outdoor kitchen where the meals for the students are prepared – it is very basic & I can’t imagine cooking there. The college tries to be self-sufficient, and much of the grounds is devoted to farming – maize, sweet potato, green vegetables, also pigs, cows & chickens. We saw a meal plan on a noticeboard, and the food is very basic & repetitive, but it must be challenging to feed that many people (up to 70 at a time) on very limited resources.

By the time we finished our tour Mike had cooked us a delicious stir-fry, complete with his home-grown Thai basil, for dinner. We spent some time planning our week  – craft markets, art galleries, and another national park (allegedly containing the elusive leopard) but this is going to be a quiet chilling out week most of the time. Nice.


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