Today was a day that I hope I never forget. I wore my new shirt, and the waitress at breakfast was surprised. She said I was beautiful. When we got to the college, they were all so happy that I was wearing it. I met with the senior staff of the Mlimani College. Mlimani means “hill” and the school is on a hill, but the name was intended to recall the mountain where Jesus preached and Mt. Sinai where Moses received the commandments. It is a good name. I heard a report from Rev. Sikazwe about the school. The needs are many. I am amazed that they teach as effectively as they do considering the lack of resources. We had a good conversations as educators, and felt much more comfortable discussing strategies that might be helpful than I had in the churches. The principal would like to build a dormitory for women, and I asked if women receive the same education as the men. He said that they do, but there aren’t that many women since there is no dormitory for them. He also said they need a car for various purposes, but I think where I can be most helpful is in online instruction. I made it clear that I could make no promises since I am a lowly professor and not a dean or provost. I encouraged the teachers to work on writing the history of the Moravians in Tanzania from the perspective of the Tanzanians rather than the European missionaries. They want me to come back and spend time doing this, but I think it is best if they do it. I encouraged them to interview people before they die and the living memory is lost. I hope someone can do this.
I got a tour of the campus. Most of the teachers live in campus houses and it was nice to see their children playing outside. There are extensive gardens primarily to grow food for the faculty and students. Later in the day I saw the academic dean working in the pea patch. And there are free range chickens everywhere. Most of the physical facilities seem adequate, if in need of painting and renovation. It was the library that shocked and depressed me. There were so few books. I was glad to see that the books that Center for Moravian Studies sent a few years ago were there. The Principal pointed to my book on the shelf, and I signed it for them. But I truly think that my office has more books than their library. I promised that I would send them books off of my shelves. I owe them at least that much, and I have far more books than I need or even use.
At 11:00 they held a lovefeast in my honor. It was a very touching service, so different and yet so familiar to me as a Moravian. People sat at tables and Br. Kawageme led the service. At one point a group of students started singing and then got up in a type of processional. The song was Swahili for marching to Jericho. They sang another song. Later another choir got up and sang. I love the way they use the whole body in singing, including facial expressions. Then food was served in the thermos containers that are ubiquitous here. A type of small dense roll with hot sweet tea. I thought it was lunch and so I ate too many rolls! And then the principal presented me with a gift: another perfectly fitted shirt. This one is blue with the Moravian seal pattern on it. I also gave a gift, which was a little more substantial than the one I gave to the congregations. Again there was more rejoicing than such a token deserves.
During the recessional, the chairman was dancing to the music as he walked out, so I did the same, to the delight of everyone. They were all taking pictures of the big white guy in the brightly colored African shirt trying to dance his way out of a lovefeast. I was so happy to be there! I have seldom felt so loved and welcomed.
I was rather surprised that we had lunch after the lovefeast at the MCC. It was the college administration and the chairman of the province. This time we had fish. It is called something like Kabuki and is delicious. I finished the fish but could not finished my rice. We talked in more detail about ways that my school and their school might work together. It would be good to bring students from my school there and visa versa. They all speak in terms of when I return, not if I return. I kept reminding them that I am getting older and my body is starting to protest against long trips like this, but they are persuasive. As much as I want to return to the US and be with my family and my students, it is hard to say good-bye to these wonderful people.
At 4 p.m. the driver took me to the home of the Kawagemes. We sat on comfortable sofas and watched Christian music videos and had tea and cookies. I gave Mrs Kawageme one of the Moravian Seminary shirts that I had brought and it fit nicely. She wore it all evening. I also gave one to Peter. I met two of his daughters and his adorable grandchildren. The little boy is two and wants to go to school so badly that he wears his only little school backpack all day around the house. The little girl is older and in school and is very sweet. There mother was quite shy. I also met the third oldest daughter who visiting from Dar Es Salaam where she is studying accounting. She is almost the exact same age as my third oldest, and both are named Sarah. Her English is quite good and we had a lively chat. She took pictures of me and her dad, and he told me all about school in Tanzania. It would be nice if she could study in the US.
We had a lovely dinner. I finally got to experience the national dish ugali. It is white corn meal and that you shape in your right hand to form a type of cup to dip into the soup. Tastes a bit like grits. And then I returned to the MCC to pack. Even though the driver and I have few words we can say to each other, we have become friends. He is a farmer and wants to buy one of the “tuk tuk” cars that are everywhere on the roads. He is sure that I will return.