We live in Mwanza, Tanzania, serving with Emmanuel International helping local churches in physical and spiritual ministry.

Monday, 11 August 2014

Nane Nane and a Garden in Iraq

"Nane" is the Swahili word for "eight" (pronounced nah-nay). Consequently, Nane-Nane means "Eight-Eight" (ok, that was obvious!) Last week, Tanzania marked the annual eighth day of the eighth month with Nane Nane celebrations across the country, in the form of agricultural fairs. They are similar to a County Fair, almost like the Newbury Show we used to go to in England (well, almost)!

I was interested in the bee-keeping projects on display, as I get increasingly excited about all things bees! I bought some beeswax to attract my bees to their new hive, and also some homemade beeswax candles because ..., well, just because I am anticipating all that these bees will produce! They could have been a good idea for the power cuts, but when the power was out on Saturday, I simply couldn't burn them! I'm sure many of you can understand this!

Louisa has an audience as she tries her hand at the honey extractor
The big Water Buffalo
Tractors! A rare sight here!

This poor big billy goat gruff got in a bit of a tangle.
With all the work on my keyhole kitchen and medicinal garden (I will have to tell you all about it one day, but I am still waiting to see what has survived the storm), I was also very interested to see keyhole gardens demonstrated at Nane Nane. It was fascinating to see the different lotions being made from local plants and healthy nutritious solutions being offered to help various problems.
A Keyhole Garden at Nane Nane
After all our baobab discoveries in Iringa (remember the baobab smoothies and ice cream? click here!), it was interesting to see other people doing things with it. I bought a bar of Baobab soap which I am looking forward to trying my hand at making soon (mixed with the aloe vera of course!).
Baobab soap and the baobab that Amisadai has been pounding
I also bought some cassava flour (great for biscuits and breads) and checked out the great work of Phil, a friend of ours here, who designed this incredibly useful machine used in processing cassava, which makes a huge difference to the lives of many farmers here and you can read all about how here ....!
Phil's cassava press
All in all, we all had a fun and informative morning, particularly useful given that we are starting an agricultural project in a few weeks. But there is another "nane nane" I was thinking about this weekend. Luke Nane Nane (Luke chapter 8, verse 8 in the Bible). It is a nane nane agricultural story of a farmer who went to sow his seed. Some seed fell on the path and was trampled and eaten by birds; some fell on rocks and then withered without moisture; some fell among thorns which later choked the plant. And some seeds fell on good soil. And here is the "nane nane" bit, "it came up and yielded a crop, a hundred times more than was sown!"

This is what we are hoping for with our agricultural project! With about 80% of Tanzanians dependent on the land for their livelihood, it is hard to underestimate the significance of agriculture to rural communities in Tanzania. The Mwanza region has a history of being unable to feed itself due to the unfavourable weather (low rainfall), adverse soil conditions and scarcity of land. So in September we shall begin in a “classroom” setting to train a group of subsistence farmers in conservation agricultural practices. Then once the rains come (in November, give or take a bit) we and they shall be ready for the practical work in their fields ... and the result we hope will be a significant increase the yield of their harvest! But while working with these eight to ten farmers over the course of the year, we hope many seeds will be sown deep into their hearts, and it is these seeds that will bear the greater fruit! 
The biggest gunia (sack) garden I've seen!
And lastly, with all this reflection on seeds growing and abundant gardens, there is a garden destroyed this nane nane of 2014. Iraq. A place now full of people brokenhearted and grieving, echoing the sound of mourning, wearing crowns of ashes and spirits of despair. What was once a garden (perhaps even Paradise, once the Garden of Eden) is now a place devastated. 

This sounds like something out of the Bible ... Isaiah 61 to be specific. But the words in Isaiah written so many hundreds of years ago for a people also exiled and grieving, can give hope for the situation today. There is comfort in the mourning, there is a crown of beauty for ashes and there are garments of praise in the place of despair. "For as the soil makes the sprout come up and a garden causes seeds to grow, so the Sovereign Lord will make righteousness and praise spring up before all nations."

And just as my basil and cilantro seeds are starting to sprout up after the beating they endured in the storm, so too shall it be for our world that is currently in such a storm. As the world looks on, horrified at the brutal wreckage in Iraq and other places, we pray. For the storm to stop, for life, for strength, for hope. For a garden to grow, for righteousness and praise to spring up ... before all nations.

And meanwhile we must also tend our own gardens. For it is in good soil that sprouts come up and a garden grows. It is good soil that yields a crop hundred times what was sown. Sometimes I get so frustrated because I can't see anything happening (thinking here beyond just my basil and cilantro),  but that is because it all starts in a hole in the dirt. That's the best place to start, even if it doesn't feel so great. But that soil is important. Tend it and water it. Look for it wherever you are. Keep planting seeds. And remember the end of the story ... "it [the seed] came up!" Nane Nane.


  1. So beautiful. So precious. Thank you Mongers.


  2. So sad to see all the suffering. Praying here.


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