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

Tuesday, 26 January 2016

The Story Behind a Name

Sharing stories is so important; there is so much we can learn listening to the story of another. When we were in Kayenze recently for the beekeepers meeting, we asked the group to tell us the story of their village. They began their story with the day that the Word of God arrived, back in 1878. They told us that the name of their village in those days was Mayenze. Then they talked about key events such as when the country started seeking independence in 1954 before it came in 1961. They remembered the first time the president, Julius Nyerere, visited the village in 1981. And then recounted the year that they started growing potatoes in the terrible famine of 1984. They remembered the plague that wiped out crops in 1990 and finally finished their story in the present with the current problem of cholera.

It seemed that their story started well and but ended badly. We went back to the original name of their village, Mayenze, and asked its meaning. Many people chipped in tell about the origins of its name, and we grasped the gist that it comes from the Kisukuma (local language) word for the reeds that grew in the lake (but are no longer there). These reeds were good for encouraging large numbers of fish in the area and also good for making things like mats and baskets. There were stories about a giant rock (now buried under the lake) which marked the beginnings of the settlement and also stories of cows which provided large quantities of milk. It was a picture of blessing at the beginning of their story, with fish and milk in plenty.

We are not sure when or why the name changed to Kayenze. But now, rather than fish and milk in plenty, people are recounting hunger and disease. As we start the bee project with these people in Kayenze, we shared our hope that the Word of God would be revived in this village. And that once again Kayenze could be remembered as a place of blessing and plenty. A place of hope with an abundance of fish and milk and honey! A picture of the hope we have been promised. We pray for Kayenze to again be Mayenze!
Meeting with the new beekeepers group in Kayenze

One of the members of the group, our friend Samson (who is one of the farmers in the agricultural project), was unable to come to the meeting as his wife was in labour! Together with Peter and Samuel and Megan, we stopped by his home to greet him and his wife (and see how the crops there were doing) before we left. There we met his beautiful, very newborn daughter, who together we then gave the name, Neema, which means Grace, and that is her story.

Megan holds and prays for little Neema

Beans are doing better than the maize at Samson's shamba


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