It has been a little while since I’ve posted but I would like to welcome you to follow me in the coming months as I do a series of posts called, ‘Wanawake wa Tanzania’ which means ‘Women of Tanzania’. It is my heart to share with you some glimpses into the lives of a few of my dear friends here and to share with my western community a look at another side of ‘Africa’ that doesn’t always get highlighted as much…which is the strength, competence, ingenuity, beauty, power & love which is revealed in these women. So, Karibuni!
I will begin my series with glimpses into the life of a woman I have mentioned in the past, my neighbor, Miriam.
Miriam was born in northern Tanzania in a lush place called Arusha. She is the youngest in her family and had an opportunity to go to a western missionary run boarding school where she finished her high school education. A privilege not available to everyone but it gave her a good start in life.
Miriam is married to Bahati and together they have 2 children, Ivanna age 10 and Ivan age 4. Bahati has studied in the UK and for a time they as a family lived there while he got more training for ministry. They felt called to return to Dar es Salaam to start church planting and to train up church leaders. They are about 3 years into their church plant and it has not been an easy road.
It would have been a much easier lifestyle for them as a family to have remained back in the UK but they felt they must obey God’s call to return to their home country and help build up the church.
Financially it has been a challenge for them since returning to Dar es Salaam as up until now the church cannot support them. Thankfully their church in the UK is supporting them as much as possible but of course they hope to be self-sustaining in the near future.
Miriam, being a true Proverbs 31 woman, has prayed and worked hard to find ways to help support her family. She is slowly growing a Chicken business. She has two barn areas and about 300 chickens, and roosters. This allows her to sell organic eggs, and Chickens & Roosters. It is a lot of work and upkeep for her and her family but we see how it is growing. She also has a beautiful vegetable garden where she has managed to grow vegetables that she can sell in the market and to provide food for her family. She has grown tomatoes, pumpkins, eggplant, spinach, cabbage, beans, maize, and several other items as well.
Upon asking Miriam what she loved most about Tanzania and her culture she replied, “That people really pull together and help each other out when you need something. If you are struggling financially there is always a family member or friend who is willing to help you get out of a difficult time without much expectation. People are ready to help each other.”
In terms of what she thought was not great in her country she stated that, “Although Tanzanians are known to be a peaceful people and we are a peaceful country, but I don’t believe it is true peace because many people are fearful and afraid to really speak out their mind or their rights. There is a lot of corruption and people are afraid to speak and often we are told to just keep quiet and not make trouble.”
Miriam’s words seem to ring true. As I spoke with another Tanzanian friend recently she agreed that most Tanzanians are not ones to speak up against injustices all around them, and she said it was a challenge for Christian’s because it is seen as not being Christ-like. They are often told to just ‘keep the peace’. It is a very real dynamic for many Tanzanians I have met which leads to feelings of defeat that little CAN actually be done to overcome these injustices in society.
Take a moment to pray that country of Tanzania would grow in the area of true justice for its people and for people to grow in boldness and speaking the truth.
I asked Miriam what she believes the strengths and weakness’ are of the Tanzanian church. She stated the following:
“I think there is too much Prosperity Gospel in our churches in Tanzania. Most people only want a church that will give them their healing or promise them wealth. Many people pay to have these Pastors promise them all kinds of prosperity and it makes it more difficult for us to do church. Bahati has to spend a lot of time teaching people properly about God’s Word. Also, people are slowly more reluctant to give to the church because many have been taken advantage of by false teaching.”
Please pray for the church in Tanzania in this area! It is difficult soil for Pastors who are trying to lay a good foundation of the true Gospel message.
What Miriam felt is a strength of the Tanzanian church was; “I think that many born again believer’s here really pray and really intercede and they do this a lot. In the western church they are good loving Christians but I don’t think they pray as much from what I have seen.”
I can say that this is very true. Tanzanian Christians are quite devout in their prayer life and could really put the western church to shame in the disciplines of prayer and fasting. I have been stirred up and often so encouraged by the commitment to prayer here.
Thank you for taking a moment to take a glimpse into ‘my Africa’ through the eyes of Miriam.