To continue with last week’s theme.
Gloom and pessimism reigns. Even the football contest in January has been affected via Morocco. History, however, proves all continents have gone through mud and snort and fart. Why are Europeans marking 100 years of their slaughter in 1914? They too passed through hell. Lessons.
It is not only us.
Someone recently, WhatsApped me that we are currently governed by gangsters. Harsh? The guys that led African renaissance were so principled and focussed that they had to be stopped, instantly. Patrice Lumumba (Congo, 1961), Ben Barka (Morocco, 1965), Kwame Nkrumah (Ghana, 1966), Marien Ngouabi, (Congo Brazzaville, 1977), Thomas Sankara (Burkina Faso, 1987), etc. Some muddled through. Mwalimu Nyerere (1962-1985) and Nelson Mandela (despite a 26 year, prison sentence), to name a few....
We have had misfortunes. Truly.
But is it all external? Politics and governments?
Last week I asked this significant question. How does one find courage to carry on? Where do you unearth hope to work, relax and strive?
One of my personal beliefs is to look into your own kitchen. Roots. Inspiration through those closest. Family, friends, teachers, colleagues.President Julius Nyerere (second left) , Dar es Salaam, 1962. Family Archives Pic
My great, grandfather, Abraham Macha was born in 1840 and died aged 95 in Old Moshi, Kilimanjaro. He lived a long life and had many children. His last kid was a well known preacher.
Reverend Anaeli Macha was born six years before the First Great War began in 1914. At the time Germans were ruling Tanganyika and many Africans had to go die for the vampire. Just like they would against Adolf Hitler in 1939.
Their missionaries preferred the green highlands, of which the young 12 year old Anaeli roamed. Hardworking and promising he began by chopping wood and other menial tasks for one Mrs Bertha Schultz, a German sister based in Old Moshi. The fee for his labours was to be tutored various subjects including the German language of which by fifteen, he was “as fluent as Kiswahili,” to paraphrase him. Here you can see the working ethic. Something he preached in church and to all of us.
Hard work equals results.
Having completed his basic education, Anaeli Macha joined the Marangu teachers college and graduated in 1926. He would then teach at Kidia, Old Moshi until 1949 when his oratory skills and character, made his peers recommend him to the theology college at Lwandai, Lushoto, 1949. Graduating as a priest, later in 1960 he was given a scholarship to study further in Seattle and Minneapolis, USA.
During the 1960s, grandpa lived in Dar es Salaam. Quite busy. The first African priest at Azania Front (nowadays, Kivukoni) Lutheran Church, Dar es Salaam. When Mozambique FRELIMO founder, Prof Eduardo Mondlane, was assassinated by a bomb sent by Portuguese secret agents (PIDE) in 1969, Rev Macha was one of three religious leaders chosen to bless the international funeral service. In attendance were President Nyerere, Sheikh Abeid Karume and Rashid Kawawa, the ruling elite. Cream.
By 1972 my granddad retired to his roots in Moshi as chaplain of KCMC hospital. He would carry on his duties in the area, until his death aged 87 in 1991. His funeral was attended by over a thousand people. To this day his graveyard at Kiboriloni church is cared by the public. One of the qualities we learnt was that he had no known enemy.
Why? The man preached eternal love. His house was always filled with people and strangers.
In 1987 I was about to do a concert in Bremen, Germany when a local MP and his entourage, approached and asked if I was related to the legendary preacher.
Later the European politician would visit the old man in Kilimanjaro. It was an honour.
I grew up inspired by Babu’s light. Apart from his language and music skills (he played the accordion), I specifically, inherited the writing. He published a Swahili book on etiquette (amongst his favourite subjects) and marriage, in 1979. One of my aunts, Dr Eva Ombaka, recalls: “He wrote and wrote and wrote! In his office were lots of note books...and in this process he made us love reading and writing. He believed there is no end in learning.”
Throughout the 1970s his voice could be heard in Radio Monrovia, Liberia and Addis Ababa teaching etiquette to Swahili and English speaking Christians. Were he living today he would be running interesting blogs. Just like Ndesanjo Macha, another inspired relation, 2013 African blogger of the year.
Education was his motto. He had nine children. In an era (1940s and 50s) when most fathers preferred educating sons and preparing daughters for marriage, Reverend Macha did the opposite. All his six daughters were educated to university level.
Space does not permit to carry on. Within and around us, hope maybe spotted. We can locate optimism from the most trivial and ordinary. Not everyone has a gigantic ancestor. However, everyone knows someone close whose positive qualities, however minute, may splash sunshine into a dark alley.
Published in Citizen Tanzania, November 14th , 2014