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News for end of September 2002

Dear all,

It was a privilege to attend the wedding of an ex KIST student this weekend. The event took two days to complete. The bride looked emaculate. It is amazing how 'poor' people such as these rural Tanzanians living in mud and thatched houses have an incredible eye for beauty! The highlight of the event for me was a drama on a 'hen-pecked-husband'. His friend advised him to fight back, and that did not work at all. It was only when the preacher-woman finally sussed out what was happening and told the couple that the man should be the boss in the home, that things finally went into the 'and lived happily ever after' mode! This was a warning for the new couple not to make the mistake of the couple in the drama. Please pray for Juliana and Ibrahimu as they start their lives together.

I am pleased to say that I have now found some 'proper accommodation'. As from saturday evening I now have a room in the home of an African family for all the time that I will actually be staying here at Babati. I am staying with an amazing couple. Her ancestors migrated from Iraq, and his from South Africa, so they have met in the middle in Tanzania! It is an African home, but with a number of mod-cons such as electricity. They are a very friendly couple and it has been good already to talk and discuss over many things.

Tanzania is a very impressive country to work in. Although slated by some for having been socialist, the late-President Nyerere certainly brought in a number of very good policies that have given the country a good foundation to build on. The Swahili language is even more widely known in Tanzania than in Kenya, giving the country a unity based on an indigenous language greater than that of any other African country that I am aware of. Nyerere's effort at discouraging great inequalities in wealth and excessive inflow of foreign influence and ideas have brought a deep valuation by the people of their own country and culture that should continue to prove a great foundation to future developments.

On the 'down' side, there are a lot more Muslims here in Tanzania than in Kenya, and their influence has been much deeper and more profound. The potential for conflict between them and the Christian population is great, although they currently live side by side successfully without agression. It is amazing how deep a rift the Christian/Muslim divide has brought socially, considering how integrated people are geographically.

"A two roomed thatched hut is to be my accommodation for the five days of this seminar. The first room is for women and children to cook, sit, talk eat sleep and hang out in. The second room, seperated from the first by a sheet in the doorway, is for visitors to eat, sleep, talk and hangout in. I share the bed, with a half-inch foam matress, with the local church overseer. Chickens and chicks sleep under the bed. Two bags of maize, some rough benches and my bicycle share this uneven mud floored room with us. There are no doors fitted in this house, and it looks as if 'leaking roof' would be a problem if it rained. The bathroom consists of dried-grass stood up in a circle alongside another house. The is a pit toilet, open to the stars."

Best wishes,