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News for middle of November 2002

Sadness and Joy

Sadness is a part of this seminar programme.

Wherever we go we find a predominance of young people. Many of those who might have been old, are already dead. The land that is currently plentiful, will in due course be in short supply.

Literacy levels I am finding are high in Tanzania. Yet the economy is entirely either subsistence (at a very basic level) or foreign in origin. There is no (very little?) evidence of an indigenous economy arising.

Church leadership faces many serious crises. These all too often revolve around conflicts for the control of (and hence access to) foreign donor money and its products. Some donors, apparently oblivious to the disputes that they are perpetuating, continue to bring (well intended) fuel to these conflicts.

Racism is rampant in Africa. Time and time again, if not continuously, I have to translate carefully what I am told. Whites here are often seen as barely watu (human). Our culture is just so different from that here. That, coupled with the magico-religious interpretation of language in Africa in general, makes understanding of received communication a very difficult task.

Perhaps saddest of all, is the way in which powerful and wonderful Christian truths can be lost and confused in peoples’ poorly informed rush to join the 'international community'. Western based education is grossly misunderstood as if a religious ritual process, that is so ardently worshipped as to entice people to create economic and social suicide for its sake. Corruption becomes an inevitable part of this. It is as if the best brains in the country are pre-occupied in trying to win the lottery, while the state of the masses gets to be more and more pitiful.

Give thanks that the teachers' strike in Kenya is now over. Pray for Pamela at my home in Kenya as she prepares for her primary school leaving exams. Give thanks that my health seems to have improved, and although I am anyway not doing as much cycling as I would be in Kenya, I am otherwise up to normal strength! Pray for the Tanzanian government that has just passed anti-terrorist laws with considerable opposition from the large Tanzanian Muslim population.

Jim Harries