A Village Welcome

Oct 14th, 2007 | By | Category: Updates

On our visit to Okaseni, Tanzania, we stayed overnight several times in the village itself. It was a wonderful chance to get to know some of the people and to see village life first-hand. We were made to feel very welcome.

Peter Mchau, a customer service manager at Scania, the Swedish truck manufacturer, put his Okaseni house at our disposal. His generosity was very much appreciated. While we were there, Peter’s son John was our host. We enjoyed getting to know John and appreciated his gracious hospitality and good nature.

We were the recipients of many little kindnesses while in the village. John kindly fed us and even bought us some bananas one day as we were walking in the village. We were very touched when one of the villagers drove us around for several hours and did not ask for anything. Tumaini and Melki gave us some coffee, a cloth bag and a carved mask. Tumaini’s mother, Catherine Minja, invited us for dinner one evening and treated us to a feast.

We were made especially welcome at the General Village Meeting on Saturday, where over one thousand people turned up to greet us. Melki, the Village Chairperson, ran the meeting and told the villagers about us and the Africa Village Project Association. The villagers cheered and applauded. A very enthusiastic translator, Dominician Mushi, shouted and gesticulated as he told us what Melki was saying in Swahili.

Melki said that we were now honourary members of the village and were considered in fact village elders – a huge privilege for us. We were seated with the most venerable elders and dressed in traditional cloth wraps: a kanga for me and a mgolole for Dale. As well, Dale was given a beautiful elaborately carved cane. As the meeting ended, many, many villagers came up to shake our hands and suddenly, an impromptu dance began with much singing and handclapping. The dancers encircled Dale and me and sang a traditional song of welcome. It was absolutely wonderful!

To Okaseni, we say, “Asante (‘thank you’ in Swahili) for your wonderful village welcome. We will remember it always. Asante!”

Cheers,

Sheena

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