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Friday, March 24, 2017
Dave Stewart SJ writes from Dar es Salaam (ii)
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¬†There is a Graham Greene feel about Dar es Salaam; discomfort and dust, perspiration and the harsh light on the faded stained buildings. Half- tyres, rocks and clumps of rye-grass jut out from the sandy roadside where once there might have been pavement, in better days. While you might not meet a sweating Scobie, the scene is set for him. As in so many African cities, minibus taxis are everywhere; here they are, in street-kiSwahili, Dalla-dallas. It looks and sounds chaotic yet there is an order to it; each one is plying a specified route, which is stencilled on the front panel below the windscreen. Street-kids are still in plentiful evidence, finding drivers a parking space, selling one of the many Dar daily papers, or household merchandise ≠ coat hangers, bars of soap, mobile covers, even saucepans. There's little that can't be bought on a street-corner. Very few of these kids actually beg. Mzungu! Mzungu! is the cry from the littler kids a little further out from the city centre. It means "white man" or "foreigner" and is usually meant as a friendly greeting; tourists would never come here. This is Mabibo Farasi, several kilometres from the City Centre. It's where, a decade ago, the Jesuits built a large secondary school, Loyola High. Here, over a thousand secondary pupils study a curriculum broadly similar to the British one. The students are smart, keen and respectful. Many are evidently ambitious. It's clear that the Jesuits have created a context for that ambition that would otherwise have not been possible. These could well be the future leaders in East Africa and it's the job of their Jesuit educators, in the Ignatian tradition, to ensure that they lead as men and women for others. Already, US volunteers form Jesuit Volunteers International come here and serve with distinction. The Jesuits' Inyasi House community is in the school grounds and is home to the Jesuits who work in the school and several who study in the University of Dar es Salaam. The community has been asked by the bishop to take charge of the contiguous parish of Mabibo Farasi. Fr Emmanuel SJ has just arrived to take over as the first Jesuit parish priest. Over two acres of good flat ground, with water and sewage services in place, has been acquired on which a primary school will be built, with construction about to commence. Part of my task here has been to open discussions with the Inyasi community Jesuits about our XVP volunteers coming here in the future, to help with this work and to learn, as I am doing, about how the Gospel is lived out today in East Africa.
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