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Sunday, October 23, 2016
Tanzania Diary: Dave Stewart SJ writes from Dar es Salaam
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¬†It feels strange to type January above in 33 humid degrees and rising, and still before 8am. The harsh African light is raking across the compound of the Msimbazi Centre in Dar. It's a big multi-purpose Diocesan conference and resource centre and I've just had Mass in kiSwahili and breakfast of fried banana, bread and marg. It will soon be time to head over to Mabibo Farasi and Loyola High School, about 20 minutes through the din and dust of the traffic of Dar. Yesterday, two of us drove the 1000kms from Nairobi to here in just over 11 hours. A good hour of that was spent at the border crossing between Kenya and Tanzania and would have been longer had not Fr Gaspar known the routine; he covers this route two or three times a month. He's a Jesuit with, like all of us, multiple responsibilities and this is one of them: caring for the young men in formation, the future Jesuit apostles of this continent. He stonishes me with the statistic ≠ over two-thirds of the Jesuits in Africa are in formation. If there is a vocations crisis, then here it takes the form of keeping track of them all and, in the Jesuit tradition, ensuring that each is cared for. From Loyola House in Nairobi at 5am, we drove along the Mombassa Road, seeing the dawn break about an hour into the journey. First light arrives quickly here, at only a few degrees south of the Equator. Even at that time in the morning people are heading for work, jogging along the red-earth shoulder of the highway; schoolchildren too, in uniform and satchel, some of whom will have many kilometres to walk or jog. Drive a little further away from the conurbation and zebra become plentiful, grazing right by the highway. "This is their place", says Gaspar. Families of baboons twist their necks to stare malevolently at zebra and traveller alike. (Many thanks to Ged Clapson at the Jesuit Communications Office for forwarding this to us.)
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