I had been a fisherman in the waters along the coasts of Zanzibar and the Island of Mafia, Tanzania for several years. I had had the privilege, honor and joy of steering our sail and diesel-engine craft at night into the sparkling, diamond-like path of the moon upon the ocean.
But upon the arrival in Tanzania of my seven-year-old American-born daughter, living on our boat four to five days a week was no longer viable. Nothing, Nothing compared to the happiness and sunlight created by my daughter’s smile.
I was a man of the African race come home.
My family had provided me the opportunity to see and be at home on our
African continent at age 15. Was I not obligated and empowered to work to bring the resources of a global economy home to my families on both continents?
Coffee is the leading export of Tanzania, and the livelihood of more than 450,000 Tanzanian families. America is the world’s leading consumer of coffee.
On one continent, we are impoverished tillers of the soil.
On the other, we are profitless consumers.
My Letter of Introduction to the Mbeya Regional Land Officer said that I had been and was an honest citizen of our fishing village, that I had contributed to village development. Such a letter is your passport in inter-regional travel in Tanzania, your “Don’t leave home without it” credit card.
After pleasant discussion, the Officer had no problem writing the Letter of Introduction to the Officer in one of the coffee-growing districts.
Two days later, I steam-opened the letter from the District Land Officer to the Ward Land Officer of a grouping of villages. He stated in closing, “Our blood has returned, please help him in any way possible.”
I am a simple man.
I was humbled to be understood by another simple man in a small government office in a little town in rural Tanzania.
(To be continued)