Jealousy orphaned Nehemiah at the age of 2 years. It lay behind the 1997 cold blooded stoning of Dad and Mom, and the attempted murder of Nehemiah, himself. Except, on the night of his father’s murder, Mom and Dad decided that Nehemiah should sleep with his aunt, in another place. The attackers used rocks and hammers to bludgeon his folks. After they left, a large rock remained on the bed where Nehemiah normally slept. Same room, different beds. They intended on killing the infant witness, or offspring, the tangential object of their hate.
Neighbors heard the commotion, brought them to the hospital. Dad didn’t make it. Skull crushed in. Mom barely made it. Recovered mostly. Still alive, today. Smiles generously.
Dad bought and sold tanzanite. He often cut the raw material before selling it to a broker or a retail store. He did well, made lots of money by Tanzanian standards. But, jealousy tends to pervade society, here. When a peer does well, better than you, people become jealous. Sometimes, murderously jealous. Multiple individuals described this cultural tendency to me. It may lie behind the difficulty that Arusha indigenous people have experienced getting ahead in business. As someone at church described to me, jealousy and distrust, as well as short-sighted improper financial gain holds many back. It impedes the ability of many to excel in management and business ownership, especially when employment of peers accompany such responsibility.
Nehemiah told me that jealous individuals hired the thugs who orphaned him. (In Tanzania, “orphan” applies to a child who has lost either one or both parents.) Police never caught the murderers. Nor those who paid them. I suppose that one might conclude a different murderous arrangement. Nevertheless, Dad knew that jealous peers caused a threat to his life. Talked to Mom beforehand, counseling her on what to do if he were killed. She followed his advice. Sold the cars, built three living structures within the compound where they lived. Rented them out ever since. Also bought and raised a couple cows for milking, and making some money from that. A modest but survivable lifestyle.
I visited Nehemiah at his Mom’s home, yesterday. Saw pictures of the family. Saw pictures of Mom after the attack. Face generously swollen. Not comparable to her pictures as a healthy spouse and mother. Saw pictures of Dad, a strong, regular guy. A family man. A pillar for his dependents. Wedding pictures, too. A tough pre-widowing period to think about, in the context of what could have been.
Children all grown now. Loi, the oldest, married, started his own family. Elijah still single. Lives with Mom in the same compound. Started to build his own living structure, a two story cinder block structure, so far. Still needs lots of work. Serves as a storage place for cattle feed, for now.
I met Hosiana as she headed out for a meeting at church, or somewhere. She’s single, pretty like her Mom, very warm and welcoming. I think Nehemiah talked me up to her and Mom, before my coming. I did not meet Witness, Hosiana’s twin sister. I believe she was working, while I visited. Trained as an accountant, works as a translator for an organization whose name I don’t immediately recall.
Mom could have re- cracked her previously broken jaw, with the smile she afforded me. Wide and warm. Very welcoming and gracious. Twenty years have passed since the night that widowed her. I could still see the flowering face that Dad fell in love with.
Nehemiah reminded me that their family held a lot of love between them. It showed.
I loved the compound where they lived. Their house is modest but nice. Separate living room and dining rooms. A curtained hallway where kitchen and other shelter must sit. Three other apartments share the compound area in front of all four residences. One sits separately on the right of Mom’s house. The other two join themselves on Mom’s left. Everyone shares a common bath structure. Two cows and three calves live right behind Mom’s house. Two bull calves remain separated from two milking cows and one female calf. Mom will sell the two bulls when they appropriately mature. She’ll keep the female calf for further milking. All look healthy and happy. All rather skeptical of the new white guy (mzungu) walking around.
Mom and Nehemiah served me a plate full of cut potatoes, fried up with a little egg. Very nice. Nehemiah and I both drank a bottle of Fanta soda. Again, very nice.
After lunch, we walked back to the highway. To the Ngaramtoni dala dala stop. (On the way in, we had each taken a ride on the back of a Toyo to the compound.) Caught the dala dala to take care of some business down town, before heading back to my compound, which lies between Ngaramtoni and Arusha center.
The family expected Nehemiah to become a doctor. So did Nehemiah. But after taking one semester at college, he recognized his calling as a multi-media production business owner. According to Nehemiah, God made his true calling clear to him that first term. A close friend recalled his vision of Nehemiah standing in front of a tall building. A multi-media building, its proud owner and operator. Per Nehemiah, a message from God.
Rockland’s Debbie Richards sponsored Nehemiah from Form 1 through Form 6. He began to attend Udom College in Dodoma, TZ. Needed to drop out of college after that single semester. Passed his exams, but his near-sightedness made study virtually impossible. Needed stronger glasses, which he couldn’t afford.
Nehemiah lives with Mom, now. Age 23. Helps with milking cows every morning and evening. Used borrowed equipment to make a couple video productions, but lacks any equipment of his own. Needs cameras, a strong computer, and similar. Has a gig lined up to produce a music video for friends who know his work. I will loan him my video camera later today to allow his first shot at it. He works for me on making a documentary of my current visit to Tanzania. (Or multiple, perhaps, each additional focusing on an aspiring entrepreneur.) But computer resource remains scarce. I occupy my own computer most of my waking hours. He also wants to use it, but rarely can. It’s powerful enough to allow him the efficiency he needs to do his work. Friends’ computers don’t have the power, including graphics card, needed for video production.
He currently envisions three projects. He wants to;
- Produce educational videos to constitute tutorials. They should be capable of use by teachers and institutions, as well as individuals needing education outside of the formal classroom.
- Produce music and musical instrument tutorials. Similar to science educational tutorials, they will allow aspiring musicians to learn how to play musical instruments. Perhaps, without the need to hire private instructors.
- Produce special event recordings, such as weddings, graduation celebrations, and the like.
By the age of 27, he wants to begin television broadcasting. He wants to eventually own and run his own TV company. His life revolves around Jesus, with whom he talks daily. He believes the Crazy Idea program that accompanies my current trip represents an opportunity commissioned by God. I’ve tried to temper that interpretation, but he remains rather convinced. He needs a partner and a mentor. He needs guidance and he knows it. He also needs a business plan. We’ll work on it, together. Not a slam dunk. Needs research. Need to push numbers around. Somehow, it needs to make sense.
Funny how business reality gets between a ridiculous dream, and future success.