THE SOJOURNER : Recalling an inspirational naked run through Chalowe Village

Saturday October 13 2018

Children play on their way home from school.

Children play on their way home from school. Pupils need to be supported so that they will realise their life’s dreams. PHOTO|FILE 

By Danford Mpumilwa

I am presently in Chalowe, a small village in the new Wanging’ombe District in Njombe Region. This backward settlement is slowly waking up on account of its easy proximity to the newly established headquarters of the Wanging’ombe District and its Council.

The village has a reputation of producing some of the best bamboo wine ‘ulanzi’ in the region and for the abundant sweet fresh wild fruits popularly known as ‘makusu’.

My presence here has a lot to do with my roots. This is where the bones of my forefathers rest peacefully under the red soil along the valleys of the Chalowe Village stream. That means this is the graveyard of my paternal grandfather, my father, my uncles and my aunts.

I am here to pay respect to all these great relatives and to look at the new opportunities which come with the new district.

Indeed I can see some interesting developments. For example, there is a new tarmac road cutting through the village and piped water and electric power is available. New structures and facilities to accommodate all those officers working at the District and Council offices as well as their clients are coming up.

I am seriously considering putting up a modern watering hole in the village just to ensure that I join in this ‘golden wealth’ rush.

One of the oldest institutions in this village is the Evangelical Lutheran Church. It was established sometimes in the 1900s. It began with a grass thatched structure which over the years, thanks to some German Christian foundation, evolved into a modern architectural wonder.

As per the tradition, the church also set up a school which began as what was then called a ‘Bush School’ and which has also evolved into a modern, now Government-owned primary school.

I also attended this school when I was in Class II in the early 60s. One of the legendary tales in the village is my doing a naked run through the village from my home to school, almost a kilometre away.

I had woken up very late for school and in my rush I had been able to just put on my shirt and run all the way to school holding my short pants - remember there were no underpants then. The subsequent scene of this run and my embarrassing entry into the classroom is the legendary story of the village.

The fact that I went on to excel in class and continue smoothly with my education up to university level is a story told to all young school-going children in the village. It is no longer an embarrassment; rather it is now an inspirational tale.

That is why all those who were born or grew up in that village – including this writer -and went on to somehow excel in their education and professions have come together to pool our resources and contribute to one aspect of development in the village.

You see the village has a small medical dispensary with very basic facilities. But what it lacks most is a laboratory to cater for the village residents and visitors.

So some few months ago one of the sons of the village, who is now teaching at one of the secondary schools in Mbeya, decided to establish a Whatsup group of these individuals who are scattered all over Bongoland.

The sole aim of this group was to raise funds to build a laboratory for the village dispensary.

In just a few months more than 7 million/- have been raised and the structure is mushrooming. Being part of this group I took time the other day to visit the site. Lo and behold, I came across an inspirational structure which is now about to be roofed.

More money is still coming in and, I was told, more will be required to finish and equip this laboratory.

Hopefully those who are inspired by this tale will join in and chip in some funds and/or equipment to help this project.

Meanwhile, I am happy that I am back to my roots. And I bet that my naked village run will continue to be an inspiration to all current and future Chalowe generations. And I forgot to mention that I am still enjoying my ‘ulanzi’ booze.