The tour guide and I selected a village on the main road leading to Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, to make contact with the Matumbi people. Numbering 165,000, this group is mostly Muslim. Most of the remainder are followers of African traditional religions, and a few are Christian.
We stopped along the road at a small shop and providentially met a court messenger. He was pleased to take us to the chairman of a ward (an area of five or six villages), who received us graciously. After we explained our purpose to do research in his area among the Matumbi, he volunteered to lead us to an old man who could brief us on their history.
The old man's house was near the main road. Parking our vehicle, we were walking toward his house when we noticed a crowd gathered around another parked vehicle.
Joining the group, we were surprised to find a Matumbi member of the national parliament interacting with the people. He was pleased to meet us and invited us to contact his office for a copy of new research just completed by the government on all the people groups along the coast. Just what we needed!
We proceeded on to the old Matumbi man's home. He welcomed us to his yard and invited us to visit with him under a nearby shade tree. By this time, three other local politicians had joined us for the discussion, which tended to turn toward the topic of local politics.
The leaders asked me about my people group. I explained that my grandfather had come from Great Britain, one of my grandmothers was part Dutch, and other ancestors had come from Ireland. They were pleased to hear me speak of my nationality as my people group and that I spoke only one national language. They said, "This is our goal for the various people groups of Tanzania – united and speaking Swahili."
I asked the old man what brought him the greatest joy in his senior years. He was quick to respond, "My large family." He offered to show me his house, pointing out that it needed repair.
As we parted, another elderly man joined us. The two men appeared to be good friends with a lot in common. My heart was touched by their simplicity and openness. It was a refreshing two-hour visit. I will always remember them and pray that a messenger will soon come to live among them and that he will stay a long time and model for them a vibrant, Christian faith.