By Ezra O’Michael
Kajungu Samson Mturi comes from the east African nation of Tanzania, known for some of Africa’s most popular tourist hot spots. Home to Serengeti National Park and Mount Kilimanjaro, Tanzania is a beautiful and relatively stable country in East Africa.
Kajungu, a senior PJCS major, enjoys getting acquainted with everyone he meets. He feels he is born to smile and make friends–and if you know Kajungu, it’s easy to see why.
Tell me a little bit about your background.
I have five siblings, one sister and four brothers, and I am the fourth one. I have a wife, Jan Emswiler [professor of nursing], and one son, Luga. This is my last semester [at Goshen College] and then we will go to Zambia to work with Mennonite Central Committee. So, if anyone visits Zambia after this year, don’t hesitate to look for me and you will have a place to drink some water.
What is it like being a family man and a full time student at the same time?
For most people, to be with family while studying is a big challenge. However, to me it looks very easy. I manage my time successfully to have time to study and time to spend with my family. I am confident to say that my family has made a big contribution for my studies. You know, my son has a very nice American accent when compared with mine. So, when I have a presentation, sometimes I practice my presentation with him. Trust me, he corrects my pronunciation a lot. He asks me to repeat even more than two times when he gives me the right pronunciation. In addition, my son is an independent guy. When I am doing my studying, he just plays his games–he doesn’t interrupt me when I am busy with my studies. My wife gives me a lot of encouragement too. She helps me with proofreading my papers, which is so helpful. So, you can see that to have a family is a blessing for my studies.
What do you hope to achieve with your PJCS studies?
In East Africa, we have problems that need to be addressed like other places. We have unequal division of resources, which makes people who don’t get their share use violence to demand justice. We need people to build awareness of the nonviolent ways of demanding justice. We need people to help people in conflict to sit down and find resolutions peacefully. You know, most of the time, when people have conflict they have maybe two options: to take revenge or to take an offender to the court. You will agree with me that these options do not bring permanent solutions. Therefore, I hope to encourage people to use nonviolent actions to demand justice and also to help victims and offenders find peaceful resolutions.
What are the most celebrated holidays in Tanzania?
Christmas, Eid al-fitr and New Years are the most celebrated holidays in Tanzania. We prepare a lot of food such as rice and pilau (rice and combination of a variety of spices).We like to have fresh meat, not from stores like we have here in the U.S., like Wal-Mart. During the festivities we slaughter oxen, goat or chicken at home so you can tell the taste of fresh meat from the kind we get here from the big stores.
Before these holidays, you can see parents doing a lot of shopping such as new clothes for their kids and food. You can see some signs of celebration five days before the holidays which is different from here in the U.S. where you can see Christmas decorations almost three months before the holiday.
Can you tell me about the traditional food ugali and how it is prepared?
Ugali is one of the most favored traditional foods in Tanzania. It is very simple to make. You only need to just boil water, put in some corn flour and stir and cook it until it gets stiff. Ugali is the kind of food eaten with meat, cooked green vegetables, beans or fish. People in the eastern African countries of Kenya and Uganda also use ugali in their daily diets.
When I got to Goshen I invited some international students like Sunday Mahaja from Nigeria, Lassane, Madi and Adama from Burkina Faso and another guy from Zimbabwe for ugali in my home. All of them were surprised to see the food (ugali) as it is similar to the kind of food they have in their home countries but only different in its name. That is when I understood it is the kind of food almost well known in the whole continent of Africa.
Here is the good news about ugali – it is a healthy food and very cheap. When you eat ugali, you won’t feel hungry very quickly. You don’t need to have a snack between lunches or once you eat ugali for your lunch you don’t need to eat dinner. Ugali makes people stronger and they can be active at work for hours. Sometimes I recommend it to our athletes and some of them already take it seldom so as they can do better in their competitions.
Tanzania is one of the SST destination places for GC students. What are stories you heard from those SSTers?
First of all, I had the privilege of helping tutor Kiswahili for students who went to Tanzania one year ago, which is one of the things I enjoyed here at GC. Many of the stories I heard from SSTers described that people back home are so hospitable. They care for guests and make sure they are safe all the time. They make sure that they get what they need. They make sure that SSTers participate in different activities as a part of the family. Many of the SSTers told me that they want to go back sometime.
I want to use this opportunity to encourage other students to go to Tanzania for SST. Apart from learning culture and lifestyle in general, they will have the privilege to see the Kilimanjaro Mountain, the biggest mountain in Africa with three distinct volcanic cones: Kibo 5,895 m (19,341 ft), Mawenzi 5,149 m (16,893 ft), and Shira 3,962 m (13,000 ft). Also they will see real animals, not from the zoo, but they will visit different national parks such as Serengeti National Park, which is regarded as the best wildlife reserve in Africa. And this is good news: to learn Kiswahili is so easy when compared to other languages like English. So don’t worry about learning Kiswahili; you will enjoy it when you will start to learn.
Tanzania: Points to Ponder
*The name Tanzania comes from “Tanganyika” and “Zanzibar” during their unification.
*Africa’s tallest mountain, Kilimanjaro, is found in Tanzania
*Tanzania is the home of ancient human skull remains known as Homo Habilis, found in Olduvai Gorge.
*Africa’s only tree-climbing lion is found in Tanzania’s national park.
*Two popular styles of African paintings, “ Tinga-tinga” and “Makonde,” are widely used in Tanzanian art.
*The famous national anthem of Tanzania, “God Bless Africa” ( Mungu Ibariki Afrika) is also a shared national anthem with South Africa and Zimbabwe.
*The first hour of the day in Tanzania starts at 6 a.m.
*Tanzania has the largest concentration of wildlife animals per square kilometer, with more than 4 million wild animals and representatives of 430 species and subspecies.
*Over 125 different tribal languages are spoken in Tanzania.