Wednesday, February 22, 2012
Dalili ya mvua mawingu
Clouds are the sign of rain. A Swahili proverb, or metahli ya Kiswahili. It is meant to warn of trouble when trouble seems to be brewing.
In my case, however, I’m using it as a literal translative statement. Clouds are a sign of rain, and the rainy season here in Arusha, Tanzania, has officially begun! This is a time of celebration, for now the farmers (kulima) may begin to plant their seeds and grow their crops. The rainy season here is from January until May, and up until now there has been no rain. The only source of water for the local farmers is rainfall, and they cannot plant their seeds until the rainfall is somewhat predictable.
The predictability, or official start of continuous rainfall, began today. It has been raining for two days (on and off), and it is enough that the seeds for corn, beans, and pigeon peas may be set in the freshly turned earth.
Families rejoiced as the rains fell upon their lands, bringing with it moisture for the starving earth. Smiles were plentiful, and whistles musically sounded from amidst the turned farmlands as fingers pressed pips deep into the ground. Whole families set out to set up their gardens, whispering prayers to themselves that these seeds would sprout, grow, and produce enough harvest for next year.
The animals, I believe, also rejoiced. The rivers will fill, lakes will return, and with these waters brings vegetation. Food. Shelter. These lands are essential to all living creatures, and the rain is a blessing upon the lands.
Celebration of these rains for our group came in the form of hiking. A traveling lecture, we struck out into the highlands in which we reside. We scaled mountain sides, our hiking boots eating up the loose ground beneath our feet. Hitch-hiker pods clung to our socks, thorny acacia trees grabbed hold of our clothing, and footholds were few and far between. The sun beat upon our skin, the clouds were moving swiftly, and the temperature was high.
The view at the top, however, was worth every bit of the rigorous climb; our blisters and scrapes a testament to our winning journey’s end. Kilimatembo was the name of our mountain, meaning “Elephant Mountain.” A place where the great giants once roamed freely, and we had made the climb just as they would have a mere decade ago.