Correspondent Gerald Kitabu interviewed pastor Ephraim Mwansasu of Evangelistic Assemblies of God Tanzania on how Tanzanians should live in 2013: Excerpts:
QUESTION: What’s your message age as Tanzanians celebrate the New Year today?
A: As a religious leader, my message to all Tanzanians is for them to maintain peace and harmony in this 2013. Any nation cannot be economically and politically strong, if it has no peace. Tanzanians have lived together peacefully since independence, we have lived in peace and unity.
We have no culture of discussing one’s religion or faith because this nation has no religion. Unfortunately, in recent days, Tanzanians are discussing their religions, and their tribe. This is very bad because it doesn’t build and protect our core values.
Once peace is lost, it is very hard and costly to restore, I therefore, request Tanzanians and our leaders regardless of their religious affiliations to come together, forget their differences and begin new life. The New Year is always a time of entertainment, celebration and resolution.
Our leaders must make sure that peace and harmony is protected by all means. We should not let few selfish people use religion or political issues to destroy our peace and harmony.
As for the New Year, it has always been a time of entertainment, celebration and resolution. It is one of the oldest and most-exciting customs around the world. We expect Tanzanians to invite each other, eat and celebrate together. In fact we are looking forward to see togetherness, and joyous Tanzanians.
Q: You have emphasized more on peace, how can it be maintained?
A: The best way is to respect and love each other. If we want to maintain peace, we should learn to keep quite and respect other people’s views even if such views irk a particular section of people. Sometimes talking too much is not good. For their part, government and political leaders should shun from sentiments and speeches that threaten peace and unity. They should adhere to good governance and rule of law.
Q: What is the position of religious institutions in this matte?
A: As it is to the government and political leaders, religious leaders have a big role to play in maintaining peace and harmony because people tend to trust them easily than any other group.
So, because whatever they say is easily accepted by their worshipers, they must be very careful and select proper words when preaching. They should put more emphasis on peace and harmony. This is also for their benefit and future generation.
The big contribution religious institution can offer to this nation is to preach peace and educate Tanzanians. When people are educated, they can differentiate good from bad and make informed decisions. I personally preach on education.
At the moment, our church is supporting 14 students in different levels, 11 are in secondary and 3 in primary school. I believe that education is a change agent. It changes people positively and transforms their lives that’s why I have launched a project called Hosana Alive Vision (HAV) to reach more underprivileged and marginalized groups in rural communities and support them in education. This project is in Kikole village, Rungwe district, Mbeya region.
Q: Why did you choose Kikole village in Rungwe district for your project?
A: Many poor and marginalized groups are found in rural areas. In recent years we have witnessed widening gap between the rural children and urban children. While urban children, mostly from rich families enjoy better education in international schools and broad, some of the rural schools located in the remote areas don’t have enough teachers including shortage of teaching and learning facilities. Experience shows that intelligent students are found in rural areas but they are never recognized. I therefore believe that through HAV project, many would be reached and realize their potentialities.
Q: What preparations have you done?
A: So far I have secured 5 hectares plot for constructing a school that will enroll primary school children. I am also looking for best teachers and other school facilities. I have also managed to buy another land to grow cocoa which I expect to harvest and earn money that will be used to improve the school teaching and learning environment. I have 100 hectares for growing cocoa and I have already planted cocoa in 50 hectares.
I expect until this year to plant all 100 hectares. This is a good work but also cumbersome task. I therefore request any donor willing to support this initiative to come forward so that we can rescue these children but also reduce the increasing rate of illiterate children in rural areas.
Q: Finally what is your call?
A: I repeat to my fellow Tanzanians! As we enter 2013, they should maintain peace by all costs. Once peace is lost, the cost of restoring it is very high. We should not let few selfish people destroy our peace and unity. Government, political and religious leaders should be very careful with choice of their words. It is better for some one to keep quite rather than talking too much because normally silence is wisdom.