What is man . . . that thou shouldst set thine heart upon him? Job 7:17
But Bwana, night is coming quickly. It is already! And our village is too far. You must not come. It is dangerous." The little man of the forest, with his great bow taller than himself, looked up as he spoke to the young missionary standing head and shoulders above him.
"No, Mze (old man, polite term), we must go to your village. Where is it?"
The Mze then pointed across the canyon that had halted our jeep at this place ten miles within the thorn-bush forest; and then indicating a distant hill he said, "There!"
"Oh, that is it! Of course, where you can have a lookout for the game in the plains. Mzuri [good]!" While we assembled ourselves for a twilight trek into Central Tanganyika Big Game country, the Mze and two other Wakindiga bushmen were off like a deer, homeward bound on swift light feet that seemed hardly to touch the ground. We watched them transformed by the joyous freedom of the wildwood and the challenge of danger that could but barely match their own native skill. In this environment they were so different from the three strangers who had spent the past two days at the mission station at Isanzu. Having answered the summons of the African chief of the area, they had come to help three American ladies who were keen to catch their talk in a box. The box had learned the talk quite well. But the work had been very big! Now, at last, they were free again!
Today marked an epoch in our first touring safari in Africa, because today we were traveling, not only over the vast thin-forest steppes (pori) of Central Tanganyika, but we were beyond even a semblance of a road, having cut right through the bush, following only a hunter's signs of bark stripped off certain trees to guide us. This was significant - a new era in language hunting, in which we could be free to go wherever a jeep could go, in order to secure the contacts necessary for making records in any language. Just three months ago, after not quite a year's work in Africa, we had received the Willys station wagon in Nairobi, Kenya. (This had been ordered from the U.S.A. in January.) Then a month later, August 17, 1955, we had set out upon this present coverage of the eastern half of Tanganyika, progressing southward by stages, recording at the mission centers along our way.
By September 3 we had come 340 miles from the fertile highlands among the Kilimanjaro and Meru ranges. First proceeding south from Arusha for about 150 miles, and then turning west another 190 miles, we reached the wilder parts where the bush is gray and leafless, and the ground, showing underneath the sparse scrub trees, is dry sand and rock.
Passing in and out of several tsetse fly belts within which no one lived, we could pursue a road for hours without seeing any habitations. It was a wilderness of spiky brush and frequent abrupt hills, or upheavals of rock, their harsh contours softened little by the dry thorns and cacti that partly covered them.
Sometimes we were still en route long after the sun had set and even beyond the bedtime of small villages we passed through and found closed up - not a light was to be seen. Often in the distance we would notice out of the sea of blackness, a red rim of lights, but it would prove to be not a town or village, but only the grass fires set by the people to burn off ground for cultivation (a prevalent habit in many parts of the world). It was on a night like this when, after a long day's journey, we were still making our way over comparatively signless roads, with all the world around us vanished into the night, our eyes glued on the few yards of ocher dust under our headlights, that at last a remote cluster of star dust rose up out of the darkness and neared gradually until it became the Kijota station - our first of the five to be visited in the area of the Augustana Lutheran Synod operating in a wide circle around the central town of Singida.
It was at Kijota that we first got on the scent of the Wakindiga and began to make plans to catch them. Nobody had thought of these fast diminishing little pygmy-type bushmen as we poured over the language maps and outlined our recording itinerary for this part of the country. The name of the Kindiga* tribe was not on our maps. We had never heard of them. Our minds were then much occupied with other hard-to-get languages such as the Barabaig (or Mangati) for which tribe this mission was just breaking ground at the moment.
*Known in Swahili parlance as Kikindiga for the language; Wakindiga for the people. Hadzape is a more popular term for the Wakindiga.
Then it was that in an "off the record" conversation along a favorite theme for Africa, elephant hunting, we suddenly and unexpectedly were introduced to the little forest people that are often employed to assist the white hunters.
" . . . They are small people, semi-pygmies, but they have a terrific muscle and can handle a taut bow seven feet high - their arrows go straight to the mark - never a miss!"
From that instant on we were tracking down the Hadzape. Our quest was met and followed through with open enthusiasm by our missionary host, Howard Olson.
"What about the language of these little elephant guides? It must be distinctly different!"
"Different? Is it ever - full of all kinds of weird clicks. No other African can understand them!"
"Do you suppose we could get one of these people for making records?"
"Now you're asking for an elephant sure enough! But it would be something to have records for these people. As it is, they are impossible to reach because they hear scarcely any Swahili, and of course no one else can speak their language. They are a dying-out tribe you know - very few of them now - I think they are something between 500 and 2,000. Nobody knows exactly." As the missionary added these bits of information, our resolutions congealed into a solid and immovable intention. Joy expressed it with no wavering or consideration of previous schedules and dates for otherwheres!
"We must get this language, by all means. We may have to take a long trip to find them. But we must. It is small isolated peoples like this who can be missed entirely unless they have the Gospel presented to them in their very own tongue. No group can be too small, for our concern is to reach the few, even the one - even the women, who do not figure in statistics on literacy, who could not understand unless they hear the message in their own language. These bush people are a priority for records because none of the usual avenues of evangelism can reach them. We must get this language. We cannot leave these parts until we do."
"The Hadzape," Mr. Olson spoke slowly , thoughtfully, "are in the Yaida Swamps - but where? That's the question. They roam about as unpredictably as the game!"
"Did you say that the white hunters hired them as guides? How do they go about this? Couldn't we hire them in the same way for this work?"
"That's a clue! The hunters first contact an African chief in the Yaida Swamp vicinity; and then he sends his runners to search for them. But another problem is that these Wakindiga know only a few phrases of Swahili, the trade language. How will you make them understand the material?" As Mr. Olson spoke, he glanced at the beautifully typewritten sheets of translated material planned for the Kinyaturu language at Kijota, and we pictured the capable, well-educated lads who would read them for us, even with little need of rehearsing. But to record the bushmen was another proposition entirely. We would have to work with them bit-by-bit through oral dictation stepped down from English to Swahili, and then . . . here was yet a gap of ignorance to fill before the bushman could help us.
"Do these Wakindiga ever know the language of, say, the predominant tribe on their borders?"
"Ah yes - it is very likely that some may know Isanzu pretty well!"
"Then in that case, the task is not impossible. We can communicate with them through English to the missionary's Swahili to the African Christian who knows both Swahili and Isanzu. He, in turn, can give the short simple sentence to the Hadzape man who understands Isanzu, and can then speak the thought in his own language. Once a sentence is recorded, we play it and check it back again from the bush language to Isanzu, to Swahili, and to English. It can be done!"
Now convinced that the quest for Hadzape records was a real possibility, Mr. Olson's next contribution was, "I know the man who can help you. He spent part of his vacation recently on a hunt in the Yaida Swamps, and he knows the right chief to approach. It is Dean Peterson at Isambi, and you plan to go there tomorrow!"
From that hour onward, the search for Wakindiga became a special matter of prayer as our itinerary developed, and days were filled with the making of records in many other important languages representing large tribes with widely scattered villages where talking discs could go in a supply equal to the great need - so that the hundreds who hear once in a while may thoroughly repeatedly hear the words which have in them the power that changes men's lives, and quickens from the dead.
At Iambi in Dean Peterson's office we studied his large map of the Yaida Swamp area, and noted that Isanzu station, farther north and a little west of Iambi, was on the western border of it.
"I can send a runner today to Isanzu," said Dean eagerly; "and our request can be followed through by the missionary there, Bob Ward. He will see the chief!"
So it was that even before we had left Iambi for our next recording at Kinampanda, the runner had left for Isanzu. Our prayers kept pace with him, detailing the request to God for a selection of the right ones - those who could understand, and who would work willingly and conscientiously.
Kinampanda is situated on an elevation overlooking rolling distant hills, a wide valley, and beyond it a wall of hills reminding us very much of parts of the Rift Valley. Here, at more than 5,000 feet, the wind is usually high, flattening the tawny lion grasses all around us. At night it dies down, and sometimes lions roar close by. Here, among the teacher trainees recording for us in nine different languages, our days were filled to the brim with joyousness. There was the wholehearted hospitality that surrounded us, the 200% cooperation of missionaries organizing the details of recording; all that had to do with translating, checking, scheduling busy schoolboys to supply two recording "studios" with steady clientele; and there was the thrill of getting each new language - a joy which never wears thin, because each tribe opens a new field where a tremendous harvest is latent. Our last three days at Kinampanda coincided with the visit of a literacy committee which brought Howard Olson with news for us.
"The runner has returned from Isanzu, and Dean tells me that the chief has given his word to fetch three Wakindiga to help you! He expects to have them there for you by Monday morning!"
This was wonderful news - not only to us, but to the missionaries at Kinampanda who were praying with us that the Hadzape records might become a reality. Mr. Reuben Pederson had told us much more about them, emphasizing their elusiveness and fear of white people, their desire to keep altogether clear of "civilization."
"We at one time actually had a Hadzape boy in our primary school. He was a bright lad, and seemed to be doing quite well. Then, following a vacation season, he failed to return. We searched for him, and discovered that he had thrown away his school clothes and 'gone bush' - so completely too, that you would never know that he had ever seen a book! - And by the way, Joy, if you do get these Hadzape records, I know the person who will be happiest - Uncle Lud at Isuna. He is our oldest missionary. Years ago he used to go right out and live among the Wakindiga. I think he took with him Africans living at Isanzu who knew a little of the Hadzape language. Melander was able to do a bit of ground work, like deciding upon the right name for God in the language. It was hard going though, to get any thoughts across to them in those days."
Later we had the privilege of meeting Lud Melander and his wife, and that was immediately after the story of Isanzu which we told them. Their joy knew no bounds, for Melander had been one of the first to begin planting the seeds of light in the Yaida Swamps. But the very first seed of light had glowed for the rescue of these Tanganyika bushmen when in faraway New England a young girl had been uniquely burdened for them - her prayers and gifts had urged Melander's early efforts to reach them. At the risk of his life, he had gone out into the swamplands and camped in a tent among these people for weeks. After the safari he had returned to his station discouraged - there seemed to be no possibility of satisfactory communication with these little wild folk. Then, at the age of twenty, the young American woman died before her prayers were granted. Yet the outcome of this present account of more seeds of light in the dark bush country is vitally linked with those prayers, and the sacrifice which set among these primitive people their first plantings of light. They have not been extinguished. And by them our present effort had been greatly helped.
Even the spectacular scenery which amazed us upon our trip to Isanzu had spoken to us of our quest for the Wakindiga because on certain of these great rocks can be traced rock paintings of centuries ago - figures of people and animals written on the stone in those ages before the original bushmen had been driven to seclusion by the Hamitic tribes infiltering from the North, and the Zulu and Bantu races from the South. These famous rock paintings, which indicate living animals in action, and animals killed, drawn upside down or lying down, were done by the fingers of bushmen just like these - perhaps their own tribal ancestors.
Early Monday morning at Isanzu we were standing on tiptoe "inside" until Bob's car should return. He had gone to the boma to collect the Wakindiga who had come at the chief's request. And sure enough, when the Bwana returned, he was not alone, although our first glance would not have predicted this. He opened the back door of the car, and out stepped three little men - bronze brown, wide-eyed and shy, but not without their bows and arrows. The old man was dressed in tannish ragged shirt and shorts; a bowl-shaped felt hat narrowed his forehead and gave an elfish look to his leathered face and sharp eyes. Now his rough little hand reached out to say, "Jambo, Mama!" The second man wore bright beads, and a colored cloth band around his head; and the youngest, a boy of about eighteen, was attired in his town-and-country casuals - no beads, no hat, just a dark nondescript shirt and short pants.
But here they were! I wonder what they thought of the three "mamas" bursting with squeals of delight! "There was one in blue and white, like the sky, and the biggest joy in her 'Jambos' to us all; they said her name was Mama Joy. There was the Mama Sherwoodi whose smile was very big too, as she so emphatically spoke a welcome to us: 'You have come, and we are very happy.' Some words were in Swahili so we could guess the meaning of those which were in the language of the Wa-Americanis. And there was Mama Sana whose name is easy to remember because it is Swahili. This mama took us to the place where our work was sana, sana kabisa [much, much absolutely]!"
The Wakindiga had come; and they stayed; and - with long pauses speaking volumes in perseverance - they had conquered. Now, after two and a half days with us in Isanzu, they were returned to their liberty in the Yaida Swamps - which could just as well be termed "dust bowls" in this dry season.
It did not take us very long to reach the camp of the Wakindigas, although darkness did overtake us before we climbed to the top of the hill. Long before we approached, we heard the joy-cry of the people, their treble-scale trilling, as they received the Mze, their chief, along with the young lad who had accompanied him to Isanzu. The third Wakindiga belonged to another camp farther away, so he tarried only long enough to greet us as we appeared at the camp, and then he was off to his own place.
We were only halfway up the hillside when the people clambered down over the rocks to greet us with the happy "Jambo, Mama!" "Jambo, Bwana!" and their particular handshake which is the usual handclasp plus a thumb-locking one, and again the regular handclasp. Gaily we took part in this triple handclasp, managed to keep our balance on the rocks, and to proceed slowly upward as our welcomers poured down upon us. It was not too dark to see their happy smiles or the joy behind their timid "Jambos." There were many children and young people along with several women, each wearing a chocolate baby in a sling around her back; and youths with bright beads, leather wrist charms like Mze's and headbands of woven grass. After their replies of "Mzuri" to our "Habari!" (what news?), there were only smiles of mutual appreciation from both them and us since their Swahili was as scant as ours; and their own language with its variety of clicks seemed to us a very part of the forest itself.
Presently we found ourselves seated under one of the two giant baobab trees that flanked the small hilltop encampment of these nomad bush people. Quietly the evening curtains closed us into a tiny parlor - its near wall, the broad (30 feet in circumference) trunk of the baobab where Bwana Bob promptly hung his hunting rifle. Our chairs were the flat rocks neatly arranged by our hosts who now huddled together under the farther baobab where a soft twittering conversation blended with the night sounds of the uninhabited bush around us. Four or five little fires glowed red between the three stones, which made the hob of each - the usual African stove.
In silence we watched the pale stars draw brightly nearer, until just clearing the wild branches of the baobab, they dropped silently down and scattered themselves about our own front yard. Pastor Paulus set the recorder gently on a low table of stone; and now the box was ready with the eight precious messages which it had been "taught" to speak in the clicks and clucks of these little forest folk who had never heard one whisper about that Saviour whose seeking love could not pass them by - no matter how untractable they might be. This was a sacred hour.
At a word from Mze, the two dozen or so Wakindigas gathered around the box in a semicircle that just escaped the arc of our flashlight focused on the recorder. Then, switched on, the capstan released, a voice from the machine spoke clearly. It was not a Wazungu (European). It was a real Hadzape. To all but the Mze himself, it was obvious that this was his own voice. Therefore, it spoke with the authority of the old chief to his own people.
My Hadzape people, for many years our fathers have not known the true God. They worshiped false gods and evil spirits. No one told them the truth about these things. But now we have the light. Listen to the Good News of the true God who loves us!
From the invisible audience around this voice of wonder came soft low clicks of surprise and joy - then utter silence as the voice continued, filling to its capacity one record - full of light.
Hear these words about His Son, Jesus Christ. He lived as this earth as a Man, and died to take away our sins. But He arose again from thedead and is living now in Heaven. He will forgive the sins of all whobelieve in Him.
My people, will you also follow the light? Do you want eternal life from God? Put your trust in Jesus Christ. Ask Him to forgive your sins. Obey His words. When this life is over, it is Jesus, who will take you to Heaven.
The speaker held them in utter silence, transfixed. Even the eerie wails of hyenas just beyond the fringe of visibility did not distract attention from this big voice out of the little box. It continued:
There is only one true God. It is He who created us. He loves us. He gave us salvation through His Son. He wants us to follow Him and worship Him only. He gives forgiveness and peace to those who believe in Jesus. He fills our hearts with joy. He cares for us as a Father cares for His children.
He has given us the Bible. It is His message to all people that they may know how to love Him and to live good lives. God has sent people to teach us how to pray that we may know how to talk to Him. His Holy Spirit is given to live in our hearts to comfort and guide us.
How can we thank God for all these good things? We can give our lives to Him, and we can refuse the dark ways of the past.
God is calling everyone - fathers, mothers, children, elders, rich and poor. Let us all give Him our hearts. Let us, by His power, live clean, good lives. Let us serve Him. Let us praise Him for Jesus Christ and His many gifts to us!
With only a short pause, the next message began. No one spoke to break the hush compelled by the marvel of these words. Actually, this first message entitled, "We Have the Light," had been the last one recorded - done only that day and completed at four o'clock that afternoon, hence our late start for this trip. However, we had played this record first since it seemed to be a perfect overture, touching briefly all the themes developed with closer detail in each of the other seven scripts.
Next followed a dialogue, "The Heart of Man." It began with two Wakindiga greeting one another - the young lad and the old man. The youth's voice spoke out a salutation such as:
2. You have come.
1. Yes, I have come.
The Mze's voice had responded - but at that very instant, and with electric spontaneity, our audience had also responded with the same clucking and syllable stress which the old man had so carefully gaught the box to imitate when speaking to the Hadzape. The box asked, proceeding with the formal greeting:
2. And what is the news?
Suddenly, again the semicircle in chorus answered, "The news is only good!"
With a wave of his hand the Mze had silenced his people while the two voices in the box conversed about the many who had come to trade at the market; men and women from different tribes were there - Wanyiramba, Wasanzu, Wagogo, Hadzape - along with Arabs, Indians, and Europeans as well. Then presently an interesting riddle was introduced.
1. There is One who knows the hearts of all people. His eyes see all their ways. He knows all their thoughts!
2. Truly? Who is this?
1. He is God. When a man steals something and hides it in his clothes, he thinks, "No one sees me!" But God sees. No man can deceive God.
Thus the conversation builds up into an analysis of man's heart, and of God's complete knowledge of it; His righteous need to punish sin, et cetera. At this point, the youth exclaims:
2. Oh, I am grieved. I am afraid. God knows my heart also.
Then comes the reply that all people are the same in this respect - the Wanyiramba, Wasanzu, Wagogo, Hadzape, the Arab, Indian, and European. The hearts of all people are alike - all have sinful hearts.
The next comment leads naturally to a brief description of the way of escape through the Saviour who bore the punishment for our sins, and of how He is able to change a man's heart. It closes with:
2. Is it true? Jesus Christ can save me?
1. Yes, He only, can save you!
In a matter of only three and a half minutes this talk had spent itself, carried along on a slender ribbon that supplied only a half-inch more thickness to the leading spool of tape. Yet this had not been merely a span of four minutes. Each breath and syllable had been charged through with eternity; and the light in every word had been of that source that outlives the everlasting stars. This span of time had become one record - one sahani, or plate, as the Swahili puts it, a plate full of life - not mere dust, but living seed with that life within it which is "the light of man."
"Safi kabisa [absolutely clear]!" whispered the old chief repeatedly, interpreting to us the polite crescendo of Wakindiga clicks rising up out of the silence that had marked the close of this second message.
"More?" we queried.
"Ndio! Asante sana [yes, thank you very much]!" came the eager reply. And so the teaching had followed line upon line.
We were the spectators - Joy, Ann, Sanna, along with Edythe and Bob from Isanzu mission. We all remembered vividly enough the first making of these sentences that now spoke so smoothly and unhesitatingly to the people. These words had represented an aggregate of at least 48 hours of solid labor. Edythe had interpreted from English to Swahili for studio number one in the offici; while the veranda studio occupied by Bob, and African Pastor Paulus standing by to secure a clear and accurate translation from English through Swahili and Kinisanzu into the Kikindiga tongue. Dear old snaggle-toothed Elizabeti, who had learned some of the Kikindiga language years ago, had supported our team as a sort of quarterback - checking in now and then to carry the thought across the line of Mze's full comprehension. In turn, Mze, had taught the lad seated beside him the lines he was to speak from time to time. And always, of course, Mze had taught the box as he himself spoke to the mike with his forefinger lending a schoolmaster's authority to the lesson.
No wonder the "Ready-Corder" usually had recited correctly! Never once had Mze shown the slightest flicker of unsophisticated surprise that such a box could thus relay his voice. We wondered if it ever really had occurred to the gracious old man that this was actually his own voice he was hearing on the playback. It had seemed to us that he was simply concerned that the recorder learn its lesson well. Now and then he would agree to our suspicion that the box had mad a kosa kidogo (a little mistake)! This promptly erased and redone always evoked his special little nod of commendation and ":mzuri sana [very good]."
We had captured these studio scenes with our cameras; and the work had proceeded into the warmer and warmer hours of the day. At times the boy grew restless, naturally; and in studio number one, the duller patient behind the mike often threatened to strike! "Why do we talk more about God? We're finished with Him!" And at another moment of exasperation, "Why do I talk about God? I don't know Him!" Imagine the ordeal it must have been for a child of the forest to be caged like this, forced to sit in a chair, perhaps for the first time in his life, and to think! It was excruciating!
Yet on the other hand, the Mze's sweet grace and patience never lagged, no matter how tried.
The going became extremely difficult during those hot sleepy hours following lunch. After a feast of meat supplied by the missionary, the Wakindigas found that their brains were taking a well-deserved siesta. A thought hardly won would slip into oblivion before it could be repeated into the microphone. There was the will to do, but the nguvu, the strength was gone. At such a time we presented the old man and the dozing boy with a harmless white pill (anacin tablet) and a cup of water.
"For you, Mze. It is dawa." Dawa is medicine, a word of charm in Africa!
"Kwa nini, Mama [for what, Mama]?"
"Kwa nguvu sana [for pep]!"
A torrent of Swahili came from the Mze which Bwana Bob relayed. "He says, 'Mama, what will I do when you are not here to give me dawa!'" Everybody laughed, and the old man continued:
"Will you not give me more dawa for my son? He has a sickness here [pointing to his chest] and here [to stomach]!"
"But Mze, it is better that you bring him to the mission clinic. There they will find the cause of his trouble, and give him the proper medicine."
At this advice, Mze just shook his head, a gentle but firm dismissal of the subject. His people are ever evasive - here today, gone tomorrow. They are people of the wide pori, and like the animals they hunt in this bushland, the Wakindiga select a stopping place that suits them best at the moment - always a spot where the game is plentiful. Except at certain seasons of the year, they never bother about even a semblance of shelter but consider that under the roots of the baobab trees there is adequate cover.
The dawa had helped, and progress was being made on the record, "Tell Me about Jesus." Looking out across the lawn of the mission house to the splendid phenomenon of boulders balancing one upon another, we could see the shadows growing eastward below this one rock formation which was crouched like a gigantic bulldog watching over us. Time sped while our work plodded slowly, slowly along.
Boy: Father, tell me that story that begins, "In the beginning God made" all things. He made the world, the stars -
Mze: The sun, the moon; He made the trees, the birds and animals. Afterward He made the first man and the first woman.
Boy: And they were good absolutely! They loved to obey and please God.
Mze: Yes. But then one day Satan, the evil one, tempted them to disobey God. They listened to Satan and obeyed his words. When they did this, they turned away from God. They disobeyed God's good commandments.
Boy: Ahhh... and then they were no longer good, as before. Is this not true?
Mze: It is true. And afterward, all people born on earth have in the same way walked in crooked ways. Not one has perfectly obeyed God. Yet God felt great pity for all the people of the world.
Boy: Did not God leave them, then, after they chose to go their own way?
Mze: No, son, the Book of God tells us that God did not leave or forget them. His pity for them was great, because He knew that all who walked in the ways of darkness would go to the place of darkness when they died. And God did not want any of them to perish.
Boy: And so, what did God do then?
Mze: You know the story, my son, and the words which say, "For God so loved..."
Boy: "For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life."
It had been interesting to see the Mze learn this immortal passage - John 3:16 - and as he learned a phrase he and his forefinger taught it faithfully to the boy who then spoke it to the machine with confidence!
Just here, the record half-finished, Bwana had been called away. A Moslem subchief was trying to make trouble because of this work with the Wakindiga. Recording came to a standstill while we waited. What would be the outcome? It could jinx everything, Jean Ward had told us, if the Moslem chief should decide to outlaw the records and forbid the distribution of them. This was another of those incidents which emphasize the conflict inherent in every advance into unclaimed territory. It was a part of the inevitable undertow, a reminder to us that we must work, never taking a prize for granted; never careless as though the adversary slept; but rather with that attitude of Nehemiah's day when "everyone with one of his hands wrought in the work, and with the other hand held a weapon." For us also, as a team, this weapon was that of the Christian's All-Prayer - its blade kept sharpened and shining "with thanksgiving."
"In nothing be anxious, but in all things by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God." Without the faith that can rejoice in victory before it appears in history, our weapon of All-Prayer is blunted and unfit to win the day.
We sharpened our blades on that word from Isaiah 54:17: "No weapon that is formed against thee shall prosper."
After awhile Bob returned. The subchief had been pacified by the knowledge that the head chief had himself approved and aided this procedure!
Along with Bob had come a distinguished visitor, the top C.I.D. (British FBI) man of all Tanganyika, an English gentleman of long experience in many parts of Africa. When he heard about the subchief's opposition, he remarked, "Well, he shouldn't worry! It will be a long, long time before any of these bush people will be made Christians! They simply can't be corralled. It is impossible to keep track of them. They spend a week or two in a place, and then suddenly, bas! - they are gone - leaving not a trace of their existence!"
* * * * *
Yet tonight under the gigantic celery stalk called a baobab - scarcely able to believe it ourselves - here we were in the embrace of a Hadzape camp deep in the African bush. Now and then a flash photo caught the faces which we could not see in the darkness, and the brief instant revealed their intense concentration - and unspeakable wonderment! They listened on through three more records: "The Resurrection"; "Words about Heaven"; and now, the last to be played for them tonight, "Tell Me," with its closing paragraphs reiterating the name of Jesus Christ - Yesu Kristu - so they could learn to say it easily. Mze had practiced many times in order to pronounce this name consistently.
"Nataka tena [want it again]?" we asked.
"Ndio, ndio." The Mze's Swahili again interpreted the low clucking applause of the eager listeners. So the box repeated the last message, closing with:
1. Where is Jesus now?
2. He is now in Heaven. Yet He is very close to us. He hears our prayers.
1. Will He hear me?
2. Yes, He hears all who call upon His name. Believe in Him. He will save you.
1. These are good words. Thank you for telling me these good words.
The night deepened and the stars stooped closer. Our hearts were hushed in the glory of this moment.
"Mzuri, mzuri," whispered Mze. And then again, "Sawa sawa, sawa sawa [it is right, it is right]"; over and over he said it, nodding his head. "Sawa sawa. Sawa sawa." No one else spoke.
We were thinking of the little folk around us who were having perhaps their first introduction to One in their midst who could not forget the least of His creatures. And now His words, unencumbered by an alien tongue or accent, were planting themselves like seeds of light in the hearts of all who heard. This message was overtaking the little people of the wilds - who know well how to talk to the animals, who can smell the approach of an elephant or rhino and tell you which it is and how big! - people who are said to be on friendly terms with simba (the lion) - at least the Hadzape and the lions maintain a pact of co-existence. And now, what were they thinking?
* * * * *
By this time it was late, and we must return to the jeep two miles away. Saying good-by was quite a ceremony involving each of us to each of them, plus a trip around the place. We saw three or four tiny grass tents large enough for one or two people to squeeze into and sit down. They were empty except for a stiff animal-hide "rug" and perchance a smoked gourd. In one I saw the foot of a dik-dik, the smallest kind of antelope known. On one of the red ember hobs sat a gourd bowl of baobab-seed soup - the famine diet of the Wakindiga. Besides the cloth which holds mtoto on his mother's back, and the gourds for water and cooking, the bow and arrows seemed to be the only necessary equipage for life to this manner born.
Near the edge of the hilltop, where we were about to descend, stood the little Mze - his wrinkled face a study, his hand stretched out for the triple handshake and good-bys to Mama Joy (and over and over again he shook her hand!), Mama Sherwoodi, Mama Sanna, until all the party were accounted for; the last was Bwana Bob with his gun over his shoulder. But the little Wakindiga chief would not let him go without a continuous handshake. It went on and on - speaking more gratitude than could be interpreted in words. We counted - at least twenty-two times the Mze clasped the Bwana's hand. At last, as we pulled ourselves away from these dear friends, Mze said to Bwana Bob, "Mungu na saidia [God is helping you]." For the chief knew that we were about to invade the private domains of the great beasts about which the wazungu are notoriously ignorant.
As we started down the rocky hillside toward the plain and river bottom, two young Wakindiga with bows and arrows preceded us. They had taken log embers from the stone fireplaces, and now as they went before us they marked out our way by dropping sparks of light along the path. We followed the sparks as they carefully placed them to reveal a jutting rock likely to trip us or a thorny branch stretching over the trail. As we went single file through the high lion-colored grass, they planted these tiny lights to help us.
Bwana Bob, who had previously been our rear guard, came crashing past to lead us as we crossed the river bed. This was the watering place for elephant, rhino, and other rare game not yet in a zoo! Walking through the sandy bottom, avoiding the pools of water here and there, we noticed the tracks of many varieties of game. This afternoon we had seen a beautiful herd of fat striped zebra galloping across the pori some hundred yards ahead of us; and later, a graceful group of impala whose grazing we had disturbed, but not before we had enjoyed a good long look at them. But besides these, we had seen nothing more than a rabbit or a dik-dik scooting into the bush in front of us.
In the midst of the river one of our Wakindiga guides stopped to fill his gourd jug with water scooped from under a small ledge of rock, leaving it there to be collected on his return.
Safely through the place of greatest danger, we followed an elephant trail to the jeep. There it stood, waiting and ready, fresh and green, the image of faithfulness and patience - and we trusted - endurance. On its hood written in modest English were the words, 4-wheel drive - a statement to the effect that this Willys station wagon was equal to a challenge like this happy hunting ground. Later we were breathless as we watched our "Willy," under Bob's skill, overcome the rocks, cliffs, deep sandy creek beds, the long grass and the hundreds of thorn trees that bowed beneath his 115 horses of power! From every direction the scrub forest looked exactly the same, and there was no suggestion of a road. Our only guidance that proved to be sure was the light planted in the heavens - the stars literally led us out of that wilderness. Again and again we stopped the car to get out and look up, taking our bearings from the sky. Edythe Kjellin pointed out Scorpio sitting in the Southwest; and the Pleiades, soon followed by "The Bull's Eye" and Taurus climbing up out of the eastern horizon. And there in the North was Cassiopeia. Then heading northeastward, we should eventually hit the one road that could take us home. And we did - at 2 a.m. - after four hours of losing and finding ourselves in that uncharted heart of Tanganyika.
"This experience has been the greatest thing that has happened to me since my coming to Africa," Bob Ward told us this the next day as we were leaving Isanzu in quest of the next bush language - that of the large Wasandawi tribe. As he spoke, we thought of his keen desire to reach the Wakindiga; and of his parting with the old chief, Mze. By the grace of God this missionary and others like him will not stop short of planting these plates of light in Hadzape encampments bordering their own large fields of labor. There the small boxes, that can travel with the people wherever they go, can also keep the records talking, and the seeds of light falling in abundance upon the soil from which a harvest surely must be intended. The Wakindiga must also be included in that pledge from the "Father of lights with whom is no variableness." To His own Son He has spoken: "I will give thee the heathen for thine inheritance" - some from "every kindred and tongue and people and nation."