One particular Friday in late March the Christians of
Mtakuja Small Christian Community (SCC) in Western Tanzania met to pray
together. After the Bible Service Peter the SCC leader said, "We are accustomed
to have a "Teaching" after the Bible sharing. But Easter is drawing near.
Therefore I will tell the story of Masanja:
Masanja was a Sukuma man who lived in Maswa in Shinyanga
Region of Tanzania. After getting married and building a new house Masanja got
many difficulties. His wife ran away, his youngest child died suddenly, his
house fell down and thieves stole all of Masanja’s cows. Suddenly he was a
beggar. He thought he had been bewitched.
Masanja started to despair. But finally he decided to
leave Shinyanga Region, that is the interior of Tanzania, and go to the coast to
the city of Dar es Salaam. He travelled as a beggar without clothes, without
money, without anything.
After arriving in Dar es Salaam on the Indian Ocean
Masanja started to get lucky. First he found work and a house. After a while he
opened a store, then a small hotel. He began to make a lot of money. He built a
permanent house that he rented. Then Masanja built a soft drink factory. Finally
he became very rich with many possessions. But he didn’t want to live in Dar es
Salaam. So he returned to his home in Maswa in Shinyanga Region with great
wealth — a car, new clothes, many goods and a lot of money.
After telling this story Peter the SCC leader asked the
community members, "What do you think? What does this story of Masanja remind us
of?" Immediately a Sukuma woman answered, "This story is similar to a Sukuma
riddle." She said, "I have a riddle," and Peter answered, "Let it come." The
woman said, "He went to the coast naked and returned fully clothed?" Another
Sukuma answered, "Groundnut." Everyone laughed. Then other community members
eagerly joined in the discussion. One woman said, "In my language Kinyamwezi we
have a riddle that says: You went far away; you returned with great wealth? The
answer is millet." A Ngoreme youth said, "I remember a riddle in my local
language Kingoreme: "I shot my arrow without feathers; it has returned with
feathers?" The answer is runner bean."
Another SCC member named William said, "I think the
meaning of all these riddles resembles the example of the groundnut seed that is
planted in the earth in order to later sprout. It grows inside of its shell.
Afterwards the groundnut’s flowers are showy and very beautiful. This example is
also like a verse in Chapter 12 of St. John’s Gospel: "Unless a grain of wheat
falls on the ground and dies it remains only a single grain, but if it dies it
yields a rich harvest" (John 12: 24).
Then Peter said, "Good. We have heard a fine explanation.
But there’s still one more thing. Why have I told this story of Masanja near
Easter Sunday?" For a while the SCC members were quiet. Then a widow named
Modesta delighted the other Christians by saying, "The story of Masanja and the
groundnut riddle and the example of the grain of wheat all resemble the death
and resurrection of Jesus Christ. If a groundnut can be so changed surely the
Son of God can rise from the grave in glory. The death and resurrection of our
Lord Jesus Christ is the foundation of our Christian faith. In our everyday life
we die and rise with him. Jesus Christ and we Christians too are like the seed
that is buried in the ground before it can grow and bear fruit."
Immediately all the community members clapped for this widow. They recognized
that she had touched the very heart of the Easter season.