A Day to Celebrate!
On Thursday June 2nd, we witnessed and celebrated the inauguration of UMATU’s centre. The inauguration marked the official opening of the centre. Attendees included Dr. Lucas Kazingo, the District Medical Officer of Karatu, Cecilia Mkenda, the District Principal Nursing Officer, all of the CPAR-Tz staff, the Badili Mtizamo team, and UMATU members and some of their husbands and children.
The event started relatively on time within the hour of start time, and from there began the music, singing, and dancing. There was a DJ and an MC to set the spirit of the event quite high. The entire inauguration was a much different pace from the usual mundane Canadian inaugurations I have witnessed. While it did seem to drag on because of the sweltering heat and the numerous songs and speeches, I did enjoy the variety of music and dancing.
A unique tradition was wrapping blankets around the people they were thankful to. Each CPAR staff member was draped and wrapped in blankets of course dancing to the beat of the music, signifying the gratitude of UMATU. We were considered honourable guests, and were treated with a tasty meal including roasted potatoes, boiled plantain, cabbage, onion and tomato salad, nyoma choma (bbq meat), rice and pilau (all in all a typical Tz meal). It served of course with your choice of Fanta, Sprite, Coca-Cola, or water.
Luckily, earlier in the day, I bought Kanga material. I didn’t expect to use it so soon in the trip, but Mallory rightfully suggested I use it to wrap around myself. I asked one of the UMATU women to help dress me, and it didn’t take long for the women to cut the material and give me a skirt and head wrap. As Japhet said, “Katherine you are sista Africa!” The day was definitely more fun dancing to the music in my African attire.
I didn’t understand any of the speeches, due to my very basic understanding of Kiswahili, however I could definitely sense the pride, love, solidarity and joy beaming through all of the women! I hope I can speak on behalf of the Badili team to say we were lucky to share this memorable day with UMATU!