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    • Day 481

      Big House

      February 20, 2020 in Tanzania ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

      Since my host has spent the last 4 weeks away from the site I have not progressed far in helping sort out the project management, so I hitched a ride with the Abbot back to the main monastery so make a report.
      As one might expect, the monastery is populated with monk eys. There are only a few priests and many Brothers all of whom are generous in their welcome and hospitality.
      This place is a model of how the Kipili site should be, with agriculture, animal husbandry, workshops and vocational training facilities as well as monastic buildings. Why it isn't has been revealed to me, obliquely.
      It seems that Bro Gasper used to be the Procurator, (the equivalent of an Operations Manager,) here until a year ago. Then his inability to handle money in a transparent way provoked the Abbot into sending him to Kipili. Since he has no talent for management and feels he has been demoted, he avoids the place as much as possible. The Germans have noticed as well as me! Now they are stuck because they do not know what to do with him, and the African culture in a Benedictine environment does not allow anyone to make suggestions to the Abbot who is assumed to know everything about everything.
      My documents about improving processes has therefore been referred back to Bro Gasper for action, which nobody expects to eventuate.
      Since the handling of the money entrusted to him has been used in a way that I can only describe as dishonest, in Australia it would be illegal and the Charities Trust would investigate, I would have thought the Abbot would attend to the spiritual side - the immoral behaviour - without delay. But this is Africa; and the Catholic Church has survived for this long with a practical attitude to peccadilloes. And maybe the Abbot is doing something in a round-a-bout way, who knows?
      Benedictine communities belong to Congregations, which start with one Abbey grow by spawning off-shoots. This one belongs to a German Congregation, the Missionary Benedictines of St Ottilien, founded in 1884 which has spread into 55 Houses around the world . The procurator from HQ, one Fr Anastasius, has just been to audit the activities here and left rolling his eyes. For example, an African is responsible for looking after his family, and if he has money in his hand is expected to share some of it. The idea that the money is not his is beyond anyones's comprehension: I see the cash, its in your hand, therefore you have money, therefore you share it. Just because you joined another group does not relieve you of your duty so be sanguine. Some Brothers with less intellectually developed notions even question why they can't have a young girl to look after them.
      It all sounds as if stories of the Medieval Church had come to life and I anticipate a large meal with choice wines at the home of a Tanzanian Prince Bishop. Well, maybe I'm just having funny dreams after an unrestricted diet of beans, ugali and rice.
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    • Day 481

      Head office

      February 20, 2020 in Tanzania ⋅ ⛅ 16 °C

      The grounds cover an area of rich agricultural land about 3 by 4 km square. About 60% I would guess lies fallow for lack of manpower - and equipment.
      They have all the usual farm animals and also a crumbly cat. One Brother has started a salami factory leisurely extruding some tasty beef. They use pre-mixed German sausage spices so could do with a bit of spicing up! (Garlic, pepper etc)
      The new church is the Abbot's pride and joy. Just love the scaffolding.
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    • Day 483

      Centre for advancing backwards

      February 22, 2020 in Tanzania ⋅ ☁️ 16 °C

      Look up from the Monastery towards the hill in the distance: then gaze down in silent contemplation of the buildings from the site of a future meditation centre.
      The Man himself: Pambo Abbot of Mvimba glows brightly as he poses with an insouciant yet debon air on top of his rock on which he too wishes to build a church.
      The landscape up here is a primary pebble-dash, though the pebbles are quite large. In fact, with a little application it could be turned into an African mega-zen garden - eminently suitable for a retreat centre.
      Of course, there is no money for a project like this and the reason the Abbot is with us is to butter-up the German representative of supertecture who has been visiting and who is to be cajoled into finding donations. The monks descriptions of their ideas end up sounding like an advert for a French Village de Vacances, where impoverished street kids can bask in the healthy air, absorbing the peacefulness of the unspoilt countryside. I keep my mouth shut about the cost of getting to the place which would eliminate 99% of poor Tanzanian children since I know this is benevolence on display and really, they just want a church to brag about.
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    • Day 482

      Not black enough for you ?

      February 21, 2020 in Tanzania ⋅ ☁️ 16 °C

      What are you talking about: it's round and black. What more do you want? Rubber!!!?
      Anyway, it is only holding up a 3 tonne truck so you don't need anything fancy.

      Tired? I'd say!

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