Friday, November 11, 2011

Making Banana Leaves Talk

“Baba wala kufanya mimi kuondoka”... Father don’t make me leave, the young child begged. Early in the 1900s an old man who was forced into conscript labor for a brutal dictator went to the boss to get his pay. Taking his young son with him on the long walk would give plenty of time to teach him the ways and history of the young boys ancestors. The walk would take them though jungle and over dirt roads past many other villages. There was no way they could know that this walk would change the face of their destiny, and the destiny of many who would also walk the dirt roads of this nation.

The old man had seen many atrocities and evil in his life as his country is one of the poorest in the world even until this day. For more than a century it has been the target of self interested nations, oppressive leaders and regimes as they plundered the many minerals and raw materials found here. From Leopold II to the most recent dictator, Mabutu, many millions have been murdered.

As they walked by a village the man and his son saw something they had never seen before, a white man standing, crouching, kneeling stooping as he pointed and spoke to the men sitting in a circle on the ground. He was holding something in his hands form which he spoke. The two walked over to the group and heard the white man encouraging the men to repeat words. The old man asked one of them what the white man was doing, “he is teaching us how to make banana leaves talk” - they were leaning how to read!

As the old man tried to leave, his son ask him if he could stay and watch. The old man told him no because white men were cannibals and would eat him. After many miles of walking they arrived at the boss‘ house where the old man had to wait for his pay. When he came out from the office the boy was nowhere to be found. He ran around asking people if they saw the small boy. A few said they saw him run down the path on which they arrived. The old man was sure he knew where his son was going. He arrived at the village where the white man was teaching and found his son listening to the white man talk to the others.

The old man grabbed his son whipping and dragging him away while boy begged him to let him stay. All the way home the boy whimpered. They next day brought a new frustration as the man discovered the boy had run off again. Once again the man went straight to the white man’s home in the village and upon arriving he witnessed the old man teaching his young son to read by drawing strange figures on an old black board. After talking with the boy’s father they agreed to allow the boy to remain and work for the white man as a house boy.

Over the years the boy learned to make the banana leaves talk for himself. This young boy surprised the white teacher as he became a gifted young man guided by the Holy Spirit. As more time pasted the young Congolese man became a young leader, teacher, evangelist and soon hundreds were becoming true believers as he went from village to village teaching the ways of God. This young man soon became a leader in his nation and set in motion a dream that would not be believed even though we are seeing it, no living it today!

The mantle would soon fall, but not on the ground rather onto his son. Picking up that mantle Dr. David Kasali went onto become the grandson of a conscript laborer, the son of a man who made banana leaves talk for himself, a leader of the largest seminary in East Africa, and now the president of a new bi-lingual university in The Democratic Republic of Congo located in Beni, DRC. This new Dream is Congo Initiative, Congo Initiative.

New generations of proud Congolese recovering from years of brutal oppression, young men and women who have first hand experiences of murder and exploitation are now graduating with new hope and a determination to transform their nation. Yes, their nation, their land.

How could the old man know what would be set in motion by allowing his son to learn the language of the banana leaf, what it would say, how it would influence him, change him, give him and opportunity to know the true and living God and over time influence a nation through the perseverance of his descendants? It is obvious that it was God was. no is at work!

This is your investment. This is your joy.

Mark Szymanski

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