Monday, 11 May 2009

"I love you and there's nothing you can do about it" - Kagina's story

Off the cuff, our colleague Rogate Mshana told a wonderful story today as part of our chapel service this morning as we prayed for Tanzania and Kenya. We listened to the passage from John's gospel where Jesus calls his disciples to love one another and assures them that they are his friends if they fulfill his commandments.

Rogate reflected on this by saying it is by our doing rather than by our thinking that we fulfill the commandment to love. After telling us the story of Kagina he invited us to turn to our neighbours and say "I love you and there is nothing you can do about it". It made us all laugh and smile but it was a powerful way to begin the week at work, several of us were saying it to each other throughout the day.

I should add that Rogate didn't know he was going to be saying anything until I cornered him as he walked into chapel and said wouldn't you just like to say a few words ... I'm so glad I dared to ask.

Kagina’s passion to be loved
A long time ago when I was young in Tanzania we used to see a man who was living alone in our village. This was not normal. His name was Kagina and people knew him by only this one name because there was no other person with such a name in the village. Kagina worked on his small farm and cooked for himself. As children we never asked why he was not married and raising children like us. We were, however, curious to know how he could be happy without connecting himself with others. Then we realized that he was talking to someone in his house. He would prepare his food and then put it on the table. But instead of eating the food right away, he first stretched himself on his bamboo bed and then imitated a sound of another person calling Kagina to come and eat because the food was ready and would get cold. Kagina would reply to himself that he was a bit sleepy but then the other Kagina would say, “My friend even if you are tired and sleepy it is good to eat together, you know that I cannot eat without you, I love you, please come.” Kagina would then sit up and go to eat, pretending he was eating with someone. He did this every day till he was old with age and died.
The story of Kagina is about loving one another especially around sharing a meal together. He wanted passionately to be loved and share a meal with someone else as an expression of this love.