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Published: February 28th 2013
Dr. Benson Bagonza, KARUCO FounderThe Groundbreaking Program
Bishop, ELCT-Karagwe Presents Gifts
moved forward. Directly following me was Kjell Bergh, introduced as the Honorable Kjell Bergh, Ambassador to Tanzania, USA
. Kjell looked very ambassadorial and greeted the dignitaries and all others in the proper, official but not pretentious way. He then teased that he had climbed Kilimanjaro 3 times but that his most demanding time in Tanzania so far was his ride on the bumpy, unfinished road to KARUCO. He kiddingly said that if the road is not finished next time he comes, he will have to fly his plane to Karagwe. Kjell applauded the good work of those in various places coming together to help build KARUCO. He encouraged all to continue the solid work and remain in roles that ensure contributions to KARUCO. One spontaneous speech came from Mr. Gozibert Blandes
, member of Parliament, who donated 10 million Tanzanian schillings (about $6,300 USD). He encouraged others to do the same and offered his commitment that he would continue to help support KARUCO. I had met him on Tower Point and was glad to see his support.
Brighton then introduced the Honorable Minister of Agriculture
, Mr. Christopher Chiza
. He is a respected government official who supports agricultural efforts
Honored by Traditional Gifts
that will make a difference. Of course, he greeted everyone properly, even remarking that he and Kjell had worn the same Tanzanian-themed tie. He thanked everyone for their efforts. Brighton helped me understand by translating during the speech. The minister started by calling up a KARASECO (Karagwe Secondary School) student who had written the minister a note that day, saying that he was proud to be from the same area as the minister. The minister then opened his wallet and gave the young man two orange bills, and the student went away happy.
The minister was lively and energetic and made about every point imaginable that aligned with the philosophy and vision for KARUCO. Hands on applications, ethics, environmental sustainability, agri-business, creative and critical thinking, entrepreneurship, etc. As the minister's vision was delivered, an emotional and mental paradigm shift was almost palpable. A broader view of agriculture, centered around KARUCO, was made known and endorsed. There is a beauty about a group of people hearing the same thing at the same time. The minister thanked people and singled out ETI as being significant in making KARUCO a reality. It felt nice. He then committed ten million Tanzanian Schillings to
Hon. Minister of Agriculture
Eng. Mr. Christopher Chiza inspired the crowd
the project. At 2:30 PM, Tanzanian time, 6:30AM CST, the minister announced, "I hearby establish the official groundbreaking for KARUCO- Karagwe University College!". And the people cheered.
Our Tanzanian friends had organized a piece of the program to show gratitude to the honored guests. The bishop called me up first, expressed deep and sincere thanks, and presented me with two wrapped gifts. He then presented gifts to Kjell, and then the minister of Agriculture also. Importantly I was given a traditional gift of ground nuts wrapped very cleverly in banana leaves. Very touching. (Edina later roasted these for me and let me just say that there is nothing quite like fresh roasted organic ground nuts from Tanzania.)
A prayer and invitation to come eat. Of course, the best cook in Karagwe, Edina Henry, Manager of Guest Services at Kayanga Hotel
made the food. The spread of rice, bananas, potatoes, meat and sauces was a welcome sight. I filled my plate and was invited to sit by the Minister of Agriculture to my left and Kjell Bergh to my right. As we ate, the bishop remarked what great points the minister made. I agreed heartily
Guests of Honor
Hon Kjell Bergh; Prof. Jan B. Hansen; Hon Christopher Chiza; Bishop Benson Bagonza,
and thanked him for his vision and insight for his people. He shared some points about having talked with the bishop via phone and how they shared similar views about transformation in rural communities through improvement of agricultural practices. Mr. Chiza asked about ETI so I shared that the curriculum team from the U of MN and from EARTH University are coming to Karagwe in January. The minister acted very interested and said he would love to make time for them if they travel through Dar es Salaam. He then gave me his business card and invited me to contact him with details. He and Kjell then swapped thoughts on economic development in Tanzania while Oscar took photos.
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