Tengyo Kura

Chronicle of Vagabondism / When everybody wants to be somebody, I want to be nobody.


Story 53

Uncle Abdul, 80 years old, has run his tiny but lovely tea shop for 55 years.
His mint tea is just perfect for one's break.
One day he told me that his mint tea tasted much better 50 years ago.
"Back in the days people produced tea leaves, mint leaves, and sugar with care," said Uncle Abdul.
He gave me a simple but true advice.
"Make an effort little by little, step by step. Your steady work never let you down."
Uncle Abdul usually wears a stern look (especially when he makes tea), but he also has an irresistibly charming smile.
Much respect to the tea master.
(photo & story by Tengyo Kura, Sefrou)

Story 52

Six in the morning, all the sheep I counted last night turned into real ones and went home.
Bye-bye, see you again at night.
(photo & story by Tengyo Kura, Azrou)

Story 51

I am a pineapple seller.
I sell pineapples on the street every day. 
Most of my pineapples remain unsold usually, I have to bring them back home at night.
It’s such labor!
I push my cart full of pineapples, soon my knees start crying in pain.
I go very slowly, everybody passes me even an elder woman with a cane.
I especially don’t like when a banana seller overtakes me.
He carries many bananas unsold in his cart too, but bananas are not as heavy as pineapples, you know. 
Seeing banana seller’s back, I sometimes wonder if I should sell smaller fruits.
But in the end I always feel content with myself selling pineapples.
I like to see my pineapples occupying the street. 
They stand proudly like warriors that bananas never could.
I sit behind them as the king of my pineapple kingdom.
One day I will sell out all of my pineapples, and I will leave the banana seller far behind on my way back home.
(photo & story by Tengyo Kura, Mwanza (book courtesy of Indian Public Library Mwanza))

Story 50

She is deaf and she doesn't speak.
She is mentally challenged and she doesn't understand what is happening around her.
She might be considered as a burden by society which asks us to be productive and responsible.
Fortunately beauty of her existence cannot be measured by such fixed ideas.
She reminds us that there is no qualification needed to be a part of this world.
Life is unconditionally accepted by the world, and every each of us as life must be loved by the world.
(photo & story by Tengyo, Chitungwiza)

Story 49

One evening I went home by kombi, a Zimbabwean minibus.
The fare was usually one dollar on that route so when a conductor said something and began collecting money, I gave him a dollar note.
Because the conductor spoke Shona language (one of the native languages of Zimbabwe) I did not know that the fare went half price.
Kombis compete severely in Harare, and they sometimes undersell other kombis to get more passengers.
Anyway, the conductor received my one dollar but did not give me 50-cent change.
I of course did not know what was going on, relaxed and looked outside through the window.
Then a young man sitting next to my seat gently passed me a 50 cent coin from his pocket.
I asked him what it was.
He said "This kombi's fare is 50 cents. You keep it as your change."
Now I realized that the conductor took advantage of my ignorance, and the passenger helped me without making noise.
I was impressed.
Even when the Zimbabwean people suffer from bad economy very much for this moment, they do help people no matter what.
This small 50 cent coin made an impact on me and it was not small.
(photo & story by Tengyo Kura, Harare)

Story 48

Tawanda is one of the young leaders of special-school teachers of Zimbabwe.
He is a teacher, dancer, and father.
And above all, he is a bridge between society and mentally or/and physically challenged children.
"There is no barrier between able and disable people. We are all the same as a life," Tawanda said.
"We can do things that they cannot do, but at the same time they can do something better than we do."
It is a challenge for the Zimbabwean society to remove walls and accept those who have disability.
To establish platforms where people can see how physically or/and mentally challenged contribute to society is an important issue.
"I just love those children no matter what. They always refresh my mind."
"This I can promise, even if my organization failed to get funds, I would go to school and would be with the children every day," he continued.
His eyes showed full of passion, and I found the strong possibility of humanism in his words.
Tawanda is the man of African big love.
(photo & story by Tengyo Kura, Harare)

Story 47

The man was sitting on a bench and reading a newspaper at the roadside.
Countless plants around him caught my eyes so did his unique hat.
I greeted him, and he gave me a smile back.
I asked him if he took care of all the plants on the roadside.
"Yes, they are all mine," he said.
"Come over here, I will show you my place," he continued.
I was surprised when I understood that the roadside was literally his private property.
There was a small bedroom covered by black plastic sheets, there was a doghouse as well.
What made me surprised more than anything was the number of the plants occupying the entire roadside.
"This is my business," he explained.
"I used to work at a company, then I became tired of serving people who gave me a salary."
"So I started selling plants. Now I'm the boss of myself."
His roadside jungle stretched about 50 meters and ended at a small river.
"I take water for my plants from this river, I also take a bath in this river, too," he smiled.
"By the way, I said that I was the boss of myself, but actually I'm still a servant to my plants instead of humans. Well, a plant is a better boss to have, they aren't nagging anyway."
(photo & story by Tengyo Kura, Dar es Salaam)

Story 46

A young man holding a flaming torch high overhead ran through a village silently.
The most beautiful celebration of the advent of the New Year I have ever seen.
(photo & story by Tengyo Kura, Mwanza)

Story 45

This is one of the oldest public libraries in East Africa.
Mr. Raman next to me took charge in 1964 when the library was abandoned with one book, one broken chair, and one big desk.
Since then he has taken care of the library on his own, the library has over 10,000 books today.
Mr. Raman is an enthusiastic teacher with more than 40-year experience.
The current President of Tanzania was one of his pupils.
He is 80 years old, but he does not look like so.
He proves that having love and passion makes people ageless.
(photo & story by Tengyo Kura, Mwanza)

Story 44

I was physically and mentally exhausted after moving into this town.
Sometimes I had to escape from the bustle and a mosque was the best place to spent some peaceful time.
There was a coffee stand nearby the mosque, so I often passed it.
One day, a group of men were having coffee there when I came near, and they invited me for coffee.
Because I was walking weakly they might have felt sorry.
To be honest I did not feel like talking to anybody, I just wanted to go home.
But they already prepared a cup of coffee and a chair for me, I could not excuse myself.
The coffee was very thick and strong, probably one of the strongest coffee I had ever had.
The men were curiously watching me.
Bitterness made me feel like somebody held my brain tightly.
I tried to finish the cup so that the men would not be disappointed.
Soon after I finished, they gave me another cup of coffee.
I was surprised but it was too late to stop.
The men went back enjoying their conversations.
I was listlessly looking at coffee inside a small cup.
A man next to me talked to me then.
"How long have you been in this town?"
I turned my heavy head and looked at him.
He seemed thoughtful.
"Only one month," I answered.
He smiled gently and continued.
"How do you like our Tanzanian coffee?"
I hesitated a bit, but replied honestly.
"It's too strong to me."
"Drink more," he said.
"Should I?" I asked.
"Yes, you should."
He insisted so but in a soft tone.
"Well, sounds like I have no choice," I accepted the second cup of coffee unwillingly.
He was pleasantly looking at me taking it.
Now I felt something different in the taste.
It wasn't that strong anymore, and I even tasted rich flavor that I liked.
"How was it?" he asked.
"Was it the same coffee as I had before?" I asked him back.
"Yes, absolutely," he smiled.
"Umm, it tasted different."
The man quietly smiled and poured coffee again.
"Take it," he said.
"Okay," I took the cup without hesitation this time.
The coffee tasted much better than the first cup.
"I don't know why, but this one tasted even a bit sweet..." I told him in confusion.
I realized that everybody at the table was watching me quietly.
The man next to me told me in a sincere voice.
"When you do something new, it usually takes time to be able to enjoy."
"Maybe you are not happy with your living in this town now, aren't you?"
I did not know how to respond.
"Try not to judge if you like it or not in the beginning. I'm sure you will find a way to enjoy."
I remained speechless, but felt very warm deep inside my body.
"Welcome to Tanzania."
He smiled and poured another cup of coffee.
"Enjoy our coffee."
(photo & story by Tengyo Kura, Mwanza)