Chapter 59

 Success and Setbacks
 

An incident that happened in 1928 is worth recalling. Baby Margaret was out in the pram with Ellen, her nursemaid. The white children spent most days on the main avenue. African women are very devoted to their children and all loved the children of missionaries.

One warm day, near to a plot of pineapples, the children and nurses were having a fine conversation when one nurse noted a few extra black men crawling towards the avenue. They turned out to be men from the north. They travelled by the mountain route and none had ever seen a white person. No wonder they were crawling at the sight of white children. Some of the children cried, but Margaret spotted the strangers and said, 'Hello, friend,' in their local vernacular. 'Don't be afraid!'

She put her little hand out to one. All the men rose and crowded around the pram. They clapped their hands and bowed in respect. Margaret kept talking to them. Ellen pointed out Margaret's pretty curls, her dress, dainty socks and shoes and the toys in the pram. The northern men were at the station to sell rush mats, beautifully patterned, in many colours, colours from vegetable dyes.

Later that day, my friend, the African Minister, The Rev Edward Boti Manda, called at my office. Edward was always welcome, for he had a passionate interest in my workers and was a great help in saving many native customs. This day he was to tell me about the Konde strangers from the far north. The men were outside, so they all trooped into my office. As I did not understand their language, Edward acted as interpreter.

'Long ago,' the leader said, 'our land was ruled by brave men. Women were never listened to, as they could not keep a secret and they talked too much. One woman, however, was different. She was pretty, quiet spoken, very friendly and wise. She died long ago. From today we have seen her likeness in a child called Margaret. From today on she is not Margaret to us, but Nyamzinda, which means the smiling attractive one, so kindly and a friend.'

So from that day our daughter became known as Zinda to all Africans and Europeans. I gave gifts to the visitors from the north, took them down to the veranda of our house where Zinda handed to them oranges, lemons and peaches.

As Edward said to me, 'What about that as a success story for your diary. I know you write everything down in a book.'

 

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This work, Going With God, is copywrited by Ronald R. Caseby, 1993.   All rights reserved.  Used here by express permission.