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Thursday, January 01, 2009

TweetThis! Looking for 'Massawe' in Pretoria

By Valentine Marc Nkwame
As Santa Claus, Christmas trees, Jingle bells and a Reindeer called Rudolph; keep propping up all over Johannesburg, this week I have just decided to hibernate for a while, cooling it off in a place called 'Tshwane!'

Now for those who had no idea, Tshwane happens to be the capital city of South Africa, or at least, the country's diplomatic headquarters. All the foreign embassies and high commission offices are based there.

Tshwane by the way, was previously known as 'Pretoria,' that was before the local officials, or maybe some cheap-popularity-seeking-politicians, decided to change the city's name from the well known 'Pretoria' to the current 'Tshwane!' The latter is said to be actually the 'original' identity of the place … or something.

"Tshwane," explains a local Pretorian, "Was the son of the original person who founded this place!" According to local history, the Pretoria area was established by a guy known as 'Mushi,' who later came to be known as 'Chief Mushi!' Now this Chief Mushi is said to be the first person to settle in Pretoria long before the arrival of Voortrekkers (Boer immigrants) in 1830s.

History does not explain where this Chief Mushi hailed from, before settling in Pretoria (and fathering a child known as Tshwane) but anybody in Tanzania will know that this name 'Mushi' belongs to the tribe of people living on the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro and who have this habit or drenching their throats with a brew known as 'Mbeke!'

In other words it is very possible that the Capital City of South Africa was founded by a 'Chagga' guy known as Chief Mushi (more or less Mangi Mushi), who must have wondered from the slopes of 'Kilema-Kyaro' moving down to the southern part of the continent in the early 17th century and built himself a hut at this place called Pretoria.

Chief Mushi named his elder son 'Tshwane' meaning 'We are all the same!' possibly after the locals later tried to throw him out as 'an alien' after he became too successful in business (only joking).

According to the locals here, the descendants of Chief Mushi can still be found in various parts of Pretoria (Tshwane) even today. I asked them where exactly this family of 'Mangi' Mushi, the founder of Pretoria could be living at the moment.

"Well, most of them are residing at a place called 'Temba!' said my guide. To which I exclaimed "What? You mean there is a place here in Pretoria known as 'Temba?' Then this must definitely be a Chagga land." Indeed, first we had a Chief known as Mushi and now we hear of this place called Temba.

But my guide, a lady known as Margaret Mbatha (Mbatia? Mbasha?), wasn't through; She added, "Some of Chief Mushi's descendants can also be found at 'Aka-Siha' another local area which is among the 11 regions making up Pretoria city.

Mh! I was now beginning to smell 'Ndisi Nyama,' the Chagga influence in Pretoria couldn't be more vivid, they even have a place called 'Siha?'

And it suddenly occurred to me that, if Pretoria was founded by 'Mushi' and has places called 'Temba' and Aka-Siha then there certainly must be a guy known as 'Massawe' here as well. So I set on a mission of searching for people known as 'Massawe' in Pretoria.

"Hey, do you happen to be ...eh... Massawe?" I asked a certain South African guy at a local pub in Tshwane. Apparently he looked like he could be a Chagga, or at least, a resident of Moshi, or Kwasadala if not Boma-Ng'ombe.

"No, he answered abruptly. My name is Themu and I live in 'Ga-Rankuwa' area and Who are you?"

Mh! Themu? And what's more, he even pronounced his name as 'Temu!' Oh my God, this is definitely Kilimanjaro. "Why." I thought, "soon I may even see a Toyota-Stout pick-up cruising along one of the roads here … possibly also carrying containers of 'Mbeke.'

Indeed as soon as the thought crossed my mind a Toyota pick-up pulled up at the pub. Well, it wasn't exactly 'Stout' but 'Hilux,' In South Africa such vehicles are known as 'Bakkies' and Yes even they look like those Toyota Stouts of Machame.

As of Mbeke, the people in the pub were drinking something called 'Umqombothi' a traditional Xhosa beer which, looked, smelled and tasted like any original Mbeke the way it was being brewed by old 'Mama Nkaatile' in the 'Kwa-Wangaeli' junction of Sanya Juu … Siha.

"Is this a Chagga land?" I finally asked my guide because by now, the evidence of the Kilimanjaro influence in Pretoria was just overwhelming.

"Yes," replied my Guide, "This used to be a 'notorious' Chagga area. You see the 'Chagas disease' was once a major problem in here Pretoria."

I later came to learn that the 'Chaggas' disease known in Portuguese as doença de Chagas, in Spanish as enfermedad de Chagas or mal de Chagas in both languages; is a tropical parasitic infections caused by the flagellate protozoan. It is known in English as 'American trypanosomiasis.' Chagas though not very common in Africa was once a problem in Pretoria.

All the same. If this area was founded by Mr. Mushi and has places called Temba and Siha with people called Temu and an original Mbeke brew known as 'Umqombothi' surely there must be a Massawe guy lurking somwhere within Pretoria.

Then it occurred to me that even if this 'Massawe' did exist in Pretoria, it was the wrong season to look for him here. As usual come December and all Chaggas would be on their way back to the slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro ready for Christmas, New year, Jingle Bells and the original 'Umqombothi' sorry 'Mbeke!'

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