Pole Pole Tutafika

When Baba na Mama founded Kibo Art Gallery on the slopes of Mt. Kilimanjaro in Moshi, Tanzania in 1963, they called it their African Mango Tree, their mascot was the African tortoise.

"It is like a mango tree; too slow in growth to compete with emphemeral fashions of the art world; but with roots too deep in the soil to be uprooted by any shallow wind of civilisation.
Its roots sink deep into the earth to reach out for the bones of our ancestry and the sap that is our heritage from God.
Its trunk powerful and round like true communal life in unity and harmony.
Its branches open up into a generosity of leaves, flowers and colourful fruits to feed the world and inspire humanity with spiritual health, joy, love, peace and humility in eternal wonder."
I share this with you today on the inauguration of Barack Obama as the 44th President of the United States of America.

Barack Obama,
Whose face glows with love and compassion like the sun of Africa.
Who brings with him the fertility of America and the beauty of the land, he belongs to us all.

Barack Obama,
Who believed in Martin Luther King's dream,
A dream deeply rooted in the American dream that has sustained its power through generations, and sacrifices.

Today, there will be pomp,
There will be glory, and jubilation.

In unity and harmony, we will continue the journey.
Pole Pole Tutafika [slowly, slowly, we will get there].

Mama Shujaa.

Copyright © Hana Njau-Okolo 2009. All Rights Reserved.


  1. kabisa mama! just back from watching this glorious moment for all mankind (and women of course!)...just AMAZING..wow. ndio. pole pole! xxx j

  2. Janelli,

    Definitely a moment I will be mulling over for some time...

    Mama S.

  3. Pole Pole Tutafika. . . I think I have a new mantra to chant each morning. Merci Mama(n) Shujaa!
    Gruesse aus Berlin!

  4. I love your words, as always.

    Jana ilikuma siku ya furaha ni sherehe!

  5. For the first time in many years, I feel hope. We will surely get there.

    Peace and love to you and your readers,


  6. I love this post dear Mama,

    It is so beatiful...

    Slowly, Slowly...

    I think of the little children orphaned by HIV... or suffering from the complications of poverty malaria or TB or the other plagues which hang like clouds over so much of Africa....

    I hear their voices... see their smiles somewhere inside my head...

    And I dare to belive that someday...

    Their lives will be considered as important as any child...anywhere...

    God bless the world,

    It is a great day,

    And slowly

    We will get there,

    All my love to you, Maithri

  7. Ms. Bar B,

    Ni kweli kabisa.
    We have been reinvigorated.

    Mama Shujaa.

  8. Rose-Anne,

    Teach us how to say it is Creole, German and French please...


    Maman Shujaa

  9. Dearest Judy

    Tangible hope indeed.

    Mama S.

  10. Dear Maithri,

    Thank you for your dedication. Our children have persevered too long. May God continue to strengthen your beautiful soul in all your humanitarian efforts.

    When you travel back to Swaziland later this quarter, we hope to hear from you and the progress you are making...

    slowly, slowly...

    Mama Shujaa.

  11. dousman, dousman nou va rive (Kreyol)

    lentment, lentment nous arriverons

    langsam, langsam kommen wir an/(could also be) langsam langsam schaffen wir es (Deutsch)

    Sounds nice in every language!


  12. Yes, Mama, pole pole tatafika. I love the analogy of the mango tree with art and life. The slow, steady progress of the tortoise is something we must all try to emulate if we can. Again I say asante sana for your wise words.

  13. The longest journey starts with one step...


  14. What wonderful words here, Mama! I too believe that with Obama, slowly, slowly we will get there. As I was taught, anything worth doing is worth doing the right way. It is my hope that change is on the way for the good of us all.
    Thanks for stopping by my blog. I'm glad you found me! Maithri is such an inspiration to us all.
    Todd in Santa Fe


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