Friday, February 13, 2009

A COFFEE FARMER OF MBINGA

Jana nilikuwa nasoma kitabu kimoja ambacho hakikuwa na jalada kwa hiyo imeniwia vigumu kujua kama kilikuwa ni cha darasa la ngapi, kitabu chenyewe kina mkusanyiko wa hadithi tofauti tofauti, na mojawapo ni hii inayozungumzia kilimo cha Kahawa Mbinga ( Nashangaa kwa nini haikuwa ni Kilimanjaro).
naomba anayefahamu hadithi hii atujuze kama inapatikana katika kitabu gani na ni cha darasa la ngapi?

Mzee Ngwatura in his Farmer

In the south-west of Tanzania, between Songea town and Lake Nyasa, stands the little town of Mbinga. It is the head of the Mbinga Area, an area which is now famous for its good coffee. Only a few years ago this was one of the least known parts of the country, and the people were among the poorest in Tanzania, but in the last few years there have been many great improvements there. The Roads have improved and are improving still further. Traders commonly go to the market there to sell or exchange their goods. Every year, mud houses are being pilled down, and more modern ones made of bricks with iron roofs are being built in their place. The Mbinga people are becoming famous. And it is all because of coffee.

Coffee comes from the round red fruits of a small tree. Inside each fruits there is a pair of seeds called beans, and these beans are used to make a pleasant hot dink rather like tea, but with special taste of its own. The Arabs have been drinking coffee for many hundreds of years and in more modern times it has also become the favourite hot drink in Europe and America, where ground coffee and tins of coffee powder are on sale in all the shops. The Mbinga people didn’t know anything about coffee until a few years ago. Now many Mbinga farmers have rows and rows of coffee beans and ear n a good deal of money.

One person who can tell you all about it is Mzee Francis Ndunguru Ngwatura. He is a coffee grower at a little village called Mandita, about ten miles from Mkinga. The whole area is mountainous, and at certain times of the year the weather is quite cold and misty. Because of the mists there is a saying ‘Ukungu kama Mandita’ which means ‘as misty as mandita village’. Mzee Ngwatura has been growing coffee since 1943, when he planted 274 trees.
At that time he knew nothing of the present importance of the crop to the Mbinga people and to himself. He and his friend Mzee Setman got the idea of planting coffee from Mzee setman’s relations at Mhagawa Asili, and the Mhagawa people got it from the people living near Moshi in the north. It was not till later that Mzee Ngwatura came to like the taste of coffee himself , although at first he sweetened it with honey instead of with sugar. He now has at least three thousand coffee trees, and his farm is still growing.

Mzee Ngwatura works hard all the year round, but the busiest time of the year is harvest time. The harvest is usually gatherd between September and January when the fruits are red and ripe, and as it needs more than one pair of hands to pick them, Mzee Ngwatura has to pay a larger number of people to help him. The picking goes on all day, and in the evening the ripe fruits are put into special machines which get the beans out the skin. This work used to be done by hand but of course when it is done by machine it is much quicker and easier. After that, the beans are washed and put in large pots, where they remain covered with sacks for about a week. Then they are washed again and spread out on special wire nets to dry. The drying, which takes two or three weeks, is usually the job of Ngwatura’s wife, Mama Katarina. She sees that the beans do not receive too much hot sun and she can tell whether they are properly dry just by looking at them. Then they are put into sisal sacks ready for sale.
On the special day of the sale, Mzee Ngwatura and his helpers carry their sacks to the market-place, Gulio, a short distance from his home. There the coffee is examined and divided into three different sorts, called A, B, and C. The best sort is A. Then the whole crop is weighed, and Mzee receives his payment, Makopesho. After the sale the cpffee is taken by lorry to the nearest Co-operative at mbinga, and then to Moshi in the north, where the beans are put into machines to rub the skin off and then sold again and sent to other countries.

The coffee commonly bought in shops is a sort of brown powder with a very pleasant smell. It is made from beans which have been roasted and ground. You just put a spoonful of coffee powder in a cup and pour boiling water on it. Some people like their coffee black and strong, while others like it white, with milk in it. Most people like to add a spoonful of sugar, which makes it taste pleasantly sweet.

There is plenty of work on Mzee Ngwatura’s coffee farm all through the year, not just at harvest time. As the trees get older, they no longer produce good fruits, so new trees have to be planted to take their place. Every November and December, Mzee sows some of his beans four to six inches apart in straight rows .When they are about a foot tall he digs them up with their roots and plants them in specially prepared holes spaced nine feet apart.
These holes are dug about September and left open till planting time, when they are filled up with rich black soil. That is where the young plants slowly grow into small trees. But it is three or four years before they start producing fruit, and in that time the spaces between them must be kept free of weeds and each plant must be protected from cold winds. Then when the trees are old enough, they must be sprayed several times a year with a sort of medicine that kills harmfully insects, and at least ones a year the branches must be carefully cut back so that the trees will be low and strong and will produce plenty of good fruit.

But Mzee Ngwatura does not spend all his time producing coffee. He has fruit trees too, and he keeps cows, goats, sheep, Pigs and hens. He used to keep a shop and he has now opened it again. He has built a pair of modern brick houses with iron roofs, one for himself and the other for his sons. All his sons and daughters have been to school to be educated for he believes that it is the job of all modern Tanzanian to improve their minds through education. And to grow more and better crops both for food and for trade.

1 comment:

Markus Mpangala said...

Koero vipi mbona unalilia sana Kilimanjaro yako hiyo?

Mbinga ni mahali penye ukulima stadi sema tu wakulima wenyewe wanatelekezwa na wajinga wanaozindua uwanja kwa mbwembwe za kijinga kama Lusufeli.

Hata miye sijui ni kitabu gani nimejaribu kuwadadisi jamaa wa duka la vitabu vya jimbo Songea, lakini hawana, nimejaribu kudadisi duka la vitabu Peramiho lakini hawajui, Mbinga sijui labda nijaribu kwenda kwa wamatengo watajua