Beneath the baobab: A journey of unity, laughter and inspirations

Assuming the role of the YABs Representative for Africa is not just a title; it is an immersive experience into a world of diverse perspectives. Collaborating with fellow representatives is a profound learning journey, encompassing cultural understanding, decision-making skills and the cultivation of shared values. The experience reaffirms that unity is not merely a theme but a living reality that transcends geographical boundaries. 

I joined the vibrant youth of Kanisa La Mennonite Tanzania in their annual youth conference themed “U Chombo Cha Thamani” (meaning, “You are the vessel of honour”) from 11-19 December 2023. It was a rollercoaster of laughter, vibrant mosaic of culture, spiritual enlightenment and, of course, music and dance from the numerous choirs! 

Engaging with the dynamic youth of Kanisa La Mennonite Tanzania was an exhilarating exploration into a kaleidoscope of traditions, like the interconnected branches of the baobab tree. The mighty Adansonia digitate (baobab) tree (found on the compound of the Dar Es Salaam Police Academy, where the event was partly held) is a silent maestro of unity, whispering lessons in every rustle of its leaves. 

The conference served as a fountain of spiritual wisdom. Speakers delivered messages that resonated deeply: the path to achieving dreams requires repairing our relationship with God, walking in repentance, embracing humility and fostering unwavering faith. 

The choirs (Calvary, Tamekwa, Muungano, New Jerusalem, Talanta, Kunyatanyata, Upendo, Bungangi, Neema, Salvation, Revival, Goshen and Paradiso) infused the conference with energy and enthusiasm. I marvelled at the dizzying head rotations and spirited dance moves, realizing that in unity even seemingly chaotic dances can create a beautiful harmony. The energy of the choristers reflected the passion and commitment of the youth toward a shared purpose. 

I was given the opportunity to present on Mennonite World Conference and the YABs community, illuminating the global family of the Mennonite community. The report underscored the importance of unity, peace, cross-cultural exchange and the collective efforts of the YABs in achieving the goals of Mennonite World Conference. 

Despite the language barrier, the laughter that echoed through the conference hall became a testament to the shared joy that transcends language, connecting hearts. 

Gborbitey Isaac Nii Torgbor, YABs representative for Africa, presents on the YABs community worldwide and the work of Mennonite World Conference. Alice Nyakisara translates from English to Swahili. 

A highlight of the journey was the reunion with Mr. Jonathan Pharleys, a companion from the Global Youth Summit 2022 in Indonesia. Together with the youth president, Mr. Masanja Amos, we navigated the beauty of Tanzania, unveiling its landscapes, traditions and the warm spirit of its people.  

A special connection was forged with a youth member Mr. Mushagalusa Mastaki Kendri from Communauté des Églises des Frères Mennonites au Congo (MB church in DR Congo), knitting the global Mennonite family even closer. 

As the baobab stood witness to the vibrant mosaic of unity, I departed with a heart enriched by memories, a mind enlightened by lessons and a spirit ignited by the collective energy of the Mennonite youth.  

The journey exemplified that beneath the branches of unity, laughter and shared purpose, the Mennonite community thrives, echoing the timeless message of “U Chombo Cha Thamani.” 

—Gborbitey Isaac Nii Torgbor, is the YABs Committee (Young AnaBaptists) representative for Africa. He is a member of Ghana Mennonite Church.  

2023 Tanzania (YABs)