analysisBy Marc Nkwame
THE existence of the 'devil' is yet to be proved but this hasn't stopped satan, or the 'deceiver of mankind,' from continuously sending shivers down the spines of most Arusha residents, at any mention of his alleged presence.
In the drizzling weather of last Saturday afternoon, one of the street preachers who are currently doing good business here by scaring the residents with crackpot tales of 'Freemasonry,' 'death,' 'hell fire' and 'brimstone,' decided to go further by pinpointing the exact area where 'the satan' is supposed to be living in Arusha.
"It is at Kijenge area, behind Impala Hotel," chortled Mr Geoffrey Joseph, a young self-made preacher who claimed to have been a former member of a certain cult which he preferred to call 'Freemasonry!' According to Mr Joseph, whose preaching entourage also included a beautiful lady who remained in a saloon car that had brought the team to the Kilombero Market area venue as well as an older man whose job was to take round copies of DVDs so that the audience could buy them to supplement the day's preaching.
The preacher started out by testifying that local artistes like 'Kanumba,' 'Sajuki' and 'Sharo Millionaire' were all killed under strange cults, adding that others will follow before April and he prophesied the imminent demise of singer 'Diamond!' Despite the rain, the crowd grew larger as many people passing by thronged the area of Mr Joseph's spellbinding hell-bent sermon, when the young preacher promised to reveal the location in which 'satan' or the 'devil,' had set up residency in Arusha.
It turned out to be Kijenge; an area which for many years had been a favourite target for doomsday prophets, accusing the vicinity to be the portal of dark forces from hell or wherever that the devil normally operates. "In Kijenge there is a temple in which members of satanic cults converge for worship and they normally like to chant 'Dog si Natas,' which is an anagram for 'Satan is God!' Joseph maintained.
But behind Impala hotel stands 'Kijenge Primary School,' while other buildings in the vicinity include the 'Leopard Tours' premises, 'Bushback Safaris,' offices, 'Mezzaluna,' and 'Ethiopian Restaurant,' and the AICC club located across the road. In short, there is no sign of a strange-looking temple anywhere around the area which also happens to have a number of religious houses including the Seventh Day Adventists Church,' a 'Pentecostal Church,' the 'Kijenge Lutheran Parish' and a Mosque, all enough to scare the devil away should the situation call for it.
But if that is not enough, there is also a Police Station nearby which has enough cops and who would only be too glad to arrest the satanic worshipers if they indeed do slaughter children during their worship services as claimed by the preacher. Towering above the mostly unplanned settlements of Kijenge stands the 'Mount Kimandolu,' which is essentially a large hill and sure enough is sometimes called 'Suye Hill,' a densely forested high-rise feature which in the past used to be a source of various cryptic tales.
Local residents used to claim that, there was a certain spirit perched on top of the hill and which liked to lure little children on top of the mountain where the latter would get lost forever. As time went by people overcame the fears and started constructing houses on the slopes of the mountain. Others would climb the hill on weekends for picnic and there were some religious groups who would spend entire nights supplicating on the peak.
None of those groups ever encountered a 'Yeti' giant, 'Big-foot,' apparition, 'Loch-Ness' monster, or the 'Pied-Piper of Hamelin,' alleged to lure youngsters onto the hilltop for their meals. Neither did they find human skeletons, children bones nor any tell-tale signs of cannibalism. In fact so beautiful and safe, the mountain proved to be such that the City Council is now working to establish the feature as potential tourist site (Though of course if the legendary 'Loch Ness' monster did indeed exist, the hill would have been extremely popular to visitors).
At the moment, the invasion of people on Mount Kimandolu (Mount Kijenge) or Suye Hill, is slowly but surely threatening the feature's ecology, the ghostly tales of the past, did help to scare trespassers away from the hill, thus preserving the environment. In the past River Kijenge for instance, used to wash away the bridge but now, the formerly gushing water has been reduced to trickle with both the river bank and its basin turned into a garbage dump-site.
Buildings in Kijenge look as if they will crumble anytime, the marketplace where Ms Nakaaya Sumari shot her 'Mr Politician' video is as good as dead while the unhygienic landscape threaten the healths of the residents. Apparently the only silver lining of Kijenge's pathetic state is in its history; the first ever taxi-cab to operate in Arusha (with registration number AR 05) belonged to a resident of Kijenge, well, if that can offer any consolation.