World issues in the news, past history, health issues, and ongoing wickedness examined
in the light of the King James Bible

Steve Van Nattan







A story about gifts to missionaries and red tape


Chipukizi was a light hearted man from the wajita tribe. He worked hard when he came to work, but after a couple of weeks he disappeared for a couple of days and went to a native beer drink.

My Dad was building a middle school consisting of about five buildings, and he hired men from the local area to help build. This meant that Dad was teaching building skills to men who had never worked with cement and finished lumber.

The problem was that the wajita tribe were incoragably lazy, and getting them to finish a pay period without disappearing for a few days was a trick. The reason for this issue was that these men all had small farms and herds of cattle. This produced both food and as much income as they needed to survive. So, they did not really have to work

The reason they did sign up to work for Dad was because their farms did not produce enough profit to buy a radio or bicycle or any other luxuries. So, they worked to gain a little prestige in the communty with modern toys to show off.

The middle school and the mission station were on the north side of Speak's Gulf in Lake Victoria, which is at the south end of the lake to the southeast corner of the lake. We were a bit isolated from the city centers, and keeping life going normally was a bit of a project for Dad and Mom. I was going to a boarding school in Kenya for missionaries' kids, and I was home on vacation.

The drama of this story began when Dad went to Mwanza, the large city where we bought supplies. He had a notice that there was a parcel at the post office for him, so during a trip to buy supplies he stopped at the post office. The postmaster was an Indian, and he said to Dad, "Mr. Wannattan, you have a parcel. I see it has 200 neck ties in it, and the import duty for neck ties is two shillings a pieace. The duty for the neck ties will be a total of 400 shillings."

My Dad was flabergasted. He had not ordered neck ties, and he did not know what to think. Looking at the return address, he realized one of my parents' financial supporters had sent the ties. The ties were no doubt used, but they had simply listed "neck ties" without noting they were used. If they had put the word "used" on the declaration form the ties would have been duty free.

Now, how could this happen? Dad and Mom realized that in a prayer letter they regularly sent to all of these supporters who prayed and gave to their work Mom had mentioned something about Africans not wearing ties. She was trying to note the Africans did not wear ties unless they worked in a clarical job or for the British government. A tie was a badge of society in Africa in the 1950s showing the wearer had reached a high position in the work place. The supporter back in the USA read the letter, and his mind told him that Africans need ties. Those poor people have no ties, so he started collecting used ties, and he sent the 200 ties to Dad.

Dad told the postmaster he was rejecting the ties. The postmaster begged Dad to pay the duty so he could get them out of the way in his back room. Dad refused. They were pretty much worthless to Dad. Several times Dad went back to the post office over the following months, and the postmaster kept begging him to pay the duty and take the ties away. The problem for the postmaster was that any deliveries of parcels which were rejected had to be sent to the capital city of Tanganyika, Dar es Salaam, to be auctioned once a year. The postmaster knew the ties would be almost worthless at auction, and he would undoubtedly become a joke, as in, "Jaliwal Patel is our man in Mwanza who sends us hundreds of neck ties."

Finally, Dad visited the post office one day, and the post master rushed into the back room and came out with the box of neck ties. It was a big box. He said, "Mr. Wannatan, here, please take your box of neck ties away. No duty charged." Dad had an idea that this might happen if he refused them long enough because he knew that the postmaster did not want to send them to headquarters.

Dad got home and told us the neck ties had been released duty free, and Dad and Mom sat down and tried to figure out what on earth they could do with 200 neck ties. Use them to tie up cartons? Make some sort of decoration? Nothing made sense. Then, Dad got a brain wave. The next day when all his workers reported to work, he told them that any man who completed a 30 day pay period would get a neck tie.

This meant that, if they earned a neck tie, they could dress up like a government clerk. Chipukizi went for the deal seriously. He skipped his favoriate past time, the beer drink, and earned a tie. He then earned a second tie the next pay period, and he then earned a third tie. I was home from school the day Chipukizi wore all three ties to work. He came ambling along, head high and shoulders back, trying to look dignified like a government employee. I came out of the house, and Dad was laying for me. He grabbed me just as I was about to roar with laughter, and Dad said, "If your laugh at Chipukizi I will tan your back side with my belt Stevie." I stifled the laugh.

Dad had broken the cultural pattern, and several of his workers earned ties. They all came to work each day in cotton walking shorts and no shirt on. But, they did have their ties in place, tied in a simple knot and flying to the right and left. Anyone who visited was asked not to laugh at them. Dad did not want the magic spell to be broken by the men learning that they looked a bit silly.