Saitoti joined us sixteen years ago. Here is his story…
I was born in Arusha, Tanzania to atheist parents in 1967. I did not go to church or learn about Christianity for a very huge part of my life.
In 1985, I left my parents and decided to go to Mererani hills, a location famous in Tanzania for its mining and precious stones. I was looking to make my fortune in the mines. For the first seven years, I barely made enough to survive and started looking for alternate means to support myself.
Talking to fellow miners convinced me to try witchcraft. The first few times I went to see witchdoctors, I saw no changes to both my success and mining life. One day, a friend of mine who I had come with from our village told me that he had heard of a famous witchdoctor in Sumbawanga, a place well known in Tanzania for its witchcraft that would change our lives.
Desperate and in need of a bit of success, we sold off our meagre mining equipment and went to see the Shaman who made us eat a raw heart and avow ourselves to be followers of his dark cult. When we got back to the mining region, we took on a loan and started a pub, confident of the promises made by the sorcerer.
The first year, we saw a lot of success. It however came with its price. We were haunted by dark spirits and eventually my partner got into an accident and was unable to work. I took him back to our village and went back to the mining hills alone.
I too suffered from attacks by spirits and was unable to maintain the business for long. Withing another year, I closed our busines, unable to run it any longer and took up mining once again. Life became very rough for me and I would spend the nights crying out to the universe about my fate.
One night, as I lay in bed, a voice called out to me. It told me to go into the wilderness, repent of my sins and go back to my village. I did not know who the voice belonged to, but the authority in it made me fearful and obedient. I went out into the dark and cried out to the universe, apologizing for getting involved into witchcraft and promised that the next money I would see would be used to take me back to my village.
The next day, as I worked in the mines, I hid a lode of Tanzanite, Tanzania’s famous precious stone. Elated, I sold it off for enough money to get me back to Arusha and start a small business. Soon enough, I was getting fresh produce from the farms and taking it into town. The business was not as successful as I would want and I occasionally felt the urge to once again engage in witchcraft in order to boost my sales.
One night, as I sat in my bed, the same voice that had talked to me while in the mines called out to me again. “This is not why I brought you back to Arusha,” it said, “Seek me out”. I went to a local church and talked to the Christians there but they chased me away saying that God does not talk to non-believers.
Discouraged and confused I went back home but decided to no longer engage in business, but wait until I knew what was needed of me. A week in, a man came to our homestead and found us sitting outside. There was work to be had at En Gedi (home of The Joshua Foundation), he told us. As he left, the same voice that had talked to me before, called out to me and told me that this is where I was supposed to be.
I rushed out after the man, who told me to go to the next day and talk to En Gedi’s supervisor, a man called Ephraim. I could not wait for the next day and instead went looking for the supervisor. It did not matter to me that it was late at night, I simply had to see the man and find out what En Gedi was about…