Campus Faces

A Man with a Calling

Revocatus Meza has a most unusual name. It means “one called for a second time,” he explains in a lovely musical accent. The 33-year-old student at Moravian Theological Seminary has come from Tanzania to study for a Master of Arts in Theological Studies, preparatory to going on for a Ph.D. in the same subject so he can teach at the university level in his own country.

In addition to the United States, Meza has visited Kenya, Malawi, South Africa, Zambia, and Thailand, and in all these countries he has written letters about his impressions back to several newspapers in Tanzania. He is doing so from the Seminary as well, and his “Letters from America” are being published every week, more or less, in the Sunday Citizen, the Guardian, and the Daily Times, all located in the old capital, Dar-es-Salaam, or the new one, Dodoma.

“They are about 700 to 1,000 words, each article,” he says, “and they are about cultural shock. I have written about the culture of time in America, the do’s and don’t’s of living in the U.S., how to go shopping, and Americans and hygiene.” (The latter ranges from our obsession with individual cleansers for every body part to the aisles of specialized cleaning supplies in the supermarket.) “What I am planning to write about: We are heading for a general election in our country, and I want to write about how to adopt gender equality, as in your country.” He hopes the incoming president of Tanzania will nominate a prime minister who is a woman.

Meza—in Africa, being addressed by one’s surname is indicative of respect—comes from the Rukwa area near Lake Tanganyika, where his parents are farmers. They grow rice, cassava, maize, sweet potatoes, bananas, and, he adds with a grin, catfish. He is the middle son between an older brother and sister and a younger brother and sister. Most of the siblings joined their parents on the farm, but his youngest brother still is in secondary school.

Revocatus went to Bishop Kisanji University (formerly a Moravian seminary) to receive his B.Div., then worked as a chaplain and an assistant teacher of theology in both Swahili and English. While he is in the United States, his wife, Lwiza, receives 60% of the salary he would be getting if still teaching, and she is raising their three boys: Haggai, 8, Joseph, 5, and Yohana, 3, whose name is Swahili for “John.”

When Meza returns to Tanzania, he will find awaiting him the fastest-growing Moravian population in the world. He hopes to teach at Bishop Kisanji University.

In the meanwhile, he continues writing at the Tanzanian equivalent of slightly more than nothing: about $10 U.S. for his column in the Guardian, between $25 and $40 U.S. in the Sunday Citizen. He still writes the occasional news article, and for that he gets paid $3 U.S. if the article appears on the front page of the Guardian and $18 U.S. if it appears on the front page of the Citizen. “Ah, well,” he shrugs, “I have been writing for many years.” Is his first calling theology and his second writing, or is it the other way around? With Revocatus Meza, it could be either way.

Photo: Keith Grabowsky ’08