The quiet of the African night was upended by an incessant roaring. Yes, we were now living in town, where one would expect continual noise, but things were usually hushed at that time of night. What could be that noise?
In the distance one could hear some “thumping” sounds. What now? The roaring continued for a while and then seemed to fade into the distance – out over Lake Victoria.
The next morning, soon after sunup, the reports came in. Our town had been bombed! The president of Uganda had a score to settle with Tanzania and decided to emphasize it. His air force – or at least one of the airplanes – had dropped several bombs. No one seemed to know what they were hoping to hit.
One bomb landed on the road near the market. But, being very early in the morning, few people were out. Of those who were, a couple were wounded; one was killed.
Another bomb landed just outside of our downtown bookshop center. Damage to the building was fairly extensive but the old German colonial-era building withstood. The bookshop manager, who lived in the building with his family, took off in fright. When we inspected the building later in the day he was gone – and we never saw him again.
A missionary family, from another mission, had had enough. He too, lock, stock and barrel – and his wife – took off for Kenya. They never came back and some missionary friends had to go into his house to pack up their things and get them up to them in that country. What a job!
Of course the Tanzania government was aroused now. Vehicles were commandeered to transport troops; road blocks were put up; petrol (gasoline) was rationed and hard to come by. All because of a bomber which had snuck in and dropped 3 bombs – all of which “missed” any important sites. The snide saying was that the bomber “was towing the bombs on ropes behind it and the guy with the scissors just cut the ropes haphazardly”!
Things in town sort-of calmed down. Since the road to the border with Uganda ran through our town (Mwanza), there was a lot of troop activity. We really didn’t “roam around” too much during those days.
We were soon to go on furlough and had already sold our Land Rover to someone in town. The troops commandeered that vehicle from the new owner, took off for the border – and promptly wrecked it. I found out about this when we came back after furlough. The poor man was trying to get compensation from the government and needed a document from me showing how much he had paid me for it. I hope he got reimbursed.
The town bookshop repairs were completed – Albert, the bookshop ministry director, took care of that. Ministry continued; both Swahili and Sukuma Bibles were in demand. And, we rest in the assurance that “the entrance of God’s Word”, by reading, was used by the Holy Spirit in needy lives.
Romans 10:17 “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God”.