Minja Family

African Roots

When you hear the name “Minja” you may recognize it as an African name. It is a family name of the Chagga people, a tribe of people that are historically from the southern slopes of Mount Kilimanjaro, East Africa. At 4800 meters above the surrounding plains, Kilimanjaro is the highest mountain in Africa and highest free-standing mountain in the world. In the late 1950s it became a symbol of the people of Tanganyika’s desire for independence. When the country received independence in 1961, a climber placed a torch on the summit of the mountain and the peak was given the name “Uhuru” meaning freedom.

Prior to independence, the Chagga belonged to different clans. Each clan had its own chief who served as the headman and lawmaker. Some chiefs became well-known and highly respected including the chief of Ignace’s home area, Chief Marealle of Marangu. After independence the chiefdom system was abolished throughout the entire country, however the existing chiefs were retained in primarily ceremonial roles.

Because the Chagga accepted European missionaries earlier than other parts of the country, they had access to schools earlier than other tribes. They embraced education and for many years were the tribe with the most educated members. They also found the Christian faith had many similarities to their own beliefs including a God that is loving, tolerant and merciful. Exposure to Muslim caravan traders also introduced Chaggas to Islam and many Chaggas have adopted this religion.

Traditional Chagga society permitted men to have more than one wife, as long as they could adequately and equitably provide for each wife. Hence, regardless of religious teachings, Chagga men, by cultural tradition, usually had two or more wives. This practice has been declining as both men and women become more educated and aspire to higher standards of living. However, when more than one wife exists, the children consider each of the wives as a mother and the mothers treat all of the children as if they were their own.

The Chagga also consider all of the children of the same generation to be siblings. Where Lynn would consider her nieces and nephews to be her children’s cousins, Ignace’s family would consider them to be her children’s brothers and sisters. When Ignace’s cousin, Japher Minja died, Ignace felt the same obligations to Japher’s family as if Japher were his brother.

The native language of the Chagga people is Kichagga, a language with many similar dialects. This is Ignace’s first language. The national language of the country is Kiswahili which is Ignace’s second language and the language used in primary schools and the workplace. Ignace’s third language is English, the language of instruction in secondary schools, universities and other institutions of post-secondary education.

Besides being recognized for being relatively well-educated, the Chagga are also recognized for their strong sense of independence and pride, their sense of enterprise and their strong work ethic. They value a strong family life, children, music, dancing and feasting. Greetings are important with specific greetings to be used in different circumstances. Younger generations are expected to show respect to older generations.

Ignace’s Family

Ignace’s maternal grandfather was Mbarario Mlay and his paternal grandfather, Teleo Minja. They lived with their wives and children in the Marangu area where they practiced traditional Chagga agriculture. They followed the traditional Chagga customs including piercing their ears similar to the Masai.

Ignace’s father, Shiraru Minja (often called Salimu), was primarily a coffee farmer but also a businessman and community leader. He operated a small store at Marangu where he sold basic items that the families in the area needed. He had four wives, Augustina, Mamuya, Kamasho and Matesha and numerous children, many born long after Ignace had left home. When he died he left behind 120 descendants.

Ignace’s mother, Augustina Mangari (Mlay) Minja, was his father’s first wife. She had been widowed twice. By her first husband, Sasine Minja, she had a son Mark and a daughter Rosa. By her second husband, Masheu Mamuya, she had a son Augustine Mamuya. Ignace is her fourth and last child, but his father’s first and eldest child. Being both his father’s oldest child and his mother’s youngest child, Ignace has been left in the awkward position of not knowing whether to behave as the oldest or youngest sibling.

The family lived in a compound in the middle of their small holding. For his generation, Ignace’s father was a progressive man, owning a battery-operated radio and a gramophone. A highly intelligent man, he was anxious to learn and to adopt ideas that would enable him and his family to improve their quality of life.

Coffee was grown as a cash crop and bananas for food and beer. The family also grew a wide variety of vegetables and raised chickens, goats and cattle. Surplus produce was sold in the village market. They continued to use many traditional items such as canes for toothbrushes, honey from wild bees for sweetening food, raw salt (which his mother walked a whole day to fetch), and many traditional plants, seeds and roots for medicinal purposes. Thus, the family was self-sufficient except for staples such as rice, beans, sugar, and flour, clothing and farm tools and the few luxuries they could afford.

Born before World War I, Ignace grew up in traditional Chagga society but a society still under colonial rule and a society that was gradually becoming more westernized. At birth he was known as Ignace Ndeonio Salimu. When he began attending school, the European teachers refused to accept a name that was different than his father’s name so assigned his father’s surname to his records. Eventually he had to have his name officially changed to match the school records.

His mother had adopted the Catholic religion so Ignace was baptized and confirmed a Catholic. His father remained outside the formal Christian church until well into old age when he too joined the Catholic Church and changed his name to Christopher Shiraru Minja. For many years he resisted joining the church because the church was so rigid in its teachings it would have required him to choose which of his wives he wished to keep and dismiss the others. This was in conflict with his high sense of responsibility to his culture and to all of his wives and all of his children.

Ignace adhered to the expectations of Catholic boys – providing altar server duty as well as singing in the choir. His most vivid memory of his youth as a Catholic is the teaching, or at least the inference, that Africans were the only and worst sinners in the world – Europeans (and by inference whites), on the other hand, were pure and perfect – although the clergy were never able to explain the source of the many mixed race children in the community, given that the only white males present were the priests themselves.

As a young child Ignace had a variety of chores including picking coffee, fetching firewood and water and herding the livestock. Because his mother had arthritis, Ignace also helped her with her work. Thus, at an early age, he learned to cook and serve food properly – a skill which has stood him in good stead his entire life. The major change in his cooking style is the amount of meat he now uses and the preference for aged and lean meat. Growing up, meat was in scarce supply. When it was available it was eaten the day the chicken or animal was butchered with the fattest cuts being preferred to the leaner ones.

Ignace’s mother died in 1974, of natural causes, shortly after Ignace, Lynn and their daughters had visited her. His father died in 1998, after being struck by a person on a bicycle and receiving a fatal brain injury. At 89 plus, he was in excellent health, still able to walk several miles daily and bathe in the local icy-cold stream. Soon after we were notified of his death, Al Qaeda attacked the U.S. embassies in Nairobi and Dar es Salaam, resulting in all telephone communication to Tanzania being severed. Ignace, his eldest son, was unable to fulfill the responsibility of instructing the family on the funeral details. Japher Minja, together with Ignace’s elder brother, Mark, looked after the arrangements.

Ignace’s Education and Work Experience in Tanzania

Ignace began his formal education at the Kilaremo Primary School where he took classes one to four. Classes five and six were taken at the Makomu Middle School. These schools kept him physically fit for each required walking 10 miles to and from school each day. Early rising was essential because the teachers did not tolerate late arrivals and corporal punishment was administered liberally. At these schools Ignace learned how to play soccer and helped with the school gardens.

After passing class six, students could go to teacher’s college. At that time teacher’s college consisted of a four-year program including classes seven through 10. Ignace took classes seven and eight at Singachini then moved to the Teacher’s College at Moshi to complete the last two years. These were residential schools and provided Ignace with the opportunity to become a prefect. He was active in track and field, played soccer and worked in the school gardens. Upon completing his training he taught primary school for a year.

After embarking on his teaching career, Ignace decided he would like to continue with his formal education. To do this he had to repeat classes nine and 10 because the teacher’s training courses were not stringent enough for secondary education requirements. He took the academic versions of classes nine and 10 at Umbwe Secondary School in Moshi and classes 11 through 14 at St Francis College, Pugu, near Dar es Salaam. Except for those who could afford to attend private schools, there were only two schools in the entire country that would take students from the public for classes 11 to 14. Competition for a place was keen and once obtained, students worked hard to pass their courses in order to keep their place. Ignace successfully completed all of the academic requirements and obtained his Advanced A Level Certificate, issued by the University of Cambridge, England. His extracurricular activities focussed on soccer and track and field.

After completing class 14 Ignace entered the workforce again, first as a clerk for the Coffee Board and then as an assistant forester and surveyor. Once again he decided to pursue higher studies and applied for scholarships to commonwealth countries. Choice of discipline was limited by availability of scholarships and applicants did not necessarily get a scholarship for their first choice. Applicants considered themselves fortunate to receive any scholarship for that would likely be their only opportunity to receive post-secondary education. In 1962 Ignace was successful in obtaining a Commonwealth Scholarship to Saskatchewan, Canada to study agriculture. While seeing the “snows of Kilimanjaro” simply by looking upwards from his family home for many, many years, Ignace was soon to learn the meaning of living half the year with real snow and all of the joys and challenges that go with a prairie winter.

Lynn’s Family

Lynn is a native of Saskatchewan. She is the middle child of three siblings, her brother, Laird being two years her senior and her sister, Gay, being six years her junior.

Lynn grew up on a mixed farm where her family grew cereal grains, primarily wheat, raised cattle (first commercial and later commercial and purebred), and kept chickens for meat and eggs. Her mother had a large vegetable garden and a berry patch. She helped her mother freeze, can, pickle and preserve meat, vegetables and fruit for the winter months. She watched her father make long coils of homemade sausage and smoke it for later use. She and her siblings each had chores to do and the chores increased in level of responsibility as each child grew older, including sharing the heavy workload every family farm carries.

While her father used mechanized equipment in the fields, he had a team of horses to help with farm chores and as a means of winter transportation to nearby neighbours. Lynn has many fond memories of being bundled under thick layers of blankets in an open sleigh, wending the way home from a visit to the neighbours, watching the Northern Lights dancing as her father guided the team. She also has many less enjoyable memories of the annual stone-picking with the team of horses and a flat wagon.

Mechanization of farm machinery came to the farm before electricity. The family did not have electricity until Lynn was 11, television until Lynn was 13, and indoor plumbing until after she had left home. This meant Lynn learned how to cook on a wood stove, sew on a treadle machine, and read by the light of an oil lamp.

The community Lynn grew up in was highly multi-cultural. There were many German families in the community but also many people from a wide variety of countries of Eastern Europe as well as families from Great Britain. The small village of Lipton boasted seven different churches including one Roman Catholic, one Anglican, one United, two Lutheran, one Evangelical Church and one Jewish Synagogue. Her parents were friendly with First Nations people as well as the Métis. For many years, in addition to celebrating Christmas on December 25th with family, they also celebrated Christmas on January 7th with close Ukrainian friends. Lynn, therefore, is a true Heinz 57 Canadian. She grew up believing and feeling that multi-culturalism is the status quo and that all people are equal. Her mixed ethnic ancestry reinforced her comfort level with diversity and strengthened her willingness to accept differences.

Lynn’s paternal ancestry is German; her maternal ancestry is Scottish-English. Her father’s large, complex family has many similarities to Ignace’s large, complex family.

Her father, Ernest Rudolph Senft, is of German ancestry. His grandparents, George F. Senft and Katherine (Schindel) Senft, and his father, John George Senft were Germans that had been farming in Russia. They emigrated to Canada in 1892 to escape military service and persecution under the Czar and to take advantage of the homesteading opportunities Canada was offering to Europeans who would like to settle in Manitoba and the North West Territories (Saskatchewan and Alberta). John George Senft married three times, being widowed twice. His first wife was Christina Becker, his second wife Elizabeth Walter (nee Schnell), and his third wife Amelia Woelfoell (nee Schnetske). Elizabeth, his second wife was Ernest’s mother. She died when Ernest was only five years old, so Amelia, his third wife, along with the daughters of the children of the first wife, raised the children of the second family. George Senft had several children with each wife and because his second and third wives were widows with children from their first marriages, their children joined the extended, blended family.

Lynn’s mother, before marriage, was Annie May Wotherspoon. Her paternal grandparents, John Wotherspoon and Margaret (Brough) Wotherspoon were born in Abernethy, Scotland. Her father, William Wotherspoon, was born in Guelph, Ontario. Her mother, Amelia (Wyborn) Wotherspoon, traces her roots to Kent, England. Amelia’s grandparents, William Wyborn and Anne (Coveny) Wyborn, emigrated to Canada about 1844 and initially settled at Mitchell, Ontario but soon moved to Wiarton, Ontario where they made their permanent home. Their son, Samuel Wyborn married Amelia Hay. Samuel and Amelia had several children one of whom was Amelia (Millie) Wyborn, born in Oxender, Ontario. She married William Wotherspoon in North Dakota and after they were married they settled on a farm near Melville, Saskatchewan where they would be close to other relatives.

Amelia Hay was named after the German midwife that delivered her. The name Amelia has since been passed down the generations. Amelia Hay gave the name to her daughter (Millie), who gave it to her eldest daughter. Lynn, born on her grandmother Wotherspoon’s, birthday, has Amelia as her middle name. As her father’s stepmother also had the name, Amelia, Lynn carries the name of both grandmothers. Two of Amelia (Millie) Wotherspoon’s great, great granddaughters currently have the name either as a first or a middle name.

Both of Lynn’s parents valued a good education, responsible government, strong families and strong communities. They believed in honesty, integrity, respect for others, pride in oneself, community service and a job well-done. By example, they taught caring, compassion, empathy, fairness, thrift, tenacity, and due diligence. They also inspired in their children and others a love of the land and respect for the environment and nature.

Lynn’s father died in 1990 of cancer, five months before he and Lynn’s mother would have celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary. He never retired from farming and kept an active interest in everything happening on the farm even when his illness confined him to the house. Lynn’s mother died in 2008, well into her 90s, and still living independently. She too maintained a lively interest in all that was happening around her, her family, and world affairs.

Lynn’s Education and Extra-Curricular Activities

Lynn began her education at Balrobie, a one-room country school. The school was one-half mile from home and from the age of six, Lynn walked to and from school every day, except in extremely cold weather. After Lynn completed grade six the school was closed, and she, like many other rural students, was bussed to the nearest village for the remainder of her elementary and most of her high school education.

Because the family only had one vehicle and money was always limited, each sibling was restricted to two or three extracurricular activities. Lynn’s choices were the Lipton 4-H Homecraft Club, the Lutheran youth group, and the school newspaper. She learned valuable and lasting skills from all of these groups.

Canada – 1962 to 1970

Ignace’s Commonwealth Scholarship gave him permission to study agriculture at the University of Saskatchewan. However, because English was not his first language, even though he held a Cambridge A certificate, he was required to take one year of senior matriculation at the University’s then Regina Campus to ensure he was adequately fluent in English. This is where he met Lynn (Senft), one of the few high school students whose parents had decided that senior matriculation at the Regina Campus would be better preparation for university than grade 12 in the local village. The class was an interesting mix of people – a few high school students, several music students who were ready for more advanced music classes but still needed to complete their grade 12 equivalency, several adult students who had dropped out of high school and needed to obtain their matriculation to proceed to post-secondary education, and a sprinkling of international students.

Besides seeing each other in most of their classes, Ignace became fellow classmate, Doreen Gould’s chemistry partner. Doreen, Lynn’s roommate, was physically disabled with rheumatoid arthritis and Ignace and Lynn frequently, together, helped her to and from classes. Having to work together often, they all got to know each other very well. Ignace always insisted that Lynn tried to advance the friendship by dropping her books and he, being a gentleman, of course had to help her gather them up. Lynn’s version is that Ignace was seeking a Canadian wife to avoid raising the dowry of at least 10 cows for a wife of quality.

Lynn and Ignace continued their studies at the Saskatoon Campus of the University of Saskatchewan. Their friendship blossomed into a romance and they married while still university students. They counted every penny and when their first child, Naomi, arrived, they counted their pennies twice. With perseverance they both graduated, Lynn with a Bachelor of Science in Home Economics, Ignace with a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture. Lynn also managed to complete the required internship to qualify as a professional dietitian and to obtain a Master’s degree in Animal Science, majoring in nutrition. While Lynn was completing her postgraduate studies, Ignace took up a teaching post at Debden. Weekdays he taught math, physics and chemistry to high school students. Weekends he commuted to Saskatoon to spend time with the family. In his spare time he fished and between his fishing catches and his landlord’s superior hunting skills, he was able to keep the family freezer well-stocked with fish and moose. Lynn managed her studies as well as a household that now included not only their daughter Naomi, but also a boarder and her younger sister who had come to Saskatoon to take her high school. Their second daughter, Lara, was born while Lynn was completing her thesis.

Tanzania – Early 1970s

Because one of the conditions of Ignace’s scholarship was that he return to Tanzania and work for a period of time, after Lynn finished her master’s thesis, the family moved to Tanzania. When Ignace left the country, it had just gained independence. When he returned, he did not recognize his native land. Tanzania, like other countries that suddenly became solely responsible for their own decisions, policies and programs, was struggling to govern with too few educated and experienced officials and too many inexperienced elected office holders. A very strict form of socialism was in force, ujamaa was at its zenith, private enterprises had been nationalized, Black entitlement was rampant, and freedom of speech and the right to dissent had been swept away. And while both Ignace and Lynn were ready to use their knowledge and skills to help strengthen the government and the country, government officials were not sure what to do with them. Eventually Ignace was assigned to work as an agricultural economist at a research station at Ilonga. In spite of having some of the best qualifications in Canada, let alone Tanzania, for her discipline, Lynn was blacklisted. Why? Because the government official responsible for the research station disapproved of mixed race marriages, and especially of highly educated white women snatching educated black men away from local women.

While Ignace went to work, Lynn accepted the challenge of raising a family in an isolated rural area – trying to learn Swahili, dealing with servants, relying on the Tanganyika boiler for hot water, pasteurizing milk, boiling all drinking water, keeping the household malaria – free, and so on. Having grown up on a farm, the adjustment was not as difficult as it might have been. Except for the snakes. Ilonga is in a dry, bushy part of the country and attractive to some of the world’s most deadly snakes – green and black mambas, spitting and King cobras, puff adders, and pythons. Trying to keep curious children away from areas snakes like to inhabit was a full time job.

During our time on the research station we made friends with other researchers and families – people of all races, ethnic groups and faiths, local people and people from all parts of the world. We attended dinners, dances and a wedding. We lived through one of the worst and most devastating army worm infestations we have ever seen. As we lived in an area where most of the population belonged to the Islam faith, we learned to give up pork, all pork products and foods containing lard. We learned to appreciate their devotion to their faith and to respect their form of worship. We also learned to appreciate what we had, even though what we had was far below what the average Canadian takes for granted.

In 1971 Idi Amin, a ruthless dictator, staged a coup in Uganda. The Tanzanian government, fearful of an invasion, mobilized all available resources to resist any border crossings by this lunatic. Most government vehicles on the research station were commandeered for use on the front line. The Faculty of Animal Science at the University of Saskatchewan was providing support to Makere University in the form of loaned faculty and Lynn had been considering taking postgraduate studies at Makere. However, when a former classmate was shot to death and her professors terrorized, any thought of joining her Animal Science colleagues vanished.

Our small world changed abruptly when Ignace learned that he would be called up for military service. With Lynn blacklisted from government employment, and with Ignace’s salary about to be reduced to the grand sum of $3.00 spending money per month, the situation looked very bleak. We had no choice but to return to Canada but that was not going to be easy. At that time the Tanzanian government was reluctant to allow its citizens to go abroad, and even when it did grant permission, it was even more reluctant to allow its citizens to take out a significant amount of money. Getting out took careful planning, the greatest secrecy, fearless determination, and lock-step precision. While the children took everything in stride and considered the exercise a great adventure, their parents did not relax until their plane touched down in Regina.

Canada – Return from Tanzania Onward

When Lynn learned the implications of Ignace’s anticipated military service, she immediately, but very quietly, began applying for jobs in Canada. Soon after her return she was called to an interview with Mrs. Alice Jenner, Saskatchewan’s Provincial Nutritionist and shortly thereafter hired as Senior Nutrition Consultant for the province. This appointment began Lynn’s 32 – year career with the Saskatchewan government, serving in a wide variety of responsible positions. Ironically, while Lynn was not able to contribute to Tanzania’s development as a parliamentary democracy, in 1994 Lynn was hand-picked to serve on the Saskatchewan team that would assist South Africa establish democratic governance in its new provinces. This assignment spanned a ten-year period, with part of the time providing support to the Republic of Namibia as well as South Africa. Besides being one of the most demanding and challenging work assignments of her career, she earned thousands of aeroplan points and a Ph.D. from the University of the Free State. As well as her public service career, Lynn has worked as a private consultant, free-lance broadcaster, special projects manager, and educator. She also has been a farmer and raised elk and, together with her husband and brother, purebred Black Angus cattle.

Ignace’s return to Canada provided him with an opportunity to return to his teaching career. However, he first took time to get a Bachelor of Education degree from the University of Regina. He was able to secure employment with the Regina Separate School Board in the elementary school system. He continued to upgrade his qualifications and secured a Postgraduate Diploma in Education, also from the University of Regina. His teaching assignments took him to many schools, namely, St Peter’s, Joan of Arc, St Patrick’s, St Bernadette, St Gregory and finally, St Marguerite. After 32 years in the education field, he retired from teaching.

Children and Grandchildren

The Minja’s two daughters, Naomi and Lara, both received their primary and secondary education at Deshaye Elementary School and Marian High School. Naomi’s passion was architecture and her pursuit of this career took her to Winnipeg, Manitoba for a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Studies and then to the Technical University of Nova Scotia for a Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Design and a Masters’ Degree in Architecture. Naomi received a scholarship for being the most promising female architect in her class. When she graduated, she was only the second Black woman to graduate with a Master’s degree in Architecture from the Technical University of Nova Scotia. Lara’s passion for creative expression took her to the Nova Scotia College of Art and Design for first, a Bachelor’s Degree in Visual Communications, and second, a Bachelor’s Degree in Fine Arts, including a Fellowship to Europe to examine different approaches to art and design. After practicing as a graphic artist for several years, Lara returned to university and obtained a Master’s Degree in Communications and Technology from the University of Alberta.

Both daughters married, Naomi to Carol Belanger, an architect and Lara to Matthias Reinicke, a graphic designer. All have turned their knowledge, skills and aptitudes into successful careers. Naomi is an Associate with Dialog, one of the largest architectural – engineering – interior design organizations in Western Canada that focuses on an integrated approach to design. With offices in Edmonton, Calgary, Vancouver and Toronto, Naomi spends a good deal of time on busses and airplanes. Carol is the principal architect with the City of Edmonton and responsible for planning and oversight of the city’s major public projects. He is pleased to be able to influence the skyline of the city while at the same time improving functionality and aesthetic quality. While living in Edmonton, Lara and Matthias established their own graphic design business, Lime Design Inc. They relocated the business to Victoria when their family moved to Vancouver Island but, with modern technology, have clients throughout Canada and beyond.

Naomi and Carol have two boys, Lorin and Dashiell while Lara and Matthias have two girls, Sophia and Inari. Naomi and Carol have separated but continue to jointly parent their children in an amicable arrangement. All of the grandchildren are healthy, well-adjusted, curious and high energy. Their parents continue to seek a balanced approach to preparing them for life – school, play, sports that they can enjoy throughout their lives, art, music, nature, and community service.

In addition to raising two girls, and welcoming sons-in-law and grandchildren into our family, we also welcomed Moses Minja, son of the late Japher Minja and his wife Dora into our home, after Japher died. We enrolled Moses in Luther High School, a private faith-based school for grades 10, 11 and 12. Moses thrived in the warm, friendly, supportive environment. After graduation he returned to Tanzania, took a year off, then returned to academics where he completed a Bachelor’s Degree in Information Technology. His training has taken him into a career in the banking industry. He is currently working for the National Microfinance Bank of Tanzania and pursing a Master of Business Administration degree at the University of Dar es Salaam.

Naomi and Lara’s Return to Their Father’s Roots

In February of 2010, Lara turned 40 and decided she needed to do something unique to celebrate this milestone. So, after almost four decades of having first set eyes on Mount Kilimanjaro, she decided she must climb it. Not wanting to do it alone, she persuaded her elder sister to join her. To prepare for the climb, the two maintained a rigourous training schedule – walking, hiking, running, weight lifting, stair climbing, and more.

The climb was timed to coincide with Lara’s birthday and took place the second and third weeks of February. Matthias and Carol looked after the children. Tusker, the company they had chosen to use, engaged many of Ignace’s relatives. Thus, surrounded by Minja guides, cooks, and porters, and within cell phone reach of aunts and uncles, the climb became a family affair – actually the family honour had been put on the line. They simply could not fail.

They began climbing February 6th. February 12th the Tusker group surprised Lara with a cake, carried on one of the porter’s heads, high up the mountain in order to celebrate her birthday on the correct day. Truly a memorable occasion! On day 6 of the climb, February 15th, the entire group triumphantly reached Uhuru Peak, the summit of Mount Kilimanjaro.

The major part of the adventure behind them, it was time to celebrate. Uncle Peter Minja had gathered together members of the family, including Ignace’s step-mother, eldest sister, uncles, aunts, and cousins. Getting to meet the family as adults, visiting their grandparents’ graves, gaining an understanding of the Chagga culture and comprehending the meaning of “the mountain” to the Chagga people, became life changing moments for each of them. Ignace’s long-time friends, Thomas and Lucy Kimaro, also welcomed them into their home and their hearts.

The next stop on their journey – Dar es Salaam to reconnect with Moses Minja and the family of Japher Minja. Moses of course had become a young man with a vision of his future and a plan to achieve it. He showed them he is well on his way – he has a car, is building a large, family house, and has a fiancé. He proudly showed them his favourite places, bartered for them in the open markets, and took them to meet his mother, brother, and sisters.

Lara and Naomi have now established their own connections with their African family, their own generation of Minjas, Tanzania and the continent of Africa. The library of photographs they brought home will remind them of who they are and the deep roots they have in two countries. The experience has enriched them far beyond successfully meeting the physical and mental challenge of climbing 19,000 feet and surveying the plains of Africa. It has deepened their understanding of family, humanity, and immigration. And, it has helped them appreciate the tough choices and many sacrifices their father has made for his wife and children.


Lynn and Ignace share many interests outside child-rearing and maintaining a household. To say that Ignace is interested in cars, trucks and any vehicle that one can use for normal driving would be an understatement. He and Lynn share an interest in photography, travel, canoeing, and music. Lynn loves gardening, reading, and nature.

Like her parents, Lynn has been active in a wide variety of organizations and the church. For many years Ignace was an active volunteer with the church and has done volunteer work in the community. After Lynn’s sister’s death, as her executrix, Lynn became responsible for the disposition of her sister’s estate. This responsibility led Ignace and Lynn to restoring a farm that needed enormous amounts of clean-up, repair, renovation and updating.

Someone once said that we should live our lives so well that when we get old and look back, we can enjoy our lives a second time around. As part of the “Zoomer” generation, we are able to look back with both pride and a sense of accomplishment. But we also look ahead, and like our grandchildren, with curiosity, hope and a sense of purpose.