Daniel Ohmann among the Nomadic Wataturu

Mary’s Love Beads

by Daniel Ohmann originally printed in Maryknoll Magazine  June 2000

It’s now two years since I left my ministry with suffering exiles from Burundi and Rwanda in the refugee camps in western Tanzania. Since then I’ve been working in the Shinyanga region with the Watatulu people, dwellers along the Rift Valley for some 300 years. I live in a tent among these seminomadic people.

I’ve been working with them very patiently, longing for the day when they will see that the teachings of Jesus in the Gospel complement the many positive values they have in their traditional religion and eliminate some negative aspects, such as the fear of evil spells. I’ve had little success so far-in fact, none at all if you count baptisms. But I pray daily, asking for the intercession of our Blessed Mother:

“Mary, every Watatulu knows that a bead is much more than a stone, more than a seed, or more than a colored piece of glass. A string of beads around a baby’s neck shows a mother’s love. A bracelet’s string of beads reveals a boy’s love for a girl. Your string of beads, the rosary, tells of the greatest love of all. Hasten the day when the neck of every Watatulu will be graced by your symbol of God’s unconditional love. Amen.”