Mamoya is the tallest Hadzabe man I know. At 5’ 11’’ he stands a full head taller than most of the people in the village. He is a kind and quiet man, keeping mostly to himself, but persistent when it comes to learning more about Jesus.
I first met Mamoya on a trip in 2014. He did not stand out to us at first because he was shy and kept mostly to himself. However, with time, we discovered that Mamoya actually had a deep longing for God and even a preexisting love for Jesus. He walked over to Miriamu, our translator, and me one afternoon in the middle of our trip. He came asking for, “the Word of God”… so we shared with him about Jesus.
He had a positive reaction to our message. He then proceeded to tell us that a missionary couple who lived near by had shared the gospel with him already, and he was planning to be baptized soon. In my heart I was blessed to hear of his desire to know Jesus and walk in his ways.
Mamoya quickly became our friend. He showed us some of the traditional Hadzabe techniques for survival. He showed us how to make a friction fire, how to make poison (for hunting big game) and even spent time teaching us how to make arrows. He treated us with great hospitality and kindness. His heart was to have the word of God so that while he was hunting alone in the bush he could spend time with God, thankfully we were able to give him one of our very few audio bibles before we left.
When we arrived back in early 2016, we came across Mamoya in a time of grief. He and his wife had just lost one of their young children suddenly to an intense sickness. We heard that it literally happened over night, that evening the child had been well and then during the course of the night had become violently sick, loosing all bodily fluids and passing on in the early morning. For most of our trip we saw Mamoya only once in a while, he spent most of his time alone in his hut sleeping or carving arrows.
On one of the occasions when he was hanging out with us he brought with him his audio Bible. It was the same small, blue, handheld, mp3 device that we had given him the previous year. It was in pieces. As we chatted with him we learned that one of his children had broken the player with a rock because he “wanted to see the little people who were talking on the inside.” We also found out that when Mamoya found the broken player that he had attempted desperately to fix it. Using only materials that he could find in the bush he was able to reconnect 2 solder joints. Unfortunately, the damage was permanent. When we asked him why he would spend all of the time and energy trying to fix the player, he replied, “ Because it is so important for us to hear the word of God.”
On other occasions during the recent trip in 2016 Mamoya would walk over and would ask us deep, thoughtful questions about God. He was curious and longed for the truth. He told me, once when we were talking about heaven and hell, that he would always follow Jesus because he definitely did not want to go to hell. When we left his home village of Gitamilanda at the end of our trip in mid February, Mamoya told us that we would be warmly welcomed back when we chose to return.
About 6 weeks after returning to the USA in April, I received a short e-mail from a missionary working with a nearby tribe. She told us that Mamoya passed away from complications due to AIDS earlier that week.
I wanted to tell you his story, the little of it that I know. Mamoya was my friend and I miss him, but I’m glad that we will be able to see him in heaven one day. Maymoya left behind a wife and 9 Children, along with his village and tribe. He will be sorely missed.