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‘Sokoni’ transforms marketplace into mission

‘Sokoni’ transforms marketplace into mission

Photo: Albin Hillert/WCC

13 March 2018

On the margins of the Conference on World Mission and Evangelism (CWME), various exhibitions were held by diverse groups and individuals, showcasing colourful items for sale: bags, traditional clothing, shoes, jewelry and art. Companies offered visits to tourist sites in Tanzania, banks looked for new customers, and bookshops displayed their goods. This marketplace - also referred to as a “sokoni" - became an opportunity for faith and community-based institutions to share what they do to improve the lives of people around them.

Sokoni is a Kiswahili term for a community marketplace where people gather to exchange commodities and products. It is a communal space for sharing ideas, stories and activities. The CWME was held in Arusha, Tanzania, from 8-13 March.

At the sokoni, the exhibitions gave an overview of the general mission of the church, but also everyday realities. Some aspects of the sokoni were preludes to a more extensive session on various groups such as the youth, women and people from the margins. The youth were represented by Global Ecumenical Theological Institute students who had four booths focusing on different themes: on the streets, offering the opportunity for participants to do graffiti, other works of art and dances; in the fire, in which participants exchanged experiences and stories; under the shells, a liturgical tent, where people offered theological texts, music, songs, and poems; and up with the kites, where messages, poems and songs were written and suspended on a card attached to the tail of a kite.

Rev. Paulette Brown from the Presbyterian Church in Canada led the women sokoni and said: “When women gather, we listen, we praise, we raise questions and we wrestle for answers”.

Also featured was the work of the Tanganyika Christian Refugee Service, which offers water, sanitation and general hygiene services to refugees and empowers hosting communities with skills in agriculture and production of handicrafts.

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