In 2002 Fr. Walters received some money to buy a new car for the old one had been in bad shape. But he spent much of that money to pay school fees for students he helped and medications for some patients who knocked at his door. One day his car did not start and he was going to say mass. We pushed it but it didn’t start. He decided to walk so he could attend that mass.
I advised him to consider the need for him to buy another car, but he looked at me and said, “Josephat, when you drive from Malimbe to the City [Mwanza] how many people do you see who are walking on foot?” “Many people,” I answered. Then he said, “We’re lucky to have Rocky.” Rocky was his ailing old car.
Fr. Walters continued to teach Public Relations at SAUT until 2010 when he was 84 years old. He stopped after he was asked to, but he was passionate to keep on teaching. I was living in Dar es Salaam already. He retired and asked me to drive my car from Dar es Salaam (1100kms one way) to Mwanza and bring him over at Loyola High School. I offered to buy for him air-ticket, but he refused.
I read his mind and knew he wanted to see the Country for the last time. On the way we talked about so many things and reminded ourselves of the things we had done together as we listened to his classical music. The true love he had for Tanzania was apparent there. He loved its people truly. We both were happy that we could see each other regularly after I brought him in Dar es Salaam. Fr. Edmund Malya, SJ used to jokingly call me “Ted’s Angel.”
Fr. Walters, SJ had a lot of energy and used it to the maximum. Sometimes he would astonish his colleagues at SAUT. For example, even in his 80s, he would arrive from USA and connect to teach without a break. In October, 2004, Fr. Walters wrote to me from the States:
“As I mentioned in my last e-mail, I now plan to take a flight from Kilimanjaro to Mwanza on Sunday, October 3, which means I’ll be arriving at Malimbe [SAUT] in mid- or late-afternoon. It will be good to get back, to see you again, and to start classes the next day. Please get the necessary information about my classes for me. Many thanks for all you’ve done!”
He respected everybody. He was known for his smile. However, he was naturally very firm in his leadership. He would wake up at 1 o’clock in the night to pray and got up again at 5 o’clock to prepare for his classes.
At some stage, he gave me the role to assess those people he supported financially. It was tough for me. I found out he had a long list. There were so many people who wanted help. He said, “We can manage, Josephat, if we absolutely trust the Lord.” However, there were a few people who abused his generosity. They disappointed him and spiritually he was troubled in some incidents. I recently read this short story he wrote:
“…Sylvester’s broken ankle refused to heal, so he sent over his 12-year old boy William to ask for money for school fees and a uniform. I gave it to him, but it was stolen on his way home. Expenses kept piling up. Being able to keep up with Sylvester’s expenses is like stopping a haemorrhage. It can’t be done. I ask myself: how can one man develop so many problems?…can run into such financial difficulties? Who can help people like this? Where are their friends? Who has any money? How do they and their families survive? You’re never confronted with the mystery of human survival until you meet people like Sylvester… “
He, however, remained with this question, “Considering the peace and potential prosperity of Tanzania, there should be a way. But of course there are the chronic poor in every country. Can’t something be done?” Fr. Walters.
In 2006 when he came down with back pains, he delegated to me some of his duties although I was not one of the staff members at SAUT. He gave me his e-mail’s password so that I could respond to some emails and update him or inform his close people of his development. He gave me the keys to his bag where he kept his money, and the keys to his car. I remained faithful in all this in the course of his illness. When he was well again I returned everything back to him.
When he retired as Deputy Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs, he took the new Vice Chancellor Fr. Dr. Charles Kitima to the States so that to connect him with potential development partners to ensure what he started sustains. He went to the states first and wrote to me:
“Josephat…I need to know the time of Fr. Kitima’s arrival in Detroit on August 29 and his flight number, so I can pick him up. He should wait for me outside the Detroit International Terminal on the lowest level. Please give my best wishes to Fr. Kitima. I look forward to our trip together,” Fr. Walters.
He was always ready to help others. But almost always he carried all his tribulations by himself. Often, many of us hardly realised that he also was a human being who wanted someone to listen to him. Most of us barely reached out to his support. As he continued to be weak, some people regarded him a burden. Some of the people he nurtured betrayed him. The good thing is that he was very strong and always he trusted the Lord absolutely.
The night before he died I couldn’t sleep well. He left me with a scar in my heart—I missed his last moment. I know he would tell me to carry on the good work. Probably he would also tell me to keep up the good spirit and, of course, “Keep praying, Josephat.” But he died with the vision and maybe with the means to help me carry out that vision of the youth which he called “FACES OF TANZANIA”.
Your prayers and those of our friends will be a great help for his soul. He has put our faith to test—Tanzania Episcopal Council (TEC), Society of Jesus, St. Augustine University of Tanzania, the Faithful, and well wishers. Can we do something in Fr. Walters’ name, please? (Please read part I of this story on this site if you missed it. You can use this link: http://tanzanianzima.com/fr-ted-walters-sj-a-hero-to-many-people-i/)
By Josephat Mwanzi, Dar es Salaam firstname.lastname@example.org +255784485438