In many African traditions both the process of choosing a name and the name itself are equally sacred. Not only can we tell about the parents’ values and character through the names of their children, but also we believe that names define our destiny.
Although the name, Bruce Lane Johnson, is certainly not a familiar name in Tanzania, the values and character of the man we honor define our common purpose and inspire our dreams. Smart Baitani, the co-founder of COSAD credits the development and the clarity of the ideas of establishing COSAD, in part from the inspiration and “peace of mind” he got from working at Northeast Bank in Minneapolis, Minnesota.
Sue J. Johnson, the Human Resources Director and Executive Vice President, hired Smart in 2001. “Sue and the bank gave me a chance and empowered me to think about others who are far less fortunate in Tanzania,” Smart often says. At NE Bank, Smart developed personal friendships with most of his co-workers and their families. Bruce and Sue Johnson became much more than acquaintances but also a family whose way of life Smart greatly admired and with whom he shared many values.Smart was able to share his future plans and personal ambitions with Sue and Bruce. According to Smart, “Sue’s faith its heroes. We all need heroes in our lives to grow. We all need the Bruce Lane Johnsons in our lives to be inspired to serve others. For the people of Tanzania, and Bukoba in particular, the name Bruce Lane Johnson represents not only Bruce and Sue and the Northeast Bank, but also all the great friends who have touched our lives and inspired us to rise up and serve the greater good. We are humbled that by placing his name in the midst of our communities, we will be reminded that we are all connected with our friends by the knowledge and the values we share, regardless of the physical distance between us.