Wednesday, August 16, 2006

You'll Need a Chitenge for That

We've made it into Kitwe for the evening, we were moved out of our homestay houses this morning and into a college campus just outside of the city where we will be staying for the next couple of days. Our graduation ceremony is on Monday at 11 am, there are going to be a variety of different speakers so the production has the potential to go for a very long time. Once we've been sworn in we will officially no longer be PCT's but PCV's...woohoo. It is exciting but also sad and a bit intimidating; sad because I will have to say goodbye to many of the friends I made during PST and will not see them for another three months when we have in-service training. It is intimidating because I will be dropped off in my village on the 19th--I will be the only white person there, I will not know a soul in the entire village and surrounding countryside, I have absolutely no activities planned to fill the day other than what I can think of to try to keep me busy, and I don't speak the language hardly at all.

With that said I have received some more news about my site from the previous volunteer and there are some reasons to be excited. Apparently there are several women's groups in the area who are interested in starting a small sewing/knitting business, as well as one that wants to learn about small animal husbandry and beekeeping. My house is supposed to be very nice, I have a Mango tree and Raspberry bush in my yard, and the old volunteer left most of his furniture there so I don't have to worry too much about furnishings. I also acquired a hammock this last week which I am thrilled about.

This last week was busy but fun. The trainees staying in Chankalamo village decided to have a goat roast on Thursday with all our families in order to thank them and celebrate the end of PST. I had to transport the live goat to the site of the roast several days before on Tuesday--I found out later that the best way to transport a male goat anywhere is to simply sling it across your shoulders. But, I tried walking it over, a trip highlighted by me crawling into a thorn bush in pursuit of the goat after it slipped the rope, a laughing mob of children surrounding us as I tried to drag the goat up a hill, and me being tempted to break out my Leatherman and slaughter the thing on the spot. But, I finally prevailed, and thoroughly enjoyed the goat meat several days later.

The Nyanja families attending put together a mock initiation ceremony for young girls that was extremely interesting. The highlight was a lot of dancing and laughter, although the actual ceremony is very serious business and quite the production from what I've been told by volunteers who have witnessed it. One interesting tradition that two of our female trainers exhibited for us concerns respect: before they went out to dance they approached the old women who were doing the singing and drumming and laid themselves on the ground in the fetal position at their feet and clapped three times. They then rolled over and repeated the process on their other side, then got up to dance. The gesture was met by ululating whoops of appreciation from the bamayos--apparently it is a Bemba tradition, but since they are cousins with the Nyanjas that tribe appreciates the act as well. Things started to deteriorate when I was pulled into the dancing area by a determined bamayo so that I might represent the Bembas as it was mostly Nyanjas who had been doing the dancing. I dragged Brad with me so I wouldn't be alone in my humiliation, a bamayo wrapped chitenges around our waists, and we proceeded to break out our best moves. The Bemba and Nyanja dances are slightly different, but both involve a prodigious amount of hip movements that are supposed to be fluid; I sincerely doubt whether mine were so, but I certainly gave it my all as my aching hips and legs could attest. I did hear from both our trainers who speak Bemba that I received a lot of compliments from the bamayos afterwards--I think that was probably a result of all the chibuku the women were consuming, but I'll take it. There are several pictures of Brad and myself in action, but I am hoping that they never reach the public sphere.

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