Saturday, August 18, 2012

Be Zambitious!

Village life is really slow, and for many, it might take a while to adjust to. There’s not really a sense of time here in Zambia- where time is linear in America, and we can’t get minutes, hours, days back if we waste them, time is said to be elastic here in Zambia. They are able to stretch time, to add time. Their day isn’t defined by a 24 hour clock with hands, it doesn’t begin and end at midnight. Years aren’t marked by a calendar that ends at midnight on Dec 31. Their seasons aren’t divided into 4. There is rainy season, dry season,  and hot season. There is a time of feast and famine, whether it’s time to work and plant crops, or to harvest. There is time of abundance, and time where you eat just sima, every meal, every day. All American’s have watches, but it is said that we have no time. No Zambians have watches, but they have all the time.
If someone is supposed to show up at 9 hours to fix something, they might not show until 14 hrs, or maybe not even until the next day. But you just wait for them, as they won’t have a phone to call you on to send word. You wake up in the morning with the sun (and the roosters.. and chickens… and dogs… and goats… and cows) and get your brazier loaded with charcoal, light it, and then swing it over your head to get some air flow and then Bam! Fire. You take your time (and it takes a lot of time) to boil your water for coffee or tea, and cook your breakfast over that same brazier. There’s a lot of sitting around, staring, working on whatever self-improvements you want to work on. Village kids will come by and sit with you, and they just want to stare. Sometimes they will run away, sometimes they will play with you. 

My typical day while living in the village and going through training looks like this: I wake up around 5, lay in bed and read until around 6. At 6 I venture out into the cold, use my “chimbuzi” (hole in the ground= toilet), then wash my face and brush my teeth. By 630 my breakfast is ready- usually two rolls of bread, some peanut butter, eggs, and a fresh onion, and a cup of coffee. At 8 I go to language, which is nice because my language teacher lives with the same family that I do, so I don’t actually have to travel to class like everyone else does. Language goes from 8-12, and then I walk back home and have lunch by myself. After lunch, I hop on my bike and ride for ~30 minutes, ~8km down to the Chipembi Farm College, or into the next village of Mulangushi where our technical (job trainings) are held. These sessions go from 14hr to 17 hr, and then I bike back home. By the time I’ve unlocked my room and set down my things, my family is knocking on my door to tell me that my “geza na maji” (bath water) is ready for me. I bath out in the tall grass from a bucket of boiled water that has been mixed with cool water. I use a cup to pour the water over myself, and dunk my head into the bucket to wash my hair. After returning to the house, I will either study language until dinner is made, or I will play with my little brothers and sisters while my older sister cooks. After eating with my badada and bamama, I retreat to my room and study language some more, or do my health readings and other homework. I am usually exhausted and in bed by 2030, or 830, and asleep no later than 9. Because of the Mefloquin anti-malarial medicine that I am on, I wake up many times throughout the night, and have very lucid and detailed dreams, but I usually awake the next morning feeling refreshed. 

Each time that I ride my bike to and from school, children pop up out of nowhere, sometimes even shouting from the tops of tree limbs, the typical Zambian greeting. And you greet, absolutely EVERYONE. "Muli shani!" "Bwino, muli shani?".. ""Muli Bwanji!" "Bwino, muli bwanji?" ... "Muli uli!" "Nili makola, kwali imwe?" (That last one is my greeting for Tumbuka, but as I am in a village where not many people speak Tumbuka, I have to greet in other languages as well). All the kids know how to ask "How are you?" and the only response they know how to say is "I am fine." But it's very robotic. They also know how to ask "What is your name?". They also absolutely love it when you give them high fives or shake their hands, but if you shake on hand, you have to stop riding your bike and shake every single kids hand. They also love to run alongside our bikes, and dance to the music that I play from my speakers. I refer to them as the greeting committee. They know exactly what times we'll be riding by at the beginning and ends of each day, and they would never miss the muzungu parade. (muzungu basically translated to English speaking person, as mu would denote a person and zungu is English).

So I've mentioned my language. In Zambia, there are 85 different ethnicities/tribes, and 77 different languages spoken. I am learning the language of Tumbuka, which is a Bantu language (of the Bantu people.. which is like saying people people, because bantu translates as 'people'), and is a sister language of Chewa and Nyanja. Tumbuka is only spoken in the Eastern Province of Zambia, in a district called Lundazi. So I'm one of the few that knows exactly where I will be posted, once we get our site placements next week. Lundazi is bordered by Tanzania and Malawi, where they also speak Tumbuka. The language uses the same alphabet, but is a little different in that C makes the "ch" sound, PH makes the "f" sound, TH makes a '"t" sound, and AEIOU all sound different. I have picked up the language very quickly, and scored a 94% on my first language simulation, which is considered "extremely satisfactory". I have to score as "Intermediate-Mid" or higher by the time that I swear in, which seems like it will be no problem at this rate.

This is all that I have time for now, but if there is anything specific that you'd like to know about (ie the houses, my living situation, foods, host family, tribes, transport, etc) feel free to comment below and the next time I am able to access internet & post, they will be discussed! Or, write me letters and I will respond in detail. 

:) Love & peace to all!

1 comment:

  1. Not only are you an amazing person, you write so well. I could read your blogs all day. Much love to you little cousin.