Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The return - the end

I went back to Danhiko to pack for a few days and then headed off to the rural areas to visit a friend in Tshanaugwe, Matabeleland, south of Bulawayo. The bus ride from Bulawayo was amazing - two hours or so south of Bulawayo on a paved road, and then 3 or 4 hours on a dirt road. Amazingly enough it had been raining (the area is constantly having droughts, and it looks like there will be another this year) which was great for the farmers, but not good for the road. I sat in the back, and on a few bumps I almost hit the ceiling. One crossing we reached was almost impassable because the river was very full. We stopped so the driver could decide what to do and I got out of the bus. Boy did everyone stare! A white woman, never mind just a white, out in the rural areas. Unfortunately I can't speak Ndebele or Sotho or Venda, so all I could do was smile and make the children embarrassed by sticking out my hand for them to shake. I took my camera out to take a photo of the bus and the people by the river and the women getting water at the borehole, and one woman said 'photo please' so everyone gathered and posed for a photo. It was great! I took a photo of a man leading some women acorss the river, and they made me take a photo of them posed at the river's edge.

I arrived at F's safe and sound thought, and had a wonderful time. They killed a goat on my arrival (F offered to let me do it, jokingly, but I declined). I would have helped them skin it but he said it was OK and we had goat and sadza the time I was there, although I never ate enough to satisfy F's mother. the whole time I was there I wanted to help out with the duties, but I don't think I was strong enough to do anything. His sister could lift a big bucket of water and plop it on her head, but I couldn't even lift it, never mind put it on my head. F let me try ploughing with the oxen for about 30 seconds, but it would have taken too long to learn to do it well, so I just watched.

On Sunday F's brothers took me to church, about an 9 km walk way. The service is conducted outsdie, inside a big circle marked by rocks. I sat with F's cousin, T, with teh women and watched. After 15 minutes or so I recognized the word Murungu, meaning white person or European in Shona, and realized the preacher was talking about me. Everyone turned to stare, and I just smiled. An assistant came over to translate for me, and it turned out that I was being welcomed, and they were searching for a Bible in English for me. It was also said that it was an honor to have me, the second white person to ever come (D being the first), there and that God was great to bring me there. It was astounding to think I was only the second white person to attend their services. The service was beautiful, with people dancing and spinning in the sun, dust flying up and the drums beating the tune.

It's now been three weeks that I've been home, and it's been crazy. I went around visiting a graduate school, visiting friends I haven't seen in ages, talking to administrators and grad students and anyone else I could get a hold of about jobs and graduate schools, and managed to get an interview and a job offer in NYC which I have already refused and I am still poor therefore, and looking for a better job, or a paying internship which will lead me where I want to go, which is international management, I believe. I did get my hands on my friend's class (5th grade) and it was great. In the beginning I asked what they thought about Africa when they thought about it, and the answers were the typical animals and jungles and starving black people and naked black people, so it was a lot of fun to show them some slides and talk to them. They wrote thank you cards the next day thanking me for telling them about "Afirca" and goats heads and such. I'm glad I could help change some misconceptions.

[Note: I really really hope I brought presents to the family that I visited! I know what an honor and sacrifice it was to kill a goat.]

7 comments:

WNG said...

All of my African experiences have been in cities so I'm jealous of you!!!Love these flashback stories!

Tera said...

Damn that was a long post NoR!!! I also envy your voyage to Africa and want badly to go to another continent (preferably Europe). You are such a well rounded individual...I want to be just like you when I grow up!

WNG said...

Why oh why would you want to grow up, Tera?

NoRegrets said...

Where have you been in Africa?
Sorry to make you read Tera. :-) It was typed up from a long ago note. As for well rounded...Growing up is overrated. Though, can't say that I've grown up yet.

Churlita said...

Awesome post. It took me far far away from my beige cubicle and I thank you for that.

NoRegrets said...

You're welcome! :-)

squirrel said...

Ditto what Tera said, also, confusingly, wng's response.