Published: June 29th 2007June 29th 2007
Jean's mom at the camp butcher
We asked her to teach us how to cook goat since it's so rare in the States but she normally prefers beef so we got some of that as well.
And I have no rhythm...
This past week was my last working week this summer which is totally nuts! On Tuesday I gave a 3-hour (!) workshop to the camp's teachers on children's rights. There were about thirty of them, some Malawian and some refugees. I studied children's rights last fall but we focused entirely on U.S. law so I had to spend some time last weekend reviewing the international law! It went really well and it was as educational for me as for them, I think. The teachers really payed attention in the beginning (the boring part) and then when we broke into groups to start looking at real-life situations they all found very creative ways of applying the law. They tended to want me to present my views on the law since I'm mzungu so I had to keep steering us back to a discussion but on the whole they participated a lot and I had a lot of fun!
On Wednesday I spent time walking around the camp and beginning the awful goodbye process. Eva came with me to the camp so I had my friend Jean take her around the place.
Kids at the butcher shop
The little girl is my friend Jean's niece; the little boy in the middle is holding a heart!
She visited an English class and got to see the transit shelter and the market, and took some great photos of course. We had lunch at Jean's house and it was so good we asked his mom to give us a cooking lesson on Friday. It was supposed to take two hours but ended up taking five or so! Eva ended up getting the whole story about how their family ended up fleeing Rwanda so there was a lot of talking going on in addition to the cooking. Friday was pretty terrible, I just went around finding people to say goodbye to, and it was especially bad because we leave early on that day so I didn't have nearly enough time to make sure I did so with everyone I have come to know. It didn't feel entirely real because I many of my closest friends from the camp were invited to my house on Sunday for a party.
Saturday Eva and I went to a Malawian wedding (well, the reception) with my colleague Ruth. It was SO much fun, I could show you if I hadn't forgotten my camera :) The reception was in a church, and the
He's wearing a traditional Burundian cap.
guests sit in pews while the wedding party sits on a stage. There is a master of ceremonies (hired) and a band playing really loud music. The main activity of the reception is to raise money for the couple to start their family and home, so what happens is the MC calls people up and they throw money! Sometimes they give it to cashiers but more typically the money is thrown at the couple themselves! It's really so different from anything I've seen. The couple stand holding a basket, and people dance up (EVERYONE is dancing) and throw a bill with each step they take. A lot of it ends up on the floor. It was so neat. The MC will call up as many groups as possible and you go whenever the category applies to you. So, he'll call friends of the bride, the bride's colleagues, friends of the bride's parents, people from the bride's neighborhood, and so on. I have heard they will even call up all mzungus but that didn't happen to us! The whole cake process is different too. They do the cake-cutting the same way, and the bride and groom feed each other a piece
In Kalis's yard
Some Congolese women from Kalis's church picking some of their greens.
(although they do it very neatly unlike us), but they auction off the cake! They start auctioning off pieces at about 2000 kwacha (around $14) and anyone who wants to buy a piece at that price goes up. Then they call up anyone willing to pay 1000 for a slice, and so on (and the slices get smaller as you go!). When it got down to 100 kwacha Eva and I danced up to get a piece, and were surprised to see a basket full of what looked like wrapped candies instead of cake. We were feeling really disappointed until we opened up the wrapper and found there was in fact a piece of cake in there, only it was the size of a piece of candy! It was so much fun, and probably the most Malawian thing I have done here besides eating nsima.
Saturday Eva and I were also scrambling to prepare for my party on Sunday. We decided to do an American-style barbecue with grilled chicken and our Czech potato salad and iced tea and jello! So we spent most of Saturday night chopping potatoes :) We decided to call it a night around 10 and
Making onion rings
Eva had the fabulous idea to make onion rings...they didn't taste like any onion rings I have ever had but they were a hit!
then I took a taxi into town to go dancing for my last weekend in Malawi. We went to a Congolese place called Chez Ntemba which was a lot of fun. It's not that interesting of a place, and it's got a sleazy vibe (i.e. old white guys searching out Malawian prostitutes) but the music was pretty good. They alternated between U.S. hip hop and all kinds of African music, like Mozambican pasado, Congolese rhumba, Malawian pop...and there is a special kind of dance for each one. It was a blast and I was so happy to have gone dancing at least once before leaving.
Sunday afternoon was the party, which went off without a hitch! Amazingly :) Had Eva not arrived and insisted on helping me I think there wouldn't have been much but frozen samosas and soda, but the refugees really enjoyed getting to taste foods from the States. I am really glad we made a big deal of it after all, because they all had to leave the camp to get to my house, which is quite costly on he minibus both in terms of money and time. They especially loved the potato salad (kudos to
Baba!) and the jello. The iced tea was a bust, after the first cup everyone wanted water!! But it was so much fun. Matt showed me how to hook up my laptop to his speakers and the refugees brought their own music so we had a fantastic dance party. The Malawians and the refugees didn't mingle as much as I would have liked but I got everyone to dance at least a few times :) It was so amazing to see the different dance styles you find from different countries here. The Congolese dances are so cool and so weird; one of them involves bending over and using a stylized motion that is supposed to look like you're combing your hair, because hair is the first thing that makes someone attractive (or so Kalis says!). My friend Ezekiel and his wife performed three songs he'd composed for the event, which were unbelievably beautiful. And many of the refugees are great singers so they would join in and it was really powerful and really sad! The lyrics were fantastic too; the first song was called "Go Well, Martina" but he sings it with an exaggerated Malawian accent so it sounded more
like, "Go Wello." In another song he is singing as though he were me talking to my parents and saying, "I am here among the black people, but they are so caring." In another one he says I am so white but so much like them! So funny, and cool at the same time. It was so unbelievably sweet I was crying the whole time. Then we all went out and took some pictures - Eva and I got two memory-stick fulls :) We had two of my friends act as our photo/cinematographers for the duration of the party (which was about six hours!).
We were supposed to take off from Lilongwe today to start traveling but (surprise, surprise) I am still not done with everything I need to do so I am back at the internet cafe and it looks like we'll leave tomorrow or Wednesday. After that there's no telling how long it will be til we get another chance to post a blog entry, so I am including a whole bunch of pictures to tide you over til then!
p.s. don't forget to watch the videos!
There are more photos below