Sunday, March 28, 2010

Palm Sunday

Already, as I write this at 8 am, the sun is hot and the temperature is probably in the low twenties. Yesterday only two committee members turned up. Having confirmed that they were attending the others found that they had other functions that took precedence. Still Dr. Ngoma, Godfrey, Justine and myself spent some time looking at the draft business plan and I reported on my initial impressions, HATW support, the budget etc.

After the meeting, Justine's brother arrived and had a chance to look at one of the ponds and provide some valuable advice. His view was that the pond was viable and we should try to stock it after a bit of minor work.

I decided to wander into town in the afternoon to pick up one or two provisions. I met one of the students and she offered to accompany me to the market. I realised that I had left my caps at home and if I was to spend any time outside could do with one here. Several caps were advertising brands of clothes/footwear etc. I have never understood why anyone would want to spend money to advertise the products of rich multinational companies! So I kept looking. Having scoured the market, my favourite was one with South Africa and some lions emblazoned on it – I was told it was for sale at 4,500 kwacha. I said I might return. One shopkeeper grabbed me by the hand when I asked if he had a cap with Zambia – or Chisamba on it. He took me to one of the stores in the High Street – but not surprisingly they hadn't what I wanted. So I returned to pick up my cap which was now 12,000 kwacha! I said no and moved on, because I felt they had increased the price because I was 'white'.

I decided to have an evening off and do some more reading. This year I had nothing to read until the day before I left the UK and found a secondhand charity bookshop that was packed with my favourite authors. So now I am spoilt for choice – and Luke and others will be happy when I leave them with them! I was well into a Margaret Yorke novel. Her novels are rather dark and perhaps uncomfortably near to the truth. She is quick to draw out faults which we all have to an extent, but in certain circumstances can lead to lives of crime or other terrible acts. The novels are gripping and thought provoking. (I have now finished the one I was reading)

Davison informed me that the church service would start at 9 hrs instead of the usual 8. I arrived a few minutes early and the service was getting underway – not a usual occurrence in Zambia! We gathered outside the police station which is at this end of the High Street. The priest (Fr. Mauritius), in his turn, said that today was a day when all Christians, irrespective of denomination, race or colour celebrated the day Jesus rode into Jerusalem. The people of Jerusalem greeted him carrying palms. There were congregations from at least three Christian churches outside the police station listening to readings from each pastor and in a number of languages (including one reading in English from one of the female pastors). I think I was there representing the 'white' races as there was no one else present of my colour!

Sunday 28th March – Palm Sunday

We then processed waving branches of fresh green palms and singing hymns. Each congregation peeled off at their church and gave a final wave with their palms. It was about ½ mile to the Catholic church at the far end of the High Street where we gathered for a mass with lots of singing an some incense – it is a very special day for Christians and the start of the most important week in the church's calendar. It was 12.10 pm before mass was over – more than 3 hours after the service started, but it was a good an appropriate start to Holy Week. I couldn't help think of the fortune I have had to celebrate Holy Week, and in particular Palm Sunday, in some wonderful places. In 2000 we were in Manilla on our first visit to see Tino (or Celestino) – now Fr Celestino who we have been in correspondence with since the 70s. He hopes to visit us in England for the first time this June. We still have palms from that day in Manilla which the local people weaved into beautiful shapes. During mass some of the children here weaved the palms in a similar way. In the 90s I celebrated Palm Sunday in Lourdes – a shrine to Mary in the South of France. I was concerned about the long Gospel and numerous languages – particularly because we had elderly sick and disabled pilgrims with us. In fact the gospel of the passion that day was acted around the altar and brief verses from it were read in a variety of languages – one of the most beautiful Palm Sunday 'readings' I can remember. Todays gospel was chanted and sung by two male cantors and a few female choristers – one of the cantors was Davison again something new to me and very beautiful.

I decided that the the 4,500 for the cap was a mistake later put right and therefore returned to the shop and parted with the 12,000. I had decided to go for a walk so a cap was needed, as was some suntan cream. So after setting off up the dirt road I returned for the cream I had forgotten to put on! At the second attempt the boys who were fishing in the pool, left by the rains, wanted me to 'copy' them – probably mistaking my binoculars for a camera. I thought they had fish to show me but I never saw any. However they were delighted by the pictures and thanked me very much.

There was an abundance of bishops about today which I thought on such a holy day was very appropriate, even if most were Yellow Bishops! These are beautiful black birds about the size of a starling with a glossy yellow back. My walk just took me up the road for a mile or two and back again. Unfortunately most of this area seems to be owned by farmers with lots of land and wire fences, so my forays into the bush are not so easy – I think I need a bit of advice and maybe a bike! Anyway it was a delight to get out into the warm air and enjoy the wildlife and African scenery. I am missing the bird book that I loaned last year but find I can now guess some of the birds from the way they move as well as the shape and colour – at least I have a good attempt to identify the family. As well as the bishops, there was the odd bulbil, probably a black backed kite, some doves,
swallows and a hornbill that were easy to spot and towards dusk a flock of egrets flew overhead. In one of the pools I found a couple of decent sized fish so perhaps the boys weren't wasting their time. It seems that many fish had found their way into the drainage system during the floods. The pools also contain lots of beetles and tadpoles. In a couple of months they will be dry.

I returned home at about 5.30, managed a refreshing shower before the water ran out and cooked my meal just before the electricity was cut off – so my timing was perfect for once!

I hope to get on the Internet soon and have a few mails to prepare so goodnight and best wishes.


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