Tuesday, November 30, 2010
Back in the Bush
Tuesday 30th November
Back in Monze the rains arrived last night, falling for much of the night and up to about 10 hrs. There will no longer be any delay before people start planting their crops. I heard Lusaka (and probably Chisamba) also had some decent rain.
On Saturday morning I met with the management committee at Kaliyangile. It is always good to have a chance to listen to the local views and ideas in relation to the project and it is an opportunity for me to discuss the role of HATW and our supporters.
I decided to repeat my walk of the previous visit. The clouds were amassing and it looked as if rains were bound to fall, but although rain could be seen in the distance I was spared a soaking. I recalled the year in England when, wherever I walked, I remained dry. Sometimes I believe the Lord smiles upon us in these little ways.
Sunday was the first day of Advent – the time when, as Christians, we start our preparations for Christmas – the Birthday of Jesus. The secular world in the UK starts preparing in September – or earlier with the usual glitter and tinsel, though often the relevance of this Christian celebration is forgotten. At mass the children presented a play and read from the scriptures. It was well done and appreciated by the congregation and the priest. The altar was adorned with symbols of this time – an Advent wreath with four candles – one for each week in Advent, a Jesse tree containing names from the ancestry of Jesus and on the back wall were painted words reflecting the meaning of Advent, such as preparation and anticipation.
I decided once again to go for a walk. I wanted to go for a long walk but was aware that today there were few clouds to shade the sun. I had thought the suntan lotion I brought from the UK was not one that I was allergic to. Dilys, however was right and so, when I used it earlier on the trip, I came out in a rash. I have avoided it since, but haven't done any significant walks. In the event I decided not to stop as intended but to keep walking until the path took me to a more wooded area. Probably 1 hour when the sun was at it hottest. However I had my cap on and with my arms by my sides the sun was shaded by the short sleeves.
It is the time of year here when the sun is directly overhead at midday. So in fact, when walking, the
suns rays only glance most of the body. When I raised my binoculars, however, the intense heat of the sun suddenly became apparent. Lying in the sun here without very strong sun block would not be a good idea for us with pale skins!
I enjoyed my walks in the bush this weekend. The sounds of the birds are interesting and different from the UK. It is a joy when I manage to identify one of the birds. Little features now sometimes lead me to recalling the species – a small bee-eater, a fork tailed drongo and a couple of rollers were birds I recognised. Butterflies of a variety of colours add to the scene and one of the many beautiful locusts – often initially confused for small birds because of their size – caught my eye and completed a very African scene.
Over the years so much has become familiar. The fact that to see another 'white' face is a rarity, mothers with babies strapped to their backs with Chitenges and carrying all manner of items balanced on their heads, is part of everyday life as are so many small scenes. After mass a large group of children climbed into the back of a truck and at the other end of the High Street dismounted and ran back towards the church having enjoyed their little adventure.
Back at the Guest House I had chicken and nshima for supper while a heated debate was raging in the bar. The question under discussion was whether Jesus was God or “just” the Son of God. I reflected that I couldn't imagine such a debate taking part in a bar in the UK. Football or politics might be discussed, but people quoting from the bible to justify their theological beliefs is not something I would expect!
After supper I wondered whether to risk joining the debate which was still being pursued with great vigour. I was invited to join the group – many of whom I had met before. One lad, who had obtained his biblical knowledge from the Jehovah's Witnesses, seemed to be outnumbered by Christians of other persuasions. Eventually I was asked for my views. My personal views are heavily influenced by my Roman Catholic beliefs, but I remember a BBC programme presented by a guy who claimed to be agnostic. He looked at the historical information about Jesus and concluded that the evidence confirms that Jesus did exist and that he was known as a teacher and a healer, also that Jesus believed that he was God. I also said that different Christian groups had their own interpretation of the bible – I happen to believe mine is correct – however I might be wrong! I believe that whatever religion we believe in, as long as we try to be open to God and do what we sincerely believe is right, the theological differences are not important. It is interesting that at the heart of so many religions is the belief that we are meant to respect each other and God's creation, to live in peace and to look after the weakest. It is a shame that many, who claim to be driven by religion, forget these basic principles.
Even in the drink fuelled bar at Chisamba it was something of a privilege to be included in their debate.
After a quick meeting with Justine yesterday morning I set off for Monze. I checked on the availability of the “Birds of Zambia” through contacts I was given but wasn't sure enough that the book I was talking about was the same as that on offer – so I decided not to make a long detour to the other side of town to check. One day I will obtain a copy!
From Chisamba to Monze seems to take a day! I left at about 10 hrs and Justine dropped me at the crossroads were I soon caught a minibus to Lusaka. I walked through town, had a quick bite and jumped onto a medium sized 'Rosa' bus. It left within half an hour. I wasn't sure why, when we filled up with fuel, the bus was rocked from side to side by the driver! We made good progress, except when going uphill – but fortunately didn't need to get out to push! At Mazabuka we called at two more garages. It is always a little disconcerting when repeated visits are made to garages. At the second, a watering can was passed through the drivers window and the guys at the front stood up while hissing noises came that area – much to their amusement. Eventually water must have been poured into the radiator and we were on our way again. (Livingstone is less than 300 km so it should have made it!!)
I arrived back home at 17 hrs and staff were still working in the Diocesan Offices, so retrieving my keys wasn't a problem. There was no electricity, so I made a salad, read for a while and turned in early.
This morning the electricity had still not returned and by mid morning the water also stopped flowing. I visited the hospital and met Sichone. In 2004 one of the first areas I looked at was the stores and there I met Sichone. He lost his mother recently and has been away from the hospital for a while as a result. It was good to once again touch base with him.
Diven came around at lunchtime and Jennipher also joined us. Jennipher is getting prepared for World AIDS day tomorrow - December 1st. She usually takes a very active part in the events here in Monze and subsequently has activities back at Pemba with her own support groups.
This evening I joined Diven for a meal and a couple of Mosis at Tooters. By about lunchtime the power and water returned – though initially the water was very brown. Soloman had picked some wild mushrooms for me this morning, which Jennipher delivered – so I treated myself to a plateful before heading out.
Its now past the time to get on the Internet but I will give it a go anyway.