Hi folks. Realized that I haven’t said much about the two-and-a-half months I spent in the village. As time takes me further and further away from those experiences I thought I’d share a few now before the memories fade too much. This will be the first installment (hopefully) of a few thoughts and experiences from my time in bush.
In case you weren’t aware, when I arrived in Zambia I had been a vegetarian for a little over five years or so. However, my well-intentioned attempts to hold to these herbivore habits met their demise along with an unnamed chicken in the back yard of a quite compound in Katuba. It was my first real day in the field, and Charles, who was to prove a wonderful friend, guide, and mentor during my time in Katuba, had slaughtered a chicken for us. Or rather importantly, his kids had caught the chicken, someone had slaughtered it, and his wife had spent a good portion of the morning preparing it and cooking it up with some nshima and relish.
Not to let myself off the hook too easily, but I really didn’t feel like I had much choice. When someone with so little offers not just their entire day and ongoing support for a few apples and biscuits (which we had brought for the kids, mostly), and then offers you a chicken (meat of any sort is a luxury)…well, you eat it. A bit chewy, but in complete honesty, not all that bad. And I didn’t even get sick! Very exciting.
Another village chicken moment:
– A few weeks later after a full friday of interviews and another village chicken lunch, Ketty (co-worker) wanted to buy two chickens to take back to town. A group of eight to ten children had been alternately playing and quietly helping two women cook for most of the day, sitting just off from the covered ‘shed’ were we had held our interviews. A women called in Nyanja to two young boys, maybe ten years old. Ketty indicated which two chickens she preferred and they began chasing at an impressive speed, causing a bit of chaos as the compound filled with frantic squawking. After what felt like an eternity but was likely around five minutes, each had been triumphant. Holding each bird by the wings, they brought them to one of the men who bound their ankles with ease and brought out a rugged knife. At this point I wished I understood more Nyanja – they laid one on the ground and just when I thought the end was near Ketty said something that made them pick it back up. Someone found a plastic (as they say here – plastic bag) for each chicken and pinched a hole for their still-very-much-alive heads to poke out through. With that, Ketty loaded them into a wicker basket and we headed off towards the main road to catch a bus into town.