I have been very quiet of late on this blog. I recently started working and have been struggling to get posts out on a regular schedule. I pretty much need to organise myself and get a schedule going. I plan on expanding what I post one my wall to include Zambian cuisine, culture and also how to speak one of our 72 languages, called ici Bemba, while still keeping short stories and the things I’ve been writing about a big part of the site. I think this is still in line with what the blog is about. Things that I am passionate about.
Just thought I would tell you guys about a poetry competition that is open on the Poet’s billow website. Anyone around the world can enter and you stand a chance to win a $100 and an interview to be featured on the website. You also stand to have one of your poems (if you win) nominated for a pushcart prize, among other things.
If you are considering making money out of writing or just want to start putting your poetry out there, this could be something to consider. Finalists will also get feedback on their poems so that’s something to consider because it gives you the chance to improve on your skills.
There is a $10 entry fee for each set of up to seven poems. For all other details visit http://thepoetsbillow.org/poetry-awards/the-pangaea-prize/ . The site seems genuine and I’m a regular visitor but please check for yourself before entering as I do not want be held accountable for any thing that might arise if you do decide to enter.
We all have to admit that there is no perfect country, and I think I have written a post too many about the things in Zambia that don’t quite fit. Time to celebrate the things that can be celebrated.
1. The family system
Okay, so I, like many Zambians grew up in a large family. Culturally, the notion of extended family for us is none existent, or at least, used to be. With us, your mother’s sisters are your mothers and your dad’s brothers your fathers, and their children are your siblings. To put things in perspective, growing up, I knew I had more than one grandmother (sisters) but I never actually knew which one was my mother’s biological mother, nor did it bother me. That was just the norm, they were, plain and simple, mum’s mums. The interaction of the siblings was one where no lines were drawn between children belonging to one person or the others and for me they were all just siblings. My childhood was so much richer because I had the privilege of having met five great grandmothers, One great-grandfather (they were siblings); numerous grand parents, numerous mothers, Aunties, Uncles and a lot of cousins, sisters and brothers. I remember one of my great grandmothers telling me, when my daughter was born, that a child only belongs to the mother before he/she is born, after that, she belongs to the family.
2. The people
Zambians are some of the most beautiful people I know. If you’re in crisis, there’ll be family and friends to help. I think we can be a bit placid at times, but when you cross the line, we’re generally sure to put you straight, that’s usually after you have really pushed it. I think that no one person is perfect, and yes, that goes for Zambians too but what I love most I guess is the sense of community.
3. The food
My sister refers to me as “Kawa mwana wa bwali”, meaning “Kawa the child of ubwali”, ubwali being the food most of us eat. It has many different names but I won’t get into those. Its made out of mealie meal and water and to be honest is “tasteless” but there’s something tasty about it…That doesn’t make sense, but you would have to taste it to understand.
Then there’s the wide variety of vegetables, my favourite being Kalembula, a.k.a sweet potato leaves. There are Casava leaves, Bean leaves and pumpkin leaves, the latter, in my opinion, only tastes great when cooked with groundnuts; and many more. There’s also Chikanda (yum yum, my mouth is watering just thinking about it) which is cooked using groundnuts, water, soda and the main ingredient being the powder form of a certain tuba but I wouldn’t be able to give an English name.
I could never forget the variety of fruit and mushrooms…then there’s delele/umulembwe, in which category, okra would fit. The general point is we have a lot of good food.
4. The climate
It doesn’t get too hot, doesn’t get too cold! Yes, we Zambians love to complain about how hot it gets but seriously, until you’ve experienced Australian summer, you cannot appreciate just how blessed we are…Our temperatures are mild. It does rain cats and dogs though, but I have to say, I actually do miss the thunder storms. It was in those times that we got to share a lot of folk tales, a.k.a utushimi.
5. The land/environment itself
We’re a landlocked country, but we have sandy beaches in the North of the country on the banks of lakes. I have never visited them, however and hope to soon. We are the home to the mighty Mosi oa tunya, commonly known as the Victoria falls and many more other falls that are not as known like the Chishimba falls and Mambilima falls. We have amazing animals, landscapes and a lot of tourism potential. Even our back yard has a “mini falls”. That’s how amazing this country is
6. Ama pinda and Utushimi
Amapinda are proverbs. My grandmother uses them mid sentence and they just fit. I’m more familiar with Bemba sayings, but I have heard some in other Zambian languages too. They are used to teach and correct. One of my favourites would be “imiti iikula e mpanga” translated “The trees that grow become forests” meaning, todays children are tomorrows leaders/future.
7. Simplicity of life
We are very laid back in the way we live. We don’t complicate matters that need no complications. If it requires the use of common sense, by all means it doesn’t require legislation. “Balanced” laid back is always a good thing. We don’t have people dragging each other to court at every turn. We don’t mind sharing our homes with uninvited guests, or even sharing a meal with them. You go to someone’s house while they are eating, you pull a chair and join them.
she walked out of the house, throwing the blue new tropicals to the floor, she slipped her feet in and ran towards her grandmother who was walking down the dust path that led to away from their house and onto a dusty road. It was an hour’s walk to Chinfinsa congregation of the United church of Zambia. She could make it in 30 minutes if she picked up the pace but that was not going to be the case walking with her grandmother. she pulled the worn skirt made of chitenge material, to cover her belly button and walked beside her grandmother. She couldn’t hide her excitement at going to church today.
“natwendeshe” her grandmother called picking up pace. she wanted to make it to church before the St Marks Choir arrived. She never complained about the distance from Luano to their Church, which was in Munsenga, on the other side of the Chingola-Kitwe Road; a trek from where they lived.
“But mama, “she replied, “our service never starts on time.” Her grand mother insisted they get to church early every week. she had no watch but they always made it on time. Precious had never heard the St marks Bemba Choir sing, but her grand mother had told her, how beautiful they sounded. her grandmother had heard them sing many times and had even visited the “mother” congregation. The announcement was made a week ago and everytime she thought about it, she felt her heart skip a beat.
they soon met other people headed in their direction “mujibi yepi?” the woman called walking towards them.
“emwani,” her grandmother extended her hand, clapping the other womans hand and touching her chest and repeating the gesture again in greeting; Kaonde greeting. She had grown up speaking iki Kaonde but now mainly spoke ici Bemba despite being in Lamba country. she greeted the woman and run ahead, knowing her grandmother would be fine with her walking companion for the day.
She didn’t care for the dust that was gathering on her legs with each step she took; the faster she run the worse it got, but she would be at the church in no time. She was out of breath by the time the Kitwe-Chingola rd was in sight. On the other side was the Munsenga junction. A small dirt road that meandered from one end, forming a loop and coming out the other. It was mostly bush on one side of the dirt road and houses on the other. she slowed her pace as she came to the road. It wasn’t as busy on Sundays, but she made sure there weren’t any cars coming before running across. There were other people walking down and she walked with them, not quiet feeling at home, she talked with them, maybe if she showed her excitement at what was happening at church today, no one would see the discomfort she felt.
* * *
Jahdel was glad she had made it to church on time. Her 2 friends Limpo and Mwansa were coming to church with the visiting chior. She was excited. Her and Limpo had become close friends, despite her vow never to become friends with men. He had reintroduced her to Mwansa who she had previously known but had not talked to in years. She walked to her sister Karen and the woman she was talking to. She watched as the young girl walked away from them. Her clothes were worn. Her skirt, made of chitenge was not as bright as it had obviously been before. she kept pulling the skirt that kept riding below her belly button.
“You see that girl.” the woman talking to Karen said, “takonfwa.”
Jahdel wondered why the girl was said to be naughty, she seemed so full of life.
“she sleeps around with different men,” the woman shifted the baby in her arms from one side to the other, settling her on her hip and leaning in closer “Bonse bali mwishiba.”
Jahdel was too shocked to respond, did this woman just say everyone knew her? She watched as the woman clapped her hands, as if shocked at what she was relaying, “ka moneka kwati kalonfwa, kanshi….”
“You honestly think that it’s her fault?” anger rose in Jahdel, “How do you decide she’s naughty on the basis that grown men sleep with her?”
“All I know is they pay her and if they pay her, it can’t be that bad. And she’s so young, imagine what she will be like when she grows up.”
The way she said it only infuriated Jahdel more; worse still, Karen seemed almost ready to agree until Jahdel spoke up
“So all you adults know about it. Even her grandmother knows about it?”
“it’s no secret, and her grandmother has tried to talk about it with her to get her to stop but she just doesn’t listen.”
“So you even know which men sleep with her?” she waited for the woman’s self-righteous yes before continuing, “and all you do is talk behind her back?”
“Yes but what are we supposed to do if that’s what she’s chosen.” the woman didn’t look upset at the challenge rather ashamed and disappointed that Jahdel did not share her enthusiasm at the gossip she had to share,
“No! you fight for her!” Jahdel could almost feel herself shaking but kept her voice calm, “grown men, should know better. It’s not her fault that they can’t control themselves!” she looked at the little girl who was walking towards them
“Anyway, that’s that little girl you see.” she clapped her hands and walked away.
“Baunfwa nsoni.” Karen chuckled to herself.
“she SHOULD be ashamed of herself.” Jahdel felt her whole body shake
Karen chuckled again, “they love gossip.”
“Niwebo nani ishina?” Jahdel asked turning to the girl. She didn’t look older than eleven.
“Precious.” she replied with a big smile,
Jahdel smiled at her, heart breaking, knowing this girl had no one to fight for her. Precious, her name spoke of how God saw her. She was precious in His sight, Yet to men, she was “easy pleasure”. Something they could ride, no strings attached. They talked for few minutes, Precious pointing out where her grandmother stood, when asked who she lived with. She was a bubbly little girl. Some thought her insane.
Just then the small Canter made its way onto the church grounds. Precious ran towards it, Jahdel waiting for the boys to disembark. She said hi to both Limpo and Mwansa and introduced them to Karen. Karen left them as they chatted for a while before they had to go into the church and sit in their designated areas. The men sat on the left hand side and the women on the right.
Jahdel was in a haze; her mind fixed on Precious. Would she make it,or would abuse devour her like it had Jahdel. She knew all too well the horrors it brought, the guilt, the suicidal feelings, the shame and pain that just made no sense. The feeling of being in the wrong body, unwelcome in your own flesh, feeling like dirt had made it’s way under your skin. As the service went on, she found it hard to concentrate. Those men, deserved death! She looked at Mwansa and Limpo and remembered Limpo’s words, How could he expect her to trust any man, when his species could be so heartless and selfish. She had to admit though that both young men were different. They seemed sincere; different, they spoke kindly and offered respect even when she was undeserving. But she couldn’t help but wonder.
After service, Jahdel talked to precious some more, hoping that she could find hope in words that didn’t raise her apparent failings. She talked to Mwansa and Limpo more as well before they all had to go.
Every time she saw the little girl after that, she talked to her, but with exams looming, Sundays at Chimfinsa became a rare happening, St marks or not attending church becoming the options because of the extra lessons she needed to do in order to get ready. Hope reigned still, Precious, was the birthing of a dream, just maybe, Jahdel would one day fight what many refused to see as present. Zambians frowned when they heard about paedophiles in the western world, yet in their own world, this child, had no voice.
Years after meeting that precious soul, reading another story of a girl used by her step-father, Jahdel remembered, knowing there were many such stories. burying her head in her hands, Jahdel wept. She would never forget Precious, she hadn’t the means to help her, but one day, she would fulfil a dream.
Some times, you read a book and find yourself the centre of the story. It puts what you have never been able to articulate, into meaningful sentences, leaving you feeling exposed and raw. It leaves you in tears and tears open the bandages you’ve covered over the wound that have not allowed it to heal. It has festered, and where you once had soft tissue, your heart has hardened. You find yourself in pain again, only you know it’s always been there and sometimes you’ve acknowledged it, but most times, you push it down. In trying to escape it you find you lose yourself and the confidence you once held. You don’t know the person you’ve become and you wonder when the struggle for peace and sanity ends. The book makes you realise that you might never totally heal and the things you are holding on to are things you know are choking the life out of you but you are not willing to let go because you don’t really know what else you have left. That’s what Francine Rivers’ Her daughter’s dream did for me and God I pray that somehow, you soften this heart.
There are times I find myself angry at what happened during colonial times, but then I know we have come a long way, and we cannot treat people a certain way because of mistakes made by previous generations; look beyond the skin and you find we are all just people…People with fears and dreams, you find that we are all capable of untold evil but that with Christ, we can change this world and make it better. In Christ, there is neither Greek nor Jew. That does not in any way diminish the wrongs done, nor should it ever be said that people “should just get over it” but reverse racism, creates a never-ending cycle.
When we are hurt by a group of people or person, for some reason, we see the difference between us and make it the reason for the offence and yet the reason we hurt people isn’t even our difference, it’s not that we are white or black; Chinese or Zambian; Lozi or Bemba; male or female; the reason is our one common denominator, we are all inertly evil.
This week past, has been a huge blessing for me. Monday to Wednesday night, we attended the Influencers conference in Perth Western Australia. It happens every year in Adelaide and Perth in January.
I was deeply challenged, convicted and encouraged to be more than I am now. One of the greatest questions I was asked amidst all the teaching was “Am I carrying my share of the burden?” Its a question worth asking any one of us, Zambian, Australian, those countryless…anyone. As a Christian, am I carrying my share of the burden? As a family member, am I carrying my share of the burden? As a Zambian am I carrying my share of the burden? As a person living in Australia am I carrying my share of the burden?
We all have something to offer even though we think otherwise, but it’s time we got over ourselves and lived for Someone greater than ourselves. Dr Ravi Zacharias said, it takes one man to lead people into untold evil but it also only takes one man to change the world for good. What is your contribution to this world? When will we stop waiting for someone else to bring change and be the ones that stand for truth and justice?
I was convicted because I know in whom I have believed and yet do not live my life as one with conviction. I am not a source of hope for broken people. There’s a need in the world, we are meant to meet. As Zambian’s what are we doing but sitting and waiting for change to come or seeking to better our own lives and not the lives of those around us? As people, we uproot boundaries wanting to live free but true freedom has some boundaries. The consequences of removing those boundaries will be devastating. When will we stand up for what is right and true?
I was challenged to live out my faith, to get over my small life, small world and focus on Christ and live for Him. I was challenged to forgive and move on, to not let the past determine where I am going; I was challenged to let go once again.I was encouraged because I have great dreams that I believe were planted in me. Dreams that seem impossible but I know that the one who placed them in me, will fulfil them, if only I believe. In the end, it’s all for His glory
Yesterday (by a few hours) was Australia day. People were posting on social media about enjoying the celebrations. People lined the foreshore of Perth to see the spectacular fireworks display, others having too much to drink, while others had nice picnics with their families. Even the Tennis went on break at the Australian open in Melbourne, while fireworks were heard and seen, exploding in beautiful colours.
With so much life surrounding this day, it’s so easy to get caught up in it. But that’s not really all there is to this day, is it? While others were rejoicing yesterday, others were burning Australian flags, some just out of hate and disregard for the law, others out of true hurt at the fact that the day celebrated is the day their lands were invaded and taken away.
I can’t help but wonder, if what we are meant to celebrate is being Australian, the people, this vast nation and all it has to offer, why then is it so hard for people to agree with something as simple as the day Australia is celebrated. Shouldn’t it bother us that something we are doing now, offends our neighbour? What would be lost if the date were moved? it doesn’t have to be the 26th of January, it can be any other day of the year. Why pick a day that changed the lives of the Aboriginal people of these lands? Does it aid the building of bridges or just fuels tension.
i think of Australia Day as a day where unity despite the differences held, is celebrated, so why should a day like the 26th of January be the day, when all it does is fuel anger in the Indigenous people? Sometimes we need to consider others and do what benefits all parties.
There’s a girl, a lot like myself…not much different from any other girl.
She’s never known what it feels like to be pure, to be untouched. She’s been used her whole life by those who should have known better…Those who claimed to love her
She is scared, broken and unable to love…
Christ has saved her but she finds herself struggling with the same demons of the past. She can’t let go.
The thought of trusting any man is just impossible; to love him would be weakness. She can’t bring herself to lie with a man she loves, one she’s married to because it just seems wrong somehow…
If only she was clean, pure, untouched, undefiled…
There’s another girl, lost and pregnant.
She thought it wouldn’t happen to her.
Oh God what is she to do? It was just one time and now she’s paying the price.
She’s only in high school, her parents will kill her. She has nowhere to turn!
She’s given them reason to throw her out…what will she do? She was right after all! “You’re a naughty girl!” she would say
She decides to have an abortion…better that than having to face that witch of a woman…better than proving her right!
As she walks out of the clinic…she wishes she could undo what she had done…but she can’t! the baby is gone…she feels cold inside…empty
They said it was just tissue…not yet alive but she knows it’s more
“it’s moving,” she had heard the nurse say. Her baby is gone
“you’ve already proven her right!!!” she hears a voice say, “you’re naughty even without the baby to prove it! You are defiled, unclean…”
She wishes she were untouched
There’s another girl, she’s a mother.
People ask, “How come? Isn’t it wrong in Christianity to have a baby before you’re married???”
they question her beliefs, they question the existence of her God.
She proclaims Christ and yet is bound by sex. She can’t bring herself to be with anyone, and yet she touches herself. She knows it’s wrong and yet she can’t seem to stop.
She can’t stand men. She’s been hurt to many times to know…to many times to let go…
She met a man, who’s just lovely and knows he’s not like the rest.
She’s been abused and has herself abused.
She is unworthy of him just as she is unworthy of Christ
oh how she wishes she were clean, pure, a virgin,
There’s a girl, she sees her friends, one after the other, falling prey to the culture around them.
She decides to join in…
They Party like the world, dress like the world and make sure they are in Church on sunday
they sleep around, always making sure they use contraception
they look down on the unwed mother…they gossip about the one caught in the arms of the married man
They pretend that’s not them. Testing forbidden treasures, ,one, two, three, four, playing with toys and all, It’s just experimenting…No one need know, forgetting that “there are no secrets in life.
They are fooling everyone including themselves. And yet Christ knows…he sees them just like the others. Just like those they look down on
They might just be worse off because remorse does not touch them
They are unclean, untouched, defiled
There’s a girl, she introduces her friend to the party scene…tells her friend lies…handing her over to the lion himself.
She sees her friend going astray but only gossips…She doesn’t want to be judgmental, after all, Christ said “judge not!”
her friend is taken by the world…her Masters voice she no longer hears. Yet she has her legs still crossed and that’s all that matters right???
Both are unclean and defiled…touched
There’s another girl,
She dresses just right…nothing vulgar, decent.
She’s in the house of worship every service
she gives her tithe, serves, says her prayers, refrains from forbidden foods, does what is required of her…the whole deal. She sometimes thinks bad thoughts and occasionally lies…but it’s nothing serious…you can’t do everything the holy book says….
She follows the law of God
She sees girls throwing their lives away and sleeping around, living like the world and thinks she’s better than them. She thinks, she is clean, undefiled, untouched.
She doesn’t share Christ because they are unworthy of Him.
She forgets that she like them, like all humanity is unclean, not untouched, defiled…that it is Christ who cleanses us.
Lord, if men would realise that women are to be treasured and protected…not to be used to fulfil selfish desires but to be honoured…that girls will give sex in exchange for companionship, love and respect because they are disillusioned and that their hearts break when that love and respect is not shown…if only men could open their eyes and see that the girl they lie with today, is beauty that they might destroy. Worthy of the respect due a mother; she might one day mother their own son’s wife. That she is a grandmother, mother, wife; she is a child, a sister, a granddaughter, a friend; maybe even your own. If only they would open their eyes and see that she looks enticing, yes, but let the man who she was meant for enjoy her, just as you will one day hope to alone enjoy yours. That they owe their wives nothing less than what they expect, a man who is untouched. That as enticing as she seems, she might just be the seam ripper that makes you come undone…
That we women would open their eyes and see that if he loves “me”, He will wait. He will want the best for “me” even if it means he loses “me” . If only we would realise that compromise leaves us lost and broken…unsatisfied…pleasure lasts a moment but when it’s gone, what do you have left? If only we could treasure what is right and true, closing our ears off to the sweet nothings he whispers and hearing the truth in his words; hearing that we will get hurt and that he cares very little in the end. Hear the truth in His words…the words of a loving Father…You are precious, loved and need nothing other than Him. That honour and respect; that love does not come by giving yourself away. That letting him have his way with you, deprives you, and if he hasn’t married you, he was no right to you…That there’s something more that awaits you, a man maybe, who will value you. If only we would realise that just because you gave in once, you don’t have to keep giving in, or that just because he denied you your right to “NO!” does not mean you lost the right…If only we realised that just because he ignored your “NO!” doesn’t mean that all men seek to take from us, by force if need be… If only we could see His tear-stained face, with arms outstretched, sweat beading, bleeding for us, His deeds shouting as loud as His words, I love you this much!