Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Preparing for end of service, polygamy, and my first village birth...

     I'll have been in Zambia for two years tomorrow. Last month my intake celebrated the end of our service at the Close of Service conference which was held at Lake Kariba Inn in Southern Province. We had discussions on how to prepare for going back to the States. Discussions included how to write resumes, how to liquidate our huts (you'd be surprised  how much has been acquired over two years), how to say 'goodbye' to the village members, and what we are to expect when we return home.

     Two years may seem like a long time to spend in a country, especially in a country so different from our own--and it is. We had to adjust to so many things, such as, going without many, many conveniences, witnessing poverty daily, and learning how to be a part of a community where we stand out like a sore thumb.

     There will be many things I will miss, especially the slow pace of life. I've gotten used to not paying attention to time and what day it is. Not caring if people don't show up for meetings. Going with  the flow. It will be hard to readjust to American life.

     So, here is to a beautiful country I have made my home. I will miss it. Next on my bucket list? Not sure. I will continue to go with the flow and see where I end up and what I want to do.

Sunset on Lake Kariba

     Polygamy is recognized and legal in Zambia. Some tribes are traditional polygamists for very interesting reasons which most of us are unaware of. 

     The Kaonde tribe rarely practices polygamy, but it does exist. There is a tribe specially known for this practice: the Tonga tribe who live in Southern Province.

     First off, all tribes are different from others; the way they build their houses, their community structures, and livelihoods such as farming, to name a few. 

    The Tonga have been farmers much longer than most Zambian tribes. They are experts in the field. They incorporate animals, such as oxen, donkeys, goats, pigs, and poultry. They grow many crops for consumption and to sell in market. And to be successful, they  need many hands to help keep the fields and animals at the their best. So, Tonga men traditionally marry two or more wives to help with the farms. Wives of the same man can live in seperate houses and be in charge of their own fields. The husband oversees the fields and takes care of his wives. Because of this mass production in farming, the husband can afford to take care of a large family. It is a way of life that works for them.

     The photo below is of Douglas who is from Southern Province; he is a Tonga. He left his family, including two wives, for a while in search of new farming opportunities in Zambia.

     My village encourages Tongas to transition here. Their expertise in farming field crops and wealth of knowledge in keeping animals will benefit the Kaonde people. Tongas have ideas to share, which villages in Northwestern Province need in order to help improve many aspects of their lives.

FYI: this is typical of how pictures are taken with Zambians, whether they are male or female they do the same with putting their arms around the other person. Rarely do they have their pictures taken, in fact, this may be his first photo ever taken of him. And, I am the first white person he has met.

     Last week I watched a baby born at the clinic. It was a healthy baby boy. No medication or episiotomy, I watched the head emerge while cringing and remembering the discomfort of delivering my own sons. This was the mother's first child. The family brings their own bedding for the birth and food for the mother. The mother was sent home the next day after a night's rest. I don't know what the baby's name is, but I got a pic and will have it printed to give to the family. 

   As you notice the baby's completion is white--this is normal. The next day the complexion darkens. 

No comments:

Post a Comment