Monday, December 19, 2011
I am very much alive.
Just waddling about waiting to give birth with very little internet access.
I am in Jo'burg, staying with my lovely sister.
Due on the 6th Jan but midwife says be prepared from 27th Dec. Husband is coming on Christmas eve, so hope the little mite stays in until then! 5 more sleeps. And then.
I am ready.
Monday, October 24, 2011
Monday, October 3, 2011
Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Tuesday, September 27, 2011
- When watching rugby: "They keep falling over" and, in the scrum "They're hugging each other"
- "Lemme see your eyes" Stares for a long long time. "What's inside?"
- Me: Hi baby, what have you been doing today?" Lara:"oh, you know" Sigh "Just hanging out" What, a teenager already?
- And today, my favourite, trying to see my boobs. I show her a bit but she lifts my bra right up "I want to see the eyes"
Tuesday, August 23, 2011
Tuesday, August 2, 2011
Sitting around the campfire sometime in the mid 90's - 96 I think - Musa and I are hatching a plan to start a theatre company. He is an actor based in Chipata and has recently been 'discovered' by Theatre for Africa. He is on a worldwide tour of Guardians of Eden and the cast is camping in our garden in Mfuwe. I am coming to the end of a drama degree at university wondering what I'm going to do with my life. I have only just met Musa but we click immediately. He is funny and easygoing and has a certain something about him that I can't quite put my finger on. A type of magic I guess, that must be why he's such a good actor and why audiences love him so. His performance in Guardians is electric.
A couple of years later, late 1999, Fate is bored and picks up her big old snow globe and shakes things around a bit. Things whirl up in the air and slowly come back down to settle and once again Musa and I are thrown together. I've been a safari guide for a few years after my drama degree and am bored of this. I always swore I'd never be a guide - too easy a path to fall into where I live. And then out the blue Nick Ellenbogen from Theatre for Africa comes to our corner of the globe and says "I'm putting together a cast of 14 actors to tour around Southern Africa. I am getting 2 people from each Southern African country. Musa is on board and I want you to be the other Zambian." I think about it for all of one day. I cancel my trip with friends to climb Kilimanjaro. I can do that another time (yeah right!)
And so begins my friendship with Musa. Its a motley old crew, 2 Mozambiqueans, 2 Botswanans, 2 Malawians, 2 South Africans, 2 Zimbabweans, 2 Namibians and 2 Zambians - Musa and I. Surprisingly (14 actors all living and working together for months on end) we all get on really well - Musa has worked with many of them before and we fall into our two months of training in Cape Town and Namibia like we're old friends. We squabble, we bitch, we laugh, we tease and we play. Once the training is done we all go back to our respective countries for a year. We set up little theatre groups we conduct research on environmental issues and at the end of it all we all get back together with all the info we’ve gathered and make one big ol fancy play that tours around Southern Africa for a few months. At the end of it a new, mini version is created to take to Washington DC. Only 4 of us can go. The 2 Mozambiqueans and Musa and I. I’ve never been to DC; I’ve barely been out of Africa. Musa has; he shows me around, makes me feel at home. Takes me to the huge shopping malls where he buys a ridiculously large DVD player to take back home.
And so the seeds of Seka are sown. After this project we go back home and pick up where we left off. We form a company. We call it Seka. Which means to laugh in the local language. We train up seven actors. He lives with me for a while while he moves his family the 150km away from Chipata to Mfuwe. And we stumble along, making plays, training actors, spreading the magic. We have a two man show we perform. A fabulous Australian puppeteer comes for a few months and teaches us all how to make puppets. We go to the chief, he gives us a beautiful plot of land in the bush with a huge Tamarind tree for us to rehearse under. We’re not making any money, if anything we’re losing it, but we’re doing what we love and what we’re passionate about.
Then we get a break. A three year project based in Chipata. With salaries and everything! And so for three years we work our asses off. Seven actors plus Musa and I living in villages across rural Chipata. Week in and week out for 3 years we live in various little huts and classrooms across the region – us girls in one the guys in another, all squashed together – conducting research and making plays. In retrospect I realize what an awesome time that was and I think even at the time I did too. We made a super-cool team we did.
One day I say to Musa, “You know, I call myself a Zambian but I’ve never even tilled a field before, grown a crop” and so he offers me a patch of his back yard to hoe and plant. I share it with his 8 year old son George and I am the joke of the village. All the neighbours come and watch me plant – gawp at the crazy white lady - and Musa sits nearby and hoots with laughter along with the rest of them. I love it.
And we take the actors to perform in Joburg. Some of them have never even been outside their village before, let alone outside the country. They are wide eyed and open-mouthed. And cold. Musa and I chaperone them, show them the sights. We see the world through new eyes.
We also take the actors to Durban, this time bringing along Musa’s wife and son George, shortly after they lost their little boy to Malaria.
We make a road trip up to Tete, Mozambique. Live in a small village outside town trying to train actors in a language we are not familiar with. Luckily Musa knows more Chichewa than I and we get by pretty well.
In Tete town I turn off down a one-way street by mistake. A man walking down the road says “ Hey sister you are driving the wrong way!” Musa laughs and laughs “Your driving is so bad you even made a Mozambican speak English!”
In writing this I realize that we packed a lot in to the 15 years we have known each other. And I’m only writing down the half of it. In this time there have been children lost and children born, there have been good times there have been hard times, there has been sickness, there has been squabbling, making up and hard graft. Most of all though, there has been much much laughter.
We were colleagues, co-conspirators, but above all we were friends. And now he is gone. He died two weeks ago and has left such a gaping hole I just don’t even know where to begin.
There are too many memories to put down. But I needed to write down some before my chest cracks open and drowns me.
Sunday, July 31, 2011
So I told you I was off to Zanzibar for ten days didn’t I?
My in-laws were here for three weeks.
And we spent ten days of those three weeks in Zanzibar.
Day 1 we arrive at our accommodation which was oh just terrible! The people the night before had had a huge party in our room and by the time we arrived at 5 in the evening they still hadn't cleared it up. It was literally like walking into a night club the morning after. Beer all over the floor, smashed beer bottles, shot glasses, blood, vomit. The lot! (bear in mind I'd been in charge of choosing and booking the accommodation!). And stairs. So many steep stairs! Usually fine, but not so great for my aging father-in-law with dodgy knees.
Day 2 my almost 80 year old father in law falls down said horrible steps and breaks his arm. Shortage of x-ray films in the whole of Tanzania, doctor not around for the whole day. Evening finally manage to get x-rays done, electricity goes off, manage to start generator, but can only put plaster cast on the next day. Incredibly lucky though that he didn't do worse injuries, considering the huge lump of jagged coral right beneath the steps...
Day 4 I find out that Musa my dear dear friend, co-conspirator and co-founder of Seka has died. Just devastated. I don't even know where to begin.
Day 7 my 100 year old great aunt dies.
Mixed up with pure white sand, warm blue seas, the usual family tensions, pregnancy hormones, a 2 year old child, beautiful weather, a very kind taxi driver and seafood.
I want to tell you about it all in detail but I’m not sure I have the energy…
I want to tell you about Musa. His magic, his humour, but I am not ready.
I want to tell you about Eve my very cool great aunt who always pretended she was 30 years younger than she was and usually got away with it too. But it seems all I’ve been doing these days is writing about dead people so…. All in good time.
Right now though, I’m ready for a holiday…. Zanzibar perhaps?
Sunday, July 3, 2011
So back from the Serengeti in time for a swarm of two year olds that will be invading us today for my daughter's birthday. Oh my god what have we got ourselves into? Last year was fine, we just invited all our grown up friends over and we all got drunk. This year there will be cake. That I have to make (not a forte of mine) and sausages and lots of sticky hands and fighty 'MINE' toddlers.
Wednesday, June 29, 2011
Thursday, June 23, 2011
So I think I told you that we have a plot of land? A wee dry windswept hilltop with stunted gnarly trees and dusty patches from decades of overgrazing by goats. And sweeping views of the maasai steppes and mount Meru. I love it.
Tuesday, June 21, 2011
I had another dream about Mark J.
Last week my dad and Mark's family took his ashes down to Chibembe where I spent the first 6 or so years of my life and where, twenty years later Mark and I worked together. A special place.
So I guess he was on my mind or maybe he was out there flying high and flying free.
In my dream there were a whole lot of us, all sitting outside around a big table eating, drinking, on a happy sunny beautiful-light day. And in amongst us all was Mark, just sitting there normally, laughing and enjoying himself. And as I was leaving I went up to him and gave him a kiss on the cheek and said, “Why aren’t you telling anyone you’re alive?”
And then I suddenly realized that no-one could actually see him. But he was sitting there amongst us all and laughing and having a good time.
Thursday, June 16, 2011
Tuesday, June 14, 2011
Tuesday, June 7, 2011
- The mountain, in all her moods. Astonishing from every angle
- The weddings. Full brass bands, all dressed the same, in the back of open, ribbon-laced pickups, heading the wedding precession, stopping the traffic and entertaining the crowds on a Saturday.
- The sunflowers by the airport
- The random giraffe patterned bench that someone made a couple of weeks ago at the TGT junction
- The grasscutters at the airport. Every month or so, when the grass at the airport gets too long a bevy of grasscutter come and swarm the area near the runway, cutting the grass for their cows
- Grotty grubby downtown Mbauda with occasional scrawny trees that sometimes and surprisingly burst into yellow flower.
- The industry. Everyone busy. All the time. Making things, painting things, crafting things, stealing things, returning things, breaking things, fixing things, adapting things.
- The shop art. Storefronts with elaborately painted murals of their wares. From nuts and bolts to tractors to unidentifiable bike parts to cooking oil, cows and bars of soap.
- The daladala** signs. Like fortune cookies, giving you your message for the day. The Long Wait; Cupcake; One Day Yes; Life; Snakeboy; The Long Way; Passion; Painkiller; Faith; Trust; The Lord is our Shepherd; God is Great; Insh’allah and so on. One to suit every mood.
Sunday, May 29, 2011
Well, now I know too! And lots of people seem to be asking Mr. Google how to stow thrones in grass houses and end up here but my best is:
bird faeces is what number in a dream
Anyone know the answer to that?
Friday, May 27, 2011
Che Hari was one hellova guy.
He always had a hat on his head, a rolled cigarette in his hand, a hearty cough in his chest and a twinkle in his eye.
I loved spending time with him, sitting under the mango tree outside his village, chickens scratching about our feet and scrawny puppies yipping and tumbling. His host of (mostly) devoted grandchildren close at hand.
And he would often pop in to visit us too. He’d walk to us from his village 12km or so away and, in his later years, one of his grandsons would cycle with him on the back. And we’d laugh and he would reminisce and tell jokes.
He really was a remarkable guy. I have no idea how old he was but he fought with the Kings Africa Rifles in Burma in the Second World War, so he must have had a good few years behind him! 85? 90? Can you imagine? Coming from a remote village in the middle of Africa to fight for a cause he probably didn’t care about in the middle of Burma? Amazing. I wish I’d spoken to him more about those times.
He was a Yao (serious minority where he lived), born in Malawi. I don't know how he came to be in Luangwa but worked for the game department there all the time I remember him. He worked as a game scout in safaris with my grandfather, Norman and was one of a handful of experienced escort scouts who had seen it all. He was the last one, in fact. He always told the story of crossing the river with my mother as a little girl on his back and all sleeping out in the bush (my grandfather, Che Hari, my mother) on mats on the ground with mosquito nets over them. My dad says, in his book
“He shot maneating lions and during their expeditions together [with my grandfather] he used to sleep on the ground not far from Norman. He would sometimes see elephants and lions coming close to his sleeping bag and would always hear Norman whispering ‘don’t shoot, don’t shoot’”
But it wasn’t just his achievements and nerves of steel that made him special. There was something about him. A twinkling humour that always made him such a pleasure to be around.
Most people his generation and culture there is always a respectful boundary. A certain distance, a respect for elders, ulemu, that prevents you from getting too close. Things you wouldn’t say and do. But it was different somehow with CheHari. You could be familiar with him, laugh at his jokes and him at yours. Hug him. I can't explain it and I'm not doing him justice. And I don't think I can - I've had this post in drafts for three days and I want you to know about him so here we go.
I'm glad I knew you Che Hari, and I know that you are happy where you are, in the bush in the sky with your .458 and all the big long gone elephants. Say hi to everyone up there.
All pics by Francois Delbee
Saturday, May 21, 2011
My dear friend Janelle always reads the signs on daladalas (minibus taxis) to see what messages and signs there are out there for her. She says
i love the timing of those dala dala's...i ALWAYS read them....like they are carrying messages i need to read at that particular time...i never ignore that kinda shit...
And I’ve started doing it too. Its fun. They’re quirky and funny and sometimes poignant.
Sometimes I'm driving along, going happily about my day and suddenly, unexpectedly, I find myself crying, thinking about my friend Mark J. Last time this happened it was triggered by this Jackson Browne song. The version I have have is this by Linda Rondstadt and Emmylou Harris. Mark and my dad sang it for another friend's funeral a couple of years ago.
...I don't remember losing track of you
You were always dancing in and out of view
I must have thought you'd always be around
Always keeping things real by playing the clown
Now you're nowhere to be found....
...And I can't help feeling stupid standing 'round
Crying as they ease you down
'cause I know that you'd rather we were dancing
Dancing our sorrow away ...
Today though, I was driving along, heading home after doing some boring chores thinking how much I missed my baby. How when I'm away from her I feel like my arm is missing. Then I thought about Mark's widow saying she felt cut in half. And I was thinking how its his birthday next month and how he loved to celebrate his birthday with all his friends. This year he was planning to have it in the valley - my hometown. And there I was sobbing in the traffic again. And then - and this happened last time too - a daladala (minibus taxi) drove past with MARK emblazoned on the front. Those are the only two times I’ve seen (or noticed) that daladala.
Coincidence maybe, but I choose to take comfort from it.
Tuesday, May 17, 2011
Hey, did you see what I did there? Got bored of that old layout. Thats why I could never get a tattoo. I'd like to sometimes but I'm way too fickle.
Monday, May 16, 2011
We had freedom and we were loved. What could be better than that?