Sunday, May 29, 2011

late and slow and also bird poo

I think I may be a little late to catch up here but I just discovered the stats thing on my blog! No way! How cool is that. I've often wondered how that worked, when people said 'someone googled 'how to drink stars' and landed on my blog' how they KNEW that.

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

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 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. 

Its a power cut night but our neighbours have just installed an inverter which means that we can tap off their internet even when we have no electricity - hurrah! Since last year our electricity schedule - when tanesco stick to it - is Monday - off all day, Tuesday, off all night, Wednesday - umm, can't remember - off in the day? Or maybe its actually on on a wed, I forget, Thursday, off all night, Friday off all day, weekend - ON! Yay! But as of Thursday I'm told its going to be off for 19 hour stints. Oh yawn, am I boring you? Anyway, could be worse. At least we HAVE electricity. Well, kinda!

I went to Dar last week to see the actors who are performing there. Camping in a school yard in the pouring rain. Quick sudden downpours ('with no introductions' said the actors) and then suddenly gone, leaving everything cool(ish) and damp. 

Hey have you heard about Babu at Loliondo? I've been meaning to tell you about him for ages. 
Google babu loliondo - there's loads of info on him. He is a pastor who got visited by God in a dream and told to make a potion from a certain (usually poisonous tree) to cure people of all ailments. From HIV to diabetes. There are BUSLOADS going down there every day. People from Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Japan, all OVER. There are three helicopters now based at Arusha airport that are flying in and out I don't know how many times a day. The president has been. Its amazing. Every fourth person you come across is talking about babu. Huge debates. Is it real? Is he a fraud? Could it really work? Yes I know so and so who was completely cured. Isn't it irresponsible of him saying he can cure HIV? But he can only cure you once of HIV he says. If you get it again... 

I read in the paper a couple of weeks ago that the queue of vehicles to his little remote village was 56km long. Everyone has a story. Many many many people have gone. Some have waited weeks to see him. The government are trying to crack down on the number of people going there because there is just no infrastructure to cope with the amount of people. Someone told me today that a man went there who wasn't sick and took the potion and when he got back to Arusha he started attacking people with knives. Many many more stories.

Aaanyway, battery on computer coughing so I'll be off. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

My ma

Oh my dears, I've been neglecting you! You're tired of my excuses I imagine so I'll just keep quiet. I started this post on mothers day which was, what weeks ago (the SA/US one that is. The British one was even more ages ago than that!). But then our internet broke and then I had to travel to Dar and then I had to replace runaway actors... oh, there I go with the excuses! So I started writing about my lovely mother. But didn't finish. But I'll still post as far as I got and then I'll start my 'I'm going to blog every other day' resolution from scratch. Again!

My mother and sister. Long ago! 
I'm not going to be able to give this post the time it deserves. I'm at home with Lara and we're looking after her friend Gracie while her mom is away for the week. So its kinda like being stuck in a big cage with giant carnivorous hamsters that have chewed the corner in a sack of speed. 
I wanted to write a post about my fabulous ma. I've written about her a bit before, here and there. 
My folks, they weren't into the whole traditional parenting; God parents, violin lessons and school runs. 
Being home schooled by my ma
It was more a sleep in the back of the landrover, eat cornflakes for supper kind of upbringing. That sounds neglectful. Far from it.

My mother, you see, she took time with us. She played with us. She listened to us. We had adventures, everything was a marvel. 

We went on walks, we had lessons in a scruffy combretum bush. We had a big wall we could draw on as much as we liked.


We had freedom and we were loved. What could be better than that?
My mother and sister

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Photo promt

see the home-chopped hair!

I promised that whenever I was stuck for things to write I'd put up an old photo from longlong ago. 

So here we are.

My mother was into falconry when I was kid. Well she still is but doesn't have any birds at present.

And we had these two Lizard Buzzards. One was hers and one was mine. A male and a female. And my mom, she taught me all the things to do. We made all the jesses for their feet and the lures and everything. And we (tried) to teach them to hunt and they came to our welding gloved hand at the blow of a whistle. Not necessarily the most agile or quick to learn creatures in the world but I loved my bird so!