October 15th, 2011
Today the Malindza community police joined together with the Royal Swaziland Police (RSP) and held a crime prevention campaign in my community.
The event took weeks and weeks of planning and was postponed twice but finally came together on this hot Saturday. The campaign kick started with a march from Mpaka to the royal kraal in Malindza. I joined in here and marched with the RSP and the rest of the community. I even got there early so I got a great t-shirt that proves that I like to prevent crime. We marched down the main road surprisingly led by the RSP band and the Malindza High School drill team. I didn’t know what to expect but a marching band was not on my list of possibilities. It was a legit parade. The RSP blocked traffic while we marched and school groups sang songs while holding news headlines that warned against drunk driving (or drink driving as its called here) and speeding. No one lined the streets waiting for emasweeties (candy) to be thrown but neighbors did wave us on as we passed their homesteads.
We eventually made it to the Royal Kraal where large event tents had been set up. The community assembled into seats and the real fun began. For the next 4 hours there was an array of entertainment. It was like the community found its spotlight and was not letting it fade until it had proven what it could do. It pulled out all the stops. Full sound system, live entertainment, and charity giveaways, the whole works. The drill teams performed routines. The school kids did some dramas (skits) about crime prevention. Boys from the Mpaka schools displayed some high kick routines (traditional Swazi dances) that were led by the hypnotic beat of the drums. This was my favorite part by far. These dances are super impressive. There was even a boy, I would guess around the age of 7, who did a solo and the crowd just roared with joy. I was sitting behind a group of Gogos (grandmothers) who were having the time of their lives watching. They were loving the dances and wailing with excitement. The RSP band played a few pieces and a gospel group, dressed in shiny pleather suits, got the crowd moving with their upbeat songs of worship. Several families living in poverty in the community were also given clothes, food, and bedding. I am not sure who sponsored this but the families were really happy.
Swazi’s are so funny. When they really liked a performance they would get out of their seats, dance up to the performers and throw down money. Each time this was done the crowd went wild cheering on the giver. It was really uplifting to see the whole community come together and be excited about something. Life was present here. The old, the young, and everyone in between were out celebrating. It was like a town festival, all we needed was a corn dog. And just when you thought the fun was over a giant rope was brought out and guess what they did with it… they played tug-of-war. No joke; RSP vs. Community Police. RSP won in a best out of three pull.
The RSP then fed everyone afterwards. It was such a fun day and made me realize that this community can come together to get something done. You just have to spark that fire. Now how to spark that fire on one of my projects?