Monday, June 25, 2012

Eat Fresh!

June 21st, 2012
No, Swaziland has not opened a Subway Fast Food Restaurant recently. It might take away from the only fast food option here, KFC, and we can’t have that.

All jokes aside, I am really eating fresh these days.  My garden has gotten into full bloom and I’m loving the benefits.  I eat salads every other day with lettuce fresh picked.  I make spinach omelets for breakfast right out of the garden, and use green onion in everything.  My carrots are still growing strong, and my tomatoes and pepper seedlings have sprouted so soon I will be able to eat an entire meal straight from the garden!  I have basil growing to help keep the bugs away and provide good smells (just like Jimmy Johns, haha I’m killing it with the sub shop references – can you tell its day 21 of my 23 days locked at site).  I’m also growing parsley and garlic chives in milk boxes.  I’m poor but resourceful.  Milk comes in boxes here and once finished they make great trays for starting seedlings and growing herbs.  They also make great wallets, but that’s another story in recycling.  The plan is to transplant the herbs into used car tires once they outgrow their milk boxes.

Carrots and Green Onion!

Lettuce and spinach!

Guess What My Community Is Getting?

June 20th, 2012

A Gas Station!!!

There is currently not a single place nearby to get gas, or petro, as its called here.  Most vehicle owners either drive 20 minutes to Siteki, or 30 minutes to Manzini to fill up.  Some business owners from Manzini have just gotten approved (aka paid the price to local government) to build a filling station along the tar road that runs through my community.  This is the only road that connects to Mozambique so it gets lots of traffic, why they don’t have any gas stations along this route, only God knows.  We do have a filling station in the community, but its not functioning and the Convenience store just moved across the street because it was getting robbed (I know the logic in that is faulty, but logic and problem solving don’t have to exist together here – it’s a blissful world).

Anyways, since the right to build had been bought, in celebration the business owners got to host a braai (BBQ) for the local government and anyone from the community who wanted to attend.  Word travels fast so it turned out to be a very large portion of the community (side note below).  The expressions “invite only” or “closed party” do not exist in this culture.  Somehow I found myself involved in this braai and spent the afternoon serving this celebratory meal.  It was a great day for the Malindza community, they got some money, they found out they were getting a modern facility that would employ their people, bring traffic into the community, and improve their economy, and they got a free meal that included pork, chicken, and wurst.  I can’t say a thing because I was fed in return for my help, however I am a little peeved I was not invited to the after party.  As soon as the food was gone, everyone high tailed it out of there.  I found out later someone across town was approved to build a new homestead and another celebratory meal was happening.  I really have got to find my place in the chain of gossip around here, I am missing out a lot of free meals. 

Side note: I think I know why I’m not in the know.  I don’t have a Fixed Phone.  This is basically a wireless house phone, however since it requires no connection cord it gets used as if it were a cell phone.  Imagine the old house phones that have the spiral cord attaching the hand set to the receiver.  Well that is what these phones are and people carry them around with them.  I have seen them in cars on passenger seats, shoved in large handbags thrown over a shoulder, as well as simply just being carried under the arm around town.  When I ask why people carry them around I get looked at like I’m the one who doesn’t get it and the response is always “I don’t want to miss a call.”  I refrain from bringing up the answering machine because I already know how well voicemail for cell phones was accepted.  Don’t even think about leaving a voicemail, it’s just a waste of airtime (aka phone minutes).  Apparently I got to get with the times, ditch my cell phone and get me one of these bulky, inconvenient, communication devices. 

New Talent, New Furniture, and New Discoveries!

June 16th, 2012

I have had a week of a lot of new and exciting things.  It doesn’t take much to excite me here as my days are fairly similar, my routines are set, and life is slow paced.  However, I have acquired many new things that will make life that much more enjoyable.

Group 8 PCVs (the group a year a head of me) are getting ready to COS (close of service).  In doing so they are getting rid of the surprisingly large about a stuff a hut can acquire, of which I am reaping the benefits.  I have just gained two wall hangers with hooks that I have hung kitchen gadgets on to free up space in my “pantry/cupboard” (aka plastic shelving unit) and a, not as useful but way more fun, guitar!!  I have never played the guitar before, but it came with a large beginners guidebook so I am teaching myself.  It is so nice to be able to make music again.  That was something I totally underestimated that I would miss from home.

This week I also finally got a desk and chair for inside my hut.  I had it made at the vocational carpentry school in Mpaka that has reopened recently.  Addy’s Babe owns a vehicle so I got him to pick it up and deliver it to my hut for cheap.  It’s so nice to have and I can’t believe I waited so long to get it.  The quality is really nice, all wood, very sturdy, and now I have another space to work in aside from my bed.

Now that it is “winter” here and the heat isn’t threatening to kill me, I have started to explore my community a bit more.  The weather is perfect enough for afternoon walks and I have discovered many new paths, one of which is going to save me a lot of time.  Why I was never told this before I don’t know, but I have discovered a path that will cut my walking time to the High School in half and allows me to not walk along the main tar road.  It’s a nice little path tucked back in between homesteads.  I have been annoyed with having to work at the school lately specifically because of the walk, and this new path fixes everything!

Like I said it doesn’t take much to make me excited these days.  The desk and chair cost me a pretty penny so my June allowance is limited and I’m locking myself away at site for 23 days. until all the PCVs are coming together to celebrate Christmas in June.  I’m on day 16 and going a bit crazy, hence why my excitement for the above three things is blog worthy.  I’d love to come with really exciting tales from the field, but lets be honest, staying at site is slightly uneventful.

Oh, oh, oh wait I do have exciting news.  This just in, Scarface, the serial rapist/kidnapper that has been on the loose since October of last year, has been found and shot dead.  Turns out he was living in a homemade fort located in the bush of my community.  Nice eh?  The Mpaka police found him, shot him in the leg, and he conveniently died by the time they got him to the hospital.  One less thing in the bush that I have to worry about! 

One Year Down, 13 Months To Go!

June 10th, 2012

I have now been in Swaziland for exactly one year.

It’s hard to believe a year ago this morning I was waking up in a very different world.  I was meeting Swaziland for the first time, seeing Sub-Saharan Africa for the first time, and feeling totally out of my element for the first time.  Shocked, numb, only able to process moment by moment, not being able to see the whole picture, relying only on the faint recollection of really wanting to do this tour of service.  Wondering if two years time would every pass by.  That’s how I felt a year ago.

I can very happily say that is not how I am feeling right now.  This year has flown by faster then I could have ever imagined last June.  The transition to this new life in Swaziland was sure not easy and not without some very testing experiences.  Learning to live without running water, erratic electricity, unreliable transport, draconian commitment to religion, and a repressive gender inequality are just a few thing I learned to deal with over the past year.  In doing so I have also picked up some very handy life skills and learned a lot about myself and what I want and need out of life to be happy.

I have come to love Swaziland in many ways.  I love the drastic change in landscape as you travel from west to east, providing excellent scenery for my reflective bus rides to and from town.  I love the sunrises and sunsets, especially in winter – It really looks like the beginning scene in the Lion King.  I love that just a 10 minute drive away from my house live lions, elephants, giraffes, rhino, zebra, warthogs, water buffalo, and antelope.  While I don’t particularly love the small change of seasons here, I do appreciate that with each change of season comes new and exciting food at the market.  Things just taste better when you can only get them at certain times of year.  It gives you something to look forward to and something to moan about when its gone – something other then the fact that its 50°F out and you still have no other choice but to bucket bathe.  I have learned to appreciate the beauty, fun, and fulfillment in growing your own food and the adventure of cooking and eating new foods custom to this part of the world.  And most of all I love the relationships I have made.

I have made a whole community of acquaintances, a circle of friends, and a handful of people I have really special bonds with that I am thankful I have the next year to spend in the company of.  Thanks to these people, particularly the last few, I have been able to “be free”* here in Swaziland.  They have helped me make a home that feels comfortable and to develop a life here that I enjoy living. 

Thinking back to day one, I still can’t believe it’s been a year.  Feels like just last month I was feeling overwhelmed and unconfident in why I was doing this; asking myself “is it worth it?”  It is!  The struggles, the discoveries, the new experiences, they are everything I wanted and more from this adventure.  I get why Peace Corps Service is two years, it takes a year to just learn how to live.  As much as I still get twinges of homesickness and find jealousy creep in when I talk to volunteers who are completing service and returning home, I would be sad if I had to leave now.  I’ve worked so hard and come so far to get here.  I am excited that that first year is out of the way and I can just enjoy the next year.  Bring it on Year Two!

 * My Make uses this phrase to express anyone who is comfortable in his or her living situation and can do as they please, without fear.

RIP Beau :(

June 2nd, 2012

I am saddened that I have to tell you all that my beautiful little kitten passed away today.  He was only mine for just over a month but losing him is the hardest thing I have faced here in Swaziland.  In a place where you’re always reminded that you’re alone no matter how integrated you become, having a pet was the most comforting thing.  He was something to come home to, to snuggle with on these progressively colder winter nights, and he listened to all my venting and still loved me despite it.

I should have listened to my family when they worried about how the dogs and the cats would get along.  Last night the dogs, blinded by hunger after not being fed all day, attacked Beau.  I heard the fight but couldn’t see what was happening because it was dark out.  I couldn’t go near the dogs because when they get aggressive they could easily turn on me.  My Bobhuti also heard the commotion and came and chased them off and that’s when I found Beau lying in the dirt.  His back had been broken and they had punctured his neck.  He was still alive when I got to him but died within minutes.  I am glad he didn’t suffer long but feel awful that all I could do was stand and listen to it happen.  I keep thinking if I just done something different he would still be here.  I am also sad that Bear has lost his brother and his mentor.  Beau has helped Bear so much in the last three weeks, I’m fearful of how Bear will progress, without Beau’s guidance.  

My host dad took Beau so he could be buried in the morning.  He and my host mom feel really bad about it.  They said I can get another cat, but I’m not ready for that yet.  I can at least find comfort in Bear.  We need each other now, more then ever.

Friday, June 1, 2012


May 25th-27th, 2012

Bushfire: Swaziland’s International Festival of the Arts. 

This year’s theme was “Bring Your Fire” and it was for sure brought over three days of music, dancing, spoken word, giant puppetry, food and crafts.  It all takes place in a giant field behind one of Swaziland’s best entertainment facilities, House On Fire.  Sponsored by Swaziland’s one cell phone provider MTN, Bushfire is an awesome collection of creativity from all over Southern Africa.  Acts and vendors from Swaziland, South Africa, and Mozambique brought people together from all over Africa, Europe, America, Asia and even Australia in the name of giving back.  All proceeds go towards an organization that helps students in Swaziland gain sponsors to get a better education.  There were also vendors displaying the best of Swaziland’s handicraft business and an entire array of Southern African cuisine!!  Acts includes Swaziland’s own Country band, reggae artists, chart toping South African pop artists, dance troupes, rapper, and my favorite act Jeremy Loops – he does looping, a form of music where each instrument gets recorded separate and looped together – soooo cool.  He performed a set on Saturday, but then on Sunday did an impromptu set where anyone could come and record and instrument and then they created songs right there.  It was really fun and creative.  Everything about the festival was awesome and I can’t wait for next year!  

I braced the bitter winter nights to camp at a local backpackers near the festival grounds for the weekend.  Aside from 35F cold at night camping here was so cool.  This campsite provides the best scenic view in Swaziland and resides on a game park.  I woke up to breathtaking mountains bathed in morning sun, and had warthogs and springbok sniffing out my tent.  And for the amount of sleep I actually got, the cold really wasn’t too awful.  The festival went into the wee hours of the morning with Swazi DJs rocking the dance floor (or field for that matter).  Having to jump back into “work” Monday was hard; I think I could sleep for a whole week.

The Venue

Jeremy Loops

Giant Mozambiquan Puppets

Counterparts and English Class

May 23rd, 2012

We have begun our second term for our English class at the refugee camp.  This term we are working with several refugees as counterparts.  A few have attended the training I mentioned earlier and all of them have been informally taught lesson planning and teaching skills.  We are only two weeks in but it is going so well!!  It is really fun working with our counterparts, it takes some of the pressure off us volunteers and having their input is so valuable.  They hear what the students aren’t telling us “teachers.”  They know what the students want, need, and what will and won’t work in our lessons.  It’s just nice to have eight heads working together rather then just three.  So far we have assessed every student and split them into three different groups: literacy (very beginner/learning to write), beginner English, and Intermediate English.  I am teaching the intermediate level with two of our counterparts.  I have about 15 males in my group and we are focusing mainly on conversation as well as advanced vocabulary and sentence structure.  Obviously our first term was chaotic since we didn’t have any experience or guidance as to how to teach English as a foreign language, but this term is surprisingly 100% better.  Its stress free and enjoyable and with our counterparts its sustainable, snaps for sustainability!

We have our planning sessions with our counterparts on Mondays and they really are just fun get-togethers.  We meet at someone’s house so its casual and plan and eat snacks and share about our weekends.  This last week we had a birthday party for our counterpart Amnesty.  We had cake and tea and a little celebration.  It’s not custom to celebrate birthdays in many African cultures but as Americans we felt it was necessary and a great way to show our appreciation for all his help.  It’s just so awesome to have such reliable, excited, willing, and creative counterparts.

Mr. Moogee, Amnesty, Ryan, Mudu, Addy at Amnesty's Bday party!

A Brother For Beau

My host dad was so impressed with Beau’s presence on the homestead that he decided to get himself a kitten.  So now we have two cats.  It’s actually proved to be a really good thing.  This new kitten is maybe only two weeks younger then Beau and they hit it off right away.  They are best friends now!  Beau goes over to the main house everyday and plays with this new kitten, which hasn’t gotten a name yet.  I have been calling him Bear in my head but haven’t committed to officially naming him yet.  So I will call him Bear in this post to try it out, see if it fits.

Having the two cats is turning out to be a great teaching tool for the host family.  They see me do something with Beau and then they try it with Bear.  For example my Make mimicked my homemade litter box and made one for inside their home.  She also commented to me that Beau looked so much healthier and his fur was shiny.  I told her that it was because of the food he ate.  I was a great lesson in how maize meal and milk (typical pet food in Swaziland) doesn’t provide the nutrients animals need, but the cat food I feed Beau is made with the correct protein, vitamins, and minerals.  I may now get stuck footing the cat food bill now, but eventually the kittens will start hunting and may not require as much.  I also explained to here that I would be getting Beau fixed as its PC policy for having a pet.  I told her benefits of the procedure and offered to take, but not pay for, Bear.  My Make was very intrigued and if she can afford she really wants to get Bear fixed also – we are hoping we can get a discount for multiple cats.  She doesn’t want him to become a midnight caller, visiting all the lady cats in the neighborhood.  Bear is still afraid to leave the comforts of the main house, but Beau is slowly coaxing him out.  Beau has lead Bear to my hut twice now, which has proved to be a fun place to explore.

Beau is the dark one in front who is scowling and Bear is the whiter one in back looking guilty!

Why Didn't Swazi's Invent The Lightbulb?

I have been in Swaziland for exactly 11 months now.  Living in an impoverished country has really opened my eyes to the world and opened my mind into thinking about how the world works.  Not scientifically or biologically, but socially.  Why do societies develop so differently, and why are some so far behind then others?  I have read books on how societies develop, why some better then others, and why some cease to exist now and others have prevailed.  It all seems to revolve around the ability to feed and protect oneself, including the resources available, location on the earth, and relationship with neighboring societies.  All of these factors indeed contribute to why Swaziland is in the state it is in today, but none of them have answered my real question: Why didn’t the Swazi’s invent the light bulb?  Or any other underdeveloped nation for that matter?

I am currently reading a book I borrowed from another PCV titled Uncommon Genius, by Denise Shekerjian.  The author interviews 40 recipients of the MacArthur Award in a quest to discover the essence of creativity.  If your like me you probably just said “What’s the MacArthur Award?”  It’s an award given out to people who have accomplished something great even when support, money, and societal desire weren’t available.  Recipients are not nominated and cannot apply; they are simply found and awarded.  They range from writers, to teachers, to artisans, to a clown, to scientists and university professors.  There is no topic or subject off limits, simply all the recipients took a chance on something in their field and made it a success. 

Anyways this book has really helped me narrow in on answering my question.  As I have stated before my biggest frustration here is the lack of anything beautiful.  I ask why?  Why do some cultures paint every surface available? Why do some take the time to intricately carve designs in everyday objects? Why did the Egyptians decorate the inside of their pyramids? Why did the ancient Greeks and Romans build such beautiful buildings using three different pillars when a simple slab of rock would do the job?  Why do Asian cultures value dance and theater so much?  From past to present art seems to be everywhere, and then I came to Swaziland.  It’s been 11 months and I still can’t find it.  Why?

In answering the question “where does creativity come from” the author of Uncommon Genius gives you 200 pages of explanation.  It took me 60 pages but I feel as if the light bulb in my head has just been turned on and I have found an answer to my question, or at least a beginning point to narrow in on.  Its simple, the answer is creativity.  I know your saying “duh” you can’t create anything without creativity but hear me out.  Shekerjian argues that creativity is fostered through the conditions in which an individual lives.    In essence I already knew this, of course if you never are given a chance to do art you probably will not be an artist.  However I never thought of it on a societal level, I always considered creativity an individualistic issue.  If you have the creative gene it will show up somewhere with or without the art influence.  A big part of creating something successful out of a creative idea is having the courage and confidence to keep at it.  This can only be fostered by ones surroundings, which as the author argues is “unlike concerns about personal comfort […] the culture in which you live and breath is largely beyond your control.”  Her point is that culture has the power to determine what creative thought will be honored and what will be laughed at. 

True most great things today were not so great when they were first presented, but the culture in which that idea was fostered at least allowed the thought to become a reality.  If creativity isn’t encouraged, then how will anything ever become?  Shekerjian points out that this theory can also bee seen in respect to intelligence: culture can determine an entire societies intellectual capacity.  “So, you might have the most wonderful logical and mathematical potential in the world, but if you aren’t in a culture which allows you to pursue math or science or logic or chess, you’re lucky if you can add numbers up to ten.” Here in Swaziland I have never heard somebody say “Swazi’s are smart.”  All I hear is “Swazi’s are lazy and not smart like other people.”  And as we know a Swazi did not invent the light bulb, see what I am getting at?

I have found in Swaziland the value is in conformity rather then individuality.  Considering the current political state, it’s not hard to assume why this is.  Many societies in history have periods where the innovator was often thrown out, or the person who was different is weeded out of society.  Underdeveloped societies across the history have struggled to embrace the creative mind; Swaziland is still struggling to accept that creativity leads to innovation, which leads to development.  However, they have to learn that creativity does not mean that everyone fits into a perfect box, we can’t all play the same role in society and we cannot punish those who think outside that perfect box.  I see creativity and individuality starting to be embraced here, so with time we may see great things come out of this tiny society!  After all look how long it took our societies to figure it out, even now we still sometimes struggle to accept creativity for what it really is.

So why didn’t a Swazi invent the light bulb?  Maybe because no one told them they could.  I think I have discovered that my role as a development worker may not necessarily be to develop a country (i.e. infrastructure, income generation, water projects, etc), but it may in fact be to develop the culture (i.e. encourage and instill confidence to accept what is different and think creatively).  Maybe with a paintbrush and a little positive reinforcement, I can show Swazi’s how to literally paint there way to a better future!

Another Training...

May 1-4th, 2012

…in hopes that our projects don’t become train wrecks!

Whether its paranoia that we don’t have the proper knowledge, self-doubt that we can make a difference, or we all just want a week of showers, the “Mighty Fine G9” has asked for yet another training.

I Don’t know how the office did it but they organized a four-day, three topic training for volunteers and their various counterparts.  Each session lasted about a day and a half.  We were allowed to come to any of the three and bring the same or different counterparts.  Thankfully I had the same four counterparts with for all the three sessions but some volunteers had different counterparts coming every day.  Imagine trying to arrange accommodation and meals for this when so many people are coming and going.  The training was held up in Ngonini, in the Northern HhoHho region.  To make logistics even worse, the transport situation is still a nightmare.  Eastbound transport was not operating the day we were all traveled to Ngonini so PC has to come and fetch all of our counterparts and us.  By the end of the training all transport was not operating due to a protest so PC also had to bring all of us back home.  It didn’t mind the free ride right to my doorstep!

Anyways, I attended all three sessions with four members of the refugee camp.  The three topics we learned about were TEFL (teaching English as a foreign language), Early childhood development, and Permaculture (aka gardening).  I actually learned a ton and have a lot of new tools to bring back to my community.

The TEFL training was great, especially since we had with us the members of the camp that serve as our translators during our classes.  We have just completed our first 12-week English class at the camp and needed some guidance and to where to go with our next term of lessons.  We had a chance to learn how to better assess our students and to strategize how to plan our lessons.  This next term we will be working with our translator students as co-teachers.  Ryan, one of the PCVs I am working with lead these four and some other camp residents through a teacher training class over the last three months.  They now know how to write a lesson plan and teach a class.  We will be planning our lessons with them and dividing the teaching responsibilities.  Hopefully this way, not only will the knowledge we are giving be sustainable, but also the lessons themselves will be able to continue after we are back in America.

The second topic was Early Childhood Development.  This is such a critical part of development and has been severely lacking here in Swaziland.  It is getting better, but it’s simply a lack of knowledge so the more we can teach and set an example the better this society will become.  I am not working with a pre-school (or kresh as they are called here) or a primary school, but I hope to use a lot of the stuff I learned during the session with my bobhuti on my homestead.  We learned all about games that stimulate development and I plan to start an activity box and organize a time every week when the boys can come and play with anything in the box.  Simple strategy games and puzzles are so important here.  We take them for granted at home, but this week at the training I saw first hand middle-aged women who teach pre-schools who had no idea how to do a 25-piece puzzle for age 3+.  As is evident not being taught this critical thinking and decision-making has major repercussions once kids reach adulthood.  I also hope to help with emotional development.  If it can’t be seen in how children are treated here it is sure evident in how animals are treated.  Pets don’t exist here.  This society doesn’t see reason to treat an animal nice.  By setting an example and treating animals with the care and respect any living being deserves, we as PCVs have the power to change how everyone is treated.  It has been found that this society doesn’t want to beat when someone is bad, or say mean things to get people to behave a certain way, they simple don’t know what else to do.  So I hope that I can set an example by showing my family and neighbors that there are other solutions to problems that don’t involve physically or emotionally hurting a person. 

The last session was on permaculture.  Having just ventured into the world of sustainable gardening I really enjoyed this session.  We were taught and did a practical with an organization called Vusenotfo developed by an RPCV (returned PCV).  This organization works to train communities on how to build sustainable gardens on a budget (or no budget as most people are working with).  By using live fencing, using manure from animals, making compost from food scrapes, and planning and preparing your soil and garden bed, one can produce more food by doing less work.  Food security is a major problem in Swaziland.  A combination of things has left the current generations feeling they can’t grow their own food.  Food security at the refugee camp is also an issue.  Our four counterparts got really into the practical we did building a garden.  They learned a lot of new techniques, asked great questions and want to start their own personal gardens at the camp.  I am excited to help them with this.  Just by setting an example I think a lot of the refugees will follow suit.

Overall the training was really helpful and I learned a lot.  I really enjoy these workshops that include our counterparts.  We may all be from different countries, have different levels of education, different reasons for being in Swaziland, but we were all at this training for the reasons: to make life better.  It is easy to forget all the differences when people from five different countries can all sit together and joke with each other over a card game.

Garden Update

April 29th, 2012

So my garden is three weeks old now.  Two weeks ago I planted my first round of crops.  I planted Lettuce seedlings, carrots and spinach from seeds, and green onion that I transplanted from my Make’s garden.  Today I Planted the second round of lettuce and green onion.  I am out of room unless I decide to extend my garden, but my Make told me that I could now have a plot in the big garden.  I guess I have proved I am responsible enough to manage a garden lol.

Everything is growing really well.  My seeds have sprouted and the things I transplanted have successfully come back to life.  I had a slight problem with birds however.  Little birds live in my roof and were eating my lettuce.  PC gave us old mosquito netting to use to screen our windows so I used some of that to make a tarp to go over my garden.  It worked.  The birds haven’t been able to figure out how to get in under the netting.  The goats and cows are now allowed to roam onto the homestead since the maize fields have been harvested so the netting will also keep them from sticking their heads in and eating my vegetables.  I have also started tomatoes seedlings in my house and am trying to grow some herbs. 

I started this garden for only personal reasons.  My host Make has got the green thumb and this project was for her to teach me the ropes of this garden business.  However, I came home the other day and asked my host Sisi what she had been doing all day.  She said she was in the family garden all day.  “Planting?” I asked.  “No Building a door,” she said.  I went and looked and saw that it was constructed out of scrap corrugated tin roofing.  I said, “It looks like the door to my garden.”  She said, “yes, we liked yours and wanted to try it.”  They previously had a hand crafted wire and wood door.  It just goes to show that even when we don’t know what we are doing, we still have the power to make a difference. 

My New Beau!

April 27th, 2012

I brought home a new friend from my extended vacation; I new little kitten I have named Beau.  My friend Emma’s cat on her homestead had babies in February and this little guy needed a good home.  I’m a sucker for orphaned cats so of course he came home with me.  He was originally named Belle until his gender was identifiable; I simply changed Belle to Beau.  He will take my Swazi surname… Beau Dube…that translated from French and siSwati means Beautiful Zebra.  Not to be confused with BoDube, pronounced the same as Beau Dube, which translated from siSwati means many zebras or multiple members of the Dube family.  Thankfully his markings slightly resemble a zebra’s stripes.

He will be a homestead cat eventually, responsible for killing rats and mice, but until he is comfortable he will be my hut mate.  He is really snuggly and loves to play.  I bring him into the main house for Generations every night and we spend some time outside everyday getting all the other animals and him acquainted.  The dogs are the biggest challenge.  They are so far extremely afraid of Beau and wont come near him.  The chickens find him interesting and the goats and cows could care less.

The family has been way more excited about him then I expected.  Swazi generally don’t like cats.  They find them scary.  However, my four Bobhuti love him.  They call him by name and play with him.  It has actually broken down the small wall between me and my host brothers.  We have been shy with each other but now with Beau as a buffer we are talking much more.  If I don’t bring him into the main house in the evening I have to go get him so the family can play with him.  Even my Babe told me he is happy to have a cat to help with the mice and is helping me introduce the cat to the dogs.  Through working together I have also found out my dogs have names… only took 8 months to learn that.  One is named Spring and the other is named in siSwati something that means to jump.

The transition to having a cat on the homestead is going much smother then I anticipated and I hope that it will promote respect for house pets with the children (not something that’s really taught here).

P.S. Its official my pet chicken Henny Penny is actually a Cocky Locky.  He is not the top rooster yet but maybe someday, once we kill off all the bigger ones.  Fact #1: a rooster will never grow larger then the alpha rooster.  Fact #2: roosters crow every half an hour to mark the time – I’ve tested this and its true, they are always right.