In the afternoon of Mutomboko Saturday we gathered all the kids together and sat in the corner of the playground in our little gazebo to watch the crowds stream by on their way to the arena. This meant that the Chief would soon be passing by in his grand procession.
Thankfully this year the Mutomboko committee not only graded the dirt road leading to the arena and passing directly past our house but they also watered it several times to help control the dust. In years past we had to close all the window and still dust coated everything.
The kids were so excited to watch all the cars and trucks passing by. They would call out: blue truck, white car, etc. This silver car had them a bit stumped.
I found this woman fascinating as she walked by carrying her three-legged stool on her head. She was all set for the ceremony at the other end of her long walk. I could never do that! Poor lady though, as soon as I took the picture she looked over and saw me with a camera and took the stool down. She must have thought I was making fun of her.
"No, Lady, I was admiring you! I'm sorry!" Now she probably ended up with a backache and it is all my fault. Great, now I have guilt!
Henry was hilarious as he got so excited about all the people and the traffic.
Unfortunately for him he only had one syllable with which to express himself. Da! So he would pat my arm and say "Da Dah" (excuse me) and then "Da!" (look). He did this for the entire time.
Here is Elias with his sweet smile right before the Chief's procession passed by and his lost his smile completely. Poor little guy! You'll see why in a minute.
There is the chief passing by. Do you see him suspended above the crowd on his royal litter being carried by his indunas? The nannies were really excited and were waving their hands and yelling, "Mwata" "Mwata"! As the chief is carried he has men that run alongside him and periodically shoot off muzzle loaders. They are really loud and it frightened some of the kids terribly including little Elias.
There is T.J in the green shirt right next to Petronella's elbow? See him? He had awesome placement in the crowd running right alongside the Chief.
Here is little Johnny. He loved the muzzle loaders. He told us the story afterwards, "Bang! The chief got broken. Hooray!" Umm, not quite, Johnny. Something got lost in translation....
The crowds continued to stream past even after the Chief came by. They were all heading to the arena for the main ceremony which includes long speeches and traditional dances. This heavily overloaded truck had a joker on it who yelled out as they passed by: "Hello, Ba Na Impundu, why don't you make monkoyo? Ba Na Impundu means mother of twins and is my nickname here. Twins are highly regarded in this culture which is a little rare. In some African cultures they consider twins to be a curse. Monkoyo is the local maize beer. The local people have a hard time understanding why I, as an influential member of this village (ha ha), don't make beer to share with the masses.
After the procession had passed by and the traffic had slowed way down a crowd still lingered at our gate. Apparently we were now the main attraction.
This reminded me of the times, shortly after we moved to Africa, when we would visit a little zoo and botanical gardens on our day off. We would walk round the zoo doing the tour with everyone and then make our way to the tiny pool for a refreshing swim. The funny thing was that our fellow tour goers would follow us to the pool and stand completely around it watching us swim. No one ever got in but some of the brave ones would call the kids over to take a picture with them. We often considered collecting an exhibit fee.
And now let me leave you with this sweet picture. Little Jennifer was completely caught up in the excitement of the afternoon but had no idea what it was all about. She was dancing to the sound of the drums from the procession and the ceremony that followed. I wish I could share the video with you but my camera saves in Quick time and my Windows Movie Maker won't accept it. I apologize for my lack of computer savvy. Anyone out there in cyber space have an idea for me?
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Living the Life
I'm an average girl--scared to death of creepy crawlies--who somehow ended up in the bush of Africa, building and running an orphanage. I now have 28 foster kids. In addition, I have a wonderfully adventurous husband and six kids. Due to the crazy passage of time, only one is left with me and five are working and/or in college in the U.S. Life is crazy, exciting, often scary and never, ever boring.