Tooth Fairy – Memories

My little niece, NT, lived with me for several years when she was a child.   When children lose their milk teeth in Zambia, they stand facing away from their house, sing a special song and throw the tooth over their shoulder onto the roof.  The belief is that this ritual ensures that a new tooth grows.  Most houses are have one stories, so throwing a tooth (or anything else) over one’s shoulder is doable.  NT wanted to do that but I told her to keep the tooth and put it under her pillow and see what happened in the morning.  Of course, there was some money under her pillow in the morning.  I told her that the Tooth Fairy had visited.

NT was both shocked and excited at her luck and exclaimed: “I should have pulled out the other loose tooth and made a lot more money!”  I could not help laughing at the business angle my baby looked at losing her teeth.

Nothing special about the story, just good memories.

Pumpkins in my parents’ field

Growing pumpkins is a big part of Zambian farmers in Zambia, not just for the pumpkins themselves but for the delicious leaves.  My parents mix the pumpkin and maize seeds when planting.  I really enjoyed the tender leaves when I visited home.  (By the way, my mother has to collect the leaves for me as  I tell that that I am allergic to entering the field.  I am glad that she humors me and does the collecting for me 🙂

  1. Pumpkin type 1

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2. Pumpkin type 2

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3. Pumpkin type 3

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My parents usually have a bumper harvest of pumpkins and they give various relatives.  Personally, I don’t bother about the pumpkins but just eat the leaves whether fresh or dry. Pumpkin leaves are definitely my favorite rain season produce.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Zambian witchcraft/casting of spells?

Many Zambians believe in witchcraft and casting of spells, no matter what their education and religious backgrounds are.  I personally don’t think that these things work but know that they are practiced because I have seen some people do it.  For example, in college some girls would smoke some herbs while mentioning the name of a man they are attracted to.  They believed that the man would start thinking of and be attracted to them as well.  I never found out whether this worked.

Witchdoctors (not herbalists) prey on people’s beliefs and advertise their services as shown below with many make a good living out of their businesses.  How do you bring back a ‘lost’ lover – by casting a spell on him/her, that’s how.

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People are also afraid of being bewitched and will try everything in their power to ‘evade’ supposed witches’ evil actions towards them.  Years ago, I came to DC for a seven month assignment before going back home.  When I got back I visited my parents and had interesting conversations with several of my parent’s neighbors which went:

Neighbor 1:  Hi Zambian Lady.  It’s been a long time since I last saw you, so how was Livingstone (a city in Zambia)?

Me:  Livingstone?  I was not in Livingstone.

Neighbor 1:  Yes, you were.  Your mother told me that you were working in Livingstone for some time.

Me:  Oh yes, I was in Livingstone and came back a week ago.  It was fine.

I met another neighbor a short while later who said:

Neighbor 2:  Hello, ZL.  Your mum told me that you were in Zimbabwe.  How was your stay there?

Me:  Zimbabwe was good.  All went well.

Other neighbors asked me about various other places that my mother had told them about.  By now I knew what was going on though I did not understand it.  I later had a conversation with my mother.

Me:  I met some neighbors who asked me about various places I had allegedly been to.  Why did you give them wrong locations?

Mum:  You expected me to tell them you were in DC?!!  I gave them wrong information so that they would target wrong places and their juju would not find you.  Not everyone has the best interests at heart for you, my daughter.

I then understood what was going on.  Do I believe that witchcraft or casting spells work?  No, but I know that people practice them.  It is so sad to see how much people are impeded from enjoying their life to the fullest.  I look at the west and see people (the majority of them, anyway) living freely with no fear of a witch attacking them or being under spells.

Another advert in the local papers about services offered by a witchdoctor.  Part of the advert is just about ‘innocent’ herbs another is all about casting spells but the third one is something else – women wanting bigger bottoms and men wanting bigger ‘you know what’?  What do you make of these adverts?

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I don’t think that the fear of witchcraft and casting of spells will ever go away because it is embedded in the culture.  Many who do not believe in them are careful not to say so publicly just in case…..  Isn’t that interesting?  They don’t want to tempt fate.  An interesting thing is that some people have agreed that they bewitched someone (let’s say A) and A falls sick.  However, upon exams at a hospital A is found to have cancer, so you wonder how sorcery = cancer.  I would say it just a coincidence but I know many people would beg to differ.

What do you think of witchcraft and casting of spells?

My parents’ dogs

My parents have three dogs on their homestead for security.  We never had pets when growing up and I have had none since, so it was interesting to see that even dogs has different personalities.

The first dog, and pack leader, is Spike.  He is a big black dog and has a cool temper when nothing is exciting (that is no strangers showing up alone).  Spike has no friends and even my brother who is a regular visitor has to call from his car to have someone get him.  Spike is also the dog that bit the snake to death a couple of weeks ago.  Spike is my parents’ hero and my father usually gives him more food than the other dogs because of this.

Here is Spike…

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The second dog, Dublin, is just about six months old but has already endeared herself to my parents.  My niece named her Dublin because that is the one city she really wants to visit.  Dublin is a very rambunctious/ playful/ happy dog.  Do not make a mistake of paying her attention or she will get excited and jump all over you.  I like her joy but not her jumps, so when she wants to show me that she is happy, she jumps on the other dogs – fine with me.

One of Dublin’s weaknesses, however, is her love for barking and running to the driveway when there is no one coming.  This makes the other dogs get all worked up and start barking as well.  My parents now know when Dublin’s barks are for nought and don’t pay attention to her.

Dublin’s other weakness is that she likes bringing home all sorts of items, like that old tortoise shell in Spike’s photo above.  I got home one day and found that my mother had sprayed insecticide in most of the house and a lot of flies had died.  Well, Dublin had brought a decayed cat and of course, flies had followed and unfortunately, invaded the house.  It was not the best of scenes, I must say.

In spite of her shortcomings, I love this little dog and already miss her.  Here she is on the kitchen veranda….

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I feel sorry for the third dog.  Not only is it nameless, but it gets called of sorts of not-so-nice names e.g. the mentally-slow dog.  Usually he is just called ‘the brown dog’ because he of his colour.  He used to get terrorized by the other dogs though they seem to have accepted him as he is now.  My father has been threatening to give Brown away because he is ‘not working for his upkeep’.  Should he give Brown away?  What do you think?

For some reason, Brown seemed to like me and followed me around more than the others.  I do not like him per-se, but guess I gave him the wrong impression.  In case you were wondering about a photo – No, I have no photo of Brown.  I just never thought of taking one.

Ploughing using cattle

It was my last day in Zambia and my brother was driving me to the airport.  As we were about to join the main road, I saw a young man going to work with his pair of cattle already put in a yoke.  I could not help but take a photo.

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Tilling the soil using cattle drawn ploughs is still very common in Zambia and some people run busy enterprises hiring out their ploughs during the rain season.  My parents also hire the ploughs as it is cheaper than hiring tractors.

Gospel Songs Mixed With Marijuana

Zambia is a predominantly Christian nation with most people identifying as such even when they are the worst criminals.  As such, activities involving Christian themes are usually done in most schools.   When I was in high school, one of the things each class did was to sing Gospel songs in their own classrooms for the first hour every Thursday.  It was great and we usually sung with youthful zest and tried to outdo the next class.

Human nature is that people are enthusiastic on some days and less so on others, so my class had its own low energy days as well.  On such days, some male classmates would ask whether we wanted some ‘pick-us-up’ for a more enjoyable session.  We did not understand what they meant at first but quickly caught.  We would all shout that we, indeed, need some pick-us-up.

The boys would then leave the classroom and come back after a few minutes.  The first thing we would notice were their bloodshot eyes and high level energy.  They would then lead us in singing with so much enthusiasm that we had no choice but join in with Olympic winning vigour.  Oh, you never heard such singing, such adoration of the Lord, such praising of and thanks to the Almighty!  I believe we would all have gone to heaven had the rapture occurred during those times.

Well, we had come to learn that the boys would go to smoke marijuana whenever they stepped out.  That is why they came back with seemingly supernatural energy.

However, I wonder whether the Almighty accepted our weed influenced adoration.  Do you think He did?  Anyway, whichever way, we had a great time every Thursday morning.  Ah, the good old days.

I am a teetotaler

Zambians are generally perceived to be drunkards by neighboring countries.  I have been to countless international business gatherings where members from other African countries were shocked that I do not drink.  It is  apparently unheard of for a Zambian not to drink heavily or at least have a sip of an alcoholic drink every now and then.

I have no problem with someone who gets drunk using his own resources and does not make noise or bother others.  Have a blast, I say.  I have an issue with those who drink and suddenly decide to be my best friend or think their hands belong on someone else’s body.

I am a teetotaller, not because of my Christian background as most people usually think.  My parents do not drink but that, still, is not the reason why I abstain from some bubbly.

I am a teetotaler because of my parents’ neighbor when I was growing up.  His name was Mr Petauke.  Well, one early morning some commotion outside woke me up.  I rushed to see what was going on, only to find Mr Petauke sprawled by the roadside in a drunken stupor.  We, the kids, called an adult to come and help since Mr Petauke was not responding to us.  Mr Ng’ona tried talking to Mr Petauke to no avail until the latter mumbled “After you help me stand up, tell me ‘eft, ‘ight, ‘eft, ‘ight”.  Mr Ng’ona complied.  Lo and behold! Mr Petauke started trotting towards his home in a drunken way and he did so the way crabs walk – sideways.  He made it home and Mr Ng’ona helped him into bed.  Mrs Petauke was nowhere to be seen, maybe she was in her own drunken stupor somewhere.

I was only twelve years old but I vowed that day to never drink because I did not like the look of Mr Petauke.  My young mind also told me that I would be more at risk if I passed out since I am female.  That was decades ago and I have kept my word.  Alcohol just does not make sense to me.  I had one glass of wine a few years ago and I hated it – the smell was and continues to be horrible to me and the taste was no better.  The dizziness I felt was also not worth it.  So, the reason for me being a teetotaler is actually quite simple – the vision of a passed-out Mr Petauke.

If you drink the much sought after bubbly, cheers to you.  If you do not drink, well, cheers to you too.

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