So I've realized that even after 17 months of living in this splendorous country, many people back home are unable to wrap their minds around where it is that I'm living or even what my village looks like. I understand, as the majority of the pictures I take are when I'm on vacation or doing a project outside of my village...so for this, friends, I apologize!
I have had numerous requests to post more pictures of my village from many close friends so now that I have fast internet, I will now take this opportunity to rectify the wrongs and show you, with in-depth pictures, what Gobojango looks like and the walk I take every morning to the clinic. Please bear with me (and for those of you who are not familiar with the tv show "Cribs" feel free to click here for more information).
Hello and welcome to Kitso's rendition of Cribs! On this episode I'll take you through the crispy, dry wonderland that is known as Gobojango, Botswana!
Life in Gobojango is quite relaxed, with nothing to fulfill a day but a trip to the clinic or meandering over to your neighbor's house to catch up on the most up-to-date gossip over lunch preparations.
|Ladies preparing a meal and sharing in one another's lives.|
Throughout the day and night one might find themselves entranced by the sounds of roosters crowing, donkeys baying their breathless "hee-haw", and dogs barking. Oftentimes, the clanging of a cowbell and the whimpering of a baby goat who has lost her way will creep into the crevices of your mind while the smell of smoke from nearby burning trash will infest your nose. If you're lucky, you will overhear the morning prayer songs from the primary school children or the laughter of the older women and men at the "kgotla" (community courthouse).
|A community's kgotla is a place for people to gather and share ideas. It is common knowledge that women are not allowed to enter any kgotla unless they are wearing a dress or a skirt that is longer than their knees.|
While some of you may think that my houses look like one of the following...
|The beginnings of a mud hut. Sticks are placed around the base to assist in the formation of the structure then "moo" (water, mud, and cow dung) are added around it to form a solid-standing structure.|
or like this....
|Some basadi bogolo (old ladies) conversing around their traditional hut. When it's cold outside, a fire will be started inside the hut to prepare afternoon tea or supper.|
|Unfortunately, I don't have a direct picture of the primary school, but here is the completed shade (yayy!) found on the premises as well as the "school bus" that takes the choir children to competitions.|
|Our tar road! =D (with Cleo strutting about the bus stop/hitching post)|
|Looking out on Gobojango from the tar road.|
Its music can sometimes be heard echoing throughout the village near the end of the month, and you just know that men doubled over with age are reaping their profits from their welfare checks by throwing back one or two beers and boisterously placing their coins in the jukebox to listen to music such as "kwasa kwasa" or "stonkana".
While the six windows along either side suggest a welcoming house of well-functioning government post, the reality is that the woman who runs the building is rarely present and the open-mouthed gates are usually empty throughout the month.
|During village meetings, VIPs will sit in chairs in the cemented/stage-looking part while the villagers will bring blankets and sit upon the ground beneath the tree.|
If you are a lekgoa (white person) like me, and are daring enough to do this walk on a daily basis, you will not be surprised to hear small children screaming "LEKGOA!!! LEKGOOOOAAA!!" from different compounds on your way to work. The funniest part, however, is when you try to near these small children to tell them your real name is not lekgoa and you actually have a name they can pronounce, the reactions are similar to these....
...You'd think from their mortified faces that I'd be sitting there offering them a snake or making faces or something...not that that's something I would do, of course...
...what's even worse is that their mothers usually encourage them to go and touch us or get closer. When the child screams even louder, this is usually the expression on the faces of the parents....
Anyway, although it is rare, you always will have the opportunity to run into this smiling face, Samantha, my daily dose of happiness. No matter how blue I am, all I have to do is go to my neighbor's house and encounter this cheeky 5 year old and my day will improve.
So let me finish telling you a bit more about where I live. The individuals who inhabit Gobojango are all a part of (or married into) the Sebirwa tribe. A rich and vibrant culture whose dialect is a mixture of Ndebele from Zimbabwe and the Bangwato Setswana, the Babirwa are a welcoming people who practice the culture of herding livestock and keeping farms. The traditional dance in this area is similar to that of the dancing found throughout Botswana with drums and vocals to accompany the rattling of the seeds wrapped around the ankles, though the colors of the dancers are much more effervescent and each dancer is clad with a staff.
|A house that may be found on a cattle post|
|An example of a house found in a home village|
With all of these things to consider and mull over, I hope I have given you a better glimpse at what my life here in Gobojango and in Botswana is like. My village, although seemingly bare and flora-free, has hidden beauty in each of its corners and faces.
I am always taken by surprise by some of the things I encounter on a daily basis in Gobojango. The sunsets, for example, always leave me breathless. On most days, when I'm sitting in my living room watching meaningless media on my computer, and my room turns orange from the setting sun outside, I only grab my camera and place myself on my back stoop to see what entertainment the sky has in hold for me that night.
|Here is a braai (bbq) that I had for a Swedish scientist, Pier, and his son who came to visit Gobojango for a couple months.|
Finally, and I'll leave you with this thought from a book that I finished a few weeks ago...
(Just so you know, I've been encouraging everyone I know to read the book "The Alchemist". It's filled with wisdom beyond compare and I feel like it's a great representation of what my service has done for me so far so if you haven't read it yet...DO!)
" Making a decision is only the beginning of things. When someone makes a decision he is really diving into a strong current that will carry him to places he had never dreamed of when he first made the decision. "
If you had asked me two years ago if I ever thought I'd catch myself sitting in the middle of a group of children in Africa listening to a man play the guitar on a sporadic Tuesday afternoon. I would have laughed in your face. But thank God and thank all graces that I am able to experience this firsthand and understand what life means for people who are so different, yet so similar to me.