a new name for the month: morevember?

26 11 2012

Wow. What a month this has been.

We have been following the Thanksgiving tree as suggested by Ann Voskamp.

Thanksgiving

 

And… can you see it there on the right, one of the biggest praises for the month?

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My funny little brother has found himself a wonderful girl, and she said that she will marry him!  Goodness!

We are laughing because I have not yet met Sandra but she is already special to me.  There are some gorgeous photos that a friend of theirs took, here: Flickr Engagement

and on facebook, here- facebook. Thank you, AnnaLena! You capture  Andrew and Sandra so well!

We both pray so much blessing on them and wish them strength. If you could pray for them too, please: they are leaving Sweden to work in SA for a bit, just Andrew does not have a job! Please pray for God to open doors that have been shut, for opportunities to be cleared and that they will both find favour as they move into new opportunities.

A move to new opportunities… here. We moved in around the end of the first week in Morevember.

Our new home in Bwiru, Mwanza. We can see Lake Victoria from our garden,

and are loving the environment around us.

 

And are grateful to have already made friends with several people who have become close within just a few months.

There are still a number of things that need to happen to make the house more homey, so I will not post pictures of the insides just yet.

We said farewell to Tunza’s amazing scenery

but not to our adoptive dogs, who are doing well in their own garden. They love barking at the passing goats and occasional Maasai with cattle, but are adapting quite well.

This is where we have spent most of this month. More writing, more hard work and more straining at grey matter than we have for a while!  I have been hard at work on my Nanonovel for this year, A pot of cold water in the morning. (see word cloud right)  It has been far more demanding than I expected, because I feel it is something that God wants to share. So the work is not silly or lighthearted but I have grappled with issues of culture, fitting in, abuse, and I am moving towards MC redemption. As of today I still need to write about 12 000 words to qualify , before Friday night.  

Deon has been working on several desktop studies and has enjoyed the challenge of an array of geological skills. 

The challenges have been more electrical cuts than wished for (the invertor on the left was purchased just as days of power outages came to an end… thanks, Murphy!) , more tooth infection than required, more getting-into-a-new-house-settling than I have wanted for this year.. but we hope to be here for a while now!

We know there is more work to do here than ever we thought possible (spiritually there is much prayer to be prayed. Please let me know if you are thinking of a prayer visit – we would be grateful for that!) , more friends than we have ever had as a couple and are making more each week, more space in this house than any other house I have lived in, more to be thankful for than ever.

Morevember.  If you look for more of God, He shows up faithfully every time.

More will follow in December…

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mesmerised by the maasai?

1 11 2012

After several trips in Maasailand, it is hard to ignore the people of this tribe.

The vivid reds and blues of their shukas (robes) are hard to miss, and the dogged determination to cling to tradition, as seen in their style of dress, hanging earlobes, bejewelled bodies and the numerous bomas across the countryside draws the interest of many visitors.

There was the initial fascination: Wow! I am seeing the Maasai in real life!  That which I saw on the screens of Nat Geo I have now seen with my own eyes!

There was the frustration of dealing with illegal booms set up across the Lake Natron region, where the Maasai claim rights to money just for being a tourist in their region, and the irritation of several pieces of jewellery shoved through a window when one has no desire to purchase their wares in that manner, at that time.

There was the intrigue: what causes this tribe to cling so persistently to their heritage in the face of several challenges to their Maasainess? And this led me to read a lot more about them, spend a little time with some Maasai and also to take the concepts developing just a step further.

There is much to read about the Maasai, online, downloadable Kindle books, and in Nat Geo back issues.  Longido, where Deon is spending much time for work, is filled with Maasais, and I took the opportunity to visit a boma while he was in the field one day.

I deliberately chose this space and not one of the several others around: Longido is not quite the heart of tourist-ville and I wished to support people who are a bit off the well-beaten-safari-car-track. Also, as this is where the company is working, it seemed a bit more beneficial for the work’s presence. 

I was accompanied by Juma,, himself a Maasai, who answered my questions with great honesty and knowledge.

One enters through a gate (there are as many gates as there are families in the boma)

Through fences erected for protection against wild animals, originally. THere are probably on average 20 houses per boma. Central to the boma are the kraals where cattle, goats and donkeys are kept, the cattle having pride of place in the centre. 

Cattle are central to a Maasai’s existance: they belive all the cattle in the world were sent by Lengai (God) to them, so taking cattle from others is not stealing but reclaiming their right. At night the men will sit in designated spots and count their cattle, observe their health and possibly just stare in wonder at their beasts.

(There is a bench on the left there where Mr Maasai will sit to view his cattle across the boma).

There were no men present when I made my visit: I simply arrived without any warning as I hoped to catch real life on the go, not a tourist show. 

It was special to capture the women as they go about every day business. 

 

A belt being beaded piece by piece.

The village was rather quiet: the women are very hard workers and many were away to collect water, firewood and gather other items to use.

The houses are made by the ladies too: piece by piece they put up wooden beams to hold the house in place, and all the ladies will gather to work on one house at a time. They make a mix of mud, cow dung and ash and use this as plaster and walling to build the house. The doorways are low, but one can stand upright inside the house.  Juma warned to be aware of the darkness: after bright sunshine outdoors the house inside was pitch black. It took some time to adjust to the dim solemnity within.

The only light was provided by the little parrafin-lit bottle hanging on the wall. The house is small, but not cramped. There are normally 2 bedrooms and a room for small goats and calves to sleep inside the house. The beds are very low and very little synthetic goods are used within the home.

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A central fire place is where all the cooking is done and the embers are kept burning non-stop. Behind the fireplace is one bedroom, and to the left is the second.

This mama graciously allowed me into her home, and showed where her 2 children live with her.

As I left the house, the real time-taker took place. A few ladies gathered with their items to sell, and I decided it would be impossible to only buy from 1 or 2, so I would buy something small from each one.

As I was bending over near the fifth lady, more and more and more arrived: There were about 20 sellers when I left! (when I arrived back at our lodging about a half hour later,, there was a lady who arrived to sell her goods; she had heard their was a very generous (or stupid?) Mzungu in town! )

Beadwork is common, but these ladies also find pieces of porcupine quills, seeds from local trees and use them all in their crafts.  I will not show my wares here… there are Christmas presents in the pickings (there is now not much left of a Christmas budget after buying from all the gals!)

The desire to find out more about some of the peculiar habits of these people has led me to read a lot and to seek out stories about real people.

The fascination has grown, imagination fostered and so it is leading to…

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developments!  Nanowrimo is a wonderful way to get people writing: the aim is to write 50000 in a complete novel format, in the month of November. 

My novel is yet in its foetal stages, but thoughts around the role of women in Maasai, education, western involvement and honour are all concepts I wish to explore.  Watch this space… more may be revealed!

And please understand if many blogs do not get published this month. I will be pounding away at the keys for other pursuits…

A very fascinating site is the moran, or boys currently undergoing circumcision rites, that we passed along the roads. 

This ritual only takes place every five or so years, so this was special to see. The boys are sent off to special camps and will remain in these black robes for 4 to 10 months after circumcision. Only after they have performed certain rites (in the past this centred around killing a lion with only a club. For ecological reasons this practice is being reconsidered) may they attain their red and blue shukas.  There are several fascinating practices around this stage in a Maasai’s life. 

We saw about 20 morani in all on the roads, normally requesting money. They are all in black and use chalk smuggled out of classrooms or ash to paint their faces.

Finally, we leave a view of when the incongruous is seen. Old and new, flash and humble all in one…

You just have to love Africa.