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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Life on the High side

Gotta love Malawi. The biggest basketball game I've ever gone to was at the KEY Arena in Seattle. Someone had offered my roommate and I free tickets to watch the now defunct Seattle Sonics play the Portland Trailblazers. I felt like I needed a telescope to watch the actual players because our tickets were not so expensive so our seat numbers were way, way, way up in the Arena. I had to content myself with watching them on the floating screen.

Here in Malawi, apparently, our biggest indoor arena is at the College of Medicine. It's elusive, I've never been there for any game so far. So it's ABC that offers a good gym that's available for public games (there are other places but they are either small or outdoors, I read in the papers that govt. is commencing construction of a big sports complex in Lilongwe next year, that's good news). So anywho, ABC gym is not so large, matter of fact, I'm amazed that not only can I see the actual players down to the laces on their sneaks, but I can hear the coach-players yell instructions clear on the other side of the court. The advantage there is that fans feel part of the game and can actually interact with players, the perks of not having to pay an arm and a leg just to sit courtside like Jack Nicholson... Another thing to love about Malawi.

Ofcourse, the game must not be so big in this country if a full capacity crowd for the just endend National Club championship is like 1,000 +/- What's Chichiri/Kamuzu Stadium seating capacity down in Blantyre? 50,000. Eish. It's Christmas season, I'm happily putting myself in hibernation until 2009 (God Willing). Where am I? pa vepi!!


Sunday, December 21, 2008

A confluence of Paths

" Two roads diverged in the middle of my life, I heard a wise man say, I took the road less traveled by and that's made the difference every night and every day."
- Larry Norman-

2008 has been quite a year, I almost don't want it to end. As I reflect on events that happened this weekend, I am truly blessed to be a unique human being, traveling on the road less traveled. Lord, bring it on, I KNOW you'll take me there.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

On "Tough" Posh Malawian Schools and dress codes

Posh schools in Malawi are a hybrid of quality education and snobility...and a sub-hybrid of nostalgic-colonial-eraism and cosmopolity. Been there, done that, bought the t-shirt! From Primary to end of secondary,went to two that classified as posh posh (but then if you count every African school with a pool as posh then 3)whether I got quality education is debatable, whether I'm a snob, well I flatter myself that I'm not, so why then does my nose always point upwards (gravity is losing it's strength)and on the colonial nostalgia, I treasure all the fun stuff like games of rounders, hockey....I think the printing press at ol' Cambridge needs to move to Nairobi. Cosmopolity? that's a plus in this global village.

Anywho, it was quite interesting to chat to a new breed "posh-schooler". She's 11. Back in my day, you expected two things only from a posh school: 1. posh, and 2. posh. but this girl goes to a religious posh school and I didn't know whether to laugh or cry at the tales she was telling me.

Let me paint the picture here. Imagine Malawi suburbia, the works, rich dad, rich mum, housemaid, nanny, gardener, and guard - all to pander to every whim of Suburb prince or princess. Granted not all kids in Malawi suburbia are obnoxious but a fair amount are. In comes this big religious posh school that aims to put things right. At first I was quite elated, didn't mind someone finally sweeping the night clubs of bored under-age students but then listen to this and oh! disclaimer- conversation paraphrased;

"So kid, heard your school is super cool" (trying to be "in" with the young 'uns by using the overused word "cool" you see, clever me)

"Umm, not really, I'd prefer it if I were a day-scholar."

"Why is that, you are 11, you must love being all independent, somewhat, down there in boarding school?"

"Independent my foot, we can't even wear pants!"

"You can't wear pants? Most of your clothes are actually pants."

"yeah, but our principal reckons some girls were wearing pants that were too tight so school rules now say no pants for girls. and for skirts, we can only wear skirts that are an inch below the knee!"

I looked at her with pity, I thought back to the days when I was 11 and it was plain illegal in Malawi to wear short skirts and pants. I'm all for modesty but I never see why an 11 year old should wear an ugly frock, women's style skirts and no jeans. Anywho, the conversation went on...

"What happens when you break the rules?"

"It depends really, sometimes you have to go down flights of stairs on just your knees, we call that detention."

Back in my day, detention was staying in a classroom studying while everyone else was having fun.

"But sometimes it's corporal punishment."

I have no issues with corporal punishment, I have had my share of hidings and they did me good.

"Can boys sag?"

"No way, pants for boys have to fit."

Poor hip-hop star wanna-be suburb princes... heh heh heh Eish!

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Now Mariah, who could it be for me?

The song below by Mariah has always been a favorite but after my events this year I could do with Santa dropping off a surprise of that nature on my doorstep :-)
hmmmm, now who could it be? Now, not as young as the hunk in the pic here Santa! Goodness No!

Holding on to me so tight
What more can I do
Baby all I want for Christmas is you

All the lights are shining
So brightly everywhere
And the sound of children's
Laughter fills the air
And everyone is singing
I hear those sleigh bells ringing
Santa won't you bring me the one I really need
Won't you please bring my baby to me

Oh, I don't want a lot for Christmas
This is all I'm asking for
I just want to see my baby
Standing right outside my door
Oh I just want him for my own
More than you could ever know
Make my wish come true
Baby all I want for Christmas is

All I want for Christmas is you baby
All I want for Christmas is you baby.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Holiday Fear

I'm stepping into the unknown here. This will be the first Christmas in all my years on this planet that I will not spend with family (of any sort). Stepping into the unknown is frightful. No cable to watch all the Christmas movies, no Christmas DVD's, no Christmas music even. No raisins for mince cup cakes, no eggs for nougat, well at least there is the stocking I'll put up. No tree!!!! Fingers crossed that Santa will put in an appearance, my list is a yard long.....

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Weekend of Champions

If there is one thing I fear, then it's cabin fever. You know, stuck at home with nowhere to go and nothing to do. This weekend however i allowed myself to go crazy a la Gnarls Barkley's song "Crazy" and pretended to be snowed in. I stayed inside all day saturday and all night. I felt antsy but it's good to take it easy. I tried my best to read but reading on the bed isn't easy, I slept most of the time.

I wore shorts and a tank, tied my hair back and let all the exhaustion leave me. I miss my usual brain stimulants: movies, music, phone conversations, etc. but it was all good. The Buckaroo is officially well rested and needs to put in a productive week this week. no excuses.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Obama mania continues...

got this funny email today, thought I'd share part of it with you!

..."So back to the ice-skating. Its an hour session. About 50 minutes into the skating all 5 black people from our group coincidentally meet at one end of the rink and Sim points out that the only black people on the entire rink are from our group. Someone mentions Obama and we decide we need to go round the rink one last time for Obama. At this point I had not even fallen once and I was getting a bit arrogant. As I skate I shout, 'yes we can!' The moment I finish those words I fall flat on my back. Sonia sees me fall, opens her mouth to laugh and falls flat on her back. So there we are, two black women lying flat on our backs with arms spread out on an ice-skating rink. Pride definitely comes before the fall."

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Reading The Shack

I have been going to a little volleyball place called The Shack here in Lilongwe. Good place to meet new people, eat, and watch the game. Wondering now if that was a premonition for a book that has simply just fallen into my lap, "The Shack" by William P. Young.

I am yet to make up my mind on this novel but as Mike said, it is rather interesting. Well worth the read so far. An average, distraught man returns to "the shack" to meet God and God is not what he expects, He's not what I expect: in the kitchen dancing to music through earphones, gardening, and fixing things. Sometimes I think it's bordering on, well, blasphemy but then again religion has been manhandled by man so long that what may be the truth appears to be blasphemous. I wonder what my Systematic Theology and Old Testament Biblical Theology professors think of it. ...Elousia?

I was quite interested in the Multnomah Princess Legend, unforgettable. Reminds me of learning in Bible College about how every culture HAS a shadow story/practice/legend that tells about Jesus and His sacrifice for us. Something that is practiced, was practiced or told in a story or song that shows clearly the sacrifice One had to make in order that redemption should take place. Examples are "The Peace Child" in the South Pacific and this Multnomah legend. Read below:

The Legend of Multnomah Falls:

Many years ago the head chief of the Multnomah people had a beautiful young daughter. She was especially dear to her father because he had lost all his sons in fighting, and he was now a old man. He chose her husband with great care, a young chief from his neighbors, the Clatsop people. To the wedding feast came many people from tribes along the lower Columbia and south of it.

The wedding feast was to last for several days. There were swimming races and canoe races on the river. There would be bow-and-arrow contests, horse racing, dancing, and feasting. The whole crowd was merry, for both the maiden and the young warrior were loved by their people.

But without warning the happiness changed to sorrow. A sickness came over the village. Children and young people were the first victims, then strong men became ill and died in only one day. The wailing of the women was heard throughout the Multnomah village and the camps of the guests.
"The Great Spirit is angry with us," the people said to each other. The head chief called together his old men and his warriors for counsel and asked gravely," What can we do to soften the Great Spirits wrath?"

Only silence followed his question. At last one of the old medicine men arose." There is nothing we can do. If it is the will of the Great Spirit that we die, then we must meet our death like brave men. The Multnomah have ever been a brave people."

The other members of the council nodded in agreement, all except one, the oldest medicine man. He had not attended the wedding feast and games, but he had come in from the mountains when he was called by the chief. He rose and, leaning on his stick, spoke to the council. His voice was low and feeble.

"I am a very old man, my friends, I have lived a long, long time. Now you will know why. I will tell you a secret my father told me. He was a great medicine man of the Multnomah, many summers and many snows in the past.

When he was an old man, he told me that when I became old, the Great Spirit would send a sickness upon our people. All would die, he said, unless a sacrifice was made to the Great Spirit. Some pure and innocent maiden of the tribe, the daughter of a chief, must willingly give her life for her people. Alone, she must go to a high cliff above Big River and throw herself upon the rocks below. If she does this, the sickness will leave us at once."

Then the old man said,"I have finished, my fathers secret is told. Now I can die in peace."
Not a word was spoken as the medicine man sat down. At last the chief lifted his head. "Let us call in all the maidens whose fathers or grandfathers have been headmen."

Soon a dozen girls stood before him, among them his own loved daughter. The chief told them what the old medicine man had said. "I think his words are words of truth," he added.

Then he turned to his medicine men and his warriors, "Tell our people to meet death bravely. No maiden shall be asked to sacrifice herself. The meeting has ended."

The sickness stayed in the village, and many more people died. The daughter of the head chief sometimes wondered if she should be the one to give her life to the Great Spirit. But she loved the young warrior, she wanted to live.

A few days later she saw the sickness on the face of her lover. Now she knew what she must do. She cooled his hot face, cared for him tenderly, and left a bowl of water by his bedside. Then she slipped away alone, without a word to anyone.

All night and all the next day she followed the trail to the great river. At sunset she reached the edge of a cliff overlooking the water. She stood there in silence for a few moments, looking at the jagged rocks far below. Then she turned her face toward the sky and lifted up her arms. She spoke aloud to the Great Spirit.

"You are angry with my people. Will you make the sickness pass away if I give you my life? Only love and peace and purity are in my heart. If you will accept me as a sacrifice for my people, let some token hang in the sky. Let me know that my death will not be in vain and that the sickness will quickly pass."

Just then she saw the moon coming up over the trees across the river. It was the token. She closed her eyes and jumped from the cliff.

Next morning, all the people who had expected to die that day arose from their beds well and strong. They were full of joy. Once more there was laughter in the village and in the camps of the guest.

Suddenly someone asked, "What caused the sickness to pass away? Did one of the maidens---?"
Once more the chief called the daughters and granddaughters of the headmen to come before him. This time one was missing.

The young Clatsop warrior hurried along the trail which leads to Big River. Other people followed. On the rocks below the high cliff they found the girl they all loved. There they buried her.
Then her father prayed to the Great Spirit, "Show us some token that my daughters spirit has been welcomed into the land of the spirits."

Almost at once they heard the sound of water above. All the people looked up to the cliff. A stream of water, silvery white, was coming over the edge of the rock. It broke into floating mist and then fell at their feet. The stream continued to float down in a high and beautiful waterfall.

For many summers the white water has dropped from the cliff into the pool below. Sometimes in winter the spirit of the brave and beautiful maiden comes back to see the waterfall. Dressed in white, she stands among the trees at one side of Multnomah Falls. There she looks upon the place where she made her great sacrifice and thus saved her lover and her people from death.

(Tom Ka'ili)