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FYI: Out and About in Lincoln.

For those of you that live in Lincoln and around, I’m hoping you’d be glad to know that we’ve got pictures up.

 
The College of Journalism and Mass Communications has put together an exhibit of over 50 photographs taken in Zambia by Professor Bruce Mitchell and myself at the Rotunda Gallery in the Union. The exhibit is called Zambia: Hope and Happiness. It is a rather captivating array of shots.
 
You are welcome to check out the exhibit and to attend the reception (11am, Friday 9/25). Please note that the pictures will be up till late saturday night 9/26 (sorry for the late notice). There will be more opportunities to see the pictures in the future and I can let you know as they arrive.

Come Enjoy! …..you know you want to 🙂

P.S. Sign the guest book. please!

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Hunting – – Day 3

Day 3 – Sunday July 12, 2009

Up at first light, we set to work finding good firewood for the fire as we planned on drying out some of the meat. Charcoal wouldn’t work because it had a tendency of burning too hot and as such it tended to char the meat, and that is just not desirable. Cutting meat is a lot of work. Seriously, it just kept on and on. Feeling a tad left out and uninitiated as a hunter, I decided to do something about it and made myself a side of non-rocky non-mountain oysters. I did eat it all but I will be perfectly fine not having to repeat the performance.

One of the major highlights of this last day of hunting was that my father tried selling me off in marriage to Malambo (the guide) in the hopes that the marriage would provide him with free hunting privileges for at least 5 years. Malambo would have none of it. Citing my proficiency with a gun the day before, he just did not see a happy life in the future with me as his wife. Apparently I was too much of a woman for him…a bush-woman that is. My father pleaded but to no avail, Malambo was not having me. He said the outcome of such a union would be 1 of three options: (1) he would be moved to drink; (2) he would be moved to kill himself because the drink would not be sufficient to counter a life with me; (3) I would kill him as the result of a disagreement. And so, just like that I was dumped.

By about 1.00pm we were done and loaded and we got in the car and headed back home. All the way back we received appreciative glances from people we passed. It was only right that they acknowledged and adequately respected the conquests of our hunting expedition, and we put the heads on display to ensure that. We looked like a pack of vagabonds, most especially me, who was wearing a shirt-dress over tights with feathers in my hair. I looked like I had just stepped of the set of Taking Woodstock or some other 60’s themed peace, love and happiness hippie flick. I didn’t feel like a hippie till I caught some of the strange looks that people sent my way.

By all means an atypical weekend for me but it was hands-down time well-spent. I would leap at the opportunity to go hunting again, but would draw the line at hunting honeymoon as had been proposed by some in our party.
 
PS. My hunting shoes, the ones that protected me from all of the nastiness of the great outdoors were left in the bush. My darling father, bless his soul, washed them, cleaned off all the muck and then with my express permission gifted them to the caretaker of the campsite.

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Hunting – – Day 2

Day 2 – Saturday July 11, 2009

Once the gates were open, we picked up our guide and headed in to set-up camp before we went into the bush. The campsite was… um… interesting. There 3 huts (more like chalets but I like the word hut). One was new and the other two had been burnt down and so had walls but no doors or roofs. The new hut was not completely finished and was storing building materials and despite paying to camp at the site we didn’t have access to the new hut and had to use one of the burnt out ones. We made a fire, offloaded our junk, and appointed Solomon guardian of the camp- without doors or roofs or windows there’s nothing to keep the pesky baboons from invading and rummaging through our stuff. I left my laptop with him (yes I brought it to the bush!), so that he could keep entertained watching movies while the rest of us, made like tribesmen and ruled the jungle.

We drove out to the hunting area and I was shocked to see that humans lived alongside the wildlife. The guide explained that it was a community park and the people that lived on the park made their living fishing on the river to the north and their cattle roamed the plains intermingling with the wildlife.

The plains were flat and wide. I could honestly see for miles around and it was in its own empty, simple way, breathtaking. Nelson set up aiming for a male in a pack we had come across and he missed. No seriously, he really missed. This was our cue to make time for some practice shots. Setting up a target on a tree about 55 yards away, we got to work. I handled the smaller gun, the 243. Using the bonnet of the car to steady myself, I trained the crosshairs on my target and pulled the trigger. And yes, I got my target. My dad got a practice shot after me, and he with the bigger gun made a larger mark on the target and on the tree. With the dead-on shots we figured we were good and went in search of our marks.

Nelson was up again and was the first to make a kill. We were all pretty excited because we had started rather late in the morning and by this point many animals had crossed into the water, where we could no longer hunt or track them. His shot was a through and through. He had aimed for the shoulder and the bullet went in the shoulder, through the heart and out the other shoulder. That poor animal did not have a chance. After posing for the required “hunter” shots, we loaded the first kill into the trailer. The dead animal must have been in the middle of business because it emitted pellets in the trailer.

Leaving Abel with the kill we set off in search of new targets. My dad was up next. He located a rather dashing male, set his crosshairs and fired. An unwitting female lechwe stepped in front of the bullet at the last minute and got hit…well, killed. It is against the rules to hunt females but there was nothing we could do, it was an accident. Lining up again, he shot and hit the male but the resilient beast would not go down and so we had to track it. It went into the mud and marshes, headed towards the water. Vic quickly threw his shoes off, the guide followed suit and they took off after the animal. As they were following the feisty brute, Vic came upon a male with his name written all over it and he bagged it. After handing off the dead female and male to Abel and Nelson, we continued in search of the injured male and soon enough Vic was able to finish him off. At this point, we were knee deep in water and the animal looked like a noteworthy conquest. I mean, seriously, the beast was huge! We slashed it’s throat to let it bleed out and rolled to over to inspect it. On the back leg of this animal was a large growth, which when cut open was filled with a sickly yellow pus. Apparently someone else had tried to land this trophy earlier on and the animal had proved elusive, refusing to die. The pus indicated an infection and so the animal and its meat were no good and we had to leave it for the vultures.

At this point I should mention that once we had reached the wetlands, Vic promptly took his shoes off and trudged through the mud and waters, bare naked footed! I was shocked but in no way moved myself to follow his lead. The guide, Malambo was the only to follow suit. For me, in all honesty, it was torture enough that I was walking through all that mess, imagining the fecal matter and other nastiness that was now only a sock and a shoe away from my bare skin, in some instances, when the water was deep enough it was touching the slim ribbon of exposed skin between my trousers and socks- ew! My father approved of my decision and he kept his shoes on as well. We felt further vindicated but privately so, when later Vic got his foot caught on a reed and sliced open the skin between his second and third toes and despite his bravado, I knew it hurt. However that barely broke his stride as we resumed the hunt and he acted as though nothing had happened at all.

Cutting our losses (letting the bad-meat-but-big-trophy go), we resumed our hunt and trudged through the swamp for my target. I was not able to get my shot lined up in time before my first real target began to move and seeing as it was quite a far shot to make, we decided to move on. Then we came across a big one and taking my time, I trained the crosshairs on the animal and shot. In the interest of full disclosure, I was aiming for the shoulder as I had been instructed but often when I try to focus on an object that’s tiny and hard to see, my eyes tear up and my vision gets blurry. I knew that the animal was in my crosshairs, I steadied myself and pulled the trigger and it went down. Because we were in the marshes, we had forgotten to bring our shooting sticks with us and I had to use Vic’s shoulder to steady my gun. Seeing the animal fall, Vic picks me up and is shouting and celebrating, uber-proud of his new student. My dad’s voice is booming in the background, “THAT’S MY DAUGHTER!!! THAT’S MY DAUGHTER!!!” I am absolutely chuffed to bits, with a giant smile pasted on my face. And yes, I remembered to turn the safety back on.

We ran up to the animal and saw that I had shot the biggest animal of the day, through the eye. It was a brainshot, it didn’t stand a chance. At this point I was beyond ecstatic. All I had wished for on this hunting trip was that I would shoot and kill my animal and I did in a very stellar fashion! As the car was quite a distance away and we still had some hunting to do, my father had yet to get his [acceptable] kill, we left Phillip with the lechwe and went off in search of more males. It was getting late in the day and there were less animals roaming the plains. In fact all we could see were herds of younger lechwe.

To save time, Vic sent me after Nelson and Abel to make sure that they had let Nelson’s kill bleed out. I was bummed to miss out on the rest of the hunt but had quite the laugh once I found out that Nelson and Abel in a display of ingenuity had managed to get the cars stuck in the mud. And no, not just one car, both cars. They had originally trying to be smart and reduce their workload, drove Nelson’s car out into the mud because they were tired of dragging Vic’s kill (and the dead female).  Now they got the Bighorn stuck in mud about a foot deep. Then they decided to drag it out of the mud with the Patrol. They drove the Patrol up but then got that stuck too, in not very deep mud to boot and not even close enough to hook it up to the Bighorn. I was definitely sure to congratulate them on a job well done! Hardy ha ha! No seriously, my sides were splitting. I just could not believe that this had happened to us. At this juncture, I think that I should point out that it was flat all around and we could see for miles and there was no one around to help us. There was another car with hunters but they looked to be about 2-3 miles out and nobody wanted to walk out to fetch them. So instead, I sat and poked fun at Nelson and Abel who to make up for their gross miscalculations had started skinning and gutting Nelson’s kill.

Lucky for us, the other hunters decided to pull up and give us a hand and some local fishermen and hunters who were making their way home stopped to gives us a hand in the hopes that they’d make a quick buck. Little did they know that they were actually going to have to earn it! With enough effort we were able to get the patrol out but the real challenge was with the Bighorn that looked like a third of the tyre was stuck in the mud. It was BAD. One of the local chaps, trying to be smart went off to fetch a pair of oxen from another villager, while everybody else attempted to search the extremely flat and barren landscape for anything that could help create some sort of traction underneath the wheels of this ridiculously heavy sport utility vehicle.

We ended up hacking a short thorny tree (we took the horns off of course), using clumps of grass as well as the floor mats from inside of the car and with the Patrol circled around the front taking particular care to drive only on the drier, harder ground, we were finally able to get that massive beast out of the mud. I found that I was really amused by how readily our guide chucked his AK-47 into the front seat and got to work hacking at the mud that held us captive. I was really grateful for his initiative and effort but also amused at the sight of the discarded weapon.

It amazes me how much we take effective communication for granted, until we are sitting, one car stuck in mud and the other roped on ready to yank it out. Well, without waiting for the go-ahead the driver of the Patrol (which I am certain was my dad), took off like a man possessed before the Bighorn had even turned on and snapped one of the ropes. We almost lost a hook that went flying as the rope broke.

So finally we had everything in order, all the animals in one place, all the cars out of the mud and we were set to go, Vic spotted a flock of ducks and as he had a birds license decided to shoot, he went off and killed a golden Egyptian goose. We ended up not having it for dinner as was the plan but gave it to Solomon to take home to his wife.

We went and had the animals inspected, explained the death of the female and got our papers signed and cleared so that we could leave the following day at our convenience. The main office for the rangers was fairly typical. I was surprised to see that they had cell phone signal, this far out in the bush. There was also a big baobab tree, well big by any other standards but comparatively small for a baobab, but as the sun was setting it made for a striking picture against the violet sky.

We went back to camp, ate nshima and mince meat that gave me really bad heartburn. The old men made the young ‘uns roast and eat the lechwe balls as their formal initiation as hunters. I feel that perhaps I should mention that these dear souls had still yet to fire a gun. Ironic? Anyway, we then got to work getting the meat ready to be cut-up first thing in the morning. The campsite manager materialized in the darkness and made us aware of his notable skills in skinning animals and so for a small fee, I paid him to skin my beast, as I had every intention of processing and keeping the skin. Solomon got to work, skinning and disemboweling the rest of the meat.

Soon exhausted by the day’s events and lulled by the warmth and light of the fire, we made our way to bed. We all slept in the same hut, a doorless, windowless, roofless hut. I laid a sleeping bag down and then put my sleeping bag over it but that did nothing to shield me from the cold hard concrete that sought to wreak havoc on my back.

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a familiar bullet-ridden gate

For several years, my sister, Tyna (pronounced Tina), Gwendy, and I were inseparable. We would even let our younger siblings join in the fun. Tyna and her sisters lived up the street from us and we spent many afternoons together. We did so many things together: swam together, watched tv together, hung around town together, we even went to church camp together once.

Tyna’s dad owned a bar that was next door to the Lusaka Community Playhouse and it was in this theatre that I first saw the musical Grease. Because Tyna’s dad owned the bar, the director of the play allowed us to come in and watch the dress rehearsal. The play was on late at night and there is no way that our parents would have approved of us being out so late. I remember feeling quite chuffed and privileged that I got to see the play before everybody else and it was absolutely awesome. I loved going to the bar. First of all, it had the best snacks and we were allowed to drink as much pop as we wanted. Plus, Tyna’s dad often took us to lunch at the Spur restaurant that was across the street at the Holiday Inn.

As a foursome, we got in trouble together and we had a lot of fun together. In fact, Tyna’s mom once got us to star in a commercial spot for a new Lodge that had opened in town (to this day, I am not completely sure that my mom knew or even knows about this). Funny side story about this ad, just after it aired some random joe that apparently somehow knew me, ran into one of my mates from high school who was wearing a school shirt and walked up to him asking him if he knew me, to which my mate said yes. RJ (random joe) then proceeded to tell my mate that he was my boyfriend. I DID NOT have a boyfriend at this time and granted while my parents wouldn’t have approved, it was mainly because all the boys I had soft spots for just couldn’t be bothered.

Anyway returning to the foursome, I remember we got in trouble at church camp, and yes it was because of boys. I remember the story quite well, it is quite lengthy and so I shan’t tell it here. However things erupted into this big fight, girls versus boys. The girls won, because Tyna cursed the pants off of the boys, which landed her, well no, all of us in trouble. I think I talked us out of it.

Today, I walked up the road to their house to see if they still lived there. At first I wasn’t sure, things seemed different. However, once I got in front of the gate and saw that the bullet holes were still there, I knew that at least their family still lived there. I’m not so sure about the story behind the bullet holes, I believe it had to do with an attempted robbery, a gun and Tyna’s dad.

That bullet ridden gate is a testament to a chapter of my life long gone but not forgotten. The girls don’t live there anymore. Tyna’s in England, married with 2 kids. Gwendy is here. Shasha in Engies. Chi and Nkem in L-town and Okem in Zaria. We all have separate lives.

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ahhh! yes, familiar african experiences

I just got done with the first team yesterday which meant that my uber-comfortable stay at the hotel was up….at least for the next 4 weeks or so. I am staying at a friend’s house right now. And as it to be expected, drama ensues.

I get to my friend’s place and she’s looking after 4 kids of another friend who had lost a family member and was gone for the funeral. 4 boisterous and opinionated children, the last of which, the 2.5-year old was headstrong and stubborn. I decided that a good movie might help facilitate a calmer evening. We all then  trucked to the mall to Blockbusters to get a movie. It took us probably an hour to select movies and get all the paperwork sorted. But we did it. We got back in the car and headed home, satisfied with our selections. All of us that is except the 2.5yr old, who I think was just pissed all night.

Anyway, once we get home, we realize that we..no make that I, must have lost one of the 2 yr old’s shoes as I hauled her back to the car- she was fussy and I wasn’t having it. At home, I figured, pop the dvd in and all will be well. As we try to pick out the one that we’d watch, the lights went out. No power for the rest of the night and we couldn’t watch the dvd on my laptop because we had drained the battery while the power was on. I know, smart. We decided to do the next best thing, and all went to bed.

I woke up this morning and bathed out of  a bucket. My shortest bathing experience this year to date. I then used the water left-over from my bath (clean un-used water) to flush the toilet by bucket. Apparently, I still have the touch, 7 years in the US, did nothing to hurt my flushing arm.

NOTE: The flushing arm perfected in Nigeria at the age of 5. When I lived in Zambia, at school and with my parents, we always had plumbing.

I am regaining respect for the conveniences of my life that I had grown accustomed to.

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unpredictable randomness

This evening, I decided to go to a restaurant just outside my hotel that has a lounge area to do some reading and grab a coffee (capuccino). I walked up to the maitre’d, who had just vacated her post. Some girl walks up behind me talking on the phone and before I know it, she has her hand on my back. I decided to make nothing of it, I figured she was probably distracted and wasn’t aware of what she was doing. She gets off the phone and then hugs and kisses me on the cheeks, asking me if it was fine for her to take outside liquor into the restaurant. I mentioned that I wasn’t an employee of the establishment and she apologized and then she asked me how I was and what I was up to. At which point I asked, do you know me? She said yes, and I said “how? I haven’t been around for 7 years.” To which she replies, “yes, I had thought it was about 6.” I was confused. I did not seem to recall this almost belligerent female.

Through the course of the evening, she came to sit next to me and then asked to borrow my mp3 player, which I lent her and then got back. Later her sister joined her and then proceeded to share her entire life story with me, including the fact that she had just gotten out of an abusive relationship.

I am still not quite sure how to respond to tonight. I’ll say this though, there is no shortage of drame and excitement.

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old friends, new places

Last night (6/10) at dinner, I ran into Wesu, who attended the same high school as I did and is actually the older sister of my mate Chobela. That was my first official “person I know who also knows me” unplanned sighting in Zed. That’s lakker! Wesu got me in contact with Charmaine and Chobela who actually left Zambia early this morning, so I just missed seeing her but we did get a chance to talk.

About 45 minutes before this, I got in contact with Mbela another mate from high school and we have plans to meet up later this week.

Oh and 5 minutes ago, I discovered that one of the people here at my hotel is my mate Justin’s older sister. “Small” world? …or small Zambia?

I finally feel like I have returned to Zambia. On that note, I really need to work on getting a cell phone.

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