Don’t worry or rejoice it’s not as interesting or real as it sounds. There isn’t even a photo of a cute and sympathetic face to accompany these words. The Zambian I want to adopt hints every day for me to take him back to America, …home of Obama, …superpower country, … the place where the people they stays well.  He’s my neighbor and we share nshima lumps for dinner and do other foolish things that make life good like untwist gnarly stumps from my garden, hunt mice with scrap metal, and oh yeah make African banjos (place your orders now) with the help of our goat killing dog.  Somedays when he’s feeling fearful of airplanes he wants me to move to Botswana or South Africa and become a white commercial farmer so I can hire him.  He does keep fish well. It’s tempting too cause at least here in Zambia land is cheap, opportunity is everywhere and nobody tries to tell you what to do. It’s how I imagine Alaska but warmer and more corrupt.

So my neighbor is part of a fish farming co-operative, he’s actually the chair which means he gets to attend to the leaky fish ponds alone while the other members stay home or go to other towns to dig fish ponds for money.  It’s hard to watch everyday he goes and works these sandy bottom fish ponds, usually alone and I don’t think they’ll ever harvest any fish eventhough a donor gave them plastic liners. Cooperatives are pushed heavily here in Zambia, I’m not really sure why it may be another charming socialist relic. They are kind of fun albeit baffling at times.  In the village if someone works hard in a self reliant way they invite jealousy; sometimes if they really do well it comes  in the form of juju. Your option is to join a co-operative and either carry three people’s weight or be carried along by those doing the pulling. I think co-operatives are preferred because they make it easier for the govt and donors to give money away. Anyways I think my village is kind of tired of doing everything together when it comes to getting the job done.  If they’re supposed to inspire community that’s great but they seem to provide the platform for deception and laziness just as easily. 

So back to my adorable neighbor seeking asylum; just last night we found out most of his maize field was robbed in large part due to his faithful attendance to the fish ponds. It was a tough night, but nothing new to him. It does make me fearful of hunger season which coincides with the NFL season. When hunger is known by a season you know you have poverty. The inability to avoid the inevitable before the rains come and the wild plants grow.  I was really hoping our neighbors would be ok, even if many in the village would be in hunger at least I could maintain some objective distance.  It makes it difficult to not give handouts when the person you share dinners with, allow in your house, and let your guard down around will be hungry along with his 8 children and 3 dependents.  As much as I want to bring my neighbor to America just to see his reaction at everything, meet our fathers, and take a roadtrip with an El Camino and a styrofoam cooler, it doesn’t seem responsible. 

He keeps asking to come though, my only reply is that I’m worried his wife will put juju on me is good enough for now but in two years we’ll be leaving and my neighbor and I will be hot wet messes and the villagers drinking from the stream will taste our salty tears.  All in all things are good, I’ve been finding some good folks to work with, and I’m still trying to size up slash and burn agriculture on acidic soils before I embark on a full frontal assault. I appreciate the people who responded last time I put a call out for help on “Bio-char”. I’ll keep you in mind as developments happen, but mostly it’s just good to hear from folks, and that’s as desperate as I’ll ever sound so take me up on it.  We’re also planning a vacation to go see some aminals safari style so that is exciting. Don’t worry I brought plenty of sunscreen and synthetic khaki clothes and hat so I’ll be ready for whatever happens.

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