CAPITALIST IS MY MIDDLE NAME
if you were to break down my job to the simplist term it would be “networking”. Everything I do, place I go boils down to having conversations with people. When I work in the clinic pharmacy, the main perk is talking to the staff and patients. When I walk to the store, my next work partner could potientially be walking down the road too. I’ve been trained to keep my eyes open, and participate in as much small talk as possible- the world is my office water cooler.
The other weekend, while celebrating my friends birthday, I had one of these chance encounters. A swazi, my age, had a vision of starting a tour company taking tourists from joburg, through swaziland to the coast of mozambique. We got to talking, he had some soild ideas- just needed a bit of help putting it all together. I’ve spent the last few days working with him on a bussiness plan and marketing materials for him. Its been refreshing to work on a project like I would at home- idea trees, creative briefs, logo mock-ups- i’m a complete nerd when it comes to this stuff.
He also mentioned a swazi cermanics company his father had helped start. I don’t know the details on this one yet, but i’m hoping to help them expand and possibly start exporting to neighboring countries and even overseas. The company is all swazi staff, and increasing production and sales could create more jobs- which swaziland is in need of.
These two ventures are still in the beginning stagies, but they have already proven themselves to be an improvement to my mental health. As “for-profit” projects, they may not be in the same realm of things I will do with the clinic, or local schools- but they are exaclty the kind of projects I loved to do at the agency, or freelancing. Hell, it feels good to have multiple projects going on at once. You can take the girl out of the city, but you can’t take away the pleasure of an 60 hour work week 🙂
DANCING, GOAT SLAUGHTER, NEW FRIENDS + SKINNING CHICKENS OH MY!
a rainy week here on the plateu, which means i have a serious case of cabin fever. Luckily my friend shorty (bongani, but he is really short lol) stopped over on friday to invite me to his sisters “negotiations”.
I have mentioned a few things about weddings here in swaziland- they are quite the event. Part of this ceremony is the bride negotiations, where the grooms elders and brides elders meet to discuss the price of the dowery. Yes, brides have to be “bought” here, usually by exchange of cattle. Cattle is worth more than money here- the more cows you own, the more status you have in the community, the more wealthy you are, and probably the more good looking daughters you have married. Luckily for Shorty, he has 5 sisters- so they are doing just fine 🙂
The events started with about 20 close family and friends crowded onto a small living room (+ me). We all squeezed onto the floor along the four walls of the room, legs outstretched to the center of the room. Swazi’s can sit with their legs straight out in front for hours, without shifting, or moving a muscle; this is a skill I am still learning. We sat for a little over an hour, chatting softly to each of Shorty’s beautiful sisters. He has a twin sister, I was next to, that is in the military here. She is beautiful, and it was hard to picture her in camo carrying an AK-47. His eldest sister had her 2 year old daughter bouncing on her outstretched legs. It is rare I get to say this here, but this little girl was the fattest baby I have ever seen. Watching her stomp around was like watching a sumo wrestler prepare for a fight- I was in love with her lil thunder tighs!
The event finally was started, when the groom-to-be entered the room along with his father, and Shorty’s Gogo. The grooms father spoke for 10 mins, it was in siswati, but by the quiet smiles, and nodding heads, I could tell it was a pleasant speech about the couple and their future together. Then it was Gogo’s turn. She threw a small stick with several noches carved into the wood, out into the center of the room. “17” she slurrs. Gogo, may have had a little too much homebrew. The room erupts in laughter as the grooms father reaches for the stick. “Go, there is only 15 notches..” he says. From here on out, all Gogo will say is “shut your mouse (mouth…but it sounded a lot like mouse…)”. A few other people took turns speaking on behalf of the couple, for about an hour. This included a scary, obease man in the corner who gave a nice leture on the responsibilities of the woman of the house, ie: cleaning, cooking, birthing children, tending to her husband etc- this would not pass for a wedding toast in my book.
After the talking, all of the women started singing. This is my favorite thing about swaziland; the women singing. One woman starts, and the others automatically snyc in, providing backup. It is so beautiful. They sang and unwrapped new dishes and serving platers, which were imediately filled with food and passed around the room.
Meanwhile outside, the men were hard at work slaughtering the goat. I got to hold a leg 🙂
the rest of the day was full of dancing, talking and laughing. I was outdanced by 2, 4 year old girls, who could put shakira to shame. It was a great day, and hanging out with my friend Shorty and his friends. (just picture Shorty like Carlton from fresh prince- they could be twins in personality and looks).
At sunset we started heading home, walking with my new group of swazi boyfriends, and trying my best to help them with their pick up lines for the ladies. Peace Corps helps in ALL areas of life skills 🙂
when I arrived home, my entire family was surrounding a wheel barrel by the kitchen building. 22 headless chickens lay at their feet. Somehow this is not suprising to me at all. They have already defeathers a quarter of the chickens, but sun is setting quickly now. I roll up my sleeves- they made it look really easy. About 15 mins later, I finished my chicken, and they finished 3 each lol. Guess I will have to practice this skill set a little more.
It was a very interesting day, but lots of fun- the kind of enjoyment you can only get in the swaz!