Language and Culture – by Carol
Three or four days a week we are scheduled for language classes in small groups with a PC Staff local teacher.
I am such a disaster! I only understand the spoken Setwana when spoken at 5MPH. I massacre the pronunciation of nearly every word, and I catch John cringing often trying to decide how many times he can ask me to try and say it right again. One of the four people in my class is excellent and has picked up the cadence, vocabulary and rules as though she is a born linguist. John and Rose are pretty good too. They both get stuck from time to time, but are miles and miles ahead of me. Despite this tribulation, I am not worried about this very much. Either John or something higher has given some amount of confidence that it will be ok – somehow. Either I will learn the language or it won’t matter. I really really want to learn this language and I intend to devote considerable personal resources to this outcome.
A couple of days ago we got a surprise at the end of the night. We were invited to go to the Kanye Culture Night event at the main Kgolta (the place where the village chief meets with his people and conducts the community business) and it was a unique experience that included a Kgosi (sort of like an alderman) speaking to the history of the Kgosi, women parading in traditional dress, skip rope shows, really cool native dancing, a poet, some traditional instrument playing and several speeches.
The native dancing alone was worth a visit. The dancers were dressed in furs and hides of local wild animals and the dancers were so athletic and graceful; they were beautiful with perfect bodies moving in perfect rhythm for 20 minutes without sweating. Their bare feet continuously slapped the concrete floor and I swear it sort of sounded like tap dancing. It was great!
The Peace Corps employees were honored by being allowed to sit in front row seating. We were served “ethnic food” which many people were not adjusted too yet. Apparently a cow had been slaughtered for the event and all parts of the cow including intestines, stomach, and head parts are cooked. The men are separated from the women and the men are given the best innards to eat while the women must make do with just plain pounded beef meat. While a few people thought this was discrimination, I think women came out the winners. Especially the American women who don’t really want to eat that sort of food (several persons in the PC are vegetarians).
The event was interrupted once when a baby snake crawled on stage and the event came to a stop until the snake could be delicately and respectfully removed.
The event planners asked the Americans to come up and do something cultural. We tried to think of something American Ethnic and clever, but the best we could muster at the spur of the moment was a very sad rendition of The Macarena. Hardly truly American, but the spirit of the attempt carried us. It was very nice to be asked to participate and I am proud of the people who got on stage and came up with a fairly organized impromptu dance.
There were no concession stands or rides or distractions. People came and watched and enjoyed the community event. I have to say I missed the concessions for sure – and think it would be a real good addition for every one. I can’t yet separate from my American ways and I think events are more interesting when there are choices of things to do, food and games to spend my money on and socializing which is easy with the additional mobility – but maybe I am starting to see things in a different way. This event did seem much more of a community event and people truly looked as though they were enjoying themselves even though there was no food, games or booze.
Communication Update: The standoff is over! Both sides of the hardly waged war over the use of the Training Facility Wi-Fi Internet have finally come to an agreement! We will be allowed the limited and controlled use of the Training Facility Internet in two weeks (Oct 15th or so), so communication should be easier, at least in regards to reading and responding to emails. The Botswana Country Director spoke to the issue today. He stated that there had been many complaints and he wanted to fully discuss the issue. He also wanted to clarify that the Bots 10 group (the training group that came before our group called Bots 11) had NOTHING to do with the denial of the service. It was more of a world wide Peace Corps issue.
Regardless of reasons or methods – we should be able to use email communication on a more regular basis from October 15th – November 10th, when we move to our new home. We will update you on the best communication methods then.
Miss you and love you all!