Team FroJo 2010 travel blog

Cultural interaction at Kazuni village. Now we know how to use the...

Children in the Kazuni village

Traditional dancing - Kazuni

We spend our first night with the car in Rumphi and find a nice clean room at a hotel that hasn't fully opened yet. The next day we drive down a very bumpy dirt road to the Vwaza wildlife reserve and find that the animals have left because of the rainy season. We drive a little further to Kazuni Village where they have a cultural program set up for visitors to involve themselves in rural life. We are the only tourists there, and nothing is prepared for us when we arrive. But there is a big open hut and right now it is the local classroom. The school master invites us in to sit down and watch as he teaches the kids English. A couple of unfortunates are commanded to come and introduce themselves to us and so we get offered a very shaky and nervous 4 year old little hand to shake. The children sit on the floor, pressed around the outside wall of the hut, while the teacher sits high and regal like in his chair from where he summons different kids to practice their sentences. "I am a boy/girl" and "This is a car" while pointing to a small plastic car placed in the sand that has been sent to the school from a woman called Sophie in England. When the teacher goes out to do something, we play with the kids and they relax and laugh but are quickly back in line as he returns. Afterwards we are shown around the village and served traditional Malawi food (which has me feeling that I am glad i don't have to do that too often) and by the time we get back to the hut the entire village has assembled for singing and dancing. The women dance around a tree and invite me to dance with them - some simple swaying steps in time to drums. Then two teeny tiny little girls dance a traditional dance and they are so very serious about the way they are sensually swaying their hips that all the adults stifle laughs and the kids look vaguely confused. Then the school master laughs and the crowd murmur as a large effigy/doll type thing is carried out. The doll, we find out, is actually a small boy dressed as a kind of dwarf. Where his legs from knee down should be, he is wearing doll size trousers. Where he legs should be from knee up, he is wearing a doll like sweater stuffed fat with the stomach of this character. And from the boys waist up to his head is a sack covering everything else. The boy dances moving his knees so that it looks like the doll figure is performing a quite ridiculous dance with its hips ... and the crowd roars with laughter! After the dancing, important people from the village take their seats and everything turns very ceremonial. We are caught quite unprepared when they ask us to make ... speeches! We each take our turn and stand up and tell the village that we are thrilled to have spent the day there and how much we have enjoyed ourselves, which is then translated into Tumbuka for everyone to understand. Then the village chief gives a very passionate speech with a lot of emphasis which gets vaguely translated to us by the school master, only he forgets to translate and adresses us in Tumbuka until the snickering from the local women tells him that something is awry! Then the treasurer gives us a speech and says that he will ask us for a donation (this we are expecting as we have read about this part in the guide book) and we are asked to present the donation in front of the whole village so that each and every man, woman and child can see how much is given and hold the treasurer responsible for it's appropriate use. We have a budget for supporting organizations in every country we visit and had already decided that support was a fantastic idea ..... but it was quite emotional to take the money out in front of 100 people and hear the intake of breath as we hand it over and then the smiling and shaking hands. Giving is usually so anonymous, but this is quite different. In the evening we drive back to Rumphi and take the car in to have the tires and brakes checked after a day on the bumpy road to Kazuni.

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