It's Tuesday, April 26, the day after a long, four-day Easter holiday. I started the weekend at the office, completing the first draft of the comprehensive plan for the squatter residential area just on the edge of the center of Chipata. There are several parts to it, ideas generated after starting the rough mapping of the area, field observing infrastructural amenities and constraints, and generally talking very casually with some of the residents. After weeks of returning to the squatter community, its strengths began coming to the surface, and I began to see the community as a very mobile, vey entrepreneurially active one. The maize - what looked at first like accidental growth in little open spaces around the community was in fact urban agriculture plots intended to either feed or get the grower some income.
The objective, if my proposals are approved by the Commissioner of Lands and the Town Clerk, is to improve the physical conditions of the area and get another water kiosk in the section where according to some of the residents it is needed.
So, on this Easter holiday, I worked. Later in the afternoon, I was invited to my colleague's, Namakau, house. She works as a socio-economic planner and visits me at the office every once in a while, and I her in her squatting staunch in the deed office. We ate and watched a Nigerian movie called Blood Sisters. I'm beginning to understand the dominant themes in some of the Nigerian movies the more I watch them. They contain what I have come to interpret as folklore and in the right context the drama is very interesting to watch. The only problem with the movies is the sound; it echoes and the dialogue is at times difficult to understand.
It was a really nice lunch. I got a chance to taste other traditional Zambian foods apart from the usual fare of sauteed rape and cabbage. Namakau's cousin, Martha, the main cook for the afternoon, explained the preparation of her dishes: chiwawa and kalembula. The ingredients are pretty standard, salt, tomatoes, and onions, but the savory taste I've concluded is in the unique preparation of them. Chiwawa is first boiled, sliced into strips, and then dried for three days under the scorching sun. The kalembula is boiled, but is in addition spiced with ground nut powder. Martha also added another dish of liver stew, which had a broth that had a hint of red wine and complemented the nshima quite nicely. The entire meal was tasty and very enjoyable to eat!
I have to say that many of the foods here contain ingredients that can really only be found in the Zambian villages, but for those of you reading my blogs, if you are growing sweet potatoe or squash or pumpkin this summer to fall, you can gather the leaves of these crops yourselves, as they are the main ingredients in the dishes I ate. Clearly I love to eat, especially the healthy foods I have been able to sample here in Chipata.
I also got to see Katuta Lodge this Easter weekend with someone I befriended at the local stationery store. Tea, coke, and dinner. The garden is something to see; not really the kind of landscaping comonly found in Chipata. The green, green grass was a treat after months of seeing dusty, red clay roads.Very peaceful, but also unfortunately replete with mosquitos.
This month, I started saving up for a digital camera. I've decided that I wanted to give readers a visual idea of my life in Chipata and also offer faces of people I've met here so far. The Chewa (matriarchal) Festival is coming to Katete in August and I definitely want to take pictures of the festival participants in their traditional dresses dancing ritual dances.
I have only been living in Zambia for two months, but I am truly considering extending for another year next February. I would love to see these urban planning projects of which I have been a part completed.