Sunday, September 11, 2011

A View across the Valley

Sata supporters
Election fever has descended upon Chipata Central, giving an air of both tension and excitement to the community. The tail end of August has been consumed with elections; in the third week there were bands of people on Umodzi Highway, cheering and playing music loudly in the effort to bring attention to their favorite candidates. Government personnel and casual civil servants are spending days training in preparation for work at the polls and to look out for scoundrels eager to start a riot. The government has issued a national warning about riot threats and VSO has sent out information explaining evacuation procedures in case the violence gets out of hand. I thought about heading to Malawi two days before, but they have their own issues there with a president that won’t leave office. 
Excited campaigners
Almost there

Accordingly, many of our Council members have been participating in public service messages, urging people not to riot, accept the election outcome, and commit to a peaceful election. As a result, the corridors of the Old City Council Building have been quiet; on most days during this period, I have been the only person in Room 3.
Zambians are a very political people, registering to vote, and wanting to talk politics with people. 

The media seems to favor sitting president Rupiah Banda, even going so far as to claim that recent polls have already designated him the winner. Sata is the most serious contender to Banda, but he doesn’t really seem to provide an alternative to the ways things are done here. Some people seem fed up with the system, while others are very optimistic about what the elections will hold for the country.
The day of reckoning will be on September 20th. On this day, the entire country will
know whether Zambia gets a new president
or another Banda term.   
Woman campaigni
Admittedly, the gap in work intensity has provided Council workers also with the opportunity to catch up on work or to prepare for the upcoming months. I, myself, have been busy finishing up the comprehensive planning training manual and working with Corridors of Hope to partner in our health outreach program. The election has given me ample opportunity to write and submit my quarterly report to VSO in Lusaka and to meet with my program manager regarding my 6-month preliminary review. 

August was also the month of the Kalumba Festival, a celebration of the Chewa people’s settlement in the Eastern Province from their places of origin in Mozambique and Malwi after breaking away from Ngoni brothers following an argument over power. According to Reuben, they are scattered around the 
Eastern Province, but primarily in Chadiza, Katete, and Vubi.  

Chewa Village in Katete, Dsitrict, Zambia
The Chewa people are mystical, which is evident in the masked dances. I thought the one of the men in the appropriate mask and the jerky, warrior-type movements to be very dynamic and fun to watch. The Kalumba Festival is held yearly over a period of three days from August 26th to August 28th

I want to make another fundraising appeal to those reading my blog. I ask only $10 per person to help me reach my goal of 
$2000 for this placement. Please use the link to the right of each blog and contribute by credit card or send in your contribution. 

Mask Dancers
Thank you to all who have already contributed.

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