Wednesday, June 15, 2011

More Zambian Culture

• I tried to give the neighbor’s dog the bowl of pancake batter to lick, but he wouldn’t eat it. “Wow” I thought “these dogs are super picky” (they don’t eat bread either b/c they aren’t used to/familiar with it). So, I decide to add some Sampu (Zambian maize porridge) to the bowl. He still wouldn’t eat it! He sat down a foot or so away and stared at it, but he didn’t leave. Finally, I realized the issue- the bowl! I dumped the contents on the ground, he wagged his tail and immediately started eating. Duh! He wasn’t used to being given food in a bowl…If he ever tried to lick from a bowl at home he would most definitely be beaten! Oops! Guess these Zambian dogs won’t be helping me prewash my dishes!

• A LARGE number of Zambians will passionately argue that a Zambian child CANNOT learn without a stick (i.e. beating). Corporal punishment is against the law here, but it is far from being removed from the schools. To give you an idea- I see AT LEAST 30 kids get beat each and every morning. The severity of the beating is up to the teacher doing it (usually the “Teacher on Duty”). They line the children up and use a stick to smack the childrens’ butts. You can hear the smack from across the school. Some kids laugh, some kids cry. One teacher just hits twice, but another teacher hits 6 times! The beating continues inside the classrooms, where it can range from a smack on the head, back, hands, or even the face! Behaviors that can earn a beating are wide and varied, and again totally up to each teacher’s discretion. Some common reasons include being late, being dirty/not bathing, giving the wrong answer, not doing an assignment, skipping afternoon work/sports/clubs, not raising your hand, talking, writing too slow, slouching, or maybe the teacher just feels like hitting someone. Unfortunately, somehow, even with all this beating…the students still are not learning. *Addition* I listened to my 14 yr old brother wailing and screaming last night as his mother beat him for about 10 min straight.

• Living in a Zambian village, it always sounds as if people are just hanging out in your yard or just outside your window. And sometimes they are!- with somewhat good reason- i.e. your house just happens to be in the middle of the path/direction they want to go; their cows are hanging out in your yard, therefore the herd boys are hanging out in your yard; they are stalking their pig/goat/chicken that happens to be hanging out in your insaka or veranda. And sometimes you find that even though it sounds as if they are right outside their window, they are actually at their own house next door (which is so close it could still be considered your yard) sitting around the fire talking.

• Sports here is kind of like school- unorganized. There are no clearly defined teams. Girls can float freely between netball, volleyball, and soccer. 50 girls can show up for practice one day and only 15 the next day. They have never been taught to do any kind of drills or training- their idea of practice is to put everyone out on the field and let them scrimmage the whole time. During which time, 22 girls are running and flailing around the field, frantically chasing after the ball in one massive herd. And this will continue from one day to the next and one year to the next. I am trying to introduce some organization and some practice drills, but I am being met with opposition from my assistant coach, who insists on continuing with the “put them all on the field and let them play” idea.

• If you are riding your bicycle down a path and come across a herd of cows coming your direction, should you?: (Choose your answer, and I’ll tell you mine next time) (This situation occurs for me once or twice or even three times every day)
o Shout and toss sticks at them
o Move off the path and wait for them to pass
o Grab stick, stand still on path and wait for them to pass
o Continue slowly on the path and force them to move around you
o Ride off the path and through the bush to get around them
o Turn and run/ride the other way


  1. I pick continue slowly on the path and force them to go around. Love the stories and love the updates and of course the pictures on FB. Miss you always.
    Love and Hugs

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  3. i pick continue slowly! the beating makes me so sad. sounds like the kids just dont know what to expect!

  4. Thanks for the responses!, I've actually decided the second choice (Grab a stick and stay on path and wait for them to move around) is the best choice. Continuing on the path slowly could also be an option, but you never know if you might scare them or piss them off and they start I take the safe way...and you should have a stick for protection.

  5. hehe it seems so different of a culture to carry sticks around for protection and water on your head. But I'm sure we in america would look silly to zambians ;) steph