Weighing in on everything from avocados to Zimbabwe

Weighing in on everything from avocados to Zimbabwe

America to Zim: Day 3

posted by Leila Z. on

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I am writing this while sitting inside Caution's family's ceremonial hut, listening to Caution's group (Tichakonda Mbira Group) be recorded by Erica. It is a magical experience and I am sitting here with a silly grin on my face.

It is a simple hut with mud walls and a thatched roof. There are bamboo mats on the floor and a few jars for water (and beer). There are a few pieces of black and white cloth hung from the walls -- the colors the spirits prefer. Shoes are not allowed inside; neither are hats. Before recording, the whole family assembled in here for prayers to the ancestors, to make sure it was pleasing to them (to use the ceremonial hut? That the recording should happen? I'm not sure.)

We had to get up very early this morning to come to Caution's village since Erica wants to record 2 groups and also return to Harare tonight. Our journey was uneventful ( ~2 hours on pitted roads made enjoyable by good company, beautiful scenery, and the prospect of a week in the country. Upon arriving we met Mai Lasson (Caution's wife), [the tradition here is to call a woman with children by the name of her eldest child], Lasson (Caution's eldest son), Nancy (daughter, age 17), and Courage (Caution's first cousin, once removed, who lives with them, age 6), plus assorted mutts, goats, and chickens. Prince and Milton, Caution's other sons, were out herding the cattle. There were lots of introductions, and then preparations for recording began quickly. I got to meet Langton Bapiro, a neighbor of Caution's and one of my favorite mbira singers, who is a little old man and incredibly shy. I volunteered to buy the beer that I am hoping will loosen him up enough for a good recording. :)

A few notes:

*The eating schedule has been hard to adjust to. Typically there is breakfast of bread and eggs or avocado around 10AM, then nothing (except maybe a snack of boiled peanuts) until the main meal if sadza at around 8PM. I may need to avail myself of the full complement of Snickers I brought, I think! The food is good, if rather salty; but I'm not used to most of the day's calories coming at once, and at night.

*I have not played mbira since I arrived! Too tired, too busy talking and making plans -- but I hope to quickly change that now that we are in the rural area.

*I think I have at last sorted out the toilet situation here. There is no toilet here, but after some initial confusion ("bathroom" does not equal "bathing room"), Mai Lasson took me back beyond the corn field -- a nice walk, and not far, but I'm wondering how enthusiastic I will  be at night, or in the rain, or in an emergency.

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