Weighing in on everything from avocados to Zimbabwe

Weighing in on everything from avocados to Zimbabwe

America to Zim: Day 8

posted by Leila Z. on

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Disappointment for me, this morning. The magetsi didn't come on all last night, and still is not on. Since my phone is out of juice and the Joos wasn't charged, I've missed Greg's presumed attempts to call me. Now that it's daylight, I'm charging the Joos, so once I have access to email, I'll suggest he call tonight, or tomorrow morning. I'm sitting here playing mbira instead, feeling a little sad and a little sorry for myself.

But not too down. I'm excited to have a lesson with Chigamba in a few hours (price: $20), and feel pretty humbled about the way it will come about. Mai Pasi's sister, Mai Nyasha, will accompany me to Harare, where we'll meet Chigamba, who will accompany me to his place (we'll do the same in reverse on the way home). I'll pay their kombi fares, but otherwise they get no compensation. I feel a little bad making a 70-year-old man come and fetch me, but what can be done? Hatfield is supposedly very confusing, so I can't go on my own. They say Chigamba's place is very nice -- a house on about 4 acres, kind of a mini-village in the city. I hope my phone is charged by then so I can record my lesson!

The other thing I am appreciating about the day is the opportunity for a little down time. Caution's village is wonderful, but there are always people around. And (amazingly, since they are doing everything for us) things actually feel very busy.

And, of course, as soon as I wrote that, I was called to breakfast (solo, today, since Fradreck, Erica, and Joseph all went to Chinhoyi to visit Patience).

I'm just back from my little adventure. Mai Nyasha accompanied me on the kombi (where I got a bit concussed by a huge speaker) to Market Square. We hung out just a few minutes at a restaurant there (only enough time for me to buy her a fried pie and a Fanta, which she seemed pleased about) before encountering Tute Chigamba, who then took me to his place in Hatfield for my lesson. The houses are big out there -- mostly on a couple of acres each, at least. Tute's place has a house, a couple of fields of corn, green beans, and squash, along with a group of thatched roof huts (one of which stores his mbira-making things, one that might be a ceremonial hut, one that might be a man cave?? :)) There are two big avocado trees on his property -- what riches! I met his (very!) young second wife (wearing a T-shirt featuring the Old Man and the ominous slogan "Victory is Certain") and his 1-year-old son Harry.

As for my lesson, I can only say that it was one of the most magical experiences I have had so far. We sat in the refreshingly cool but with the mbira-making things and mostly played and played. I (sort of, mostly) learned a few parts, although I don't have an audio record since my phone wasn't charged, so who knows how well they will stick. But it was such a privilege to sit with this incredibly generous master mbira maker and gwenyambira (mbira player) and play. After about 3 hours, I had to say, "taguta, maita basa". It was too much loveliness for a $20 lesson (not to mention the Snickers I gave him, which he also seemed to like), and I found myself thinking about US privilege. I feel sort of guilty to pay so little for something I enjoy so much, and yet (by all accounts) the teachers are happy to be getting this money. But I wonder about what is fair here, and how best to support this tradition.

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