Sunday, February 20, 2011

Boubous and Barbets: A Post for Birders

The top photo is of a section of road near the William Mmustle Institute. The second photo is a young vervet monkey atop the dorm roof.

This post is for the bird nuts who are curious just how many birds I’ve seen so far and what kind. I post the following list knowing some people who read the blog could care less. However, the birds with a star by their name are birds I highly recommend googling a photo of, they will make your mouth water :p

List of Birds (seen in Banani, Muzikili, Kabwe, Lusaka, and all places in between which I might have passed via bus)

Lizard Buzzard (Kaupifalco monogrammicus)
Helmeted Guineafowl (Numida meleagris)
African Green Pigeon (Treron calvus)
Meyer’s (Brown) Parrot (Poicephalus meyeri) *
Purple-crested Turaco (Lourie) (Tauraco porphyreolopha)
Schalow’s Turaco (Tauraco schalowi) *
Levaillant’s (African Striped) Cuckoo (Clamator levaillanti)
African Palm Swift (Cypsiurus parvus)
Little Swift (Apus affinis)
Broad-billed Roller (Eurystomus glaucurus)
European Bee-eater (Merops apiaster) *
Crowned Hornbill (Tockus alboterminatus)
African Grey Hornbill (Tockus nasutus)
Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird (Pogoniulus chrysoconus)
Black-collared Barbet (Lybius torquatus)
Crested Barbet (Trachyphonus vaillantii)
Golden-tailed Woodpecker (Campethera abingoni)
Barn Swallow (woohoo!) (Hirundo rustica)
Mosque Swallow (Cercropis senegalensis)
African Pied Wagtail (Motacilla aguimp)
Fork-tailed Drongo (Dicrurus adsimilis)
Pied Crow (Corvus albus)
Arrow-marked Babbler (Turdoides jardineii)
Dark-capped (Black-eyed) Bulbul (Pycnonotus tricolor)
Yellow-bellied Greenbul (Clorocichla flaviventris)
White-browed (Heuglin’s) Robin-Chat (Cossypha heuglini)
African Paradise-flycatcher (Terpsiphone viridis)
Chinspot Batis (Batis molitor)
Black-backed Puffback (Drypscopus cubla)
Tropical Boubou (Laniarius major)
Violet-backed (Plum-coloured, Amethyst) Starling (Cinnyricinclus leucogaster)
Scarlet-chested Sunbird (Chalcomitra senegalensis) *
Collared Sunbird (Hedydipna collaris) *
Variable (Yellow-bellied) Sunbird (Cinnyris venustus) *
White-bellied Sunbird (Cinnyris talatala) *
African Yellow White-eye (Zosterops senegalensis)
Northern Grey-headed Sparrow (Passer griseus)
Village (Black-headed) Weaver (Ploceus cucullatus)
Southern Red Bishop or Black-winged Bishop (or both? To be determined…)
Yellow Bishop (Cape/Yellow-rumped Widow) (Eucplectes capensis)
Yellow-mantled (Yellow-backed) Widowbird (Euplectes macrourus)
Green-winged Pytilia (Melba Finch) (Pytilia melba)
Orange-winged (Golden-backed) Pytilia (Pytilia afra)
Red-billed Firefinch (Lagonosticta senegala)
Bronze Mannikin (Spermestes cucullatus)
Blue Waxbill (Southern Cordonbleu) (Uraeginthus angolensis)
Village Indigobird (Steel-blue Widowfinch) (Vidua chalybeata)
Long-tailed Paradise-whydah (Vidua paradisaea)
Brimstone (Bully) Canary (Crithagra sulphurata)
Yellow-fronted Canary (Crithagra mozambica)


On one of our days off, three other youth and I chose to attend a teaching trip in Kabwe, north of Banani. We started off waiting on the side of a road for a minibus, the form of public transportation in Zambia (not unlike the Sheiruts in Israel). The other youth laughed when they remembered this would be my first minibus experience. I shrugged. How bad could it be?

It actually turned out to be quite comical. Here’s how it works: you wait for a bus and when one pulls over you haggle with the driver (if they offer an unfair price). 12,000 kwacha (or 12 pin) is a good price from Banani to Kabwe. Then, no matter how full the bus is, you get in. Even if people are spilling out of the bus when the doors open, don’t worry, there’s is still room for one more! We were packed into the bus like sardines. Sometimes people bring their produce to or from markets, and it’s not unusual to be riding alongside a wide –eyed chicken being held by its legs.

We arrived around noon and met some of the local Baha’is. Together we said prayers and, of course, sang lots of songs from the Zambian Baha’i Songbook. The group then split up and I went with three Bemba-speaking Baha’is. We visited two households, both of which spoke Bemba and very little English. It is interesting to be the minority. When I speak, I am used to people understanding me, and it was sometimes frustrating to get blank stares. For the most part, I sat quietly in a chair and watched the body language and facial expressions between the Kabwe Baha’is and the villagers. At one point one lady pointed to me and said something in Bemba. One of the Baha’is translated for me: “She says now it’s time to tell you everything we just said, because you look like you are all in questions.”

Walking through the residential areas, children would stare curiously or call out: “Muzungu! Muzungu!”*

I wish I could take Bemba lessons and learn to say a prayer or two…and maybe I will!

Here are a few words/phrases I have learned so far:

Eya mukwai: thank-you, often said after someone welcomes you into their home

Natotayla: thank-you, but used on a more personal level, such as when one is offered a gift

A-way: often used as an exclamation, like “no way!”

*Muzungu is a word for people with pale skin.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Hello From Zambia!

“There is nothing that brings success in the Faith like service. Service is the magnet which draws the divine confirmations.” Shoghi Effendi

So here I am in Zambia and after having been here a week, friends and family at home are starting to ask me a lot of questions. I’m still adjusting and don’t know fully what I’m doing yet; I don’t have answers to all the questions. I have, however, learned a great deal and been involved in a few exciting activities which I will share with you below.

What is Zambia like? Banani International School is situated between Kabwe and Lusaka along the Great North Road. It is surrounded by a habitat called miombo woodland. Right now is the rainy season and it rains almost every day. There is an abundance of wildlife, including vervet monkeys that run across the roof of the dorms. Zambia boasts around 700 species of birds. On the Banani campus are large green and blue birds, turacos, which sport red primaries in flight. They look like something out of Jurassic Park….

Ok, so that’s the atmosphere. Let’s talk about the people. Zambians are very friendly. It’s rude to walk by someone and not smile and say hello. Or you might say “mulishani” which is something like “how are you?” in Bemba (to which one might reply “bwino”, meaning “good” or something like it). When I first arrived at the school everybody was asking me so many questions about where I was coming from, what I studied in school, if I had siblings or a boyfriend or friends from school and if I had pictures I could show them. Oh, and they ask the boyfriend question about a million times.

Service at Banani includes a variety of duties. I am currently the dorm mother for 15 or so tenth grade girls. Duties include calling lights out and quiet time, overseeing cleaning of the dorm, general encouragement, and providing fun activities (or evening prayers). When the girls are in class, the youth also facilitate/participate in Ruhi Study Circles, animate junior youth groups, teach a class for children in the nearby residential area, or type Ruhi books that have been translated into Bemba.