Sunday, February 20, 2011


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.

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