Beware of hippos at night: We are still not sure whether this advice – right at the entry at the place we will stay for almost the next 10 days – should either be exciting or rather terrifying …
Anyway, we eventually arrived in Mlibizi yesterday evening (hippos not met so far) – a small place, close to Siachilaba, where the workshop, organized through Bazilwisi Trust, held together with Calvin Dondo and Annie Mpalume, is taking place.
Far away from knowing what would await us and / or what is expected from us, we went to join a group of around 20 women who already started the workshop with Calvin and Annie yesterday.
These women we met today would be hopefully the first ones telling us stories which give us some insight in different perspectives on resilience, adaptability & durability. So many hurdles for them. Their living in a rural region of Zimbabwe, their survival in an inhospitable environment without proper access to electricity and water (even if they live close to a river). Their way of living while keeping their minority culture (Tonga) alive whilst basic needs are pretty much ignored through authorities. Their dislocation through the colonial powers about 55 years ago from the fertile region right beside the Zambesi river to a dry one which hardly gets any rain during the year.
Just walking in and start straight ahead with all these questions felt like invading their routines, definitely too demanding! This felt wrong! We thought at least as a small contribution, we should switch sides for the kick-off of the workshop. Not us asking – but them asking. Asking us, as in these ones, coming in from a country, most of them never have heard of, we as in being white and most important us as in never being confronted with most of the problems and concerns they are struggling with. There hasn’t been a single second of hesitation – they wanted to know!! Pretty much everything in between why we got married that late till some details of our education system.
Most of the time, they have been friendly with us (meaning they didn’t show their consternation too obviously along our answer 😉 – but one part of our culture triggered some group-wide and deep disconcert – namely the fact, that their is no bride-money in our culture .. “What do you mean, you do not pay for your bride!? Have you no respect!”
We are looking forward to the next days, diving into worlds, which are definitely totally different compared to experienced ones, challenging and beautiful at the same time.