July 26

I started today walking with Charles to meet with one last official, known as an induna. They're equivalent to a sub-Chief. Indunas are local leaders and also local judges. If there are quarrels between villagers, indunas hold a court meeting, hear grievances from both sides, and make final rulings. Charles is the Shamiyoyo induna, but apparently I had to notify the neighboring induna of my presence here. As is custom, Charles and I stopped at the shop that sells envelopes so we could give a monetary offering to the induna. Because every induna and Chief I've met have been males, I assumed women were not allowed in these positions. I was wrong. We arrived at the induna's court under a thatched roof shelter next to the market. I noticed a woman front and center holding the traditional puku tail brush signifying her status as the induna. She was very welcoming and told me I was home. She even gave me permission to build a house here. As we left, I expressed my surprise that the induna was female and Charles told me that is not uncommon and in fact, the first regional Chief was a woman. In contrast, I told him that in the US, no president has been female which he found bewildering.

Afterwards, we stopped at the market for Charles to run some errands. We ran into Matthias, the Chief's uncle who I had met at the party. I bought them a round beers at a bar next door. Over drinks, we discussed how the Chief had visited DC for a few months when he was a high ranking Zambian politician. Matthias said that upon returning to Zambia, the Chief was wearing blue jeans, t-shirts, and listening to American music. I pulled up a map of the US to show them DC, my hometown in North Carolina, and the Day by De headquarters in Denver. They were shocked at how far I've traveled to get here. I also asked Charles what my nickname, Ngombo, means and it was finally revealed that it means 'compass' or 'navigator.’ We next stopped in a computer shop/barber that had this poster of hair style options that's worth sharing:

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On the walk back, Charles pointed out shelters that make and sell beer made from honey. It's stored in giant blue drums that seemed of questionable sanitation. But alcohol kills bacteria, right? So I tried it. It was a hazy gold color with some particulates floating at the surface. The taste was pretty good, slightly sweet but had an aftertaste I can only describe as chemically. I finished the half mug I was poured and we were in our way.

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Charles knows everyone here so we didn't get far before his friend passed by in a car and offered to drop us off at our next destination. We were headed to the local knifemaker because my scalpel-knife broke and I'd like to have one more level of anti-snake protection. Also, Day by De is considering selling handmade Zambian knives on its Etsy shop to fund Foundation projects. We arrived and greeted the knifemaker, Chipango Misola.

Chipango Misola

Chipango Misola

After introductions, we made a proposal for him to make me four knives to bring back as a test run. He makes several styles and sizes but I chose the smallest.

The style of knife I ordered

The style of knife I ordered

Two other styles that were roughly a foot long

Two other styles that were roughly a foot long

I’ve always liked the unique shape and style of Zambian knives, and they fit very comfortably in the hand. While there are sharper blades in the US, these are seemingly as durable. The wood handle is sourced from local African teak trees (locally known as mukwa trees).

A young African teak tree or mukwa

A young African teak tree or mukwa

I’ll find out where the blade metal comes from when I return to observe his knifemaking process in a few days. I gave him a down payment so he could purchase materials and he graciously gave me his knife in exchange.

Again, Charles knows everybody so we stopped at several other family-sized villages on the walk back. One we stopped at had some new handmade cowhide stools. I'm also a big fan of these stools. They're sturdy and I find them very comfortable for sitting. I've been looking to buy one to ship back to America, and these were the nicest I've seen. Charles told me he can introduce me to the stool maker later.

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For dinner, I tried making tacos, forming nshima into a tortilla and frying it, a variation no one here has ever tried. I’ll probably make a standalone nshima blog post but for now, the ingredients are only maize meal and water, essentially the same as corn tortillas. For the filling, I used avocado and tuna with green chili sauce. (I would have loved to add tomatoes. My rat trap modification failed by the way. Time to bring in the heavy artillery.) The tacos failed in that they were too thick and crispy to fold but were a success in that they were still delicious and the taste really resembled corn totillas.


Ben Kirby4 Comments