Snippets of a Swazi day

I thought I’d share bits of my day with you.  By American standards, it wasn’t very productive, but by African standards, I think we accomplished a lot.  As my time here gets shorter and shorter I realize just how much I will miss doing what I do here in Swaziland.  I will miss this country, the beautiful people and the way of life that is based more on relationships than a to-do list.

Our plan was to be ready to leave Manzini at 9:00 this morning.  Well that didn’t quite work out.  I didn’t even leave my place to walk up to St. Paul’s until 9:15 which is good because Thoko arrived shortly after I got there.  She and Sibongile packed up some donated clothing to give out today.  When we were finally about to pull out of St. Paul’s, Thini arrived.  The project she was supposed to lead today (making laundry fabric softener) had to be canceled because when she went to town this morning to buy the “chemical” used to make it, the store was out of it.  So we waited another 10 – 15 minutes for her to change into her Manyano uniform and come with us.  We finally left St. Paul’s about 11:00.

Our first stop of the day was to go to the Chief’s Koral (homestead) for the area where Mthokozisi’s house is.  In Swaziland, the people that really take care of the country are the Chiefs.  Each Chief is appointed by the King’s inner council.  Only a male can be a Chief.  The job gets passed down to his son when he passes away.  If there are no sons, the Chief’s wife takes over the role until she dies.  We were going to speak to the “acting” Chief.  Her husband passed away 20, yes that is 20 years ago.  They only had daughters so she has been running the chiefdom for 20 years.  From what I know about her and saw, she’s doing a darn good job.  One can’t help but see the irony of this.  Women aren’t good enough to be a Chief, but they are good enough to run a Chiefdom for 20 years.  Crazy.  Chiefs have a lot of power in this country.  Anyway, our mission was to talk to the “acting” Chief about the house for Mhokozisi and his sisters, and let them know when it would be dedicated.  There was also a discussion on Mthokozisi’s gogo who has been giving everyone a lot of trouble.

Today was the day that the women of the various sections within the Chiefdom come to the Chief's Koral. The "Chief" talked with some people (such as our little group) in private.

Some of the ladies sitting around and talking waiting on the "Chief" to finish her "private" meetings so they could start their meeting.

The ladies were bringing bundles of grass cut from the fields to the Chief's Koral because they need to re-thatch one of the roofs. It's the women's job to thatch the roofs.


I am so going to miss these scenes. I don't think I will ever stop being amazed at how the women can carry so many things on their heads.

The ladies waiting to go in to talk to the "Chief." This is taken from the side mirror on my bakkie. We weren't sure if I should go in with them or not, so I was waiting in my bakkie.

The ladies walking into the "Chief's" sitting room. This is a one room structure. When we say someone is a Chief, it conjures up all kinds of visions. Mostly we think their their standard of living should be greatly elevated. But it is not. Sure, they are better off than many in their chiefdom, especially the really poor, old and unemployed people. But they are Swazi's just like everyone else. It is their job to know what is going on in their Chiefdom, resolve issues, take care of the people the best they can. This "Chief" seemed like an amazing woman. She takes care of about 20 Orphans. When I compare what I have experienced and know about this Chiefdom and what I have experienced and know about a few other Chiefdom's, my opinion is that this is a well organized, cohesive and hard working Chiefdom.

Inside the Chief's sitting room. The Chief is the one in blue. We brought donated clothing that she can distribute to those who need it in her Chiefdom. She told us she was very appreciative of what the Methodist Church has done for her people.

When we left the Chief’s Koral went went to LaMawandla High School where Mthokozisi, his sister Nozipho and another boy, Mncedisi attends school.  One Child supports Nozipho and Mncedisi.  The Manyano supports Mthokozisi.  We were going to see how our kids are doing and to bring them a few school supplies they needed.

Pictured: Thoko, Mthokozisi, Nozipho, Sbongile, Mncedisi. I wonder sometimes what they think about having so many mothers! One of the things I did was bring them a few easy books to read. They are in what we would call 9th and 10th grade but I am sure they aren't reading even close to that level. I gave them a pep talk about the importance of reading and learning English to help them achieve their dreams. I pray that if nothing else, I can get them to understand the power that reading brings. I told them that I hope they study hard and get very, very good grades so that I will have to worry about how to help them go to University. Their dreams? Mthokozisi wants to be an author or a businessman; Nozipho wants to be a nurse; and Mncedisi wants to be a lawyer!

Here's one of those scenes that I won't see in the US; or at least I won't see it very often: Cows in school! These were right outside the Head Teacher's office at the high school.

From the High School we went to pay a visit to Babe Maseko.  He is the grandfather of one of our Lutsandvo Lwa Krestu kids, Nothando.  When we met Nothando and Babe Maseko he had 6 or 7 orphaned grandchildren living with him and his wife had a hard time getting around.  His wife passed away last year.   He actually called Thoko and asked if she could bring him some sugar.  It’s not like Babe Maseko to ask for things.    So we planned on bringing it to him and then found out that he wasn’t feeling well.   So, we took him some sugar and tea and sat and visited with him for 20 or 30 minutes.  In situations like this we have a real concern of how to keep the grandparent as healthy as possible because if they get sick or die there is no one to take care of these children.

When we arrived Nothando had just finished washing her school uniform and hanging it on the line to dry. I had to take this picture because she is still wearing the t-shirt donated by my home church in Round Rock in 2008 or 2009.

I got home a little after 4:00 tired, hungry and thirsty.  I didn’t have anything to eat or drink from breakfast on.   (What you drink must come out and I’m not real big on squatting under a tree or by the side of the road!)  Unfortunately, there aren’t any McDonald’s out in the rural area.  (Or in Swaziland for that matter!)  Go figure!

Traffic going to downtown Manzini via the bus rank (depot). This is supposed to be a two lane road. As you can see, drivers have made created 4+ lanes of traffic.

There's two lanes going up the road, one coming down, and the kombie to the far right isn't parked. It has created a fourth lane by driving on the sidewalk.

So this was my day.  It was a lot of driving, sitting and listening to conversations in a language I can’t understand.  But it was a good day and I am beginning to realize how much I’m going to miss these Swazi moments.

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