Saturday, July 25, 2009

Dance at GVH Installation

Each village has a headman and a number of villages fall under the authority of a Group Village Headman (GVH). I live in Kapanula group and our GVH was recently installed so there was a ceremony and celebration. Of the men seated he is second from the right, with his legs crossed. The others are village headmen from his group.

There were drummers. . .

. . .and lots of interested onlookers

All eyes were on the dancers. Gule wa Nkulu is the traditional dance of the Chewa tribe. Other tribes have their own traditions. These dances are an important cultural heritage. Each charater has a name and a story but I don't know what they are yet. There is a certain element of secrecy about the identity of the dancers.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Another dance video

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Planting Wheat

This is the site of our tiligu - wheat irrigation project. I am standing next to the area agriculture director. He was at the site to have a training session on how to plant the wheat since this is a new crop in this area. This site is about 7 hectares or 17.3 acres. We only had time to plant about half of that. It is the beggining of the cool season (highs 80, lows in 50s) and people are just finishing harvest of maize (corn) and groundnuts (peanuts).

There are 20 some people involved in this project on customary (tribal or communal) land. Most are women and they work very hard. All the work is done with the traditional khasu (hand hoe).

The men work too! Since this is a traditional culture there are gender divisions. Men are in charge and make decisons but the women do have a say. They sit separately in church or at meetings.

Almost all community issues are disscussed at great length until some kind of consensus is reached but the village headman (or rarely a headwoman) makes the final decision. He is supposed to consider the wellfare of everyone but this doesn't always happen. If he gets too much out of line he can be replaced.

Lunch break! The women bring babies, children, pots, wood and food to the fields when they work. While we are hoing the food is cooking. A typical meal will consist of nsima (like grits in a patty form) or yams and beans or greens.

This is a tool I made to help with planting. It makes a small trench to drop the fertilizer and seed into.

The cool season is also dry, but is really like summer in the US with no rain - the hot dry season comes later. In order to grow crops at this time they must be irrigated. Sometimes treadle pumps are use but we are luck, we divert water from the river with a small canal. One by three meter beds are made to hold the water and small canals are built between the beds to deliver the water.

Each bed is watered in turn by digging through the side of the canal and then filling it back in when the bed is full of water. It takes a long time.

A few of the first beds are up!


Even though it is just little bits of electricity flying through the ether the contents of this blog are mine personally and do not reflect any position of the US government or the Peace Corps.