This afternoon we went to see the Gule Wamkulu dance. This dance cannot be performed on missionary land; therefore we had to walk to non-missionary land to watch the dance. A bunch of the local villagers walked with us to watch the dance. The costumes were really detailed and colorful. We ended up waiting for over an hour and a half for the dancers to start. This is another example of “Malawian time.” Even though it took a while for the dancers to start and the dance was unorganized, because they did not have drums to dance to, it was an interesting experience to watch the dance of this tribe.
Trying sugar cane
People here do not usually brush their teeth; they use sugar cane as a substitute. People walk and chew on the branch and then spit it out. A bunch of us have been interested in trying it, but we had to be careful not to get a hard piece because we could break out teeth. Sugar cane was very interesting, it wasn’t the taste that was bad but it was the texture, it felt like you were going to get splinters in your mouth. The curiosity of this item made me keep eating it. I really enjoyed trying something that was common here but that we do not do back at home.
I was supposed to go to the Changkanga School to watch their after school sports program, however something came up and I was not able to go. Because I had promised everyone that I would go pick up their “happy pants” in town, I still went. I ended up going alone with Francis. It felt strange being the only white person walking through the market. I normally have the comfort of others around me but today I was all-alone. I felt the stares of the people around me. Although I did not hear the normal shouting of people saying “Azungu” I could tell people were wondering why I was there.
Construction of the school
Later that night all of us took a walk to where the new school is being built. It is coming along. There were bricks that had been placed which were around 2 feet high. I could really get a sense of the classroom and how the work that we were doing was going to come together into this classroom.
Another day in Makupo Village spent on curriculum development. We are at an exciting yet stressful stage now as we begin to go through the units to ensure we have covered all of the essential skills and knowledge the students will need as well as it having a good flow. It is a weird mixture of tension and exhilaration as we come to the end of our first bulk in the planning process. Mel has begun posting the units up on LEARN and getting more professionals involved. We are almost at the lesson planning stage which is awesome! It`s hard to believe how much time has passed and that I don’t have that much time left here in Malawi.
After lunch we went to another village to watch the Gule Wamkulu which is a native spiritual dance. There were about 5 guys dressed in rags and covering their faces with masks. The rags flailed around as they jumped and danced to the beat of the small buckets used as drums. There was one dancer in particular that scared me as he came up right into my face and I felt extremely uncomfortable. As they danced we were expected to give money but rather than waiting for the dance to end they would dive for the few kwacha that was there. There were two dancers that were in more colorful rags and were coordinated in their dances which I enjoyed but then as soon as they left the circle and the others came I would tense up once again. The final point where I was holding back from crying was when a guy with a full mask came on and was diving around, sometimes landing on the children, and was really close to my face and body. He ended his act by sitting directly at my feet `crying` asking for more and more money until two other men dragged him off. It was clear that the local people who understood the concept better were really enjoying themselves and laughing at the dancers but I generally felt really uncomfortable about the whole thing, especially as I don’t like it when faces are hidden. It really made me reflect upon the differences in such a celebratory dance compared to ones North America, maybe I only felt uncomfortable because I am used to a culture that is scared to truly express themselves. I still tried to enjoy it and make the most out of this new experience but in all honesty it caused more anxiety than excitement.