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today I ranted

July 2, 2010 14 comments

Today I ranted. A big rant. A rant that went in whatever direction it could. The kind where you wish it had been recorded, because you are pretty sure, between the chaos, it was pure genius. Passion does that to a gal.

I have lived in countries where the divide between men and women is huge. In Bulgaria, in Guatemala, in Mexico, in Canada.

But today, in Zambia, I just didn’t want to hear it.

Everywhere I look, I see women, women working–children on their backs, maize on their heads, jugs of water in their hands, all of this simultaneously.

I see women husking maize, I see women cooking, and cleaning, I see them farming. I see them working at the hospitals and in the shops. I see them at the market. I see them walking to school. They are in the backs of trucks covered in dirt. I see them climbing, running, walking.

So when a man asks me “as a woman, you think you can do that?”

I tell him to look around. Look at his world. Open his eyes and see. “Look around” I say. As a woman, I see woman doing it all. I see a young mother with her baby on her back climbing into the back of a big truck. I see her throwing her leg over the side, and hoisting herself up, muscles strong and confident. I see the men sitting in cab, waiting.

The women I see, are doing, they are doing it all. They are the ones that make this country move. They are the backbone, the muscle, the skin, the nerves and the brain of this operation.

Women are the ones who actually talk to me, they are the ones who smile at me in the market. The women remember my name and say hello. It is the Zambia women who have opened their arms to me.

I live with Sister Jean and her niece Eliza. At nights when the dishes are washed and put away, our conversation often turns to many things, but the other night is was women. Sister Jean is the breadwinner in her family. And her family is big. She argues with men. She is feisty. We are both brought to tears when we speak of HIV/AIDS in this country and the women who have very little control over their own bodies.

I see her as a leader in her community. And as a woman she can do anything. Because she will never let a man tell her she cannot.

That was my rant, let me know your thoughts!

Categories: Uncategorized

Truck Driver Wisdom

July 2, 2010 1 comment

The sun is starting to set, I am in a town that is unknown to me. I know the next mini-bus is at least an hour away. I take my chances on a transport truck. I flag him down, typical Zambian style. My arm out, trying to look desperate. The transport slows, and I walk up to the door. I ask if they are going to Kabompo and might have room for one more. I get the knod from the driver and I am in. He asks how much I have, and I reply “not much”, with a smile. 10 pin,  which is the same as the mini bus. I agree, he agrees. We are off.

Beside me is a woman and her young child, asleep. There is also a man, he is chatty, asking me where I come from and what I am doing and of course if I am learning either Lavale or Lunda. I give him the run down of my language ability. He is mildly impressed as we laugh.

He has a plastic bag with him, I see he has his toothbrush and an old tin cup. The necessities’ of life he tells me, when he catches my eyes looking.

The road is a dangerous mixture of sand and gravel. Bumpy from overuse and big trucks– like this one. The driver is good, I feel safe.

It is always something to be so close to people, physically close. Our legs touching, her baby’s head grazing my shoulder.

I learn that the woman is 21, her birthday is September 5th, she has two children. The eldest is 5.

The sun dips lower in the sky, I am tired, and I just want to get home. The driver turns to me, he says “you must be very brave”. I laugh, “I am not sure I understand” I say.

He tells me that I am in a place I have never been before, in a country where people don’t speak like me, act like me, or even look like me. He says he would never go to Canada. He would never be brave enough; he has too much fear of unknown things and places.

I say “people are kind and this is the adventure.” It isn’t bravery. I tell him he is braver then me, he is brave because he also visits places unknown, he drives across the country. Into strange lands where he knows no one. He does it because he has to, because it is his adventure. It is his bravery that brings him to places to Kabompo. His adventure has a family counting on it, his adventure will always be bigger then mine.  His bravery will always mean more.

I say these words, and he smiles, he knows this true. Our adventures do not compare, and most importantly our bravery is not even measured in the same units.

We continue to talk about adventures–bumpy roads present in each. We speak of the people we have met and the breakdowns we have had.  It is a wonderfully long way back to Kabompo.

I ask to be dropped at the market, he tells me tomorrow he is driving to Chingola. Bad roads most of the way, weighed down with a load of maize.

As I hop down from the cab, the driver smiles and me he tells me to enjoy my adventure my reply to him is to do the same.

Categories: Uncategorized