Sunday, 20 November 2016

Massive Catch Up & Sangria

My goodness. It's been almost a month since my last update!

This is going to be epic...

Little hungover. Last night was the grand opening of Casa Keza, the place where I teach fiction. My friend quit her job as country director of a large NGO to turn her home into a café and night school. Check it out on Facebook.

It's a Spanish tapas theme. The food is yummy, and the sangria is deadly. I helped do sangria testing - the trials of friendship. *hic*


Finished teaching my first fiction course last week. Went really well. Looking forward to teaching a second round if my visa renewal comes through. Also means I get a teacher's discount on that sangria. *hic*

Had time to catch up with Jo a few times. Went for pizza and a cocktail, but that's about where our social lives end as we're both working hard at the moment. 

Jo's consulting for a young women's NGO and I've become gainfully employed as a proofreader on a DFID-funded project for Rwanda Education Board. Busy getting textbooks ready for schools next January. Entertainingly, there wasn't a single Oxford comma in the entirety of an Oxford University Press publication - go figure.

Happy to see my friend Dominique appears in a section on sport. He's a paralympian volleyball player.

Sadly, I've been facing some major computer issues of late. The keyboard on my trusty laptop stopped working. I've bought an external keyboard for it and a second laptop. Then I accidentally misplaced the battery for the old one, so it needs to remain plugged in until I find it. 

Ganesh, Left, New Laptop, Right
The old laptop, Ganesh, has been a loyal servant for the past couple of years. Written a lot of novels on it. So many that I wore out some of the keys. In an unsuccessful attempt to fix the problem, I now have a multi-lingual keyboard. Took me days to find the £ and # keys.

Working through it. Hopefully got a good IT guy who can help with everything. 

Anyway, another nice thing about having a friend who runs a café is that I've been getting involved with helping a mask trader to promote his wares there. He works at Caplaki, a craft bazaar, selling Congolese masks. I'm fascinated by them and have been learning so much. I can now confidently identify several tribes: Luba, Teke, Tetela, Punu, Lega, Bembe, Chokwe and Songye. There are many more that I don't know.

Fondling a Kusu Mask


Tetela mask, tribe of the first prime minister
of the DRC, Patrice Lumumba

Right: From the secret male Elanda society of the Bembe.
Left: Pwo, first female ancestor of the Chokwe

Almost all of these are modern replicas. Some tribes, such as the Lulua, destroyed masks after use, others only passed down authentic masks within secret societies. The replicas are usually based on authentic designs, but sometimes, as with the one in the middle, they become a mishmash of many different styles and therefore extremely hard to place.

I found these in Caplaki. I've forgotten the tribe, but they're ancestor jars, just like those I saw in Sierra Leone all those years ago.

Pende mask, probably originally for circumcisions,
later a theatre character

Masks on display at Casa Keza
Top Right: death gathers in mask of the Lega Bwami society.

I'm really enjoying learning about the different masks.There's some really fascinating stories behind the different tribes.

My Kinyarwanda course is drawing to a close, too. Twice a week for eight weeks. Really interactive and fun. I had some language training through VSO years ago, and know some basics, like: cold beer and a brochette, please, but with this course I've certainly retained far more vocabulary. 

Which brings us neatly to the kittens. 

They have come a hell of a long way since my last update. Four healthier kittens you never did see. So healthy that they had their first jabs two days ago. It has been an utter privilege weaning them and cuddling them, but it is now time for rehoming. Some days I wonder whether I could keep one, but they need so much attention. I'm looking to rehome them in pairs, and if I kept one it would mean the other has to go alone. I think my job here is done.

My friends' daughters have really enjoyed playing with them.

They are ridiculously gorgeous, but I am suffering for their love. There is poop everywhere - in the litter box, in my shoes, behind the fridge, and my legs are scratched to pieces.

I think that's about all I have room for in this post.

I'll leave off by saying we've had some heavy downpours during the rainy season.

Which is helping the vegetables grow in the garden.

And I'll end with a picture of the sunset, and the moon through the canopy at Casa Keza.