Journel Entries Dec 11th through 26th 2008


The last two weeks I have basically been doing two things: working on my dimba (garden) and going to the BOMA. I said I would pay someone in my village k100,000 to plow and build a fence around a new space close to my nymba (house), however when I left to go to Chipata for Christmas, they hadn’t really started, a week and a half after I left. I did plant a bunch of things inside my expanded fence that I put udzu (grass, not plural for the lethal weapon) along. The only problem is the water doesn’t drain well so I get water in the holes I put my seeds in. I should have made mounds not holes, but oh well, hopefully they will still grow.

In talking to someone in the BOMA who works with the organization ALINET we had the idea of creating a Chadiza TV show. I think this would be great if we can actually see it through. I talked today, (Friday the 26th) with someone at ZNBC, the national broadcasting body run by the Zambian government, about how hard would be to submit the show, and he said it would be very easy.

On Monday I got up at 3:15AM and biked to the BOMA with someone from the village who was going to get his maze milled carrying the axel to my cargo trike I was going to have ground down and threaded so I can make each wheel able to turn independently. Well I tried to find a government vehicle going to Chipata but it seemed that none were. After hemming and hawing over whether to leave my stuff in the BOMA and try again tomorrow or take a taxi, when someone kind of acting as a taxi showed up, I decided to pay the 40 pin and go. We went a different root then we usually go so that part of the way could be on tarmac, however that meant it took longer, the time compounded by the fact that when we had too many people in the vehicle so just before we reached a check point where we would have been stopped, we dropped someone off. Then after the vehicle had been checked by a police man, we drove a little farther and waited for the other guy, who had gotten a bike taxi to take him to where we were. When A little while after I got to the provincial house, I realized I had not gotten the axel from the taxi driver and had no way to contact him. He never showed up so I’m kind of stuck. I guess I will have to look for a long 9mm piece of threaded rod. I was really tiered from getting up pa 315, so I didn’t do much the rest of the day

Tuesday I went to the market and Shopright, then went to ProNet for a while. Coming back, I worked on typing in the words in Chichewa and English that I had recorded audio versions of and also had dinner that some people had cooked with everyone.

Wednesday I spent a while recording audio which is slow going because the flash cards that have the spelling of the Chichewa were not really in the order I had recorded them. Fortunately Chichewa is written almost 100% phonetically so it’s not that hard to get the spelling correct. In the evincing we had a many course dinner that a volunteer had cooked and had chocolate fondue and apple crisp for desert.

Thursday I spent a while typing in more Chichewa, then someone came and said that it was time to open presents, which I was not expecting. We had a good time opening presents and I wished I had brought the stockings my family ku America had given me so I could also put something in them and give them to people. I got a goody bag, some pottery that had been mate locally and some rechargeable AA batteries which was a large gift it seemed. We then had a Mexican meal for our Christmas dinner which was really good. After washing some dishes, another volunteer and I watched the movie Fight Club – not at all what I was expecting – although I didn’t see all of it because my family called. It was nice to talk to them and hopefully we can have a video VOIP call when I go to Lusaka next week.

Friday went to the market and got some more black plastic, this time they had some heavy stuff that was good, and a bicycle spoke truing fork for hopefully putting the wheels back on my new bike. While at the market I brought my video camera and filed some footage of the market and downtown Chipata. Around 1200 or 1230 I went to the internet place for a while. Then at a little after 1600, I headed to the office of ZNBC because someone had said they had electrical parts I could use to make the pedal powered generator I would like to build. The guy there wasn’t sure why someone had said they have electrical parts, but we talked about internet and putting the Chadiza TV show on their station. I then spent a while chopping up vegetables for some stew, but it wasn’t ready by the time I wanted to eat, so I just had peppers, mangoes, frozen bananas & broiled zucchini. After dinner, the acting PCVL, one of my nearest PC neighbors, had a writing workshop where we all wrote for 10 minutes about a word that had been chosen at random from a magazine, then read them out load. The quality of the writing was impressive given that it was just free flow, never leave your pen from the paper/fingers from the keyboard. The ones I wrote are down below:

The police…

They showed up at ten. The sky was over cast and the wind blew like a dieing fan, sputtering. You see, the police came because there had been another incident, and this time it was worse. This time there were many small fragments coming together and they were beginning to make sense.

It all started some time ago, the first incident that is. Then, there were only a few involved and the whole thing seemed innocuous enough. I wouldn’t have noticed it if it weren’t for the fact that I had seen the two together before, always speaking in hushed tones and glancing side to side like they were being followed. When they caused it to occur I had been watching them through the tinted glass of my beat up 1964 VW bug. They started getting things out of the pockets of there trench cotes – that was it! Their trench coats were the key. I saw it now but what if it was too late. And it was.

Gift Certificate

I got this gift certificate in the mail with no name, no return address, no way to tell who had sent it. It was to a store that had been around for some time, though I had never been there. Well, now I had a reason to go in. I think they sold clothes; there was probably something else that was there. But who had given it? Had they meant to put a name, or were they just trying to act as one of those anonymous philanthropists? I never understood why people didn’t want to get credit for what they did. Maybe they just figured that when they had given enough, it would slowly trickle into people’s consciousness who had been.

Then there was the obvious idea that it was a promotion, but it had been all hand written. Maybe I should go to the store and ask. Anyway, I didn’t have any need for more cloths, or anything else for that mater, except for some occasional trips to get food I couldn’t grow and a few other things.

6 months. A quarter. A half of a half. Six months in 18 to go. In one sense it’s an enormous amount of time, 18 moths before I graduated from college, I was still thinking I would make a movie for my final project, but it isn’t really enough time to get anything really substantial done. I wish I had known exactly what I would do when I got posed, but I’m still not sure I have any idea what I’m doing now. Well, I know what I would like to do, but the challenge always is making a dream a reality. Isn’t strange how true the ying and the yang are? every action has an equal and opposite reaction, even when it doesn’t seem action has an opposite like an apple, what’s the opposite of an apple?

In the corner,

We were sitting,

Sitting in our little room,

Writing things that made no sense,

Writing with no purpose, none,

Save to practice ancient skill,

Once known to just a few,

This ancient art can bring down foe,

Can be the meaning of a life,

However is it not so strange,

That words cannot be used,

For the purpose of an interface

Between another two,

Unless they have that shared knowledge,

Of a common idiom.

Problem. Mavuto. Mavuto Problem. You see that’s the problem, try as I might, ndi Chichewa is still pagono pagono. Isn’t it strange what words you pick up and what words, you read over and over and over again and still, a few minutes later, you can’t think of it if your life depended on it. I think it’s kind of true that if you actually set out to learn a specific word, it’s expediently more difficult to remember. And that’s the problem, you need to pretend that its not important, and you’ll remember it.

Problem, if there were none, there would be no solutions. It is just that one cannot always choose the problems one faces when they arise out of the occurrence of something not initiated by you.

Problem, what makes things interesting, challenging, but not always fun

Journel Entries Dec 1st through 10th 2008


Spent most of the day at the ProNet internet place doing research on various ways to connect to the intent and some other things.


After getting some stuff at the market I went to talk again to an electrician who I have inquired about making a pedal powered bike generator and who had suggested my looking into a “dynamo” type generator (I was a little unsure what it looked like but he had said that it was a generator used to electrify bicycles). I basically went to all the bicycle stores in Chipata in the last few days, and although the thing seemed familiar to some of them, no one had it. After doing some internet research, I found that dynamo generators also referred to DC generators old used in old vehicles like VW bugs. I got a circuit diagram for use in regulating voltage in this type of generator as well as a diagram which required far fewer parts for use in regulating voltage of a more modern AC car alternator with the built in circuitry to convert it to DC so that all you really needed was the proper resister and a few fuses. I got a recommendation of where to find an alternator for the later of the two designs and this store did have one although the price was fairly steep.

-went to the internet place briefly after calling a taxi because I didn’t really feel like trying to deal with the hassle of trying to hitch and I would almost certainly need to find a taxi to go the last 10km from the BOMA to Dovu village.

-at about 1430-1500 the taxi came and after waiting a while for another passenger at Shopright, finally left and we headed back


-Spent the morning planting things and the afternoon reading


-went to the BOMA and charged my devices and got some things

-came back and planted some more things


-spent most of the day cleaning my hut and putting black plastic under my ceiling to prevent the sawdust from the termites and other burrowing insects that are slowly eating my rafters from falling down on everything. Also directed a villager in putting up another tarp and some black plastic.


-planted more things then cooked some tomato sauce/salsa. Read some and went to bed early so I could get up early.


-met with the DFO regarding signing a leave form for some days I plan on going to Lusaka at the end of December.

-went to the market and got some mangoes and other things, including a Zambian native squash type thing that my banja had given me earlier and tasted pretty good

-charged my devices and finished a memo I was working on to the Chadiza environmental committee about the health and environmental risks the open-air burning of brush and trash (lupya is the Chichewa term for it) that has been rampant in the BOMA and elsewhere (at least until the rainy season has come.)

-tried to fax the leave form but the first place I tried didn’t have a fax, they sent me to the district commissioner where it was out of order so I finally went to the Zamtel (government run company that handles land lines) office where there was a fax but the boss wasn’t in so I will need to try again Wednesday

-planted some more things then had dinner at dusk


-late start (woke up at 6:30!)

-at about 10:00 I started working on clearing an area that I want to have fence put up around to have as a garden closer to my site. My wrist got a bit tired of all that slashing so I turned to raking what I had slashed into a compost pile until it started raining at 1430

-studied some Chichewa and cooked my squashy vegetable


-went to the BOMA and successfully faxed my leave form

-got bananas and mangos from a rode side mini marketplace that has more then one salesperson on Wednesdays I guess because that is went most people get paid and so that is when there are more people selling things.

-went to the District Resource Center as dark clouds looked over head and called PC Lusaka to try to set up a home stay for the few days I’m in Lusaka around the new year.

-the rain that came never completely abated until I needed to leave so I put on all my gear a headed out. Of course, as soon as I got on the road the rain went away so by the end I was more wet from sweat then I would have been from rain had I not put on my gear.