"The full life is filled with vulnerability, not defense... You face whatever feeling there is." -Virginia Satir
End of June
My village is crazy right now. So a lot of people in my friend, Osmond's family have died recently. Turns out that my villagers have decided that his uncle is dabbling in witchcraft. This has caused Osmond's baby to die, his mother to die, one of his uncles and two of his siblings, all in not very much time. By the time I got back to the village from some travels, they had already searched his house and found some "witching devices". When I pressed what exactly these were, I didn't get a real answer but I have an idea because when William and Nicki were at my house recently William accused me of witchcraft jokingly because I have shells laying around and Crystal Light in a water bottle. (So knick-knacks and colored water=witchcraft). Anyways, then they called some creepy people who took Osmond's old uncle out into the bush and killed him. Or Image villagers think that they killed him, we cannot be sure, but I have been told ominously, "that we will not hear from him again." My villagers seem very okay with this. It will be odd to live in a country very soon that does not explain everything by the occult. When Jane, my house girl, started working for me, multiple people told me to clean out my hair brush. In response to my question of why, I was told because she could steal my hair and give it to someone who could curse me. Really?
About the time of all this Osmond's-uncle-witch-business, I get really sick. I woke up with a fever, weak, and then threw up for four days straight. What I called the stomach flu, they call witchcraft, poison...blah, blah, blah. Many Tanzanians open drinks in front of who is going to drink it, so they can be assured that it does not contain poison. This week I have taken up my own self-taught Rwanda course, where I have read together "We wish to inform you that tomorrow we will be killed with our families," about the genocide, and "Gorillas in the Mist" of course, by Dian Fossey. (I figured that it was time for me to expand upon my obsession of young women who live alone in Africa with great apes. I would like to say that I relate to them, but Kimulimuli is a pretty pathetic ape.) I highly, highly recommend both of these fascinating books, however, read at the same time "Me Talk Pretty One Day," by David Sedaris, not because it has anything to do with Rwanda but because when you are tired of balling your eyes out, this will crack you up. I had nightmares for a week straight about decapitated gorillas and people. Anyways, my point is these books both really seemed to illustrate the concept of fear.
Fear makes people do funny things. I can laugh all I want about witchcraft in my village but there are examples from all over the world, America included, of people acting in weird and rash ways out of fear. I read somewhere once that fear gets in the way of love, or something to that extent, and I wonder about that statement. I am pretty sure that every problem in the world goes back to someone's, or a group's fear, whether real or imagined. When I think about the genocide in Rwanda, what is going on now in Sudan, in Iraq, in many places... isn't that about someone's fear of someone else? What happened during the holocaust, to Black Americans, Native Americans, gay Americans... was that not related to someone's own trepidation? How much more effective would we be as a world population if fear was not a driving force in most people's lives? Would there be a lot more love? I think probably yes.
Anyways, I did recover from "my curse", but the interesting thing about being sick in your African Village is how much love there is. From the first moment that I was sick, someone was always at my house, I didn't ask for this but to Tanzanians sickness equals death and it was important to them that I was not alone. Someone spent the night on my couch every night, water was constantly being heated for me to bathe, wood added to the fire, lemon ginger tea made... One evening everyone was busy. I was feeling better but my village guys insisted on putting a mattress in the front of the TV in my village bar because my Mama had to work so that we could all watch the world cup together. (Side note: Next to South Africa, my village must be the next best place to watch the World Cup.) So I curled up with dusty, ring-wormy kids, while my mama cooked dinner, my friends gathered round, and felt loved.