Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Cow herding for wives

So we are working on this conservation agricultural project in zambia, and we see a lot of cattle ranchers, or cow herders or whatever. They have lots and lots of cows, huge herds they can barely control and get hit by cars (it's awful, trust me), and the guy who is walking behind them with a stick will always have the most ratty clothes, no shoes, just real dirt poor style. And my colleague Moses #3 (i can't keep track of the moses here) says they often ask for money or donations or whatever. To which he'll say, wait, you have 50 cows! Why are you asking for handouts? Each animal is worth, what, 200$ at least? Why is he asking for donations and not just buying some clothes or fixing his house? It's another paradox. So, having lots of cows is a bit like having lots of money in the bank, only, other people can see your account statement. Which means the ladies are all, hey, i want some of this, or, some guy might want to marry his daughters or something. But well, instead of selling a cow here and there for necessities, it turns out they more often sell them to get more wives. The rest of the time they'll just keep them so they reproduce or die. So cows are sex bartering currency? Which makes me imagine some sort of feminist fantasy where cows=money=women=POWER? Yeah ok not really, just a fleeting thought....   

Sunday, June 26, 2016

Press 1 for English....

This is for my uncle because all of his Gabon stories predate the telephone :)
So we are setting up these cellphones for a project in Zambia and i had to call the mobile service company customer service.
"Welcome to MTN! Press 1 for English.."
And i was curious as to what the other options were so i listened on
"Press 2 for Bemba
"Press 3 for Nyanja
"Press 4 for Tonga
I stopped at 9. 

Now that's modern africa for you. Mind you, if we were in Congo you'd need at least 400 options...