November 18, 2009

Buxton-Friendship

Posted in Buxton, Economics, Friendship, Guyana, Lusignan, Politics tagged , at 6:32 pm by randallbutisingh

 

Buxton-Friendship

By Harry Hergash

Harry Hergash, a graduate of the University of Guyana, taught at the Annandale Government Secondary from 1964 to 1969. He immigrated to Canada in 1974.

In this column I would like to share my recollections of the village of Buxton-Friendship, East Coast Demerara. Historically, after starting out as separate villages that were purchased and built by freed African slaves, they were amalgamated into one around 1841.  By the beginning of the nineteen sixties, Buxton-Friendship was possibly the most progressive and prosperous village in Guyana. It was known for its highly educated sons and daughters, civic minded citizens, hard working farmers and fisherman, skilled tradesmen, and prosperous business people, where citizens of African and Indian origins lived together peacefully.

Indians, who started arriving in the village in the 1890s, emulated the Africans in striving for education and social betterment in the country. By the 1950s they were scattered throughout the village with concentrated enclaves in the area along the seashore, referred to as Buxton Front, where there were some of the most renowned sea-fishermen in the country; on both sides of the railway embankment around the railway station where they worked as pawnbrokers and jewellers, and operated clothing and hardware stores; and in the area along Brush dam where they raised cattle and grew rice in adjoining estate lands. Most if not all of them adhered to Indian cultural traditions, and Buxton could boast of having some of the most educated and finest Indian musicians and singers of Chowtaals, Ramayan and Bhajans.

I remember Saturdays and Mondays as prime market days at the municipal market next to the Post Office, just off Company Road, a stone’s throw from the railway station. The interaction and relationships between Africans and Indians were based on mutual respect and trust, befitting two peoples who depended on the fruits of each other’s labour. Indians from the estate areas of Lusignan Pasture and Annandale Sand Reef to the West and Vigilance to the East would bring their produce of garden vegetables (ochro, bora, calaloo, etc.) to sell to the African villagers who would sell them fruits, plantains and ground provisions (cassava, eddoes, sweet potatoes, etc.). Both groups would then patronise the fishermen and the butchers who operated their stalls in a corner of the market where the odour was quite distinct. Before noon, the efficient Mr. Brown would have already completed his rounds and collected from vendors all market fees.

During my childhood in the 1950s, I traversed every street and cross street in the combined village in the company of my grandparents and uncles who sold feed to the many self-employed villagers who farmed the back-lands and raised chicken and pigs in their yards. Every Sunday morning we travelled around the village in a dray cart hauled by three donkeys laden with paddy, broken rice and bhoosi (pulverized rice shells produced during milling) which was sold to customers to be used as chicken and pig feed. By midday, with our task completed after serving the last customer along Friendship Middle Walk, we would stop at the Esso station, the first petrol station to be built on the East Coast of Demerara, where I would get a treat of Brown Betty ice-cream or Fudgsicle while the elders collected the “wet-cell” battery that had been left the week before for recharging.. In those days, radio sets of that period with names such as KB, Grundig, Phillips and Pye, were operated in the rural areas with current from a battery similar to a motor-car’s battery that had to be recharged periodically at a gas station.

Regrettably, the madness of racial discord and intolerance raised its ugly head in the country in 1963 and by 1964 Buxton-Friendship, like other parts of the country, was consumed. As Indians hurriedly relocated from the predominantly African villages to the safety of predominantly Indian areas, Africans did the same in the reverse. Even then, many good people on both sides risked their lives and property to help those on the other side, but it was not enough to stem the mass migration from villages and the formation of segregated communities. This was the beginning of squatting areas or shantytowns in Guyana. Overnight pastures and swamplands were cramped with makeshift houses and places like Lusignan East and West, Haslington, Logwood, etc. came into being.

Sadly, Buxton-Friendship never recovered from this restructuring. With independence coming shortly thereafter and government jobs becoming readily available, many African villagers deserted the self- sufficiency of independent occupations – carpentry, cabinet making, blacksmith, guttersmith, farming and the raising of livestock, opting instead for the apparent security of salaried occupations.  As the village tax base deteriorated, critical infrastructural work on roads, drainage and irrigation was neglected, and by the time the oil crisis and world-wide economic downturn hit us, both citizens and the village as a whole found it difficult to cope which resulted in the serious political repercussions of later years.

Buxton-Friendship’s loss of Indian fishermen and business people was the gain of Annandale and Lusignan. Almost overnight, in the midst of the turmoil and agony of 1964, a market developed in Annandale North’s Centre Street, rechristened “Market Street”. It quickly replaced Buxton’s municipal market as the commercial centre for the surrounding areas, and by 1965, African Buxtonians were also patronizing the vendors in Annandale. Likewise many of the hardware and clothing stores relocated to Annandale.  And the fishermen formerly of Buxton Front became the enterprising fishermen of Lusignan East where the fishing industry was taken to new heights as the importation of salted cod and canned fish was banned during the period of economic hardship of the 1980s.

Now more than four decades later, as I reflect on the deaths and destruction of 1964 and the havoc wreaked on the communities of Buxton and Annandale, I cannot help but recall that it was the ordinary citizens, not the external forces that combined to destabilise the country, and certainly not those individual politicians of both major parties in whose names the so many horrendous acts were perpetrated, who were the victims and losers in all the madness and mayhem. It was these ordinary folks who became homeless, and it was their children who became motherless, fatherless or orphans. And when it came to healing and restoring some semblance of peace and harmony, it was community leaders who had to pick up the pieces. It was Eusi Kwayana as the respected leader of Buxton, and Pandit Ramsahai Doobay as the respected leader of Annandale, who met with then British Colonial Secretary, Duncan Sandys, on the Annandale Side-line dam (then referred to as the Maginot line, a term used by the French in the Second World War) to discuss and work out arrangements that played their own part in establishing an uneasy peace in the villages.

I am now an emigrant from the land of my birth. As I follow developments of recent years in the communities of Buxton-Friendship and neighbouring areas, I am saddened that lessons of the past seem to have been forgotten. Ordinary citizens of these communities have once again been the victims and they are the ones who once again have to start rebuilding the good inter-personal relationships and trust, sorely damaged by needless strife and violence. The time has surely come for people to realize that while politicians remain unscathed and continue to enjoy the perquisites of office, it is they the poor folks who will always have to bear the consequences of actions by their “representatives”. It is they who have to live side by side as neighbours and interact with each other. As we look to the future, let us be guided by the actions and teachings of the elders of our communities. Let us remember a time not so very long ago, when an African grandmother would give a special bath of blue water to an Indian child to protect that child from the mythical “old-higue”, and an Indian mother would pay a penny to nominally “buy” an African child so that child could grow up to be healthy and strong. Let us remember our history.

(This is one of a series of weekly columns from Guyanese in the diaspora and others with an interest in issues related to Guyana and the Caribbean)

 

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July 12, 2009

Discussions with Brian Konkol -11

Posted in Education, Friendship, Psychology, Religion, South Africa tagged , , , , at 6:57 pm by randallbutisingh

Subject: South Africa – July, 2009

A must…perseverance, resilience (Kristen Konkol)

See with pictures at: http://briankristenkonkol.blogspot.com

She steps out of bed onto the cold, hard ground with a chill filling the air. She can see her breath with every exhale. She puts hot water on to boil for tea to warm her body before she begins her daily journey. She pulls on her tall socks and long skirt along with her hat and gloves and steps into the dark, star-filled sky. It is never easy to leave into the darkness of a winter morning, but she knows she must, for she must provide in the best way she can. She walks from her home to the main road and looks here and there for a ride on her first leg of the journey, but she finds none and continues on. She walks down to the highway and joins many others who raise their signaled hands and wait for the vehicles to pull over and give them a lift.

Finally, an old bakkie (pick-up) pulls over and she along with about 12 others climb into the bed of the truck. They huddle close together and pull the collars of their coats up high as the cold, swift wind of the highway screams by. The sun is now on the horizon as she climbs down out of the bakkie some kilometers later. She walks down the same familiar road to her final destination where she will work with her hands to make ends meet. She must make the journey, she reminds herself, for I have no other choice but to do it for my family. She perseveres, she is resilient

A sharp-witted man sits in his familiar place, nose in his books for hours on end. He studies the mounds of literature; he captures the precise techniques and scans the latest research day after day. When he is not studying, he is on his feet for hours on end, walking the corridors of the hospital, reviewing charts, studying up for the next time he is called upon. He has a gift and was blessed with those hands. His hands are skilled, practiced and proficient. He works flawlessly in the theatre (operating room), with the lives of so many in these hands with every precise procedure he very capably carries out. Years of practice and study have prepared him for the test and he is ready, he is confident. He sits for the written surgical specialty exam and knows he has done well. With only the oral exam to go, he knows he is but one small step away from being qualified as a surgeon able to practice in international medicine anywhere in the world.

He would be the first black South African to do so at this institution. He sits before the board of light-skinned faces and answers question after question without hesitation or intimidation. He has done all he can. Days pass and he finally receives word…they have not passed him and will now have to do it all over again. He is not demoralized, but yet is even more determined to overcome the obvious injustice and “make them” have to pass him when he is back later this year. I will not let them deter me, he reminds himself, for I will obtain the qualifications I deserve. He will persevere, for he is resilient!

She looks up from her garden as children come and go through the haphazard gate. With a limp in her step she makes her way to the house to see how the progress is coming on the inside. One young boy sweeps away the endless dirt that seems to blow in day after day. She sits down and looks at her feet. She has already lost two toes to diabetes and her swollen legs tingle endlessly from the lack of circulation. She looks at her ragged dress and wishes she could do more, but what can she do? Five of her children have already succumbed to the same dark fate of so many others, withering away from HIV/AIDS.

Only two remain, and her daughter has already taken to the life of prostitution to make a bit of money, and she knows her fate will one day be all too familiar. The children are left and she wonders what she can do. She must now look after the grandchildren, for they have so few other options. She worries about how she will put food on the table and clothes on their back as she cannot go out and work with her own poor health. All she knows she can do is pray, wipe the sweat off her brow, and head back out to the garden. For she must, she says to herself, for if the garden is all I can give them, then that is what I will do. She must persevere; she must rise above and be resilient.

Too many times I have seen, observed and heard these and other stores about perseverance and resilience. Injustice, poverty, discrimination and adversity weave a thread though the lives of so many here in South Africa . Even as some years have passed since democracy has so wonderfully been won, many continue to struggle each and every day. For it does not take days or months or even years to reverse the reality and life situations many have come to know, but generations.

I am humbled each day with what so many go through on a day to day basis and am sometimes paralyzed by the monumental peaks that have to be overcome. But what strikes me above all is the perseverance and resilience of those faced with challenge day in and day out. We must, it is said, for there is no other option. We must, we must, and we must…rise above and overcome for a better tomorrow!

Peace & Blessings

Kristen

Web (personal): http://briankristenkonkol.blogspot.com
Web (project): http://elcamud.blogspot.com

July 8, 2009

Rev Al Sharpton Speech at Michael Jackson Funeral – Video

Posted in Friendship, Messages, Philosophy, Religion, USA politics tagged , , , at 8:10 pm by randallbutisingh

Rev Al Sharpton Speech at Michael Jackson Funeral

Rev Al Sharpton Speech at Michael Jackson Funeral – Video

Michael Jackson, the pop singer and entertainer was buried on June 8, 2009.

A Memorial Service and funeral, lasting some three hours, was held for him at the Staples Centre in Los Angeles, California, USA. It featured family members, celebrities with entertainment and speeches.

One of the speakers, the Rev Al Sharpton made a speech that had the greatest impact on the crowd, as it identified the salient points of the Michael Jackson phenomena… The Michael Jackson Journey and his ability to connect with peoples around the world through music. Sharpton’s also highlighted the fact the Michael Jackson’s long career starting at 10years old, and spanning some 40 years, was the time also of racial reconciliation and the breaking down of racial barriers… culminating in the election of President Barack Obama as President of the United States.

One may not agree with the politics of the Rev. Al Sharpton, but this speech was truly a great one worthy of a first look, if you did not see the Jackson Memorial Service, or a second look if you missed the points he made. According to Larry King of “Larry King Live”, it was the best speech he has ever heard in an arena setting like that at the Memorial Service.

– Cyril Bryan – Guest Contributor

We are the World! – Michael Jackson Video

Posted in Friendship, History, Messages, Philosophy, Psychology tagged , , , , , , , , , at 3:29 am by randallbutisingh

“We are the World” Video – 1985 – In commemoration of the life of the late Michael Jackson 1958-2009  **** Click Here

This video was one of the first videos to bring major entertainers to focus on aiding the peoples of Africa…. and the World.  It is being posted today – as Michael Jackson is laid to rest – as a reminder to all of the power of Michael Jackson in bringing people together under the umbrella of Universal Love.

Today – July 7, 2009 Michael Jackson was laid to rest in Los Angeles, California, USA, and people around the World watched the ceremony. Many may ask “How did this man get all this attention on his passing?” The answer is that his music has  touched so many millions around the world with its messages of inclusiveness and love. His songs transcended national boundaries and helped make the world truly a place where we can communicate through music, no matter what language we speak.

I could have selected one of his popular videos, however I  have included this video as my contribution to this blog as it exemplifies an important aspect of the life work of Michael Jackson in using anthems like “We are the World” in getting people , and especially fellow entertainers, involved in influencing  in creating a better world  by bringing the world’s  people together as “ONE PEOPLE” – the Human Race!

Many his soul  Rest In Peace!

………………………………………

Notes about this Video:

USA for Africa (United Support of Artists for Africa), was the name under which forty-five predominantly U.S. artists, led by Harry Belafonte, Kenny Rogers, Michael Jackson, and Lionel Richie, recorded the hit single “We Are the World” in 1985. The song was a US and UK Number One for the collective in April of that year.

The considerable profits from the enterprise went to the USA for Africa Foundation, which used them for the relief of famine and disease in Africa. A recording of the live performance was released with the Live Aid DVD set released on November 8, 2004.

– This selection and  the comments above are by Cyril Bryan, Guest Contributor.

June 27, 2009

What is Happiness?

Posted in Economics, Education, Friendship, Philosophy tagged , , , , , at 9:07 pm by randallbutisingh

What Is Happiness?:  tips from a comprehensive study.

“Is there a formula—some mix of love, work, and psychological adaptation—for a good life? For 72 years, researchers at Harvard have been examining this question, following 268 men who entered college in the late 1930s through war, career, marriage and divorce, parenthood and grandparenthood, and old age. Here, for the first time, a journalist gains access to the archive of one of the most comprehensive longitudinal studies in history. Its contents, as much literature as science, offer profound insight into the human condition—and into the brilliant, complex mind of the study’s longtime director, George Vaillant. (The Atlantic – June 2009)

.Atlantic Magazine published an article in June 2009,  which features the results of an interesting and comprehensive  72 year old study, that began way back to 1937 and continues up to now, of  the lives of 286 Harvard university graduates. Many of the study members have passed on as the study group advances in age, but the study highlights some interesting insights on their lives that we can all learn from.

What HAPPINESS is all about is the main theme of the study. Journalist Joshua Shenk, who wrote the article in Atlantic Magazine summed up the findings as: “Herein lies the key to a good life–not rules to follow, nor problems to avoid– but an engaged humility, an earnest acceptance of life’s pains and promises.”

.You can read the whole article and also look at a very interesting video with the article by going to this link : Atlantic Magazine. or clicking on the following address:

http://www.theatlantic.com/doc/200906/happiness

If you would like to see the video that is in the article, then click on this link:

http://link.brightcove.com/services/player/bcpid1460906593?bctid=22804415001

I do hope that you enjoy the article and the video and that it does give you some insights as to what is really important in our life journey here on Earth.

– Cyril Bryan, Guest Contributor

May 24, 2009

Working together for progress

Posted in Friendship, Philosophy, Thoughts, USA politics tagged , , , , , at 4:26 am by randallbutisingh

It is time for the leaders of the world to realise that to survive this crisis which has affected every nation. that working together is the way to go.  Now is not the time for nations to work in isolation and compete against one another.  It needs concerted effort to get us out of this deep chasm that American leaders who lacked  vision and discrimination brought us into.  In this engagement, America, with her new world acclaimed leader, must try to set the standard of inclusion of all.  At the same time she must make effort to bring justice to all peoples.  Otherwise every one will continue to live in fear, for those who think they are wronged will quite rightly fight for their rights.  Now is an opportunity to put less trust in fighting and more in  trying to build friendships.

All men are brothers whether we accept it or not.  Those who spurn true religion must know that all mankind came from the same source and are alike as the waves are to the ocean though they have differing degrees of dimension and intensity.  Disregarding this fact of our inter relation has been the cause of conflicts from time immemorial.

Randall Butisingh

April 29, 2009

WE ARE ALL ONE

Posted in Friendship, Philosophy, Thoughts tagged , , at 11:34 am by randallbutisingh

Thought for Today:

WE ARE ALL ONE

O Mankind, know that we are all One.  Your neighbour is you; that is why you must love him as yourself.  Like the waves in the Ocean, each with its own individuality and seemingly separate, doing their own thing…some as gentle ripples, hardly rocking the boat, others larger inviting the surfer, some so powerful that they can  toss the largest steamer so badly as to cause a disaster;  but below the Ocean from which they sprang, and which they truly are,  lies peaceful and  calm.  Like the waves, we mankind, each individual soul, with its  own individuality is deluded by  its seeming separateness from the eternal Supersoul from which it took birth.  When enlightenment comes, then it wll see not multiplicity but Unify.

Another analogy; like the islands of  an archipelago, each with its own individuality and its own characteristics, some barren, some productive mostly of weeds others beautiful with flowering plants and luscious fruits,  but remove the water which gives the illusion of separateness and what do you see:  one land with humps that were called islands.

“No man is an island entire of itself”  says the poet John Donne, “every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main……………..any man”s death diminishes me because I am involved in mankind, and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; it tolls for thee”.

– Randall Butisingh

April 26, 2009

The Silent Groundswell – LOVE

Posted in Friendship, Philosophy, Religion tagged , , , at 5:26 am by randallbutisingh

The Silent Groundswell – LOVE
.. Love is the new religion of the 21st century

On the surface of the world right now there is
war and violence and things seem dark.
But calmly and quietly, at the same time,
something else is happening underground
An inner revolution is taking place
and certain individuals are being called to a higher light.
It is a silent revolution.
From the inside out. From the ground up.
This is a Global operation.

A Spiritual Conspiracy.

There are sleeper cells in every nation on the planet.
You wont see us on the T.V.
You wont read about us in the newspaper
You wont hear about us on the radio
We don’t seek any glory
We don’t wear any uniform
We come in all shapes and sizes, colors and styles
Most of us work anonymously
We are quietly working behind the scenes
in every country and culture of the world
Cities big and small, mountains and valleys,
in farms and villages, tribes and remote islands
You could pass by one of us on the street and not even notice
We go undercover
We remain behind the scenes
It is of no concern to us who takes the final credit
But simply that the work gets done
Occasionally we spot each other in the street
We give a quiet nod and continue on our way
During the day many of us pretend we have normal jobs
But behind the false storefront at night
is where the real work takes a place

Some call us the Conscious Army

We are slowly creating a new world
with the power of our minds and hearts
We follow, with passion and joy
Our orders come from from the Central Spiritual Intelligence
We are dropping soft, secret love bombs when no one is looking
Poems ~ Hugs ~ Music ~ Photography ~ Movies ~ Kind words ~
Smiles ~ Meditation and prayer ~ Dance ~ Social activism ~ Websites ~ Blogs ~ Random acts of kindness…
We each express ourselves in our own unique ways
with our own unique gifts and talents
Be the change you choose to see in the world
That is the motto that fills our hearts
We know it is the only way real transformation takes place
We know that quietly and humbly we have the
power of all the oceans combined
Our work is slow and meticulous
Like the formation of mountains
It is not even visible at first glance
And yet with it entire tectonic plates
shall be moved in the centuries to come

Love is the new religion of the 21st century

You don’t have to be a highly educated person
Or have any exceptional knowledge to understand it
It comes from the intelligence of the heart
Embedded in the timeless evolutionary pulse of all human beings
Be the change you choose to see in the world
Nobody else can do it for you
We are now recruiting
Perhaps you will join us
Or already have.
All are welcome
The door is open.

—–Author unknown

Our comment:

Yes Love is the new religion;  unconditional, all embracing, indivisible.  The love that our Lord exhorted H is disciples  to give;  “Love one another as I have loved you”;  to the crowd in His sermon on the mount; “love your neighbour as yourself;  love your enemies”  Love makes no exceptions; you cannot love one section of humanity and hate the other, That will be like dividing the chicken in two haves, cooking one half and leaving the other half for laying; it cannot work.  our love must extend to the Jew and the Arab, the Turk and the African, the law abiding and the criminal.  Then man will become his brother’s keeeper.  This will bring about the miracle of a peaceful and harmonious world.  No one will live in fear as perfect love casts away fear.  No one will be in want. The time is coming when men and nations will realise that the way of Love is the right way and they will beat their swords  into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks, and the earth will be full with the glory of God as the waters cover the sea.

March 18, 2009

The millenium

Posted in Economics, Friendship, Philosophy, Politics, USA politics tagged , , at 1:32 pm by randallbutisingh

If anyone thinks that the New Administration, headed by President Barack Obama will bring Utopia, let him think again.  We are in a time when there is need,  not so much for the material things of life – some  have had it to overflow – while others have been starving;  but there will be  need  for a Spiritual Awakening which  will lead us into the millenium.  The standard of living will take a downward trend, and make no bones about it;  the economy as it was, will never recover to benefit a few.   What is needed  at this time is not  high living and low thinking but simple living and elevated thinking.

We are moving into a time when men and nations will see that the vanity of National Pride and Loyalty to one country and  of ethnic and colour prejudices.  They will see themselves, each of whatever size, colour or shape as an integral part in the Mosaic which is Indivisible Humanity.  They will see how wasteful it is to use the resources of Mother Earth,  put there for all her children,  and their God given talents,  for making weapons to destroy their brother man, but in reality they are destroying Mankind in which they are involved.

The current crisis which perhaps is the greatest to ever befall, not only a nation, but the whole world is a wake up call to bring the nations of the earth to their senses;  to see their interrelation and their interdependence;  to see that what affects one segment of mankind affects the whole;  and to put away the notion that the unchanging God of the Good Samaritan and the Prodigal Son favours one nation above all others.

Who knows, this may be the last administrationn before the predicted Armageddon. Everything is pointing towards it  – nations will rise up against nations, the frequency of earthquakes and other natural disasters, the diminishing environment  intensified by man’s greed and lust for power.   Predictions had been made before,  but today the signs are clear everywhere.    Those who have eyes to see, let them see.    The time is near when  nations will  see the wisdom of beating  their swords into ploughshares and their spears into pruning hooks and there will be no more wars.   Be prepared !

Randall Butisingh

February 18, 2009

Discussions with Brian Konkol – 9

Posted in Economics, Education, Friendship, Guyana, Philosophy, Politics, Religion, South Africa tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , at 2:40 am by randallbutisingh

“f-words….” by Kristen F. Konkol

Report from South Africa : February 2009

(To read with pictures go to: http://briankristenkonkol.blogspot.com)

Super Bowl fever has now begun to subside as the days pass following all the publicity and fanfare. It is a strange phenomenon, really, when living overseas. You do see the international news showing bits and pieces of the multitude of stories leading up to the game, but you certainly don’t feel the same excitement surrounding questions of how sports fans will spend the day in the US. When I think about such an event, a lot of f-words” come into mind (not the ones where people are yelling at the TV!). Typically the football game is associated with food, fun, family, friends and funny commercials. In fact, I saw a statistic that said that Americans spend approximately $40 million dollars on food alone for Super Bowl parties….that is a whole lot of chips & salsa!!!

Outside of the US football means something very different as it translates to soccer to the rest of the world. Here in South Africa the preparations for very different football events on the world stage are underway as the nation prepares to host the Confederations Cup (champion national team of each continent) in June 2009 and the main act being the FIFA World Cup in 2010. Stadiums, roads, communication and many other facets are being prepared for the first ever hosting of a World Cup on the African continent. Both in Guyana and now here in South Africa I have been fortunate to be a part of football (soccer) both with children and young adults. To see the passion and the skills that are displayed are amazing where proper shoes, fields, goals, balls or equipment are not pertinent to get a game going. One simply plays with what you have where you are… whether it is out on the dirt lot with no shoes and a make-shift ball or on a nice thick lined grass field with all the nice uniforms, cleats and balls. I have thoroughly enjoyed these diverse opportunities and all the wonderful children and young adults I have worked with and played alongside.

When one also thinks of foods that would be typical for an occasion or event, I have enjoyed the variety of staples that countries around the world have in their diet. For example, it was typical for one to say in Guyana that you haven’t ‘eaten for the day’ if you haven’t had rice as it was synonymous with food in many areas. In South Africa the staple product would be corn, or mealies. There are seemingly endless varieties of mealie dishes that have been at the center of African family life for centuries. Mealie pap is the most widely eaten food in South Africa and it is thinner (porridge) or stiffer (like thick mashed potatoes) depending on where or when you eat it. It can be made sweet (thinner breakfast porridge), salty or rich. Thicker pap may be mixed with a variety of other vegetables or tubers and used with sauce or stew. Mealie meal is finely ground maize. Phutu (in Zulu) is a dish of crumbly maize porridge, often eaten with soured milk. Umngqusho (Xhosa word) would be samp (dried and crushed maize kernels), boiled, then mixed with beans, onion, potatoes, chilies, lemon and salt and simmered. Although these are just a few to name, I can not glaze over the mealie itself, which is simply a cob of corn that is popular grilled or boiled as a snack (although unlike in Wisconsin , most grill it without the husk). There is also a traditional beer (umqombothi) made from water, malt, maize and sorghum which is served at many celebrations from big beer pots. That is certainly an acquired taste!!

(See more at: http://www.zulu-culture-history.com/zulu_traditional_beer.htm)

Family is also something thought of very differently than we would think of as typical in the US . For many, when you say mother, father, siblings…this would constitute your immediate family. However, in some South African cultures, especially Zulu culture, your family is much broader. For instance, the same word in Zulu for mother and father are used for aunt (if it is your mother’s sister) and uncle (if it is your father’s brother) such that they act just as your parents. The word for cousin would be the same as brother or sister for the children of your mother’s sisters and your father’s brothers. It basically follows immediate lineage. The ties become much more communal and the family unit constitutes a larger circle.

The one f-word” that people here express very freely is that of expression of faith. For faith is not something that is taboo to talk about from Mon-Sat and is in so many threads of individuals everyday life. Personal faith life as well as congregational faith life stems into many aspects of ones existence, not just the time spent sitting in church. It is a topic talked about and discussed as frequently as politics and sports. It is a lesson that we can all learn in thinking about our comfort level and commitment to our faith and how we express it. In my experience here in South Africa church is not something to just “get over with” and get on with the rest of your day, but rather the main focus of the day for which the day revolves around. Attending worship here can take many, many hours…for instance, yesterday’s consecration of the South Eastern Diocese bishop was a 7 hour long service and program with approximately 9,000 in attendance. When the singing and dancing of songs takes place in that kind of setting, you are hard pressed to not be moved and feel blessed by the experience.

There are many differences in how various cultures express “f-words” such as family, football, fun, food and faith. What I am continually challenged with is how much I am able to appreciate the differences, embrace them and allow myself to be enhanced and learn from another culture. There are many preferences we have in how we express these f-words”, but the real question is how open are we to doing, experiencing, and seeing things in a new and different light as opposed to fitting it into that nice little box of the familiar.

With peace & blessings,

Kristen Konkol

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