Sunday, February 20, 2011

Sunday evening in Mapaki. From my comfortable vantage point on the guest house porch, I am lulled by the whirring of the foot-operated sewing machine the tailor is using across the road to craft piles of bright freshly tailored children’s clothing. The sound of a thousand weaver birds in the tree next to the tailor provides a pleasant contrast. Small children, as always, love stopping by to chat and drop off small gifts. My latest was a tiny weaver bird hatchling, tenderly placed in my hand with detailed instruction on how I was to roast this delicacy. When I politely returned the gift, the children told me that tomorrow morning the bird would fly back to the tree. Let’s hope they’re right. The generator is running in the community centre and young people wander in and out to take in the last of a football match. Chief is on his porch, surrounded by community members dealing with the latest community issue. I’m just back from sitting with friends in the kitchen where my attempts to read from a borrowed Krio language book brought riotous laughter from all. I’m chatting with my house-mate about the latest plans and dreams for health education and organization in the Chiefdom, a topic made so much more personal by last night’s frantic round of visits to medical clinics in Makeni on the back of a motor-bike through dust and dark. Makeni, where people also delight in the daily six hours of electricity that is now available. When the lights finally did come on in Makeni last night, shouts of joy resounded from all the houses. As always on short visits, my time to just sit and take in the sights and sounds and smells of this Chiefdom is just too short and there are too many people and places that I’ll miss seeing. On this evening, though, as the sun is setting and the searing heat subsiding, I take great comfort in simply sitting and “genoting”.