Sunday, October 30, 2011

Celebrating Halloween and Mulako wa Lhomwe

Thinking about the difference between this weekend and last weekend is one to smile about. Last weekend, we decided to bus south to outside of Thyolo to a large celebration of one of the main cultures in southern Malawi – the Lhomwe. Since the President Mutharika is Lhomwe, he decided to build a cultural centre to preserve the Lhomwe language, dance, songs and traditions. I do not quite support the idea of a cultural centre for only one group and not the tens of others in the country, but I thought it would be nice to see how people celebrate. 

Cooling off with freezies under the shade on my new
 mulako wa lhomwe chitenje
So off we went last Sunday by minibus to Mulako wa Lhomwe, not sure what to expect exactly, other than a lot of people. The minibus dropped us in what seemed like the middle of nowhere amongst a sea of thousands of people, and we wandered into the grounds still not sure what was going on. We did get there after lunch and missed most of the real action, but we did get a glimpse of some dancers, some of which spontaneously paraded behind while we were walking. Although I get stares and questions daily, I am not sure I have felt like I was sticking out that much before. But I understand people’s curiosity and with a pile of strawberry freezies in hand, we enjoyed the few hours we spent there before cramming into another full minibus to come home.

Example of things people were wearing to celebrate
Contrastingly, this weekend we celebrated our own culture by dressing up in costumes and eating candy. Entertaining our 5-year old selves by transforming into ninja turtles for a night has value for refreshing ourselves and feeling connected to what is going on back home. 

Plus, I love getting creative and crafty, since making costumes here is a little bit different than at home, considering Halloween is not celebrated at all here. But the outdoor market presents endless possibilities if you are willing to get a little creative.

Just a little note to say I am doing well and enjoying both Malawian and Western culture! I also had meetings on the World AIDS Campaign and HIV leadership through accountability in Lilongwe this week, which was quite educational and highlighted the challenges that civil society organizations here face in trying to get the government to follow through on their commitments to stocking central stores with ARVs and essential drugs, nutritional supplements for people on ARVs, etc.

More on work later, now that the rainy season is fast approaching, it is incredibly hot so I am starting to work and think at a slower pace.

Heros in a half shell - turtle power!

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