Monday, 18 October 2010


It's not so much that things are unknown here and that we don't speak the language, but there is generally an assumption that we will know what is happening - including the why and the when. Meetings are scheduled without anyone being told. Events are planned without prior notice. We follow blindly and willingly and generally the destination involves interesting new interactions. The local buses (the tro tros) leave when full so there is no timetable and the destination may bear little relevance to the sign some of them carry on their roofs. But people's kindness and unnerving interest in what we (the obruni) are doing means we are passed from one to the next with as little fuss as unloading the goats from the boot and roof. No mention is made of the fact that the side door is lying in the boot, no-one talks about the destination but ultimately we always seem to arrive in the right place.

This morning I followed my colleague to the seventh day celebration of the death of a local businessman. The details of where we are going and what we will do when we arrive are not discussed. Funerals are far bigger than weddings here. This is just the first part when family, friends and strangers sit from 6am to 6pm (wearing ornate black or red ceremonial clothes) to remember the person who has died. Libations are poured, messages are blasted from microphones and enormous speakers and music dominates the whole street. The older the person the bigger the celebration. It is not until the 40th day that the proper funeral takes place. I did not know the man who died but I am asked to greet everyone, including the son of the man who died and the local sub-chief who is introduced as a king. It is traditional that the close family should not left alone during this time so their mourning and celebrating and living is very much a group event. No-one should be lonely, I'm told. It's an incredible contrast to how we treat death in the UK. They say this is the most important journey, that the soul of the person will be present and for them to pass over properly everything must be done to honour them.


  1. So jealous - no timetables, no planned meetings, no why, no when... Embrace the chaos. love bobxxx

  2. Not knowing what you're doing or where you're going, sounds like University.
    P.S. Darts Masters is on! "Lets play Darts!"