Tonga lessons
on Wendy Margolese (Zambia), 07/Jan/2011 12:11, 34 days ago
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Yesterday I had my first official tonga lesson.. I have made friends with a local kid who is going to teach me tonga. He’s 22 and works full time at our local liquor store. The plan is to have lessons twice a week and to practice in between and hopefully I’ll be able to pick it up. I have decided I want to learn the language to better communicate but it’s also killing me that they are taking about me and I can’t understand what they’re saying! All I hear is Musungu (white person) and that’s all I understand.One of the huge benefits of being here is there is no stress at all.. The only thing I need to worry about is what I’m going to eat and what I’m going to do to entertain myself.. the entertainment part is very limited. ..and it’s becoming clearer to me why so many Zambians drink.. There is 1 night club here in Siavonga and honestly I really enjoy going to it because it’s the only place where you can dance.. but it’s full of drunk and disorderly people so I can only go if 1 of my local friends is available to escort us otherwise it can get messy and unsafe.Life is relatively easy here as long as you have some money, there is someone to do your laundry, clean your property, cook your meals if you like.. all for a cheap price, physical labour is very inexpensive because it’s so easily available. Without money you need to worry about where to get your water, electric and figure out how you are going to pay your bills.. the local who is teaching me tonga makes 300,.000 kwacha per month that’s about $70.00 monthly and half of that goes to rent ... which leaves 150,000 Kwacha to live on. Most locals live in millimeal (this is maize that they eat daily) it costs 50,000 kwacha for a months supply. That leaves 100,000 for all other expenses.. $25.00 for the rest of the month. I HAVE NO IDEA HOW THEY DO ITThe biggest misconception about Africa is that everything is so cheap.. it’s NOT. It’s very expensive to live here. Most things are imported and as such have a high price tag. A bag of pasta is $3.00 it’s not .99 like back at home. It’s something I’m still trying to wrap my head around. So the question is how do people survive and manage to keep a roof over their head.. They take advances on their pay, a lot of stores extend people credit, they borrow, they sell services of stuff on the side to make extra money..It’s interesting because although they are poor they are also proud.. my tonga teacher and I had lunch yesterday.. he knows I work with VSO and that I make quite a bit of money but he insisted on buying me lunch.. (he makes 300,000 monthly and lunch was 15,000 for the two of us.. ) He helps take care of his younger brother and helps his parents out. It’s actually humbling that he’s 22 and his priority it to make sure that everyone is taken care of. At 22 all I was concerned about was what I was doing that night and where we were going to go for cocktails.. Although there is a deep sense of commitment to family and community, they aren’t working together to get out, to do better...Since I’ve been getting tutored the community has been asking this young man.. where he found me... because they want their own white man to befriend. The hope is that a white man will befriend you and give you stuff.. they don’t want to learn from you they want to sponge off you and be bought.. this is the concept that I have the most difficulty with, young cheeky boys asking you to buy them a softdrink because you’re white.. I always look at them and say you need to buy me a soft drink I’m a visitor you need to treat me well so I can go home and tell everyone they need to come and visit Zambia.. oh no no no you can buy me a soft drink.. we play the same game every time. Africa is a strange and beautiful place... more soon xoxox If anyone has any questions they want answered fire away..