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Merger update and other tidbits

Hey All,

I know that it’s been a long time and that I sort of dropped a bombshell on the last post. Sorry about that. As it turns out, it is not the end of the world. The DoE is screwed up and said they made a mistake. The two primary schools that we work with are not going to merge. Oops! Instead of saying that Mafale PS, Mmatope PS, and Tsogwe PS are going to merge into one Primary School, they meant that Tsogwe was going to dissolve and the learners from that primary school were going to be divided among Mafale and Mmatope. So that explains that. Unfortunate for Makopye More MS, they are going forward with the restructuring of the grade levels. Maybe not in January, but probably by Jan 2009, the primary schools will be grades R through 7 and the high schools will be grades 8 through 12. This means that Makopye More is not in the long term plans of the DoE. Also, the merger of the high schools is still going to happen, but again, it may be in a year’s time. (I still say that this is a good idea. One high school is very large and a great facility and certainly has enough room for all the learners.)

In other news, I wanted to talk about the tombstone unveiling. I don’t remember what I have told you about it, so I’ll start from the beginning….

Before Robi and I arrived in Jericho, we were told that our family was going to have an event, a tombstone unveiling, about a week after we arrived. Because of this event, the family was going to need to use some of the house where we would be staying. We figured that this would not be a problem, and for the most part it was nothing big. It was a little more complicated because there is no ceiling and any noise travels very well throughout the house. Additionally, the family needs to use the front room for the food supplies and for storing the traditional beer. The beginning of the week was calm and relaxing (as relaxing as a completely new place can be). Then the end of the week and the mad frenzy to finish everything for the unveiling. We slaughtered a cow. This is traditionally a man’s job and women are not allowed to help out. Robi didn’t want to partake in the slaughtering, but wanted to see how it was done, at least once. The slaughtering of the cow was an interesting experience that I don’t know if I’d like to do again. I know that it is how we get beef, that I really enjoy eating, but is was a little much. I helped a little.

Samuel, the “Uncle” who works at the house most days and takes care of a great many things, got a lasso around the cow’s neck. Then the cow, know that this was not good, started to try to get away. This is where I was able to help my little bit. About four men got on the rope and eventually were able to tie the cow to a tree stump in the corral (called kraal). The cow was immobilized and it’s head put to the ground. It was slaughtered by simply cutting its neck. Unfortunately, the knife was not very sharp and it was not a quick kill. This was the part that I really did not like. I talk with people after the fact and asked about the process, saying that I know that Kosher cows are slaughtered humanely and quickly, as well as bulls in Spanish bullfights. I wondered if rural South Africa could learn something from them. (Sounds a little funny when I actually put in down on paper.) But I was told that they slaughter the cow in a ritual manner. Everything is done to make sure that the “ancestors” are not angered. A section from the cow’s esophagus (I think specifically the Adam’s apple) is taken out and hung in a nearby tree as a sacrifice to the “ancestors”. (A little background: It is believed that when people die here, they go to heaven (or the sky). Then they are the link between the living and God. So the ancestors have the same faults that we do. Since we can’t talk directly to God ourselves, we have to be nice to the ancestors so that they speak nicely of us to God.) After the cow was slaughtered, the blood had to be covered so that they other cows, who were watching the whole time, didn’t go crazy at the smell and sight of blood, which they supposedly do. So we then had to drag the slaughtered cow through the fence, into the next section of yard, where we put the cow on to metal and skinned it. Very interesting to see how they used every part of the animal. I would have enjoyed the experience more if there was no killing in the middle. Well…I’m running out of time for now. I will pick this up later.

Next on the list….Brewing traditional beer and the actual event.


2 Responses

  1. When I was in Costa Rica, almost all the chicken we ate had been running around in the yard about an hour earlier. Not the same as getting it in a nice neat shrink wrapped package at the store, is it?

    Chris shot a deer this weekend, but I doubt he hung its esophagus in a tree for the ancestors.

    It sounds like things are going pretty well. Please post more about what you and the village need so we can all help out.

    Your cousin, Natalie

  2. Happy Thanksgiving (or at least it is here in the states)! Sarah & I just wanted to let you know we were thinking of you!

    I hope you both are doing well. It sounds like you are experiencing so much! I can’t wait to read the next “addittion!”

    I actually have a favor to ask. My 6th grade class is studying “Culture” this year, and in PE we are looking specifically at how different cultures play. Now for the favor..could you guys talk a little about the common playground games you see the kids playing? (I would love to have my students visit your blog, if that is OK by you.)

    Waiting for more and thinking of you both,
    Kerri & Sarah

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