Here There and Everywhere

Expat wanderer

Masumbe’s Wisdom By the Campfire

Every night before dinner in these camps is a time for gathering around the campfire, sharing stories, getting to know the fellow guests. At Tena Tena our third night, we are sitting with Msumbe, the assistant camp manager, and listening to him talk about Zambia.

Zambia is a peaceful nation, and it is a miracle. More than seventy different tribes, and that many different languages and dialects. Rich in natural resources, full of children hungry to learn, Zambia has placed a high priority in educating everyone in getting along with one another.

“So like when you come across another person, not from where you are from, you don’t start in with a lot of questions. First you ask ‘How is it where you are from?’ and then you listen. When you know where he is coming from, and how are things there, then you can ask better questions, and not offend someone.”

Hmmmm, I thought, good advice. Sometimes I feel a little shy, especially when there are large groups of “others” like South Africans, or British, and they have their own values, their own ways of communicating, different from ours.

Soon, I was sitting next to a British woman, and desperately trying to think of a way to get HER talking, so I could be listening, and that is exactly what I asked “Tell me what life is like where you are from?”

She looked at me like I was a little crazy and asked what I meant. I said that I knew her life was very different from mine, and I was interested to know what her daily life was like. So she started telling me she wasn’t very interesting really, but gave me some details, and actually, it WAS interesting. Once she got going, knowing I really was interested, I learned a whole lot!

One detail I will never forget is that she rides to the foxes every weekend in the fox hunting season, this very respectable woman, and that they all do, even if it is against the law. No matter what the weather, they ride, hour upon hour. She laughed and said they ride so long and so hard that her clothes become discolored from the saddle leather, and she comes home stained and filthy from her rides.

Now how would I ever have known all that without Masumbe’s good question? It’s like being given a key that opens many locks. You never know what treasures you will come upon, but you have this wonderful key. Thank you, Masumbe!

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July 3, 2008 Posted by | Adventure, Community, Cross Cultural, ExPat Life, Family Issues, Living Conditions, Relationships, Social Issues | , | 5 Comments