>> hard to believe that this is my hundredth post. i'm back in freetown, preparing for the FSOT (Foreign Service Officer Test) on saturday at the u.s. embassy. as part of the process, we are given three administrative leave days, so i took one today (thursday) and one tomorrow (friday) to give myself a nice plump weekend. a lot has happened since i was last here for that mental health week,..
- Throughout that mental health week, I was getting updates from Gbendembu on the progress (or lack thereof) involving the theft case. While the police were conducting their investigation, traditional means were also agreed upon.
- The sorcerer came to my village. He had three long sticks tied together with colored fabric and he was dressed quite impressively. He would touch the end of the stick against a person, smell the stick, and then move in a different direction and smell other people. His job was to identify the item I had hidden (a metal bottle opener) and if he succeeded, we would know he would be qualified to find the thief. He failed. He said that whenever he looked at people's faces, he saw TWO faces. And when he looked at me? I became a black man. He reasoned that someone in Gbendembu was blocking him with black magic. We paid for his transport home and he left.
- We decided to do a Thunder Swear. This is about as serious as the traditional means gets. Involved in the thunder swear was a young chicken (not a chick but just young), a frog, nails, a hammer, oil, an umbrella, herbs and plants, a lighter, and village elders and a medicine woman. the young chicken was soaked in oil. i wasn't sure why. oil on the wings. oil on the underside, the legs, all over. the chicken was not pleased with any of this. then he was lit on fire. he flapped away into the jungle and died. the frog was nailed onto a piece of wood. both of these ingredients, along with the special herbs & spices were combined in a pot. there were a lot of languages being spoken (yelled), some Loko, some Arabic, some Themne, and i took a video too.. the residue was put on the bottom of the feet and the swear was done. within two or three weeks, the thief will find they are unable to defecate or urinate and will beg for forgiveness from the medicine woman. we are now on week three. (apparently the thunder swear works better in rainy season. it's the harmattan so no rain. or thunder.)
- School restarted, and i am happy to relate that it has been a much more productive second term than last years. however, my SS3 students, those who should be the most serious about their education right now, are being incredibly rude. to everyone. many teachers (including myself) have walked out. the principal(s) have yelled at them. the parents have been yelled at. when peace corps visited me, they yelled at them. nothing seems to get through. yesterday, arriving late to school, students ran away from me into the jungle. i chased them. i don't think a white man has ever been where i was (..almost lost). but seriously. the biggest test of their lives is in three months and you're running away from a teacher into the jungle? very frustrating.
- my new routine is as follows (a) wake up, go to school (b) write down the times teachers arrive because if i do not, the teachers will lie about what time they arrive. the teachers sign, we laugh, the day begins (c) teach my classes as best as possible (d) get lunch with jones. we alternate days to pay for each other, usually rice with beans or cakes and potatoes with some ginger beer. (not actually beer). (e) stay at the school until about 3 PM on the laptop doing work or goofing off (f) go to the house construction site (where the house is now past window height! :) (g) go home, change out of pants, relax, nap (h) go back to school in evening to do more work or goof off, lesson plan, read (i) go to Pa Kandie's house for palm wine (j) go home, listen to music on laptop, read, fall asleep (k) cuddle with backpack (l) wake up.
I love and miss you all. :)