The Land of Cattle

I don’t have a lot of needs here in Botswana.  Mostly everything I need is here (except of course ‘Be Curly’ Curling Hair Cream from Aveda- which I’ve been using since I was 17).  But I’ve been getting some comments about what people can send me.  Please don’t spend too much money, but if you can, sometimes a package comes at the perfect time:

  • Letters!  I love receiving letters.  And considering all the time I have here, I’m good at responding.
  • Books!  If you have any used books you don’t mind shipping over to Botswana, I promise to continue giving it away once I’ve read it.  Seriously, books are the gift that keeps on giving
  • Chocolate– maybe even chocolate chips.  That’s my speciality here to make for people to win them over.  I don’t mind using the chocolate bars I can buy in town, but sometimes I would love some chocolate chips.  Also, I can never say no to M&Ms (dark chocolate peanut)
  • Music!  I need church music and just really good awesome music.  In my previous life I considered myself to be up with the current trends and happenings in music, but this past six months has put me far behind.  Help me get up to date.  Sufjan Stevens has a new CD! I need.  Also, what is all this I hear about Mumford and Sons?
  • Dried Fruits.  I love cranberries and dried apples.
  • Your Love, of course.  Can you send that in a box?

And my address is still PO BOX 144  Nata, Botswana

This last couple of weeks I have been involved in the preparations for a community event called ‘Pitso Ya Borre’.  Essentially, it is a gathering of men from the village at the Kgotla (the village center).  They come in the evening and sit in a circle and have discussions around a fire, while a cow is slaughtered and served to all the attendants.  I guess you could call it a male fireside. But this ‘Pitso Ya Borre’ was being sponsored by NACA (national aids coordinating agency) so it was centered around HIV and social issues that are related to HIV.  The night itself was a huge success.  We had something around 200+ men from Nata and surrounding villages sitting in the circle around the fire. After the introduction and a bit of a motivataional speech, they broke up into age groups (‘young ones here, old ones here’) and had facilitated discussion about these health issues.  Technically, as a woman I wasn’t supposed to be present, but i was the one in the background cleaning and cooking and welcoming guest- so they let me, but I did have to wear a head scarf. Some community members were designated to record what was being said, so that we can use it as qualitative research to analyze and find the next step for men in Nata. While I didn’t design the project, I really appreciate the design and wish I had come up with it. In the future, now that the CBO I was working with is familar with this community conversation research we can continue to incorporate this into our projects.

Cows are such a thing here.  There are 3.5 million cows to the 1.8 million people that live in Botswana.  You aren’t a man if you don’t own cattle and go to your cattle post.  Often times people are shocked when i tell them that most individuals don’t own cattle in the USA.  Then they will often say, ‘what do you eat?’  Eish!  I don’t know. What is my staple food? For this ‘Pitso Ya Borre’ we bought and slaughtered a cow.  And then they proceeded to put every piece of the cow inside a couple of huge cauldrons.  Every piece, save the head and the hooves and the skin.  All of it- even the bones.  Then they cook it over the fire in this cauldron for a good four hours and then pound it to death.  And there you have it.  It’s tasty stuff.  Batswana are serious about their meat and this is not something to be missed.  But they don’t add the liver, intestines and kidney.  Along with the head, these are delicacies that are to be enjoyed separately.  While i’m still not a huge fan of intestines (it has this very gritty texture to it), I totally like the liver and in fact, crave it.  And the head isn’t bad. I tried tongue the other week and once i got over the image of a cow’s tongue on my tongue, I actually enjoyed it.  But i don’t recommend the eye.  It’s like ‘why?’ you know?