Sunday, February 5, 2012

Random pics 1/6

There is too much to tell and too little time - I'm leaving tomorrow morning again for the field. So hereby 10 random remarks and three pictures, and in the next five posts another 25 pictures with brief notes. Ready?

1. It doesn't happen often that a white person stays in the village so when we arrived in Cibandja the chief of the village and the chief of the sous-village in which we would work started arguing where the muzungu with his team would sleep. In the end we slept in the house of the chief of Cibandja, but as a compromise we would eat at least one night at the other chief's house. Let's just say we ate very well as each chief tried to outdo the other.

2. The chief and his wife talk with each other at night when they are in bed (we slept in the living room which was separated from the bedroom with a sheet of plastic, so we could hear everything). Why did this caught my attention (I would do the same)? The reason is that in the Congo relations between man and women are a bit different then we are used to, and I've never seen a sign of affection between man and wife in public here. To put it bluntly, men sit in front of their hut or drink if they have money, and the women work. [Btw. The third evening the chief wasn't there. So I asked his wife: "Where is the chief?" Answer: "Oh, he is with his other wife."]

3. Fun. I'm a white guy and to a villager whatever the white guy does is interesting. Now I'm a rather particular guy because it happens once in a while that in the afternoon I just stare in front of me for 10 minutes contemplating my research. So imagine this. After those 10 minutes there is a group of maybe 20 villagers standing next to me all looking in front of them, being completely curious where the muzungu is looking at. It's a lovely sight. [It reminds me of a Donald Duck comic in which a group of people are all looking up into the sky, only to have a person leaving the group that has his neck in bandages (and therefore can't look down).]

4. All mothers all over the world are the same. Just before leaving Cibandja the wife of the chief quickly put a large amount of peanuts in our pockets. "For on the road", she said. [She, btw, was very happy we were staying in her house because it meant that the chief (who has three wifes) was spending more time in her house.]

5. When in the Congo don’t leave clothes on the floor. You think your sweater is warm and comfortable, so do animals.

6. And don’t clean your shoes by kicking it against a wall. It's very well possible you shoe goes through the wall.

7. There are bird of prey here in the Congo (not sure exactly which one). At a certain point we heard a chicken making a lot of noise, we then saw it dissappearing into the air. Caught by a bird. Awesome.

8. Do your interviews while cleaning peanuts! People feel much more comfortable.

9. How to define a household? An often used definition is "People that share the same cooking pot in the last month". However, this doesn't really work in polygamous societies. For example the head of the household has three wifes, each living in a different house. If you visit one of these wifes, the household would be that wife with her kids and the head of the household. But actually the household as a unit is more likely to be the head of the household with all his three wifes and the kids of each of these wifes. So for our work in the Congo we adjusted the definition to take this into account. Now it is "people that share the same cooking pot with the head of the household in the last month". From UNHCR and other reports I know that in the Congo hosting relationships are important - i.e. displaced people living in host families. However, in our data we find remarkably little hosting families. It took a few days in the field to find out why, but the reason is that often the displaced do not share the cooking pot with the head of the (hosting) household. Now our definition of a household also takes this into account. I love research.

10. So Neelan left a week or two ago and being a proper academic he did not only take the key to his hotelroom with him, he also left his trousers and a sweater. Neelan argues that it is "something to remember me by". I think it is to get back at me for him having to carry my luggage from Kigali to Bukavu. :)

For our game day we need accomodation. Strategy: Occupy a church for a day. Use plastic covers (we bought them) to create three isolated areas where the games can be played in private. And we're ready to go. In the picture the players are to the right.

During the afternoon we have a brief lunch. Desire and me with the important people (among others the chief) of the village.


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