Skip to main content

My principal's party

This wasn't too bad, as far as these kind of things go. All the Tswana get-togethers seem to happen in roughly the same way. First, it will start late and end later. There will be a long program where lots of different people give speeches. This will happen under a tent of some sort, and since it's summer it will be unbearably hot under there. There's breaks every so often for dancing or songs (shown to the left). The old ladies will get really into the dancing if it's good (or they're drunk), and sometimes they'll start dancing themselves and wade into the dancers. At the least they'll ululate, and if enough of them do that they'll drown out the singing. It will finish later than you could have imagined, and people will stay a long time getting wasted. Most importantly, everything will proceed in a completely haphazard and illogical way. See here for a good demonstration:
It's now getting on 1pm. We ask when we might make it to our tour and find out that our appointment there was for 11 o'clock and that that part of the the trip would not be happening. Apparently though, facilitating teenage drunkenness is every bit as worthwhile. We are still just parked, baking in the heat and we decided to check out this liquor store, thinking at least there might be a walk-in fridge. We find all the chaperones hanging out inside nonchalantly chatting with each other. They ask if we are there to purchase anything. We were surprised at this question. We were surprised that this trip had even stopped at this location, confused even. We ask if this is not irresponsible for us and share that this whole sponsored high school drinking thing was foreign to us. They reply that when we are in Rome, we must do as Romans. We asked if they would be making any purchases to which they replied in the affirmative. With the heat and stagnant feeling of the day so far, our arms did not have to be twisted very much and we glory in the walk-in fridge and make our purchases.
This one was basically true to form, but as my principal's daughters were there, I at least had someone to talk to since they are both fluent in English (and Afrikaans, and they speak some Sotho and Xhosa and Zulu. And Venda. And Swati. Suffice to say that I felt rather boorish). The food was delicious, and I must say I felt a lot less out of place than I have in the past. Since this was in my village, nearly everyone showed up, and every single person knew my name (with the exception of a couple out-of-town folks). I honestly had a pretty good time.
Posted by Picasa


Popular posts from this blog

Why Did Reality Winner Leak to the Intercept?

So Reality Winner, former NSA contractor, is in federal prison for leaking classified information — for five years and three months, the longest sentence of any whistleblower in history. She gave documents on how Russia had attempted to hack vendors of election machinery and software to The Intercept , which completely bungled basic security procedures (according to a recent New York Times piece from Ben Smith, the main fault lay with Matthew Cole and Richard Esposito ), leading to her capture within hours. Winner recently contracted COVID-19 in prison, and is reportedly suffering some lingering aftereffects. Glenn Greenwald has been furiously denying that he had anything at all to do with the Winner clusterfuck, and I recently got in an argument with him about it on Twitter. I read a New York story about Winner, which clearly implies that she was listening to the Intercepted podcast of March 22, 2017 , where Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill expressed skepticism about Russia actually b

The Basic Instinct of Socialism

This year I finally decided to stop beating around the bush and start calling myself a democratic socialist. I think the reason for the long hesitation is the very long record of horrifying atrocities carried out by self-described socialist countries. Of course, there is no social system that doesn't have a long, bloody rap sheet, capitalism very much included . But I've never described myself as a capitalist either, and the whole point of socialism is that it's supposed to be better than that. So of course I cannot be a tankie — Stalin and Mao were evil, terrible butchers, some of the worst people who ever lived. There are two basic lessons to be learned from the failures of Soviet and Chinese Communism, I think. One is that Marxism-Leninism is not a just or workable system. One cannot simply skip over capitalist development, and any socialist project must be democratic and preserve basic liberal freedoms. The second, perhaps more profound lesson, is that there is no s

Varanus albigularis albigularis

That is the Latin name for the white-throated monitor lizard , a large reptile native to southern Africa that can grow up to two meters long (see pictures of one at the Oakland Zoo here ). In Setswana, it's called a "gopane." I saw one of these in my village yesterday on the way back from my run. Some kids from school found it in the riverbed and tortured it to death, stabbing out its eyes, cutting off its tail, and gutting it which finally killed it. It seemed to be a female as there were a bunch of round white things I can only imagine were eggs amongst the guts. I only arrived after it was already dead, but they described what had happened with much hilarity and re-enactment. When I asked why they killed it, they said it was because it would eat their chickens and eggs, which is probably true, and because it sucks blood from people, which is completely ridiculous. It might bite a person, but not unless threatened. It seems roughly the same as killing wolves that