This is a quote from "Hillel the Elder" from the first century. (I thought I was so original!)

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Reed Furniture Makers

This type of reed furniture is sold along the streets of Lusaka

At first I thought it was imported from somewhere.

There are only about three basic styles

It wasn't long before I noticed a fellow behind the inventory working away.

I have only seen men making reed furniture.

Some styles are very stiff and square, some have a few more curves.
This type of furniture is made from a smaller round reed.
The weaving is quite fine.  It takes two to three days to make a chair and five days for a couch.

The darker color is achieved by applying a stain/varnish.
On one corner near our house is a group of men from near Kitwe to the north.
Just to the west of Kitwe is a large swamp/lake that provides most of the reeds used.

These items are made with a wider reed and they tend to make more bookcase and dresser type items.

They worked very fast while I chatted with them.  There fingers were blurs and it took a lot of concentration and strength to keep everything even and continuous with reeds stopping and starting.

Frame and seat can be completed in a day.

Once we showed we were really interested in their work they were happy to share it with us, even though we weren't buyers that day.

I would think that selling cushions at the same place would increase their profits but no one does.
First of all no women are involved and trying to keep them dry and clean in that environment would be almost impossible.

These are some of the basic raw materials.

Here a simple bookcase is being created.  We have a couple of these in our home and so do most of the missionaries.

This area is a little more upscale so there are dog beds available too.

They also make chicken coops.  They are just small little houses that have a ramp up to the door.
This guy is making rabbit nesting boxes.

We broke down and bought a chair for the bedroom.  The cost was less than $50 USD and probably took three days to make.  With the cost and labor of procuring the raw materials it works out to less than $2 per hour.

The new chair in our bedroom allows me to more easily put on and tie my shoes and we can now get away from each other and read quietly in another room.  Maybe the honeymoon is over?

Last, I thought I would show you the other type of sofa/chair sets that are sold here.  This is what is in most of the homes I have visited.  The stuffing seems to come out quickly and it isn't long before you are on thread bare cloth on boards.  It seems once furniture is placed in a home it stays forever.  I think it would take a fire for them to get rid of it.  You can find hundreds of these in one place or another.

Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Chimpanzees in Zambia?

Chimpanzees are not native to Zambia.  They are mostly found to the north in the DRC or Democratic Republic of Congo.  Sheila Siddle came to Zambia from England as a teenager with her parents in 1947, the year I was born.  She married and raised a family on a ranch far out in the bush just south of the DRC border in Zambia on the Kafue River.

The first chimpanzee arrived when her son brought home an injured baby.  It was so young that Sheila had to develop a milk formula and then food to keep it alive.  When smugglers were caught with a baby chimpanzee trying to cross the border, she was asked if she would take care of that one too until the authorities could decide what to do with it.  Thus a lifetime of care for chimpanzees began.

She is now 82 years old and still caring for orphaned baby chimpanzees along with those that have grown up but could not be released or relocated.

I had read about her place so we made it a point to take a day and drive out to her orphanage.  It is a large non-profit organization now that has a farm to help support the chimpanzees and the village of workers that make the place function.

We felt honored to be able to meet her when we traveled from the main camp out to her home.  She invited us in and shared with us her latest orphan, "Juel", a son of "Jewel" that had died in childbirth.
Sheila Siddle was an interesting person who had seen many things while living in the bush.  Her husband had died a few years before, so the responsibility was now all hers and one daughter.

She had also raised a baby hippo that wandered around her property and the river as he got older.  Her photos of "Billy" the hippo were fascinating as we purused the family albums of Billy in the house and even on the couch.  He eventually couldn't make it through the door, so remained outside.  Billy was just twenty years old when he died last year and she was still very sorry for the loss of her friend.

Sheila has several compounds of chimpanzee families that were fascinating to observe.
I could easily spend a day watching the interaction and personalities.

Chimpanzees are the closest animal related to humans.
That is probably why they are so interesting to watch.

Sometimes, as they get old and strong and dominate, they can't get along with anyone else.
I am starting to relate to these guys and wonder if my kids will get ideas when they see these photos.

This is what happens to cranky old men when they can't get along.

I many be in trouble.
I do like salad quite a bit though.

I must remember to behave so I can just wander around my 100 hectares like everyone else.

I related especially well with this kind gentleman below.  He is exactly 66 years old, same as me.
Can you imagine the powerful golf swing with those arms?
Of course he would have to stand on a box, but I might have to one day too if I don't quit shrinking.

This fellow and I just wondered what the other ones life was like.
I loved imitating them - or were they imitating me?

These two "silver tops" just chattered away all day and ignored the males.

This group had acres and acres of territory but when the keeper came around with crackers they were right there showing us who was the dominant one and what kind of manners they had learned.

There are very specific noises and gestures that their keeper can interpret in their communication.

It was fun to see them as free as they could be.

Each one was totally unique in looks and personality.

This fellow was the current alpha male and everyone was very attentive to him.
I tried to get a few pointers but we had to move on and didn't have time to refine his techniques.

Back at Sheila's house little Juel had all the comforts.  Sleeping in a crib, fed from a bottle, held a lot of the time and even a panda and Mickey to play with.

I had always envied late night talk hosts, in that they get to play with a lot of exotic baby animals.
Of course they show the clip of Johnny Carson and a chimpanzee over and over.
I was happy to have that experience and even play with Jeul longer than Johnny did.

Kristi's motherly instincts came out and I think she had flashbacks to at least one of our kids.
I'll let them figure out which one of the five she was visualizing.


The Copperbelt is an area on the northern left lobe of Zambia.  It is also the name of the district or "state" that comprises that area of natural copper resources.  The DRC or Democratic Republic of the Congo is that little chunk that seems to split Zambia that is also full of copper and the Zambians lost it to the northern country, not with fighting but with politics, many years ago.  The area is Zambia's greatest source of wealth.  Zambia is always complaining about the natural resources being exploited by other countries and not staying in Zambia.

The mission president sent us up to the Copperbelt for a visit.  It is one third of our mission, so it was nice to be able to see what everyone was talking about and what the flats or apartments looked like that I paid the rents on.

These are some of the photos I took on this four day tour.

First of all, Lusaka beer heading north.  Those are not milk cartons but containers of beer.

Once out of the city, life is VERY rural.

The small town market places look much like the big city markets.

This is a typical city outside the capital.  This is Kabwe's main street.

Along the paved highway are vendors.  Here was an area that specialized in gourds.  Charcoal and fruit and vegetables are the most common.

The termite mounds are everywhere but different species build them higher.  Some are quite impressive.

We stayed in a flat that the mission just leased for visitors.  It is located next to the sisters' flat and has a guard at night.  It was brand new so it was surprising to see the quality of workmanship.  You can see in this photo the light coming in alongside the panel and under the door.  It was actually much worse than the photo.

There was a Zone meeting while we were there so we got in our first photo with missionaries after four months.  It is so nice to be able to be around the missionaries and feel of their energy and spirit.

We hung out with a senior couple who live in the Copperbelt, the Harveys.
They showed us around town and the location of the various churches and missionary flats.

Here, they took us to a village called Kawama.  It was like a step back in time.

This is a common site.  It is a game that is played a little like mancela.  The holes are to be found in most yards where folks sit on the ground and play moving stones from one "cup" to another very quickly. 

We were introduced to the Primary President and then a lot of children gathered and Sister Harvey related a story to them.  They were enthralled with her story telling and our visit.

We had to have our photo taken and wouldn't have if I thought they would be the least offended but everyone seemed to enjoy it.

This is the Harveys' last week in Zambia and I am sure they are having a difficult time saying goodbye to their many friends.

I am always fascinated with what women need to clean and what can be let go.

Elder Harvey was having a chat with the father of the family.

I just liked the next few photo that look representative of what goes on outside the big city.

These kids loved holding Elder Harvey's hands on the way out.  They kept feeling his hairy arms.
He looks like the Pied Piper.

Everyone was so friendly.  The parasols were coming out as the temperature was heating up.

This roadside stand was just northwest of Ndola.  It is the first time I have seen an abundance of art work displayed.  I would have liked to stop and chat about the materials they used and where they got it.

These are rugs made from rags and tied together.

We saw lots of evidence of mining in the north.  There are many open pit copper mines and slag heaps from the smelters.  We followed this truck on the way south again.  He is carrying big ingots of raw copper, the wealth of Zambia.