Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Aug 3: Chapter 7 - All Hail the King!

While Shadrack and Rob stayed on at the work site today, the rest of the group headed for a cultural experience with the King. Thousands of Swazi people and seven white people (plus maybe four others) gathered on royal ground (including cow dung; therefore it is royal cow dung). Today the King was disbanding the government and setting into motion the nomination and election process for the new government. As we waited to enter we walked around and saw many people dressed in colourful traditional attire. We had a variety of smells and sights on the tour of the royal grounds, complete with various soldier regiments.

Entering the fenced in area, men and women were segregated. After a quick pass through security and entering single file we were quietly seated and tried to avoid the royal cow dung. The silence of the crowd was impressive and almost eerie, like a quiet anticipation. Without much fanfare or a marching high school band, the king made his grand entrance. As he remained seated (no one is allowed to stand) we were only able to see the three decorative feathers on the top of his head. The king's speech was in S'swati so we were thankful for the Cole's Notes translation from our friends at SARCO. As the King ended his speech all chaos broke loose as people headed for the exit and free food, compliments of the King. Some families walked for miles just for the food as they know it is the one day where they will receive a guaranteed meal.

Finally, after making it through the crowds, we set off with our driver to revisit a roadside chef who specializes in roasted BBQ chicken...mmm! While there we picked up a few groceries (Costco style) and set out for a return visit to the infamous Candle Factory.

While we were very much observers throughout the day, we've come to realize that we too are being observed. As we are in somewhat unfamiliar surroundings we are using our eyes and our ears to take in all that we can to make sense of a new culture. We are reminded constantly of the perspective we have that does not always work. Likewise, we have found the local Swazi people are watching us and learning by using their eyes and ears. We hope the cultural exchange is as meaningful to them as it is to us.

In the culture of new technology, this morning found our kitchen somewhat "raided" and the owner of the Road Lodge discovered the culprits by watching the playback. So remember, someone is always watching and listening.

Lesson of the Day: Be open to new cultural experiences. Use your eyes and your ears. And commit!

Disclaimer: Chris stepped up to the plate tonight and was the third person assisting with tonight's entry. The more the merrier!

Anya and Chris
DWC Participants
August 2013, Swaziland

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