Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Dancing at the Sun


Maseru is a small town. We live in the same neighborhood as the Prime Minister. Those are his cows. On our street. I know this because Ntate Eric told me so, and I believe him. Ntate Eric is one of our security guards. He works at our house two days each week. He also works at the U.S. Embassy. So he knows the Prime Minister's cows when he sees them. Ntate Eric is also one of the nicest people I have ever met. He takes his job very seriously, sometimes instructing me in how better to be a consumer of his employer's services. But he is also so very genuinely personable. The neighborhood children love him. He is that kind of guy.

Anyway, as I said, Maseru is a small town. So when there is a cultural event, my wife and I try to participate. Which is how, one Friday night, we found ourselves at the Maseru Sun, attending - along with a substantial portion of the expat community here and a few keen locals - a function organized and presented by the local branch of the Alliance Francaise. Specifically, they had brought in a Bretagne-based reggae band, City Kay, to perform. So, surreal as it seems, there we were, dancing up a storm to some fairly persuasive reggae music, sung in English, by a band from France, in the capital of Lesotho, alongside members of U.S. Embassy staff, a few dressed-to-impress Peace Corps volunteers who happened to be in town that night, and assorted other international and local music lovers.

Funny the things I find myself doing here:
  • Dancing at the Sun.
  • Saving string and rubber bands. I did not know how useful these things were until we moved to Africa and failed to pack some.
  • Not feeling alone in walking. Most of the country does not own cars. So we see a lot more people out and about on foot. Rush hour is as much about the pedestrians as it is about the cars. And out in the country, miles from nowhere, we see folks on foot; and we know it has taken them hours to get where they are, and it will take them hours more to get wherever they are going. Sadly, it is not safe to pick up hitchhikers.
  • Wondering why, in a nation whose dominant legal crop is corn, I cannot find corn chips. Or corn starch.
  • Taking up baking. Seriously. That is how I noticed the absence of corn starch. I moved to Africa and took up vegan baking. Kathy loves it but gives me grief at the same time. Ah, love. Besides, the guards have enjoyed the cookies, the pecan bars, and the chocolate muffins, too (which is all I have tried so far). As have my wife's co-workers. And the new volunteers, who received a batch of my snickerdoodle cookies their first evening here.
A small town, but a good one. Life will seem empty in some way once we leave, for then I will no longer be able to walk down to the corner of our block and chat with 'M'e Thabiseng and her daughter, Memello. 'M'e Thabiseng practices her English, and I practice my Sesotho. Ausi Memello sings. And just like Ntate Eric, they are amongst the nicest people I have ever met...


  1. sounds like you need a care package...string, rubber bands, corn starch, tortilla chips...hmmm

  2. Michael--I'll trade you one ziplock bag full of standard issue green Whole Foods rubber bands for one authentic South African Vuvuzela.