Monday, June 18, 2012

06/18 - Chicken, Human Rights, and me on Tanzanian Radio

Today was probably the best day in Africa to date.  A lot happened so bear with me for a slightly longer update.

Ok so after meeting with the wrong person yesterday...big miscommunication...our actual supervising attorney for the week Constantine came to the hotel last night to meet us.  He was exceedingly gracious and has our entire week mapped out for us.  They are so excited to have us here.  We will be working in several different locations over the course of the week, helping a variety of people.  Mwanza is called "rock city"
Random landscape picture on the way to our meeting

We started the day off today with some meetings at the University here.  We had the opportunity to meet with Dean Kalinga (yet another very impressive academic here).  He is not only the dean of the school of law here but also currently serves as the President of the multinational African Commission on International Law (AUCIL).  He was very receptive to our visit and interested in ways we may collaborate.
Gretchen and Dean Kalinga

Outside the School of Law
After meeting with him, we visited the human rights center on campus and met some of the nicest attorneys we have met since our arrival.  These people are working on issues that it is difficult for me as an American to even understand.  There are many mines and the abuses faced by the locals who are forced off their lands or work the mines in unimaginable conditions (some of the mining here use arsenic somehow to harvest the minerals causing severe health consequences and death for the workers).  They showed us the photos from one village where a few years ago more than 50 women were killed after being accused of witchcraft.  Through a campaign of education, the number has been reduced more than 90% as of last year.

Amazing collaboration

At the end of this collaborative discussion, one of the attorneys shared that they had reserved a slot for us to speak on a live radio program that is broadcast essentially across the country later this week, and for some reason, he was fascinated and insisted that I should talk about my topic on the air.  I feel a little uncomfortable as my topic is very controversial here, but I think it is important so I have tentatively accepted.  Later tonight, they shared it is a call-in show so there will be likely some animated phone calls back from local residents who feel very strongly about the subject of LGBT rights in Africa and the United States' threats to withhold foreign aid based on these abuses.  As one of the attorneys we met said, it is one of the few things she has seen that unifies the people of Africa in such a strong and negative way.  It sounds completely cliche, but one of my goals that put down on paper when I signed on for this trip was "to make a real impact on one person."  Maybe, this is it?

After leaving the meeting, one of the women said she wanted to show us a place.  It was just before noon so we loaded in our convoy of cars and headed out.  The roads we took were dirt and rough.  The cars frequently had to weave from one side to the other where one side of the road was impassable.  After maybe half an hour of dirt road and beautiful countryside in the middle of nowhere, we pulled up to this place on the shores of Lake Victoria.  The views were surreal.  Postcard perfect.  See below.  After moving together some tables under a gazebo to accommodate our party we sat under a gazebo by the lake and ordered lunch.  I ordered chicken.
Amazing view from lunch at the "farm"

After everyone had ordered, the female attorney who had suggested we come there, got up and walked away from the table and said "Come" and motioned for us to follow her.  We walked in our suits across a dry dusty field, full of guinea fowl, turkeys, and pigeons all pecking at the ground before we came to a gate.  It was the entrance to the farm.   We stepped inside and looked over a wall and there were pens full of chickens, rabbits, and roosters.  She looked at me and said "Pick yours."  I asked her what she meant, and she said "choose a chicken."  I passed but they choose for me.  They lopped the chickens head off and went to work.  We walked on up the hill to a field of goats.  There was a goat pen and outside there was a mother and baby goat (see picture below)  I commented about how cute the baby was and the woman misunderstood and said "OH you want the goat???"  I managed to clarify before that became a reality though.   One of our more adventurous group members did order rabbit, and also tried some goat that one of the local attorneys ordered.

At the farm (before I lost my innocence)

Adorable baby goat that I was almost served by mistake. 

We returned to the table and after awhile, lunch was served.  Lunch was actually an intense, but amazing afternoon.  We spent more than 3 hours there talking as friends with a group of interesting local people.  For one of the first times since arriving, I did not feel like a total tourist.
Lunch tomorrow?

We finished the day with a drive to one of the other resorts in the area to check out the building that is going on there.  On the way back, we saw the sunset on Lake Victoria.  What a beautiful day.

Sunset on Lake Victoria

1 comment:

  1. Wow! I so look forward to your updates. What an amazing experience you are having and what gorgeous scenery. Your message about finding 'one' to touch is poignant. Miss you and I am praying for you and your group.