Some of our family friends and co-workers here in Nyankunde are Kazi and Leoni. They have been building their house, a lovely woven reed structure with a proper tin roof, for a while now and Tuesday it was time for the whole community to come together and “mud the house”. This is much like a barn-raising in the old days in the States. The church, community, friends and family all take part in the labor and festivity.
When we arrived mid-morning the work was already well under way with hundreds of people of all ages involved. The noise level was high with laughter and loud conversations competing with the sounds of people working strenuously. Men and boys were mixing, stuffing and slinging mud into every crack and crevasse, both inside and out, of the house’s woven hollow walls and calling loudly, “Leta maji!” (Bring water!) Women carried water to be added to achieve the right mud consistency or chatted in large groups on the ground. There is never a shortage of children in an African village and no self-respecting child would pass up a day of sanctioned mud wallowing. Groups of kids hovered everywhere, sometimes working, sometimes watching or playing in the wide, low water tank made for the occasion. Our family came along with us and other MAFers took part as well. Sandals and flip flops were discarded as a hindrance because the mud just built up on the bottoms turning them into platform shoes. I suspect the whole throwing mud thing between us may not have been a normal part of the usual work day, but everybody sure laughed and joined in when we weren’t looking. There were great opportunities for mud wrestling but we let those slide by. The littlest MAF baby, Caleb Hensen, was very popular with the ladies and got passed around quite a bit.
A community happening always includes a real feast at the end of the day and we supplied a pig for our part. The women had prepared masses of beans, rice, sombe and lots of piri piri sauce in tremendous great pots over open fires. Amazingly the whole, huge house was completely mudded by 2 PM and everyone joined together for the meal. It was truly wonderful to be part of such a joyful community happening like this. It’s just another example of why we love living in the village.