This is an old photograph of chief Ndindi(in the middle),taken when we were
working in Malawi,southern Africa.
In many countries of Africa there are two kinds of government: underlying the
obvious, modern government is the ancient ,traditional system of chiefs. Chief
Ndindi is a very quiet man, well respected by his people, the villagers of Chipoka,
a small town on the shore of lake Malawi. For our work there, we needed the
temporary use of a piece of land. So we requested an audience with the chief.
The chiefs house, in the old part of the village, was a small, traditional african
hut. When we arrived, there were already about ten men in the square in front
of the hut, talking and laughing among themselves. Our translator greeted each
of these with respect, shaking hands and saying "zikomo, zikomo":
thank you, thank you, meaning thank you for seeing us.
These ten men we were shaking hands with were the traditional court of chipoka.
Although simple, poor people, they held positions of respect and power in the
community. For example, the last court tried a chicken thief, called Maganiso
and sentenced him to pay a fine to the owner of the chicken.
After introductions, we were shown into the chiefs hut and given a cowskin to
sit on. One of the men was well dressed and obviously wealthier, so we assumed
he was the chief, and were surprised, when we were introduced to a thin, poor
looking, badly dressed elderly man. He was very quiet and occasionally nodded,
or whispered to the man next to him. It seemed like we were starring in a movie
about the Africa explorers. I could not speak Chichewa, so just smiled and tried
to guess what was going on.
We got permission to use the land, on condition that I use my welding machine
to repair the broken bicycles of the village.
To thank him, a few weeks later, we gave him a large bag of sugar and a new
shirt. Sugar in Malawi is very precious and in short supply. Malawians love
sugar and everyone puts at least four spoons in their coffee.
During our stay in Chipoka I met chief Ndindi a few times. He was always polite
and reserved and obviously very respected by everyone. It was a pleasure to
have known him.
Can you guess what this food is, that is being sold in the market in Malawi?
One of the right answers will receive a souvenir from Africa in the mail. Email
us with your answer!
Copyright(C) 2003 You and Africa. All