Friday, 13 September 2013

Women’s Christian Fellowship (WCF) Rally – Senanga

Just after dawn on 22nd August, I set off in our car picking up the first passengers at the church. Our journey began in song and this continued to Simungoma where we collected Grace and organized the distribution locally of newly arrived mosquito-nets. Leaving Grace’s house we got stuck in the loose sand. All bundled out to push then piled back in again. We fueled up in Sesheke and then drew up at the market next to the Lipumpu Anamoyo (WCF) truck to a boisterous salutation of waves and ululation. In fact a good collective noun for Anamoyo would be an ululation!

The first leg from Sesheke to Sioma on new tar was a pleasure with Bo-Ma Naluca (our Mubita’s great aunt) excitedly pointed out en route all the notable and noteworthy features and landmarks of the Silumbu area. After the end of the tar, we stopped on the gravel near Sitoti and had a quick, shared brunch of chicken, rolls and bananas under a shady tree overlooking the river. We reached the pontoon at around midday to find the crew working on one of the outboard motors. After an hour’s wait we were across and over the plain, reaching Senanga at 1330h.

We were met by Dorothy at the High School and went to the Girls Dorms, where she pitched her tent. A meal of fish and buhobe followed, then a stick of cassava to nibble on and my luxury - a cup of coffee. My back soon told me that I was not used to sitting on a museme (reed mat) on the ground. I was advised to park the car at the Police Station, so I drove there with a Mwandi escort, as there was a strange and eerie atmosphere in the streets after the recent disturbances and detentions. We walked back and went to bed; Dorothy kindly sharing her tent with me.

We woke at 0500h showered had a coffee and tried to get the programme. After a bun and banana for breakfast, over 1000 Anamoyo gathered at the top of the hill. It was quite a scene with flashes of red, white and black from the uniforms of the congregating women. After gaining police permission we marched singing to the official opening and usual speeches.

After lunch we opened with Hymn 65, the Lozi version of: Lo! He comes with clouds descending… Rev Chikwanda spoke well on traditions and culture and how they related with Christianity. Many Christians have a foot in both camps but a Christian marriage is a real marriage of a man and women in a way that a traditional marriage can never be.  Dr Mate then spoke on cervical cancer and Deaconess Mubita on Child-Abuse and Gender-Based Violence. We finished and turned in at 2300h.

First thing next morning Dorothy went to Praise and Worship while I had my quiet time. I met up with Mrs Chipeta again, she had helped dress me at my blousing. They had recently suffered a disastrous house-fire; house insurance does not exist outside the main urban areas. She is still in shock. After a roll and coffee the morning programme began with Rev Chikwanda talking about living with the spirit of unforgiveness. By forgiving the pain goes and you grow in the Lord and become a better person. Forgive and continue to forgive. Agents from the Drug Enforcement Agency were next; they discussed the damage done by drug and alcohol abuse to the body and the signs and symptoms of such abuse.

Rev Sivile then talked about ‘Witnessing through Giving’, which led into a time of offering. Grace, still recovering from her stay in hospital, was transformed, becoming energized and enlivened by the food and fellowship, laughing and joking with us all. At that supper I was more of spectator, I felt I was being accepted as part of the group but still realising as an outsider I could never really be one of them. The evening was taken up with the Choir Fundraiser. Mongu and Livingstone dominated but by donating more other choirs could sing and the last one singing won. Mwandi were called and sang some old faithfuls. I just copied the actions for dancing and got a cheer at the end for my exertions. It was fun. I enjoyed a late supper of buhobe and mabisi (sour milk) Livingstone and Mongu had their time for secret friends whilst we got ready for bed. I slept well, even on the ground.

Next morning we rose at 0430h for Holy Communion in the packed hall. The Reverends were there en masse to dispense the Communion to the long lines of communicants. After Communion we rushed into town to buy bread, milk, tea leaves and sugar for breakfast. Then I caught up with Mrs Chikeba, who had been sick, and retired Deaconess Mbuywana, Rev Sitali’s mother.

Then the blousing started. We were proud because Florence who works for us had been attending classes and was to be bloused at today’s service. After this, Mrs Chipeta came back and Bo-Ma Sitali with some Mongu rice. Supper was fish, buhobe and cabbage. At 2000h we held our last devotions, the Bishop spoke about next year’s Butoya and that next year will also be a WCF National Rally. After that there was a time of prayer and healing for those who wanted or needed it. We were late to bed just after midnight.

We were woken at 0300h with everyone starting to pack. I got up at 03.45h and took a sick lady with the others and left at 0500h as the bus arrived loading started. We reached the pontoon 45 minutes later. The dawn chorus was lovely as the birds sang with the rising sun. Other early birds were vehicles with GRZ and CD plates who were on their way to check the demarcation of the Namibian border. The patient’s condition continued deteriorate with sickness, diarrhea and fever. We stopped quickly near Lusu under an old baobab tree. Because of the lady’s condition,

I put my foot down and we reached Mwandi Mission Hospital at 1230h. We were struck on our way home by the heavy police presence and the number of roadblocks. There were blocks at Katima, Sesheke and the Mulobezi turn-off. We also met more GRZ and CD cars tanking up at the garage in Sesheke for the border verification exercise.

The Readings for the blousing ceremony came from Matthew 5: and James 4:8 and they had been a constant theme for the rally, the first came from the Beatitudes: Blessed are the pure in heart for they shall see God and: Come near to God and he will come near to you. It was a good time for both contemplation and discussing topics relevant to our daily lives. It was good too taking time and finding intimacy with God and being with him in fellowship with other sisters.

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