Tuesday, 8 March 2016

The Flitting

It was on a Monday morning and weel I mind the scene,
That my Granny Fraser flitted frae Aboyne tae Aiberdeen.
The village folk they a’ turned oot, tae see her on the road;
The horse that couldnae pu’ the cairt, ye should have seen the load.

There was airmchairs, bath chairs, rookin’ chairs as weel,
Cradles and ladles, a pram without a wheel.
Woolen shawls, moth balls, jeely pans and jars
And Grandpa near collapsed aneath my grannies chest o’ drawers...

My brother-in-law, to encourage us, no doubt, sent us the whole ballad ‘Granny Fraser’s Flitting’, for us to read and recite as the Waddell faimily prepared a few Monday mornings ago to flit frae Mwandi tae oor Synod hoose. I can tell in our case the verses were uncannily prophetic!

For the previous few weeks we have been collecting cardboard boxes and old newspapers to wrap and pack our possessions, trying to fill a couple of boxes a day with books and the various personal items we have accumulated over the years. Two local shops and the Hospital Pharmacy were much appreciated sources for the boxes.

We could not have accomplished what we did without the help of different people. Isabel’s husband boxed up the swimming pool and all the books from the shelves in the TV room

Erin and Toni arrived on the Saturday morning and were brilliant too; they went ahead and packed up our kitchen and scullery for us, taping the boxes and labelling and neatly stacking them for us. Our sitting room for the last week or so became a store with furniture, boxes, rugs and pictures piled, stacked and amassed within.

We had ordered from Livingstone a 15 ton truck with a 40 foot container attached, the same company that moved Ruairidh and Fiona to Lilongwe. We had Florence Bridget and David’s katundu as well as they all wanted to stay with us after the transfer. The truck managed to reverse as far as the double gates at the end of our drive. Only two branches needed to be carefully lopped from the muhonono tree to give enough headroom!

On Sunday afternoon, the choir arrived, to take the furniture out of the house and carefully fill the container so that its volume could be used to greatest effect – not unlike a 3-D puzzle moving and trying different shapes and sizes to see which fitted the available space best. We were thankfully spared the rain until after 1800h when we called it a day. Lawrence kindly and considerately invited the four of us to supper to save us having to cook. Unfortunately, Mwandi is still woefully deficient in take-aways!

The next morning after a picnic-style breakfast the beds and last of the furniture were loaded. Friends and neighbours came to “kulaeza” (bid us farewell), this punctuated the final touches to the loading with cheek-to-cheek embraces, lump-in-throat handshakes, tearful smiles and prayers.

After seeing the truck off Florence, Bridget, Mubita and Ellie climbed into the car with Ida and me. The back loaded with especially fragile things and the things needed immediately at the new house. We stopped in Livingstone for the bank, at Monze for chicken and chips, and got to Lusaka around 19 hours, dropping Bridget and Florence at Bridget’s sister in new Kasama. We then spent the night in two rooms at St Paul’s Woman’s Centre arriving at the house in good time to prepare for the arrival of the truck at Synod. David and Junior travelled up on the overnight bus

The unloading and depositing of boxes and furniture in the new house began after breakfast on Tuesday. Again headroom was a problem. The truck reversed carefully to get as close to our gates as possible. An overhanging electrical cable had to be simultaneously lifted over the cab and container roof. The Synod ancillary staff, friends and other members of the Mwandi diaspora in Lusaka all put their shoulders to the wheel and the truck was emptied of our possessions before lunch. It then set out to deposit Bridget and Florence’s goods at their house in Libala and David’s at Kabwata.

As we hit the street running we have both been outside Synod working, and renovating the house at the same time, most of the furniture is in situ but the spare bedroom and laundry are still storing yet-to-be-tackled boxes and suitcases. But we’ll get there eventually!


  1. Dear Keith and Ida, I have read your recent posts with great interest. I came across your blog when googling "sefula secondary school". I was a volunteer there in the early eighties. Your very clear and succinct blog on the situation in Mwandi is truly humbling and gives me pause for thought.
    I live in Edinburgh and work in the food industry and the plight of the people in Zambia is a very sobering one. Thank you for posting.
    Kind regards
    Philip Cassidy

    1. Thanks for getting in touch Philip. I visit Sefula at least twice a year for the Board of Management meeting. You'll be pleased to know that this year their Grade 12 results were the best in Western Province!
      Best wishes