Half a Funeral and Munada

Reading this week: Working on Arabian Nights. I don’t think it’ll take me 1001 nights but it is kinda long. So far I can’t tell if spending all my money entertaining fake friends is a good idea or not.

This week I went to half a funeral and munada. The funeral was for my host father’s brother. Funerals in Zambia are community events are you are supposed to make an appearance. The funeral was to begin at approximately 0900 and I was told to show up at the Mbala hospital then. The hospital has a main entrance and then a back gate that opens up into a green space. I got directed to the back gate and found a large number of people milling about. As I spotted people I knew from the village, it dawned on me that the rather large crowd was all there for the funeral.

At 0900 a small contingent went through the back gate and into the hospital, carrying the casket to retrieve the body. Women started wailing at this point, on cue. The rest of everybody just sort of milled around. I spotted a professional photographer going around at this point, so I suppose I could have gotten my picture taken (last time I saw these guys they had a little portable printer for on-demand snaps, as they’re called). Eventually they came back out with the casket and the wailing really picked up.

They didn’t have a hearse, but the casket was loaded into the back of an old-style Land Cruiser with a Ministry of Health logo on the side. After the casket was loaded, people started hopping into the back of two canters, which are largeish flatbed trucks. Once everyone was loaded up, they set off to the sound of sirens. At this point, I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to accompany the crowd based on some unclear directions I got from my host father, so I stayed and didn’t see the burial. I don’t know how standard any of these things are, but I think this was a slightly up-scale funeral. The brother was buried in a cemetary a few kilometers out of town, as opposed to outside the village somewhere.

So instead I went over to munada. Munada is an open-air market held twice a month. This was the first time I happened to be in town for it, so I visited. The merchandise is unfortunately pretty similar to what you can get any other day in town, but it was concentrated and I am sure there are deals to be had if you’re good at haggling. The vegetable and produce selection was probably a bit wider than normal, due to the larger range of people attracted to the market, so that was cool.

But there was still lots to see. One thing was the piles and piles of clothes. Thrift store cast-offs are shipped here in massive tightly-packed blocks and sold by the kilo. At events like these they bust some of those open and you can sort through the piles of random clothes to find something that might fit for pretty cheap. Towards the back of munada were the meat sellers. You could tell the meat was fresh because right below the side of beef was usually the skin. They would chop you off a chunk with an axe (the exact same kind they use for cutting wood, etc). Besides going home with some raw beef, there were plenty of vendors cooking and selling meat. I regret not getting any. My favorite thing was not one but at least two different people running the shell game in the middle of the paths between vendors. That just seemed old-timey and quaint to me. Just like the movies!

So anyways those were the highlights of my Tuesday. Hope you enjoyed them!