We had a couple of days to travel and reflect. What stays with me at this point is what it feels like to be at the bottom of the power “food chain.” Of course, I know I am disguised by white privilege and empire power. But our travels give me some small empathy for people in Zimbabwe and now Zambia.
We went to the game park and they took us to see the animals. That gives one the best idea of the actual food chain and how it works. New factoid: elephants crashing through the underbrush wrecking trees helps new trees to grow. They are like forest farmers.
I forgot to count how many police check points we went through on the trip out of Zimbabwe. It was at least 15. At each one the policeman might require a bribe to let us keep going. It was a bit exhausting to know that any minute a gun-toting young officer was in charge and held sway over what we could do.
At the border we had to get out of the Zimbabwe exit process, walk a mile of “no man’s land,” and then get through the Zambia entrance process. It felt tense. We were at the mercy of potentially capricious clerks. Our handlers were a bit anxious. The whole time vendors swarmed looking for a sale or a handout. At Victoria Falls (which is right on the border) the baboons swarmed looking to raid someone’s picnic. We felt preyed upon. It is an unusual feeling for us, but it is an everyday feeling for most of the people in the countries we are visiting. They adapt to being powerless. The U.S. dominates them. Their governments dominate them. The local police and corruption dominates them. Then there are the traditional chiefs who still allocate land in less organized areas. I think most people feel like they are at the bottom.
We met the Zambian bishop yesterday Saturday. He seems like a good man. Our MCC guide made sure we paid him a courtesy call on the way into the country. He seems to be a bit like a religious chief. He’s the top of the local food chain. He told our moderator when he visited the U.S. Church should act with MCC like the Zambian Church does: as one mission. I somehow missed the report Alan Robinson gave on his travels. I hope one of you will forward it to me.
The other Africa posts:
First thoughts from Zimbabwe
Being poor is tough
Going around doing good
Coming up against the powers
The food chain
The work of the Lord
Showing God’s love in practical ways