Thursday, January 17, 2013

Native Dining

John and Dave bounced around in the back seat of the jeep as their guide drove them deep into the jungle. They were missionaries sent to bring Christianity to this recently discovered tribe in Rwanda.

"Pull over at the next water hole. We want to take a swim and clean up," John said to the guide.

"Yes, okay," the guide replied. They drove for several minutes then he stopped by a small watering hole with a sign with a figure swimming. "This one is safe."

The two men jumped into the water with their clothes on so they could clean themselves and their clothes at the same time. The guide surveyed the area, which was known for its gorilla population, with his hunting gun at the ready.

“Do not stay long,” the guide called to them anxiously.

“Relax, we’re nearly done,” Dave replied. A few minutes later the men emerged from the water then rung out their clothes before getting back in the vehicle.

“How much further?” John asked as he looked towards the sun which was edging closer to the mountain tops in the distance.

“Very close,” the guide replied.

An hour later, the jeep came to a stop next to a small village. “We are here,” the guide said then jumped out of the jeep. He approached the first man and explained in Swahili who the men were and that the chief had agreed to allow the men to come.

A group of the natives had formed around the jeep and their guide. “Come, come,” the guide said, motioning to the men. They climbed out of the jeep then followed their guide and the man he’d first spoken to into the village. They stopped outside the chief’s hut.

“Wait,” the guide said then entered the hut.

They could hear a discussion between the two men. There was silence then the guide reappeared with the chief.

The chief began speaking and the guide translated for the newcomers, who knew some basic Swahili but not enough to understand what was being said. “Welcome to the strange ones. We will have a feast.”

Asante sana, thank you very much,” John replied.

The whole tribe set to work on creating the bounty for the feast. John and Dave were escorted to the center of the village and given grass basket chairs to sit in as the natives danced around and sang spiritual songs to their gods.

The music and dancing stopped and the chief said a ceremonial prayer to their gods as his daughters presented the missionaries with warmed alcoholic drinks in small bowls carved from the bone of some animal. The drinks had a spicy aroma and they quickly drank them as everyone watched.

“Delicious, ladha!” Dave announced and there was much cheering.

Suddenly the two men stiffened then fell forward out of the baskets. The daughters checked for breathing and announced they were dead. The tribal women gathered the two men up and tied their bodies to spits then placed them over a low burning fire.

The guide was praised for bringing the bounty to their village and sat next to the chief. When the men were done cooking, he was given the first bowl of food. “Ladha!” he proclaimed.

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