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Meeting with Destiny

25th October 2010

I wake up at first dawn. To me there is nothing more inspiring and peaceful than watching a red sun gently rising above a large expanse of water.

The security guard who is meant to guard our compound is fast asleep. He doesn't even stir when I take a photo of him, even though the flash goes off.

I look up and down the beach. In the distance, there are a few people getting ready to go out in a boat, but otherwise the beach is empty. So I should be able to enjoy a hassle-free walk for a little while.

I don't remember how I suddenly found myself in an in-depth conversation with 19 year old „Destiny“. He says he wants to be a doctor and is just missing one year of high school to fulfil his dream to go to uni.

He persuades me to order a picture of our trip from him for US$ 10 and one of my orange hats. What I really want is a T-shirt, so if he can't make it as a doctor, he can always work as a salesman.

We arrange to meet again at 3pm, and I ask to see evidence for his story. I like the idea of sponsoring someone who will then have a positive impact on his community, but I am under no illusion that the locals know what stories sell...

There is fierce competition for tourist money and tourist clothes. One guy wants to barter the black pyjama bottoms I am wearing: „My mum would like them.“

The local lads tend to wear three-quarter length trousers and „cool“ T-shirts which they probably got from tourists. I too leave 2 items behind: A torn Indian cotton blouse and an orange cap we were given in Gallillee. All the guys like the hat with the two fish and Hebrew writing and after several failed negotiations it ends up with „Never Cosmic“ as a part-exchange for local gin.

Overall, the guys make excellent business out of us. AH and I come away from Kande beach with the booze, a picture and a T-shirt with an almost identical picure of Africa and its people (the T-shirt is made in China, as usual, but at least the painting is local. I wonder how many washes, if any, it will survive...), a wooden key ring with my name and an animal that looks like a mixture of lion and zebra and a game board to play the local bao game.

We most likely bought everything at inflated prices, but it's harder here to bargain hard because the lads have a more subtle approach than in India. They always stop short of harrassment.

I can also understand that people like „Cheese on Toast“, „Mel Gibson“ and „Donald Duck“ are desperate to improve their lives.

AH has suggested that we need to stop using our names and need to come up with crazy nicknames. Maybe „Marmite“ and „Peanut butter“ or „Grizzly“ and „Tiger Lily“.

In fact, it is amost strange to meet a local who simply wanted to be „Sean.“

I guess it's good for business to be remembered, but what I remember are the names rather than the faces – and how to play the Bao game, a counting game that was traditionally played by men under a Baobab tree. Villages comepted with each other for beer. Nowadays women also play the game.

AH commissioned a gameboard, paying US$20, a way of tipping our guide who gets US$10 for a 2 hour guided tour.

Overall, I think the lads do ok for themselves. They are cheeky entreprenours, anticipating potential needs and o offering a solution: „I can make you pots to keep stones for Bao game.“ „I can make you nice frame for picture. Even with animals carved into it.“ „I can organise you sarong at good price.“

When I meet up again with „Destiny“, I am pretty ticked off. I feel I have offered way too much for his picture and that he has told some porkies about his school fees.

He doesn't check that the money I hand him is the right amount and never asks for the hat:“This is only partly about business. It's also about my education.“

He shows me his school report, but it's hard to tell how good it is. He is 18th out of 56 and is 1st in 3 subjects. Is this enough to study at uni and become a doctor? I have no way of knowing, so ask him to send me the contact details for the headmaster at his school so that I can verify his story.

He says he would not lie to me. That he became a Christian when a group of Americans showed the film „The passion of the Christ.“

I have been praying about being able to support local Christians, and only time will tell whether the prayer has been answered.

Posted by TTraveller 01:03 Archived in Malawi

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