Friday, October 15, 2010

The Chicken Blessing

 Kasai rooster We were going to visit Pastor Mboyamba at his home, to officially congratulate him on his new position as the elected Legal Representative for the CPC. We set out first for the market with our house-worker, Tatu Muanda. He led us to the section where they sell chickens, and we carefully selected a large white rooster. We bought a burlap bag and gently placed the rooster in the bag. Then, we walked back to the bus-stop and boarded a crowded mini-bus out to Kananga 2. We parted ways with Tatu Muanda at his stop, and gingerly carried our rooster the 1km or so to Pastor Mboyamba’s house. The rooster stayed pretty quiet, and it felt strange to realize that while this was the first time either of us had ever carried a live rooster in a bag, no one who passed us on the street would necessarily know we were carrying a live chicken!

We found several other people sitting in clusters in the yard of Pastor Mboyamba’s house, but he was not yet home. He had a constant stream on visitors in the week following his appointment, at all hours of the day. Chairs were brought for us, and we chatted with his wife, Mama Charlotte, and met the other visitors. The rooster stayed pretty quiet in his bag until I accidentally bumped it, and then the clucking turned a few heads. Pastor Mboyamba arrived on his moto, and pulled into the yard near our chairs. Before he had even dismounted, Bob pulled out the chicken and started to sing the song we had rehearsed:

Tshiakadipuee, Thiakadipuee, Thiakadipuee, shila muana
Tshiakadipuee, Thiakadipuee, Thiakadipuee, shila muana
muana nguetu bonso!

While we chanted this song, Bob held the chicken and danced around Pastor Mboyamba, touching it to his head, his shoulders, even down to his knees. People laughed and clapped and joined in the singing. Mama Charlotte took the chicken, and we then went inside to eat – a true expression of African hospitality! After eating, we sat outside, and each new visitor who came was told the story of the ‘Batoke’ (Westerners) who gave a chicken to Pastor Mboyamba and sang the traditional song of congratulations.

Before we went to visit Pastor Mboyamba, we shared with our language teacher about the visit, and asked for his advice about the appropriate way to express our congratulations. He affirmed that giving a live chicken was a good idea, wrote out the words of the song for us to learn, and explained how to hold the chicken and ‘bless’ the person with it. This event happened more than a month ago. We continue to hear people re-tell this story, or meet people who have heard the story somehow. “…and they brought a totally white chicken! You should have seen how Bob waved the chicken around Pastor Mboyamba!” They express how impressed they are that we would do this, as this shows how we have really embraced the culture. The culture in Kananga is so different from our home culture, and we find a constant tension between embracing the culture and maintaining our own culture. This is one victory in the midst of many other experiences where we feel we failed to adequately appreciate the culture. But a victory, none the less! :)


Standing with Pastor Mboyamba (white shirt) in front of his home

1 comment:

Kiki said...


Love you guys!