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Shelter from the rain


Shelter from the rain, originally uploaded by Robin Manuell.

The four of us set out again. The road is dustier now and the going harder, the landscape rolls out in front of us. Bujora is actually the highest point of land for miles around and heading away from it we glimpse every now and then through the gaps in the small granite hills the dark blue of Lake Victoria, waiting for us at the end of our journey. The sky ahead of us is turning bruised blue and black and suddenly a crack of lightning electrifies the sky and the thunderous call rolls out to greet us.

As the first heavy drops of rain begin to fall we seek shelter in the nearest house. Constantine calls Hodi and we are welcomed into a small room where a man sits in front of a basket of dried cassava peeling the shells from ground nuts. Constantine and the man and his wife exchange greetings and the name of their grandfathers. This is an important part of the Sukuma greeting, knowing who someone’s grandfather is and I imagine a complex social geography stretching back through the generations, learned in childhood, a precise way of pinning people to a place and a history.

As the rain batters on the roof we join in the task of preparing the ground nuts. We are friends now says the man. Next time you come you can bring me a watch as a gift; perhaps I will give you a hen? When the rain finally stops I think we are going to leave but of course first we must be fed. We sit down to eat sweet potatoes and roasted peanuts with sweet hot chai to wash them down.

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