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January 16, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

  This past Sunday, we were invited to attend the installation service of Phillip Ng’uni at his new church in Chilanga.  He recently graduated from Justo Mwale Theological College (where we used to live) and he and his family were our neighbors.  His wife, Bridgette, has been a friend of Cynthia’s and has volunteered to help Cynthia with some of her teaching projects.  They have three girls whom we also enjoy. 


      We were happy to attend and support our friend but we also knew that it could be a long day so we decided to leave the boys at home.  They were instructed to clean their room and wash the dishes (they regularly wash dishes, which is nice) and after completing their work, they could have computer time.  Cynthia and I left the house shortly after 8 in order to reach the service by 9 (it was on the far south side of the city).  We arrived shortly before 9 and we were immediately escorted to the seating for guests of honor.  They felt the church building was too small so had setup two tents next to the church.  The service started about an hour and half later (the program said it was to begin at 10, so it was only about 30 minutes behind schedule, which isn’t bad). 

    By 10:30, the service started and the seating was quite full, but as this is rainy season, it began to rain.  At first, it was a light rain and tents worked pretty well despite a few holes.  I had an occasional drop falling on me but it wasn’t a problem and I thought it might help keep me awake.  Soon the rain increased and a small river started flowing over the carpet at my feet.  Depending upon where you were sitting, it began to be a problem.  The decision was made to move the service into the church building and less than a minute after we vacated our tent, it collapsed.  I later was told that someone was hurt and rushed to the hospital. 

   After everyone got settled in the church, the service resumed.  This was a Presbyterian church and like many social institutions, there were lots of guests who needed to be formally recognized.  Everyone on the platform where we were sitting was introduced, except us as we didn’t fit in any of the categories of people recognized.  We were nothing more than friends but we were mzungus and we did arrive with our friends from JMTUC, the Ellingtons, who were actual guests of honor.  I was quite happy that we were not singled out but I caught Philips eye and he seemed very concerned as this would offend the typical Zambian.


   The service was very nice and it didn’t feel as long as it was.  Cynthia was able to sneak out and get some food she brought (she had planned ahead as she can’t skip/postpone meals like I can).  We left around 3:30 and arrived home at 4pm (nearly 8 hours after leaving).  We found the boys happily playing computer and later discovered that they had “forgotten” to eat lunch.  While the service was long, it was interesting and we were privileged to support the Ng’uni family. 


We have lots of fond memories of living next to the Ng’uni family (Phillip, Bridgette, Lambi, Lusungu, Luweme)…

   One morning Cynthia was in front of our house looking up at a bird in the tree.  Lambi (their eldest) who was still quite young asked what she was doing.  Cynthia told her that she was looking at a bird and Lambi then asked if she was going to eat it.  (Even adults don’t comprehend bird watching)

   Later, after understanding Cynthia’s love of birds, Lusungu told Cynthia happily one morning that there was “a bird in the tree”.  However, because of the Zambian pronunciation, we both thought she said there is a BED in the tree. 

   I have always struggled pronouncing their last name… Ng’uni.  I know how I should say it, but I am unable to make the ‘ng’ sound properly.  It is just like how you say the ‘ng’ in sing.  There is no ‘ga” sound.  But try starting a word with that sound that is followed by a vowel and I can’t help myself from putting the “ga” in.  Knowing this, I tend to just act as if the ‘g’ in their name doesn’t exist and then say the equivalent of ‘noon-ee’.  To my ear, it is pretty close but their girls correct me every time.  In fact, we recently had them over for dinner and in my prayer I said their name.  When the prayer was over, Lusungu quietly muttered under her breath the correct pronunciation.  We all noticed and laughed as it is a standing joke that I am incapable. 

  That same night as I was driving them back to the college and the youngest daughter was sitting on her mothers lap in the back seat.  She reached up and touched by hair and must have been fascinated by the difference as she continued to stroke my hair the whole way back to their house. 

   We have always enjoyed the children calling us “uncle” and “auntie”. 

Categories: Uncategorized
  1. Joan
    January 16, 2013 at 8:42 pm

    I think I remember them. Did Bridgette come over and fix the stuff with relishes?

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