Learning To Speak Kalanga With The Village Chief

February 11, Day 560
Up and at ‘em at 6 am. Let Dijo outside. He stands there and stares at me like I have 10 heads and does nothing.

Hello? How does this dog not have to go to the bathroom after being inside all night?

Go back to bed. Dijo wants to play, but I want to sleep. I didn’t sleep well last night and my neck is killing me.

Up again at 7 am. I take Dijo for a little walk and decide not to put a leash on him today since we aren’t going far. We run into Gilda and Rocket and they all TAKE OFF running.

Crap. I’m still in my pajamas and I’m not even wearing a bra and here I am hobbling down this dirt road chasing after a little dog. This is not how I planned to start my morning!

They keep running and running. I find them in a yard down the road and it requires me to climb through a barbed wire fence. Dijo looks like he’s having a blast, but I’m not. I pick him up and Rocket follows me. Gilda runs off.

Let the pups play in my yard while I get my head straight and wash dishes.

After a while I realize that I haven’t seen them in the front yard and they’ve been awfully quiet. One lesson I’ve learned from babysitting my nephews is that when children go silent it usually isn’t a good thing.

Walk outside to check on them and find them rolling around in my garden. They broke through my fence and are digging up my vegetables.


Olive killed off my vegetable garden a few months ago and I will not have that happen again. I shoo the dogs out and secure the fence again. I show Rocket out of the yard to go home and Dijo and I go inside to listen to Sade and eat breakfast.

Pack up my things and ride to BOCAIP. When I arrive there is a group of the new alcohol and addiction staff where I usually work and they appear to be having a meeting. Am I interrupting something?

I decide to ride over to the DAC office instead. I get the office to myself and work on the spreadsheet of activities that needs to be submitted to the Ministry of Health for MYAA funding ahead of the meeting this afternoon.

Mabe shows up, and we decide to go over to the Kgotla to talk to the Village Chief and ask if he will be attending the Valentine’s Dinner. We walk over to the kgotla together. The woman at the front office is excited to see a foreigner and tells me that she speaks kalanga.

“Can you say hello in kalanga? Say Dumilani, Mamuka tjini?” (Hello, how are you?)

I give it my best try.

She has me repeat it.

I try again.

She has me repeat it.

She proceeds to give me more words to learn. The Village Chief agrees to meet with us, so Mabe and I go into his office. He tells us he would be delighted to be our keynote speaker for the Valentine’s Dinner. Woo hoo!

Then he tests me on kalanga…. And I remember nothing but give it a good try because I really want to learn the languages spoken in my community to show respect.

Mabe and I leave the Kgotla and stop at Tebelopele. They agree to partner with us to do HIV/AIDS testing for couples in preparation for the Valentine’s Dinner, and report their numbers to BOCAIP.

Back to the DAC office. Kabo is there and wants to chit chat but I am super busy and find it distracting. Work on the Peace Corps newsletter for a while.

Bike home to check on Dijo and take him for a walk.

Eat left over beans and rice for lunch and refill my water.

Bike back to work just in time for the afternoon MYAA meeting. Mabedi and Mma Monahela join from the hospital, but no one from MYSC or Gender Affairs.

We wait, and wait, and wait.

Where is MYSC???

Wait and wait and wait.

I decide to just walk over to MYSC and find out what’s going on. They work in the building behind the DAC office, just across the sand. I walk through the sand and they tell me that they weren’t sure what time the meeting was and send me to find the delegate for the meeting, who works in the trailer behind the building. Find him and he agrees to join us.

We walk back to the DAC office and have the meeting. We come up with a great plan of activities for MYAA.

They leave and I hang in the office with Mabe for a little while.

Walk to Sefalana and find some vegetables for dinner, but they don’t have bread. Walk to Choppies and buy bread and tomatoes. Take a taxi home.

Of course, Rocket is waiting at the front gate when I get home. I let him into the yard and Dijo comes outside to play.

Go inside and start washing dishes.

“Ko ko!” I hear a girl’s voice call from the gate. I see it is Olive’s owner, the girl who lives down the street.

“Dumela! Wa reng?” I ask her (what’s up?)

“Not much. You have new dogs?” she asks.

“Yes, I have a new dog. The brown one is Rra Dijo and the yellow one belongs to the neighbors nearby.” I say. “Hey, what ever happened your dog, Olive? I miss him. I have not seen him in a long time.”

“Yes we haven’t seen him in a long time, either. I haven’t seen him since November. My mother says she thinks someone stole him to put on their farm. He hasn’t been seen in a long time,” she replies.

“Oh no! I’m so sorry! He was a good dog.”

We chat for a while and she tells me she has never seen the movie “Harry Potter” before. I tell her she can come over on Sunday and watch the movie on my laptop. She goes home just as Tshepo arrives with her daughter.

During one of our Setswana lessons, Tshepo mentioned to me that she also has big feet. “Dinao tsa me di ditona!” she said (my feet are big!). So, I invited her over to come take some of the shoes that Hanlie gave to me the other day.

She sits on the front porch with her daughter and I give them some iced tea and let her sort through the shoes.

“Oh my! Abbie you are an angel!” she screams, looking at the shoes.

“I promise these weren’t mine. A friend of mine had them and I thought you would like them. I’m glad you do!”

Tshepo does a little fashion show for us in the yard with each pair. She climbs into the car and we give one another a big hug and make a plan for our next Setswana lesson.

I go inside and catch up on the day with Colden.

Finish washing the freaking dishes and make dinner. Eat pasta and watch a movie.

Take a cold shower.


Go to bed. I turn the lights out and tonight Dijo wants to play, so he keeps trying to jump onto my bed but is a little too short to make it up. I know he has several ticks on him, so I don’t let him up and give him belly rubs until he falls asleep.

Boroko 🌙

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