Saturday, July 14, 2012

Little Palaro Girl, Uganda



When you capture children on film it is always such a blessing as they pose with inhibition.
This photo was taken with my little "point and shoot" Lumix camera in Palaro, the northern part of Uganda, close to the southern Sudan and Congo borders.
I think it is the only clothing she has.


If you enjoy my writing, purchase my books and EBooks:
http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/susancookjahme

Read my daily Blog:

Read my “big” Blog:

“Like” me:


Buy Wallabok Wear:

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Old Gulu Man

This old man approached me in Gulu yesterday and had a very long chat in a local tribal dialect that sounded like Arabic. It was stange to hear and nothing like other languages I have heard spoken in other countries I have travelled to in Africa.
I believe that around the 1500's, the Bito dynasties of Buganda, (now known as Uganda), Bunyoro and Ankole founded by Nilotic-speaking immigrants from present-day southeastern Sudan.
So I guess that's why he spoke what he did. However, I did not understand a word, other than comprehend he thought I was worth "chewing the cud" with to pass the time of day!



Friday, June 22, 2012

The "Boda" Taxi

Asking the Cost for a Ride.
Local Transport in Gulu, Uganda

In Mozambique they have taxi bicycles and here in Uganda there is a slight upgrade, - the motorbike.
The "Boda" taxi, as it is called, will carry up to four people, including all their luggage, even the family goat.
Sometimes they are hired by one individual with supplies, such as a window frame, a bed or even a wheel-barrow!
How they manage to balance is a mystery, but they do.
The owners of the boda's are often found  in groups at street corners, chatting and waiting for a customer to approach and hitch a ride.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Goodbye Morrumbala, Goodbye Jack

Me 'n Jack
My last morning walk with Jack started around the usual time, 6 am.
He was waiting for me outside the kitchen door and gave me his usual talkative "Hello!"
I felt sad as I could not tell him that this would be the last time we would be taking our tour around the OLAM cotton complex here in Morrumbala.

Tomorrow, Graham and I shall be leaving early for Quelimane, where I shall say goodbye to him at the airport.
My first leg of the trip back to South Africa, via the Mozambique capital, Maputo.

At least this time I can understand most Portuguese and am able to make myself understood. Coming here three months ago was different, I had no idea what anyone was saying to me!

Getting back to Jack, he has been my friend, I shall be sorry to not have him around as he's a great conversationalist. But at least he will be here to keep Graham company.

Next posting shall be from England. What a contrast it shall be, - from the extreme heat of Central Africa to the icy cold of Europe!

Thanks everyone, for sharing my early morning walks here in Mozambique, it's been great to know you have been tagging along with me in cyber-space.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Mud Abstract

When the sun comes out after torrential tropical downpours here in Morrumbala, Mozambique, the earth cracks into dry geometrical shapes.
Here is a digital abstract I created from one of my photo's:





If you enjoy my writing purchase my books and EBooks:
Read my daily Blog:
Read my “big” Blog:
“Like” me:
Buy Artwork & Photos:
Buy Wallabok Wear:

Monday, February 6, 2012

Butterflies are Free, Fly my Beauty, Fly, Fly, Fly!

 After an Early Morning Walk I returned to my house here in Morrumbala, Mozambique 
and created this digital artwork for my three daughters, Debi, Kerry and Taryn from a photo of a butterfly that I took:



















If you enjoy my writing, purchase my books and EBooks:
Read my daily Blog:
Read my “big” Blog:
“Like” me:
Buy Wallabok Wear:

Friday, February 3, 2012

Time for an early morning cuppa...

Most mornings, the first friendly face I see as I walk out the door belongs to this fat lizard.
His favorite sun bathing area is on the back door step where he waits to ambush flies and ants for his breakfast.
Of course, this photo does not do him any justice as he's rather a rotund fellow and not afraid of me at all. In fact, I have often stepped over him on my way out for my early morning walk around the OLAM factory complex here in Morrumbala.
I then take a turn to the right and wave to the children staring at me through the security fencing. They wait for me every morning and run along the path that hugs the border of the cotton gin. If I pick up speed, they do, if I slow down to take a photo, they shout instructions in their local language - Senna.

Approaching an old truck without wheels that is precariously balanced on blocks I say "Ola" to the watchman who has taken up residence in the cab.

Yes, he lives there. His kitchen is a charcoal burner which is placed on a make-shift mud guard outside the driver's door.
he also has a few veggies growing close by.
It interests me to see someone living that way and I wonder if he sleeps when he is meant to be doing his guard duties.

Opposite the guard's truck abode is a junk-yard of crashed vehicles, tractors and various other parts that have fallen off discarded OLAM transport.Apparently the OLAM drivers tend to crash their trucks quite regularly - the roads are bad here in Morrumbala.
But I think the driver's are almost as unpredictable as the bush tracks they drive along.

A little further on are some more of the dented pick-ups.

Perhaps the other guards shall turn them into guard stations some time in the future.

Down the road is scaffolding holding up piping that runs into a derelict incinerator. A couple of weeks ago the piping collapsed and this is how it has been repaired.

I usually walk very fast when I have to pass under it.
It's the biggest bad luck ladder I could possibly walk under!
The ever present African children encourage me to run as fast as I can...
Still alive after passing the scaffolding, I get to massive piles of cotton that has been stacked on pallets.
I think it looks something like the circus has come to town with all the bright tarpaulins draped over them.
The flamboyant trees are still in bloom and add to the primary colours.

In one of the factories there are sacks upon sacks of cotton waiting to be sorted by the pickers and then it is sent to the actual gin.

Once the cycle is complete, it is packed into plastic bales ready to be transported to Mozambique ports.
A great deal is shipped to Mauritius where they have a large textile industry.

The OLAM offices are around the next turn and I am usually walking so early that the workers have not arrived at the gates.

If they are there, they greet me with cheery waves and greetings.
There is more discarded agriculture machinery outside the staff housing area.
Caterpillars and tractors stand forsaken on deflated tyres.

Thursday, February 2, 2012

The village has woken for the day here in Morrumbala...

Boom, boom, boom!
At 2 am in the early hours of this morning, the proprietor of the shebeen situated closest to our bed-room window decided to play his latest music. The speakers on full blast, we sit bolt upright in our bed and listen to him drunkenly sing along to some incomprehensible lyrics from an artist that has likely had his music pirated. 
"Eu gostaria que a sua parte inferior grande em minha embreagem"
Translated into English, I think the words are: “I would like your big bottom in my clutch,” or something like that. 
But pardon my ability to understand or speak Portuguese at that time of the morning!

We drift back into a light sleep and then Graham’s alarm screeches at 4.30am. It is time to start the day here in Morrumbala, Mozambique.

It’s my birthday today and I wonder if my husband has remembered, after all I did say something about it yesterday.
Just before he goes to work, “Sorry Babe, almost forgot, happy birthday!”
OK, he’s forgiven, he remembered.
My day continues the same as any day here in the lost wilderness in the back of beyond. If it’s not raining, I get out for my early morning walk around the OLAM cotton gin and factory before it gets too hot.

I spot something lying on the side of the road. It’s Johnny the crow who has been grounded for three weeks with a broken wing and I have made friends with him.


For weeks I have watched him survive, with his other crow buddies looking after him. He hops along on the ground and his buddies perch on branches in close by trees or on the factory roof tops, swooping closely over the heads of anyone or thing that gets too close to him. They even drop scraps of food to help him survive.
Johnny Crow
I once tried to get close enough to catch him in order that I could set his wing with a brace, but he hopped off into the tall grass before I had to crouch low because of the flurry of wings over my head from his protectors.  I decided that he would be fine and live out a reasonable life with the way his Karma had fallen.


Johnny did not mind me.  I often brought him stale bread which I’d scatter on the ground for him. I just was not to get too close to him, that’s all.

I walk over to the side of the road and take a look.
Johnny is dead. One of the factory workers has broken his neck and left him lying there. 
Poor Johnny, life is cheap here in Mozambique.

There is a horrendous stench as I approach a section of the complex. Huge piles of cotton waste and seed have been burning for days in an attempt to clean up the grounds. Everyone has been running around sorting the place out because the very big OLAM bosses are arriving for a few days. They hail from Beira and Maputo.
I wonder to myself why the place cannot always be so tidy.

When I return to our house, I hear the loud music of the other bars competing with the one that started up with the 2 am enthusiast.

The village has woken for the day here in Morrumbala …













If you enjoy my writing, purchase my books and EBooks:
Read my daily Blog:
Read my “big” Blog:
“Like” me:
Buy Wallabok Wear:

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

I think I should call myself Robinson Crusoe.

I think I should call myself Robinson Crusoe. 
Better still, Rosina Creusa seeing as I am not the male writer, Robert Lewis Stevenson.
I could be shipwrecked on a tropical Island waiting for My Man Friday to be washed up on shore.
Or perhaps I could turn things into an “All Girl Cast” and have a Girl Freya wash up on the white coral sands of my Island as a companion. I suppose it would all depend on the type of book I was writing and in what genre.
Whichever way, I shall endeavour to crawl out of my day time reveille and admit withdrawal symptoms from civilized society and its mod-cons. I am referring to the luxury of logging on to the Internet at random, or using a telephone or cell phone to reach the rest of the world.
We are continuously beset with torrential tropical downpours, everything is humid and damp. Apparently parts of Mozambique are in flood.
Worse still, we are again without Internet.
5am and out on a walk!

Today, as I write this draft, it is 20 January. Let’s see what day it will be when I post it.
On the positive side of things, we still have electricity and long may that last, as the last storms caused the power to black out for more than a day. At least if that happens again we have a supply of candles. The last time there weren’t any and we found ourselves peering at each other over the gas cooker like two large moths.
As you can tell, I have settled into life here in Morrumbala and am able to write every day without many distractions, apart from things like the pig that is being slaughtered right now in the village that surrounds the OLAM complex. It’s squealing has been quite dreadful.
There are no coffee shops or cafĂ©’s where I can escape my daily 1000 words and procrastinate over an aromatic cuppa. I miss the “buzz” that you find in a first world city. I miss London!
In fact, here, the coffee has to be locked away in our pantry because soon after my first day here I discovered Pedro the houseman allocated to our house has very light fingers. He blatantly took my sunglasses. When confronted, he said nothing. Two days later he walked into the kitchen, brandishing them in the air and saying he had found them under a mango tree in the back yard. I was astounded as I had never been near any mango tree, let alone that particular one. 

Grass that grows 7ft tall!
It is a norm to have domestic help here in Africa and I am no longer used to this luxury. The last person I had working in my home was in 2009. I had put her through Cookery College in Harare, Zimbabwe. Paid for her little daughter’s school fees and gave her rent free housing.  She decided to “remove” the teaspoons from the beautiful set of silver cutlery I inherited from my Grandmother. When I discovered this, I was devastated and even more so when I was told they had been sold.
This started a new era in my life when I discovered doing my own housework was jolly good exercise!
So here I am in Mozambique with Pedro, a rogue who has been used to working mainly for bachelors. He has two wives and nine children.
The other day Graham forgot to lock the pantry. When he went to get a bottle of vodka to pour himself an evening drink, he was furious as he discovered Pedro had procured not just one, but three unopened bottles of Graham’s precious stash which can only be bought in Quelimane.
A variety of flowers bloom after the rains

Pedro apparently is a 7th Day Adventist and does not drink alcohol. I guess he sold the bottles of vodka to make a bit of extra cash. But then, on the other hand, if I had two wives and nine children, I would have drunk the contents of the bottles, no matter what my religion!
Yesterday a little girl no older than six arrived at our gate. She was clutching a tiny baby to her chest and holding a toddler’s hand. I gauged the age of the toddler at about two and the baby was new-born.
Curious as to how, (what I thought were) beggars managed to get past OLAM security, I went outside.
Illoma the gardener and Fernanda the house-keeper from the OLAM Guest house next door were all in animated conversation with Pedro. Two other gardeners from the staff houses were looking on. All of them, except Pedro and Fernanda, were laughing. The little girls were standing their ground in front of Pedro.  They wanted money to buy food and books for school.
Pedro came to me and said they were from the village, he did not know who they were. We sent them off with a bag of fruit and vegetables.
Later I discovered that Graham had spoken to them before they left. The poor little things had apparently been sent by Pedro’s wife number two, asking him to give them money. She had obviously got fed up with him.
I was interested at how the men were all laughing at Pedro’s situation and interested to see Fernanda was not amused. I do not think she likes Pedro very much.

(PS: today is the 31st January...Internet has not been working for 3 weeks and I have found myself a corner in Graham's Office to upload this Blog, - Mozambique is a very remote place without the luxury of Internet!)

Wear Sunblock...and a hat!

If you enjoy my writing, purchase my books and EBooks:
Read my Barefoot White African Blog:
Read my daily Blog:
“Like” me:
Buy Wallabok Wear:

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

There's a Lot of Pretty Girls in Mozambique

Tropical storms have done what no man can control. Wrecked communications, determined which power stations may or may not operate and switched off the lights on entire areas in the Zambezia Province of Mozambique.
Fire Beetles arrive with Thunderstorms

As I write the draft on this Blog, the Internet is still not working, it’s stinking hot and there is no air-conditioning keeping me reasonably cool, (and sane) but life continues.
The surrounding village of shanty-houses and open air markets heave with humanity, flies and happy voices. Africans are philosophical and get on with their every-day lives of foraging, digging in their maize fields, swapping stories in the shade of ancient mango trees and zooming about on the main mode of transport in Mozambique, the bicycle.

One positive aspect of a huge voltage shortage is that the four bars in close proximity to my present abode are not beating out loud, conflicting music. I count this as a reprieve, as the music sometimes starts as early as 5am in the morning!

Giant African snails have come out with the rains. I am fascinated to watch them creep up the walls of the house and lodge themselves under the eaves where the little house sparrows angrily dive and swoop at them, possessively guarding their untidy nests in the roofing.
Giant African Snail
The rains have brought with them an array of creepy-crawlies, some of them not so inviting. Big hairy rain spiders as large as a man’s fist scuttle into the house if the door is left ajar. When confronted they raise their front legs and show you they mean business! I normally head off speedily in the opposite direction and leave Graham to deal with the scary beasts.

I was making our bed the other morning, and a scorpion dropped out of the blanket that we had kicked off onto the floor because it is too hot for blankets in this part of the world. Lesson learned, the blanket was folded and stored in a drawer for some insane visitor who may ask to use a blanket.
Our Morrumbala Veggie Patch
To keep myself busy, I have started to develop a garden.
 Illoma the gardener is very confused as he can understand a garden vegetable patch, and is happy to dig and toil over veggies that can be eaten. However, he is still trying to get his head around the fact that I am designing flower beds, planting trees, and striking cuttings. I can see him looking at me side-ways and thinking I am “not very well in my head.”

Graham has offered my landscaping knowledge to the company. His boss, who bases himself in Beira and makes an occasional foray to Morrumbala, said on one of his visits that the OLAM grounds and five staff house yards needed “beautifying”.  So Graham volunteered my expertise.
When I asked him if they were going to give me a budget for the project and if I would be paid for my services, he threw his head back, laughing and said, “Babe, I struggle to get paid monthly, do you honestly believe you would get anything?”
Graham and the accountant-early morning meeting
with OLAM workers

Under these prickly circumstances, I shall keep my council and just get on with the job.
It does give me pleasure and like I said earlier, it keeps me occupied when I am not writing, illustrating or taking photographs.

PS: This Blog was drafted on 16 January, and posted today...there has been no Internet, or mobile phone communications until now!

(All photos on this blog are taken on my morning walk with my cell/mobile phone.)



If you enjoy my writing, purchase my books and EBooks:
Read my daily Blog:
“Like” me:
Buy Wallabok Wear:

Sunday, January 15, 2012

And all the Couples Dancing Cheek to Cheek

Yesterday we had a tropical downpour of torrential rain here in the OLAM cotton complex. 
There was no Internet and in the evening were without lights until about 8pm. Thank goodness for our gas-cooker.
The up-side of this was that the ever constant loud boom-boom of repetitive local music from the surrounding village had stopped.
Silence.
All the villagers went about their business quietly, their voices melding with the night in a humming melody.

We ate roast chicken by candlelight and listened to the scratch-scratch high pitched chirruping of cicadas communicating with each other in the humid night air.
It could have been romantic, but we had to beat off flying-ants that were attracted to the candle flame on our table, making sure none of their discarded wings were deposited in our gravy.
Flying-Ant Wings

The liquid smell from the lemon tree outside our window blended with the night scents that were heightened by the recent rain.
A soft breeze fluttered over us bringing with it an occasional waft of the refuse dumps that the villagers throw in piles up against the security fence.

Morrumbala, Mozambique, the place of great contrasts, my Africa...

Snowball the Ewe
Yesterday was a bad beginning for me, Snowball the sheep was sent off to la-la land. She had a reprieve and was not served up for our Christmas dinner, but yesterday was her time.

Graham has had experience in butchering an animal's carcass from the days of his youth when he had to put himself through Agricultural College by shooting small game, selling it and using the money to pay for his College fees.
Times were tough for him and his brother Mike as both their parents died when Graham was only seventeen. They became resilient survivors and still are.

Iloma, the gardener and Pedro the houseman were readily available to assist and happily lead poor Snowball off to a place that was out of my sight and hearing where they did "the dirty deed" Halaal style with a knife.
They knew there would be meat for them and their families that night and were excited.
Later the carcass was brought back on their shoulders and Graham professionally cut the sheep up into butchered portions which are now neatly stacked in plastic bags in our deep freeze.
He is very understanding, as I cannot open the freezer without feeling like a murderess.
So he removes whatever I need that had been stored before the "tolling of Snowball's bell" yesterday.
We have been together a long time and he knows that I shall get over this feeling in about a fortnight, as I am a practical woman, (I mean, let's face it, meat of any description does not come ready-packed before we find it on the supermarket shelves...)
"The Butchers of Morrumbala"



But I have labelled him and our domestic helpers "The Butchers of Morrumbala".

All in good humor of course!
(Remember, all photo's on this blog are taken with my cell/mobile phone)



PS: If you like my writing, buy my books!
http://www.lulu.com/spotlight/susancookjahme
Follow me on my Face Book Page:
http://www.facebook.com/HappyScribbler
Follow me on Twitter:
http://www.twitter.com/HappyScribbler

Friday, January 13, 2012

Early Morning Walk in Morrumbala, Mozambique

I have decided to attempt uploading pictures on a daily basis taken with my cell/mobile phone.
At present I am in Morrumbala, Mozambique where my husband Graham is working as Agriculture Manager dealing with small holder cotton out growers for a large International company called OLAM
By 8am the heat here is unbearable, so I try to get out for a walk before 6am. That way the swarms of flies are not so bad and I don't jump around like a deranged rabbit, flapping my hat at them and shouting obscenities that should not emanate from a lady's mouth! 
Derelict Cotton Furnace
There are five staff houses where the managers, accountants and mechanics live, plus the huge cotton gin and warehouses here in the OLAM complex.
It is security fenced, with a bevy of security guards that pop up from behind trees and bushes and greet me with a cheery "Ola!"

On the fringe of the fence boundaries a massive village has evolved, with a mixture of  thatched mud houses and for the more affluent Mozambican a compact brick abode. 
In between the houses is a huge open market and moonshine bars, each with a music center strategically placed at the doors, their large speakers blasting out local music that thumps loudly with an ear shattering din of base boom-boom. 
It wouldn't be so bad if there was only one of these bars, but there are three, all within a stones throw of each other and they all have different music blaring, trying to entice customers in to drink. The music starts at about 5am and continues throughout the day into the night until about 11pm.
In desperation I cut 3 CD's of my music and asked the gardener, Iloma to go and give them to the owners of the bars. Two days later the same loud music was being played and when I asked Iloma where my music was, he looked at me in surprise and told me that he liked it, so he took the CD's home with him!
(The locals here are delightful, friendly, child-like and see no reason why they should not "take" things.)
Beautiful Flamboyant Tree and Blue Skies

There are so many subjects to photograph, from the people, the old Colonial Portuguese architecture to the lush, tropical flora and fauna.

I have two fantastic cameras that I use for my professional photography, but seeing as I always have my mobile on me, I thought this would be a good way to have you "walk" with me and "see" what I see on a daily basis.

So, enjoy your daily walk...

(Oh, PS: if you like Susan's Light-Box posts, you may also like to read my longer Bare Foot White African Posts.)


Wednesday, January 11, 2012