Last Thursday, I ventured outside the camp into the community. I traveled maybe 10 minutes by foot down a dirt path and arrived at Elizabeth's house. She was outside holding a sweet baby named Paul, whose mother was out in the fields collecting sorghum. Also, sitting with her was a young pregnant mother named Rebecca. I sat down and practiced my greeting in Mabaan. I was soon laughed at because of my poor pronunciation but they helped me. I was able to practice my language learning and made some new friends.
After spending nearly an hour outside their home sitting in the shade of a tree on a little stool made of rope and wood, I attempted to say goodbye. Only they shouted “Coocca Ino!” which means to sit down. So I did. They continued to talk and I continued to listen. I was able to learn the names of the many animals around us like- chickens, pigs, goats, dogs, and ducks. The many children would come over, talk to the mothers, and then be off again to play.
After another hour, I attempted to leave again. And again they shouted “coocca ino!” I attempted to explain that the sun was going down and it would be dark. They simply told me they were making dinner and I was to stay to eat with them. Another pregnant young women named Martha joined us, she was the one making dinner. She worked very hard stirring this large pot of acidia, some type of grain. Elizabeth helped with dinner too by pounding the dried okra into a fine powder.
The powder was then added to liquid to make a soup/ sauce for the acidia. I asked if I could try pounding the dried okra, well it's much harder than it looks. I got some good laughs and then promptly handed the responsibilities back to Elizabeth.
Elizabeth also helped by stirring the pot of acidia. To me acidia kinda looks like refried beans (what can I say, I love Tex-Mex!)
Here in South Sudan- relationships are everything. So I stayed for dinner. An hour or so later, dinner was ready. And I washed my hands “byenki luaga” with fresh water from the bore hole. Only problem I had never had Sudanese food and didn't know how I was suppose to eat my meal on the large platter in front of me.
The ladies kept saying “omja amo” meaning you eat the food. So after Rebecca showed the proper technique in scooping the acidia and dipping into the okra “sauce” then enjoy. Well it certainly didn't not taste like refired beans but wasn't horrible. The acidia is a bit sour in taste and soft kinda like sticky thick mashed potatoes. The okra “sauce” was like a green snot consistency and tasted like okra.
After eating my fill I told the ladies I must be going back home to my “baanji” (camp). The ladies understood I needed to go as it was getting dark. They insisted they walk me back home- Elizabeth and Rebecca, and 6 children (one each holding my hand) and several dogs. Elizabeth carried a large stick in case we encountered any snakes along the path. I was so touched by my new friends that upon arriving to my camp I immediately gave them each a big hug and thanked them for the meal.
I hope to be able to go visit Rebecca, Martha, and Elizabeth again.