Last week I got the opportunity to meet the chief of Dalun! This is the man who is basically in charge of the entire village. The chief has about 10 or 11 wives, and lives in a compound (called the chief’s “palace”) with about 50 of his relatives, be it sons, daughters, wives, aunts, uncles, nephews, etc. Before going to meet him, we bought kola nuts for the chief, and had to first go to a sub-chief, who let the him know there were visitors.
The village is very keen on cultural traditions and customs, like bowing before elders (especially important ones like the chief and his “first lady,” aka his first wife) One of the project managers of Titagya, Safianu, acted as translator between the chief and I. We were all sitting barefoot under a large veranda located right outside the chief’s compound. I expected to sit on the ground along with Habib, Safianu, and the sub-chief, but it turns out they had brought out a chair for me to sit on, as I was the special guest!
After introductions, Safianu told me that the chief had just granted me a title: Leader of the Community Women. What I’m going to do with that “title,” I have no clue, but I felt honored anyway. The chief asked a bunch of questions, like how long am I staying, why am I here, what do I expect to get out of the summer…he even asked about President Obama!
The chief then handed us kola nuts as gifts, and we were supposed to crack them open and eat them. I only took a small bite out of mine, as it was so bitter, but Safianu tells me that the people in the village love the taste. After reading so much about kola nuts in my anthropology classes, I was thrilled to finally experience such rituals in person!
We didn’t stay for long, and as we were leaving Safianu said we were very fortunate, for normally the chief wants to talk and talk for hours, asking tons of questions. We were there at 3 pm, however – time for prayer – so our visit was cut short. I do hope that as the weeks go by, I get the opportunity to interact more and more with the community of Dalun!