Nshiku Shilebutuka (The Days Are Running)

I have been meaning to write a blog for some time now about a not-so-recent new addition to our Lukupa Family, our new brother,Samuel (Chipasha in Bemba), who has been living with us since November of last year. We met Samuel last year at Ukusefya Pa’Ngwena (The Bemba cultural ceremony which translated directly means ‘to party on the Crocodile’ and last year was the inauguration of a new Senor Chief of the Bemba people, Chitimukulu). Samuel approached us in a straw hat and Chitenge shirt (my kinda guy) and we struck an immediate rapport. Samuel was a Peace Corps Volunteer working with local farmers in Central Province for 2 years before extending for a third year with Catholic Relief Services, working with savings and loans clubs on the village level.

Our Brother Samuel Chipasha with his host family
Our Brother Samuel Chipasha with his host family

He came by to spend a night and check-out the farm about 2 weeks later. We sat by the fire sharing stories and connecting, and with his love for Yoga,wholesome food, meditation, chanting, and discussion of deep cultural, personal and spiritual issues, we all got along swimmingly. Even more impressive, when we sat with Kapembwa and chatted, Samuel was able to effortlessly switch into Bemba (the place where he lived as a volunteer spoke a similar dialect). I was very impressed, and I have to admit that while I didn’t think I had an ego about my IciBemba language proficiency, I had to check myself when I realized that he was better than me!

Sam and Me at farm

During that evening we discussed many things, from introspective investigation and profound pontifications to day-to-day living in Kasama. Samuel was living a stone’s throw from a loud bar in town, where we was awoken frequently by the noise. He yearned to live in the village again, in the Zambia he knew and loved. Claire joked, saying “just come live here with us!”. We all laughed, but there was definitely an air of uncertainty about the moment – was she joking? It seemed like a really cool idea.

Sunset over Lukupa
Sunset over Lukupa
House Construction
House Construction

As we pursued things further, we began wondering how such a situation might work. He could stay in the guest house, but then he would have to camp if guests came – and then, who would want to come if they knew they were putting him out? Eventually, as we got more serious about the matter, Samuel spoke with his employer who agreed to pay rent. With that rent money, we were able to build him a home with an incredible view of the river. This time, the process was very smooth. By now, we know who we can trust to do quality work in the community, and the process was seamless (well, relatively speaking). Samuel really took initiative to make the place his own, and did some impressive landscaping (which we are sure to imitate) and, with his green thumb and organic farming know-how, made himself a nice little garden by the side of his house.

Samuel’s Garden
Samuel’s Garden

Now Samuel is living with us, and it has really diversified our little community. He is full of light and positive energy, and he is able to help Claire, Kapembwa and myself as we all push each other to be more centered, focused, conscious beings. Samuel, Kapembwa and I meditate together at least once per week as the sun’s first light glints off the dew on the trees of Lukupa.

Bridging the gap between two such disparate cultures has been a challenging and interesting endeavor, and it has become clear that it is a very rare individual who can juggle the two worlds we inhabit here.

Samuel’s Home
Samuel’s Home

As far as juggling these differences, Kapembwa is the most unique Zambian I have ever met. He is able to integrate and live with us like family, with no reservations or difficulties. That has taken time, experience, honesty, and a lot of communication. Samuel, since he loves Bemba culture and speaks the language so fluently, is also a natural fit in Lukupa. Still, as we move forward, trials and tribulations and their corresponding lessons are also part of the story.

Ba Kapembwa Besu
Ba Kapembwa Besu

As for now, Samuel has gone home to be with his family stateside for some time. We are eagerly awaiting his return to Lukupa so we can stay together as a family again. His last night with us was incredibly special. Kapembwa’s other name is Singoma, which in his tribal language, IciMambwe, means ‘the one who drums’. Kapembwa got out the drum, and I got all the instruments we keep in the house (a few meditation bells, my flute and guitar, and some other locally made trinkets). Kapembwa, keeping the beat of the rhythm of our Lukupa Life, held us together as we danced around the fire and sang, chanted and played. It was a powerful evening in which the love and light we are cultivating here was elevated beyond what words can describe, or senses can perceive.

Through it all I was profoundly thankful for our Lukupa Family. Claire, whose heart, beauty and vision have inspired us along this windy road. Kapembwa – our teacher from the Bemba world- the one who’s drumming keeps the heart of our little farm beating, humbly and subtly, with positivity and light. And our brother Samuel, whose light and consciousness help us to keep dancing along the tightrope, tottering between cultures and perspectives which, without such faith and love, may prove irreconcilable.

What a gift!

A view from Samuel’s Home
A view from Samuel’s Home

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