Mandy, Dandu and Katungula

Dandu et Katungula

Mandu is Ryomandenda’s son. Apparently he was victim of polio and his right leg is lifeless. He ties it around a stick. Surprisingly, he is the fastest runner and he never balks at any task. He is very proud and also very considerate and thoughtful towards me. If ever I have a stain on my clothes, he attracts my attention and tries to clear it. Despite some very harsh looks during our first meeting, he is extremely caring. We regularly revise our vocabulary of the parts of the body, he in English and I in Otjihimba. He has a very good sense of rhythm and teaches me to use a tin as a drum. His favourite game is to lift the others’ loin cloths to show their asses. The day when I wore traditional clothes, he came to me and whispered in my ear that from now one he could play with me …

Contrary to Waponwa or Mandu, Dandu is immediately kind and open. His eyes and his smile are an invitation to communicate. He looks like a top of class boy although he prefers to go and play in the bush rather than look after the cattle. We play a lot together with a ball made of bags stuffed into one another. The aim is to hit the opponent by throwing the ball as hard as possible. Feigning requires technical mastery. By 40 degrees, the exercise is ideal to make you sleep soundly the following night!

Tjiharo and Tjirambi are Katungula’s parents. They live in the mountain and are too far from the school. They have decided to let their son stay in Kongonda. He has quite naturally been adopted by chief Mutambo, just like me. I have learnt much later that he was not a brother in blood. No apparent difference had allowed me to suspect anything.

He is very close to me and observes me a lot; he looks at what I am writing and reading. He is a good percussionist and likes to play music with anything. Like Dandu, he’d rather climb baobab trees; hang from branches than look after the cattle. Mémé often complains that her children are not as hard working as those of the nearby villages. I can hardly refrain from smiling as I realize that it is the same thing in all families wherever on earth.

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