Yes, today after school one of my (favorite) learners, Gabriel, showed up at my door with a chicken. A live chicken! Of course, I was in shock and not exactly sure what to do with it. When he asked me if I wanted him to kill it, I said “no, I wanna keep her as a pet!” So, he spent 2 hours building a pen for her in our front yard. What a sweet heart! I think he is really getting a kick out of watching me interact and care for this chicken. I even had him teach me a couple Rukwangali phrases so that I could speak her language!
So, we have named her ‘Clucky’ because she doesn’t shut up. And today, with the help of a couple learners, we painted her toe nails with bright pink nail polish!!
The gift of a chicken is very common. Most villagers own chickens, cows and goats and use them to barter and trade for goods/services or give as gifts. According to other teachers at my school, it is a big honour to receive a chicken.
To be truthful, this is actually my second chicken. A couple months ago, the mother of another of my learners, Adolf, appeared at my door with a dead chicken in her hand and a huge pumpkin on her head.
And it is in these very rare occasions that I feel appreciated, not because they are giving me gifts, but because they themselves are lacking so many necessities and are still so generous. For example, Gabriel wears his school uniform pants on the weekends because he doesn’t own another pair of pants. I know the value of a chicken to these families and I am honored to receive it – even though this clucking is going to drive me crazy!