Messiest Game of Jenga Ever

Always a Jenga enthusiast, I was ready to participate in the African version when the time came. How you say? Jenga is the Swahili word for “to build”, borrowed by Milton Bradley for their block-stacking masterpiece. Our house is starting to feel like home, but still lacking are the final bricks to three outer walls, a two feet gap which lets in a nice breeze, but we fear is also contributing to our problems with pests. In an effort to thwart our uninvited guests, we joined in the messy work of brick-making, led by Mama Tabia who can now add mason to her long list of titles.
First Mama used a hoe to incorporate water into a large pile of soil. Then we got dirty churning the viscous mud with our hands and feet, reminiscent of Lucy and Ethel’s grape-stomping escapade. Next we shoveled the mixture it into a wooden form, leveling the excess mud off the top, and making two bricks at a time …… and then repeated that more than fifty times. After a few days in the sun and three-hour firing in an oven made of the same bricks, they will be used to finish building the house. Josh meanwhile worked on a neighbors “choo” (pit latrine), chinking in the stick structure with handfuls of the same mud mixture. We were completely spent by the end of the afternoon.
Up to our elbows in thick, dark mud, one woman joked that we were starting to look more and more Tanzanian. The neighbors stared in disbelief while passing to and from their fields; many think we are incapable of tough physical labor. Our efforts impressed them and continue to show our community that we are here to work and in it for the long haul. I’ll end with a proverb- Banda likikushinda jenga kibanda. If you can’t build a hut, build a lean-to.

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One Response to Messiest Game of Jenga Ever

  1. Jim says:

    Good articles and also very good pictures, Thinking of you.

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