Our family believes in celebrating birthdays. We believe that each person is special and important and worth throwing a party for. And besides, who doesn’t like an excuse for cake with CANDLES! Woohoo! So it makes us sad when so few kids here know when their birthday is. There’s no counting down the days, no build up or great anticipation. When we teach the kids in the preschool to answer the question “how old are you?” most of them answer, “six!” because that’s what the kid before them said. I wish I could throw a birthday party for everyone in the village, but since children under 15 are half of the Zambian population and there’s a baby born every day at the clinic – well, that’s a lot of parties.
Instead, we’ve attached ourselves to one family in particular – the Kundas. The Kunda family comes up in newsletters a lot because we are extremely close to them. Two of their children were named after us. Usually when someone names a child after you, the family with the child gives a chicken to the person who is the name sake. We’ve made it known to the Kundas that we think this tradition is lame and that if they were nice enough to name their kids after us, WE should be the ones giving THEM chickens. But because I hate to watch a good bird die, we compromise and throw all the Kunda kids birthday parties!
Now, before you get too impressed, know that an awesome party here is categorically different than an awesome party in the US. There are no clowns, no jumping castles and no pinyatas. BUT- there IS one dutch oven made chocolate brownie cake with way too much frosting and sprinkles (!) and a viewing of old-school little rascals. And everyone loves it. And the kids feel special. And that’s the point.
Some day I’ll have to video tape the part where we sing happy birthday. It comes out more like “oppy bifday” and is really sweet. But for now I’ll show you the cake cooking process and the happy faces about to devour the final result.
|baking the cake in cast-iron on the brazier|
|the whole Kunda gang|
|Beauty thinking "get in my belly!!!"|
So next time you make a cake in a temperature controlled oven, sing oppy bifday and think of me, ok?