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The Story of Five Beads in Africa

Posted on October 15 2017

Dear Kate,

When I told you my husband and I were taking a trip with Overseas Adventure Travel
to Africa, you sent me off with five of your wonderful Beads. I was to place each of them in the most beautiful, meaningful location I found in the countries we were to visit. The following is a bit about each Beads placement.

Bead Number One: South Africa

Our first camp was in Kruger National Park in South Africa. It is named Parfuri Camp and, in our opinion, the best camp we stayed in. Perhaps it was because it was our first. Perhaps it was the people. There we found the entire staff very friendly, always cheerful and most eager to help make our stay pleasant, informative and memorable. One woman, Toko, was an absolute dear. She shared many of her native customs with me and spent a lot of her time explaining about her life with her husband, who is Chef at the camp. Her enthusiasm, knowledge of her country and life in general endeared her to me. On our last day there, I presented her with the first Bead. As I placed it around her neck she had tears in her eyes and told me she'd wear it until she died. I was very touched because I believe she will.

Bead Number Two: Botswana

This Bead was given to a young woman with a rather serious young man in her life. They love each other, but perhaps will not be allowed to marry. He must present himself to her Uncle and, in turn, the Uncle and other relatives must decide if this marriage can take place. The young man, if he receives the blessings of the family, must then give the father 14 cows before he may marry. All of this was told to me with many soft giggles and a shy demeanor. I gave the girl the third Bead with the thought this might in some way help her situation. Who knows?

Bead Number Three: Namibia

Here we visited a traditional native village to learn more about how the natives of yesterday lived their everyday lives. We were shown how millet was pounded into flour, how tools were made in their wood burning blacksmith hut, the way the leader of the village lived, the musical instruments they made were played were played for us, the role of the "grandmother" in teaching the young girls how to make baskets, to sew and at the same time, prepare them for a future marriage. We were even shown how they catch mice by using a large flat stone, a short stick and some twine. These mice were then used as bait for larger creatures. Dances were performed for us in their native dress. During the latter, one of the young dancers left the group and entered a nearby thatched hut. She returned with a beautiful baby and placed it on a blanket away from the dancers. The baby began to cry and the mother again left the dance group to pick up her child and tried to dance holding it. I went over to her and, through gestures and a smile, offered to hold the child. Mom passed her to me and I knew I had found the place for your third Bead. After the dancing I placed the Bead necklace around the childs neck and explained as best I could to the whole group of ladies that had gathered, it was for her to have and keep. They seemed quite touched. How long the Bead will stay in the possession of the mother and child is impossible to know. But the bead is placed.

Bead Number Four: Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

There was no doubt where I wanted this to go. When we got to Victoria Falls I wanted to toss it in the raging water. Not knowing how close we'd be able to get to the actual falling water, I feared perhaps I'd have to place it somewhere near by. This is where our dear tour guide helped me. He'd seen me place some of the previous Beads and when I told him my wish to place this one actually in the water he led me to a spot along the trail where, with a good heave, I could reach the water with the necklace. With Arnold taking the picture I threw the Bead as far as I could. Of course, with the roar of the falls, I had no way have knowing it reached its destination. But be sure, with the rains just starting there in Zimbabwe, in a week or so the Falls will double in size and surely collect the fourth Bead and carry it on its journey to the sea.

Bead Number Five: Victoria Falls, Zimbabwe

This was the special bead I'd worn around my neck for our entire journey through southern Africa. It was to be presented to our hostess for the family meal we shared in Victoria Falls. At this meal there were seven ladies entertaining and preparing our meal. I felt it would be rude to only give one of them a Bead. I'd decided to give it to the young woman working in the kitchen who was about eight and a half months pregnant. Then I realized there was another kitchen helper who appeared to be about seven months pregnant. I couldn't give it to one and not the other. So I decided to just keep the Bead around my own neck for awhile longer..
As we were leaving our last stay on this wonderful trip I realized the most generous, helpful, knowledgeable, beautiful person I'd met on the whole journey was Valentine. He had provided all of us with 24/7 care and concern throughout. When the weather was too poor for us to fly to a distant tent camp, he quickly arranged for a Plan B, which was a 4-hour drive to the camp. He not only made the change, but also kept us all happy about it with his good cheer. If some of us needed batteries for our cameras, he arranged a stop where he knew we could buy them. We never saw him angry or frustrated in any situation. He was my choice for the final Bead. To preserve his manliness, as I placed it over his head, I said it was for his wife, whom we hadn't met. But she must be a very lovely person and I wanted them to have this special Bead.

I thank you Kate for the opportunity you gave me. Without the Beads I might not have been as observant of all the beautiful people I met on our journey to southern Africa.

1 comment

  • Jackie Baer: November 06, 2017

    Loved your African stories .I Love beads also.

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