I hear this all the time. But mostly with food. Ndi khou humbela. Can I have. Food is different around here. If you have not read my previous post about where food comes from, do so, now J But not only is that different than what I am used to, but the sharing process of food. People, friends, strangers, ask for what you are eating. Sometimes it is normal. Other times I am completely perplexed by it.
I am eating an ear of corn and walk onto the taxi we are taking with the young adults to church. The little boy, who has become a good friend, reaches out his hand-gesturing that he would like my food. I give him the cob and he eats the rest of it.
I am sitting in the car with my mom at the garage (gas station) and we are filling up the car. The man in the car next to us looks at my mom, who is eating an apple, and says “ndi khou humbela.” My mom tosses him the rest of her apple right then and there. I asked if she knows him. She said no.
I am eating a mango for snack time at school (these types of mangos are much smaller than the ones that people might be used to in the States). A few students come up to me and ask me for it in sign language. I pause, wonder how will that be possible, also thinking that this is my only snack and I’m hungry and you all can go to the cafeteria and get a full plate of food for snack. But I then tear off the peel and give sections of it to the girls as they eat what is stuck to it. Satisfied.
I am with my mom and we drive to someone’s house. They come out to chat with my mom for a little. They come out with a fist full of almonds. They are chowing on them. As he approaches the car window my mom sticks out her hand (gesturing ndi khou humbela) and he puts all of them in her hand leaving none left for him to continue eating.
This is such a common thing that a teacher jokes with me at tea time and will gesture for me to give her my sandwich. Every time I get it out and start to hand it to her she retracts and smiles.
I walk home and hear kids in groups together. I look over and one has sweets and the others are next to him saying “ndi khou humbela, ndi khou humbela” and the student is then dishing out sweets to all who ask. The same goes to the kids on my street. If one has sweets others ask for it and it is automatically shared, whether it is hard candy, simba chips, or sugar powder.
My neighbor did not have enough sweets to give to everyone, so two girls shared one small hard candy. How? The one took it and bit it in half, it was just smaller than a lifesaver, and then passed the other half to her friend.
I was walking down the road to the store and my 6 year old friend saw me. He ran up and gave me a hug. Then reached up and took the half eaten lollipop out of my mouth. Bit off half and gave the other half to his friend coming towards us. And that is how it is done J
Food. How it is grown and shared is a glorious thing here; and it continues to amaze me.