July 2005 Archives
Here's an interesting documentary about one of the last matriarchal societies in the world, the Mosou in Southern China. They don't have any recognised, contractual form of marriage, but practice a system called 'walking marriage'. Women leave their doors open at night, and interested parties sneak in under cover of darkness. The women choose whether or not to get jiggy, and either way the men leave before the morning.
Families consist of many women, their children* and their brothers, but not the fathers of the children. They stay with their sisters, and look after their kids. All very neatly organised.
(*ethnic minoritites in China aren't bound by the one-child policy)
Watching this reminded me of news I saw a few months ago reporting that one of the last surviving speakers of a female-only language in China had died. I just went googling for it but the top result was a bbc site so that was a no-go; shortly after I couldn't even get on google itself. Fuck sake.
The weird thing is that despite the vast majority of bbc pages being inaccessible, in my office the bbc is really widely respected. Most of the senior staff have spent some time working in the Chinese department of the worldwide service in London too. They are now employed directly by the government, which doesn't make an awful lot of sense.
I've been talking a lot to colleagues recently about the nature of being a Chinese journalist, more specifically about what you are actually taught during your journalistic training. Some interesting responses, am trying to think of a good way to collate them.
Ramble ramble. Plenty of mojitos last night. Plenty.
'But Jenny, I'm still so hungry. You never let me eat until I'm full, and I'm wasting away'.
I have been usurped! The rate of Microphonehead's furious scribblings completely eclipses mine (GET A JOB!) and he even posts my best pics and passes them off as his own. By way of comeback, here's proof he's a big intellectual now he's moved to a 'politically challenging' country. Try and ignore Magnetico in the foreground, he's been sneaking into all my pictures.
The longer that I live in the in Africa, the less I seem to notice. It's not that any less is happening in my life, it's just that things become normal when you see them every day.
Then on certain days it is apparent that life is different here. Example; Over the last few days I've stood on a snake, massacred mosquitoes, and there were monkeys outside my house.
I also just returned from a school trip. We went to Tarangire National Park, Olduvai Gorge and Ngorogoro Conservation Area.
Olduvai gorge is where, in 1979, Mary and Louis Leakey found the 3,7-million year old footsteps of Australopithecus Afarensis, and where, in 1957, they found evidence of the 1,8-million year old Nutcracker Man. The significance of this was a tad lost on the kids. They were far more interested in the elephants, lions, rhinos, cheetahs, etc. that we saw in Ngorogoro and Tarangire.
The soda lake in Ngorogoro crater looked particularly nice as it evaporated in the afternoon sunshine.
The drive around the crater rim is an experience. It really is a long way down.
This picture shows just how big a crater Ngorogoro really is.