Peckham - Zimbabwe - India

In our second term we have to define our minor projects, ideally addressing our final project in the last term. As we are supposed to support each other as much as possible, I joined Anila for the first empirical research for her project.

I'll try to describe Anila's background, so that you understand, why we did this strange stuff on an ordinary Wednesday afternoon. Anila is an Indian from Zimbabwe, who moved to the UK when she was 18 and is an English native speaker. She did her Bachelor degree in Arts and works as a curator for various arts projects, festivals, exhibitions, etc. For her minor project she wants to dwell upon the political situation in Zimbabwe. For this purpose she decided to concentrate on the electricity as a source of power and control, because the government frequently turns down the whole electrical supply of the country. For a start she was advised by Graham to pick some wood around her home and then light a fire and try to cook something, to experience what the lack of electricity actually means.

So now you know, why we headed to Anila's place, had a cosy lunch and then strolled around the house for hours, gathering wood in various parks and carrying a huge bag around. The journey took us through Peckham, one of the dodgiest areas I know in South London. (Well, it's big, but most of its parts are really poor.) It was interesting to see all those beautiful Victorian houses and to know that they are partially inhabited by people who are not well off at all. 

On our way, Anila told me about her grandparents who travelled all the way from India to Zimbabwe, where they settled down, about the Indian cast system, about Indian villages in Zimbabwe and their traditions. But this was just the beginning of the family story. Later her aunt and her mother moved to the UK, her mother married but after several years fled back to Zimbabwe with her children as the marriage turned out to be.... difficult.

This way Anila and her sister grew up on a farm in Zimbabwe and were lucky to attend a progressive mixed school. In all other social structures of the country people were separated according to the colour of their skin: white, black or mixed. Much later, an 18-year-old Anila was sent out to the UK, when her mom discovered that she smoked, which was a terrible scandal. Not the worst punishment, in my European eyes...

I sneaked into a Lidl to buy some German rye bread and wurst. Anila looks perfectly organic in this environment. In fact, I should have bought her instead, she is definitely not genetically modified.

 This walk was an exciting muxture of an intimate family story, distant countries and cultures and at the same time a tour through the dodgy South London.

And of course everything ended with a cup of tea and a piece of carrot cake!
Eventually, we couldn't light a fire and cook in the end, as it was already dark and late when we got home. So we agreed to postpone this procedure and to buy something typical of Zimbabwe for cooking beforehand.
---- To be continued.-----


  1. Replies
    1. Nice of you to say that :) thanks! Unfortunately (or fortunately) it started snowing in London, so we'll have to wait with the fire :) or rather make a snowman trying to think of Zimbabwe... But how can you combine snowman and electricity? Hmmm. I will keep you updated.

  2. Sounds pretty interesting.
    Isn't darkness (at least partially) the point in making a fire? I don't see why it's a reason to postpone the cooking. :)

    1. In case you don't want to see your food, darkness is pretty good, I guess. ;) (Both of us had plans for the evening, that's the real reason, but psst!)


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