Monday, July 16, 2007

Snakes on a Plane, Zimbabwe Style

At field day celebrations, ASAP staff members and leaders in the community give short speeches or tell stories to encourage the project participants. Since I don’t speak Shona, I have to rely on whoever is sitting next to me to translate what the speaker is saying. Usually my translator gets tired of repeating everything in English and starts to give me somewhat garbled snippets of the stories. I try to link them together, but often I just end up laughing to myself about what in the world the speaker could be saying. Here are some of the best explanations translators have given me:

-“When the mermaid returned Robert to his home, he had to go back to grade 4 even though he was old enough to be in grade 6.”
-“Stay in the middle of the river so that an animal won’t drink you and keep you from getting back to the ocean.”
-“You wouldn’t let a rabbit join your savings club would you? No, of course not! Rabbits are sneaky and will steal all your money!”

Usually I don’t bother the translator to explain the stories that don’t make sense to me. I just laugh and clap when everyone else does and it all works out fine. But at my last field day, I had to get the story behind Project Manager Joseph Miti’s speech. The field officer who was translating for me leaned over and whispered, “Okay, so there are these snakes… on a plane.”

I thought surely Miti hadn’t seen the cheesy Samuel L. Jackson movie, Snakes on a Plane! Of course, he hadn’t and was happy to retell the story to me later.

Two American scientists were visiting Zimbabwe to conduct research on a rare type of deadly snake. Once they collected fifty of the biggest and meanest snakes they could find, they packed them up in breathable boxes and got on a plane back to the United States.

Unfortunately, the take-off was a rough one and the turbulence caused the boxes to break open just as the plane reached its cruising altitude, releasing the snakes into the cabin of the plane.

People began running around the cabin screaming, jumping on top of their seats, and clinging to one another for safety. Even the scientists were afraid to be enclosed with so many snakes on the loose!

Immediately, the pilot radioed the control tower and asked for permission to land. The control tower replied that another plane was already on the runway and there was no where for the plane to land. The pilot again asked for permission to land, indicating that there were severe problems on board, but again the air traffic controller told him that there was nowhere for him to land. A third time, the pilot begged to land. “This is an emergency!” he yelled into his radio. But the air traffic controller yelled back, “You’re not coming down here! The only direction you can go is UP!”

Faced with no other options, the pilot did as he was told and steered the plane up toward the clouds. The plane flew higher and higher until the cabin temperature began to fall. With each minute the cabin got colder and the snakes began moving more slowly. As you know, snakes are cold-blooded animals and they cannot move if they are not warm. As the snakes began to fall asleep, the American scientists quickly gathered them up and secured them back in their boxes. All the passengers began to cheer and thanked the pilot for flying UP!

The morale of the story is this:

When you begin your Kufusa Mari savings club it is like boarding a plane. Without a doubt you will encounter difficulties on your journey, just like the snakes, but you must not give up because there is no place for you to land once you have begun. Instead, fly so high that the problems lose their energy. If you continue to fly too high for conflict, then you will make it to your destination!

Not even Samuel L. Jackson can beat that.


1 comment:

Josh M said...

Haha, that is an amazing story! Much better than the movie. Thanks for sharing.