Of Police, Cell Phones, and Beyoncé

We are assigned police escort when we make community visits where we are video taping. This is ostensibly for our protection and to prevent any problems from arising. A Westerner with a video camera interviewing villagers could potentially provoke trouble if someone wanted to cause it.  At first I was anxious about this, but the police are low key and have actually been helpful and friendly. The first man helped me with the lyrics to the song that we were greeted with, and the second set of officers were really just boys, in my eyes, who were quite curious, just like anyone else.  On the way to a village site, three officers and myself were squashed into the back of the covered pickup truck. We sat on the hard corrugated surface, cramped against the wheel wells, bouncing up and down on the rugged roads while dust came barreling through the small sliding windows.  It turns out they are in favor of the program.  Because cattle are moved in a herd that is watched and follows a schedule, officials and community members know where they will be and when. There is less likelihood for cattle to get lost or stolen. 

While stopping to get some drinks (soda) there was loud Afro Pop blaring from the store. Actually, I like this kind of dance music that mixes Western and traditional sounds. To make conversation, I asked about it, and it turned out to be a popular Zimbabwean named Alick Macheso.  I asked the officers who I was cramped in the cargo bay of the truck with, if they listened to American music.  At once, one of them whipped out his cell phone to see what he had on it. Mariah Carey, Beyoncé, he asked, inquisitively. Oh yes, I said, “Everyone wants to marry Beyoncé”. To which they roared with laughter.

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