Yesterday I came upon Mrs. Phiri washing clothes with the help of one-year-old Margaret. (Most of the children here have an English name [English is the official language in Zambia] and a local name. Most everyone gives me only their English name when asked.)
She allowed me to take a step-by-step photo essay to document the process.
First you buy some washing detergent.
Then you have your assistant open and pour the soap into a large tub of water. (Seriously, very young children are put to work and even sent on errands alone. I regularly see children as young as 4 or 5 walking down the street with a bucket of water by themselves.)
Then you swirl and scrub the clothes together.
(Mrs. Phiri is always cheerful. Notice the skirt she’s wearing. It’s called a chitenge and used as clothing, a baby holder and a sack. More on it in a future post.)
Then you rinse.
And rinse again.
Here’s the whole sequence (sorry Mrs. Phiri, I caught you unawares with this photo).
Then hang to dry and pray that the rain holds off for a little while.
(It’s the rainy season four months out of twelve here; difficult to get things dry then.)
Meanwhile, Mrs. Phiri cooks up a lunch of nshima, a kind of a bland polenta/cornmeal porridge that is the national staple food.
All in all, the local system is probably not much different from how our grandparents washed their clothes (assuming your grandparents were born in the 1910s and 20s like mine).