Saturday, February 20, 2010


The owner of my favourite spaza shop in our neighbourhood

May integrity and honesty protect me, Lord, for I put my trust in You. Psalm 25:21

honesty, reliability, veracity, uprightness

genuineness, sincerity

worthiness, decency, respectability

Earlier this week I popped over to my new and favourite spaza shop down the road. I first visited this shop when I was searching for a sewing kit. You can read about this
here, if you wish. This particular evening he had a number of customers before me, one who kept scrimmaging in the freezer, lifting an item, querying the price and replacing it again.

Eventually it was my turn and I placed my order of one fresh fruit juice and a small tub of vanilla ice cream. The price was SDG2 which is less than one US$. I paid him with SDG5 and at that moment a women leant across me and asked him for an item. He gave me my change, and turned to serve her as I left. I stopped off at the spaza shop just opposite our apartment building to buy a pack of fresh pitas. As I opened my purse, I saw that I had an extra note. Call me crazy but I am always aware of the notes and amounts in my purse at any given time. Here in Khartoum I am extra concious of the denominations as I'm still trying to get used to the currency. Without buying anything at Mohamed's shop, I turned and walked back to the first shop. The owner was serving yet another picky customer. When she left, I said to him, "I paid you with SDG5 and you gave me SDG8 change." He clapped his hand to his forehead and when I placed the 5 pound note on the counter, he thanked me most profusely.
The shop owner might or might not have remembered overchanging me that day. Whichever way, he couldn't have done anything about it. But I would have remembered had I not gone back with the extra money. Acting on this is called integrity.

This brings me to a very sad point in today's post. About a person who lacks integrity. A week ago I posted about the Khartoum cats , which you can read about
here. For the past ten days, my husband and I have been feeding three stray cats. One is here in our courtyard. The other two are in the city in two different locations. One of these had two kittens about three weeks ago; one kitten survived. The mother cat and kitten belong to the shop owner where we buy our bottled water. I bought tuna from his shop and was feeding the cat every second day while leaving a tin (and my can opener) for him to feed it on the days I did not get there. My husband popped in there on Thursday to buy our water and was taken to see the cat behind the fridge. He came home and reported that the kitten, whose eyes were open, looked like a little slug it was so well fed. The shop owner fed the mother cat while he was there.

On Friday we stopped there and I went into the shop clutching the customary bottle of milk. I found it strange that the owner didn't seem his effusive self when I greeted him. There was a youngster in the shop who greeted me in English. As I walked to the back of the shop to check on the cat, this lad followed me. Expecting to see the mother cat and her kitten in the nest behind the fridges I was surprised to see it was empty. I turned back to the youngster and the shopowner who'd joined us at the back, and asked where the cat was. The young boy told me that it had left. The owner assures me that he had searched for it but the cat was there last night and gone this morning. Trying to think straight after receiving this shock, I couldn't believe that a mother cat, who was safe, being fed and pampered, would pick her kitten up and walk out of the shop.

I walked back to the counter where the shop owner had returned to serve a customer and said I would leave one tin of tuna and my can opener. If he managed to find the cat, to please feed her and re-install her in her nest. Always before, whenever I spoke to this young man, he'd look at me with an open and friendly expression. Yesterday however, he could hardly face me while we were talking and when he did lift his eyes, I noticed a closed expression on his face.

I left the shop feeling utterly dejected. When I told my husband that the cat and kitten was missing, he immediately said that the shop owner had sold it. Until then I'd not considered this but now it made sense. I am going back today and if the cat is not in the shop, I will ask the shopowner for my paid-up-front tin of tuna and can opener. I'm trying not to dwell on the fact that the poor mother cat, who literally tasted a luxurious life for the past ten days and is perhaps starving again tonight.

The cat at the vegetable stalls continues to thrive. It had a sore eye, so we bought eye ointment, and after cleaning both eyes with cotton wool soaked in water, I managed to massage a little ointment into the eye. The Calico Cat waits downstairs in our courtyard in the morning as well as at night now. My husband says she is pregnant, and on closer inspection I realise he may be right.


  1. Integrity is so important ---and it's SO lacking in our country, maybe everywhere. People seem to be greedy and selfish these days --and are all about what someone can do for THEM... Honesty, reliability and sincerity are secondary --which is sad..

    Great post Jo... I'm sorry about Mama Cat and her kitten. I hope they are okay. You are so nice to feed the stray animals. What happened to the dog you were feeding?


  2. Absolutely Betsy; Everyone for himself. I understand that these people don't actually care about/for their animals and I'm sorry we didn't "buy" the cat and kitten last week already. I'm always loathe to do this as it creates a situation which encourages them to breed for sale. This is not so blatantly obvious here in North Africa as it was in West Africa. I used to have nightmares about the puppies held up for sale on the busy streets with the mother on a rope between the sellers knees.

  3. It is great to hear that there are still people like you who have integrity and a heap of kindness towards all living things. Well done Jo. We will always be disappointed in the behaviour of some others in our society.

  4. Great post Jo. Bless you for having a good heart, for being honest and being a loving person...those stray cats and dogs that you and your husband are feeding are lucky for having so sorry about the mother cat and the kitten, I hope they are in good hands. Indeed, sincerity, reliability, sincerity and integrity are all important.

    off topic:
    hoping for a quiet duty tom night. till this time, our doctors are very busy and my arabic neighbour is not around. will e-mail you Jo as soon as I have it.

    A blessed weekend to you Jo. Regards to your husband.

  5. Thanks for your kind comment, diane. I know there will always be someone here on earth who disappoints you. I've decided (to think) that the cat and kitten went to a wealthy home and is being well fed and cared for this minute!

    Hi Misalyn;) thanks, we can't ignore those dumb animals often to our detriment! Thanks for your trouble helping me. Bless you my friend.

  6. You can't ask "integrity" of these people ! what is a cat for them ? nothing, they would rather feed their kids with the thuna fish. It's another world.

  7. Yes, Gattina, I suppose it's natural when you have so little as many people here in the city, to take from a cat and feed your children. However, this shopowner was shortsighted: he couldn't see that he was getting a regular sale from me every single day (a tin of tuna for today and one for tomorrow) and my husband has been buying our bottled water there for year.

  8. What a sad twist!
    I am surprised to hear that someone would actually buy a cat, seeing as they can be literally found on the street.

  9. Hi Merisi;) I agree, that's one consolation. Thanks for visiting my blog.

  10. Hi Jo!
    Thank you for visiting my blog and asking about the "Follower" procedure there. I am still running on the ancient system, therefore cannot add the follower gadget on the sidebar, but there a "follower" button at the top left of my blog, Clicking on that one will let you become a follower by simply clicking it on!

    Thank you for asking and a wonderful weekend to you!

    Btw, I keep going with the old blog format because with all the pictures I have uploaded, I am too terrified to upset anything if I'd change now.

  11. I had my blog for a few days on approval too, after one night a whole slew of spam broke the word verification barrier. I am trying now once again without, let's hope. Good luck to you!

  12. Hi Jo. Die teleurstelling in iemand wat jy vertrou het, vang 'n mens die ergste. Seker omdat ons die beste in ander soek en glo. En 'n mens raak so lief vir die diere wat jy versorg...

    Sterkte vir jou.

    Nogal besig met kids-goed, maar lees gereeld wat ek mis. Jou markuitstappie was uitstekend geskryf!!

    Ns. Laas week met die baie reën is 150mm in 3 dae gemeet! Tuine leflik!!

  13. Thanks Merisi:) I'm now following your beautiful blog.

    Hi Ida, ja ons verwag soms mense moet dink soos wat ons dink. Die lewe is moeilik vir die locals hier in die stad maar hierdie winkel-eienaar het dit eintlik maklik. Hy't 'n goeie besigheid en ek was nou 'n gereelde (daaglikse) klient by hom. Grant koop al 'n jaar ons water daar. Ek hoor net hoe baie dit gereen het in Marquard. Bless jou, my dierbare vriendin. Liefde Jo

  14. Jo, you can only do so much. Bless you for trying.

  15. Hi Jo, I am sorry to read about the cat and her kitten disappearing after all of your efforts to nurture and save them.Selfishness is rampant everywhere not just in Africa.

  16. Wonderful post, Jo. I think lessons in integrity are so important especially in this day and age. It is important for us all to be watchful and make sure we nurture a character of integrity. I'm sorry to hear about the shop owner and the story of his cat. It is sad to know she might once again be hungry.


Thank you for visiting my blog and taking the time to leave a comment. I appreciate your feedback. Jo