raised shelters—because their houses become clay ovens during the day and retain heat until early the next morning. By sleeping outdoors, people feel whatever slight breeze may blow and avoid the smothering heat of clay-brick houses with few or no windows. According to Scudder (1962), the Tonga people divide the dry hot season into two periods, which are re lated to the agricultural work they perform in preparation for the rains. The first period, cilimo, begins when the temperatures begin to warm in August, while the second period, kumwaka, begins when people clear and burn the stubble from their fields and ends when the rains fall consistendy (see Scudder 1962 for details of climate and environment).Food availability fluctuates seasonally. In the middle of the rains a vari ety of fruits and vegetables becomes available. These are used to make the sauces that add taste and nutrition to the hearty staple, nsima, a porridge made from ground millet, sorghum, or maize. The meali meal, as Zam bians call the ground grain, is boiled into a thick paste the consistency of heavy mashed potatoes. To help this starch slide down, people dip a small handful into a sauce, usually made from vegetables grown in gardens or gathered from the surrounding bush. When fish from the lakeshore are available, people eagerly make a sauce to supplement the vegetables, and
occasionally a chicken or goat is slaughtered; when available, eggs are added to the variety of sauces eaten with nsima. Cattle are common in the Gwembe, and their milk adds another elementof variety to the basic diet. People occasionally slaughter an old cow or ox for food, but they are most often considered a method of saving. The most common time for eating beef is at funerals, when families are expected to demonstrate their respect for the deceased with the resources they invest in the funeral.As the season progresses and fresh produce from gardens decreases, particularly from August on,food availability and variety plummet. People may still have grain during this time, but supplies for sauces are minimal. By the end of the hot season, hunger often becomes acute, with both grain and sauce in short supply. From at least November until the first harvest of green mealies (fresh maize to be eaten off the cob) in February, people complain about "the hunger” (inzala). Inaddition to these annual and ex pected "hunger seasons,” the increasingly regular drought years of south ern Africa have accentuated these hunger periods so that they become “hunger years” (mwaka nzala). During these drought years, even the car bohydrate staple of nsima is scarce. People rely on famine foods collected from wild grains and greens, famine relief supplies from international donor agencies, and sale of their livestock to purchase grain from town.