September 08, 2005

4 Sept 2005

Day Seven

I decide to go to church in the morning despite my body protesting that I still need sleep. The church is a rather simple building where villagers gather to celebrate mass in Tetela (the local language). Though I understand nothing, I can see that the priest is very charismatic and makes his audience laugh. Then the choral starts singing accompanied by local drums carved out of whole pieces of wood (they don’t have the characteristics skin stretched over them, they are made from hollow rectangular wood). The voices of the young women and men rise up, followed by the droning voices of the elders, the music amplified by the building, sounding louder than a nirvana concert. Looking around at those people who have been pillaged and hurt, wearing their nicest clothes (at best the clothes are distended and slightly discolored, at worst they are not wearing shoes), nursing their babies—the ones that haven’t died of malnutrition and diarrhea, their voices clear and bold, swaying to the rhythm of the drums and the choral and I suddenly feel this burst of emotion and have to step outside before I burst out crying..

I cry and cry and cry some more, probably due in part to fatigue but also due to pent up emotion. I am ashamed of my self-doubts, my wanting to go home because it’s too hard. But mainly, I touched by the sheer strength of the Congolese people: standing so straight and singing with such power. It seems that no pillaging, no lies, no poverty is going to break their spirits. After church, we set off outside and proceed to shake everybody’s hand in a line that curves around the building.

A few expressions I learned along the way:

Republique Democratique du Congè
Democratic Republic of Vacation

Comment ca va? Pas plus que vous (no better than you)
Q: How are you doing? A: No better than you

Comment ca va?Au rythme du Pays
Q: How are you doing? A: As well as the country is


Magali said...

Cool! Updates!
How are you feeling now? Will you be staying in Kinshasa for a while? When is the best time to reach you?
A bientot!

Victoria said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Beaver said...

Hang in there, cupcake ! I knew you'd find courage back. Nothing wrong with self doubt and fatigue, it proves you're still human. Heroes don't breeze seamlessly through hardships. They survive them against all odds. I think you're going to be fine, my dear personnal hero ! ;)

P.S. I know, I need to update... I will when I have a moment ;)

Steve in Wisconsin said...

Greetings "00"

Glad you visited a local church! There's a 'fire' in Africa that I wish many of our USA churches still had.



007 in Africa said...

Mag, the best time to reach me is now!

Vicky, I haven't been answering my phone calls very much. Oops, will be better.

Beaver, congrats on the happy developments in your life...Can't wait to hear about them.

Thanks Steve-O. I wish I could post some of my videos. I have one of the choral singer practicing...until my baterries ran out. D'oh.

L said...

Hey D,

I know you say you're jealous of my life, but I in turn am jealous of yours. Not too many "life lessons" to be learned in a portion of America that is dictated by the sales at Target and Walmart. I know that things are difficult, but just think of everything you would have missed out on by not going to Senegal and DRC.
So, I second what Beaver said. (just had a mental picture of bollywood-type gesturing to the soundtrack of Enrique Iglesias' "hero" song - ha ha :))


jean-pierre said...

When you get back to the USA, if you decide you do want to come back, I would like to invite you to visit the Coastal Georgia.

This is the last place where slaves still came to the Americas, and the African influence is more alive here than in most any place in North America. There are two cultures: Geechee and Gullah. For the most part they are disappearing, but there is some effort to preserve and revive them.

Also, people are deeply religous, or if you prefer, and I do, actually more spiritual than in many parts which are more developed technologically and industrially.

Some of you who cannot go or hesitate to visit Africa, maybe you might consider the very rural parts of Georgia. We tend to ignore the treasure (cultural treasure) in our own backyard. Our people deserve to receive the attention of Christian ministry also. Some of our problems are similar to those of Africa, although maybe not as intense or extensive. We are the last in the state to get the benefits of urban and industrial society, but at the same time the last to get the protections, such as pollution controls and cultural institutions.

Whatever you decide, may the Holy Spirit guide you, and may God bless you each step of the way!

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