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