The photos in this posting are just an assortment of random shots.. things/moments that have caught my eye.. like a rack for hanging dress shirts on, rigged inside a wheel barrow.. or how about transporting, is it 4 or 5, frames for easy chairs to the upholsterer on your bicycle..
Just came through near to three days and nights without electricity. Didn’t ever completely figure out if it was something to do with equipment, or just affecting the block, or this side of the ‘street’. And now, both weekend days, power has been off throughout the entire country, on purpose. Not sure what’s what.. for certain it’s not because of some super hurricane that’s rolled through the neighborhood, despite the very heavy downpours that have been occurring most of these days in Mbale. That’s just what I’ve been told.. no power between 8am and 6pm, Saturday and Sunday. People roll with these things here. People roll with most things here. You can always cook on a charcoal stove, actually most do.. and darkness, no big deal. It’s dark half the time. Most people don’t have access to electrical power anyways, I think it’s less than 10% of the 35M people, or so, who live here. Yeah for solar!
Laying in bed, reading by flashlight, I could hear the beating of drums faintly in the distance. Slowly, slowly, a myriad of sounds made their way closer. Louder, louder, accompanied by voices, chanting, singing, hollering, banging, until it was all so close I could make out clearly a very high pitched frenzy, a feverish whirlwind of excitement that I finally realized, with a breath of relief I must say, was some kind of robust community merry making.
Ah ha, I recalled, it’s an even year, 2012, and that can mean ‘circumcision’ in these parts. In very magical and perfect synchronicity, the book I’m reading ‘The River Between’ by Kenyan author Ngugi wa T’hiong’o was describing, quite wonderfully, a scene taking place, as I literally listened and imagined it’s very real reflection happening just outside..
“The dance was being held at an open-air place in Kameno. Whistles, horns, broken tins and anything else that was handy were taken and beaten to the rhythm of the song and dance. Everybody went into a frenzy of excitement. Old and young, women and children, all were losing themselves in the magic motion of the dance. Men shrieked and shouted and jumped into the air as they went round in a circle. For them, this was the moment. This was the time. Women, stripped to the waist, with their thin breasts flapping on their chests, went round and round the big fire, swinging their hips and contorting their bodies in all sorts of provocative ways, but always keeping the rhythm.
They were free. Age and youth had become reconciled for this one night. And you could sing about anything and talk of the hidden parts of men and women without feeling that you had violated the otherwise strong social code that governed people’s relationships, especially the relationship between young and old, man and woman.
Waiyaki still felt uneasy. Something inside him prevented him from losing himself in this frenzy. Was is because of Muthoni? He wondered what Livingstone would say now if he found him or if he saw the chaos created by locked emotions let lose. And the words spoken! Even Waiyaki was slightly embarrassed by the talk of forbidden things. Perhaps this was so because the mention of forbidden things at any other time was a social taboo. Of course, Waiyaki knew that nothing bad would happen in spite of the talk. It was actually a taboo to go with a woman on such an occasion.
And then Muthoni appeared on the scene. The singing increased in volume and excitement. And she was a wonder. Where had she learnt this? Waiyaki wondered as he watched from the side. She danced, sang, describing love: telling of relationships between a woman and a man, scenes and words of loving-making. The missionaries in Siriana would certainly have condemned her to eternal hell. Waiyaki gazed at her. Something slightly stirred in him. In the yellow light she appeared beautiful and happy, a strange kind of elation.
Somebody pulled him into the circle. It was Kinuthia. ‘Dance!’ the girls shouted, pulling him along the circle and repeating some on the hip motions for him. At first that thing inside him kept him aloof, preventing him from fully joining the stream. Although his body moved and his mouth responded to the words, his soul did not fully participate. Then, from a corner he heard his name. They were singing for him, some praising him and other making jibes at him. The name was taken up by the drummers and the soloists.
The frenzy and shrieks were up again. And suddenly he felt as if a hand soft and strong had held his soul and whipped it off. It was so strange that he felt his emotions and desires temporarily arrested in a single timeless moment; then release. Waiyaki was nothing. He was free. He forgot everything. He wanted only this thing now, this mad intoxication of ecstasy and pleasure. Quick waves of motion flashed through his flesh, through his being.
He was given a horn. He blew it madly. He jumped and swung his hips and did all sorts of marvels with his body. The others tried to follow him. Muthoni’s secret was out. You did not have to learn. No. You just gave yourself to the dream in the rhythm. Within a few seconds he found himself face to face with Muthoni. Both had been thrown into the center.
And she seemed to hold him still. Not with hands. Not with anything visible. It was something inside her. What was it? He could not divine what it was. Perhaps her laughter. He thought there was magic in it because it rang into his heart, arousing things he had never felt before. And what was shining in her eyes? Was there a streak of sadness in them? For a time Waiyaki was afraid and looked around. His mother was watching them. He turned to Muthoni. The magic was not there any more; it had gone. In the next moment Waiyako found himself wandering alone, blindly away from the crowd, wrestling with a hollowness inside his stomach. He felt hurt. He had laid himself naked, exposed himself for all the eyes to see.” *
The next day, according to the customs of their tribe, both Waiyako and Muthoni willingly undergo circumcision in separate rituals for teenage boys and girls. And the rest, I won’t say, in case you’d like to join me in this read.
Amazing timing, and enormous energies.. and enough power, you’d think, to light up the entire night sky!
Just this week, LITA has advanced funds – donations that so many of you have kindly helped us to raise – to Sab, the engineer/builder who is helping us and ACIO to build the dorms and admin/office/library for the children living at the Child Care Center. The first loads of sand and bricks are being delivered to the site over these next few days, along with aggregates, and bags of concrete.. we are officially in ‘building’ mode! (..many pictures to follow)
And just like that, a collective dream that was: planted in a few individual’s hearts, who knows exactly when, found first light of day in Mbale in 2007 as a pencil sketch on a piece of lined paper over sodas in ‘Gracious Cafe’, became mud and stick form in 2008, was flooded and resulted in evacuation in spring 2010, relocated itself onto donated land on higher ground in 2011, now, is seeing its way into manifestation for beautiful orphaned children, who I am sure you can imagine, are beyond excited to be in witness thereof.. the mere delivery of the first truck load of sand to help us build a firm foundation has had the power to launch them all well into the stratosphere! Haha! Yes, Mama, life is pretty darned grand!
Thanks so much everyone.. wow!
Blessings, Cath xox
* Ngugi wa T’hiong’o. (1965). The River Between. Kampala, Uganda. East African Educational Publishers Ltd.