Take a moment to pretend it’s a slow, gentle Sunday afternoon, you know, one of the grey rainy variety, and you just feel like staying indoors… work is done, it’s time for a rest, everyone is gathered around visiting and you think, hey let’s watch a movie… ’I’ll get the popcorn, you get the DVD, meet you back here and we’ll hit ‘play’…’
Now…try to imagine you live in a hut with no power in rural Africa, and well, you’ve never seen a movie before! You’ve become a bit used to seeing the laptop (one with a great battery, thankfully…) cause you’ve looked at many pictures of yourself on it by now, and you’ve even watched a couple short videos of you and your family singing and dancing… but a movie… just what is a movie exactly?
Enter… ’The Lion King’!!!
Recently while in Kampala, my friend and I were wandering through a market when I saw a new copy of the film for sale. There are lots and lots of used and bootlegged DVD’s available here… in general, the couple I have tried didn’t make it past the first few minutes of viewing before my laptop spit them out because of ha! impurity on some level I’d guess… but here was a brand new DVD, and ‘The Lion King’ at that! Although at that moment I’d have been kind of hard pressed to tell you what it is actually about, wow, I was nudged… this just might be THE perfect film with which to introduce the children and even the friend I was with to the entirely new world of movie watching… and only 5,000Ush (about $3 Cdn) and, the ‘Special Edition’ edition!… cool!… sold!
So last weekend complete with an x-large zip lock baggie of popcorn for each family, we headed to Bukedea to share this fun adventure with the children! First to Betty’s, we found the children were all too eager to huddle together on the foams and settle in. Right from the opening sunrise the film captured them completely and except for the occasional grab of popcorn, they were riveted to the experience! Mouths open, eyes huge, laughter loud, sadness shared with communal groans and moans, only a couple times looking to me for explanation the children were all delightfully amused and filled with great wonder… it was fantastic!
Everyone seemed to understand way too easily the stories within the story…the themes of family, friendship, envy, fear, guilt, responsibility, honesty, power, triumph and Love… but most thrilled were they that it was taking place in ‘Africa’ and although they were giggling at first in a tone of ‘now that is pretty silly’ hearing and seeing animals speaking English while hugging and dancing, the children were amazed by the colorful artistry and certainly laughed the loudest the few times Swahili is spoken in the film… ’Hakuna Matata’ along with the song and dance that followed brought a huge roar and when ‘Rafiki’ sings ‘Asante Sana, squashed banana’… well, they didn’t get the squashed banana part, but Asante Sana means Thank you very much and they sure enjoyed that! And him! And everything about the entire film and afternoon!
Now, I am sure I must have watched it years ago when the girls were young, but maybe I fell asleep or something cause I didn’t recall the film so much… at this moment though, I have really seemed to connect with it and yes, even embraced some kind of allegory within it! True to this whole journey, here is another experience for me when I thought I might be giving something new to someone, and ha! I was given something delightfully new myself! I think I’ve watched it 7 times now, an initial viewing to see if it would be suitable, twice that day with the 2 families, and then several times with a friend for whom it has also been a first in terms of movie watching… and along with the gift of learning from and appreciating everyone else’s reaction to it, I myself have been quite amazed by the metaphors and mirrors the story seems to reflect about the
context here as I have come to understand it… the absolute beauty, exquisite color and Light found everywhere that is Nature; the prolific and deeply powerful rhythm that is Life; the dreary, debilitating struggle and suffering that is absence of honesty, kindness and compassion; the soulful desire that is ‘to remember’; the clarity and wisdom that is ‘found above’; the ravaging fire that is war and dis-ease; the cleansing, healing rain that is regeneration; the unlimited potential and possibility that is new Creation;
…and I look from my heart and see beautiful orphan children I have come here to share Love with, and I sense… Like ‘Simba’ (lion in Swahili) they too are approaching a great and defining moment when they will walk bravely up on the rock through the rain to give their most rightful, powerful and timely roar to the world…!
(Hey, wait a minute… is that me there on that rock too…? Thank you Angel…!)
ASANTE SANA, indeed!