We went to Cham go Wadu, all in the big blue Rongo University bus. Everywhere here is as beautiful as a photograph; I should know, I feel like I am constantly chasing a perfect representation of what I can glimpse out the bus windows.
The talk was really powerful. Hearing the women speak with such passion about their community and those that have fallen victim to horrific crime makes me grateful that I am here. It really solidified that I am a part of something, something that means something to these people. Their speeches were so emotive I had to keep distracting myself by checking the focus of the camera because I was getting tears in my eyes. The struggles that these people endure are things I can’t even wrap my brain around, yet here they are looking out for others and finding time to talk to me. Not just talk to me, but really pull back the curtain and let me hear the ugly part of their community which I can’t even imagine how difficult that must be.
It made me look forward even more to meeting those in the community over thee next couple of days. I just feel so lucky; I feel myself repeating that a lot these days.
Later, we heard some singing. It was in sync, on beat, with harmonies to boot; it was so impressive even Peter called from the balcony that we should get a closer look. A few of us walked over and sat on benches facing them and watched. They noticed us but they didn’t seem fazed by our presence. They either didn’t care or were having too much fun or some mixture of both. They just kept singing and singing, doubling over laughing until they couldn’t breath and then back to the singing. They were so good; I wanted to pull out my camera and get closer and try to capture the joy they were omitting, but I opted for just sitting from afar as to not disturb the magic.
After dinner, we all piled into the van to make our way back to the hotel. Maybe I was subconsciously thinking about those students singing, but just as I suggested we sing a song, Anya burst out singing. We started playing a game, all singing different words of a song to try and piece together the whole melody. I cried with laughter and sang at the top of my lungs (sorry to everyone) and we carried on until we just couldn’t anymore.
I can’t help but find a beautiful parallel between the African students singing and us singing. Yes, we were off key and Joakim didn’t know any of the words to the songs, but we both found joy in singing in a circle with friends. I believe that we do have community and culture; it just might be more transparent to use because we are in it. It’s like we can’t see the whole forest because we are in the trees; we cannot see our own culture because we are constantly surrounded by it.
I look at the Kenyans with envy because they have a deep connection with their community and their culture which I wondered if I had, or have ever had. Maybe my feelings of doubt are right, and we don’t. But when I see their connection mirrored back into my own world, I realise that that sense of community is all around me.