Saturday, September 20, 2008


* I've been going through my drafted posts and looking for a few to bring to light. Most are just unfinished, some I've written and decided they're not for the whole world to see, and some, like this one, I have no idea why I never posted. I wrote this at the beginning of November of last year. No idea why it wasn't already up, but it is now! :) *

Back in junior high, we had a Missionary come to our church from the Ivory Coast in Africa. Something about what he said, the stories he told, the pictures he painted of the place he lived captured me. I remember for a number of years having a really strong sense that I would go there some day, even for a short time, to do some kind of missions work.

That strong sense faded after a while, but the memory of it remained. I remember thinking a few times during my undergrad degree that the fact that I was studying French would come in handy if I ever ended up going to Côte D'Ivoire. But frankly, at that point, the thought of going somewhere SO foreign, so different made me dismiss it. I really had no interest in going anymore. I would much rather remain where it's comfortable, where I know how things work.

But Africa keeps popping up.

While I was teaching music, I did a few African drumming workshops, and I L-O-V-E-D them. There is something SO powerful about the drums, not to mention they're just really fun to play! I even bought myself a djembe at a county fair down in Washington a few summers ago.

And then, about two years ago, I saw a group called Masabo perform at a fundraiser dinner at a local high school. The drums, the balafons, the dances - they captured me. I bought a CD and listened to it frequently. I took another drumming workshop with Fana Soro, the leader of the group. And I borrowed a class set of djembes and some other African instruments from another school and did a drumming unit with my students - kindergarten to grade 7.

I've heard beautiful drscriptions of Kenya from AfricaBleu, a blogger who grew up there and whose heart is still very much there in many ways. I have looked through - again and again and again - a friend's photographs from his travels to South Africa and Namibia. And now, one of my best friends is living in Niger for six months, working to bring clean water to people in the villages surrounding Niamey.

And once again this week I have been captured by the music. At our pro-d day on Thursday, there was a group called Kutapira who provided about half an hour's worth of entertainment after lunch. They are a group of students from ages 14-19 who play a fusion of marimba and Afro-cuban music. They were AMAZING. (I had one of the band members in my music class a few years ago! Though I take absolutely NO credit for his extraordinary mucial ability. He was already honing his mad marimba skillz while I was teaching my class how to play hot cross buns on the recorder. Buah ha!)

Then yesterday a friend invited me to go see Umoja with him. All I knew was that it was a South African musical. It turns out that it was a journey through the development of music and dance in South Africa, from tribal drums and ceremonial dances to shebeens to gospel to music in the apratheid era to clubs... it was spectacular!

More and more, Africa keeps coming up on my radar. I am less and less concerned about it being "too different" or too far out of my comfort zone. I would love to go there one day. For what, I don't know, but I have a few ideas brewing. We'll see where God leads me.

Just for fun, here are a few videos: the first is of Kutapira and the second a clip from Umoja. Enjoy!

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