Thursday, March 27, 2008

Easter Sunday

“How was church? Was it boring?” Joseline asked me when we met in Wandegeya to go to Sally’s place for lunch. Truth be told, it was. I had gone to the early service—normally an 8:00 affair, but held at 7:30 for Easter Sunday—and it had indeed been dull. The best part was the Bishop’s announcement in response to Gadaffi that I mentioned in the prior post. The sermon was stodgy, the music bland (“Crown him with many crowns” to start), communion an assembly line for the 300 or so people who attended.

I was disappointed, and also in a way relieved. There’s not a miraculous place where worship is always full of life and joy. Or maybe the Anglican Church can simply wring the fun out of everyone. I’m sure it can if it tries.

Lunch, though, was a truly raucous affair. The weather did not cooperate, with the rain starting at 11:00 and lasting all day long. But the food was delicious: matoke (it's a cooked plantain dish, you see it here wrapped in the banana leaves, served with a meat sauce, surprisingly—and very good), rice, chapati, Irish (potatoes, that is), chicken AND pork, sweet plantains, beans with meat (a.k.a. chili, but not known by that here), cooked greens, and vegetables in a soy sauce, all piled on a heap on the plate (as you will see). Then, after digesting for a bit, we had bananas from a banana bouquet (in the picture at bottom). Later in the afternoon, Sally asked if I wanted tea, and so I had some of the amazingly rich milk tea they serve here: half a mug of tea, topped by half a mug of hot whole milk. And then, a cake, shaped like a heart, decorated with the words “Happy Easter,” a small slice for everyone accompanied by fresh pineapple chunks.

There must have been 30 or more people at this party. It was not only me and the residents of the boarding house, but friends, family, visitors, and guests. It was, as I said, a raucous affair. Outside, the chickens sulked out in the rain, occasionally coming on the porch and glaring in the front door. In the back I could hear kids playing at something or other. I stayed in the living room, taking lots of pictures, or letting my camera wander off to take pictures elsewhere, as people laughed and talked and I mostly let the accents and words wash over me.

At one point, though, I said I had a serious question, and everyone immediately settled down and focused to hear it. I said, “For those of you wearing trousers, how is it that you have no mud? I have mud up to my knees!” which was barely an exaggeration. I had felt very self-conscious amongst these beautifully attired people, looking like a grubby nubbin on Easter Sunday. I’m sure they just chalked it up to me being a mazungu and not knowing better, but I at least felt better, having let them know I had noticed.

I thought I should venture back at about 5 so that I could catch a matatu home before it got dark. Before that happened, though, there was singing and there was prayer. The singing came in the call and response form I had anticipated hearing here as opposed to the English hymns of the morning service, accompanied by drums played by one of the girls who lived there. The prayer was informal and probably followed some rules for construction and participation that I didn’t understand, so I just listened and prayed silently.

Overall, I’d have to say Easter was not boring. I was glad of that. But perhaps gladder still to get a ride home through the rain and the gathering dark.

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