Sunday, April 6, 2008

No, really, last post (for now...more soon)

I know, I said it would be the last posting. But that was before...before we made history in Mapaki with our internet wedding between Sarah in Canada and Abdul in Mapaki, officiated by the paramount chief and attended by almost all in the village. Before the cotton tree that towers over all here released into the sun-speckled thunder clouds a soft blizzard of giant flocks of cotton snow which this afternoon gently filled the skies and blanketed the village (the children delight in the cotton snow as much as they do in the torrential rains). Before the launch of “Carol Day” which unofficially started last night with a roving band of drummers followed by about 200 children who kept the village awake with their singing (“oh-oh, Carol Night”) followed by today’s cooking for hundreds, dancing with the women, feasting with friends, meeting with an assemblage of villagers from around the chiefdom to say good-bye, visiting with Patricia from Makalie and Zoe from Seattle and spending this night at the “Carol Day” dance with young and old (grannies in head scarves and wraps, young girls and boys in their finest wear, toddlers, and of course my teacher friends). The dance ended minutes ago at 6:00 a.m.

The wedding. I’m sure it truly was historic. Sarah in Canada with her two sons was present via Skype video cam and sat next to Abdul, who was accompanied by uncle (of course) and friend. Sarah could see and hear us and we could see Sarah and read what she wrote to us (slight transmission problem). The ceremony reflected a blend of cultures and religions and I was pleased to be able to assist by providing the hand that was symbolically tied to Abdul’s with white cloth. The palm wine flowed freely afterwards, which probably played a role in the early genesis of Carol Day. Everyone took this unique means of joining hearts and hands well in stride. It’s very interesting to see how people here are starting to accept the computer and internet as a part of life and the impact that access to this means of communications is having (lots of talk of future internet weddings and my calendar is already filled with many Skype and Elluminate commitments with women, students, and friends here). When the computer students comment how pleased they are to be able to contribute collaboratively to the wiki and handle the GPS as well as people in any village in Canada, I have a hard time convincing them that few in villages in Canada are able to do what they have learned and achieved in a few short weeks, especially with the limitations faced here (no prior knowledge of computers, little electricity, few computers, etc.)

And so Carol Night and Day have ended (attempts on my part to change the name have failed miserably), camera and laptop are about to handed over to the library, bucket and bowl have been washed and safely stored till Mary arrives, and my bag is packed (with two empty suitcases for my return). I think I’ve said most of my farewells and I’ll be slipping out of the village at 5:00 a.m. tomorrow to head for a teachers’ union meeting in Freetown and then the airport. I’ll be accompanied by Momi the chief’s daughter who is returning to her home, Kouame, and Mamadou Conteh the survivor of the tragic accident who hopes to find relief in medical care at Freetown. If all goes well (hitches are extremely likely), I’ll be in Canada on Tuesday with mixed emotions and a pocket full of planning notes (long journey, no book). I hope to see you soon after that.