Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Arrival Part Two

Last night the drums dueled and the small children shimmied and the women sang long into the night. We arrived in Mapaki late, delayed by a missed ferry and breakdowns along the road. Smell of dust and diesel, hot, tired and thirsty (I’d left my stash of good water in Lungi), all was forgotten as soon as we stepped out into the evening’s dancing darkness. I’m still shaking off the dust and echoing the rhythms (sure there’s a samba call and response in there) as I continue to reflect on the changes I’m seeing. Freetown. Billboards promoting new internet capability along others warning of climate change. Power lines crisscross the city, connecting from a chain of towers from the distant Bumbuna hydro dam. While passing the poles that slowly snake their way to our chiefdom, I can’t help but remember Daniel’s dream that had been so carefully interpreted by the elders two years ago and expect that the advice of the elders is still relevant to all of us (welcome change but honour your past). The signboard for the “barefoot women solar power technicians” contrasting the expanding mining and biofuel projects was a welcome sight. As always, though, all is forgotten when in the presence of friends, big and small, here. Tonight we are celebrating Mabinty’s birthday with a taste of palm wine. I’m looking forward to spending the afternoon with Momi, recently returned from Freetown to run the nursery school. And all around, small children, all born since my first visit, are delighting in singing the songs and rhymes of the morning’s lesson. The scholarship volunteer teachers have all come to express thanks to those who helped them complete their program as do the secondary students. Daouda’s parents proudly shared that he came fourth in his class. Everywhere I go people enquire about the many visitors who have been to the community over the years and I’m asked to pass good wishes on to them. So for all of you out there, momo nu!