Two turn-tables and a microphone

“I’m planning on spending the next few months in East Africa, until my new job starts up this spring. I’m looking forward to the change, though i do admit there’s much fear involved. Fear of being in an unknown place. I’ve never lived that long away from home, away from people who I knew … it’s funny how the idea of backpacking across europe seems a bit more inviting. Maybe its the fact that I’ll have very little control over where I move, where I go, what I do . . . for three months . . .it has to be a humbling experience for sure, but can I handle it? I guess time will tell. The door has been open for a while, and I’ve said “Nu-uh” many times, but it’s become very clear . . . i must do this.”

Last December, this was my opinion about coming to this place. I was very hesitant, extremely nervous. It was the fear of the unknown, and the fear of losing the control over ones own life that one usually has living in a place like New York, or anywhere else in the States. When I visited here last summer, part of me couldn’t wait to get back, but this trip has been quite different.

Orthodox Christians celebrate Holy Week on a different calendar than the Western Church, every so often it lands on the same week, but this year, it was a week later. Coptic Holy Week in a Kenyan church is not much different than what you’d find in the USA or in Egypt, except for the language. Even though I was working like a madman, I managed to take a few hours every day and attend service, to just clear my heart and mind. Instead of singing the entire long psalm, only the first stanza of the “solemn” psalm tune is used. Much of Coptic hymnology is based on tunes, and not on actual hymns. The same tune can be applied to different words, depending on the time of year. Easter, however, was a little different. For the most part it was pretty much like a regular Coptic Easter: you’ve got the incense, the offering, the thanksgiving, the readings, the processional, the Qama Haqqan, the cymbals, the Faray7ee tune. Then communion happens, and it’s a whole different story. It was one of the most celebratory, joyful Easters I’ve ever experienced!

So, we were talking about Symbols, eh? Well, the guys came up with their logo for their group. Two hands coming out of the map of Kenya with a cross in the middle. Sharing, Brotherhood, and Spirit.. that’s what it signifies… on the bottom reads “Lift Up Your Brother”, a quote from a song by Culture, one of the more popular reggae artists that people like down here. Last night I was back in Kibera with Father Moses, in the same set-up as the first time we went to Kibera many months ago. The people running towards the car, the little hotel where we met, although this time it was a little different.

You can tell this time, the guys had more ownership over their meeting. They would stand up, and say something, give their opinions bout certain matters, and to be honest, this is the way it should be. The habit of people always asking for a hand out needs to end soon. There were a few things here and there, asking for this thing or that thing, but overall, the mood was different.

Unfortunately, it wasn’t a happy gathering. The brother of one of our guys was killed the day before in a gang-related incident, no one really knows why it happened.

Just the day before, we were all together and everything was ok. We had a last pow-wow of sorts, played some games, had a little talk, had some breakfast, and I gave em each a framed photo of our trip in Kiambu so they can remember.

We got together for a few pics, and you can see in the back. Our banner being held high. These guys are the reason I want to return to Kenya. I believe something can happen from them. I don’t believe one bit that a life of addiction is their fate!

If you can recall one of the comments that was left, my boy Chris said something along the lines of, I can only be limited by my expectation of them, that I gotta have big dreams for these guys. He said it a lot more eloquently, I’m sure.

And you know, when I first started this work, i was told to expect nothing, and i’m seeing quite the opposite happening:

So i’m packing up the last of my things, saying bye to people and stuff. I finished a program, handed it off to a new programmer, and found myself within a family over here.

I’m gonna miss Nadia, especially. I know she’ll visit us soon. I am so proud of her work.

Well, I better get going. There is much to do before I leave, but I’ll leave you guys with this clip from Easter. Wow – i’m kinda sad. I didn’t expect this wave of emotion to hit me. I’ll be back soon, I’m pretty sure of that. But i’m excited to see my friends and family again. It’s been a long time since that night in the city, in early February.

Good times are ahead, I’m sure. Tunachekiana badai.

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