Last week I was visiting some rural villages where our project to promote maternal health is being implemented. I have never received such warm welcomes as we did last week. This is something I wrote after a visit to one of the villages. Some photos at the bottom.
Today is the day we danced. Today is the day the village sprung rhythm upon us and it was unstoppable.
I had been stressed. We had spent too long in the previous village. It had been good, yes: we had sung songs and been welcomed immensely, we had watched skits of community members promoting maternal health, we had heard stories of lives and culture changing, we had eaten lunch cooked by the community for us. It had been good. But it had been long. It meant we were late in leaving and would be late in arriving in the next village. I was tired. I didn’t want to be on the road after dark, and as we drove I watched the rain clouds ever approaching. I knew that if they broke, we were likely to get stuck in mud on the village roads. I also knew that this village we were reaching would also want to present to us, sing for us, tell us stories, cook for us. And with darkness our curfew, we didn’t have time. I had been stressed.
As I sat there watching the clock, willing the road to improve so we could drive that bit faster, I began to hear the faint sound of drumming coming from the distance, gradually getting louder. Then singing with the drumming. And then, as we turned the corner, colour and faces and smiles and ululations, along with the singing and the drumming. 100+ women, babies on their backs, a moving throb of colour, waving flags, throwing flowers, joining in the rhythm. We couldn’t pass through the crowd with the car. We didn’t want to anyway. We got out, left the vehicle behind. And we danced. And we danced and danced and danced.
As the drum was beaten, the time was forgotten. Rhythm stamped out the stress. Tiredness gave way to joy and laughter. We danced. Words were not needed. The questions we wanted to ask, questions about how the project was going, what challenges were there, what had changed in the community, were answered by the music. Questions answered by the dance.