Thursday, May 8, 2008

Even More Njawara

Monday 14-4-08

One of the great things about being 2/5 deaf is that depending on which ear you sleep on- when in the African countryside you can either hear everything or nothing.

I heard the bats beeping Major 3rds together, the mangoes crashing onto various roofs as they fall from all of the trees, the donkeys randomly freaking out, the broadcast prayer service in the morning, roosters, cooing doves (lets be honest: pigeons)

Momodou's brother died this morning and yet he still went ahead and taught us- which is extraordinary. I like the sound of the Kora much more when it is not amplified.

The musicians in Mandinka culture are hereditary. If you are from the family then you are a Jelli (Jali? Jeli? Whatever.) They are peacemakers, messengers, and mediators as well as entertainers. A lot of the songs are teaching or advice songs.

I think one of my favorite things about this trip so far is how everyone talks so very openly about their bowel movements. We know who has gone, who hasn't, how many times and how successful they were. It is hilarious. I mean, part of it is that we really are keeping an eye on every one's health, but we're talking about poop! All the time! I feel like a 3 year old telling jokes.

The men from the camp are watching television outside run on the generator and right now it is playing something random and vaguely classical and the beating/squeaky bats are hitting the up beat of the waltz that they are playing. Awesome. Good work, bats.

We went for a walk in the village today and visited the school. There are a lot of what look like abandoned buildings around- I suppose they could be occupied, but it reminded me that Njawara used to be a larger village. Momodou was telling us that many people left- but I didn't understand the reasons he gave us. It sounded like someone was spreading rumors about a curse or something?

We have learned 4.5 songs in Mandinka now. I've recorded all but the national anthem, which I will get tomorrow. I've also recorded the Arabic school right outside the walls of the camp where they sings bits from the Koran over and over and over again in that bellow-y "I'm singing loud" voice that kids scream in.

I've learned to play a little tune on the Kora. I'm not keen on tuning the Kora, but it is a joy to play and sounds lovely. Momodou has come over twice to show me little things which is gratifying. He has the best "wise elder" face.

Okay, so I know "bats fly in your hair" is a myth and all because they have sonar and know where they're going and all of that- but one just flew into my hair! And I wasn't even moving around wildly or anything! I was just standing there! It richocheted off my head and landed in the corner where is sat- stunned for a few seconds before flying off again, aiming for the ceiling.

No comments: