Thursday, December 30, 2010

Bongo party!

For a week, I’ve woken to bongo drums pounding out a steady beat as processions marched the streets, clapping and singing in unison. One of the celebrants owns an old bugle and plays it as loud as he can-- off-key but joyful. I heartily approve despite the sometimes early start (5 am is reserved for sleeping in my book!).

But hey... joyful noise is joyful noise. Right?

Early on, it was only Christmas songs. But now, I’m told they are singing to announce the Bishop’s arrival. As I type these words, I can hear the drums reverberating deep hollow echos of steady beats. Very African.

Yesterday, in a festive mood, Sabet gathered some of the staff to participate in one of the many celebrations going on around town. We arrived too late for one party, featuring special dancing. But we made it in time to another one. This one was a Bongo celebration.

Almost immediately, we ran into one of our translators, Dongau. He was thrilled we’d come to his tribes’ party and got us dancing in the circle. It was fun with the steady beats and relaxed rhythms.

In the center of the dance circle crouched three men bent earnestly over drums. A fourth blew melancholy wails into a hollowed tree trunk, a foot wide. It reminded me of the hypnotic echos of a didgeridoo and relaxed me immediately.

The Bongo tribe dances with slow, undulating movements. They sway and divot compared to the spastic jumping and constant stomping done by the Dinka.