As you know (if you’ve read the last couple of entries) the power went off here during most of Easter weekend. That was sort of plesantly peaceful. On Easter sunday I went to mass with the Sisters.
Mass is held up the road at the big catholci church near Tala High School (for boys). The catholic diocis owns the land that many local educational establishments are built on including, of course, this one. We went in the Sisters’ little Peugeot. It tip-toed over the ruts and furrows that had been carved in the mud of our access road by vehicles passing during the rains, and lurched up onto the tarmac of the main road (named Koma Rock road after the somewhat abrupt hill, about 16km away with a statue of Mary holding Christ as he was taken down from the cross on the top — yep pictures once I get the bike working properly).
Also on the tarmac with us were lots of local people bedecked in fine western clothes on their way to church. I should probably qualify the “fine western clothes” part. There is a big business here in selling second-hand western clothes. The stuff that charity shops in the UK can’t sell to UK citizens, they bundle up and sell by weight to organisations that ship the stuff over here. Over here it is sold to dealers who sell to distributors who… you get the picture. Some of this stuff is very tasteful. Some is not. I’ve seen men in very supprising coloured suits over here. (but none made of rip-stop nylon — I’m not qualified to criticise anybody’s taste in suits!).
On the way in we passed one of the local priests on his way to preside in a local parish, he was getting on his motocross bike!
Sister Pauline insisted that, should I get bored, I could leave at any time. For this purpose I was positioned near a pew end at the back. She and Sister Eukeria were at the front somewhere I couldn’t see. They were involved with administering the sacrements when that part of the service finally arrived.
The singing was wonderful. Of course the whole service was in Kikamba, the local language in the area, so I had no chance to understand it. Sister P brought me her English prayer book so I could follow the order of service but, in fact, I could have it all — with a couple of notable exceptions — from the intonation and gestures. So the singing was totally African; everything about it, the harmonies, the rythms and cross rythms, the dancing (!) and the erm, women making strange screaming noises.
Now, don’t get me wrong, the music was wonderful, everything about it, including this feature I’m trying to describe now. But its hard to put it into words. It would be hard, even, for me to imitate it, I think I just don’t have the equipment. It’s apparently called ululation which, being a soft of onomatopoeic word, gives you some idea. To give you some more idea, think of an old-fashoned kettle boiling withh a whistle on the spout, and now put the whole thing under water. Its, sort-of like the sound that would be made by a small horse yodeling.
I spotted the Lord’s Prayer and joined in in English under my breath. But the Kikamba version seemes to go on much longer. Either that or I have forgotten LOTS of the words.
A similar thing happened with the collection. I spotted the of offertory, that’s easy. I even had a few hundred bob ready after remembering before I left the house in the morning and running back for my wallet (for some reason I carry money here only when I think I’m going to need it, this is an interesting change from London Life where I need it constantly). And with the collection goes the sacrements, so the communion is about to start, right?
Wrong! This was the beginning of an extended offertory. The priest called the names of many saints, one at a time, and for each one people from the congregation came up and presented their green collection cards (and presumably also some money, but I didn’t see it). Only when all was collected in, did the ministry of hhe bread and the wine begin.
I stayed to the end. It was about two-and-a-half hours. Sister was supprised I stayed to the end. After all that we returned to the college compound and I brought the Easter cake I had baked that morning over to the convent. The sisters had prepared a wonderful lunch for Easter Sunday and they supprised me by brining out ice-cream and sparkling grape juice to have with the cake! We sat and talked about the debts of the college until it was almost dark. The electricity was still off, so I went home and closed my windows against the mozzies and went to bed.