Up and Down!

Not sure how to put this into words as I don’t have the original words to hand.

I went to Machakos yesterday to spend the evening boozing and dancing with fellow VSOs. I arrived just after lunch time and hadn’t eaten so I headed to the popular (for its excelent Mandazi) T.Tot hotel for some lunch and spend time sitting on a seat that doesn’t juggle up and down like the one I’d been sitting on for three hours in the bus to get there.

Its a hour-and-a-half drive from Tala to Machakos via the lon route (Via Kangundo). The bus might be ‘mostly full’ when it leaves Tala but then it has to wait in Kangundo (about 4km away I think) to fill up with fare paying passengers. This is particularly pleasant if its sunny and hot. For some reason yesterday we sat for an hour and a half in Kangundo despite being full. I dozed and gazed out the window at the men sleeping in their wheelbarrows waiting for someone in need of a lazy man-with-his-own-barrow to hire them (of course they’re not all lazy). The road is made of dirt and its bumpy: the glass windows vibrate to their own rythm, ignoring that of the mind-boggling dull Christian music playing in the bus’s cassette player.

I sat in the T.Tot hotel eating chicken stew (stew with Chicken rather than Stew with Beef: there is but one stew and which you ask for determins which hunk of flesh they pull out of the soupy-mire). I had stew with a big bit of chicken (and a few small bits of beef). Yes, I prefer vegetarian food, but there isn’t always a choice. As I sat the radio was turned on; a christian channel, a vociferous preacher, an apt message:

He was talking about dancing. Oh, how I wish I could remember the whole sermon, he talked about young people dancing and how important it was to be pure of heart for the sake of the lord. I think it was probably directed at dancing in church, but it also sounded at times as if he was referring to all dancing. He told how Moses had disapproved of dancing in the Bible, he went on to expound on the kind of immoral dance they must have been doing. Then he decided to give some guidelines for those who wanted to dance, so that they would know if they were pleasing in the sight of God.

As I tell this it’s all terribly flat and uninteresting, but it was, in fact, the most hilarious thing I have heard for ages. I couldn’t believe that he kept going on, becoming more and more intense and impassioned about what constituted good and bad dancing. His rich deep voice was lifted high with what might have been anger, but could have been other sorts of excitation as he enumerated the guidelines:

“One”, he boomed, “when you dance, think of your clothing”… “What will people see? If you are half naked? They will see your private parts! And they will be moving, in time with the music! What will it make them think of when they see your private parts moving like that? You are making them into sinners.”. Needless to say, this sort of dance was not approved of by God. Jury’s still out as to whether the preacer actually disapproved.

“Two”, he bellowed, “when you dance, think of your movement: you will be moving your body, you will be moving your legs, you will be moing your hands”… and here my favourite bit… “they will be moving up and down, up and down, as you dance, up and down, and what will be moving? When you see those young boys and girls, half naked? Their hips! Their hips will be moving, up and down, up and down! And what will they make you think of when you see those girls with their hips moving up and down? They are making you a sinner!”.

OK, I give up. By this time I was struggling not to actually laugh. I can really only give a hint at the furious exhortation he delivered. You had to have been there, it was a superbly comic-tragic moment.

In the evening a bunch of us VSOs headed to a restaurant where a new friend of ours from Machakos was DJing that evening. There were, basically, us and a group of locals who know one another and knew how to dance. We saw, and joined in with, some actual dance steps (rather than just gyrating) to modern pop music: we made up our own crazy moves and generally had a great time. Some of those Kenyan boys and girls can really move! And as I watched, even though they were modestly dressed, I couldn’t help but notice that it was often the case: their hips were going up and down, up and down, UP AND DOWN!

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