Sunday, February 24, 2008

African Trees and African Faces

For me Africa is a feast of the senses. I could go on and on about the smells or the sounds – and I probably will sometime. But for me today was a feast for the eyes. Morogoro is very warm, not as humid as the coast, but still humid. Despite the weather, it’s a beautiful area! Surrounded by the fourth largest mountains in Tanzania, it makes the backdrop of the landscape something to behold. I think I have posted a couple of pictures on the photo site at the right. I will try to post more.

Today I had two different experiences that allowed me the indulgence of feasting my eyes. I took a short walk around the area – just outside of the Lutheran Junior Seminary grounds. I marveled at the seemingly endless of variety of trees. I think my favorite is the Baobab tree. This tree looks like it’s been around for thousands of years. The trunk is so fat that it looks as if it’s a big as a hut – like someone could be living inside of it. (Perhaps Keebler elves live there.) In Kenya I rarely saw leaves on these trees. They only get them once a year. Thus the tree often looks dead. And locals say it looks as if God planted it upside down because the branches look more like gnarly tree roots. But the ones in this area are full of leaves; maybe this is the one time of year they are like that.

There are so many other very interesting types of trees, there are ones that have leaves as big as serving platters. There is one outside my room that’s leaves look a little like delicate fingers that bob up and down in the breeze as if playing the keys of a piano. There are trees that flower yellow and trees that flower red-orange, trees that look as if all the bark has been stripped from them and the trunk looks whitish, yet they are tall and flourishing. Acacia or ‘thorn’ trees are also a classic African tree. There aren’t many of those in this area; I see them all over in Kenya. There are probably many in Tanzania, just not around here.

The other activity for today was an impromptu trip to town. I took my first daladala ride today. A daladala is a minivan (like a Nissan) outfitted with four rows of seats, actually five, with one facing back and the others facing forward. The second to the back seat has a portion that flips up to let those in the very back in or out. That part becomes a seat while the vehicle is moving. I bet we had about 25-27 people in the daladala I came back in. I’m not exaggerating! (Maybe 5 of those were kids, but that wasn’t counting at least 2 or 3 babies.)

Riding on the daladala gives me a captive showing of the splendor of God’s creativity in African faces. There are a variety of shapes and styles. Some have perfect creamy milk chocolate looking skin; some have round faces, long necks or high foreheads. My mom and I used to discuss the shape of nostrils among our family members. (I know that sounds odd, I sure no one else I know has ever had such a discussion with their mother or anyone else for that matter.) My mother was the great observer of all things. I like to think that I got at least some of that from her. I imagine she and I would have had plenty of noses to discuss today, some flat, some turned up, some with a bump on the bridge, others wide or petite. Eyes are just as intriguing, some wide and bright, others almond-shaped slits, some sleepy from the heat.

I analyze each face and drink in the differences. I wish I could study them longer. I want to be able to recreate them with paper and pencil. I didn’t have my camera along, but even if I did it wouldn’t be polite to be snapping their photos. Next time I go to town I will have a fresh pallet of faces to look at and marvel. God made such amazing works of art in each face. We pass by them every day, hardly noticing. God sees, he creates far more detail than I will ever capture in my notice or my writings. I love this feast of the eyes.

1 comment:

Waldemar Family said...

Thanks for the virtual tour! It's fun to imagine. How's the language study going?