Monday, March 10, 2008

Sound Bites

As I said before, to me Africa is a feast for the senses. Sight is the easiest on to capture and share with you through photos. It’s also fairly easy to describe with words. Sounds are harder. There is such an amazing variety.

For example: the array of nature sounds as I lie in bed in the early morning are akin to that one of those Amazon Rainforest recordings might sound like. All kinds of unfamiliar bird calls and animal screeches but mixed with some known ones, like the hoot owl you can hear at the cabin; whoo, whoo, whoo, whoo…whoot, whoot. I can be all wrapped up in the vast variety of calls, thinking about how exotic is seems here when a big old bus or truck goes whizzing by on the main road from the seaport of Dar es Salaam to the capital of Dodoma and interrupts the serenity of the nature.

Singing is another sound bite I would like to capture for you. Actually a friend here did and I posted her video clip on my photo site. It gives a flavor of the Maasai village and what the church service sounds like. But singing in the Maasai village is very different from the singing of the students here in the Lutheran Junior Seminary (Secondary School). The Maasai have a bit of a nasal tone in their call and response style of singing. Here at the school the choirs are well practiced, they have strong melodic voices that still use the call and response style, but in Swahili instead of Maasai. The students have a real local drum. The Maasai girls pound their beat on an upturned plastic bucket.

The sounds in town are different. Loudspeakers from passing advertising vehicles demand your attention even if you can’t understand them. Musical horns of the daladalas beg you to ride them. Children test their English as the pass you, “good morning” in the middle of the afternoon. Dozens of ‘karibu’ greetings beckon you into their market stall. “Taxi, madam?” as you walk by men leaning on their cars. Voices of Morogoro include a variety of accents and broken English (or broken Swahili if it’s mine) and so much more.

In Swahili the word for ‘to feel’ and the word for ‘to hear’ are the same. It’s as if your ear feels the sounds. I have not exhausted the sounds of Morogoro, but perhaps I have given you a feel for them.

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