Note: While I am in Uganda, the Chanhassen Villager is publishing excerpts from my upcoming book about my first trip to Uganda, in October, 2011.
Sunday, October 16, 2011 5:45 p.m.
I wish I could capture the sound of the music and the feel of this moment. There’s a light, cool breeze. It’s early evening, and we’re in a lovely outdoor arena, seated at colorfully-covered tables nestled up into the hills like seats in a theatre. Which is exactly what this is.
Tribal drums are lined up across the stage, spotlights and speakers tucked further back. The show
hasn’t started yet, but the music has. The sound of the drums is earthy and rhythmic, and the lyrical
instruments send light, whimsical notes floating up to the sky. If you could hear stars twinkling, this is what they would sound like.
We’re relaxing and unwinding after our first grueling, exhausting, and exhilarating week. Our group is
spread out among several tables, but we’re all within reach and voice of each other. Some are eating
dinner, others are just having bites – snacks – or a drink. I’m still delighted by the nostalgia of soft
drinks in glass bottles, with straws that keep popping up from the carbonation. It takes me back to my
Dinner is good. Traditional, but recognizable. I took a photo of my filled dinner plate. I’ve taken so many photos already, and I know there will be plenty more. But tonight is about simply enjoying ourselves, and taking in all that is around us. Uganda. Africa. The culture. The sights. The sounds. The rhythm and music of life.
The place we’re at is called the Ndere Centre, and we’re getting ready for an evening of entertainment
by the Ndere Troup. Tabitha’s husband Stone has arranged this for us. There’s an electricity in the air, a feeling of excitement and anticipation. As I look around I still can’t believe I’m here, or that this is all real.
There’s a magical feel to the evening that I don’t know how to describe. It’s as if I’m in a secret place, like Brigadoon, or Harry Potter’s train station – hiding in plain sight, tucked away and separated somehow from the rest of the world.
We’re in for an evening of singing, dancing, music, and stories from different regions of the country.
I don’t yet know or understand all the differences between one and another, but one thing I do know
already is that the texture that is Africa is multi-layered. The culture is rich and vibrant – and so much a part of the land. I feel hearts beating here. Not only my own, in ways I never have before, but those of the people around me, and of the land itself. That may sound corny or melodramatic, but it’s absolutely true.
And the show hasn’t even started yet.
The column “Find Your Buried Treasure” appears weekly in the Chanhassen (MN) Villager. This column was published on July 25, 2013.
©Betty Liedtke, 2013
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