Palm Sunday with a difference
The Congolese people I have met so far love to dance. Girls and women dance with their waists in all sorts of motions. North, south, west and east. It is without shame or taboo. It is beautiful. In the so-called enlightened world, it would be perceived as somewhat erotic. People dance and sing with so much passion, happiness and energy. The boys and men love to stomp their feet. Instruments of choice, particularly in the villages are a ngoma (traditional drums) and munyanga, which is an idiophone.
Yesterday, my wife and I accompanied the venerable Bishop of the United Methodist East Congo Episcopal Region, Gabriel Unda, his wife and his entourage to a village called Enombe. It was the Palm Sunday. We took to the road in our two Land Cruiser vehicles through the treacherous road from Kindu Ville to the south. During the one hour drive, I saw things that I have not seen in my different travels i.e., the beauty in the green biodiversity. If I was a dendrologist or botanist like John Kirk a companion to David Livingstone, both gentlemen who explored the region quite well, I would easily identify the different trees and plants by their morphologies and put them in their families. All I could name were the coconut trees and plantains.
Back to my actual story. The agenda of the day was to have a Sunday service at this village church. I was impressed with the representation of men, women, youth and children. They were all there in their numbers. For our bishop, it was like the Triumphal Entry into Enombe. Woman laying Bikwembe (cloths) and palm leaves on the ground. We saw people full of great joy. Next to the church is a parsonage in a dilapidated state. The wall is made of clay and the roof is dry banana leaves and palm leaves. A typical design of village houses in rural Congo. With that state, one is bound to quickly judge and call that poverty. But the way we generally define poverty is confusing. We understand poverty as something that creates misery. People do not have what we’d call nice houses. They probably do not have treated or clean drinking water. Maybe kids are dying of malaria. But what I know is that I saw very happy faces. In our perceived understanding of their poverty, we didn’t see misery. I am happy to say we left with a goat, rice, charcoal, cassava leaves, plantains and many other things that were given to us as gifts. It was a Palm Sunday to remember.