Wednesday, November 21, 2007

We visited a village called Mesamago. It is 25 km, or one hour by car on a very rustic road, from any town or market. There is no electricity or running water in the village. They have two wells for water. One is a pump well, the other has just a bucket. We stayed at a guesthouse run by a lovely woman Grace and her husband Bismark.
There is a Bamboo Orchestra that has single handedly put Mesamago on the map. Indeed, it is the only reason that this village has a road leading to it.
Before the orchestra was discovered, there was only a small foot path leading to the village. No travelers ever visited before the road was made.
No one here owns an automobile. There are a few shared bikes. Along the road to the village we passed dozens of electrical posts with no wiring. They are hopeful that someday soon they will get electricity.

I made friends with a 15 year old girl named Conference. I asked her where her school is. She point and tossed her hand, far away, it is 25 kilometers, one way, to her school. I asked if she walked there. She proudly put her hand on her chest, and said, “I run”. Conference said that I had a very beautiful head. Nat was told that his legs were very beautiful.

We arrived at Mesamago just past sunset. After a quick tour of the village we settled into our rooms. I had a bed frame with a thin pad for a mattress and a pillow stuffed with leaves of some kind. The bed is enveloped with mosquito netting. There is one kerosene lantern for light.

We had rice for dinner and ate in the dark under the stars and moon. It was Linda’s birthday so Nat, Selete and I sang her a Happy Birthday song. We gave her a fig to eat and a card signed by all of the friends we have made at Agoro Fie, the house where we stay in Cape Coast.

The Bamboo Orchestra performed for us in the dark with one kerosene lantern to light the scene. Many people from the village came to listen and watch. The Orchestra sang, and performers played music and danced. It was incredibly moving. I wept through the first two pieces.
The music is beautiful and the sense of community is overwhelming.
After the performance Linda sang songs with the kids and I showed them a picture album. They were captivated.
We talked with a young man Alex, maybe 28 years old, his wife gave birth three days before. He was elated and shining telling us about his son, Joshua.

It was late and time for bed. I put out the light and fell to sleep.

The first three hours of slumber were great then I was awakened by the sound of loud singing coming through the village. I was dazed and sort of fell back to sleep. Then, the singing turned to chanting and chanting turned to shrieks and indecipherable words loudly approaching our space. It was unnerving since there was no light to see by and no reference to understand what was happening.
Nat went out with his camera and captured sound. Linda and I woke Selete, we stood outside to try and see and hear what was happening. Our hands clutched.
We learned that it was a gathering of the Pentecostals.
They were in a circle rapidly dancing around a kerosene lantern. Evidently they gather on certain nights to worship and release demons. Their worshipping space is on the same batch of land as our guesthouse. The shrieking and undecipherable words I heard were people speaking in tongue. There was an explosive sound in the distance, far louder than a gunshot. We later learned that it was dynamite set off to push pack elephants from the village crops.
Speculation can be very unproductive in the middle of the night, in the dark, in the jungle, in Africa, in a village with no cars and one road.

I woke in the morning at first light to the sound of roosters crowing and to Grace singing a morning song and doing chores on the porch, she sang: “Yesterday is gone, another day has come, do something new in my life”. (You can hear her sing if you check out the 5th video posting down the page)
When I walked out from my room onto the porch she greeted me with a hug and sweet hello, then offered me water for my face and a pail of water for a bath. I took the pail to the bath house; a concrete structure with a short wood door and a drain in the floor. I scrubbed with a loofah and soap. It was the best bathing experience thus far in Africa.
After my bath Grace took me around the village. She introduced me to her parents; we fetched water and completed her morning chores.
She took me to the goat pen and both water wells. She took me to the woman who sells breakfast - mashed maize wrapped in plantain leaves. Our last stop was to buy a snack for her son - a bag of cooked rice with tomato sauce,. Along the way I was greeted and made to feel very welcome. Kids followed us and laughed, they made faces at me and my cameras.

On the road to the Mesamago we passed corn fields, orange groves and palm fields that seemed to go on forever. We passed two dozen people loading oranges from the ground into a truck. My hand was out the window and someone gave me a juicy wet orange. The oranges taste amazing.

A Side note- The multi national corporation Unilever that makes everything from toothpaste to butter to dish soap has interest in this area. They exploit Palm fields close to the village for Palm oil. We did not see their truck but heard that they are here often.

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