Tuesday, March 23, 2010
The sounds of silence
Like the smells of heat, dust and sweat in the Middle East, Africa has it’s own way to tell us that you are here; it is always speaking to us. Silence is something that you never have here, especially in the market area of Bukoto where I am living; usually it is a welcomed and enjoyable experience.
Already I hardly have to look at my watch to tell me the time of the day; first I hear the calling to pray from the nearby mosque, then birds telling me in a crooked singing voice that it’s time to get out of bed in the morning, followed by the cockrels cock-a-doodle-dooing at daybreak. In the heat of the day the burning sun tells us to take it easy, the only sounds come from inside our classroom; there is less traffic of those walking up and down the adjacent street to the market and life slows down to a quiet pace. In the evening as the red glow of the African sun is setting, there is again a pattern to the sounds; the music made by the grasshoppers increase, the laughter of children walking home to school is heard, the ankole cows (who are my regular visitors in the grass patch next door) start mooing, then the bullfrogs start piping up (which honestly can be deafening sometimes…for ages when I first arrived I thought I actually had frogs in my apartment! (Ok-this isn‘t as surprising as the time that I thought I saw a rhinoceros on the top road from Faslane…or was it a hippo!!???…or had a lion under my bed at Mhingo…all other stories..! ) The sounds of Africa are something you have no choice but to get excited about; knowing the calls of the birds we hear everyday, whether it’s the ‘thu-thu-thu’ of the hornbill or even common calls of migrant thrushes and sparrows. Even sundowners on my flat balcony, overlooking the rubbish burning ground, become special as I have my own private wildlife orchestra to listen to!
This all sounds rather wonderful and probably beats even mum and dad’s back-bar in Lucerne (aka-the freezer at the back door that they prop-up against!). The sounds of the African city are very pleasant…until…the power comes back on!!! The beat boxes and stereos are then once again put on full blast to announce this party or that, or the local bar/mobile phone offers/mosquito net offers/the fact that Christ is going to save you etc etc etc. So, now that I have left the luxury of house sitting in Kololo, I once again am back to tossing and turning in my bed to the beat of African music, hoping that Bukoto will once again plunge into the dark and quiet of a power cut! Any moment now…