Africa journal entry #3

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the tent and its music

Tuesday, July 29th, 2014 am

The sanctuary of El Shaddai church, where we met, turned out to be a large tent-like structure in a wide-open land.  It was dusty and windy, and scattered about were several small red brick huts.  On the church’s property, there are piles of those same red bricks – 15,000 of them says pastor Bertin Mwanya.  Those bricks will be used to construct a more permanent church building, as soon as the church body is able to do so.  They hope to get that construction done before the rainy season in October. 

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Until then, the sanctuary is a sparse wooden frame covered with various different types and colors of materials.  Inside, some of the red bricks have been piled in place, where they serve as makeshift pews.

 

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There are several musical instruments present, and all are them are percussion instruments.  There are drums made from hollowed out tree trunks.  There is also a steel drum of sorts, consisting of the tire rim of an automobile, and played with drumsticks which are two steel wrenches!  That drum can produce a lot of sound. 

 

IMG_20140731_102143_809The songs sung to this accompaniment are wonderful songs.  I obviously did not understand any of the word (my Kiswahili being somewhat rusty) but it was not hard to hear the hearts of the singers.  I was struck by intensity of the lyrics, and that impression was even more accentuated by the looks on the faces of the worshippers.  Only the song leader had a song book – a thin paperback containing only words.  My first impression was that there did not seem to be much difference in the tunes, but I learned later that much of the differences had to do not with the notes produced, but their speed, rhythm and loudness.  The singing is not all unison; additional phrases are added by singers from various places in the sanctuary.  Rather than causing confusion, that adds to to spontaneous nature of the worship.  I wish we could all sing like Africans!

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