I have been on hiatus for nearly a half year as I make big changes to see if I can squeeze just a bit more of the big world into my little life. The effort has been extreme for me to the point where I’ve decided to set aside the cerebral travel sphere for a while in favor of an actual place where I have actually been that is actually very for away…
I had an open invitation from my good friend Peter, whom I had met four years earlier in Italy, to visit him at home in Malawi, “The Warm Heart of Africa”. When I told him I was ready to take him up on his offer he asked me what, exactly, I wanted to see there. I was frankly nonplussed. I somehow expected him to know exactly what to show off about his own roots – the place from which he sprang – that spot of earth that he knows like no other and that no one knows quite like he does. How quickly I forget how little a fish knows of water – at least, perhaps, until that fish sees one of us mammals drown.
I answered Peter that I wanted to experience music.
Now it was Peter’s turn to be nonplussed.
I frankly would’ve been equally nonplussed at the time about what to show off of my own home. Since that time I’ve had many opportunities to experience my little world though the eyes of visitors, literally, from the world over. But this little blog is from before all that. This is about a bit of another world.
In my innocence I somehow imagined I would find another Soweto Gospel Choir behind every other bush on the entire continent. I was about to learn how music can be both utterly rare and utterly common. Peter let my innocence be at least for the time as he wracked his brain. Only much later did it come out that the best he could come up with at the time was a keyboard player of his acquaintance. Of course, a place literally on the other side of the world seems never destined offer itself as a disappointment.
Just as may be found along any highway in the world, although sometimes one needs to go many miles, one does encounter extremes…
But along that highway we also randomly encountered music, perhaps both rare and common, but very likely at least as authentic as I would find anywhere in the world.
As we drove along enjoying the Malawi winter sunshine and anticipating a relaxing day on the lakeshore Peter hit the brakes and wheeled around. As if by magic his prayers for the music I was looking for was trudging along the road in the form of a genuine gospel band.
If I ever believed in such a thing as luck this would be one of those moments I might call everyone’s lucky day. I found my African music, Peter found something amazingly musical of his home that he could show off to me, a few boys with their homemade instruments found someone willing to pay “top kwacha” for a front row seat as they performrf. Plus, as you can see by the gathering crowd, anyone within earshot had a chance to see a mzungu make a fool of himself. There are still places in the world where such as I are still an uncommon sight.
Hopefully you too may count yourself lucky to have encountered this bit of magic in this odd corner of virtual space.