Garai nesu

I can hear and smell it as much as see it; there is the crackle of sparks from a fire, the pleasant aroma of wood being burned. The African sky is silhouetted by acacia trees, a billion stars light the night.

African Christians, perhaps a hundred strong, are singing in their native Shona language: “Garai nesu, garai nesu, neku singaperi.” This is the chorus, sung slowly, stately, a primal plea: “Stay with us, stay with us,” they cry out to God, “stay with us forever.” Continue reading “Garai nesu”

The bench

There is a photograph floating around that depicts five old African men sitting on a bench, holding hymnbooks and singing. Four of the men are black men, their faces distorted, their thoughts transposed by the beauty and intensity of the words they sing. The bench is as sturdy as a politician’s promise.

The fifth “old African man” is my father, his face similarly transfixed by the Shona hymn they sing. He is one of them, melded and fused, the third sekuru (grandfather) in the picture. Their voices are in harmony, their thoughts in unison.

He is an African, one of them. Forty years of working with, crying with, rejoicing with, worshiping with these people will do that to you. Continue reading “The bench”