DRC Tour - 2014

The Friendly FolkDancers Tour Eastern Congo

August 8-23, 2014


Sarah Anusu (Kenya)

Rosemary Coffey (Pennsylvania, USA)

Lynne D’Angelo (California, USA)

Peter D’Angelo (California, USA)

Aline Dusabe (Rwanda)

Mark Helpsmeet (Wisconsin, USA)

Hudson Omenda (Kenya)

Antoine Samvura (Rwanda)


Rose Mpaji (Congo)

Guillaume Marume (Congo)


L to R: Hudson, Rosemary, Antoine, Aline, Pete, Guillaume,

Mkoko (our host), Mark, Rose, Lynne, and Sarah






Based on daily journal entries by Peter D'Angelo




Contributions from the other dancers





Edited and formatted by Rosemary Coffey

The Friendly FolkDancers Tour Eastern Congo

August 8-23, 2014


Rosemary Coffey, one of our members, originally met Mkoko Boseka, the Clerk (or, as he is called, “the legal representative”) of CEEACO (Communauté de l'Eglise Evangélique des Amis au Congo, or the Community [Yearly Meeting] of the Evangelical Friends Church of the Congo) at a Friends World Committee for Consultation (FWCC) Triennial in Dublin, Ireland, in 2006. They renewed their acquaintance at the FWCC-sponsored 6th World Conference of Friends in Nakuru, Kenya, in 2012, where they co-facilitated a Home Group of French-speaking mostly African Friends. At that time, Rosemary told Mkoko about the FFD and referred him to Antoine Samvura, who held a similar position with Rwandan Friends and had organized our tour in Rwanda in 2008. Far from being discouraged by Antoine's account of the complicated logistics involved, Mkoko immediately invited us to come to Congo. It took him, however, a good two years to make the local arrangements, provide formal invitations, remind us that we needed visas for Burundi (where we'd be flying into the nearest airport, in Bujumbura) as well as Congo, and so on. It also took the FFD most of that time to put together a troupe of dancers willing and able to go. Pete D'Angelo volunteered to manage the electronic communications with our host, with support from Rosemary when needed.


Gathering a troupe of the right size and combination of dancers was far from easy. Eventually, we ended up with a wonderful group of four Americans and four Africans. Pete, his wife Lynne, Rosemary, and Mark Helpsmeet (one of the founders of the FFD) represented the Western Hemisphere; Sarah Anusu and Hudson Omenda were from Kenya; and Antoine Samvura and Aline Dusabe came from Rwanda. Sarah had taken part in the Rwanda tour in 2008, and Antoine had toured with us in Indiana in 2009. At the FFD annual meeting in July 2014, held in conjunction with Friends General Conference (FGC), it was agreed that the FFD treasury would pay Mark’s way and subsidize our African friends to the extent needed.





On the Way

Friday-Saturday, August 8-9, 2014


The D'Angelos had to leave their home in Oakland, California, on Friday evening, in order to get to Dulles Airport in Washington, DC, to board the Ethiopian Airlines plane to Addis Ababa around mid-day on Saturday. There they met Rosemary Coffey, who had left Pittsburgh, PA, early on Saturday morning; they all looked forward to sitting together according to their reserved seats. However, while Rosemary’s seat remained as booked, the D'Angelos were moved to almost the very back of the plane, where they had middle and aisle seats. Fortunately, the window seat was not inhabited, so they had a little extra elbow room. Rosemary visited them there for a time en route.


After flying for twelve and half-hours, the plane landed about 8:15 a.m. local time in Addis Ababa. There was a layover of several hours until the flight to Bujumbura via Kigali, Rwanda, but Sarah Anusu, having flown in from Nairobi, Kenya, found the American group in the waiting area. A few minutes later, Hudson Omenda, also from Kenya, showed up as well. We all sat quietly and waited for Mark, who appeared in due course. He had arrived earlier on a flight from Toronto, but had ventured into the outside world to shop and surf the Internet.


After a brief stop in Kigali, we arrived in Bujumbura a little after 2:00. We went through immigration and collected our bags, including two suitcases full of costumes (brought by Mark and Rosemary). As we were walking through the crowd, we heard a voice call, “Rosemary!” It was Mkoko Boseka, our DRC host. We rolled our luggage out to the parking lot, where a large Toyota Land Cruiser was waiting for us. Putting some of the bags inside, with the rest on the roof, we drove about 6 miles from the airport to town, where we entered a very large compound known as the Swedish Center, consisting of a number of buildings. We had reserved four rooms in one of them. Because of language considerations, Peter bunked with Hudson (speaking English); Lynne bunked with Sarah (English); Rosemary shared with Aline (French); and Mark was with Antoine (French).


When we arrived, there was a meal waiting for the six of us, as our Rwandan Friends, who had arrived by bus, had already eaten. After lunch we had a brief meeting, at which we decided to rest from 4:00 to 7:00, when we would be having our dinner. Then we went around the table and told how we happened to feel called to be a part of this tour.


Following dinner, a little after 8:00, we moved the tables against the walls and set up to practice. Fortunately, although the CD Mark had brought did not work on Pete's boom box, he had also brought a Discman and an external amplifier, which did work. We started with the Shalom, Salaam, Peace suite, for which Mark slowly taught (or reviewed) all four dances. After a couple of hours, we were doing the whole suite. Then we returned to our rooms, where the water had come on, so we could take (cold) showers and brush our teeth before going to bed.





Monday, August 11, 2014

Bujumbura to Uvira, DRC


After breakfast we were visited by Domitien Sabongerwa, the legal representative (or clerk) of Burundi Yearly Meeting. We chatted with him before resuming our practice. Once we had reviewed the Middle East suite, Mark taught us the wedding suite. We weren’t sure when Mkoko was going to come for us, although he had said it would be between 9:30 and noon. Therefore, when the Swedish Center asked if we would be having lunch there, we told them “No.”


Mark finished teaching Whom God Has Joined and started in on In Gandhi’s Footsteps. We spent a lot of time on "Pinjare Ke Panchhi," for which we were paired according to familiarity with the dance. [Note: We ended up not doing this suite at all, as we realized that the places where we were to switch costumes were too small or too public to allow for the drastic changes needed for this set.] We went through the whole suite, and still Mkoko hadn’t shown up. So what do good Friendly FolkDancers do when they are waiting? They have a meeting!


Mark started off talking about governance. It soon became apparent that there was a difference between Mark's (and the rest of us un-programmed Friends') idea and Hudson's. His take was more hierarchical, based on the idea of a leader with a committee of 2 or 3 as opposed to our process-oriented view. Meanwhile, it was past noon, there was no sign of Mkoko, and we were getting hungry. Fortunately, we were able to arrange for lunch at the Swedish Center after all. While it was being prepared, we continued with our meeting.


Finally, we agreed to various assignments. Mark, who was the Friendly FolkDancers' treasurer, was to continue in that role for the tour. Pete took responsibility for the costumes, with Aline helping. Sarah volunteered to co-clerk with Rosemary. Hudson was to keep track of the luggage, both personal and communal. Lynne would be jack-of-all-trades, helping out where needed.


By the time the meeting ended, sometime after noon, lunch was on the table, after which we continued to wait. Antoine tried to call Mkoko, but to no avail. Finally, at 2:15 the word went out to finish packing and bring the suitcases to the front of the building, as the Center had rented out our rooms and wanted to clean them before the new people arrived. At 2:30 Mkoko showed up (with no explanation regarding the delay!), with the same Land Cruiser that we had had the day before. This time we loaded all our luggage on top. Then we had to settle the bill that had been given to Mkoko. It came to 388,000 BF (approximately $243) for 8 overnight stays and four meals each. While the official exchange rate was a little more than 1500 BF to the dollar, Mkoko knew someone who would give us closer to 1600 BF. After the man showed up, he disappeared into the dining hall with Mark and Mkoko. Then the latter two went to pay the bill.


Leaving a little after 3:00, we drove into town, stopping at four tire shops before we found one that could pump up the van's tires. Then we retraced our steps through town and continued on back toward the airport before heading for the border. The road, which paralleled Lake Tanganyika, was separated from the lake by a number of hotels and the compounds of various organizations, including the United Nations.


Everything was going fine until we passed a checkpoint. After we stopped and backed up, a policeman checked the driver's papers. There was a problem: the insurance papers covered only 7 people, and there were 10 of us, including the driver. We were not told how the problem was resolved, but the van eventually continued on. Then, as we were driving, someone called out, “Stop!” A suitcase was dangling from the roof. The driver put it back. Soon thereafter the road, which heretofore was quite good, became rutted and broken up – more, Pete observed, like the streets of Oakland, CA. Fortunately, this condition lasted only for a short while.


After stopping to buy a number of four-packs of 1½-liter bottles of water, we arrived at the border at 4:45. While Mkoko walked across to fetch a van from the other side, we went to the Burundian Passport Control, a small room in a one-story building. The man at the desk had a ledger. At one end of it he wrote down the information for those of us who still needed visas; then he flipped the book, putting the information for those who didn’t need visas at the other end.


The DRC Land Cruiser arrived shortly thereafter with Mkoko and two new people – Doctor Guillaume Marume and his wife, Rose Mpaji (who, we later discovered, was one of Mkoko's daughters). We transferred our luggage and the water and then drove over to the DRC side. There we turned in our passports again and waited. Finally, we got them back and, as a group, were ushered through the immigration building and over to the waiting Land Cruiser. When Lynne went to get in, she grabbed what she thought was the roof of the vehicle. Instead, it was the trim. She fell and badly cut her shin. After she laid some toilet paper on top of it, Pete located his first aid kit, applying some band-aids to hold on a homemade dressing. The group decided that we had better take her to the nearest hospital for further evaluation.


Up to the border, the road had been paved. Once we crossed over, however, it was hard-packed dirt. We continued driving until we came to Uvira, when we once again had pavement. The driver turned off the road and drove uphill to the Hôpital Général de Kasenga. It was about 6:00 p.m. Lynne, Pete, Guillaume, Rose, and Antoine went into the hospital; while the others waited, Guillaume went in search of a doctor.


After he found the right person, the group went to a building with an examining room. Someone had retrieved two screwdrivers needed to turn on the generator that provided power. The doctor started to talk, with Antoine translating, but he was having trouble with some English words, so Pete decided to fetch Rosemary to interpret. By that time, there was a flock of people in the room: besides the doctor, there were several interns and a couple of others whose roles we could not discern. The doctor had Lynne sit down on the examining table; Pete sat on one side of her, Rosemary on the other.

After laying out all the appropriate sterile equipment, the doctor pulled back the flap of skin and washed the wound, which was very deep, with a clot of black congealed blood. He proceeded to inject an anesthetic around the wound, clean it some more, and use gauze to stop the bleeding. Finally, it came time to sew it up. He put in at least 4 stitches with absorbable thread to close up the gash inside the wound. Then he positioned the flap of skin and started to sew the bottom of the flap to the rest of her leg. When Lynne felt some pain, he gave her additional anesthetic. The flap had to be stretched to join the margin of the rest of the flesh. He finished up about 7:10 p.m., after which he prescribed some drugs for her. Pete went to the hospital’s pharmacy to fill the prescriptions for an antibiotic and a pain reliever. Finally leaving the hospital around 7:30, the group found the rest of the party waiting for them in the dark.


This time Lynne and Pete sat up front with the driver for the short drive back down the hill, along the main street, until we reached the turn-off for the Friends Peace Center. The “road” was dirt, with lots of ups and downs. When we got to the Peace Center, a large group of Friends was waiting for us.


After our luggage was brought in, we were assigned to our rooms. Lynne and Pete had a "suite," with an outer seating area and a small bedroom. The latter had a chair, a full-sized bed, and a mosquito net, with a couple of small rectangular areas, set off by doors, to one side: the first had a toilet (without a seat), along with a large bucket with water and a dipper to "flush," while the second had a plastic tub for bathing. While there were electric lights (the generator could be heard), obviously there was no running water. The other three women – Aline, Rosemary, and Sarah – had a two-room suite next door, with two sets of double bunks. Rose joined them most nights, so all the bunks were in use. The toilet and shower facilities were similar to those of the D'Angelos. The three other men had slightly larger accommodations across the courtyard, with bathroom facilities off-site (but not very far away).


After dinner we sat around in a large circle with several local pastors. The one from the Peace Center led the meeting. Speaking in Swahili, he welcomed us and said a prayer, with Hudson translating. Following a song, again in Swahili, with wonderful harmonies, we all introduced ourselves, either in Swahili (Hudson translating) or in French. Then everyone exchanged hugs, cheek to cheek, before parting to head for bed.





Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Uvira (Kiyaya)


After breakfast, we again rehearsed the two suites we had learned – Shalom, Salaam, Peace and Whom God Hath Joined. Since it hurt Lynne to be on her feet, she worked on the costumes and then napped. Given that she was clearly unable to dance, we drafted Guillaume’s wife Rose to take her place and worked on bringing her up to speed. We also spent a lot of time working on "Shibboleth Bassadeh," particularly the third pattern of slicing and dicing. Mark spent some extra time working with Aline and some of the others. He said later that he felt a bit as though we were letting out our secrets, allowing folks to watch us as we stumbled through our learning curve. When we broke, as a group, from the dance practice, Mark and others continued reviewing the dances, while some of the observers occasionally jumped in and tried learning them also.


After lunch, Lynne and Pete started to work on the costumes, making sure that all the individual "pockets" were filled with the necessary costume pieces. The designated pants and shirts were labeled, using tape and a marker. We decided to change into the costumes for the first suite at the Peace Center before we left, since we didn’t know what sort of facilities would be made available to us at the dance venue. The men donned white pants and blue shirts, while the women put on their white dresses and blue smocks.


At 3:15 we climbed into the Land Cruiser and headed to the site of our first performance – the Ecole Conventionée Catholique in Kiyaya, a neighborhood of Uvira. Our venue was a dirt patch in front of the building, marked off with string, which was surrounded by mostly little kids under 10. There was a covered area in front of the building under which there were chairs in which we sat down.


First, there was a short performance for us, a play in Swahili on the theme of peace, with young Muslim males and females as the actors. They acted out a couple of stories, using simple props like a torn piece of plastic tarp representing a place where people could lie down and pretend to sleep. The main story involved a man resting (at night) with his wife and daughter. Some thieves come to the house, kick down the door, and proceed to yell and threaten them, while the man and his family cower. The thieves then kill the wife and daughter, leaving the man unconscious.


In the next scene, the man has a friend with him, and again the thieves kick down the door. There is a lot of impassioned yelling back and forth. Essentially, the friend figures that the husband has suffered enough already, with the loss of his wife and daughter, so he steps between them and tells the thieves to kill him and leave his friend alone. This leads to a crisis of conscience, and the thieves leave without killing anyone or stealing anything.


The thieves then go to their boss, a woman who has ordered their rampage, and tell her that they have returned empty-handed and they will no longer do her dirty work – that they’ve seen the light and will now turn their efforts to peace and healing. The boss woman holds a knife to the main thief’s throat, but he bravely refuses to back down – she can kill him, but he’s done with the violence. She’s stupefied, perhaps changed herself, as she lets the thieves leave unharmed.


Then it was our turn to perform. Mark did the introduction, interpreted by Hudson. There were at least 250 children and a scattering of fifty pre-teens, teens, young adults, and older people in the audience. Then Lynne, who was in costume but didn’t dance, started the music. Our performance was far from perfect. For example, we started to dance Sheikhani in two lines that were to join together, but once the second line couldn’t see Mark we lost the pattern. We also made a number of mistakes in the steps. As far as costumes were concerned, we were supposed to change for the second suite, but we elected simply to switch the accessories. It was clear that we definitely needed more practice and would have to adapt our costumes to the circumstances.


We did get through the program without any major disasters. Next came the participation part. What do you do with a large crowd consisting mainly of small children? Mark led off with "Syp Simeon," a dance that could be done with people seated or standing in place. Pete held up the amplifier and the Discman in the middle of the dance area, so people could hear better. Then Mark decided to do "Savila Se Bela Losa," a running dance. He selected a small group of teens and adults, taking one end of the line, while Pete took the other. We decided to end at this point with "Bells of Peace" sung in French, using the translation that Rosemary had given us:


Sentiment si grand et glorieux, grand et glorieux,

Lorsque sonnent les cloches de la paix, cloches de la paix,

Paix sur terre, paix sur terre, paix sur terre.


We set up the usual three circles of teens and adults, but it didn't work well. We finally decided to have the three circles all go in the same direction, and did not try to sing in a round. When it was over, we packed up and headed back to the Peace Center.


The evaluation, signed by Ndale Mtabwa, Representative of the Dept. of Peace and Development, read as follows:


            1. The program began with sketches by the young Congolese of Uvira, titled "The Lamentations of the Congolese in Search of a Durable Peace." The play went well, but there were a few problems, namely, the lack of costumes and the lack of microphones.

            2. As for the Friendly FolkDancers, their presence elicited a lot of enthusiasm among the public, given the harmony of their costumes with their dances. On the negative side, the songs in English were very poorly understood and were not properly interpreted; there was a lack of microphones; and there was some confusion between the actors and the spectators because there was no podium.


Dinner at 7:30 was followed by a short silent worship, during which only Hudson spoke. Mark ended the session with "Rivers of Babylon," a song with lyrics from the Psalms.




Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Uvira (Kigongo)


After breakfast we practiced the particular dances, such as "Sheikhani," that had not gone well previously. We went over and over the difficult parts, with Aline or Sarah leading. An audience of young children watched us rehearse. At one point, one of Mkoko’s sons, about 16, joined us. Situated just ahead of Pete at the end of the line, he went through some of the dances with us, doing very well, considering that he hadn’t even seen the dances before. We decided that Rose would join in for most of the dances, using Lynne’s costume, while Lynne again handled the sound system and helped with the costume changes. Lunch was at 1:00, after which Sarah told us that "Doctor Guillaume" was ready to change Lynne’s dressing, which he then did.


We loaded up the Land Cruiser and drove down the hill on what passes for a road – dirt broken up and bordered by gullies – until we reached the main street. There were many vendors along the way selling a variety of products. We passed over a bridge, noting the water in the river below where some trucks were being washed. When the pavement ended, the road initially wasn’t too bad. Then at spots we had to take detours around very bad and broken-up areas. Once out in the country there were many fewer people and houses.


We finally arrived at the small town of Kigongo at 3:45. We found that the ground was flat and fairly even, with the exception of several protruding rocks of various sizes. An area was roped off for a stage, and there was a small room furnished with a motorcycle, a table and chair, and a clothesline (with clothes on it), which we could use for costume changes. Mkoko mentioned to Lynne that the pastor at this church had been at our first performance and had worked to improve the situation for us with the roped-off area and dressing room.


Once we were dressed and ready to go, the pastor welcomed us. Since he spoke in Swahili, Hudson had to interpret. Then Mark got up and spoke in English, with Hudson translating back into Swahili. Once it was time to dance, the program itself seemed to go much better – we danced better, for one thing, and there was less noise from the audience members, who seemed to appreciate our performance. Guillaume estimated the crowd initially at 300 people, but as more folks arrived the total was closer to 450 by the time we danced.


Finally, it came time for the participation section. Once again we did "Syp Simeon," followed by "Savila Se Bela Losa," a running dance, with a small group of people. We ended with "The Bells of Peace," this time not even trying to have the circles move in different directions.


The evaluation, signed by Wilodja Muluta, Director of the Primary School, read as follows:


            The dancers (visitors) arrived late, although the venue was ready on time. The children as well as the adults were at the site to receive the performance. The presentation was hailed by the population. The dancers were well costumed; the white outfits indicated peace in our country -- in sum, for us Africans dress is of great importance and we were very much taken by these costumes. The songs were comforting, counseling, and edifying. The interpretations were comprehensive and comprehensible. There was harmony in the dances, above all in the sequences that were new to us; the ensemble dances edified all of us, because there was no segregation by generation.

            Recommendation: We'd like also to dance in your countries some day, especially in order to plead for people to come here to build the school and the hospitals and even to teach others to work for the good of the community and not just that of individuals.


We finished up a little before 5:00 and were out by 5:15. On the drive back to town, we made a number of stops, as Mkoko was looking for something specific. At about 6:00 the sun started to go down. While there were streetlights and power lines, there was no central electric system. Small generators were moved outside the shops and fired up.


We got back to the Peace Center at 6:45. Shortly thereafter, the generator went into action. Unfortunately, the only plug was connected to a DVD player. Pete asked the people in the courtyard if they could turn off the player for a moment while he rigged up a multi-plug. Once he did that, the DVD went back on, and we could recharge our sound system, along with Pete's computer, camera battery, and other items.

Dinner was at 8:00. After that, a circle was set up in the dining room and we had worship. This time it was in the manner of Congolese Friends – singing, prayer, ministry. Hudson did the interpreting from Swahili into English. At the close, there was some more singing, including Mark leading one with a simple verse, “Rejoice, rejoice, again I say, rejoice,” to which we could walk around in a circle holding hands.





Thursday, August 14, 2014

Uvira to Abeka (Makobolo)


After breakfast, Guillaume gave Pete the bill for Lynne's treatment at the hospital, which came to $50, plus $13.50 for the prescriptions. Then we met to go over the evaluations of our previous performances. The first stop, at Kiyaya, mentioned us arriving later than Mkoko had said, and the difficulty of the audience understanding the words to "I Love a Rainy Night" (the last part of the Middle East set). A long discussion ensued in English and French about the language issue. We had used English and Swahili at our last performance at Kigongo, but there were local languages to consider as well. Neither French nor Swahli may have been universally understood. Finally, we decided we would ask at each place which languages they preferred; if they were not comfortable with French, English, or Swahli, we would ask if there was an interpreter who could deal with English or French. We would do the best we could.


At this point, most of the group went into town to spend some time at a cyber café. Then, even though it was past the time when we were supposed to be back at the Center, Antoine wanted to get his hair cut. Since the power had gone out where we were, we searched for a barber who had power, ultimately finding one with his own generator. Guillaume came back with a bag of several kinds of powdered coffee and some tea. Sarah had wanted some hot chocolate, so we searched (in vain) for that as well. We ran several other errands, getting back to the Center by about 1:00. After all those delays, lunch wasn’t ready, after all!


We finally sat down to eat at 1:30. When we were done, we began to move our stuff to the Land Cruiser, finally leaving at 2:45. (We were supposed to arrive at Makobolo at 3:00, but there didn't seem to be anything we could do about the recurrent delays.)


We arrived at a roped-off dirt area, at one end of which was a very tall tree whose branches spread out and provided shade. Lined up in front of the tree trunk, inside the roped-off area, was a row of plastic chairs. Only a few people were there. To the left was a small stream with a flow of water (it had rained hard the night before). On the other side of the stream was a small low building, whose sign on the front indicated that it was a hairdresser shop. A small room with a curtain for a door was to be our dressing room. Inside were two low benches and a chair. Unlike at the other two performances, we hadn’t changed into our first costume beforehand, so we dressed quickly, aware of the total lack of privacy. We decided to dress Guillaume and Mkoko in blue shirts and white bibs to help indicate that they were part of the group, even though they weren't actually going to dance.


As we filtered out of the room, we jumped over the creek, ducked under the rope, and sat down in the plastic chairs. An audience slowly gathered. As in the other venues, it was mainly children with a scattering of teens and adults, probably amounting to about 400 people by the end.


When we were all assembled, the program started about 4:45. We were welcomed by the village head, whose words Mkoko translated into English, including mention of a massacre of 700 people in the village in 1998. Then Mark spoke in French, with Mkoko interpreting into the local dialect. Finally, the program started. Lynne, who was working the sound system, put the iPad and amplifier on top of her head to get the sound out better.


We presented our now-usual program, starting with Shalom, Salaam, Peace. It went much better – clearly, we were improving. When that was over, we returned to our dressing room. Since Pete had forgotten to bring his black pants, we made an immediate decision that the men would stay with their white pants and just exchange the blue tops for white shirts and vests. The women put on their overskirts, vests, and other accoutrements.


The second set, the wedding suite, also went well. Then it was time for participation. As before, we led off with "Syp Simeon," although without much audience participation. Then we did "Savila Se Bela Losa," for which we wanted only a few select people. Instead, we got a swarm of small children (all of them boys!). We had to shoo some of them back. Finally, we came to the ending, where we decided to abandon the "Bells of Peace." We sent the kids back to the other side of the rope and replaced them with adults. Then we did "The Rivers of Babylon," following which we returned to the dressing room and changed. By 6:00 we were on our way.


The evaluation, signed by Kilozo Katenbo Kakisco, Area Secretary, read as follows:


            The opening words were said by the representative of the church himself. The troupe engaged us in peace through songs, theater, etc. The village chief spoke about the effects of the massacre of Makobolo in terms of all the widows and orphans in this area.

            The troupe danced and played together with people from the DRC. The songs of peace were selected from countries that are at war, such as Iraq, Congo, and so on. The songs themselves, of course, were not known to the local population, though they learned some parts of them. The dancers did well. The audience followed with attention to the words and the gestures.

            The group did very well and left us with a good image. As for a recom-mendation, we would ask you next time to help us with the orphans, the widows, the health center, the schools, and especially the pygmies.


It was starting to get dark. The road was dirt, with hand-size pieces of rock sticking up amidst the potholes. To our right the dry grass-covered hillside descended steeply to the road; to our left was the lake. The road followed the contours of the hillside, but it was slow going. Night descended, which slowed us up some more. Fortunately, there wasn’t much traffic in the form of cars, transports, other trucks, people on bicycles, or walkers. Eventually, we came to some collections of houses, all of similar construction: adobe brick walls, tin roofs, cutouts for doors and windows. We saw occasional fires, but no lights.


Suddenly, we turned off the road and took another dirt road through some houses up into the hills. We were in the outskirts of Abeka. Even though it was dark, we could see that we were driving through palm trees. Around 7:00 we arrived at the compound, which was quite spread out. It took some more driving until we arrived where we were going to stay.


After our luggage was brought to us, we were assigned to our rooms. Antoine and Hudson went off to a separate building, while the rest of us were installed in what we were later told was the home of Guillaume and Rose. Pete and Lynne got what must have been the master bedroom, featuring a full-size bed with a mosquito net. There was one light bulb that illuminated both that room and the one next to it.


The other two rooms featured a single bed and two single beds, respectively. Mark was assigned to the first, while the three remaining women (Rosemary, Aline, and Sarah) were assigned to the second. They looked at the two beds, mentally measured their own and each other's girth, and felt extremely uneasy. After considerable thought, they decided to lay the two mattresses on the floor horizontally, one under the other, and then sleep across them vertically. The bed-frames were removed, at which point it became clear that the mattresses were of different heights. The problem was solved by having Mark give up his mattress, which matched one of the others, and take the odd-sized one for himself. We then set up the matching mattresses on the floor, as planned, and pulled the mosquito netting around them. Sarah gallantly opted for the middle position, with Aline settling in on the left side, and Rosemary on the right.


In the common area were a dining table, another small table holding a water jug for hand washing, and a sideboard with a TV. The bathroom, which was off to one side, had a toilet with a seat, a luxury, even though it was cracked and not attached. Flushing was by means of a bucket of water and a dipper. We had electricity, with lights in one bedroom, the common area, and the bathroom. Pete rigged up a charging station for our sound system and the computer.


Once we were settled in, we all came together in the common room to wait for dinner. Mark decided that the best way to speed it up would be to have a meeting. In discussing the black pants vs. white pants issue, we decided in the future to have the men forgo changing out of the white pants. We heard a review of the day’s program, but unfortunately the reviewer simply related what happened with no critique. The meeting continued, much of it in French.


Finally, at 9:20 p.m., dinner was served. Afterwards, Mkoko arranged to have two basins of water – one hot, the other cold – brought in and put in the bathroom. It was barely enough water for two persons, so Lynne and Pete decided to bathe. Once they were done, they were supposed to use a floor squeegee to push the water through a hole in the wall – something that sounded easier than it turned out to be. Oh, well! Maybe we'd get better at it as time went on.



Friday, August 15, 2014

Abeka (Bakeci)


Breakfast was brought in about 9:15. Later on Guillaume came to invite Pete and Lynne to accompany him to the hospital, which was on the grounds, where he would change Lynne’s bandage. Joined by another doctor, Guillaume’s colleague, they went to the surgery, where both doctors washed their hands from a spigot on a five-gallon bucket. The surgery area was a small room with a covered operating table and plenty of sterile supplies. On one wall were some additional medical supplies. Two small light bulbs lit the room, but Guillaume opened the shuttered windows to provide an additional source of light.


Lynne sat down on the only chair in the room. They placed a basin under her leg and donned sterile gloves before removing her bandage, cleaning the wound with the contents of a sterile bottle of water, and putting on a new bandage.


On their way back up the hill, the D'Angelos joined the rest of the group, who were heading for a small round building with a concrete floor where we could practice. We started with some simple warm-up dances such as "t’Smidge," a lively couples dance. Then we went over the wedding suite several times, before reviewing the Middle East set. At one point, Mark stepped out as leader and had Antoine, Aline, and Sarah take turns leading. Eventually, he had Rosemary and Pete sit out altogether. While we were practicing, we had an audience. Both standing and sitting in the two doorways were a number of children of various ages, as well as adults. Then Guillaume stopped by to watch as well.


We broke about 1:15, when we found our lunch waiting for us. After the meal and a brief rest, we put on our costumes. Mark explored a better sound system, but to no avail. A little after 3:00 we loaded up the Land Cruiser, drove down the street, turned right on the main road, went a hundred feet or so, and stopped at Bakeci. Again there was a roped-off area under the shade of a very large tree. At one end of the area were some chairs. Nearby was a small building with a room for changing our costumes. We put on our auxiliary pieces and returned to the venue.


When we arrived there was almost no one there, but people started to filter in. Eventually there were about 350 in the audience, equally divided between children and adults. Mark had put on some folk dance music, so Pete started to do one of the dances and then he and Mark did another one together. A third dance inspired Aline to join them.


The program began with greetings by the village head, Mkoko interpreting. After the introductions, Mark spoke. When he finished, we started with Shalom, Salaam, Peace, which went fine. After quickly changing our outer costumes, we returned to the venue to do the wedding suite. Pete had a problem in that he felt his pants were falling down; evidently, he hadn’t tied the waistband cord tight enough. He kept tugging at his pants as we danced.


When we finished the second suite, we went on to our now standard participation program featuring "Syp Simeon" and "Savila Se Bela Losa." For the closing dance, we had decided at our last business meeting to do the one Mark had sung at one of our recent meetings for worship, namely, "Rejoice, Rejoice, Again I Say Rejoice." When we started to practice it, Pete had asked about the Swahili word for “rejoice.” Our African friends, after some discussion of nouns and verbs, came up with the word “Fareema.” Then Sarah figured out additional words to the song in Swahili. We decided to go through the song four times – twice in Swahili, and twice in English.


Mark introduced the closing dance, with Mkoko interpreting. He demonstrated the steps and then we started. Not surprisingly, it did not work out initially as smoothly as we had hoped. We went through it more than four times, during which everyone began to join in by singing the Swahili part. Then it was over.


During the afternoon, Hudson had some discussions with the local people and shared with us some of the problems they had mentioned:


1.   Young people are forced to marry as young as 12 years of age in order for them to have future security.

2.   Many children don’t go to school because of poverty.

3.   Clinics are very few and there is not enough medicine; they asked for our help.

4.   Many young people are jobless and need support to start a business.

The evaluation of the day's performance, signed by Isaac Msema, local administrator of the Centre Hospitalière d'Abeka, read as follows:


            We thank the Lord God who has given us this opportunity to evaluate the group of dancers. Our evaluation covers the points detailed below.

            Costumes: The costumes that our dancers wore are adapted to African costumes and above all for the Congolese people.

            Dances (songs): The dancers perform without singing, which means that the dances are not adapted to Congolese culture. The dances and the rhythms of the songs, however, attracted the public. After observing the dances and the gestures utilized, the public understood immediately the significance of the songs; they were well received and very appropriate, as they preached peace, reconciliation, and pacification.

            Timing: The timing used was good, because for the population of Abeka and the surroundings it was the moment when everybody was heading home from the workplace. The environment was good, despite the dust from the road.

            Recommendation: Given that Congo is a country that has been overly threatened by war, especially in our area of Fizi, it is not surprising that the village of Abeka and the hospital in particular were taken over by the Mai-Mai, who removed all of the available materiel. Despite that, peace returned, and we beg you to support this state by forming other groups of dancers who could perform in other places.

We returned to our dressing room, changed, and packed up. As we were leaving, Mkoko asked if we wanted to go see Lake Tanganyika; everyone but Hudson said, “Yes.” Mkoko wanted to walk, but we all ended up piling into the Land Cruiser. It was a very short ride down the main street until we turned off on a small road and went a few hundred feet. We stopped in sand (the land around here is red clay) near a public health clinic. We walked down to the beach, which was deserted except for three wooden fishing boats. The water was warm. Sarah, Aline, and Rose kicked off their shoes and went in ankle-deep. Aline had a wonderful time acting like a little kid, running back and forth parallel to the beach. Sarah, who was even more daring, hitched up her skirt and walked in to thigh depth. Eventually, she even gave up on holding up her skirt, so the bottom half got wet as she was transformed into a playful girl. Meanwhile, a crowd of women and children had gathered to watch, and some naked little boys came swimming from around some plants growing in the water.


As we left the beach, we walked over to the public health center, where Mkoko showed us around. He said that the center provided a number of services to those traumatized by war, such as counseling and group discussions. There were also rooms labeled “pre-natal” and “maternity.” For the time being, the former was used for storage; the latter was empty. There was an observation room with a bed and some mattresses on the floor. One person was staying there. A reception room featured a desk, a scale, and a height-measuring device. Sarah wanted someone to take pictures of the various rooms, so Pete did so. Outside, Mark, assisted by Lynne, was teaching a small group of children “Syp Simeon,” following up with “Hokey Pokey.” We were escorted back to the Land Cruiser by the children, who swarmed around Mark.


We returned to our hillside retreat, where Mkoko arranged to have all the white costumes washed. We hung the blue shirts out on the clothesline to dry. Lynne replaced a missing button on one of them. As it was getting dark, the power came on.


Dinner was at 7:00. Afterwards, we discussed an invitation to us to attend an inter-tribal dance gathering on Saturday morning. We decided to go. The lights were turned out shortly after 9:00.




Saturday, August 16, 2014

Abeka (Swima)


After breakfast we waited for the call to leave for the youth peace conference. In the meantime, some of us examined a nearby concrete monument that was dedicated to the first missionaries who came here in 1992. In due course, we boarded the Land Cruiser and drove for five minutes to a church located on the grounds, arriving at 9:30. There was a “Meeting of Children on Peace and the Prevention of Trauma.” When we arrived, someone was speaking and someone else was translating into English. There were empty chairs on the left side reserved for us; on the right side were benches on which mostly youth were sitting. There wasn’t enough room for our entire group, so some of us sat on the other side with the youth. In the front of the church was a podium on which was written, “White Tribune of the Children; Voice of the Child.” On the dirt floor in the middle of the church were a paper cross and four unlit candles.


The first part of the program was an explanation of why we were there. Then a group presented a play about peace, composed by the Bambe pygmies and the Bamyamurenge tribe; the same groups then took part in a short ceremony related to peace and the prevention of trauma. When the facilitator asked if anyone else wanted to pray, Sarah rose to speak. The youth from various areas were introduced. Individuals sang some solo songs as well, and then one of the youth spoke briefly about peace. We joined the whole congregation in a bit of impromptu dancing. Then we were each handed a small piece of white paper on which we were to write a concern. The facilitator lit the four candles that were on the ground around the cross, which wasn't easy because the wind from the doorway kept blowing them out until the doors were closed. Then we were told to give up our concerns by using one of the lit candles to burn up our pieces of paper.


Next there was a call for people to express their concerns. First, Hudson rose to talk about the pressure on very young people to get married (based on his conversations the day before). He spoke in English, with someone translating his words into Swahili. Then Mark spoke, telling about how he had grown up in an alcoholic family. His reaction to that was to dance for peace. Then we did more dancing, until almost noon, when the meeting ended.


Nearby there were some long-horned cattle grazing. We were shown a small building that was under construction (which had obviously been suspended for a while, judging from all the grass growing inside). This was to house traumatized victims.


When we returned to our quarters, we saw that our washed white clothes were being ironed. The iron itself was charcoal-fired. Pete asked Mkoko where the water came from. A few minutes later, two young women arrived with five-gallon jerry cans and a five-gallon bucket. With Sarah in the lead, the two women following, and Pete, Lynne, and Guillaume bringing up the rear, the group went in search of water. They walked a short way through the cassava fields before descending to a small creek in a narrow valley. The girls used the bucket to fill the jerry cans. Once the cans were full (weighing about 40 pounds each), Sarah put one on her head and proceeded to walk uphill out of the valley, using only one hand to steady the jerry can. When she reached the flat area, she no longer even bothered holding onto it, doing a shimmy as she walked. Back at the kitchen compound, she removed the jerry can from her head. Pete picked up the can, observing that it was really heavy.


When we got back, lunch was underway. Sarah brought in the cooked (or, as she said, over-cooked) cassava to share with us. She peeled and cut it. Pete said it tasted like roasted chestnuts. After lunch we took some time to rest.


We were roused about 3:00 by the sound of loud music. In front of the storeroom were a large speaker and a DVD player into which had been plugged a flash drive with the FFD music on it. The system was powered by a small generator running through a voltage regulator. The trouble was that only one of the suites was on a flash drive. Mark had the repertoire on a Zune, but that was an old, obsolete device, and Pete's notebook didn’t have a driver for it. As a result, the music couldn’t be downloaded to a flash drive that, in turn, could be read by the DVD player. The problem was solved by using the Zune and Mark's amplifier to play the music, with a micro-phone to transmit it to the amplifier/speaker.


We all got dressed – white pants and blue shirts for the men; white dresses for the women. The van was loaded, but there wasn’t enough room for the equipment and Rose and Guillaume. We left at 3:40, the plan being to drop us off, after which the driver would return to pick them up.


It was only a few minutes' drive to the main street. The day before we had turned right; today we turned left. We drove a few minutes to Swima, where we stopped in front of a very large, fenced- off soccer field. At the far end of the field were a roped-off area and some chairs.


As soon as we got out of the van, people, mostly children, started to gather around us. We hauled our stuff across the field and over to the roped-off area. Once there we wondered what we would use for a changing room. The problem was solved when a man took us through a construction site (marked by a pile of adobe bricks), up along a path, and into his compound. He led us into the living room of one of the buildings. It had two small love seats with antimacassars on the seats and seat backs, and a sideboard. The windows were covered with shutters that were opened to bring in light. (There were no glass windowpanes.) We soon had an audience of small kids peering in through one of the windows.


We spread out our bags with individual "pockets" on the love seats, proceeding to remove the various auxiliary pieces and put them on. Between the compound where we changed and the soccer field where we were to perform was a fence made of palm fronds. We realized that we could move some of the fronds aside, climbing through the resultant hole to get back to the field.


By now a larger group of observers had gathered, three or so deep. Antoine estimated that the crowd numbered 650 people. Someone had pulled a couple of chairs out of the line-up and we made our way through the crowd to that opening. Once we were inside the circle, the chairs were put back in place. After we had all sat down, we were welcomed by the local minister. Mark spoke in French, with Mkoko translating. Finally it was time to start. We went through the first suite – Shalom, Salaam, Peace. When that was over, most of us made our way through the crowd and through the hole in the fence to our changing room, while Mark spoke to the audience. The windows were thrown open to admit some light, so we could change our blue shirts for white ones, staying with the white pants. The woman changed their costumes as well, but kept their white dresses. We helped Rosemary dress first, so she could replace Mark and give him time to change as well. When he came in, the rest of us helped him change before closing the windows and returning to the venue.


We went through the wedding suite, and then it was time for the participation section. We did "Syp Simeon" and "Savila Se Bela Losa." The closing dance, “Rejoice,” was to be sung in both English and Swahili, so Mark went over the English words and then had Sarah sing it in Swahili. Finally, they decided that, since we had a microphone, Sarah should be the one to sing it in both English and Swahili. We started the dance, and things were going fine until Sarah’s voice began to fail. By this time, however, the crowd knew the words in Swahili and were able to continue. Fortunately, Sarah got her voice back and we finished up as planned.


The evaluation by ʼYelamwa Nyange Félix, Prefect of the George Fox School, read as follows:


            The Clerk of CEEACO introduced the program. The set time was not respected: instead of starting at the stated hour of 3 p.m., the program actually began at 4 p.m. The space was well organized, but the instruments were installed with substantial delay. The costumes and the songs were truly pleasant, but certain dancers did not follow the rhythm of the music. Another problem was that, instead of beginning with a prayer, they began with other things. The black outfits worn by the men were for a marriage ceremony.

            Recommendation: We'd like you to multiply such activities, especially in our rural areas, with the purpose of bringing about a durable and ruling peace.


On the way back to change, one young man began pestering Pete for money. He followed us into the compound. Back in our changing room, we put our costume pieces away and packed up the blue shirts. When we left, Pete was still being pestered by the young man. We had almost finished our liter and a half water bottle, which a number of young boys seemed to want. Pete decided, however, not to give it to them, because he didn’t want to encourage begging. After we got back into the Land Cruiser, we found that we had to roll up the windows to separate us from the people outside, especially the same young man who wanted money. We left at 6:00, just as it was getting dark.


It was only a few minutes' drive back to the compound where we were staying. Even though dark was falling, the generator hadn’t been turned on yet. However, it did come on shortly thereafter, and we had light. After dinner many of us had a lengthy discussion with Hudson about marriage and his expectations of the American wife he said he wanted. When we lost power, a kerosene lantern that was on the sideboard was lit. The lights came on and off. After hot water was brought in, some of us took baths. We went to bed about 9:15.




Sunday, August 17, 2014

Abeka (Mukwezi)


Breakfast came later than expected. As usual, we had sliced white bread, but we also had boiled cassava and no bananas. Mark, who was not feeling well, decided not to eat anything. At breakfast it was agreed that Rosemary would take over some of Mark’s duties. We were supposed to leave for worship at 9:20, but we were more than 20 minutes late, leaving at 9:45. We arrived five minutes later, at the same church where we had gone the day before, located near the hospital. Now instead of the benches being parallel to the side walls, leaving the center open, they were parallel to the altar. On the dais there were chairs set up for us. We went in and took our seats. As it turned out, people were still coming into the church some time after we got there. The prayers of welcome began about 10:00, followed by two songs. The first one was a call and response, sung a cappella. The second song, which was sung to the accompaniment of two drums, was followed by a second prayer. Then there was another song that said (in Swahili): "My heart is happy, because I am in the presence of Jesus Christ." The pastor welcomed everyone else who was not from the congregation, including a man who was a refugee from Tanzania. That part took almost an hour, during which time more and more people arrived, some of them carrying their own chairs, until there were about 100 worshipers.


Then Mkoko spoke about Quakers known as Friends, citing John 15:14: “You are my friends if you do what I command.” Then, beginning with the words of John, he said we should not discriminate, we should be friends with everybody, and we should be prepared to share everything. He talked about the George Fox School, the first Quaker school in the Congo. Part of it was designed for information sciences, but it had no computers. He waited until he heard that we had our visas, so he could be sure that we were coming, before asking us if we could bring some computers with us. Peter e-mailed him that he would try and bring one, but didn’t promise. Mkoko prayed for them. He heard that two were coming. Then he heard that four were coming. Finally, when we arrived, he said, we brought 6. (Actually, we brought 7!) He kept one for his office in Uvira, because he had no computer there. For them, he said, it was like a gift from God. Then we had the offering. People came up to the altar and put money into one of three plastic basins – red, blue, or green. Part of the offering was a gift of $10 from the group and an additional gift of $5 from Mark. When the pastor invited Aline to give a prayer of thanks for the offerings, she included thanks in advance for whatever they were going to do with the money.


Afterwards, it was Hudson’s turn to preach, from Luke 18:35-41. The theme was, whenever Jesus of Nazareth passes by, things will never remain the same. Rosemary read the passage in English, and Sarah read it in Swahili. He preached for about a half an hour. Then he promised to provide the money for 50 plastic chairs at $12 each to the congregation at Uvira, plus funds for another 50 chairs for Abeka. He concluded his sermon with an altar call, inviting those who had stress in their life and wanted the congregation to pray for them to come down and kneel in front of the altar. That was the end of the service. There followed a long period of announcements, through which some people might have been sleeping. The program was over at 12:30.


Then we went to visit the George Fox College, which was only a few hundred feet away. Part of it was a theological school and part was for computer science. The school consisted of six rooms, two of which were still under construction. Of the four rooms that were finished, one was being used for brick storage. (Presumably the bricks were to be used in the construction of the two additional classrooms.) In the fourth room, five computers were set up on school desks. At one end there was a chalkboard on which was written a lesson from the Bible. Mark demonstrated how one of the computers worked, while Peter tried to improve the operating speed on another one by working on the msconfig file. Fortunately, there was a bit of charge remaining on the computers, as the school does not have electricity. There were about 15 people there from the school, but Mkoko was not present.


The director of the school thanked us. He told us that the school was named for George Fox so that people would become familiar with him. The school is two years old, but they haven’t had any equipment until now. They began with Forms 1, 2, and 3, and are adding 4 and 5. They’ve asked for help from Quakers worldwide. Among other things, he said that they had no library. Obviously, they still need lots of help.

 We returned to where we were staying around 1:30 p.m. in time for lunch. Then we put on part of our costumes, as usual, in preparation for our performance in Mukwezi. We were told that it was going to be held on a soccer pitch, and that a game had been scheduled that afternoon at 4:00. It was, therefore, very important that we be on time so we could put on our performance before the scheduled game. We were supposed to leave at 2:30 and actually left at 2:25. This was quite an achievement for us, as we were usually late, typically by as much as an hour.


We drove down the hill, turned right, and continued driving a short distance, arriving around 2:45. When we got there, only a few people were around, but, by the time the performance began, there seemed to be about 100 waiting for us to get going. Rather than a soccer pitch, our dance venue was a flat area except for one very large rock. It was bounded on one side by a very large tree whose branches hung over it, a low building that was our changing room, and some other structures. Near one edge was a structure made of four poles supporting a roof, also made of poles. Later, as we left, we saw the church building on the other side of the main street.


We started with a prayer from the pastor at Mukwezi, who welcomed us and spoke about the poverty of the region. The performance began with an introduction by Mark, followed by Shalom, Salaam, Peace. By the time it was over, the audience numbered close to 500. The program appeared to go well. Rosemary introduced and led "Savila Se Bela Losa," because Mark was still not feeling well; Sarah led “Rejoice, Rejoice,” in both English and Swahili. Then the locals performed a dance for us, with several of our group joining in. The pastor offered a final prayer asking for the grace of God for us and wishing us a good trip.


The evaluation from Kiza Musato, President of the Monthly Meeting of Msenya, read as follows:


            The spectators came from Mukwezi, Msenya, and Kagumbe. They were joyous and enthusiastic about this long-awaited event. Among the audience were children and adults.

            The costumes of our brothers and sisters, dancers for peace, show that you are dancers and artisans of peace who present peace through your dances and costumes, along with prayer here with us. In your dances, we have received a message. For example, two people dance together and then move apart, weaving in and out of the group; at the end, they find each other again, clasp hands, and continue to dance together. The rhythms of the music and the dances are well coordinated. The group respected the rules of gender. The songs and the dances were joyous. But you should have had some young people as part of the group of dancers for peace.


·         Repeat and extend the program here in Congo.

·         Help us build a school where the children of different ethnic groups can come to study in a context of living together and taking actions on behalf of peace.

·         Pay us another visit here.

·         Donate to the church musical instruments to facilitate the explanations and understanding of dances and games at the heart of our parishes.

            Remarks: One of you removed your costume before the program was over! N.B.: Despite the impending game of football that was organized in the village between two local teams, the population evidently, and unexpectedly, preferred to participate massively in the dance program.


We left at 4:20, and in a few minutes were back home. Earlier in the day, Guillaume had said that he and his colleague would change Lynne’s dressing after the performance, and there they were, walking back down the road toward the hospital. They took Lynne and Pete to the surgery room, where they had been before, and changed the dressing, observing that, if Lynne been younger, she would have healed faster and they would have removed the stitches on Monday. However, since she was older, she was healing more slowly; thus they planned to remove the stitches on Wednesday


Dinner was ready relatively early at 7:00. After dinner we joined Mkoko and others for prayers, including one for Mark’s health. Then we began a business meeting with check-ins. Guillaume thought that Mark, who had been suffering from diarrhea, might also have a fever. He left to get a thermometer. He returned with a colleague, who put a flexible strip thermometer on Mark’s forehead. Mark's temperature appeared to be at the high end of normal. Two aides then showed up, one carrying a red plastic box. They took a blood sample to check for malaria and typhoid, deciding to let him be at least until tomorrow. Then we finished our meeting and watched a couple of videos of the day’s performance before heading off to our respective beds.





Monday, August 18, 2014

Abeka (Mboko)


We had breakfast early, around 8:00 o’clock, in order to be able to leave promptly for Mboko. We realized, when another man, hitherto unknown to us (but probably the guy who was going to run the sound system), tried to join us in the back of the van, that it was not possible to fit 11 people where there was officially room for only 8, though we had been 10 for many of our previous trips. In time, arrangements were made for a motorcycle to get him where we were going. The rest of us actually got underway before 9:00.


There was a lot of dust rising from the unpaved but relatively straight road, which made it hard for some of us to breathe, but we went barreling down it nonetheless at some 35 mph. At one point we came to a small river where the bridge was out, so we had to ford the creek.


When we arrived at Mboko, we went straight to the administrative office of the Tanganyika Sector, where we met the secretary of the area. His boss, the sector chief, was not there. We had hoped to go out to visit a little island called Bulumba, the largest of three islands about 3 miles offshore, but without the sector chief’s permission, we couldn’t go.


But we headed over to Lake Tanganyika anyway. Aline and Sarah took off their shoes and waded at the water’s edge. After listening to some legends about the islands, we returned to the van and drove to the nearby Lac (Lake) Hotel. We were shown into a courtyard, with a small amount of shade in a small enclosure, and encouraged to rehearse. However, the sun was hot, and we were simply not inspired to leave the little shelter and go outside. After a while Fantas were brought to us. A few of us danced a bit in the hot sunshine.


Around 11:40, Mkoko found us a space across the street where there was shade under a large tree. We rehearsed without Mark's participation. He was feeling better than yesterday, but still not at 100%, so he directed from his seat. Occasionally, he would get up and demonstrate a step. We practiced until 1:15, re-arranging the line-ups, with Aline in front for several of the dances. Then we visited quietly until 2:00, when lunch was announced. It was served at a place slightly behind and next to the hotel. When we went inside, there were three tables with chairs, and a table on which the food had been placed. Lunch was similar to previous lunches, with chicken for protein and a fresh salad of cabbage and tomatoes, plus the usual rice, beans, cassava, and bananas.


After lunch, a pastor spoke about the programs for peace in the area, including the construction of a House of Peace and another building for the United Society of Friends Women (USFW) in Nundu. They are hoping to construct the roof of a new church by October; we were encouraged to urge Friends abroad to join together to help them finish the work. We were to take their greetings to our countries. There did not seem to be time to visit the construction site, but the pastor suggested that perhaps we could go see it on our next visit. Or they might take some photos and send them to us via the Internet. Mkoko then indicated that we might see the buildings tomorrow on our way to the next performance. He encouraged those in attendance to let their friends know about it.


We got back into the Land Cruiser and drove a short distance to the next venue. It was a roped-off area in front of some buildings, one of which was to be our dressing room. About a hundred feet away from the area was the church. We actually arrived at the appointed hour for the first time (hurray!). We went to our dressing room, which was a very small room divided in half by a hanging sheet or cloth. On one side of the cloth there was a mattress on the ground. Above it was a mosquito net. The other side was empty except for three jerry cans that smelled of diesel and some farming tools. Functional space in the room was tight, but we changed into our costumes as usual. Then we went outside and waited for the local chief of the locality to join us. Our hosts were very thoughtful: using numerous five-gallon pails full of water, they sprinkled the ground to keep the dust down.


In due course, the local chief arrived and welcomed us in French. The local pastor, a very tall, thin man, said an opening prayer. Then he put his arm around Mkoko, who was translating, and said how wonderful it was that two different tribes had come together for this occasion – one from the hills and the other from the flatlands. He illustrated his point by hugging Mkoko, over whom he towered, as they came from the two tribes.


Mark made the initial introductions, after which we performed the Shalom, Salaam, Peace suite. Rosemary introduced the wedding suite, which we performed next, as usual. There was a royal mix-up finding our places for “I Love a Rainy Night”; we hoped to do better at the next perform-ance. During the participation dancing, we did “Syp Simeon” and then “Les Saluts,” the latter for the first time. Both went well. We concluded with English and Swahili versions of “Rejoice, Rejoice,” and then watched some dancing by the locals to familiar tunes. A few of us joined in. Mark, alas, tripped over the microphone cord at one point, and the mike later stopped working. We hoped it would be back in service by our next performance. As for the audience, we guessed it numbered several hundred, including lots of little ones but numerous adults as well.


When our performance was over, we sat down and the Congolese danced for us. As always, their dancing was energetic.


The evaluation, signed by Makeci Lweya, Teacher, read as follows:


            The group of Friends dancing for peace arrived at the agreed-upon hour. The sun was not overwhelmingly hot. As they descended from the van, the people waiting for them asked themselves, How will this intergenerational group, coming from different countries with different cultures, manage to dance well together? The head of the group, a large gentleman, responded to the worries of the people in his introductory remarks. As they came out of the little house, with their blue and white costumes, we saw directly that they were well-organized artisans of peace and people of prayer. The large gentleman was definitely in charge and shared his particular experiences with us. He was easily able to get the attention of his team. The introductory words were constructive and edifying, calling on the Congolese to accept living in unity in diversity. It's not that easy for people who come from different countries to dance together. We offer flowers to our brothers and sisters of the group of dancers for peace.

            There was a message of peace in the wedding dances. It was good to have the young bride sit on a chair rather than stand up, as if she were the daughter of a king. It would also have been good to include African songs and dances among those presented to the audience.

            In his speech to the assembled spectators, the chief of the region tried to tell people that here the war had ended and there is peace between Mubembe and Munyamurenge. In closing, he told the large gentleman that Congo continued to need help from foreigners to facilitate programs of peace. People truly appreciated the dances brought by the foreigners today.

            The ceremony ended with a prayer.


·         Having a similar program here among us, accompanied by musical instruments, would be useful for the consolidation of peace among different ethnic groups in the zone of Fizi.

·         Under those circumstances, we should think about building an auditorium for such programs on behalf of peace in order to avoid the dust in the dry season and rain in the rainy season.

·         We should think about accompanying such programs with communitarian activities accompanying peace.

·         It would be good to install a system for learning the dances of the FFD here among us.

We finally left at 5:50. We made it back to our quarters in good time and found dinner waiting for us. Eventually, people took showers and got ready for bed. Mark and Rosemary had an interesting conversation with Mkoko, who turns out to have grown up in Burundi, about how Quakerism got to the Congo; basically, it was through him, as he found out about it through Burundian Friends and imported it as a response to local conflicts. That explains, in part, why Congolese Friends are so dependent on assistance from Friends everywhere, since they were not founded by missionaries from a particular country or region.


Mark announced that his test for typhoid was positive. We wondered if he actually had typhoid or if it was just the result of his having had a typhoid shot a few days before he left home.


Water was brought for the evening ablutions. As Pete and Lynne were showering, the lights flickered and then went out. Fortunately, Lynne had her flashlight with her. Rosemary ended up journaling on Pete's computer by using his headlamp to light up the keyboard.




Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Abeka (Sangaya)


About 7:00 a.m. the sound of women ululating came from the area of the hospital. Mkoko explained to Pete, with whom he was sitting outside, that it was a sign that a baby had just been born. He asked Pete if he'd like to see; upon hearing “Yes,” they charged down the hill to the hospital. There they saw four women standing in front of the building that contained the maternity ward. They very obligingly ululated for Pete, so that he could take a video of them. Mkoko learned that the baby was a little girl.


During breakfast, which began around 8:30, Mkoko came to tell us the program for the day, beginning with a visit to the hospital where Guillaume and Rose (a nurse) worked, just down the road. Hudson demonstrated his domestic skills by sewing up his own pants. Before we left, we had a brief meeting to discuss the disposal of the ten FFD tee-shirts that Mark had brought along; we agreed that we wanted our African members and our hosts to have them, with the issue of who would get which sizes to be determined later. While we were out, somebody was supposed to fix the toilet, which was stopped up.


We headed off for the hospital visit, led by Guillaume, except for Hudson, who needed some time off. We saw the building where the interns sleep, noting that males and females had to share the five rooms, with beds or mattresses in each. We also saw a grave nearby. Guillaume explained that it was the resting place of the first doctor at the hospital, a younger brother of Mkoko, who had paid for his medical education. Unfortunately, he died at the age of 33, after only eight months at the hospital, in September of 2008. Guillaume arrived to replace him in November of that year. When he arrived, there was no materiel at the hospital, as everything had been stolen in the meantime.


Guillaume showed us the hole where the placentas were buried. He also pointed out the toilets and showers that he had insisted be constructed nearby. They continued to have a problem getting water. One creek, which was contaminated, was used for water for laundry and other such purposes; the other one was used to provide water for drinking and for sanitary uses at the hospital. They had four cisterns to collect rainwater during the wet season.


We visited the waiting room for emergency treatment, where triage was carried out. There was a chart showing the number of patients per month and the income received in US dollars, but it was for 2013, not for the current year. There appeared to be far more patients during the rainy season than during the dry season … maybe because the rain brings mosquitoes, and the mosquitoes bring disease. There were other offices for administrators and nurses, and a laboratory with a microscope and an open window admitting lots of dust into the area.


Three women were sitting outside the maternity building. They were friends of the woman who had given birth that morning. The new mother was lying on a bed in the recovery room, with her newborn baby girl named Rosemary. There were an empty post-partum room and a birthing room. Of the six beds we saw, only three had mattresses. We visited the operating room, with which Pete and Lynne were already familiar.


In the delivery room we saw what looked like a chest freezer that had been donated by USAID. It was a cold storage area for medicines, but we were told that there was no electricity at night to maintain the temperature. Next to it on the floor were four car batteries connected in parallel that were presumably used to run the freezer. There was a birthing table, one part of which was covered with plastic. When Guillaume pulled it back, we saw a small hole in the table’s covering revealing the foam underneath. The birthing table was also given by USAID. We saw a place to put the baby immediately after birth. Three midwives were available to assist the doctor.


In an adjoining room there were beds, but no patients. A discussion (in French, with occasional translation) ensued about birthing practices. Guillaume’s colleague, who was with us throughout the tour, told of one tribe that wants the man to have intercourse with his wife while she is in labor. He explained the scientific benefits that could occur. Women who had a normal vaginal birth were kept at the hospital for three days, while those who had a Caesarean stayed for a week, mostly because, if they were allowed to go home sooner, they would have to go back to work too early. About 40 percent of the births are Caesarean, because they get the most difficult birth cases. Most assisted births occur at health centers rather than at hospitals.


As we left, we noticed a chain of beads hanging from the wall, mostly black or white, with one red one. This represented the pattern for taking birth control pills for women who could not read. The black ones were for the time of non-fertility; the white, for fertility. The single red bead was when the first pill should be taken. There was a ring that served as a moveable marker to keep track of where the woman was in her cycle. Guillaume explained that birth control pills were offered only to women whose husbands concurred. As we left, we noticed newly washed but presumably previously used rubber gloves laid out in the sun to dry, as well as two facemasks.


We also visited the pediatric building, where there were several small children. If they felt well enough, they were playing outside with their mothers; otherwise, they were in one of the five interior rooms. It looked as though most of the family’s possessions were also outside, perhaps in order to avoid contaminating the rooms.


Around 11:20 the group headed down the road for about 25 minutes to visit the Trauma Center, with the exception of Lynne and Pete, who went back to their room to rest. The others reported that they saw a lot of charts and tables and heard a summary of the Center’s activities from one of its staff members, who spoke about the different kinds of trauma and the different ways they would approach clients depending on their issues. According to what we saw on the walls, they were using some of the approaches initiated by HROC (Healing and Reconciling Our Communities) in other East African countries. Many of those who had been traumatized had survived massacres in nearby villages. There were four rooms, used for different purposes, including individual confidential counseling, medical treatment, and prayer. We also viewed the register of cases for 2013 and 2014 to-date; clients seemed to range from 16 to 46 years in age.


Lunch, beginning around 12:30, was outside. We left right afterwards for Sangya, stopping several times on the way. The first time was to fill some bottles with water from a spring. At that spot, a very large truck was having its flat tire changed. While we were getting water, a white man came down the hill and looked around for a minute or so before disappearing. He was the only other white person we had seen since we got off the plane in Bujumbura.


We stopped another time to look at the initial construction of a new Friends church in Nundu, on a hilltop that reminded Mark of his visit to Pendle Hill in England, 20 years ago. The local pastor said he would ask his Meeting to consider changing its name from Nundu to Pendle Hill. The foundation of the new building had been laid in 2008, but the walls were still being built with locally made bricks. While we were there, two men came up carrying bricks on top of their heads. The bricks are much larger than the standard in the US. They were also fired at a lower temperature and appeared soft. The brick mason used a large knife to true and trim them. The pastor explained the big plans that they had to construct even more buildings.


As we were on top of a hill, we could see all around. Below us were palm tree plantations. Across the water was Bulumba Island, which we had intended to visit the previous day. At the request of various people, Pete took lots of group photographs, and even one of a walking stick.


We next drove to the Nundu Hospital. With a church official walking in front of the Land Cruiser, we drove slowly down a path to a small group of houses. We parked in front of the largest, the home of a local church official who invited us to have a drink and something to eat. We were ushered into his living room. There were several love seats and chairs. At one end were a sideboard and a covered table. At the other end were a very large speaker and two TVs. On that wall were various religious posters showing a very white Jesus and Mary. On another wall were several maps – the world, Africa, and the Congo.


After we all sat down, the church leader welcomed us. Then the table was uncovered and we were treated to pineapple chunks, bananas, and a case of Fanta, after which we were driven to Sangya, the spot where we were to perform. As usual, it was a roped-off area with plastic chairs for us to sit in. We were met by what seemed like hundreds of small children crying “mzungu, mzungu” (white person, white person)! Adjacent to the roped-off area was a house with a small room that was to be our dressing room. The floor was dirt, with mud in a few spots. At one end, there were three five-gallon water containers; in the middle of another wall was a small wood-fired cooking “stove” with a small pot on it. Several small rooms opened off it. We put our costume bag on a bench, spreading one pocket bag on top of the 5-gallon jerry cans and hanging the other over the door. We had a group of small kids watching us while we changed.


When we were ready, we went out and took our seats. There was an opening prayer with the audience and introductions. Mark spoke. Then we did our dances as usual, followed by “Syp Simeon” (led by Mark) and “Les Saluts” (led by Rosemary). Sarah led the closing dance, “Rejoice, Rejoice,” in both English and Swahili. Then the locals danced and sang, with a few of us joining in. These dances, we learned from some of the women, were from one tribe only, even though others were present. This meant that they could not participate, and they were not happy about it. When we mentioned this to Mkoko, he said they didn’t have music from those other peoples, so we suggested that he explain that the next time, so people would understand.


The evaluation, signed by Munguatabale Franco, Clerk of the CEEACO Church in Sangya, made the following points:


1.  The dancers arrived at the appointed time.

2.  The costumes worn by our dancers were adapted to the people of Africa, above all to the Congolese.

3.  The dancers performed without actually singing; they danced according to the rhythms of the songs.

4.  The dancers were respectful of the Congolese and did not treat them as if they were barbarians.

5.  The spectators were interested in the gestures and the dances of our dancers, as the dances expressed peace, reconciliation, and pacification.

            Recommendation: Congo is among the countries that have been greatly threatened by war. Given that the folk dances presented were so great, they truly expressed peace and peace making.

            We invite our dancers to come back to inspire us and teach us these dances, as the Congolese people are so constant and courageous. We were happy to see you here among us, my folk dancing friends.


We finished up about 5 o’clock and headed back to our quarters in Abeka, where we rested or chatted until dinner arrived shortly after 7. After dinner, we had just gotten to bed when the lights dimmed and went out. The kerosene lamp was lit. When Rosemary finished bathing, the lamp was turned off and we went to sleep.



Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Abeka (Lweba)


After breakfast beginning at 7:40, and mindful of a departure time of 8:00, we picked up bag lunches, consisted of two bananas and a choice of soft drink, which were waiting for us on a table outside. We actually took off closer to 8:30 and drove for half an hour. Our first stop of the day was in a little village, where the driver got out and disappeared for a few minutes. Then we continued on until we came to a long bridge across a small gorge in which a river flowed. Women were washing clothes upstream. The bridge was made of steel beams parallel to the side of the road and covered with wooden planks, most of which were missing. Motorcyclists had to cross the bridge very carefully, making sure to keep their tires on the steel beams.


A few minutes later we came to Sangaya, the site of our previous day’s performance, where our soundman, along with the sound equipment, was waiting for us. While the equipment was being loaded on top, Mark, Lynne, and Pete, along with a local church member, took a tour through the nearby market. Women were selling various beans, fruits and vegetables, and fish, some of which came from Tanzania. Mark bought a number of small plastic bags of peanuts.


Back in the car we drove for a few minutes to Katungulu, where we walked up a road between houses to a Quaker Peace Center. We came upon several buildings – the one made of gray bricks was a church, while another made of red bricks was a counseling center. Inside the latter were three hand-written lists posed on the wall with titles reading Principles of Counseling, Psychological Consequences of Emotionality, and The Methods in the Process of Counseling. A printed poster announced: You are the Victim of Emotional Violence. Off this large room were several small offices. When we looked in the church, we saw that it was decorated as if there had been a wedding. The benches in the church were pieces of bamboo that were periodically spaced on a bamboo frame. Walking several hundred feet to a large clearing, we saw a foundation that was the outline of a large building. Across from it were a number of jumbled piles of gray brick sitting in ashes. Behind the bricks and to the side were two rooms that were under construction.


We were greeted and told about the area. It was the site of the Quaker school that had been started several years ago. Originally, the classrooms were made out of thatch. Unfortunately, some boys had unintentionally started a fire that burned down the thatch, accounting for the ashes in which the gray bricks were sitting. The two rooms being built in the background were the new classrooms, which they hoped to finish before the rainy season. The school initially had 150 students, a number that dropped to 120 when the rains came. The foundation outline nearby was going to be the new church. They also had a peace group in place that was trying to unite the tribes in the area.

Moving to the counseling center, where a number of chairs had been set up, we sat down for an opening prayer that included a warm welcome. A woman with a chicken in a basket presented it to Mark, expressing her thanks for our visit on behalf of the USFW (United Society of Friends Women). She asked that we tell others about the center and its need. Mark responded, and the basket was brought over and placed on the bench near us.


When our meeting broke up, there was some concern about what to do with the chicken. Hudson picked it up, finding that it was tethered to the basket. He broke the tether, put the chicken under his arm, and walked out. Mark brought along the basket, which was woven from palm fronds. He asked Pete to take pictures of it, as he thought his wife, Sandra, would be interested in the construction.


We returned to the Land Cruiser, where the chicken was tucked in a corner in the back. By 10:30 we were on our way again. The road had deteriorated somewhat; in some spots there were deep depressions. We had to ford a wide stream where the bridge had failed. At 11:00 we arrived in Lweba, the site of our performance. We drove to the venue, a dirt patch in front of some buildings. The sound equipment and our soundman were dropped off. Then we continued to Baraka, arriving there at 11:50.


In Baraka we were in a different sector, that of Makubala. We reported to the administrative office, where we were welcomed by the secretary to the chief of the area. After spending a few minutes with him, we returned to the Land Cruiser, where we ate our now partially squashed bananas and drank our sodas. Just down the block from the office was the Information Technology and Communication Center, surrounded by a high brick wall topped by razor wire. Sticking out of the compound was a very tall communications tower. Access was through a small door that was part of a bigger gate. Inside was a courtyard that separated two buildings, in one of which was a cyber café. The Internet connection was very, very slow. Most of us were able to access g-mail, though Rosemary, for one, gave up on trying to get onto AOL.


When we had all finished, we got back in the car and drove to the nearby Quaker radio station, Radio Lwenge. (Lwenge means “light” in the local dialect.) It turned out that we could not enter until we were cleared by security, so we drove to the security office. The officer in charge was a bit officious. He wanted to see our passports, and then had Mkoko make photocopies of all the front pages. While Mkoko was gone, Mark talked to the official and even showed him videos of us dancing. Finally, Mkoko came back with the photocopies and we received permission to visit the radio station. It turned out to consist of one room divided in half by a curtain. On one side of the curtain was a microphone; on the other side were a mixer, a transmitter, and one other item. The station put out 300 watts in the FM band. It operated only in the morning and evening. Since we were there in the middle of the day, it was not on the air.


Back in the Land Cruiser, we drove through town to the site of a Quaker church and school in Baraka. The school consisted of four classrooms, one of which stored bricks. Although the church has only 70 members, 270 students attend morning or afternoon sessions.


We then drove out of Baraka, back to Lweba and the venue for our performance. It was 3:00 p.m. When we got there, the music was blaring from the speaker, and a few people were milling around. We got out of the van, but a few moments later were told to get back in, as we had to drive a few hundred feet in reverse in the direction of Baraka, before turning down a dirt road through the houses until we came to a red brick building that stood out among the gray brick houses. Pete and Lynne wandered inside, noticing that the floor in the entrance was brick. There was one large room with a concrete floor and a table lined up against the wall with bottles of Fanta and several covered pots. There were also three tables with chairs. Lunch!


Outside, a hand-washing station had been set up. After a woman poured water over our hands, we soaped them, and then she poured water over them again to rinse them. For lunch we had mashed plantains, sliced tomatoes, cabbage, chicken pieces, rice, beans, a sauce, and bananas. Some of the local men picked up the chairs in which we had been sitting and walked off towards the venue. We drove over in the van, arriving just after the men with the chairs.


It was now 3:50, which meant that we, as usual, were late. We were shown a room in a nearby building that was to be our changing area. It was a little larger than some of the others and worked nicely. We got dressed and went out for our final performance.


Once we were seated, there was prayer. Then we were welcomed. Mark encouraged the crowd to repeat “I love a rainy night," which they did. [The crowd always did, but when the time came to sing it, they seldom participated!] Guillaume joined us for the first time in our first suite, Shalom, Salaam, Peace. After we changed the outer parts of our costumes, we followed with the wedding suite and then the participation dances. As always, we led with "Syp Simeon," this time followed by "Savila se Bela Losa." Finally, we closed with "Rejoice, Rejoice, Again I Say Rejoice," led by Sarah in English and Swahili. When we sat down, the locals danced for us. One older lady got Hudson up to dance. At the end, after we had changed, Mark talked about peace and led some prayers.


The evaluation, signed by Byaunda Watata, Byawa's – Jules II, CEEACO Secretary of Lweba Parish, read as follows:


            Our dancing friends arrived very much behind the appointed time, justified by their attention to the interests of CEEACO. The team proved the opposite of what we had expected, because it was composed only of older people in contrast to Congolese dance groups, which are composed of young people. The old guy with the beard told us we should never leave peacemaking to others, that it was everybody's responsibility regardless of age or tribe. Knowing and performing the dances of others reinforces unity, co-existence, and love. This attitude should inspire the different ethnic groups of the zone of Fizi and the entire Congo to accept each other and live in peace. The dancers' costumes, their dances, and their eloquence showed us that they are all peacemakers.

            One good thing, and a lesson learned, is that we understand that in dancing all the different ethnic groups are joined to the point where it can be difficult to disentangle them.

            The length of time for the dance demonstration was good. The dancers danced well except for a few times when they were a bit far away from the rhythms of the music, because they're so old. But it wasn't all that easy to see.

            We call for your return here in 2016 in order to pay the debt of Baraka and elsewhere. Please think also about bringing the tools of peace to us. To finish, we say "Thank you," and please help us bring to fruition some of projects we are undertaking here.


We finally left shortly after 6 p.m., as it was getting dark. Soon we were driving in true darkness. Everything was going fine until we came to the Tanganyika Sector boundary, where there was a rope across the road. We had to wait until someone came to lower it. We finally got back to our compound at 7:30, where we found dinner waiting for us. For the first time we had ugali, a white corn mush very popular in Kenya and similar to polenta. Lights were out about 9:45.





Thursday, August 21, 2014

Abeka to Uvira


After breakfast, which was ready around 9:00, Lynne and Pete walked down to the hospital to have Lynne's stitches removed. Outside of the building where the surgery was, a man wearing gloves was squatting on the ground washing surgical instruments. They found Guillaume and Rose and went into the surgery. Guillaume explained that they had done a c-section at 7:00 a.m. as soon as it was light enough to see.


After collecting the materiel he needed, Guillaume removed the dressing, revealing the wound. The area around its margin was gray, as it was necrotic, presumably due to poor circulation. Guillaume removed the stitches and put on a new dressing, telling Lynne to leave it on for five days before replacing it herself.


Meanwhile, Rosemary noticed with dismay that yesterday's chicken was tethered to a bench, with both its feet still tied together. It couldn't run away, but neither could it move. Hudson came to the rescue, removing the string around the feet, but leaving the bird attached to the bench. At least that way it could walk up and down! We were told that it would need some time to get used to the place and not run away when it was finally freed.


IMG_6199Back at our quarters, we decided that this was the time for the group picture. We all changed into our costumes for the Middle East suite, with Lynne wearing the makeshift costume we had put together for her once she was able to resume dancing with us. [See photo on cover page.] We took a number of group photos, after which Mark gave out FFD t-shirts to those members of our group who didn’t already have them. We exchanged our costumes for t-shirts for another set of photos, after which Pete packed all the costumes and the pockets away for the last time.


At 11:00 we loaded up the Land Cruiser and took off about 20 minutes later, stopping almost immediately to visit a brickyard. First we came to the storage area for the finished product – stacks of hexagonal brick floor tiles and stacks of curved brick roofing tiles. At the production area, we looked down into a pit from which clay had been excavated for making bricks. To our right, on the ground, were several hundred recently made bricks drying. In front of us was a mound of stacked bricks about 10 feet high, 8 feet wide, and 10 feet deep, on top of which were two men carefully arranging bricks as more were being tossed up to them. At the base of the stack there were chambers running through where a fire could be built. What we were seeing was, of course, a brick oven under construction. When it was finished the bricks would be fired. Nearby were large stacks of wood.


The foreman, a Burundian, explained the process to us. He had been brought here to teach brick making to the Congolese. Demonstrating how the bricks were made, he uncovered a mound of gray clay that had previously been prepared. Picking up a mold that could make two bricks at a time, he dusted it off and put it on a table. Then he dug out a large ball-shaped amount of clay from the mound, put the clay in the mold, and evened it off with a small board. After tapping the mold on the side to release the bricks, he deposited the newly made bricks on the ground.


We were back on the road at noon, arriving in Kigongo shortly thereafter. Mkoko and Pete headed up a path through houses in search of the Quaker church and school. After going quite a distance, they came to the brick church building with a locked yellow door. Someone appeared and unlocked it. Inside there were some benches, with a table and two chairs near the front. Two drums were hanging on the wall. On a table below the drums were two open boxes on long sticks used as collection plates. Lying against one wall was a blackboard. The other dancers soon appeared, and then some local church leaders showed up. They told us about the church and the church school, which has some 200 students. The school building, consisting of two classrooms, was across from the church. All that was in the first classroom was a blackboard, with 16/06/2014 – the last day of school – still written in one corner. In the other classroom was a mound of bricks. Nearby they were building two more classrooms. We were told that the bricks, which were to be used for the new building, would be out of the classroom by the time school started. We returned to the Land Cruiser and resumed our journey about 1:40.


At 2:00 we stopped at the port of Kovo. Since Sarah and Hudson needed yellow fever certificates in order to get back into Kenya, with Guillaume leading the way they went to get their yellow fever shots. Before reaching the outskirts of Uvira, where once again we were on pavement, we stopped to buy water. We finally got back to the Peace Center at 3:00. We unloaded the Land Cruiser and went to the dining hall for lunch, which was brought in at 3:30. Afterwards, Mark and Mkoko went in search of an Internet café, while the rest of us rested!


Late in the afternoon we headed for the local Peace Garden to have our final briefing. We wound our way down through the village until we came to the brick-walled Auberge la Marguerite, Jardin de Kiyaya. When we stepped through the gate, it was like going from a black and white movie to one in Technicolor. We saw green grass, and flower beds with plants. The buildings were im-aginatively designed and decorated. We were led to a lawn on which chairs had been set up. Around us were small dining rooms, closed off by drapes, each bearing the name of a soccer team.


Mkoko told us we could order soft drinks, which were brought to us cold. As the sun set, we had our debriefing session, with each of us sharing how we felt. By the time it was over, it was 8:00 o'clock and dark out. Lynne had brought her flashlight, but we were wondering how we were going to make our way back up the hill in the dark. Fortunately when we exited the hotel our Land Cruiser was waiting for us. It was a short drive back to the Peace Center.


Dinner was at 8:30, after which we returned to our rooms to pack. Mkoko, Rosemary, and Mark joined the D'Angelos to hear about Mkoko's proposal for a peace band and dance group made up of people from various tribes. He also talked about being a liberal evangelical Quaker among more conservative ministers. He vision was to reach out to the community regardless of the beliefs of any particular members.


Our meeting was interrupted by Antoine and Aline, who gave the Americans gifts – to the men a key chain with an African carving; to the women a little woven bracelet. They also had hand-decorated cards with greetings to us written in English. Everyone was in bed by 10:15.



Friday, August 22, 2014

Uvira, DRC, to Bujumbura, Burundi, and Home


Breakfast was served at 8:00; by 9:00 we were loading the van. We drove straight to the border, a trip that took no more than 20 minutes. At the Congolese immigration station, we had to get in line and await our turn. After we turned over our passports, Mkoko helped us answer the questions asked by the immigration officer, who scanned the passports and entered some information on a computer. Then, after our left thumb and index finger were scanned, one at a time, the official passed the passports over to a second person who stamped them.


Once we had all cleared immigration, we said goodbye to Guillaume and Rose and headed toward the bridge over the creek that separates the two countries. We stopped to take pictures under the sign that read Goodbye to the DRC. It was 10:00 o'clock. After crossing over, we went to the Burundian immigration station, where our passports were checked in one office and stamped in another.


Meanwhile the van had been driven over from the Congolese side. A local taxi backed up to it and some of our luggage was transferred, while some of us got in. A second taxi replaced the first, and the rest of our bags were loaded into it. Once everyone was seated, we headed toward the bus station. The road on the Burundian side of the border was paved, except that in some places the pavement was broken up. We came upon a small crew that was fixing the potholes by filling them with dirt and then using a small roller to compress it.


Once we reached downtown Bujumbura, we drove along the paved main street, turning off into the local market area. We arrived at the bus station a little after 11:00, and Antoine went to get tickets to Kigali for himself and Aline. We said our good-byes and the remainder of the group drove back through the market and more of the town itself, passing a park named Independence Place. Nearby was a very large hotel in various stages of construction, with the name on top reading (in English): Waterfront Hotel. It was nowhere near the water, as far as we could see.

We stopped at a nearby hotel and tried to find a way to download Pete's photos onto Mkoko's new laptop, but there were assorted connection problems and an unexpectedly large cache of videos taken by Guillaume. (Later Pete was able to download the videos from the last three days, Aug. 16-18.) Lunch at 12:30 was a buffet featuring a salad of avocado, beets, tomatoes, cabbage, and spiral macaroni, potatoes, rice, plantains, string beans, spinach, spaghetti, and beef cooked in a sauce. We also had napkins for the first time. When it came time to pay, we were charged by the piece, but the individual bills were quite modest.


A van arrived to take us to the airport. It had a very small trunk, but we managed to get most of the bags in it. In the back Rosemary, Sarah, and Mkoko sat with luggage under their feet, on their laps, and pressing against their heads. Hudson, Lynne, and Pete sat in the middle, Hudson with a suitcase under his feet and a pack on his lap, and the D'Angelos with packs on their laps. Mark sat in front with the driver.


It was a short drive to the airport. Before we were admitted into the area, however, we had to get out of our vehicle to be wanded; the underside of the vehicle was searched, as was the interior. Under a nearby tree were two soldiers, one with a machine gun pointed at the entrance.


Once we were parked, we unloaded the vehicle. Again we were wanded before entering the facility, where our baggage was scanned. Proceeding to the check-in counter, we saw that there was no computer – everything was being done by hand. The man checking in the D'Angelos had a problem with the code for Virgin American and had to ask someone. (For the record, it is VX.) He filled out the luggage tag by hand and checked the D'Angelos through to SFO. He used a copy of the itinerary that I had as my ticket and attached the luggage receipts to it. He then took it over to another desk. At still another desk they were checked off a list and given handwritten boarding passes through to Washington-Dulles. Rosemary and Mark had similar experiences.


From there we walked to immigration, where our passports were stamped and our bags screened again. When we finished, it was 2:45 and passengers were already boarding the plane to Addis Ababa via Kigali, Rwanda. We all took our seats, with Rosemary next to Pete and Lynne and the others scattered elsewhere. The plane took off at 3:05 for the short flight to Kigali, where we spent about 40 minutes on the ground before resuming our 2½-hour flight to Addis. We arrived without incident at 10:15 p.m. Hudson and Sarah left the group at that time, as they were booked on another flight from Addis Ababa to Nairobi.


When we exited the plane, we realized that the handwritten boarding passes we received in Bujumbura did not have our seat assignments. We wandered from one counter to another, but were unsuccessful in getting them corrected. Meeting up with Hudson and Sarah, we all went to the departure hall to wait. Eventually, we got into a long line at the end of which we were to get a colored sticker on our ticket to indicate boarding order, but there was just one person working the desk and a very long line. By the time we made it to the head of the queue, the agent pointed us towards another line, which was for actual boarding. It was already 10:00 p.m. local time, which was when the plane for Washington-Dulles (via Rome, by the way) was supposed to take off. When we got to the head of this second line, we were stopped, as our boarding passes didn’t have seat assignments, which we still had to have written out. Rosemary, in particular, was very disappointed to find herself in a middle seat, despite having had her original assignment to a window seat confirmed more than once. We finally pushed back at 11:15 – an hour and fifteen minutes late. Our landing in Rome at 4:05 a.m. was, however, only thirty-five minutes late. We were not allowed off the plane, which resumed traveling around 5:15. After an uneventful flight, during most of which we slept on and off, we landed in Washington at 8:03 a.m., almost half an hour earlier than the scheduled 8:30 landing. (The pilot said that we had good tail winds.)


When we exited the plane, we came on two mobile lounges. One was for passengers in transit, while the other was for passengers who were not in transit. Rosemary and Mark had hoped that, once they had picked up their suitcases, Rosemary would be able to transfer to him the one that held the costumes, so that he could take it back to Wisconsin with him. But he was staying overnight in DC, so they were not in the same lounge. [The following week, she sent it north via UPS, after washing all the contents, so it did make it "home."]


We all made our connecting flights in due course, and Antoine and Aline reported back that their bus trip home had been uneventful. Another tour by The Friendly FolkDancers had come to a successful end!




Les Danseurs Folkloriques des Amis

Dansant le monde ensemble


Bienvenue à la tournée des Danseurs Folkloriques des Amis ayant lieu en août de 2014 à la République Démocratique du Congo! Notre spectacle est une prière physique pour la paix, un vrai "mouvement de paix." Pendant que nous exécutons des danses ou menons les spectateurs à la danse, nous essayons de connaître les personnes d'autres pays du monde. C'est notre travail de paix.

Notre présentation se compose des ensembles de danses des peuples et des régions qui sont, ou ont été, à la guerre. Nous les unissons symboliquement, alors que nous essayons de construire un pont de compréhension à travers les problèmes qui séparent les gens les uns des autres. Nous voyons ce pont en tant qu'élément curatif nécessaire pour la paix. À ceux au milieu de la douleur, de la colère, et de la crainte, même l'acte de joindre leurs danses avec celles "de l'ennemi" peut les faire sentir menaçés. Nous prévoyons, plutôt, que nos danses soient vues comme une prière pour le bien-être de toutes les personnes. Dans la tradition des Amis, nous allons au delà de prendre des côtés. Au lieu de cela, nous choisissons tous les côtés, du fait que nous nous éteignons pour embrasser toutes les parties dans un conflit. La seule victoire vraie vient quand toutes les parties gagnent.

Nous commençons notre programme aujourd’hui avec les danses suivantes:

Les travailleurs pour la paix autour du monde ont tiré bénéfice du travail et du témoin de Mohandas K. Gandhi. Pendant sa vie il a aidé à rassembler les musulmans et les hindous de l'Inde pendant qu'ils gagnaient leur indépendance de l'Angleterre. Ce tissu a été péniblement déchiré dans la conséquence de son assassinat, ayant comme résultat la guerre et, par la suite, la création du pays séparé du Pakistan. Dans cet ensemble, que nous appelons Dans les marchepieds de Gandhi, nous tissons “Pinjare Ke Panchhi” de l'Inde avec “Estaferallah,” une danse universelle de paix dérivée de la tradition Sufi.

Shalom, Salaam, Paix est notre prière pour casser les murs de la haine et de la crainte autour de la Terre Sainte. Bien que nous nous soyons accoutumés au cours des cinquante dernières années à penser aux Arabes et aux Juifs comme ennemis, ces deux peuples sémitiques ont vécu pendant des siècles en coexistence paisible jusqu’à l'ère récente. Cet ensemble inclut une danse des Etats-Unis en raison de la capacité de ce pays d'incliner l'équilibre entre la paix et la guerre dans cette partie du monde. Nous commençons avec “Shekhani,” une danse chaldéenne (d'une secte chrétienne irakienne), suivie par la danse arabe “Debka Oud”; continuons avec “Shibboleth Bassadeh,” une danse israélienne de moisson; et finissons avec “South Side Shuffle,” dansée à la chanson “J’aime bien une nuit pluvieuse,” qui rappelle un passage de l’évangile d’Essène:

La paix descendra comme la pluie sur l'herbe fauchée,

comme les douches qui arrosent la terre.

Dans le règne de la paix la loi se rendra forte

et les enfants de la lumière auront le dominion

de la mer à la mer, aux extrémités de la terre.

Avec Ceux que Dieu a joint nous avons un genre différent d’ensemble. Malgré toutes nos différences culturelles à travers le monde, le mariage d'une certaine sorte est commun à toutes les personnes. Ce mélange le célèbre par des danses de plusieurs nations. Nous commençons par “Hora Miresii,” une danse de femmes roumaines qui évoque la tristesse de la perte d'une amie (typiquement en se démènageant au village du mari), et procède à “Lakodalmi Tanç,” un air gracieux et plein d'espoir qui vient de la Hongrie et célèbre la transition au mariage. Le pas reprend avec une danse croate, “Sukačica,” se rapportant à la cuisinière de la jeune mariée, qui prépare les plats spéciaux pour le régal de mariage. Nous finissons le mélange avec une danse qui est provenue de la Suisse et puis est parcourue par l'Allemagne, l’Espagne, le Mexique, les Etats-Unis, et bien ailleurs, jusqu’à ce qu’elle est devenue un favori éternel aux mariages – c’est-à-dire, la “Danse du poulet.” Nous vous invitons à nous joindre, de vos sièges ou sur le plancher de danse, dans cette danse universelle de mariage.

Notre programme prévu est seulement une partie de notre ministère. La partie principale de notre temps avec vous comporte les danses de participation. Tous sont invités à nous joindre pendant que nous enseignons − et apprenons − des danses qui enjambent le globe.


Les Danseurs Folkloriques des Amis (FFD)

Tournée au Congo, 2014

Biographies de la Troupe

SARAH ANUSU LUDISI est née dans une famille Quaker au Kenya occidental. Elle s’est mise consciente des Danseurs Folkloriques des Amis en 1996, quand elle instruisait à l'école secondaire des Amis à Kaimosi. Elle a dansé avec les FFD au Rwanda en 2008 et est ravie de pouvoir danser maintenant au Congo.

ROSEMARY COFFEY a voyagé avec les FFD depuis 1992 au Cuba, au Kenya, en Irlande, au Rwanda, en Australie et en Nouvelle Zélande, aussi bien que dans plusieurs régions des Etats-Unis. Active depuis longtemps dans le groupe des Amis de Pittsburgh (PA), l’Assemblée annuelle du Grand Lac d'Erie, et la section des Amériques du Comité Consultatif Mondial des Amis (CCMA), elle est institutrice retraitée, auteur, rédactrice, mère de trois, grand'mère de trois, et Quaker perpétuel. Elle a habité le Brésil, la Suisse, et l’Angleterre et a voyagé largement.

LYNNE D'ANGELO a tourné avec les Danseurs Folkloriques des Amis au Cuba, en Irlande, au Rwanda, et plusieures fois aux Etats-Unis. Une Californienne indigène, elle est une diététicienne en retraite. Elle a commencé à danser en 1996 et ne s’est pas arrêtée depuis. Membre actif du groupe des Amis Strawberry Creek à Berkeley, CA, elle se plaît à voyager, goûter la nourriture ethnique, et travailler dans son jardin. Lynne et son mari Peter ont trois enfants adultes et trois petits-enfants.

PETER D'ANGELO, aussi indigène de la Californie, est un ingénieur électronique retraité qui a été danseur folklorique depuis les années ‘60. Peter aime également le voyage d'aventure et faire du footing. Peter et son épouse Lynne ont visité tous les continents sauf l'Antarctique, auquel ils étaient en route en 2007 quand leur bateau est descendu juste auprès de la péninsule. Ils ont fait des excursions à pied sur la voie de Milford en Nouvelle Zélande, en Patagonie au sud de l'Amérique, et dans les montagnes Sierra Nevada de la Californie. Celle-ci est leur 7ème tournée avec les Danseurs Folkloriques des Amis.

ALINE DUSABE, rwandaise, est mère de trois enfants. Elle habite á Kigali, où elle travaille comme décoratrice. Elle  aime  la danse  depuis  l'âge de 14 ans lorsqu'elle a commencé l'école secondaire au Groupe Scolaire St. Jean Baptiste de Cyanhida. Elle a continué à pratiquer la danse même à l'âge adulte. De 2010-2013 elle a visité la Belgique, où elle a bénéficié de l'expérience de la musique européenne et ouest-africaine (de Sénégal et Guinée). C'est sa première tournée avec les Danseurs Folkloriques des Amis.

MARK JUDKINS HELPSMEET, bien qu’il soit né aux Etats-Unis, se considère un peu africain parce qu’il a vécu au Togo au cours de son service avec le Corps de la Paix des E-U il y a plus de 30 ans. Il habite l’état de Wisconsin, au nord des E-U à côté du Grand Lac de Michigan. Il travaille dans l’informatique, mais son grand projet depuis plusieurs ans, c’est le Northern Spirit Radio, des émissions qu’il prépare chaque semaine pour la radio. Tout le monde peut les écouter sur l’Internet à NorthernSpiritRadio.org! Mark a un fils unique, Chris, maintenant tout grandi, et une femme, Sandra, qui n’a pas pu l’accompagner pour ce voyage. Mark était l'un des membres fondateurs des FFD en 1986.

HUDSON OMENDA MAGOMRE est né au Kenya occidental dans une famille Quaker. Ses parents, maintenant décédés, servaient l'église comme des dirigeants. Il a découvrit les Danseurs Folkloriques en 2005 quand une troupe est apparue à Pendle Hill, un centre Quaker près de Philadelphie, la première ville américaine fondée par les Amis au 17ème siècle. C'est sa première tournée avec le groupe.

ANTOINE SAMVURA, originaire du Rwanda, a servi comme représentant légal de l'Assemblée annuelle des Amis du Rwanda depuis 2003. Il est également l'inspecteur des écoles des Amis dans ce pays. Dans son rôle de représentant légal, c'est lui qui s'est arrangé pour la visite de neuf Danseurs Folkloriques bienvenus – des États-Unis, de la Grande-Bretagne et du Kenya – au Rwanda en 2008. En 2011, il a fait une tournée avec les Danseurs á travers l'état d'Indiana aux E-U. ll est marié et père de quatre enfants. Un membre de l'assemblée mensuelle Kagarama à Kigali, Antoine est un artisan de la paix qui serait heureux de partager des histoires avec les Amis congolais sur le travail des Amis dans son pays natal.