To End The Curse-
The Chief had come and invited us (White people) to Namaneet a village about a six hours away. Almost my whole team was gone on break and we would need to start the journey the next day. I was feeling sick and had been for the past week so the notion of going on a six hour hike and spending the night on the ground did not seem wise or inviting. Yet, there was something in me that said “Go.” My stomach was upset, I groaned and I was tired as I asked the question I’ve asked millions of times in my life “God, what do you want me to do?” Opening my Bible I began to read. I was reading in the gospel of Luke about Jesus and thinking about the compassion of Christ. ”Jesus would go even if he was sick” I thought. So I packed up my backpack and set my alarm for 5:00 am and went to bed excited for the next morning.
The roosters had just began to crow as we headed out around 6:00 the next morning. The moment we started on the trail my stomach pain went away and didn’t return the entire trip. This was a beautiful gift to me and put my heart in great thankfulness.
Namaneet is considered the birthing place of Didinga. It was under a huge tree there that all people from Didinga would take their cases and be tried some condemned, killed and buried. There is a great fear of Namaneet because of all the people who have died there, they say there are ghosts there that will do you harm. In fact it was told us that right before we came a man was beat up by these invisible ghosts and that that a jerry can full of Marti (their homemade corn bear) was taken way up in the air and poured out unto the ground. I however saw none of this. No white person has been to Namaneet since the British left, so this was an honor. The occasion was one of creating peace. The Didinga people put many curses on the British when they were colonized and had much hate towards each other. One British man was even killed and skinned. They said that the curses had come back upon themselves. Their children violent, raiding and killing each other. They have drought and poverty. They wanted us to come and to make peace with them and to forgive the past and to end the curse and what better place than in Namaneet, the place of judgment.
When we finally arrived in Namaneet, we were welcomed with the beating of drums dancing all around us. We were crowded in with spears, shaking of hands and cow skin skirts, taken under a huge tree and given mats to sit on. At this point I admit I was so tiered I could hardly keep my eyes open. The meeting began and, as it was all in the Didinga language, I mostly tried to stay awake and smile at all the little children staring intently at us. The meeting lasted all through the night. At one point I crawled into the tent and slept, I could still hear the meeting as we were only a few feet away. At one point I woke up and counted Six Didinga women, me and a chicken squeezed into a tent all sleeping on our sides so that everyone would fit. I smiled as I had one of those “I can’t believe I am in Africa right now” moments. I woke in the morning only to hear the meeting was still continuing on. Chichila told me “You are needed for the ritual.” Ritual, what ritual? When you can’t speak the language and you have clue what’s going on around you and you live in an area that is highly syncretistic (mixing Animism with Christianity) My biggest fear is participating in witchcraft… but when you can’t ask questions with answers in English every moment is a step in prayer and faith. Having no clue what the next moment will bring. “They are slaughtering the goat and lamb, it’s time to join them” Chilchila said, I rose to follow her with my two teammates.
To be continued.