I am going through the equivalent of mad creative impulse shopping. My creativity has found two obsessive outlets; one my photography where I have been uploading images to Flickr daily and the other is my obsession with paint colours. (I am painting my house.)
Perhaps for that reason I have been a little slow on the writing front this week. So allow me to explain.
I need to surround my self with colour and beauty. I imagine sometimes that if I were in Rome, sipping a cappuccino at a café beside the Pantheon I would have an embarrassment of riches. Man made beauty would stand proud beside the faces, the clothes, the style, the food, the Vespas, the flowers and the gorgeous people. My taste for aesthetics would be satiated. Here I have to dig a little deeper and find the beauty in things that are really quite ugly. The colour of red mud becomes monotonous and I look hard for the hot pink t shirt on that lady riding the Boda Boda or the chocolate saucers for eyes with which the small child regards me. I have to look beyond the poverty and my white, too white walls, and see a different canvas.
The other evening quite an extraordinary event occurred. Unusual for the fact that something as simple as a neighbourhood game of soccer is very rare here when it is between the two worlds that rarely meet. We were at the home of a teacher enjoying a BBQ and the children of the invited guests (totaling 5) decided to take a football out to the alley to play. Shyly a few kids from the neighbourhood approached. These were children who live in the mud huts behind the apartment building. They showed our children their football. It was a few plastic bags, balled up and attached with string. They looked enviously at our red Man-U ball and hinted that they would like to kick it. Within a few moments a game had started. Our kids were quickly outnumbered as word got round that there was a game on with the Muzungu ( white man) kids and a real ball. For close to two hours a game was played. At first, it was us vs. them and then we formed combined teams. (One side was Arsenal and one side Man-U.)
They spoke little English, enough to ask if we had a TV or video games but they spoke with their smiles. When the ball got kicked into the garden next door, a garden that was locked and inhabited by fierce looking hounds, one little boy, anxious to continue the game, crawled through a tiny hole in the fence and rescued it.
We took Fanta, Coke and cups out to share before saying goodbye and they were happy to let me snap a few pictures. Seeing themselves on the LCD screen on the back of the camera was a small thrill.
It is sad that there are not more chances to interact in this way with the local people. When they see White they see Money. When they see White they often miss-trust. A simple football changed that just a little bit for a few hours. I am hoping to go back for a visit, take some photos with me and maybe even a football as a gift.