Sunday, August 24, 2008

Surreal Joy and Unity in Uganda

The ultimate surreal moment was reserved for the end of the night when Mr. Ndere gathered the audience into the center of the outdoor amphitheater nation by nation (with Orbis representing perhaps appropriately its own nation).
The 300 or so attendees filed down center-stage when their country was called: "Tanzania, Kenya, Sudan, Ethiopia, Germany, Tanzania, Democratic Republic of Congo etc..."
(The lone German representative, "Sebastian," was a German resident who had come to Kenya for superior surgical training compared to that available in Germany).

Once the audience was gathered in the center of the amphitheater, Mr. Ndere had us hold the hands of those next to us and form a circle, under the night sky. (He found it amusing how difficult it was for microsurgeons to form an accurate circle).

Then after a few moments of gathering silence, the initial notes of "Amazing Grace" arose and floated on the night breeze before the Ndere troupe broke out into a beautifully harmonized version of this classic. Swaying side to side, we all joined in the singing. The Spirit of Africa and its people was quite present indeed! (I had a similarly surreal experience when I was in West Africa a year ago--see The Waterfall.")

Holding Hunter's hand on one side and Bernadette's hand on the other, I soaked in the beautifying unity of the moment.

Within a few verses, the beat became increasingly insistent and vigorous...Before we knew it the Ndere dance troupe infilitrated the circle and started pulling people into the center to dance to the now uptempo version of "Amazing Grace." The drummers held a complex, syncopated back beat as we all started dancing. Even the normally reserved Dr. Warren Anderson and Dr. Justin Arbuckle started "breaking out!" Djalene, the Orbis communication rep. was breaking it down Ethiopian style. Amelia--lithe, lissome, and languid was in her dancing element. In fact, the Minister of Health complimented her on her skilled African styled moves, to which she replied, "Why thank you Your Honor!"

A great, great night indeed...
Somehow, I doubt I will experience anything resembling this experience at the American Academy of Ophthalmology in November....

No comments:

Related Posts with Thumbnails