Sunday, March 18, 2012

the namibian children send me off with song and dance

My last days at the Bernard Noordkamp Centre, the after school program in Katutura that I've been volunteering at, has been one of the most beautiful moments during my stay in Namibia.

I arrived on one of my last days, with the intention of reading to the kids about the dangers of young people drinking (ironically, i had plans to go to the bar afterwards) when I discovered that the children had prepared a concert for volunteers like me who were leaving. They formed a choir of about fifty kids, all between grade 1 to 7 (with a few older kids helping to lead), and musical accompaniment only in the form of one girl hitting a drum.

It was absolutely adorable.

I always love listening to Namibians sing, because it seems like they all love to sing. Unlike many North Americans who needed to be pumped full of liqur and standing in front of a karaoke machine, many Namibians will sing, just because you ask them to, and they'll often break out into spontaneous harmony as well as call-and-response. I'm also impressed by their ability to dance in coordination with the music, which is something I've never really gotten the hang of myself. I just can't get enough of it. Especially with children singing. I love the sound of children's voices.

the kids sang a variety of songs in different African languages, many of them being spiritual songs, as I gathered from all the references to Jesus.

The children ended their concert with a touching song that was specially sung for us.

"good-bye our dear friends,
we shall never forget you
good-bye our dear friends
we shall never forget you
although you are very far
we shall never forget you..."

At the end of the song, they all filed off stage in a single line and gave me a hug. Every single kid in the program. All one hundred and fifty or so of them. That was a lot of hugs. Some of the kids were crying because they were upset about us leaving. I thought my heart was going to break. I may or may not have also had a tear in my eye.

the drummer


the biggest smile I've ever seen on Marybeth's face.

I decided to give back to the kids by giving my own little performance, in form of a singalong. I taught the kids a few North American classics such as "There was an Old Lady who Swallowed a Fly", "There's a Hole in my Bucket", the theme song from the Elephant Show, and of course, "A Pizza Hut" (the consumerist junk food addict in me can't help but come out sometimes). The kids had never heard of these songs before, but they learned quickly and were singing the songs well after the concert - especially the Pizza Hut song.

My favourite moment was when, in a moment of pure selfishness, I taught them the harmony parts for my band's song "See Me". The kids loved that tune too.

The music of Scary Bear Soundtrack has never sounded so good, being sung by sixty cute Namibian schoolchildren.

It was an absolutely lovely way to send me off. Thanks for all the good times and the good music, Namibia.