It takes a village to raise a child… that’s an African saying right? I certainly feel like our whole neighborhood is one big family and all the children belong to everyone. I often host neighbor kids on the veranda, playing with blocks or coloring. When they’re thirsty they come ask for water. When they fall they come ask for a Band-Aid. When I return from a trip they call out and greet me with smiles.
This afternoon I was taking a break from lesson planning to play the guitar. I heard some giggling and saw eyes peeking through a crack in the door.
“Well open up the door then!” I said. Eight little boys crowded into the doorway.
“Do you want a concert?” They nodded emphatically so I started playing. It didn’t take them long to catch on. They danced and clapped and swayed.
Mauro shouted, “teacher, I want to sing!”
“Ok, go ahead,” I replied.
They began singing children’s songs in Portuguese and, much to their delight, I picked up the tune and started strumming. They fell right in with the rhythm of the guitar, singing at the top of their lungs and dancing up a storm.
We went from song to song, making up our own concert as we went. It was thrilling, being a part of their music. Mozambican children sing and dance with such pure, uninhibited joy.
When did we lose that innocence? Every Mozambican I’ve met dances and sings and revels in music without the slightest hesitation. I envy them. While I enjoy music and dancing, I find I can never fully let go. I’m always fighting my inhibitions. Who tells us early on that in order to dance we must dance well? In order to sing we must sing well? Talent is not a prerequisite here. It seems like dancing and singing aren’t even conscious decisions. It’s like scratching an itch, satisfying a desire to be a part of the music.