the joy

The music starts and giggles weave their way through the group. I glance at the girls and smile, watching their heads bob with the beat pulsing in the background and Loren yelling the counts. Then mass movement begins.

whatchu know bout me...whatchu whatchu know 'bout me...

I wonder if Lil' Mama ever envisioned her lipgloss poppin' all the way over to Kibera...

A few capture my attention. Quiet and almost invisible within the crowd before, they've blossomed into a force to be reckoned with once the music starts. Their names? Anita and Christine. Anita can't get through an 8-count without jumping for joy. Christine, if given the opportunity, could give any number of female entertainers a run for their money. Not only does she dance - just mention your request of "Yodi-Yodi" and a small smile plays on her lips before launching into the full version of the song.

Flash forward a few days. We get to Kibera after a morning at Langata. From the small field I hear music pumping - and some of the girls don't even wait to get through the gate. Walking up the path, with trash beneath them and sewage running to the side, they start dancing.

The joy is palpable. Walking into New Hope's gate I realize the music is coming from a sound system they've rigged for today's talent show. Kirk Franklin is letting everyone know how to Stomp and slowly, a movement rustles from in our group.

Within seconds, we're doing the electric slide. I'm not sure if anyone got the moment on camera (I'm kind of hoping they didn't). But it's something I won't ever forget because in that moment my heart realized the beauty and resiliency of Kibera.

Since getting back, these are the memories that haunt me the most. Kibera is hard. It's not within our nature to consistently place ourselves where we're most uncomfortable. We like our comfort. We like cleanliness and paved streets and toilets. But Kibera is more than this. The people of Kibera know joy. They understand the truth that what they have holds no weight on who they are in Christ. And this is what makes them so beautiful.

On our last day, I spoke with Anita. I asked her who she wanted to become - what she wanted to do after graduating high school. With a sparkle in her eye she whispered, "I wanna be a dancer." I glanced at her and smiled. "Of course you will be a dancer!" She lifted her chin and looked me in the eye, the grin spreading across her face.

"Yes." she said, grabbing my hand and giving it a squeeze.

Posted on July 3, 2010 and filed under africa, reagan2kibera.