Monday, 2 January 2012

The Rains Down in Africa

One of my fondest memories in Italy was running barefoot through the bare streets in the pouring rain with my dear friend, Carly, as the rest of the city ran for cover. The rain brings me to life. And as a Seattleite, I am more than used to it. In fact, I own 1 jacket-though I never use it, and the only reason I have an umbrella is because I like the leopard print pattern.
Here, everything stops when it rains. At the first drop, people run for cover, waiting for the skies to dry-no matter how long it takes. The rain is a perfectly acceptable excuse for being late, or missing an appointment all together. In fact, it is expected.
One day, as my German colleague and I sat in the office alone, we called a co worker to inquire why they were not at work. Their response, “I feared the rain” made us chuckle, as we wondered if such an excuse would work in either of our home countries…
Though the rain makes time stop, soaks clothes that are drying on the line, invites all the white ants inside, halts business, and makes the roads worse than they already are… No one seems to mind.
In the States, we tend to curse the rain. But here, it is seen as a blessing. Because many women have to travel long distances to fetch water, once the rain begins, they run inside their homes to fetch every bucket and basin to collect the water from the sky. Additionally, people in the villages rely on their crops for survival. Rain is seen as a gift from God, as it makes their crops flourish. There are only two seasons here: Rainy season, and dry season. And though natural resources are abundant, it is the dry season that brings about draught and famine.
My Acholi name is “Akot.” Kot means rain. And though it is given to a child when they have a watery umbilical cord, I like to think it means “rain goddess.” I find the rain tragically beautiful, and I feel like I belong in its’ dance.
Still, I find myself running for cover at the first sign of rain like all the others. This is something I have never done before. Maybe my cultural adaption is becoming a psychological reflex, for I certainly know it’s not because I fear the rain.

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