Tuesday, December 05, 2006
Swahili in Syngala
On Sunday, I went with some Kenyan friends from Carlile College to Emmanuel church in the Syngala region of Kibera (i'm not sure if that is how you spell Syngala, there weren't any signs, people just said we were in Syngala). Kibera is the largest slum in the world and an area of great poverty, malnutrition, and disease. That said, it is actually one of the nicer slums in Nairobi and has been improving dramatically in the last ten years. Most of the homes here are made of mud and tend to be cooler and believe it or not provide better protection from the elements than the corrugated tin and plastic of other slums. Also, there is a very strong sense of community in most regions of Kibera and crime rates are remarkably low compared with other slums. Still, there are very few toilets, little sanitation, and many idle, uneducated children. . . During the walk to Emmanuel Church, I was greeted by many smiling children chanting “how are you? how are you?” (for most of them the only words they know in English). I was also greeted by some patrons of a local bar as “mzungu”, “white man”, and my personal favorite “coloniser.” . . .At Emmanuel Church I was asked to preach during the Swahili service. Because of the shortage of clergy, churches in Kenya tend to encourage lay participation and are always excited to receive missionaries. By God’s grace I shared on Psalm 27 and did my best with Swahili and with the help of a translator. Even though I didn’t understand 95% of what was going on, I felt strangely connected to the people and to the Lord, and I am grateful to my friend Jackson for taking me along. After the services we enjoyed some Chai together and began the long walk back to the matatu stand.