Do Not Be Daunted

Do not be daunted by the enormity of the world’s grief. Do justly, now. Love mercy, now. Walk humbly, now. You are not obligated to complete the work, but neither are you free to abandon it. -Talmud A Photo Essay of New Orleans  

‘Malaika’ guitar chords, lyrics, and translation

‘Malaika’ is one of the most famous Swahili love songs, often attributed to the Kenyan musician Fadhili William. He first recorded the song with his band the Jambo Boys in 1960. I heard this song for the first time in 2007 while living with the Kunjombe family in Bagamoyo, Tanzania. My host mother, Mariam, sang this…

‘Tanzania Nakupenda Kwa Moyo Wote’ guitar chords and lyrics

‘Tanzania Nakupenda Kwa Moyo Wote’ is a beautiful Swahili song that I heard often while living in Tanzania. It is also featured in the documentary “Darwin’s Nightmare,” a film about the exploitative weapons and fish industry on the shores of Tanzania’s Lake Victoria. I highly recommend the documentary to anyone interested in understanding ‘development,’ poverty,…

How We Are Entertained

In Afghanistan the ancient sport of buzkashi is played by men on horseback and the decapitated carcass of a goat. The object is to toss the cadaver into a circle drawn in dust. It is called the Circle of Justice. They whip and beat each other to make it there, heels digging into the heaving…

Impressions on an Anniversary

My parents and I board a plane from Atlanta to New York City on an overcast day in late February. As soon as we enter the long terminal at Hartsfield-Jackson International, I feel the eerie liminality of air travel seal us into artificial limbo. Time and space pause at the beginning of a journey. The…

After the Rains, the Dudu

The epic battle between the pencil and the watch had nearly reached its climax. My five-year-old host brother Junior was using his considerable vocal range to breathe all the anguish and clamor of combat into the small space above my mattress where he crouched, gripping the sworn enemies in his fists. Pah!!!! Eh heh. Bam!!!…

The Only Thing That Never Fails

Merlyn’s advice to young Wart, soon to be King Arthur, from TH White’s The Once and Future King: “The best thing for being sad,” replied Merlyn, beginning to puff and blow, “is to learn something. That is the only thing that never fails. You may grow old and trembling in your anatomies. You may lie…

Closer to Fine

The thin layer of skin over the spot on my shin where the taxi crashed into my leg has just formed. Only two days ago it stopped bleeding and draining — the first time in seven months that I haven’t had an open wound. Though for much of this time it was small, it loomed…

On choosing a path…

“The place God calls you to is where your deep gladness and the world’s deep hunger meet.” -Frederick Buechner

Unpacking the Past

About a week ago the five month anniversary of my motorbike accident in Tanzania passed by with little more than a sigh, as if a wind blew in Africa and rustled the leaves of a tree where I once sat, and I thought of its broad limbs at that exact instant. The sight of the…

‘Mungu Ibariki Afrika’ Guitar Tabs

Versions of this song are the national anthems for Tanzania, Zambia and South Africa. After several unsuccessful online searches for the guitar chords, I tried to figure them out myself. Corrections welcome! Mungu Ibariki Tanzania C                          G    C Mungu ibariki Afrika C                 F      C    G Wabariki Viongozi wake C                          G  …

swahili proverb

Hoping without struggling is like waiting for food in an empty pot.

Expats

(editorial note: I’ve decided to start posting some of my short stories on this blog. When I do, I will inform my readers. The following story is fictional.) On a hot day, Tom and I take the ferry from the downtown dock to the south end of Dar es Salaam, where a ribbon of beaches…

This is Recovery, This is Healing.

“I am not afraid of storms, for I am learning how to sail my ship.” -Louisa May Alcott Since my accident and subsequent return to the United States, I’ve been doing all I can to avoid slipping into a catatonic stupor or mindless depression induced by bed rest and boredom. The pile of books that…