The sky in Africa is farther away. It is hard to explain. The scale of life is so different. I am aware of the large expanse of the horizon, of space, of large trees feeling small, of the sky feeling larger and farther away. The relationship between the ground and the sky is ever present.
I bring the dust of the day into my house at the end of the day on my shoes and on my clothes and on my hands. The red dust of Kenya gets on you, and you must respect it, and you must keep it away. Open windows invite a layer of red dust into your home, reminding you, making you clean thoroughly and regularly. My feet leave red footprints in the bathtub every morning as I start my shower.
My first five weeks in Kenya were completely dry. It was 80 degrees and sunny every day. I didn’t know it could rain in Africa. I was told the rainy season would arrive in March, and based on the huge sewers on the sides of the roads around campus, troughs for small streams to flow, I knew that the rain would be serious.
It has rained every day this week. The rains have come early. Welcome rain. Karibu.
The African sky when it rains is a demonstration of power and glory. The sky opens and sheets of rain fall, pounding the dry desert-like earth, and yes, it can’t soak in fast enough, and the water flows. The red dust becomes red rivers. Thunder in Africa is worthy of the giraffes and elephants and lions that still roam the land. A clap of thunder in Kenya shames American thunder. It is mightier, more majestic, with more space to make its presence known. Thunder stops me in my tracks or make my eyes open wide from a deep sleep.
The gathering clouds in a Kenyan sky must be observed. Fail to listen at your own peril.
When it rains very hard, as it has many times this week, my house will inevitably lose power. There is a flicker, then a dimming, then darkness and silence. The darkness is complete. I have a candle and in the stillness and darkness and the light from a single candle a clap of thunder is mighty indeed. The sound of the rain pouring off the roof engulfs me. This is a new Africa.
As I walked to class this morning the road was covered in water from side to side. The earth didn’t want it.
Life is water. In Africa we are always happy when the rains come.
Moderation. May there be no droughts; may there be no floods. Our excesses are cause for Mather Nature to share her excesses. Moderation.
Colorful trees, red and yellow, upside down in the reflection of the muddy water covering the road, reflected in a gray sky, create a new landscape for me to navigate, a reminder that things must change.