My Peter Gabriel moment

The school is located in a Catholic mission that was founded by Italians. There was a large community church near Stevie’s residence, and I would wake every day to the sound of music at the early morning mass.

It wasn’t the usual music of Catholic mass, though. There were drums, clapping and beautiful melodies, and the congregation seemed to know how to harmonize instinctively, which gave amazing depth to the songs as they carried across the field. A woman with a high voice could be heard wailing a sustained note at least an octave above everybody else.

Music from the girls’ mass:

The girls at the secondary school had their own mass on Sunday, with the same drums and singing that lent the ceremony a distinctly African feel. Six girls in matching T-shirts danced in unison in the aisle, and everyone else sang out in strong voices. Every recitation of mass was turned into a melody (which helped me know the words). This may have been a tactic of the missionaries or may have been introduced by the people themselves, but it certainly made it the most joyful service I had ever been to.

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