Giant Dragons and Condemned Goats

So, George Seremba, Christopher, and I are sitting at breakfast at Baobab House and George suddenly has a look of horror creep into his face. I turn to see what he is seeing, and there is a HUGE  crocodile looking thing nonchalantly crossing our lawn. My heart leaps to my mouth, and I yell for Bernard, our houseman, who comes running.

“Oh,” he says, “it’s harmless.” Harmless! I am sure it will bite my arm off in the least, and at most, devour me entirely. He laughs. I don’t. Turns out it is a Monitor Lizard and very rarely sighted on the Island. I am “lucky,” I find out, to have seen one. I know my mosquito netting is not going to save me from this creature who I’m convinced can crawl up the walls of the house and into my bedroom. I vow to shut the windows tight tonight, no matter how stuffy.

On the beach, a goat is waiting to die. I’m convinced of this. Every few days a lone goat is pulled on a rope to the water’s edge. He and his ‘owner’ are waiting for a boat. It takes a while but the boat does appear and then the man lifts the unhappy goat into the boat and off they go. I know this man isn’t taking the goat for a pleasure cruise, nor to walk him as a pet through the streets of Lamu. This goat is going to be slaughtered, and I sense it knows it. I want to do a ‘goat rescue,’ but I fear I’ll start an international incident.  Au revoir, petit chevre, I think.

Today was DeBrief Day. We gathered the group at Akili to hear their ideas and suggestions for the future.  Another dynamic and amazing conversation. Aside from the obvious and small complaints, – more Ugali at Lunch, more ‘electricity ON’ hours for computer recharging (all of which we took to heart)— the larger and more complex conversations were about Sundance’s own vision and the need for these artists to not be dependent on us in any way. There are many needs we can meet – more development, more mentorship, particularly in the area of directing, workshops, ability for continued exposure to each other’s work and to western work, travel within Africa to see each other’s work and to collaborate etc. But everyone also knows that Sundance cannot take all of this on, and that based on what we hear, we will begin to craft a program that follows our own strengths as well as their expressed needs. We promise ourselves not to think too much about this immediately, to let time pass where we can grow to better and more deeply understand what we are learning. I take pages and pages of notes, and then pack them away.

Dinner was a quiet affair after a nice afternoon of swimming and packing our suitcases. The participants created a fun ‘awards’ show – the Mandas (named for the Island). Virtually everyone won something. I received: “Best Swahili Speaker” and was asked to do my acceptance speech in Kiswahili. “Lao Osha Punda,” I said. (Today, I wash the Donkey). One of our Tanzanians fell to the ground in laughter. Not sure why, but he laughed so hard he had to leave the area. I walked home in the moonlight alone, looked at the ghostly clouds passing overhead and knew that in a few days time this will be but a dream.

Tomorrow, we will gather for formal goodbyes.

Lead photo: