I’m on the countryside here, which I’m not used to being in for longer periods. Time get’s a bit slow at points.
Today is Sunday, and religion is a big thing here, even though it’s not as blatantly expressed as for instance in West Africa. I don’t see posters advertising for foreign celebrity preachers visiting here (maybe because I'm on the countryside?) and I’m not asked for my home church or to go to church every week, but still: you can hear it, see it and feel it.
The town is empty and quiet, everything is closed. The usually crowded and, considering the size of the town, remarkably noisy Matatu station is now almost like in a ghost town, there’s just a few of us wondering what all the few others are even doing there. On top if it all it’s as hot and pressing as it can get here during the sunny days in the rainy season, which is hot. So I keep expecting young Clint Eastwood to appear from around the corner with something between his teeth. One more experience for me...
The Wild West illusion lasts as long as you manage to keep your ears shut. Sunday is the day of church, but that also means that it is the day of music. It’s not all good gospels, as one might think or hope, but it is music in all its forms, loud and clear, coming for at least two different, more or less hidden sources in each concentration of dwellings. Taking a long walk along empty roads through empty villages but still hearing music all the time has to be one kind of a simulation of the more disturbed form of hearing noises.
I haven’t visited any of the churches here, because I don’t think they are considered to be as much tourist attractions here as in Europe, and I’m afraid I would feel a lot out of place. Maybe one of these lonely Sundays… There’s a limit as to how much I can walk around, run around, cycle around, or drive around. Or read, write or watch movies and series.
Did I mention already that it’s really hot?
But now I’m of course exaggerating. In the afternoons, bars will open and it seems that the limited population of Wundanyi moves from the surprisingly many religious establishments to the surprisingly many places showing the English Premier League. That’s where you get to be bored without having to complain about it. No thinking about what to do, just watching! That's my kind of Sunday activity, so I join them.
During the weekdays, the human world of sounds is, surprisingly and against all odds, dominated by Islam. That’s what you hear when you wake up and when you go to bed: the muezzin. There’s a mosque, apparently with Metallica-class loudspeakers, on a nearby hill, and they're building a new one next to the prison, whatever the symbology of that is supposed to be. New, well built mosques and the right to daily (many times a day, actually) call to prayers that is forbidden in most of Europe, only for a handful of people in a very Christian community, in a country where religious tensions have been in the minds of everybody maybe more than anywhere else in the world (Think Westgate, to begin with). Why? The explanation I've got, being probably a parted one, is that the Muslim community here is really good at playing the general concern of repression for their benefit. All claims for more mosques to be built or any other rights are backed by claims of repression based on religion, and that is actually taken seriously here. This might of course be a consequence of a near history and a perceived threat of outright religious violence in the country. Or it might be the workings of foreign funders, wanting to spreads Islam. One friend calls them crusaders... Or could this just be a form of surprising tolerance?
Just to point out, the Muslims I have actually met have not been different from their neighbors in any way, their faith has only been found out by asking.