Thursday, June 19, 2014

We Are (Watching) Together

I arrived at the radio station tonight, intending to broadcast live. I host a weekly show called "What the Pope Says," with a fairly obvious topic. I'm working through Evangelii Gaudium bit by bit. We're right now getting to some interesting and challenging things that Francis writes about economics, society, and the Christian's duties to the marginalized.

However, upon arriving, I discovered that the station was not broadcasting, even though there was current  (meaning the power was on.) The reason? Football. Cameroon was playing Germany in what I was told was the World Cup, but that hasn't started yet. It was just a friendly exhibition match. Well, the Radio Evangelium station house is located right at Junction, and I had noticed that the place was particularly hopping for a Sunday night. Many people enjoying drinks in bars, laughing and joking with friends, and all were gathered to watch the match. Many people don't have televisions, so the bars become sports bars during football matches, with dozens of people crowding around one 17 inch screen with fuzzy reception.

In the radio house, I managed to get a couple of shows recorded while the tech guy for the radio was watching the match with his friends in the next room. I made my way back home in the dark of the night, enjoying the moonlight and the stars. With all the ambient light in the USA, it is not often that I get to enjoy pure starlight in the states.  But here, where there aren't streetlights to speak of, I can enjoy the deep surprising beauty of the stars any and every night I choose to. SAC is located on the top of a hill, and when the corn is not high, you can see most of the town down in the valley below. There are always far fewer lights than one would expect given Kumbo's population, and the whole place is eerily dark when there is no current. But that was not the case tonight! With the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon playing a match, even an exhibition match, the current was there, and didn't go out until after the game ended. We take soccer seriously here.

I was almost home when a most amazing thing happened: I knew, without listening to the radio or watching television, that Cameroon had scored a goal. The entire Kumbo valley let out a celebratory roar. I felt a little like the Grinch listening to the whos down in Whoville. It was almost 9 pm, when most people are at home and asleep because light costs money, and money is scarce. But tonight, the whole town was up and watching. You can believe the whole country was up and watching: watching an exhibition game, with no real consequences for a win or a loss, and cheering so loud at a goal that it could be heard miles up the hill. That sound just filled the whole valley, coming from every house with a light on inside. It kind of gives a different spin to the oft heard "we are together."

If this is what happens for an exhibition match, it will certainly be interesting to see what happens for the World Cup matches, set to begin in a few short weeks.

FYI, the match ended in a draw, 2-2.


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