Wednesday, December 15, 2010

The Unusual Nativity Play

Last night I was treated to a great play put on by the students here at the school. As most things happen here, I was informed sometime during the day that there was to be a choral concert put on by the students that evening at the chapel. It sounded to me by the student's description that it would be a lot of songs and the like so I told him that I would be there and watch. I did just that at seven and had a very good time.

Everyone was dressed in their nice outfits which for men means a long-sleeve white collared button down shirt and dark black trousers and for the women a white blouse and black skirt down below the knees. I felt a bit under-dressed in a polo shirt and slacks but a tie and jacket are just not in the wardrobe so this was decent enough.

Inside the chapel the students gave it their best effort to get something Christmas-y installed at the altar: a flailing evergreen conglomeration of branches with blinking Christmas lights draped here and there. If you have seen Charlie Browns Christmas Special (and yes, I know you have) picture his little tree prior to the gang fixing it up. It was certainly festive but I couldn't help think that the setup would catch fire at some point.

The choir performed nicely and I was treated to a few songs that I recognized as Christmas carols. To be honest, I have not heard a one since Thanksgiving here as I don't have a radio or television tuned in to the blizzard of holiday cheer from America over the airwaves. To confess, I really enjoy not having that aspect of the holidays. Ghana does not know a Black Friday. It celebrates Boxing Day but it seems tame and reserved compared to the U.S. from what I have heard. When the choir finished we were treated to bible readings from here and there which was decent since there was no extended sermon on each passage which I have grown accustomed to hearing. After the reading, a new song was performed, sometimes by the houses (dormitories named house one, two, three, and four) on campus. It was quite good to see some of my students flexing their vocal cords.

Then came the play. We were treated to the retelling of the classical birth tale from the New Testament, but with the Ghanaian culture as the underlying base to the proceedings. One of the great parts was the portrayal of King Herod. He was a Ghanaian chief for all practical purposes save for the crown placed atop his head. Everything that had to do with King Herod was done for comical effect and I must admit that they did a spectacular job. Little baby Jesus made his great escape while King Herod thought he had vanquished his little foe. At another part in the play we see the townspeople not helping Joseph and Mary. What I smiled a lot at is that these are Ghanaians just doing what comes naturally, so townspeople carried large things on top of their heads as they passed by the wandering couple. I have never seen a play where that was part of the normal happenings in ancient times. Though thinking about it today, I can't imagine that they didn't use their heads to carry things back then.

It was a nice treat and the students really enjoyed the entertainment. To put it mildly, I am enjoying myself nicely.

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