Monday, March 26, 2012

Arrival at Ote

We seemed to come upon Ote very suddenly.  The route through the forest had been reduced to two tyre tracks with vegetation down the middle for quite some miles and was beginning to seem interminable, then suddenly we were approaching a wide river with huge boulders strewn across it and a village the other side.  Children and even some adults were in the river waiting for us and went running into the village to announce our arrival.  We made slow and difficult progress through the river which was very rocky and uneven and came up the other side and into an open area of mud brick and mud daub houses like a square and on one side a group of adults were sitting talking under a palm thatch shade shelter.

It was extremely emotional to see Ncho Tabe Moses, the director of the NGO Forudef being greeted by his village.  It is two years since he has visited due to ill health, but now he was arriving with 3 British people and his daughter Ruth who was coming to the village for the first time.  At first people simply surrounded the vehicle and stretched in to shake all our hands, but especially to hug and embrace Moses and Ruth until eventually the driver had to give up any attempt at moving on and they got out to greet everyone properly.  People were moved to see Mses again.  Either he is well loved, or they were simply showing how pleased they were to see him, but whatever the reason this greeting seemed to be deeply felt and meaningful for all, as well as being joyous.  As for Ruth, they were all greeting a new daughter or sister as if they had to make up for years of not seeing her.

Eventually we were able to move slowly through the crowd and pull away across the square only to meet another crowd and people ran out of their houses to greet us.  Again they were as happy to shake our hands as they seemed to be to see Moses and Ruth.  We couldn't work out whether it was the novelty of us being white, or strangers or simply that they had all been told of our visit and were greeting us as guests.  Whatever the reason, it was a very warm and felt like a meaningful greeting.  Not many of the people we met spoke fluent English.  I had not expected this. There seemed to be a huge number of children around.

We finally broke free to be able to drive away to the lower part of the village about a mile away.  Here only the chief's house stands on a raises hill and a few new houses sit in a clearing above the river.  We stopped in a clearing at the road side and Moses' cousin George came to greet us with another group of people from neighbours and friends who had been waiting for us.

As we unloaded the first huge spots of rain started and in no time it was torrential.  All we could do was dive inside the half built house and shelter while saying hello to our hosts.

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