Saturday, October 19, 2013

The Konkoran Visits

Thursday, October 10

Today was a day filled with cultural experiences.  Let me start from the beginning.  It is 6:30 a.m. and the kids are waking up.  Adrienne is already in the kitchen making our morning coffee.  Micah ventures outside and other kids follow suit.  We hear a ‘yiyiyi’ yelp and clanging, Adrienne quickly tells the kids to get inside.  The konkoran has arrived.  The konkoran is a man dressed in a red suit that covers him from head to toe.  He sorta looks like Snuffy from Sesame Street, but the size of a man.  He comes out during celebrations and roams the village clanging together two machetes and yelping ‘yiyiyi’. People in the village (unbelievers) believe he is demon possessed.  In fact, if they believe someone is out to get your child, they can call on the Konkoran to come and scare the person that is out to get your child. This time in the morning, the Konkoran only passed by our house and went on to other houses in the village.  We have a gate, so he doesn’t enter our compound.  Our children were upset, but they quickly got into the groove of breakfast and school for the morning.  Around noon Michael went over to the clinic to see Gibby.  There Michael found out that Gibby and his family (the Mane’s) were having a festa today and we were all invited.  Our kids have become quite close with the Mane’s.  Everyday they play together and the Mane kids usually hang outside our door as we do school anxiously waiting for them to get done. Michael and I have also become friends with the Mane’s, so we were all excited to go and be a part of their festa, or party. We arrived there shortly after noon and Michael joined the men under a tree sitting, talking, drinking juice and eating cucumber salad.  I (Karen) joined the women in the kitchen (see a previous blog to read about a description of their kitchens).  The women were all laughing and chatting about the Konkoran.  They instantly wanted to know if I saw the Konkoran and if I had an experience with him.  I hadn’t so they proceeded to imitate him and laugh about as they jumped around and danced.  One of the women took a rice sack, shoved it in her wrap skirt and started whooping and dancing about making large gestures with her hands laughing hysterically, making us laugh with her.  Later, another woman grabbed two cups and started clanging them together and running at another lady.  They kept looking for the Konkoran, saying he was coming, and telling me that we would all need to run in the house when he comes.  That is what women and children do when the Konkoran comes around.  They run inside, shut the doors and be as silent as possible, all while the Konkoran scrapes his machetes against the door. Eventually the Konkoran will leave and the women and children will come back out.  The men don’t react too much to the Konkoran, well as far as we have seen.  The way we understand the Konkoran is that older men know who he is and are not afraid of him.  We were at the festa all afternoon and the Konkoran did not come visit us.  We all continued to visit, men under a tree, children running about and playing, and the women going between a shady area and the kitchen.  Aminata was cooking the rice dish for the party.  She was cooking in the biggest pot I have ever seen.  When she was done, they dished out the rice dish into 21 large bowls.  The men were served first, and they all had spoons to eat with, then the children were served, Micah had the only spoon, then the women were served, we ate with our right hands.  The food was delicious, it was rice with fish and onions. Sounds simple, but it was so good.  I left with Micah shortly after we ate because she wasn’t feeling well.  After I left, Michael and the other kids had quite the experience.  Someone saw a man all in red and the women and children started yelling and running for the houses.  Our kids were pulled and dragged inside and they were all crouching in the corner of a room.  Michael got up with the other men to go and look and what they saw made them laugh.  A man was up the path visiting at another house and he was wearing a red shirt and red shorts.  The women and children came out and everyone started going home, including Michael and the kids. Our children were a little worked up over this false alarm, but we did our best to calm them down and carry on with making dinner.  In the meantime, Micah got sick to her stomach, Lydia found out yet another friend was leaving Catel for school so she was pretty upset and wanting me to go to her house to take a picture, supper was burning and the other kids were clinging to our side worried the Konkoran was coming.  We were working at supper when Lydia comes running into the house urgently pleading with me to get my camera and go with her to our neighbors to take a picture of her and Fatima.  Lydia quickly explains that Fatima is leaving at 7:00 p.m., I look at the clock and it is 6:58.  I turn the stove off, grab my camera and run with Lydia to take the picture.  I was thinking this would be a two minute side track...what I forgot was nothing takes two minutes in Guinea Bissau.  I easily took the picture of Fatima and Lydia, snapped a few cute pictures of some children and turned to leave, however, I couldn’t leave.  The Konkoran was coming! I knew I would be stuck at their compound until the Konkoran passed by.  The Konkoran can stay for a few seconds or a few hours, it all depends on how long he wants to stay and scare people.  The women and children ran inside grabbing Lydia and Josiah, who had come with me, and all the children (excluding Lydia and Josiah) were screaming and crying.  I stayed out on the veranda watching the Konkoran.  He stood at the gate and clanked his machetes, but did not come in.  I had my camera hanging around my neck, so I snapped a few pictures without him knowing. He only stayed for a few minutes and then went on his way up the path, already having passed our house.  At this point we had to calm the children down and Lydia and Josiah were pretty worked up as well.  We helped get the little ones quieted down and then we came home. As soon as we got out of the gate, Josiah took off running, with his arms flailing, as fast as he could to get to our house. Lydia hugged Fatima, who was delayed in leaving because of the Konkoran, and we all came home.  Jada had joined us at some point during the chaos and she said about walking back to our house, “My knees are knocking!”. Michael was oblivious to everything that had happened because he was out back helping Micah.  By the time I got into the house, Michael was confused.  All he knew was Josiah came rushing into the house exclaiming with tears about our experience. I had Lydia and Jada with me, so they were excitedly sharing their view of the story as well.  We were trying to calm everyone down and explain to them that we have nothing to fear because we have Christ in us and God is bigger than the Konkoran. We changed the words of the song “God is Bigger than the Boogie Man” from Veggie Tales.  Our new version goes like this: God is bigger than the Konkoran, he’s bigger than red costumes and the people who believe. God is bigger than the Konkoran and he’s watching out for you and me.  We sang this many times last night. However, even with our song, the kids that saw the Konkoran were pretty worked up and still worried he would come back. Then enters Zane, hunched over, yipping as though he is the Konkoran.  This brings the other kids fleeing to Michael and my legs which soon turned into all of us filled with laughter as Zane pretends to be the Konkoran. Zane ends up laughing hysterically as well. I wish I could say the rest of our night was uneventful...well I guess it was compared to everything else, but it took a lot to keep the kids calmed down.  We ended up shutting up the entire house, praying with the kids, reading them a few chapters of Stuart Little and putting them to bed.  Oh and in case you wonder how Micah faired through the night, she slept all night with no problems. (I technically wrote this Friday morning...ha!)