A ‘Barn-Raising’ – Congo Style

Black, thick, foot-deep mud is so much fun to sink into when you’re barefoot, and it’s supposed to be there…inside a house…in every room. This is for all the adults out there who have lost your memory of how much fun it is to get down and dirty, literally. Come to Congo and you can have a small taste.

Yesterday here in Nyankunde, the MAF international staff (and I, of course) had a crazy-fun, purely African experience of taking part in the Congo version of a ‘barn-raising’ (as the Amish do). This was a house, however, and the work involved mudding the bamboo frame inside and out. It was incredibly messy and crowded with well over a hundred people from the church and community helping out. The new house belongs to Kazi, one of MAF’s long-term employees in the village of Nyankunde where MAF is now based.

The frame was built at an earlier time, so this community day was all about the mud. The inside of the house is piled with dirt in every room (and there were about six). The women carry buckets of water from somewhere nearby and dump it into a massive tub, then carry it in smaller buckets to the house where a bucket-brigade of men pass it through to the room being worked on, throw it in the huge mounds of dirt, and mash it around with their feet and shovels until it turns into mud. Then it goes up on the walls by hand until every inch but the windows is filled in. This involves some throwing of big hunks of mud to the higher sections of walls, which I can attest, does not always stick.

I took pictures but many of the MAF staff got right in the mud with the rest of the work crew. It was such fun! Legitimate playing in the mud. No matter how hard I tried to protect my camera, though, I simply couldn’t keep the mud off it, or my bag, or my head from falling chunks, or my clothes….

One Comment

  1. Carolyn 30 January 2016 at 3:05 pm #

    That is a really wonderful community effort.

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