June 20, 2009

String Band

(This is part of an ongoing series chronicling memories of my life growing up as a missionary kid in Vanuatu. For links to previous posts you can go here)

I love the sound of a String Band. It is made up of a tea chest base (a large wooden box with a rope threaded through a hole in the top and kept taut by a stick standing up straight), several ukuleles and sometimes bamboo pipes.

String bands appear at all major events, but often just appear when the guys want to make some music. Every song starts the same, with the same melody. Duh, dah, duh-duh-duh-dah-duh. The sound of a string band is distinctive and pulses through you. I can't hear the sound without beginning to sway to the beat.

My most distinctive memory of a string band is from an end of year farewell for our pastoral care group. We are outside our house in the semi dark. In the background I can hear the sounds of other pastoral care farewells around the collage. I am sitting with the women on a woven mat under a tree. The men are around the string band.

Joshua is so little he can stand on the tea chest bass and sings with the rest of the band. He has the best accent of all of us. Little white boy stands out in a sea of black as the lamps try unsuccessfully to light up the night. He is half in the tree, half on the tea chest and shakes the branch to the beat of the song. It’s one of the ones they sing often at the college. ‘B-I-B-L-E hemi wan holi buk blong God’.

(B -i -b-l-e, is a Holy Book from God)

This picture is from the Island of Araki, by one of the members of the mission team I was on a few years ago, (Sorry I'm not sure who - if you want to claim it let me know! - pretty sure it was one of the guys cos the girls were sitting in another area). See how all the guys playing sit in a circle and faces each other?

And just to embarrass me here is a photo of me dancing with the village girls to the string band.

No comments: