Just walking out of an event. One of the most memorable of the year!
Jofrey Lazer highlighted the evening. He sang. He played the piano. He wowed the crowd!
Jofrey sings gospel. He sings upbeat. His movement across the stage “sings” a contagious rhythm that dances in my head, even as I’m leaving the auditorium. It will play over and over right along with the vision of his charismatic stage presence, his physical movement in time with the music.
Jofrey’s performance sung out the announcement of his newest CD called, “Living Righteous!”. Something else, in Swahili. (Can’t pronounce it, yet, but I’ll learn it, practice it.) Jofrey possesses raw talent, honed through church music leadership and entrepreneurial CD/DVD ventures. His popularity rides high among the friends and relatives who have experienced his inspiration. His ability to sell CDs languishes alongside many others whose talents lay hidden beneath any sort of “break-out” event and follow-up buzz.
Jofrey lives his inspiration. It spreads like the warmth of friendship newly discovered. His spirit prisms the source of his passion, the Holy One.
Tonight’s event represented his attempt to crash through that break-out ceiling that kept him hidden from Main Street buzz. Pre-event billing hailed his emergence from shadows of obscurity. Tonight, he broke the egg shell within which his talent developed. He emerged to the spotlight of popularity. Tonight, he starred. He headlined. He momentum’d into a seasoned, mature performer and recording artist.
As part of Christian Enablers’ mission team experience, and as part of a crazy idea to hold an event to show off TZ talent, Lota organized, planned, and pulled off the whole thing. He “advertised” it to the mzungu hanging out in Arusha. Personal contacts, flyers, posters. Sold tickets ahead of time, to make sure the facility wouldn’t get over-booked, over-crowed. Then talked with the pastors of parishes where the mzungu worshipped. Sold discounted tickets through the pastors, and gave free ones to the pastors whose congregant ticket purchasers numbered at least 5.
Lota maintains a friendship list that rivals the number of names on the Arusha census-takers’ notebooks. They all pitched in. Pitched the event as the first of an annual extravaganza to highlight the personal partnerships established between Colorado and Arusha newly-minted friends. They call themselves, “Co-disciples”, to reflect their mutual commitments and their resolves to share the same.
Arranged the entertainment, starting with a relatively unknown nonprofit organization called RULIDE. Rural and Urban Livelihood Improvement Development and Empowerment attacks extreme poverty, especially as it affects Maasai young women. It wages war on poverty with a slingshot and stone like that which toppled Goliath. Praise Ngowi runs RULIDE. Lota’s Mom also helps out at RULIDE, hence his insight into the talent available through that organization.
RULIDE advocates for Maasai young ladies. It provides programs for them to support their emergence into productive adults. RULIDE puts on events itself, and leveraged this experience to help with the organization of tonight’s event. RULIDE’s Maasai clients sing and dance. They perform skits, and they show off individual talents otherwise hidden behind the masks of innocence and adulthood emergence. They all shine, collectively as well as individually.
And they shone brightly, tonight. They brought the house down, even before Jofrey took the stage. They carried smiles with them as they left the stage that weighed down the baskets that held ‘em.
Lota prefers personal relationships over flashy stage-like presence. So, he recruited his good friend, Calvin, to help “emcee” the event. Calvin enjoys the stage, enjoys preparing attendees for the bigger events. Rather than simply announcing the next act, he interspersed each performance with his own proverbs, culled from a year’s worth of Sunday Wisdom offerings.
Know that, every Sunday, Calvin comes up with some new insight into human thinking, acting, and relationship irony. He intends to publish a book some day, with his witticisms, but for now, remains content to simply pull a smile or two from his audience of seat-warmers.
Calvin also knows a thing or two about the martial arts.
Just as he’s worn an Elvis-tight costume for his secondary school’s annual graduation ceremonies, he had the tailor stitch up the torn crotch from his latest graduation event. Yeah, he ripped it again, tonight. Cheap stitches, I’m sure. I know that he practiced those moves ahead of time. Must have worn sweats during practice though. They followed tonight’s Wisdom offerings whenever his wisdom failed to rip smiles from sedentary faces measuring his presence. He ripped smiles though, with his martial arts kicks!
Nasson showed up, also. Nasson preaches his Christian passion to anyone who listens. He rides the dala dalas, daily. He stands up in front of unsuspecting riders, and offers words of Christian inspiration, hope and comfort. Maybe through shock, maybe through respect for the source of his inspiration, riders listen, chant, sing and repeat verses that Nasson memorized through repetition of truth. Unabashedly brazen in his calling, he professes and confesses. Nasson street-preaches. Truly, one-of-a-kind!
Like Calvin, Nasson enjoys a crowd.
Nasson opened the evening with prayer. He offered a short message from scripture. Then, engaged the crowd in song. Even enticed Calvin from behind a corner stage-entrance to join him on the performance surface before his scheduled emcee gig. So, Calvin helped rouse the crowd in song, even soft-kicking mild dance steps to the beat of songs that Nasson introduced. Didn’t engage in any rip-tearing moves during that pre-performance introduction, though.
Between the performances of the Maasai girls and Jofrey’s CD recital, Calvin introduced the mission partnerships. Each partnership consisted of a same gender, similar age match-up between a US missioner and an Arusha parishioner. Each team told a single story about their past week’s experience together. They traded talking spotlights, but partnered their storied experiences. Each partnership left one or two tears on stage that probably should have required a quick mop-up. But, nobody slipped, except through their emotional retellings.
At the end of the evening’s performances, a couple of the more courageous entrepreneurs provided an update to their partnerships with US investors. Messiet, Angel, and Andrew reported the results of their poultry business efforts. None of them dared to demonstrate a “chicken dance”, though Calvin taunted them to do so.
Nenduvoto talked about the pastry business she started as a side business to her law school enrollment. She also accepted the invitation to read a couple poems that she crafted. She loves poetry, and aspires to start a “Creative Poets’ Society”.
Matilda recounted the results of her newly expanded greenhouse farm venture. Eric offered up the story of his emergence into private dental practice, and his ambitions to open up satellite clinics.
Each entrepreneur unveiled a glimpse of his/her personal backgrounds, each offering a special thanks to their Creator for the opportunities provided to them, and for life, itself.
I’m still juking a little bit, as I exit the facilities. I’ll sleep well tonight. I’m exhausted. On the other hand, I might not be able to climb off my “high” of the evening. I may end up replaying the evening for the rest of the night. Who knows?
But, I’ll not forget the inspiration provided through each participant’s performance.
Don’t wake me yet. I’m still dreaming. Still imagining. What could be.
And maybe, what will be.