Emily in Africa: Mambo Sawa Sawa

Emily Crane, our Auburn campus rep, is spending 2 months in Africa this summer. She will be keeping us updated on all of her adventures and provide a glimpse into what Mocha Club is doing on the ground.

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“Mambo sawa sawa. Mambo sawa sawa. Things already better. Things already better.

When the Lord is on the throne, things already better, things already better.”

This song seemed to be the constant mantra I heard throughout Africa. Teenagers in the schools knew it; men at church knew it; women making beads knew it; and even children in the streets knew it. How, despite having nothing according to modest standards, could these people constantly be singing praise songs with joy across their faces? This joy is one of the attributes that characterized my time spent in this majestic land. It seemed that everywhere I looked, every story I recount, every heart I glimpsed, they all comprised unmistakable joy.

Happiness is a feeling; it comes and goes and changes based on circumstance. However, joy is a funny thing that is unmarred by circumstance and uninfluenced by attitude. It is a temperament that one decides, not based on feeling or really on self at all, but based on something so much greater. Joy is the temperament I found defined so many of the men, women, and children I interacted with in both Nairobi and Jinja.

I was challenged as everything around me screamed the opposite: no money to pay school fees, lack of sewage or plumbing of any sort, corrupt governments, orphaned children left to roam the streets, the seeming disappearance of an entire generation because of this horrible disease known as AIDS. Few would tolerate this life; no one would choose it. Yet for millions of people this is reality, and rather than wallow in self-pity, I repeatedly found these incredible men and women choosing joy. Choosing to look past themselves and find joy in the fact that the Lord is reigning and because of that, this life is rather inconsequential.

Day after day the reality set in that coming from America, I come from so much. Even coming from a modest lifestyle by our standards, I live in total luxury. There is little I want for. Yet how often do I choose joy? How often do I let circumstance define my demeanor? How often does my mood follow the ups and downs of my daily life? Being in Africa showed me this absolutely shouldn’t be. I know I still have a lot to learn; for now, I’m going to follow this African mantra, seek to remember the Lord’s place, and because of that find joy in each moment. Because really, it’s what Christ calls us to:

“Rejoice in the Lord always, again I will say rejoice” Philippians 4:4.

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1 Comment

  • Reply Annie @ Mocha Club August 1, 2011 at 10:03 am

    So so beautiful, Emily.

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