I was in Ivory Coast the summer of 1994 during college. 20 students were living, studying and working with African families and learning languages, culture and so much more about ourselves. One weekend we were taken to a village that our host family had lived in for years. We stayed with families throughout
Everyone dresses in white to minimize any differences in class, race, social standing.
Credits: Goshen College
However, the highlight of the weekend, the event that both the students, teachers and the entire village had been talking about since plans for the visit had been made, was the soccer game on Saturday afternoon. The American students were taking on
Saturday afternoon we were accompanied by everyone not on the
The game started and we were off! We were laughing and shrieking as we tried our best to pass and play and remember how to run. Suddenly our professor's 14 year old daughter and I were dribbling the ball down the field towards the goal trying to stay upright and focused as the opposition made half-hearted defensive plays against us. But we moved through the sea of people and as the ball was passed back to me I found myself coming up on the goal posts. It was getting serious. The goalie came towards me; the last defense against two white American girls. I took a shot with all I had and somehow it bypassed the goalie's hands and hit the back of the net!
A moment of silent shock.
And then...GOOOAAAAALLLL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The field exploded in disbelief and the sidelines turned into a celebration choir as the women broke out in song and dance for me, the children shrieked and cheered and the men wheezed out insults to their village team in between their uncontrollable laughter.
I went down in village history as the white girl who scored on their goalie and they promptly put us in our place by dribbling circles around us and running up the score to a "respectable" number. Once it was all over we all good naturedly (except for the goalie. I didn't see him the rest of the weekend!) called it quits and gathered around some "refreshing" palm wine to hash out the details.
If you've been watching the World Cup, or even stopped for a few moments while channel surfing, you've heard the constant drone of the Vuvuzelas in the background. It sounds like a swarm of African bees and though many have found it annoying and distracting it seems to fit in with the warm savannah weather that I remember. (Yes, I know it's technically winter down there...) But that swarm of African bees is drowning out one other thoroughly African wonder. No one can hear the drums beats, the voices raised in jubilant song, the syncopated clapping and stamping that rings out the exuberance and love of the game on the continent. It's too bad we're missing that element because it is truly a joy to experience.