I remember sitting myself down as I braced my cognitive facets for what media had trailed before me: Udani (song written by Edward ‘TNO” Chikhwenda). Cultural, vernacular and profoundly simple. The title had me semi-wondering as I grappled with ideas and concepts, attempting to construct the pillars of what this song might be. The ambiance was set, the network showed anything but ‘Udani’ and my ears were glued: “Tazunzika kwa nthawi yayitali ndi udani.” Gripped by the acapella prowess, sifted through the indigenous soundings of whistles and flutes, I was confronted by more than a melodious mantra. ‘We have suffered hate for a long time.’
“Wagulitsa m’bale wako ngati kapolo ndi cholinga choti uzitukule pang’ono? Wakaniza udindo nzako ndi ophunzira? Wafuna ntundu wako wokha utapindula?
Whether you understand the above words or not, the crux of the message remains the same; hate. Hate for those who are differently different; hate for those whose blood and yours is one and the same; hate for those who are not you. Our nation is embedded with culture. The ethnic mosaic paints a wild portrait beaming styles from the north, fusing passion in the central as the swirls of the south piece an ethnic masterpiece. Yet our eyes behold something different. We do not see people. We see ‘the others.’ We see the outcasts and frailties, exponentially magnifying our current divisions as we add ‘udani’ subtracting “chikondi” (love) as each day we multiply disciples of hate. I recently afforded the chance to be in a room with those who did not conventionally mirror what some may coin as “similar.” Our skin, vernacular and experiences embodied the very truth of our “differently different” differences. We started talking about our passions and what makes us ‘us.’ To pretend that we were the same would be brutally naïve. Yet, what stemmed from the multiplicity of worldviews was “the something” that bonded the hearts of mankind; something that glued the skin of humanity together; something that threaded through the seams of our human fortitude- and at the risk of sounding painfully cliché, ‘something that was bigger than us.’
When I look into your face I see mine
You see, whether black or white, ngoni or tumbuka, our humanity finds its roots in the same seed. A famous singer once said ‘when I look into your face I see mine.’ When I look into your face I see more than a tribe; I see more than a race; I see more than a world view. I see a human being. Our call to love one another spreads beyond the borders of our natural paradigms. The thread that we share, the knot that ties us together, is the bond that holds stronger than the walls we have erected in our hearts. For when I see you, I not only see me; I see an image bearer- I see God. I see His creativity being woven as our differences meet at the pivot of humanity. I see His holiness as I am daily reminded that we are all different (just as He is undeniably different from us all). I see His mystery as each encounter with His image bearers reveals my not so wanted tunnel vision. Our oneness finds its true meaning when our hearts perfectly collide with the heart of God. “And He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us .” Perhaps what we ought to see more in each other’s faces is this: a God who is wildly pursuing us in and through our differences. Our differences ought not to raise questions of ‘our superiority’ but rather of the Superior One for He intended (and still intends) for humanity to come back to Him- that He may be our God and we His people; a holy people; a differently different people.
Uniformity was never the plan. A sense of evenness in the tones, dialects and accents never made the cut. Each sunset is different. Each footprint in the dirt renders a dissimilar pattern echoing our innate diversity. Yet God remains to be the very thread of our existence; the very bond that holds all things together. Let us love. Let us dispel Udani.
At His Feet…
- Acts 17:26-28