Salvation Army, Kibera, Nairobi
Today, at the invitation of a friend of a friend, I went to worship with the Salvation Army in the Kibera neighborhood.
We began by marching with their brass band along the dirt alleys. This was the first time I saw an actual Salvation Army marching band, which I always throught of as outmoded Victoriana. It was pretty fantastic—the music was so loud and persuasive that many bystanders marched in place as the band passed.
The terrain was surprisingly foreign to me, and I started following exactly in the footsteps of the person in front of me. All my instincts of walking on pavement or cross-country were wrong when it came to walking on rough ground and garbage, negotiating the drainages, children, chickens, and carts of jerry-cans in an efficient way.
They stopped at an intersection and there was an “open air meeting” church service, with songs, prayers, and testimony. Several church members, rightly guessing that I had no idea where I was or what was going on, stood next to me and provided a running translation of the Swahili service into English.
After about half an hour, we marched to the church building for the “holiness meeting,” a famliliar evangelical service. There were several dance numbers by children or young adults.
The Salvationists were wonderful hosts, welcoming without any pushy proselytizing. I’ll have to get to know the Salvation Army community in Worcester a little better.
Kibera is the largest slum in Nairobi, with about the population of Worcester.