‘Rain the Colour of Blue with a Little Red in It’

by | Aug 16, 2016 | Mediterranean Hope |

This week I’ve been thinking more about culture, personal experience, and the (often unintentional and unconscious) assumptions that we make when we meet people. I’ve also been listening to lots of groovy music on YouTube and have included exciting video links for your viewing pleasure – enjoy!

What prompted my musings this week was the idea, one day, to let the boys loose on YouTube to share with each other some of the music we all like to listen to. The results were diverse, entertaining, and also enlightening – one of the boys, well known for his awesome but very unique dance moves, showed us a video with some cracking Guinean dancers who were dancing in exactly the same style as him! (Video link enclosed for you to share this joy!!

https://youtu.be/_kfBp5kQwKw ) As we’ve continued to learn more about each other’s backgrounds together, it’s been lovely to learn from the boys about some of their personal rock star idols, and to watch them singing along to tracks by artists ranging from the likes of Westlife (https://youtu.be/6c64kUiqknY) to music legend of the Sahara and the Sahel, Bambino (https://youtu.be/fzWBow0OAeA).

This simple exercise was a small window into these young guys’ worlds, the huge array of fashions, environments, values and styles that they have grown up with. It sparked my interest in learning more about their home cultures, and, in true student research fashion, I embarked on a google trawl to find out more!

Reading more context about the boys home cultures was both fascinating and humbling. One example is the Tuareg people, from which one of the guys here has come, who live predominantly in the Sahara. As our music-sharing sessions this week revealed, the electric guitar is a central feature of contemporary Tuareg life. In my googling I found out that last year a film was made entirely in the Tuareg language, telling the story of one of its famous rock stars, Mdou Moctar, a contemporary remake of Prince’s classic ‘Purple Rain’. However, in Tuareg, ironically, there is no word for the colour purple, so as a result the film was deliberately named ‘Akounak Tedalat Taha Tazoughai’, which translates as ‘Rain the Colour of Blue With a Little Red in It.’ This is particularly interesting since we’ve recently been teaching the boys colours in English lessons, with no regard for the fact that the concepts themselves might be new as well as the words. Even trying to be as sensitive to other’s learning as possible, we still carry so many presumptions based on our own culture and worldview, which we impose on others even without realising.

We’ve also taken the boys to see an art exhibition this week, as part of a cultural festival of the arts happening here in Scicli. We watched a French documentary being screened there, about refugees living in Calais and Paris and the reaction following the French government’s recent changes in policy. Whilst this is quite heavy viewing, it was a good day out and encouraging for the boys to feel connected, although engaging their attention with some of the other modern artwork was more of a challenge, when all they wanted to do was take selfies!

While it can be hard to learn about one another’s backgrounds with barriers like having little language in common, with respecting sensitive issues and understandable reluctance to talk about some topics, or with the general challenges of establishing trusting relationships, the glimpses that emerge naturally through becoming friends can teach all of us so much. This week has been a reminder to me of the importance of listening and learning together and of the richness that this can bring.