Africa Rain

Watercolor series

I have lived in Africa during two seasons of my life — a couple years in Nigeria from age 8-11, and a decade in Kenya as an adult with my family.

One doesn’t easily forget the rain in Africa — sometimes assaulting the earth, fierce and bombastic; at other times waving a magic wand as it showers the soil lightly while sunlight peeks through the drops.

Under the African rain, the ground interacts closely with the heavens, whether welcoming the shower as a long-awaited relative, or as a visitor who overstayed the hospitality.

Mostly, rain reveals the character of the African people – their joy, their resiliency, their gratitude for the simple.

Flooding in Somalia

Inshallah
May it be that Mr. Hussein has rescued the books from the classroom.
Ali left as soon as the storm passed.
Put your flip flops on at least! (If they float, he may see them again)
Abdullahi won’t be home till sunset. Famished.
And what will he eat, soaked rice?
The goat is gone.
Drifted or drowned.
The kitchen floor is mud, my kettle afloat.

In flood, only one post stands firm.
In drought, only one tree survives.
After locusts, one root returns.
Mother.

 


Arsenal vss. Man City, Senegal

A ball with half its specified air
A bundle of rags wrapped into a sphere
Nothing more
Enough is plenty

“We’re Arsenal.”
“No, we are.”
“Stupid”
“You’ll lose, no matter.”

“I stepped in a hole of mud!”
“Ha! Play on.”

Shot on goal!  “We win!”
“Man City 8.  Arsenal 7.  Game over!”
“No, we have more time.”
“Mama’s calling.”
Aauurrgghh!
“Tomorrow we’ll get you back.”

>>>>>>>>>><<<<<<<<<<

The world hangs on the joy that is housed in boys.
Like a rope extended
we can hold on.
We remember to play
to compete
to pout or shout
To come back tomorrow
and try again.


Internally Displaced People — Northern Nigeria

Elegant Woman

She was elegant
tall and slender
regal in red

She might have become
one of those African models
walking a fashion runway in London
for all to admire

But this lady stood
where no lady should
in flooded camp of tents
far from her village and kettle

May she go home soon
when hostilities calm
and school teachers with guns
need to return and feed
their families

Why must we fight over
land and cattle?
Why preserve old hatreds?
Why must a woman of worth
walk through brown puddles?
O God, part the waters
make a way.

 


Three blessings (Baraka tatu) – Kenya

Waterfall Boys

Three boys have each found themselves a free waterfall, pouring off the roofs of their school. Two play with their splashing hands, while the lad in the foreground welcomes the cascade right onto his face!

This is joy unbounded by boys who don’t realize they are rather poor by U.S. standards.

And they don’t care. They have learned to rejoice in the simple pleasures of today.

These days, African boys are my teachers.

I sit down to write my missionary update and stare blankly at the page. My conferences, training events, and trips have fallen prey to Covid-19.

Teach me, waterfall boys, that I am of worth even when non-productive.

I feel anxiety rise in my chest when I read about the new cases and recorded deaths. I worry about my financial future.

Teach me, waterfall boys, that this moment, right now, has blessings I miss when I give in to worry.

Do you find that this unusual season is beckoning us aside for awhile, giving us pause to reflect on how we live? I do.

In March, I started a fresh study of the epistle of Ephesians. My heart was refreshed to read that we have “every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ” (Eph. 1:3).

Paul then releases a praise hymn which splashes us with eternal riches for the soul. The blessings form three doxologies to God, like free waterfalls cascading down on us who believe in Jesus.

Cable news isn’t reporting it. My Google news feed hasn’t noticed. But its raining on us. Free waterfalls are everywhere, one for everybody. Today let’s look up and smile at the goodness of God.

Teach us, waterfall boys, to splash and play in simple joys.


If you would like to read more about the spiritual blessings God wants to give, click here.


Makoko floating school – Lagos, Nigeria

Nigeria, the most populous nation in Africa, is vibrant, passionate, chaotic, and crowded. The capital, Lagos, has spilled into a lagoon in the form of a huge neighborhood on stilts called Makoko. The main commerce centers around fishing.

In 2016 an architect, Kunle Adeyemi, built an innovative floating school – a pyramid-shaped, wooden structure, floating on large plastic barrels.

I have never seen the Lagos Lagoon, but I came across a picture of this school and was intrigued. As I did some basic research, I discovered that it collapsed in its third year of operation due to heavy rains.

The ingenuity of this good will project still speaks. The cry of the African poor still cries out.


Errands on a wet market day — Ethiopia

Market is Life

Want to see how humanity has survived?
Go to an Ethiopian market. Or Liberian, or Malawian, or Mozambican,
or…
Or Haitian, or Colombian, or Mexican, or Palestinian, or Pakistani, or Iranian, or …

When controls are lifted, life happens,
and humanity blossoms in vibrant colors.
Hopes of a sale,
friendly competition,
supply and demand,
pain of a failed crop,
an innovative idea,
and ancient sales pitch. Ha!

A glance across the crowd at a shy girl,
a business deal between clans,
a hint at marriage negotiations,
a bribe offered in secret.

The human story,
ugliness and beauty all mucked up together like mud.
O how I love all of it
How God must delight in its unfolding.
He looks for ways He will redeem good from bad,
always knowing that
when it rains on market day,
the sun will shine tomorrow.

 


Thunder across Nigeria

Hear the Thunder

Shake the earth, O God
reach and grasp her hills and forests.
May your majesty light up the sky
in bolts of splendor
Out of darkness and gloom
show us Your path.

Announce Your truth, O God
proclaim gladness on all who despair
Thunder again in might and frightening beauty
Set them free who walk without hope.

Break the mighty eucalyptus
Split the altar on highest rock
Dispel the potion of priestess
take the gun from the rebel’s hand.

Clear the air of treachery
bring new winds of integrity
that people may return and find You waiting
that the storm may pass and peace return.


Umbrella Girlfriends

Umbrella Girlfriends

Ever huddled under an umbrella with friends
delighting in the syncopated thumps of laden drops on your nylon roof?

Ever felt giddy knowing that even though puddles were soaking your toes
that you had companions on the way home?

Ever wish everybody had friends to walk with under the raindrops
and could talk about anything with a chuckle?

Let’s pray for that.
Let’s be the friend we want others to have.


THANK YOU for viewing my collection. This is my first attempt as a learning water colorist to present a theme that has meaning for me and my life mission. It is one thing to paint an idyllic painting. My desire is to portray art that has meaning — to me, to others, and to the deeper issues of humanity.

All paintings and prose are originals by Robert E Rasmussen, taken from internet photographs.


3 responses

10 06 2020
Lauren

Really beautiful!

10 06 2020
Meagan

I loved this!!

10 06 2020
Anonymous

Wonderful paintings!

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