Up on 535 Salisbury Street is the domed place of worship that Albanians in Worcester, MA established both for worship and social meetings. In this big tent today, was venue for Albanian cultural show. Two of my friends (Irene and Robyn) invited me and I do not regret having come over. In my life I have visited three Orthodox Churches in Uganda in Namungoona and Sembabule. Two were under the Greek-Orthodox and one was under the Ethiopian Coptic/Orthodox Church. What I learnt about the orthodox was that they were a solemn and devout type whose beliefs stem from ancient practices immediately after the time when Christianity was embraced by the Roman Empire. This was a time when the Roman Empire had so much of Greek influence still intact in most parts. The buildings used for government meetings (Basilica) were given over to be used as places of worship by Emperor Constantine. A strategic city of Constantinople was a beehive of human activity as well as spiritual development. The name Roman Empire also changed to Byzantine Empire in order to be in vogue and in good standing with Christianity. Christianity then spread from the East to all parts of the West. I got to learn all this during the one and half hour lecture on Orthodox Christianity given by Fr. Timothy of Albanian Orthodox Church, Worcester, MA, USA.
Today, was not only a learning opportunity for me into Orthodoxy but, also a learning experience about Albanians. They came from somewhere around middle Europe in the former Soviet Union. They are numerous and have established many businesses from: catering, auto-repairs, construction, medicine, education to social services. I counted over 1,000 people gathered for the Albanian Cultural show. One of the Albanian stars in the 'dancing with the stars' act was an honored guest. And yes, he did dance to the applause of the proud Albanians. I was happy too, to have been here to watch. I clapped and smiled. Albanians noticed and one was brave enough to ask. 'Do you understand?' 'Yes,' I replied. 'Music and dance are universal languages.' I can dance to the music too. I saw many people look at this black African man among them. The biggest catch that garnered much applause was the dancing styles from: folk dance to ball-room dance. It was all so marvelous. Albanians have rhythm and the synchronous choreography is so captivating.
One song 'Mambo Number,Five' popularized by a Ugandan-German in which a lil' bit of Sandra, Monica, Linda and many others make this singer's day with the quick Jive/rumba paced beat, was a favorite of many. I wondered if they (Albanians) knew the singer had Ugandan roots. Here was I, I want to think I was one of the few people from Africa who graced this event, musing secretly. This singer happens to be called Lubega but he Germanicized his name to Lou Bega. This song made it to various bill board top 40 positions in 1999. This was in countries such as: USA, UK, France ,Germany, Australia, Uganda, South Africa, Nigeria, Sweden, Austria, Cuba and Brazil.
Back to the church, beautiful icons painted by a person (Dmitri) I met at a friend's (Robyn of Tatnuck Square Business Center) office. This was the time I was invited to visit this church (February 2013). I am glad I kept my promise in June 2013. On bidding farewell to the priest. He asked me where I was from originally (the first person I ever heard stressing 'originally'). I said Uganda. Guess what?....Yes! You guessed right! Idi Amin etc, etc, etc.....but this time there was another historical figure brought in the picture. Bishop Festo Kivengere. I shared with him the new things in Uganda including the fact that today the President was His Excellency Yoweri Kaguta Museveni. Finally, he got the attention of many other parishioners. I did excuse myself.
That was my day today.