Thursday, July 27, 2006

Moru Men Walking (Friday, 3 March 2006)

There were so many other, more important observations to share about Lui that this one escaped my recollection ‘til just now.

The guys here walk around holding hands! I had been in Lui a while before I focused on this. One morning, when we were walking along the road to the Samaritan’s Purse chapel, I noticed two guys (probably in their late 20s) walking ahead of us, holding hands. When I asked, Deborah explained it to me. This starts in childhood, when boys are good friends. As I’ve observed before, the Moru are very much about physical contact. So it’s not even noteworthy that boys of school age will walk hand in hand. And this continues into and through adulthood. Guys walk around holding hands, and it’s not even noteworthy in Lui.

But that morning, walking along the road to chapel, it certain did jar me and my male companions. They immediately started making jokes to each other. (“Hey, bunkie! Wanna hold my hand?”) For no American man would hold another guy’s hand unless they were gay. It was like stepping through the looking glass.

No self-respecting straight guy in the U.S. would walk around holding hands with another man. But it is routine in Lui. These guys grow up together. They are friends. And holding hands does not mean they are gay or anything. It just signifies their friendship.

Interestingly, and in sharp contrast, I am told husbands do not ever walk with their wives – much less holding their hands! When men walk with their wives to church or market or wherever, the men would be considered [as the locals put it] “less a man” for showing any affection. So the men do not even walk alongside their wives. The men walk together, and women walk together.

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