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Pole to Pole

Day 19: Karasjok

Michael Palin - Pole to PoleShe preferred the Tanzanians to the Kenyans, 'They have more self-confidence, more self-pride. The Kenyans just want to be British,' but she didn't have much time for Julius Nyerere's social reforms.

'He made long moral speeches on the radio . . . tried to get the local Masai to wear underpants when they got on the buses.'

Later in the day I witness a truly surreal piece of Same culture - a joiking ceremony. A joik (pronounced yoik) is an improvised chant, delivered in a semi-yodelling waver. It has no beginning, middle or end. It is musical but not actually a song. It contains the essence of a feeling or a character or an emotion that is wholly personal and cannot be transferred except possibly within a family. Our presence makes the joikers self-conscious to start with. They puff heavily on cigarettes (smoking is widespread up here) until some beers arrive and then the curious wobbly chanting begins. It all feels very Irish, or perhaps Indian, and later I find out that joiking is very much part of an international folk tradition. Indeed one of them had just come back from joiking in Reading.

Angela is of the opinion that we may well have been had, but I prefer to give them the benefit of the doubt. It's late when we drive back to the hotel. The light of the midnight sun combines with a gentle drifting vapour off the river to create a magical stillness and beauty around the half-harvested fields.
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  • Series: Pole to Pole
  • Day: 19
  • Country/sea: Norway
  • Place: Karasjok
  • Book page no: 40

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