When I first came to Mauritania, I went to a party and everyone was clapping along with the music. Their hands made a very loud boom and it seemed impossible to me that all that racket came from just the palm of their hands. When I clapped, only a pathetic noise emerged. I looked at my hands as though they had failed me. I was 33 years old, why couldn't I clap?
I decided to start trying to make the walls shake with my clap. I asked for help and my friend showed me how to cup my hands together so that there is a space when the palms hit. This air pocket can create an earth-shattering volume. With all my force, I slapped my hands together, resulting in very red palms and a loud bang!
One time at the beach another American began tease me when I started to clap. While others were effortlessly clapping along, I had to use all my concentration to be as loud as possible. It is hard to look effortless at something that requires so much effort.
Last night I went to a Tuareg concert and there was a lot of clapping. I was happy to be able to clap along. My lack of rhythm is another problem but that might be a hopeless cause! While I was watching the women, I noticed that they had different ways of clapping too. My friends and I tried to copy them so we could master their techniques.
I know it sounds ridiculous, but I am proud of myself for finally learning how to clap. Better late than never....