Friday, 2 November 2012

Extra Curricular P.E.

Thursday November 1st

As well as a record of my life in Tanzania, I’ve tried in this blog to give you a feel for the country and the environment around me, as I see it.  The main drawback to this is that I would need to visit Q with James Bond and get a special camera attached to my glasses so that I could take a snapshot by blinking my eye.  So often I see things that pass far too quickly to get even the simplest camera out and at other times it doesn’t seem right to invade people’s lives so overtly.  Q’s camera would also need to be able to take video to capture so many of the things that I have seen.

A bland description can never do justice to the sight of a group of Form IV girls celebrating the end of their last examination with a Tanzanian song whilst intricately weaving between each other on a patch of land near the school.  The moment has passed to quickly for a camera when the bundle hanging strapped behind a mother suddenly opens his eyes, with such enormous pupils, to stare in wonderment at the Muzungu that has just hove into sight.  And on the negative side, even a picture would not adequately show the fine bright red dust of Boza that seems to pervade everything and increases my amazement that my students are always so beautifully turned out in spotless, well pressed shirts and ‘ejabu’ (head coverings). 

Anyway enough philosophizing, back to the story.  I’m afraid I’ve slid back from my behavior during the first weeks when I fasted during the twelve hour day from breakfast to dinner.  The fault lies with Mr Mtoteli and also with Asha, one of my Form III students.  Mr Mtoteli, you might remember, invited me to his house for chapattis and when Asha informed me that they were also available to purchase at break time, I decided to try one and it is becoming a habit.  No plastic gloves and stainless steel here, as you can see……

The kitchen

…but the lady who cooks them is very pleasant and a quick snack at 11:00 for 8p certainly fills a gap until the evening.

The Counter

 I sit under my favourite tree to eat it and today Mr Mmari arrived to give me a bottle of mango juice to wash it down.  He suggested that the moment be recorded for posterity and as I have managed to avoid the wrong side of the camera for most of my time here, I could hardly decline.

Another lesson followed and I won’t bore you with that; I’ve done enough boring lessons over the years.  I have though been given the task of writing the end of year examinations for both my classes, so that should be fun.  They are certainly making sure they get their money’s worth.

I eventually left school, cycled home and could finally change into the shorts and flip flops that is my ‘chilling out’ attire.  No more school for the day; or so I thought.  About an hour later I sat, reading my kindle , with a coffee beside me, when I heard a mixture of calls of Mr Stuart and Babu and looked up to see a mixture of pupils from my two classes standing by the main building.  The YMCA had burnt out a volleyball court in the grass and the students had walked down with Miss Mwandaida to try out the new facilities.  What a lovely surprise.

We all wandered over to the ‘court’ and there we met the first hurdle.  Those big black ants had eaten through one of the poles and at the merest pressure it collapsed leaving a hole full of the pesky creatures.  Not to be deterred one of the workman came over and, totally ignoring the ants, set do with a pickaxe and his hands to clear out the remains of the pole and make a deeper hole.  As the old pole would not now be tall enough if sunk in the ground again, I did my part and wandered over to the wood pile that Eva and Lucy had built over the previous days, and found a suitable replacement.  I toyed with the idea of walking back with it balanced on my head but eventually common sense prevailed.  The net was a bit tatty as well and sagged away from the wire but when packing my first aid/handyman kit in UK I can remember thinking, “string is always useful,” so with the help of Godfrey I tied the net in place.

The pole on the right is my contribution 

One of the Masai guards from next door wandered over and looked as if he was itching to play but as he could have most likely jumped the net if he had won, perhaps he was better simply watching. When Lucy came over to watch as well, with twelve students playing and four spectators I tried to instigate a Mexican wave in the crowd but with little success.  The group stayed until dusk and then started back on the walk to school.  With no sun roasting their backs and a group of them to chatter and joke, I’m sure not even THE HILL would daunt them.

The obligatory team hand-shake.


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