Friday, 9 November 2012

Form II leave

Friday November 9th

As the school approaches its midsummer break and the end of the school year, the place is starting to feel very empty.  Form IV finished their exams and left towards the end of October and this weekend Form II will start their holidays, as they have been doing their own national examinations over the last five days.  No police guard this time but the invigilator is still provided by the examination board and luckily it was a lady, as she had to frisk the girls as they entered the hall whilst Mr Bakari checked the boys, who were all lined up with pockets pulled out ready.  Yet another innovation for Mr Cuthbert to introduce at Carleton, maybe?

One of the Form II girls will go home with a memento of her last week though, as one of the many dogs that roam about, bit her on the leg yesterday.  The standard way from a young age to clear goats and cattle and dogs away from areas where they are not wanted, seems to be a well aimed rock, so there was no shortage of keen eyed fielders to drive the animal away.  It made me think of Cliff, in South Sudan at the moment, who says that he always has a pocket full of rocks to drive away packs of rabid dogs.  Thankfully my two here are a lot friendlier, although I did see the possibly more useful side of their nature yesterday when two unknown dogs decided to enter the grounds.  Cheeta and Pola soon had the better of them and they were on their way with tails between their legs, but I certainly wouldn't have wanted to be ‘piggy in the middle’ when they started.  Having seen Cheeta with teeth bared in a fierce fight with the interloper it was even more amusing soon after to see her 'fighting' with the cat, Zai, on the grass outside my room. At one stage those same teeth were gripping  Zai's neck in a bite that if taken to its conclusion would have had fatal consequences, only to be gently removed as the cat once again  attempted to show its superiority.

By the way, a thought out of 'left field',  I found out today that the goats I pictured yesterday on the steps of Form I’s classroom belong to Mr Masui the head teacher.  Possibly another innovation for Carleton, to ensure a suitable extra income for the new head.

My half jocular plea for ideas for the blog has been quickly answered by Cliff who at just under 2000 km North West, is at least in the same time zone as me. He sent a good list and I will certainly look at this over these last few weeks.  One of his suggestions reminded me of a question from Mama Gladness earlier this week.  We were sitting, having a drink and enjoying the peace, the evening after the invasion had departed, when she asked me if I thought I had made a difference at Boza.  What a question.  Cliff, dropping into his role as report writer framed the question a little differently,  “What will you leave behind, what change have you made, who have you added value to?” 

What will I leave behind? 

Well materially, I will leave a printer and a laptop, the former of which certainly will make a difference.  I have nearly finished my terminal examinations for Form I and Form III and there has been a lot of interest from staff, not in their content, but in their presentation. Obviously I.T. is my game, so I have tried to produce a final copy for photostatting that is as good as, if not better, than the national papers that the other Forms have been recently sitting.  Certainly Mr Mmari, who seems to do a lot of the administration for the school, shows a keen interest in ways to improve his I.T. skills and by raising his own standards, will have the confidence to pass these on. I will also be leaving anything I brought with me that could be of use to the school; calculator, mathematical instruments, printed resources etc,

I realise that material things is not what the question is really asking, so what do I leave behind of myself?  I think a small, but significant, group of people have a slightly different view of life outside Tanzania, particularly life in the ‘First World’ and a more informed view of the inhabitants of this world away from theirs.  I have tried very hard to show that not everyone in the western world is a $500 a day tourist that passes through their lives without really touching them.  I have tried to point out that whilst everyone should look to improve themselves and aim for a better life, they should not necessarily look to the West for a role model as there is so much in Tanzania that is better now than what they would then aspire to.  Life is very different here but I would be gutted if I thought that all I had done was create unrealistic aims that would, in the end, lead only to a feeling of failure.

My head hurts!  That is enough philosophising for one day.  I will return to the question again, but for now bed calls and don’t be surprised if having read today’s missive you return later to find it has been heavily edited.

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