Saturday, 3 November 2012

"She is sick"

Friday November 2nd

I presume you have heard enough about my fortnightly journeys to Tanga so short of telling you that I managed to ring a Bajaj driver who spoke no English and explain that I wanted picking up outside the market and transporting to the bus station, I will not bore you with my day.  The fact that he arrived twenty minutes after my call instead of the three minutes that he promised was, I am certain, down to TIA and not to language difficulties.  I also, in Tanga’s Spar, met the lady whose husband, after three large glasses of Merlot, had offered a bed any time I wanted, and she assured me that ‘stone cold sober’ he would have made the same offer, so Dar, there and back in two days, looks a distinct possibility.

As I am now hooked on blogging, I still need to have my daily fix so I will fill some of the gaps that I have not mentioned yet, by starting with possibly the most serious. I was googling Pangani the other day and I found an article that bore out what I was told in the clinic in Dar es Salaam; it claimed that Pangani was the malaria capital of Tanzania.  True, many days when I take the register I get the reply, “He (or she) is sick” and it doesn’t take much investigation to find that most times the sickness is malaria.  Denis has recently been ill with it, Vicky is just recovering and at the moment Anna in Form III has been off for a week with it.  I am no expert but I am told that, unlike earlier in the twentieth century, a course of drugs can cure it and it is not now an infection that stays with you for life, but certainly the symptoms, which seem to compare with a combination of fever, severe flue and a migraine type headache accompanied by nausea and vomiting, can be very debilitating.  I had a moan in England before I left that the anti-malarial drugs cost £3.20 a tablet making a total of £320 for my stay, but, hopefully, if they are as successful over the last five weeks as they have been so far, it will have been money well spent.

My second point is much more positive.  One of my many(?) readers has asked a question about gender equality in the school.  Certainly from my limited experience at Boza, parents are as willing to invest in the education of girls as they are of boys.  Form III, which is the one I know best, has 15 girls and seven boys.  There is also a roughly equal split between Muslims and Christians and the only time there is any segregation by gender or race, is on Friday afternoons when there is a session of religion timetabled, and the various groups go off to ‘do their own thing’.  I did explain to my class that in England, religious education involved a basic study of all religions, and there was no uproar, just an acceptance that in Tanzania things are different. 
Corporal punishment is still part of the scene, although, as far as I see, very rarely used, but in this also, there is no discrimination as girls can be caned as well as boys. I did question the vocational subjects on offer to Form I for their next year with Plumbing, Carpentry and Bricklaying being the only options but I felt sexist myself when I mildly questioned why they didn’t have sewing on the curriculum as it seemed to be a common source of income around the town and villages.

My weekly trip to Pangani tomorrow so hopefully a fuller and more descriptive blog.


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