Tuesday, 6 November 2012

The morning after…

Tuesday November 6th

Slowly our extra visitors have drifted away throughout the day.  Our German friends got a minibus to Pangani, which still has a small grass runway, and from there they caught a plane to Zanzibar where they will stay for three days before returning home.  The boss man, who actually responded to my Salaama today, left not long after and some of the workmen have returned to Moshi as well.  I incidentally found out that the workman coming from Moshi is also a tribal thing, in that Mama Gladness feels that the tribe from that area are harder working than the locals in this area.  Anyway, whatever, the place is a great deal quieter and there is time for the permanent staff here to relax a little.

At school yesterday, Gerald, one of my Form I students, asked me how he could improve his English and I gave the stock answer – use it.  I came out will all the usually analogies about muscles wasting if not used etc etc until I suddenly realised that possibly by indulging my delight in a new language, I wasn’t helping my students in the way I hoped.  As I have said, some of Form III still have poor English skills even after nearly three years in secondary school so what I have suggested is that out of the three eighty minute lessons we share a week, for two of them there will be only English spoken in the classroom and for one lesson there will only be Swahili spoken.  Obviously the notes they take off the board have to be in English as this is the accepted way, but instruction from me and any conversations between them must follow this pattern.  We started today with English and to be fair they took to it well; I think I had more problems avoiding the odd slip into a Swahili word than they did.  Thursday is our next lesson and that will be Swahili so will be taxing for me, but before our next English only lesson on Monday I have to find a way of involving the quieter ones more and give them the confidence to experiment.  I’ll keep you posted.

Immediately after my English only lesson was break and I received the invitation to a cup of Chai and a Chapatti in the headmaster’s office, which I obviously didn’t refuse.  I failed to mention this at Mr Mtotele’s but, as there, the process started with Mr Masui picking up a metal bowl and pouring water over my hands so that I could wash them before I ate.  He then poured me a full cup of chai and put a chapatti on my plate. I can only hope that Mr Masui doesn’t read my blog, because although the chapatti was delicious, I used the opportunity presented when he was called out by the school secretary to flick open the louvered window and tip the remains of my drink out onto the ground.

I spent the rest of the school time composing the Form I ‘Terminal Examination’ and then set off home to Mkoma Bay.  I must have been here too long because as I turned off the road to cut across the fields on the way home, I glanced at my strong shadow and for all the world it looked like Miss Marple.  So much for the macho image, which was also sadly lacking when, once again, I came upon the soldier ants crossing my path, this time in almost perfect four abreast rows.  I felt that if I had known the Swahili for ‘eyes left’ they would have turned as one.

I sat talking to Vicky before dinner this evening and strung together three sentences of Swahili.  Now I know a little about the structure of sentences my little dictionary is becoming more useful and in speaking Swahili I am improving.  Listening is a whole different ‘ball game’ as would be expected and even phrases that I use myself, when run together at speed become meaningless. Why a race for which ‘pole pole’ is a way of life, speak at such a frenetic pace I will never know. My big Masai friend turned up at the YMCA this evening so at least I was able to return the offer of a drink and he was more than willing to be a sounding board for some of my spoken attempts, contributing ‘ndyo’ (yes) every time I said something he understood.

I am still having to sit inside to type using the projector onto the wall of my bedroom as my new screen has still not arrives.  It turns out it is now coming from Dubai b y UPS so I can only hope and pray.


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