Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Presentation Day

Tuesday December 5th

As the title says, today was presentation day.  The desks were set out in the hall with a special table and chairs set out for the main speakers, Mr Masui, the headmaster, Mr Leopod (sic), the Chair of Governors and of course Babu.  I was assured by Mr Masui that the whole ceremony would last about one hour but I don’t think he heard when I suggested it would last half that if they cut the speeches.

Once again, as at the YMCA opening, the various groups were introduced and I had to stand and state that I was Mr Stuart.  Mr Masui then gave the first of his speeches followed by the awards to the top pupils for the year.  With A=1, B=2 etc points are awarded for each subject and when these are totalled the students with the top four scores are awarded prizes.  The prizes are text books chosen from the boxes that the school receives from the USA and, whilst hopefully relevant, many of them still have the graffiti and names of previous owners written on the fly sheets.

Hillaly, best student in Year I

Peter, best student in Form III
 After the presentation Mr Masui gave his second speech followed by Mr Leopod.  Both these speeches made far too many references to Mr Stuart and Babu for my liking, so it was fairly obvious what was being said.  Hillaly was called upon to express a vote of thanks from the students and then I was presented with a laminated certificate, a Kanga for Chez and another sheet of material that, I was told, has to be cut in half and made into two shirts, one for me and one for Chez.  This is a traditional Tanzanian gift and presumably the wife gets the ‘better half’.

It was now my turn to speak and I had prepared a short statement in Swahili expressing my pride that possibly in years to come one or two of them might look back and think that I had had a little effect on their lives.  I started though with my usual “Mimi, ninaongaya Kiswahili ndogo, ndogo sana.” (I speak Swahili a little, a very little) and followed this with the barked order, “Simama” whereupon like a troop of soldiers all the students leapt to their feet.  I didn’t check the staff behind me but it wouldn’t have surprised me if one or two had twitched upwards as well.  I then softly said “kaachini” and everyone resumed their seats laughing at their response, and after I had read my short statement, the speech was nearly over, which must be a record in Tanzania.  I just put my paper down and added a few sentences I know myself and even got a few laughs.

It was only left for the head table to leave and the students to queue to get their end of year reports, all stapled together so that they couldn’t peek (ye, and that works!!).  I left the staff and went round and shook everyone’s hand and then the students left as the majority would be waiting for daldalas very shortly.  To see the students in their normal clothes having been so used to school uniform was surprising. 

Fatuma and Subira ready for home.

After proceedings had died down a little I asked Mr Mmari if we could cross the road into Boza village again as I wanted to take some pictures and Mr Masui, hearing me, said he would like to show me his new house, so after chapattis again at Mr Masui’s present home we crossed the road to enter the village and see his future home.

Boza main street

One of the older Boza homes..........

.....and Mr Masui's, that he hopes to have completed by May 2013

Even in what looks like a green and verdant land, life depends upon the rainy season, which for some years now has come close to failing completely and certainly has been well below normal levels.  On the way back to school Mr Masui pointed out a field, belonging to the school, that until recent years had been packed full of coconut trees, but these had withered and died and only half a dozen hardy specimens remained.

I’m not the one for long goodbyes so having thanked everybody and shaken hands all-round I turned the bicycle towards home and for the last time, certainly in this trip, faced the white knuckle ride down THE HILL.


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