Last night Tim and Esther went for a meal at the Ruzabila’s and returned with their tailored items. Things had clearly got lost in translation and it may well be that Maths is not Rose’s strongpoint. They showed us a lovely tablecloth, but instead of 8 napkins Rose had made 25 – as Esther pointed out, one for each person in their village practically! Tim had wanted a laptop bag and Rose had made one to exactly the size of Tim’s laptop which meant that the laptop wouldn’t actually fit in the bag! Esther’s dress was so small if she could have got it on she would have been arrested for public indecency – it might just fit her sister! Her dressing gown was O.K. but it had been cut and stitched with no regard to the pattern and the sticky labels on the material were still attached and sewn through. A shoulder bag for Tim’s wife showed two half elephants – mainly their lower halves. Rose still hadn’t completed the rest of Tim’s enormous order so we will bring the rest home when we return.
This morning was much like any other. After a cold and windy night we rose early and stripped washed in the bath before breakfast. However as it was Tim and Esther’s departure day, Tim treated us to an omlette each before we set off to teach at 8.30. At breakfast we said our goodbyes, but as it turned out they were still there for our small break at 11.15. They finally left about 12.00. We will miss them as we have had a lot of laughs and entertaining discussions. I went off to teach computers and had a chance to assess the state of the room. There are two computers which are completely dead according to the students and are so old they would undoubtedly be in a museum in the U.K.. Another laptop doesn’t work because the lead has been broken. I’m sure a lead could be bought for less than a tenner in the U.K. The problem is that there is only 1 socket for the 5 working machines so cables lie all over the floor so they are easily broken. One or two more sockets would solve the problem! 5 or 6 more laptops would improve things a great deal. It would also help if they all had the same version of word, or failing that freeware like Libre Office which I am very impressed with!
We enjoyed a lunch of potato omlette, and cabbage and aubergine stir fry which was very tasty, but we eschewed the plantains. With this amount of egg we good well have problems, but so far so good! After marking we went up to the Murgwanza market and wandered around, but unfortunately were picked up by Azmir who seemed a little the worse for drink and wanted to explain the blinking obvious to us at every step. We tried ignoring him but he was very persistent. Christine spotted another Kitenge she liked and bought it for Tsh10,000 and we topped up on onions and tomatoes. We left the market via the path at the back of the hospital and our over-solicitous friend waved us a cheerful farewell and went back into the market. Perhaps he was just trying to be helpful?
Only one power cut so far this evening. At least they don’t last long and there is limited solar back up. For some reason there is always a black out between 9.50 and 10.05p.m. which lasts about 5 minutes. I assume they are changing the hamster at the power station? I think tonight’s dinner might include tomatoes and onions as we discovered that Naomi had also been to the market today and had topped up on those veg. as well. A game of scrabble rounded off the evening. I’m not allowed to say who won!
Another windy night but not quite as cool. Rose at seven as usual, strip wash and a slice of toast and cup of tea before the start of lessons at 8.35. Some interesting problems trying to explain the concept of theatre (like a film but the people acting are actually there in front of you!). Break at 9.15 for breakfast but it coincided with a power cut so no tea or coffee. Second break at 11.15 and the power was back on, so coffee then. At 12.05 I went off to teach computer basics to find that an electrician was hard at it in the computer room putting in 3 more double sockets. I couldn’t believe it. I had only suggested to Fareth and Absalom yesterday that that would be useful as fewer cables would need to trail across the floor and therefore fewer would get damaged. The rapid response was amazing. The next thing is more laptops. If you are reading this and have an old laptop stashed away please consider it for KCTC. It would make a lot of difference to the students. Unable to teach I headed back to my English class.
By 1.00 p.m. we all get a little tired so I got my three out onto the path and practising meeting people in the street, asking where they were going and offering a lift. They loved it and we had a lot of laughs!
Lunch was spinach tart which is very tasty but rich. Later I wandered over to the computer room how the work was progressing and it was all complete and working. I changed the position of the plugs and cables, making use of the new sockets. Clearly there is no expectation of workmen clearing up after they have worked as I crawled through dust, bits of plaster and spare cable trunking. Still, already there has been an improvement. After marking we headed out to the football pitch to watch the students playing a friendly match in their new strip which Tim had brought over. They certainly looked the business. It was glorious wandering along the touchline in the sunshine and looking back at the cathedral and the view across to Ngara from Murgwanza. One choir was practising in the cathedral and another outside of a house opposite the pitch, so quiet it was not!
We returned to give my students back their homework, then as the sun was setting we went out to the ridge and watched it go down. It was stunning. I shall never get tired of that view. As the sun gets lower the light changes in the valley below and different parts of it seem to glow. The sun slowly turns to a red ball then very quickly disappears from view. You can literally see it sinking below the horizon. We walked back up to the house and Christine made some very good tomato soup which along with the remains of the tart and some tomatoes formed our dinner. Now for another game of scrabble before the 10.00 p.m. power cut and turning in – can we stand the pace I hear you ask!
Very much a Friday feeling in the classroom today. We were tired, the students were tired, but their enthusiasm saw us through. Joctan, was ill and so much less bouncy which was somewhat of a relief! Christine tackled ‘time’ with her students and came away feeling battered and bruised! She is busy making a new worksheet with lots of clocks on it as I write. Rice and beans for lunch. Absalom visited this morning, but he was less than ebullient having spent yesterday feeling unwell due to high blood pressure. I did mention the shower again, but I’m not holding out much hope!
This afternoon we visited Asifiwe, the General Secretary and had a very useful chat about matters diocesan. Otherwise we have marked, prepared and read our books.
I doubt if I shall return much slimmer. Naomi makes the most delicious white bread as well as first rate biscuits. Christine has also decided to take on the challenge of the kitchen and its limited resources and is turning out lemon biscuits by the cartload. The first batch were very nice if somewhat charcoaled – let’s be honest, burnt. However the latest batch are excellent and now she is talking about making peanut butter balls – an African recipe which she sometimes makes at home – we call them ‘wee balls’. So there is little hope of weight loss!
We have a new nightwatch man who I certainly wouldn’t like to tangle with! He turned up just after sunset which suggests he’s keen at least! I rustled up a pretty fair dinner of egg-fried rice with onion and tomato and the remains of an aubergine stew that Naomi left us. Our nightly scrabble game brought the evening to a close. And so to bed.
Ah, the Saturday morning lie in – there’s nothing like it – well there’s nothing like it here anyway! At 7.30, half an hour after we normally get up, our students were repairing their bicycles just outside our bedroom window. Since nothing is done quietly in Tanzania, the repair process involved a great degree of shouting and banging. I got up to make tea. We did spend a little longer in bed reading our books, but there was no chance of further sleep.
Still, today has been a lazy day. We had a leisurely breakfast and waited for our students to arrive to collect their marked work. None of them did, so we wandered over to the bicycle repair area and bumpedinto Absalom in a yellow T shirt and bright green wellies. He explained that bikes needed to be in tip-top condition as the students would be cycling to far flung parishes for services tomorrow. We wandered down to the shamba where other students were breaking up the earth with hoes between the pine trees that they had planted. The students study CCMP methods, including re-afforestation so that they can spread the word in their parishes. We were encouraged to have a go and I think they were impressed once they had stopped laughing! Flora asked if she could take some pictures using my camera. So here you are! A few minutes was quite enough for us. As Absalom commented, “Imagine doing this for most of a day. That is why we eat so much carbohydrate.” It makes absolute sense.
We got ourselves ready and then headed into town. On the way down into the valley we passed a tailor shop (one of so many in the area). Our eyes were caught by the kitenge hanging up there and we chose one for a shirt. We speak no relevant Swahili and she spoke no English, but somehow we made her understand that I wanted a shirt and she took my measurements, in much the same way as my tailor in Saville Row does (!) and we agreed on a price Tsh7,000, although I can’t quite believe that includes the material as well. I have to return in three days. I think it may catch the eye back home!
We had barely left her ‘shop’ when we heard a ‘good morning’ and there was Job, Pastor Samson’s son approaching us. He had spent the night in Murgwanza and was now heading into Ngara to catch the bus back to Mabawe. He is a very serious young man, but very pleasant and as I panted up the road to the Ngara ridge he asked if he could share his ambitions with me. I assumed that this might end in a request for sponsorship, but no. He simply wanted to tell me what he thought God was calling him to do. In a couple of words give ‘careers’ advice’ to young people. He said that many parents were just focused on getting their children into University and through their degree. However many graduates, like him, found there were no jobs and had pursued degree courses they were not particularly interested in. He wanted to be able to advise students and parents to take the right degree courses i.e. the ones that really interested them. I suggested that this did not seem to be a way for him to make money unless he could convince a school that this was worth doing, or the government that there should be a careers’ advice programme. He said that he hoped his idea would be taken up by the church and would start there. He seemed very determined, but perhaps a little naive. However he told me that he regularly writes for magazines and broadcasts on religious radio stations, so he clearly has something to offer. As we parted outside the shops I wished him well and promised to pray for him. Christine had been rather left out of these man to man confidences, so we now focused on the shopping.
We found the central market by slipping through an alleyway. It was fairly empty as the big market on the hill competes with it on a Saturday. We wandered around attracting much attention and many ‘karibous’ if we showed the slightest interest in any item. Christine wanted one of the hand held besoms (ufagio) that are everywhere and bought one for a Tsh1,000. We then bought a pineapple and some passion fruit (I can do fruit in Swahili than goodness!). We wandered on, enjoyingthe fact that there was no time pressure. We went into a fabric shop that had a wide range of kitenge and khangas. A large man hovered around us reaching up to pull out any cloth in which we showed interest and thus releasing a pungent aroma of stale sweat that would have stopped a skunk at 60 paces. Eventually he lost interest and when we did find a ketengi we liked a callow youth told us it cost Tsh16,000. Now we may be mzungu, but we are not stupid. Over £5 for 4 metres of cloth! What do they take us for? Double the price anywhere else. We walked out. We found the ‘supermarket’ – a small but relatively modern shop mainly populated by assistants so that there is little room for shoppers, which is probably why they don’t seem to sell very much. Still we managed to weave our way through the assistants for the four paces into the shop, the two paces between the two aisles and the three paces to the till. On the way we picked up packets of fresh local coffee, scrumptious peanut butter, margarine and other essentials. The only stumbling block was washing up liquid which is extremely useful for cleaning the whiteboard in class. Tim had found some somewhere in Ngara, but we couldn’t find it anywhere, ‘not even for ready money’.
I was now laden down with fruit and groceries and we headed back to Murgwanza. Some young boys enjoyed posing for their photograph with a simple toy they had made.
At some point in the trip we acquired two or three boys who followed us in uncomfortable silence all the way back to Murgwanza. They seemed overawed. When we stopped, they stopped; when we started they started; when we crossed the road so did they. It began to get unnerving. At the T junction in Murgwanza I suggested that we gave them a dilemma by splitting up. I went one way and Christine went the other. They followed Christine. Sensibly she sought refuge with the students, who thought it was very funny. We managed to make it home without the boys following the last few yards.
Lunch was a delicious vegetable tart and fresh pineapple. We read our books and our students collected their work – we still need to work on how to tell the time in English it seems! At about 4.00 p.m. the peace was shattered by one of the choirs who decided to test their sound equipment outside the cathedral. The speakers are facing away from the house but the throb is all persuasive and birds quit their roosts and small animals ran for cover as the amplifier was turned up to 11+. Still it is good to hear the choir singing and no doubt we shall enjoy the performance tomorrow at the 10.00 or possibly 10.30 service (it starts when it starts!), as long as we sit at the back – or possibly in Ngara!
It doesn’t seem possible that we have been here two weeks now and next week is our last week of teaching.