A lazy day today, although any hopes of a lie in were dashed as at something like 6.00 a.m., before sunrise, the students assembled with their bikes about 10 feet from our bedroom window in preparation for cycling off to the parishes they had been allocated for the day. The metal door of the shed banged, bells rang, loud voices called out etc., so any further sleep was impossible until they bicycled off. Resigned, I got up to make tea at about 7.20 and we managed some book reading time in bed until we eventually got up for breakfast and a stroll to Sunday service.
We left at 10.10 but the 8.00 a.m. service was still in full swing. Others in their Sunday best were hovering outside. We ascertained that communion had still not been taken so we went back to the house for another 20 minutes and were still a bit too soon. We met Devota outside and she offered to sit with us which was a help with finding the right Bible passages. At first we sat near the front, but the volume from the speakers plus the terrible feedback at the start of the service forced us towards the back. Devota tried to explain what was happening, but the noise was often too loud for us to hear her. The choirs were excellent with one of them, including Devota’s twin brothers, producing a very lively dance routine. The sermon was of course unintelligible for us but clearly delivered with great passion. The speaker indulged in much finger wagging, scowling admonition and the occasional bizarre and slightly unsettling chuckling. Whenever he made a point that his congregation particularly liked they burst into applause, something I think we should be doing when Sharon or William hot the spot. There were also a lot of ‘Amenas’ and some hand raising. During this a young boy wandered in to speak to someone a few rows in front when he turned around I saw that he was wearing a T shirt emblazoned with a muffin and the word STUD printed across the top of it. It was hard to equate the word with the child or the picture. The sermon was only thirty minutes long and then there were announcements and finally communion. Only two hours the whole service, which in Tanzanian terms is not bad going.
Outside we spoke with Rose and a young pastor called Emmanuel. Rose’s mother is till far from well and to add to the problem Rose has back pain. She was most apologetic that she hadn’t invited us over, but we said we understood. She is going to invite us sometime this week or next for a meal and to receive the rest of Tim’s clothes. We followed a herd of goats home, one poor little kid limping and very thin and, I suspect, not long for this world. Various of the students waved as they returned home and then Joctan bounced over, clearly much better. He had been helping out at the hospital service. As we ate lunch a youth appeared and knocked timidly at the door. He introduced himself as a nurse at the hospital, but I couldn’t understand what he wanted, so I said we were still eating lunch and he went his way. No doubt he will be back.
After a brief postprandial, we were preparing for tomorrow when a hello came from outside the door. True to her word she had brought a brief (thankfully) summary of the sermon in reasonably good English. As she sat down, the young man who had appeared earlier arrived and we realised this was her brother Nyamulinda. His English is pretty good but it isn’t always easy to understand either of them because of their pronunciation – not least the ‘r’ ‘l’ confusion. Mind you we had to compete with a sound system from the school that was shaking the house and the trees around it. This is a type of ‘loud’ that would be considered a health hazard at 200 paces.
I wonder if deafness is going to be a problem in the younger generation as they age as a result? We talked about the differences between church in Tanzania and the U.K. and then we got onto more general aspects of society. One of the interesting things they told us was that their twin brothers whom we had seen dancing in church were called Doto and Kurua and were both 17. “But surely they don’t drive taxis”, we exclaimed. There was some confusion until we explained that there are twin taxi drivers by that name who had taken Tim and Esther into Ngara (well one of them had, they didn’t travel in separate taxis obviously!). They then explained that Kurua meant ‘the fast one’ in Swahili and was the name given to the first twin out of the womb while Doto is the name given to the second out (presumably ‘the slow one’ but I don’t think we established that!). Nyamulinda is just finishing nurse training and is writing a dissertation of sorts and wondered if we had a flash drive spare on which he could save his work. Unfortunately we don’t. As they left we took their photos and we gave them some paper to write a little bit about themselves so we can use them in the fund-raising brochure at Lent.
I should just mention insects at this point as a very large one appeared in the porch today. We are told it is harmless, but that’s not the impression it gives. In fact it looks fairly lethal, although it was happy to pose. Thank goodness for a telephoto!
Later we went for a walk which I had done with Thomas two years ago. It leads out the back of the primary school and through a number of shambas with excellent views over the Kagera river until a sharp turn at a drinking place brings you onto the road past Thomas’s house. It was a lovely walk and eventually we passed the speaker stack that was shaking the very foundations of our house. We went up to Womencraft and watched the sun set which was stunning as it went in and out of cloud before it lit the sky with orange and pink tinges.
The speakers were still blasting out but eventually fell silent at about 7.30 when presumably the utter darkness meant that their owner was scared he wouldn’t be able too find them! A blessed relief! Dinner, scrabble, bed.
A very overcast day today, much like the U.K., but warmer. A good teaching day. My group was learning about daily activities and we got into some difficulties over an English breakfast. ‘Cereal’ is incredibly difficult to explain as is marmalade. Toast also proved a difficult concept – why would you want to make bread crisp with the risk of burning it? After break I came back to class with a toaster and some marg. and jam and made toast. Flora did not want to try it, but the boys did and quite liked it. Later we read ‘The Lord’s Supper’ from St Luke’s gospel and talked about communion and different types of services. They tried to teach me how to say ‘Holy Communion’ in Swahili, but I have to say I think I failed that test! I had to leave at 12.50 to teach computing, so Beatrice sat in while they had a test.
Naomi cooked us a delicious lunch of mixed egg rice with vegetables and aubergine and tomato stew. We had just settled down for our postprandial when Absalom arrived for a chat. Our discussion ranged widely and was very interesting about his views on leadership in the church and other institutions and we agreed on most things. He has had very high blood pressure over the last few days, so please pray for him if you can. He also told us about a horrific accident at Rusumo (the Rwanda / Tanzania border post. A petrol tanker’s brakes failed and ploughed into seven other tankers, all of which caught fire. The driver died and I think others were injured. Again prayers please if you do.
Just after four o’clock the headteacher of Ndomba Secondary School arrived with a class teacher and Obediah to look at the possibility of a link with a secondary school in the U.K. We offered tea and it was at this point that we discovered our kettle isn’t working. Back to boiling water on the hob, although there is a small travel kettle we can use as well. We talked about the differences and similarities of schools in our two countries. Class sizes are anywhere between 45 and 60 in their school which is fairly typical. The school day starts at 7.00 a.m. and the first 20 minute break is at 11.00! At 1.00 p.m. extra-curricular activities start including debating, sports etc. These didn’t seem to be an option; everyone had to do something. Children go home at 3.00 p.m. which means they have an eight hour day! The school has boarding facilities which are not government owned but run by the school. However they do not bring in extra revenue, they just pay for themselves. Pupils study 9 subjects at O level which they take at 18. This is the top preforming government school in the region.
As we took pictures of each other outside the very tall and serious teacher asked what subject I taught. He was delighted when I said Geography as he is a Geography teacher as well. He asked me some probing questions about discipline and how easy was it to deal with disruptive pupils. Corporal punishment is still an option in Tanzanian schools, but is used less than it was. It was good to talk to them about the pressures that schools are under in our two countries which were surprisingly the same – inspections, shortage of resources, time to get everything done etc.
After they had left Nymulinda arrived with a short essay on his life! We asked for a few key points to include with his photo, but have got a lot more. Inevitably it ended on a fiscal note. He would like to continue his studies at A level but doesn’t have the money. It seems a universal tale here at some level or another. We went for a short walk and passed one of the choirs practising outside, fortunately the speakers turned away from our house! The sun is going down, bathing everything in gold.
Wilbard made a late visit just as we were about to eat. We invited him in of course, but after some discussion of the week-end and the school day, we had to ask him to leave and let us have our dinner. The problem is people just turn up!