Kagera 8


Not a lot to report. Communion in the College Chapel (school room) was a good start to the day with some glorious singing and an interesting and powerful sermon by Fareth. He preached from Joel. It was mostly about God punishing Israel with locusts and drought and Fareth making the point that unless we repented the same sort of thing would happen here. He also pointed out that unless we repented we might be caught unawares by the arrival of doomsday. I spoke to Absalom about it afterwards and we had a good discussion on the issue of a God who punishes his creation. I don’t think we resolved anything, but it was good to debate with a theologian whose knowledge is immense. I am still not convinced, but he did scare me by saying that my views were similar to that of the Jehovah’s Witnesses. That was a low blow, even if not intended as such!

I took my pupils for a stroll around the area to talk about jobs and places of work. I think they are rather puzzled and amused by my methods. I don’t blame them. They join a long line of young people who felt much the same! This afternoon we were visited by Absalom and then Devotha. We wandered down to my tailor to see if my shirt was ready, but she wasn’t there. We’ll try again tomorrow. It is a public holiday because of Eid. A secular state has to acknowledge the holidays of both its major religions. So we are footloose and fancy free. We plan another walk into Ngara as we seem to be getting rather low on provisions.

We were invited to a fellowship meeting this evening by Flora, but something got lost in translation. The room she said it would be in was in darkness, so we went to the main classroom. It was very noisy as we approached. Looking through the windows the students seemed all to be praying at the top of their voices and rocking backwards and forwards, some of them with hands in the air. It looked a bit charismatic to us, if not quite mass hysteria it was certainly close to it. We beat a hasty retreat, after all we are British and don’t like that sort of thing – well except at football matches perhaps.

Scrabble and then to bed.


Scrabble last night proved rather exciting as Christine took the lead and looked like winning for some time and only hard work by yours truly restored the status quo. As a result we were exhausted and had a lie in this morning, rising only to make tea at 7.10 and flopping back into bed to read until Naomi surprised us by turning up early at about 8.30. Luckily she didn’t stop, but picked up her shopping bag and headed for the Murgwanza market.

We arose, breakfasted and, having welcomed Naomi back laden with fruit and veg. , we then set off for Ngara. On the way down the hill we called in at my tailor who was even then finishing off a sleeve. We said we would call back later. The walk down into the valley really is lovely and we stopped at the bottom to look at the diocesan tree nursery and were assailed by a man in a woolly hat. At first I thought he didn’t like us taking photos but it turned out he wanted us to come over and inspect the work. Several people were potting up seedlings and watering and we were made very welcome. Then we began the climb up to Ngara.


It is a hard slog, but seems to get easier each time. The motorbike taxis look at us askance, puzzled by the crazy wazungu who want to walk rather than ride on the back of their gleaming chrome machines. We took a left before the main road and chanced a dirt road into the back of the town, an area we had not visited before. The hunt was on!

Some misguided, foolish people come to Africa in pursuit of game. Those of us who are more sensible are hunting for those things that enable a degree of comfort and decorum to be maintained in the home. This time we were in pursuit of the elusive ‘washing up liquid’. Tim had bagged a particularly fine specimen when he was here, but as I had discovered it is excellent whiteboard cleaner we had all but run out. We had tried on Saturday to no avail. Today we intended to return with said liquid or die in the attempt – a distinct possibility if you don’t keep your wits about you walking along Ngara’s streets. Christine was also keen to track down some ufuta (sesame seeds) but was offered mafuta (cooking oil) instead. Considering Tanzania is one of the leading producers of sesame seeds you’d think there would be more of them about. Alas there seems to be a national shortage. However we cornered a bottle of washing up liquid, albeit a rather tawdry specimen which looked as though some of its content was missing. Still beggars can’t be choosers and we exited the shop with a distinct sense of triumph. To celebrate we headed for the petrol station cum supermarket for a cold drink and some vaguely English chocolate. ‘Vaguely’ because somehow my Kit-kat tasted almost but not quite unlike the version sold in the UK. Christine had more luck with a Mars bar.

Fortified we set off for home. As we climbed up the Murgwanza ridge we met Obadiah on his motorbike hurrying home as his wife is not well. We wished her well and then plodded on to my tailor’s. She waved at us and we entered her delightfully quaint establishment.


My shirt was complete and looked very nice. A casual placing against my body suggested a fit so we parted with Tsh20,000 (about £7). It actually cost a little less, but frankly……..well. Of course when I tried it on at home it is more of a seizure than a fit, being rather short and narrow in the sleeves and a little tight around the stomach. Clearly she was trying to flatter me! Still there is plenty of material in the seams and I think I’d prefer the shirt to be short sleeved as it is hardly likely to complement any of my suits. Adjustments can and will be made, no doubt at considerably more cost than the whole article.

A delicious lunch awaited us – samosas stuffed with cabbage and spinach with Naomi’s trademark aubergine stew. We took our postprandial on the porch, resting our eyes after the exertions of the morning. Christine then decided she needed some eggs, so off we went to market. We passed Fareth who was interestingly attired in T shirt, shorts and wellies and wielding a machete. He explained that he was repairing his kitchen and when I looked rather confused he added that it was his outdoor kitchen of course. All was clear. Murgwanza was deserted and unnervingly quiet. Was there no choir needing a rehearsal for goodness sake? We got the market meeting Beatrice on the way in. Like Fareth she doubted we would find any eggs at this late in the day. However we found a mat holder (stalls are outnumbered by mats in Murgwanza market) who had three in a bag. There was some confusion over price but we sorted it out and felt pleased that we had something for supper. We walked around a bit more and then a loud ‘Mr Richard’ brought us to a halt. We turned to be greeted by one of the second year students Yassem (I think!). He was delighted to see us and wanted to help. He spotted that the mat holder had actually got more eggs for sale behind her and so once again we patronised her mat and came away with four more eggs. We left the market via the path at the back of the hospital, trying to work out what each egg had cost us in pence. Our final decision was about 12p.

Home now and the sky has darkened, the air is oppressive and rain has fallen. Nothing much but a little. We have the lights on and it is still dark. Christine is happily sorting out the larder and so all is well with the world!

Absalom dropped by and stayed for tea and biscuits and a chat. He is a very interesting man to talk to, particularly about the church, KCTC and life in Kagera. We learnt a lot! Now it is time for dinner and the Scrabble tournament!

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