Kagera 10


Not a good night’s sleep. Woke needing to leave the bed for the usual reason. Got back into bed and was just dozing off when I heard something like scrabbling somewhere nearby – possibly in the roof. Could it be a rodent? Just how big could it be? Could it get into our bedroom?  Of course it might not have been, but what else scrabbles in the middle of the night? (I’m not talking board games here!) Of course, now I am wide awake! However I hear nothing and eventually fall into an uneasy sleep. I come to about 7.00 p.m. to hear the sound of the cistern filling. We have water! I’m out of bed and opening the taps to fill the barrels while the going is good. We have a bit of a lie in as it is Saturday, but Naomi arrives about 8.30. Breakfast, then Thomas arrives to take us to the wedding in Murukurazo about 20 minutes away. Christela wasn’t ready when he left so we go back to the house to pick her up and see the children. Noela sees me and bursts into tears. I am the big, white, scary bogey man! Eventually she calms down and I get a smile. Thomas shows me where the guest room and store room he has built next to the outdoor kitchen. He explains that sewage goes down 40 feet into the ground where it dissipates. Rubbish is put in a hole in the garden and burned. Noela waves us off.


We set off at break neck speed. Thomas drives like he talks and walks – at full speed. Even so we arrive after the bride, but that seems quite O.K. Many of the bridesmaids did not arrive until half way through the service. The bride looks very beautiful and the groom is immaculately turned out. As we enter the church we are greeted by Bishop Aaron who is taking the service. Asifiwe arrives a little later. There is much singing and dancing,  the music occasionally disturbed by ear-splitting feedback. At about 12.00 Bishop Aaron begins his homily. It is rather different from a wedding talk in the U.K. For a start it is wide ranging, taking in the subjects of divorce, HIV/Aids, infidelity, prostitution, alcoholism, infidelity again, and how to say sorry to your spouse. It seems to go down well, all 50 minutes of it!

Then the couple actually got married, although I was surprised that the groom had not run screaming from the church after the Bishop’s review of sins in marriage. Thomas and Christela were witnesses and had to go up to sign the wedding certificates. Asifiwe stood up to speak and we heard our diocese mentioned and then we were brought forward to say a few words. We should have expected it, but we didn’t. Still, I think we got away with it! The rest of the service was bizarrely punctuated by the sort of bing-bong sound that you get before an announcement of a departure at a major airport. Thomas and I started to get the giggles! About 1.30 we settled down to communion and the whole shebang was done and dusted by about 2.15, a mere 3 and a bit hours.

We left the church and Thomas decided to run us home. The expression ‘bat out of hell’ came to mind as we drove away. I was belted in, thankfully as there were moments when I think we were airborne! Finally Thomas hit a large stone in the centre of the road (a bit like Suffolk, they don’t drive on the left, but in the centre) and there was a nasty thud sound from underneath the vehicle. Christela told him to slow down, we think, because we dropped from terrifying, to only buttock clenching over the next few metres. We passed sedately through Ngara and down into the valley. Coming up the other side the car seemed to lose interest in the journey and finally sputtered to a stop as smoke came from the bonnet. We got out and surveyed the scene. Oil was coming out from the sump. It did not look good. Thomas was phlegmatic and already on the phone to a mechanic. He promised to let us know how things went. So far we have heard nothing.

We walked up the hill, thankful that the car had managed to struggle up the steepest part. We were halooed from the students’ accommodation so went over and explained where we had been. Christine took the opportunity to ask Flora to accompany her to a dressmaker in Murgwanza to explain the sort of dress she wanted. We agreed to meet at 4.30. They were impressed by our matching Tanzanian outfits – I think. At home Naomi had left us a delicious spinach tart for lunch. We were ravenous!

After a much needed resting of the eyes the students arrive in force, Flora, Philpio, Reuben and a young man on the diploma course called Nyawenda who speaks good English and seemed to take control. We walked along past the hospital chatting away and then find a dressmaker in the collection of huts on the lower road. It isn’t the one Christine went to before, but they assure us he would be able to do it. The dressmakers are both men who sit bent over two sewing machines in a room where any cat, having the misfortune, to be swung would be knocked unconscious the moment it left the ground. Nyawenda actually made it into the hut, the rest of us had to stand outside and offer helpful comments through the barred window and open door. It seems to go well. I had a picture on my ipad of the sort of dress Christine wants and the tailor deftly took her measurements. The only tricky moment was when he said the price would be Tsh80,000 which is over £25. Not unreasonable in the U.K., but rather pricey for Tanzania. We hesitated and looked a bit doubtful, however we felt obliged to accept on the basis that it was a good price in our own country. We said to our students that it seemed a bit expensive but Philipio said, “Oh, no TSH8,000 is good, a shirt costs at least Tsh5,000.” Of course, we forgot the Tanzanian tendency to add ‘tee’ to words when it is least expected and to completely ignore ‘ee’ as in ‘coffee’ or ‘lady’. The dress would cost Christine about £2.75 – outrageously cheap!

We strolled back, deep in conversation and Christine suggested that we invite them in for tea. They were delighted and we had a lovely afternoon with them. We were joined by Joctan who can sense biscuits and drink a mile away and later Deus who had come to pick up his homework. They left us about 5.45 already late for choir practice. We set about doing emails etc. and then preparing to go to Fareth’s for dinner. At 6.45 we heard a ‘hodi’ from outside (‘hodi’ means ’knock’ but you say it rather than do it apparently) and Jonathan Ruzabila appeared. He had turned up to say goodbye as he was off to school tomorrow. It was very thoughtful of him, so we wished him all the best and hoped that when we saw him again in two years time he would have achieved the grades he wants.

As we left the house to go next door there was a beautiful full moon hanging in the north-west sky. We were greeted enthusiastically by Fareth and Tabitha and spent a delightful evening talking and eating. The food was delicious, omlettes, matoke, cabbage, carrot and green pepper with peanut source, followed by pineapple and bananas. We ate our full and then sat back down to meet the rest of the family namely two girls who were the children of Fareth’s deceased brother and an older girl from his deceased sister. We sat and talked and eventually excused ourselves as we are hoping to go to the eight o’clock service at the cathedral and Fareth also has an early start preaching in a village some distance away.

All in all it has been a full day. No scrabble tonight and I hope no scrabbling either!


A scrabble-free night but we don’t make it to the 8.00 a.m. service as the alarm fails to go off. We instead have a leisurely rise and go to the 10.30ish service. The Dean very thoughtfully provides a young man, ‘Justin’ as a translator, but, as often happens, the volume of the amplification is so high we cannot hear what he is saying. He does manage to point us to the correct Bible readings however. The sermon is interminable and is clearly a rant. It is at such volume, that I start to get a headache and so go outside. I walk across the football pitch, but the preacher, now in a state of near hysteria is clearly audible. Only when I hear the quieter tones of Rose, who is leading the service, do I return. My absence has been missed by Cosmas who is at the top table! Eventually we get to communion and after more business involving a collection for the evangelist preacher to get some priestly training we are allowed out into the fresh air. I would have gladly made a contribution if I had thought that part of the training was how to give shorter sermons without amplification! In fairness, Absalom is not a fan of the overlong harangue either!


We walk home and have lunch and a quiet read as storm clouds gather and thunder rumbles around. Although it is ‘looking black over Will’s mother’s’ we decide top risk a walk and stroll down to the tarmac road and through to the market and the view over Murgwanza Secondary and the hills of Burundi beyond. It is very grey and clearly raining hard in the distance. We hear the sound of marching below us and as we descend to the edge of the ridge we are aware of some sort of para-military training going on in the trees to our right. We move hesitantly around it, only to be hailed with ‘Karibu’ – they are not a secret terrorist cell planning to overthrow the Kagera Provincial Council, but a group of scouts and guides learning how to drill. One of them even has a scarf and woggle (possibly).

We climb back up to the hospital path to be greeted by Azmir who tried to escort us around the market a week or so back. He speaks quite good English, but is clearly a few seeds short of a passion fruit. His eyes seem to operate independently and have little connection to his brain which is very disconcerting. We engage in a brief conversation in which he insists we can see Zaire from where we are. (I’m sure we can on a clear day, if it wasn’t for the ‘ouses in between). We make a bid for the cathedral, but he follows. We decide we don’t want him coming to the house and are relieved to see that Samuel has opened the shop. We go in and try to find something to buy. Azmir follows us. We settle on some knapkins and pay Samuel, but end up paying over the odds as Samuel doesn’t have any change. We leave him with the extra Tsh500 (about 16p) and flee, heading towards Absalom’s house in the hope that he has returned. Fortunately Joctan intercepts us and then we meet Philipio and Nyawenda who have just returned by bike from Murukurazo. We walk back up to the house with them and are relieved to see that Azmir is no where in sight. We walk quickly indoors.

A short while later Cosmas and Timothy arrive, the latter to pick up his work from Christine. They stay for a chat – well Cosmas chats. He is a delightful man and asked us about the service, so I was honest and said that for us a 50 minute sermon was very long. He then told us that he has four children, three boys and a girl. The oldest is six and the most recent addition is only 2 weeks old. He hadn’t expected the latter as he had prayed for no more after the third, but it seems God had other plans. This time he is giving God some help by sending his wife to the family planning clinic, so I suppose if she falls pregnant again it will be her fault!

No word from Thomas, so not sure what is happening tomorrow. Tuesday morning we meet with Bishop Darlington. We are still unsure if we are expected at NAPS for the graduation on Friday. We’ll just have to see what comes our way.

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