Sunday, 13 August 2017

We do things differently here - cakes & elections

Cooking class

In Primary 6 English the last topic in Term 2 is ‘Baking’.  Students learn the vocabulary for cooking and baking related activities and use these words in comprehension, grammar and story writing activities.  As a treat they also did some cooking and made a cake!  It's not so easy here.

At Baimbridge College we have the Home Economics centre with three kitchens plus the little Stephanie Alexander kitchen in the old tech school TOP common room.  Here the teachers showed the students how to make a ‘bush oven’ using a wood fire and coals.  The cakes they produced were excellent.

This same kitchen produces morning porridge, popcorn or mandazi at break and a hot meal for 400 hungry people at lunch every school day.

How many words related to cooking and baking can you find?

The students have been involved in elections for prefects and other positions of responsibility for the 2017/8 school year.  It has been very entertaining.  We had the call for nominations, the election speeches and then the casting of ballots.  The process has taken about two weeks and has coincided with the revision for End of Term exams.

For the speeches each candidate had their entourage who were variously mopping brows, polishing shoes and rearranging shirt collars of the candidate as she or he spoke, and making encouraging gestures and sounds at each (often highly spurious) promise.  The Head Teacher told me they were modelling themselves on local politicians!  The casting of ballots for each of the dozen or so positions was very well organised.  It was also free and fair according to the HT who was keeping a close eye on proceedings.  Each students had her or his name crossed off the roll of 'Legible Voters' before cycling around the polling stations where they completed two slips at each.  A teacher was on hand at each to make sure the ballots went into the correct boxes.

Serious business

Voters are entertained

Help from the entourage

Filling in the ballot paper

and posting in the correct box.

Counting happened as soon as all votes had been cast and everyone is happy with the results.  Our students will be model citizens when the time comes for them to vote.

This is unlike neighbouring Kenya where presidential elections were held last week.  Half the population seem to be unhappy with the result there and that has meant the solar fridge and freezer intended for Mbazzi school, and mostly paid for by Hamilton Uniting Church, Hamilton Rotary Club and my father-in-law Don, is still sitting on the wharf at Mombassa.  I had hoped it would be installed before we left but that is looking increasingly unlikely.  I have prepared a plaque for it anyway and I’m sure Ange will send me photos when it finally happens.

Monday, 7 August 2017

On Safari (again!)

I have taken 3 weeks furlough so Steve and I can show our friends Lou and Rob Drummond around our favourite bits of this beautiful country.  The map shows where we have been – first Mabamba Swamp, then Lake Mburo NP (LMNP), down to Bwindi Impenetrable Forest NP (BIFNP) in the far SW corner and Queen Elizabeth NP (QENP), then back via Lake Mburo.  After another trip to Mabamba Swamp we went to Murchison Falls NP (MFNP).  We’ve had another trip to the swamp before a night in Kampala and then Lou and Rob’s long flight home. 

Where we went

As you can see, we have been back and forth over the equator, theoretically dodging from summer to winter and back again but, in truth, enjoying warm days and mild nights so different from the cold weather Lou and Rob had been experiencing at home and have just returned to.

Uganda is a small country – about the same land area as Victoria – with some spectacular geographical features.  The western side of the Great Rift Valley runs down the west of the country and there are traces of the volcanic past in craters, both wet and dry, in QENP.  Some say Uganda is the source of the Nile (you’ll get an argument on this from Ethiopians, Rwandans and Burundians who also each claim to have the source!) and there are certainly many extensive papyrus swamps and rivers with thundering waterfalls.  The Murchison Falls in MFNP are “the most powerful in the world” measured in terms of volume of water through a cross-sectional area (or some such).

World's most powerful waterfall!

Rob and Lou lived in Zimbabwe for 2 years in the 1990s and this was their first return trip.  Rob, like Steve, is a birder but also a magnificent photographer.  Lou came for the Africa-ness in general and gorillas and shoebills in particular.  Everyone was very happy with what they saw.

Lou was happy too (she is behind the camera)

Steve’s blog ( will give you more details of what we did; I’m just going to put in some captioned pictures!

Blue monkey
After seeing the gorillas

Bwindi Impenetrable Forest from our veranda at Cuckooland

All creatures great and small

My favourite!

Gorilla trekking

They weren't terribly interested in us!

Bored (LMNP)

Library at Katuuso P&VS

Hunting Shoebill

Found him
The photographer at work

Very smelly crater lake

Vultures can be quite handsome

Where's Tassie?