For the last fortnight I have been Uganda’s most overpaid clerical assistant. I have typed and retyped holiday homework, registration exams, adult literacy exams, class reports and Registration Day posters including several documents entirely in Luganda! All documents have to be proof read to make sure I have the nuances of Ugandan English correct. I then send the documents to Ange in the Kampala office for printing. The required copies get sent out with one of the drivers the following day and Steve and I collate and staple the resulting reams of printed matter. All this to a background of insistent drumming to the point where I wasn’t sure my heart would remember what to do without the drums to keep time with.
Since the end of exams the students and teachers have devoted all their time and energy to training for the Talent show – a concert pitting ‘Colour’ against ‘Colour’ in categories of ‘set piece’, creative dance, traditional dance and folk song. The Colours are what we would call ‘houses’ and though they have names – yellow are Lions , blue are Elephants, green are Cheetahs and red are Leopards (I think!) – they are known as the Colours.
The ‘set piece’ was each choir singing the East African Anthem. This is a relatively new song, I had not heard it before, and in Swahili. Each choir has been trained to sing it by the music teacher, Frank, who also plays it on a Melodeon. We heard it over and over!
The dancing and folk singing were all accompanied by traditional drums hence us having them ringing in our ears for the past fortnight. We also had a preview of the singing – both the traditional and the more European pieces the ECD, pre-primary and P1 presented.
Over the past week and a half there have been quite a few unscheduled staff meetings as concerns over the talent show were aired and discussed. These occasionally became quite heated and there was passionate debate as to whether each colour was getting a fair amount of time with Teacher Frank and had enough time to practice.
|Choir singing Ugandan Anthem|
So Thursday afternoon last week was probably not the best time for my foray into teaching a model lesson, as the minds of teachers and students were elsewhere. With exams over, the students assumed the academic year was over and weren’t particularly interested in my revision lesson. The teachers had reports to write as well as singers and dancers to train and weren’t in the mood either. It wasn’t a total disaster but I’d have to say we were all a bit disappointed with how it turned out. Feedback was kind however and we were able to do WWW (What went well) and EBI (Even better if). From my point of view it could have been EBI I’d known I had 40 minutes rather than the 80 I’d planned for sooner than the 40 minute mark when the Teacher on Duty whispered in my ear that I needed to finish straight away as the children were being sent home! Being questioned during feedback about my time management was a bit tough‼
|Unto us this Holy Night|
On Tuesday we finally had the Talent Show As well as the colours competition, there were performances in dancing and singing from each of the younger classes – ECD, Pre-primary and Primary 1. We heard “I’m a little teapot” as well as The Wiggles “Unto us this Holy night”. The parents were all there and each item was greeted with thunderous applause and ululation - they were a most appreciative audience. The traditional songs and dances were particularly well received.
The creative dance had a theme of preventing family violence. I found the pieces very powerful! Most involved a drunken father, a battered mother and a daughter denied an education, problems solved either by the local priest or policeman with the father repenting and promising to do better. The mime contained within each dance was very well done. I suspect my reaction to what was displayed was quite different to most of the audience who were cheering and laughing in places I thought quite inappropriate. And yet, for them it was real life, so who am I to judge?
The concert finished with “Prize Giving” with categories that would seem odd in Australian schools but seemed quite logical here – cleanliness, kindness, parental support. The prizes were 130 wrapped packages of toothpaste, shoe polish (Kiwi!) and shoe brushes. I helped present these, alongside the Chair of the Parent Committee. We must have smiled for a hundred photos as parents came up to be photographed with their prize winning offspring. It was a long day culminating with the announcement that Yellow had won the competition and the presentation to them of a goat that was to be slaughtered and roasted for them to eat at the party the following day. Student reports and “Holiday Packages” were also distributed to parents who had paid their school fees.
Yesterday we had the Children’s Party. It was a lot of fun! Steve and I contributed the music – we paid for a DJ with mixing desk and large speakers. He played local popular music – the same stuff we were blasted with at Forest Park – as well as imported music including Kenny Rogers and Neil Diamond! The children had a great time dancing and there were class level competitions. There was chicken and Irish potatoes for lunch as well as the usual rice, fish and ground nut and greens, and each child had a small bottle of soda. There was even a cake large enough for all 300+ students to get a piece! For the children it really was Christmas. They went home tired but happy after what is a long school year.
The teachers still have a bit more to do before their well-earned break begins, as have I. More about that next time. Jenny
PS: On the electricity front we’ve had no more long outages, just fairly frequent little short ones. So the fridge has been doing the job and our meat, chicken and fish have been fine. Also warm showers have usually been possible and we’ve only had two coffee-less starts to the day. Well done Umeme!