Please accept my heartfelt apologies for lying low of late.

I have fallen victim to…

Inertia, exhaustion and the dreaded “not enough hours in a day.

All of the above compounded by extreme power cuts

and a lap top in need of TLC (Tender Loving Care)

Perhaps that is why the G above is refusing to go where I type it!

Normal service will now be resumed.


I feel normal.

Life in Moshi Tanzania has reached that point of familiarity.

Friends and family accept that this is where I live. Travelling on busses next to live chickens is perfectly reasonable, power cuts for 3 to 12 hours happen all the time. Dirt roads, enormous ditches, no street lighting or traffic lights, few pavements and motor bikes roaring past with a slaughtered pig or goat as a passenger, all of it is part of life now.

And me, what of me?

A wedding party to attend and not a high heel in the wardrobe, feeling chuffed to be approaching mine and Charles’ first anniversary; a year of travelling round town on the back of his motor bike taxi. Not a gel tip nor nail art to be had, flat shoes, no knees or shoulders on display and never half naked (swimming costume) in my own garden area, it’s all par for the course now.

I’m comfortable in my new skin and growing to like the person I have discovered. The crazy lady who regularly bursts into song to amuse the kids and capers around classrooms acting like a chicken or lion or the wicked witch of the west, yep, I’m OK with her too. I am learning about humility, the people here teach me more every day. My life has attained the slow rhythm of humdrum and I can feel my heartbeat singing in contentment and I am savouring normal.

But…         There has to be “the but”.

Like all writers I have a sense of the dramatic and my life here provides the perfect backdrop for the ultimate tear jerker or inspirational story about overcoming life’s adversities. My “but” won’t feature the easy, entertaining read of young people who share without being asked or who squirrel away food when provided to take home to Mum.  No no no, that would be all too easy my friends. My but addresses a more serious issue.


It is not normal to cast little kids out of the education system after the first seven years of school because they failed an examination. An examination which was presented in English after having they had been taught in Kiswahili for the past seven years. Close your eyes, whatever age you are, and recall the first seven years of your education. For me, Grand Avenue Infants and Primary School in Tolworth, Surrey England, age 4 to 11.

Excluded from secondary school because I failed the eleven plus?


Here yes.


It will never feel normal to accept that kids that manage to pass the above mentioned examination are then given a short window of opportunity to enrol at a designated secondary school (designated not chosen, so brothers and sisters are often placed in separate schools in different regions), and if they fail to enrol IE: pay, within that time line IE: months, they are again cast out of the government school education system.

Oh yeah and here is a new one! I only learned about this one this past week. Passing with C or D grade doesn’t automatically give you a place at secondary school. No no no, that would be too easy. The first round of school placements are offered to the A and B achievers, once they have registered (or not) any places left over are then allocated to the lower achievers. Does this mean there are kids with low grade passes still excluded from school?

In truth I have not dared to ask because I don’t think I can bear to hear the answer.


I will never rest easy in bed knowing that if a child overcomes everything above and is lucky enough to claw their way into secondary school, manage to survive the trauma of suddenly being taught in a foreign language with no preparation IE: English, if they do all this they will be tested time and time again to grade their progress and those tests will contain questions like the examples here:

(vii) To red-a country of malaria national wide programme should be developed to …

Multiple choice answers include (d) give bitter medicine services

2)  A group of lions is called….

Multiple choice answers do NOT include the term pride


a)      Youngman      b) Yatch          c) He brought down his matchet twice          d)  I have sorry to missed seeing you

Remember we are now in secondary school and these examples are lifted from live English test papers.


My friends I could continue as the injustices of the current education system do indeed continue. Discrimination against poor achievers is rife, age discrimination enters the fray and a system of government loans for university that will forever remember and discriminate against you if failed that first examination after your initial seven years of education.

I could continue but I won’t, not for today anyway.


My question of you all is what can I – IE: you – do about this? How can I (we) truly help make a difference?

My point is this, isn’t it normal to leave your house every morning and be greeted by chickens and the occasional wandering goat? Yep that’s life and I love it.


No no no, this cannot be left as normal. If I just come here and accept these things as normal, if I don’t tell someone that the kids’ educators need educating, if I just get used to the injustices the same as I do the chickens, what does that make me?



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