My time at Good Hope has been incredibly rewarding and fulfilling for me personally. I have gained far more from the experience than I have given, of that I am certain and will forever be grateful.
Today and across the next few weeks, as I savour a period of rest and recuperation with my own three grandchildren in Bergen, Norway, I want to share some of the writing talent I have discovered within the school. I hope that these simple tales and my commentary will give you some degree of insight into their lives.
“OK kids, I want you to write me a story. Any story you like. Write about you, me, the jungle, going on a safari, meeting a famous footballer or singer. It is up to you.”
Faced with ten teenagers back last year, all aged fifteen to eighteen, I felt this was a reasonable challenge. Wrong.
This past few months Teacher Linor set the same challenge for the equivalent class of 2015 but with a little more finesse than I had! Also she presented the challenge after six months working with them on English skills whereas I had bulldozed in on day one with mine! However the results from Mwanahawa below pretty much mirror what I got that day.
I now know the kids are taught at school to write MY STORY and the text-book template starts… I wake up at 6am, I brush my teeth, I comb my hair etc. From this schooling they have formed their idea of what a story contains. With no access to books, limited access to TV, living within a square mile with very little opportunity to travel, how do you develop an imagination?
Note the ratio of play to both school and work in an average day from Mwanahawa’s tale, to be frank most kids don’t add any play time in their daily record. The reference to chores is poignant, all kids have chores, washing the clothes and cleaning the house are but a few of the regular and inevitable ones. Cooking meals for the entire family is a matter of course.
STORY OF A DAY IN MY LIFE
By Mwanahawa June 2015
My name is Mwanahawa and I am fifteen years old. I live with my parents in Njoro. My favourite colours are pink and purple, my favourite food is banana and meat. I have one brother and one sister. My favourite subjects are English and Maths, my favourite sodas are sprite and Miranda.
I wake up at home at 6.30am. The next thing I do is make my bed and then brush my teeth, I also take a shower. I put on my clothes and eat my breakfast, then I take my shoes and my bag. I go to school at Good Hope.
After school I come back home and do all of my holiday work (chores), after that me and my young brother go to market to buy fruit and then we cook food and sit and eat. After we finish eating we go to wash our plates and when we are done my young brother and me go to sleep.
When we wake up we play football. Then I go to the mosque. After the mosque I come back home and we start cooking dinner, I also go and take a shower. After the shower I call my young brother.
Me, my young brother and my mother, we eat dinner together. After dinner we sleep.
My next attempt was more focused and I arrived with a theme for a story. The Ocean. What do we know about the ocean? What animals or creatures live in the ocean? How do we travel in or on the ocean? Richard, ever the outspoken and lively one, put an end to my illusions.
“Teacher Gilly, we understand the names of the oceans and we know where they are on a map but what is an ocean? I know it is the big blue space on the map but what is it?”
Finally Teacher Gilly got it and arrived with laptop and National Geographic images of the ocean ready for the next class. The results were amazing and endearing with so many kids choosing jelly fish to be the hero of the plot! I can’t share these early tales with you as at that point I didn’t think to keep or copy them and the kids all wanted to take them home but next week we will move on to tales from Maiko, my dream author of the future. God knows Tanzania needs its own authors.