Friday, 31 October 2008

Meanwhile, life continues as usual in Gitarama...

October 29th

I’m spending today trying once more to collect my thoughts on all this English teaching and getting some materials up together. First of all I write up the report that Claude wants on my inspections. I’ve already done an overall report, now he wants a quick sketch of each school – strengths, weaknesses, a quick comment. I also add a score for their academic achievement last year and an A – E grade which shows how much I feel concerned about each place. “A” means it’s virtually a model school that any of the others could emulate. There’s only about 4 of them. “E” means I have serious concerns about the state of the buildings, or the leadership and management capabilities of the head, or the academic results. There’s only about three or four of them. All the rest fall into the middle categories – and I know full well that in most cases I probably wouldn’t have been able to run them any better if it had been me in charge!

By ten o’clock I’ve got the report done and ready to print off, so I decide it’s time to get out of my pyjamas and make myself respectable!

Off into Gitarama town. Hooray, the internet café’s open and there’s a really good connection for this time in the morning. I get all my business done, and have time to look up what’s happening in Goma (see post below).

Then I’m off round the market to buy fruit and yoghurts and fanta pop for our big meal tonight. All’s well; I get some great maracujas but have to bargain hard for bananas. I have to do the walking away thing before she’ll bring her price down to about 50% above the Rwandan level! Unfortunately I’ve chosen a day when every shop in town has run out of yoghurt, which means we won’t be able to have the smoothies we’d planned tonight. (I’d been looking forward to showing off for the girls).

In the afternoon I go round to Soraya’s house, where Tinks and Michael are waiting for me. Soraya’s gone into town to get a replacement set of keys cut. She comes back after a while in a foul mood; they’d overcharged her, and then tried to double charge her, so she’s told them to get lost. But she still hasn’t got her keys.

Key cutting in Gitarama is a skilled but almost medieval craft. They don’t have the rotary cutting machines that we do in England. (The electricity supply’s probably not reliable enough). The craftsman selects a blank which roughly matches the key to be copied, then laborious chops out the design with a chisel. It’s an extremely approximate way of doing it, and goes a long way towards explaining why, if there are two keys for a particular door, one will work perfectly (the original), and the other needs the strength of a weightlifter to make it work.

We discuss the English training situation at length. Michael and Tinks are interested because the Diocese has made noises about them doing intensive English training in one school as a pilot exercise.

We end up agreeing all the reasons why we shouldn’t, any of us, be doing this English training, and the more we talk the more we agree we are being imposed on. I agree that Soraya and I will go in to the Office early tomorrow and see Claude. I ant to be able to tell him that we’ll do the twilight trainings, and the short trainings, but we’ll at the very least need to hold off on the longer sessions until we see how the official MINEDUC version is going to work.

At five its back to the flat and getting the place tidied up ready for the state visit. Karen and Christi are coming for tea. We haven’t had them for a meal for a long time, and we keep getting invited to eat with them. When they arrive they bring with them Piet, who’s a Belgian ophthalmologist working at Kabgayi hospital. He’s early thirties but looks about 20. Very pleasant, and you can tell straight away that he’ll fit in with the Gitarama Sunday night crowd.

During the meal we get from Karen (who has so, so many contacts) the explanation of the shooting I heard very early last Thursday morning. Some armed guards (supposedly among those guarding my Bank of Kigali) had decided to do a little robbery as a moonlighting extra curricular activity, and had raided a shop in the market. They were recognised and reported to the police, who tracked them down on Wednesday night and showed up in force at dawn on Thursday. This happened barely a hundred yards from the flat. The robbers refused to give themselves up, and there was some sort of a shootout, though a very one-sided one. The two single shots I heard were the police despatching the two wretched men. Saves all that messy business of trials and justice, doesn’t it?

So, folks, that’s crime and punishment Gitarama style.

Well, the meal is great. Fresh avocado with home made tomato salsa and real German style wholemeal bread. Carrot and coriander soup, this time without any added sugar and all the better for it. Pasta in a rich tomato sauce with real English cheddar cheese topping. Fresh imeneke bananas and maracuja fruit. Belgian chocolate and either mint tea, coffee or gold old Rwanda tea for Karen and me. By the time we’ve finished that lot we’re absolutely stuffed, and there’s just enough left over to feed both our night guard and also Karen’s.

After that little lot its time to finish off my ironing and collapse into bed with my Congolese (music)…..

Best thing about today – entertaining well. Getting my thoughts clear on the English training.

Worst thing about today – no yoghurt. And why is it that if one shop doesn’t have something, none of them do. It’s always the same with things like cheese, yoghurt, eggs, salami. The shopkeepers go in to Kigali to buy them; I wonder if the supply in Kigali is so sporadic. I doubt it.

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