Wednesday, 19 August 2009

Political education

August 18th

Another frustrating day. Into the office to find Claude about to set off for Nyakabanda, up-country in Kibangu secteur. If he’d only let me know the night before, I’d have rung a primary school and agreed to go out and inspect. I can’t just go out on the off-chance, so here we have two good opportunities to visit the remoter parts of Muhanga within a working week, and both chances missed.

At least Claude gives me the modem. And the vice Mayor has excelled himself and signed my contract papers; he can barely have glanced through them.

Simple things are often difficult. The big photocopier is broken, and the office where there is another machine is closed; the staff who work in it have decided that it’s not worth coming in to the office on Gacaca day. So even something so easy as making 5 copies of a census form becomes a serious task. Eventually I give up and ask Valérian to do them for me; he has a knack of disappearing for ten minutes at a time and coming back into our block with photocopies fom somewhere.

Védaste comes to borrow the modem and gives me a copy of the latest version of his thesis, which he wants me to go through and check his English. This thesis is a work in progress; I think I’m now helping him with version three!

And I spend most of the rest of the day on the computer. I research air fares to Zanzibar, and find that we can come back on the train, as I had hoped, but that it will take us a lot longer than we had planned. If you leave Dar es Salaam on Friday evening (there are only two trains a week), you arrive at Mwanza on Sunday morning. You will have done 1220 kilometres through the heart of East Africa. I read some travellers’ blogs from people who have made the journey and they say it was the highlight of their time in Tanzania. Mwanza is a lake port on Lake Victoria, and after we get there we will have to find a bus or other means to get us to Rusumo on the Rwandan border, but that isn’t an impossible task and people do it every day.

Among the books that we have been giving out to schools is the teachers’ guide to Political Education for lower secondary. This is an enormous and very detailed book. It goes into infinitely more detail than, for example, the English “Citizenship” programme of study. I take a copy home with me because it deals with the genocide, and for the first time I’m able to read the “official” version of what happened as it will be taught to all pupils. It is an enormously sensitive point. In recent months we have noticed that “the Rwandan genocide” has morphed into “the Genocide of the Tutsis”, ignoring the fact that thousands of sympathetic Hutus were also killed, and that a very large number – some say as many as in the original genocide – were murdered in reprisals after the official end of proceedings, most of them Hutus. Oh dear, the power of books to rewrite history!

As I look through my blog postings I discover to my shame that I’ve never actually posted a series of pictures about the water tank at Gatenzi school. I think I got it all, ready, but somehow it escaped me just before I came home, and during a period when it seemed impossibole to get a good enough connection to send lots of photos. So I spend an hour or so doing a big picture essay and put it out for the world to see.

I’m still amazed by how many people from around the world are looking at this blog. An average of 37 people a day are reading it. Within the last two days I have had visitors from Latvia, Germany, Belgium, Ireland, England, Canada, the USA, Mexico, Taiwan, Australia, India, Spain, Sudan and South Africa. When I started writing it I had in mind just my family, my fellow volunteers who I had trained with, and my local community in England. I had absolutely no idea it would get discovered and visitors by so many others. Anyway, welcome to all of you, wherever you are!

In the evening I go round to Becky and Karen for a meal. As I arrive at Karen’s there’s a bunch of little girls outside the gate, and Becky is entertaining them with a bubble-blower. The girls are entranced, and one or two even manage to blow bubbles themselves when she gives them a go.

The mayor of Becky’s district has been sacked or resigned, according to whose story you believe, for being involved in a land-grabbing scam. Kamonyi seem to be further ahead in reshuffling their District officials in this re-organisation of local government than we are in Muhanga, and it is starting to give her problems in terms of who she reports to in terms of her immediate supervisor.

And that’s about it for today. Best thing – having the chance to play about for a long time on the internet.

Worst thing – another missed opportunity to visit a school up-country

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