Last week was such a success that this week couldn’t begin any other way than with a setback: on our second props class only 3 students showed up! This was mainly our own fault as we didn’t communicate clearly enough when they were expected. Fortunately the day wasn’t a complete waste as we had a very interesting meeting with SEKA regarding the future of our project; about what will happen after we’ve left Mfuwe.
On Tuesday the 12th of July, Esther set out early in the morning to notify all the students when they are expected. A schedule was also put up on the noticeboard so that we wouldn’t make the same mistake again. This approach proved successful as almost all the students showed up! Right after the second music class we had a very entertaining props lesson. Simon from SEKA taught the kids how to make props from almost nothing. The only ingredients necessary: water, leftovers of nshima, metal wire and some paper collected from garbage bins. Result: The head of a Grey crowned crane.
For the next prop we needed one very patient student. Very carefully and with a lot of laughter a mask was devised using the nshima mixture. The cancellation of the class on Monday was more than made up for.
Wednesday morning we gave a small update on our program to the deputy head of the school. At the end of the meeting we got the chance to attend some classes of the school. Anke went to a biology class on reproduction with lots of giggles and laughter from the students. Annoek and Esther learned all about photosynthesis. David attended a physics lesson about thermal physics. We were pleasantly surprised by how well the lessons were taught although it is at times difficult to understand the teacher as there are over 50 students in each class!
In the afternoon the students from the writing class continued on their practice play. This time they had to introduce a second character with a goal conflicting with the aim of their first character. This proved to be a very difficult part in the writing process but all the students worked very hard and came up with some beautiful parts.
In the music lesson the students learned the opening and ending song for the play. They also came up with the underscore for the play. Different emotions on stage will be supported by different musical themes performed by the music students. We settled on 6 themes: happy, angry, sad, love, the bush and suspense. We were thoroughly impressed with the things they came up with. Especially the beautiful sad song and the very convincing sounds from the bush.
Friday morning an elephant joined us as we were eating breakfast. Just a few meters away from us the enormous animal feasted on the leaves from the trees while we were enjoying our porridge and muesli.
Bernard from SEKA arranged for us to meet the Chief of the Kakumbi tribe on Saturday. If people from the village have a case, for example a dispute over land, they meet with the Chief and he acts as a sort of judge. As this is considered a great honour we went shopping to buy some fancy clothes. Michael even went as far as to get a haircut at a local barber shop. We heard that we needed to go the George as he was the best one in town. From the first cut with some primary school scissors it was clear that the barber didn’t have much experience with ‘Muzungu hair’. The haircut was cut short in order to limit the damage. We also found out that it wasn’t even George to begin with but the barber lied about his name! Fortunately we also find some beautiful chitenge’s and a new shirt so our shopping wasn’t for nothing.
In the afternoon we introduced the overarching theme of the plays to the writing students: Growing up as a boy or girl in Mfuwe. We then had a very lively discussion over the differences between boys and girls. Some of the boys were very convinced that girls were weaker than men, while it certainly wasn’t the case in our group with all the girls disagreeing fiercely. We are certain we are going to see some interesting stories from the students coming up in their theater plays.
The next day we all got up early in the morning and put on our best clothes because the time had come to meet the Chief! SEKA picked us up at 7:30 in order to get some gifts for the honourable chief of Kakumbi. Simon from SEKA provided us with a white chicken (for some reason a brown one isn’t good enough) and we went up to buy a nice bottle of wine. We even had to give a small sum of money. We were wondering if we would meet a Chief of a tribe or the ‘Tony Soprano’ from Mfuwe.
After a long drive we finally arrived on his compound. As we were waiting we were accompanied by villagers from Mfuwe who walked for almost two hours to get there. We waited for more than 2 and a half hours and he still didn’t show up. A bit frustrated we went home again. The appointment with the chief is now postponed until a later date. Luckily SEKA took us on an improvised safari right next to the national park. On the way we saw some elephants, giraffes, hippos, warthogs and a lot of gazelles.
The rest of the weekend was free for us to let everything sink in for us and to prepare for the busy week. Unfortunately a good night’s sleep is hard to get here as the elephants woke us up when they were strolling around beside our tents.
Stay tuned for our next blog-update! This week is a very exciting one as our work with the students will come to an end resulting in their finished theater plays. At the end of the week the first rehearsals with SEKA will take place.
See you soon!