The new term for our IT students opened yesterday. Today there were about twenty students in the lab during the time when the server lets them browse. Who can blame them, they have not classes. Word is out that school doesn’t start when it says it will. So the staff don’t turn up, and don’t prepare the timetable until the first week because they know from experience that “the students won’t be there anyway”. The students don’t turn up because they don’t like being at college and, anyway, classes don’t start until later. The whole thing is very lax.

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Prior Appreciation

Last night I watched another episode of Ali Mazuri’s The Africans documentary series on the TV at James and Pauline’s house. A fascinating series, I wish I could have seen all the episodes. Last night he was talking about the search for correct behaviour in Africa: religious, legal and moral issues concerning correct behaviour seen from the perspective of the three major influences on the continent: indigenous belief systems, Islam and Christianity.

One section really appealed to me and James: Ali appeared in a village, clutching a chicken.
“If I sacrefice this chicken to God, just before praying for a good harvest”, he said, “Am I bribing God?”
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Jua Kali Sector

Yesterday I went ro Ngluni on my recently refurbished bycicle. Bernard from Ngluni fixed the bike for me: he had to re-build both wheels with new local hubs and spokes to get them straight and to get spindles that local nuts would fit. The bike, a Shimano thing, has differently thread nuts from the local ones (local = made in China). Anyway he did a lot of work on that bike and without it I wouldn’t have ventured into the next village yesterday afternoon as the sun was fiercely hot in the sky.
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The Natives

Then, somehow, on Sunday I found myself in a Kenyan home eating fish and green bananna and watching the Olimpics. The appartment was full of very smart (doctors and lawyers) Kenyan sisters and their partners and friends. They were so funny I kept wondering if I had strayed onto the set of a well-scripted sitcom. I learned to appreciate men’s 100m:
“They’ve got tight bums! It’s not a discussion, its a fact!”

The Professionals

Saturday night’s party was great: bring and share nosh at the conspicuously luxuriou home of someone who works for DFID (so, as someone else noted, my taxes pay for it!). Just when I thought I’d had a good time, folk decided we should go out to a nightclub. We piled in the back of a Land Cruiser and off we went, bumpity bump, accross town to the club most people had suggested. When we got there:
“Oh not **this** place, it’s crap!” said the driver.
Off we went again, bumpity bump, to the driver’s favourite club.

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Big Fish

Came back from Nairobi yesterday after finally seeing off Will (one of the VSOs who is going back prematurely after only a year to do a PhD — odd symmetry with my own situation there — I wish him luck and preseverance) and drinking lots of fine Scotch with lovely friends Shelley and Paul.

I slept for a bit in the afternoon and then Jackson (VSO who lives in the next village) arrived on his piki piki with two passengers, one of whom had brought his PC’s system unit in a big cardboard box. Spent several hours working with Fred, the owner of the PC, trying to make his new TV tuner card work. We managed to get it to play FM radio! By this time we were fatigued and hungry so we sent Jackson into Tala for pizza…
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High Tech Thugs

I went for supper with colleagues last night, and to watch Ali Mazuri’s TV documentary The Africans. During the evening we talked of the new metal grilles that the builders are fitting to the windows of buildings on the college compound. All buildings in Kenya have such grilles. They are to keep out “thugs”: robbers who break into houses in the night.

Brother Benedict, the archetect of the new college buildings, told me that the bars are there only so that the insurance companies will pay out. If you don’t have them they will say that you didn’t have sufficient security.

Here’s the story: these ‘high tech thugs’, as they were described, come with bolt croppers and other equipment with which they remove the glass and then, also, the bars from the window. They can do this so quietly that you won’t wake up until they knock on your door, by which time the window is a gaping hole. They then ask you to open the door saying they are coming in anyway, if through the window they’ll kill you, if throught the door they’ll onlyl beat you up a bit.

And there was the story of the man who boasted to his friends that thugs has robbed him the previous evening but left his television when he told them he wanted to watch the World Cup. They came back the next night for the TV, of couse, and told him not to be boastful.


{{popup RiftValleyPanorama.jpg RiftValleyPanorama 1024×243}}tnRiftValleyPanorama (3k image) The camel race was in the morning. In the afternoon a bunch of us piled into a Toyota Land Cruiser and set out for the edge of the Rift Valley. As you can tell from this pic (not the crappy little on on this page, the big panoramic one that it links to) the sun was setting when we got there but the view was still spectacular. The mist made the hills in the valley look as if they were painted on cell and the sun glinted off a lake somewhere in the distance.

We didn’t stay very long as it was getting dark. And nobody wanted the return journey to feature a repeat of the adventure we had on the outbound one.

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