My African Birthday

Trip Start Sep 08, 2003
Trip End Ongoing

Loading Map
Map your own trip!
Map Options
Show trip route
Hide lines

Flag of Tanzania  ,
Saturday, March 13, 2004

Saturday was my birthday - my 'Quarter of a Century' as my little brother so kindly, sensitively and eloquently put it! ..... and I was really missing home. Mum and Dad had phoned that morning, providing a lovely wake up call, singing happy birthday down the phone and for the rest of the day I wished i was at home with them. I didn't feel that special as I set about preparing for a party. 75 people were due to descend on my doorstep, 35 boarding children, 20 changing worlds volunteers, 5 or 6 teachers, 3 boarding house sisters, Moses the school assistant, Mama the director, Allan the previous director, some Mzungu friends from Makumira, Glinton, Christine and Paul, the school receptionist and her children and also Jo. Even the security guard wanted to pop in for a 'bop and a soda' before going back on duty! But it seemed like a mammoth operation to get together. To clean rooms, cook and make sure everything was ready. Hendy kindly came to be my chief, standing over bubbling pans of pasta and rice, making me laugh with tales of the 'island'... he makes coming from the Isle of Wight sound as remote as the moon! Tom started the task of putting up over 100 balloons.

In Art class that week I had got the children to help me make bunting. Each child painted a triangle and some very interesting flags were produced, bright colours, glitter and flowers. A few had gone to the trouble to write me a birthday message.... Although to my amusement several had written ' Happy Bath-day' ... perhaps I need it!!

I had to keep reminding myself it was my birthday, I was looking forward to K arriving - I still didn't feel that close to the new volunteers; feeling the age gap in a way I never did with K. On arrival my African sister gave me a big hug. As we talked we overheard another girl loudly declaring it was her birthday the following week and she wanted to feel so special - her African birthday. K looked me in the eye and asked me if I felt special! We giggled, and she gave me a present of a pretty bangle and beaded box - she knew I had been admiring hers for ages!

I had bought everyone at the party a beer and all the kids a soda, Moses had kindly got everything delivered that morning - and it was probably the main thing the Changing worlds lot were interested in! Free food and beer. I was anxious not to repeat Louisa's party where, with no focus, people started falling out. Another reason for inviting all the children, I thought they would ease tension. Actually K and I had considered inviting just the kids!! A few volunteers proceeded to overindulge and before long the long drop toilet had a queue of swaying sick people!

The children saved the day, giving me a hug making me laugh and topple over as all 30 of them tried to snuggle in. Queen took great delight in taking me to one side and giving me her present of a kanga (sarong) and African mask. She had chosen them herself and was hopping up and down waiting to see me face as I unwrapped them. Her Mama the new school director also came to the party - a big mama! Straddling two chairs sipping a soda. Her gift of a kanga, decorated with darts and a dartboard took slightly more acting as I said thank you!!! It was so funny! If made into a dress the two dartboards would be side my side .... On my chest!!! Queen definitely has better taste! But I appreciated the thought from both, although Queens fabric may be made into a dress a little quicker! Queen was delighted when her brother Allen turned up. Since he and his mama (the new director) fell out she has not seen so much of him. I haven't either so it was a pleasure to see him. He spoiled me with a beautiful wooden necklace.... that made me feel special.

Before musical chairs began I went into my room to open again the gift from mum and dad - a bottle of my mums perfume. A good squirt and I was reminded of being at home. I smiled, told myself to get a grip and enjoy myself and walked back outside. Musical chairs was fantastic, probably the best bit of my day. At Christmas when k and I had last played there were only 20 boarders at the school. Fairly easy to get organised. We now had 35 children. Utter chaos, we had put them into two groups but once the music started they were all up on their feet. Chairs flying, children flying.... and then the raindrops started flying. Urgh! Now what I cant fit 75 people in a stable!
Credit for saving the party from becoming a 'washout' goes to Liz - she dashed out into the monsoon, into the big fat raindrops and started dancing! The children thought this was hilarious! Looking at the crazy mzungu in the rain. Relay races began with each volunteers grabbing a child and running across the muddy wet courtyard to touch the other wall and dash back.

The two lads I had got to know the best surprised me. Sam really put everything into making the children have a party to remember, laughing and dancing with them, Tom hid in the sitting room staying dry from rain. Sam later told me that his best times in Tanzania were at Usa playing with the kids and chatting with me and K. Well Sam, you were brilliant and the kids loved you!

After the party I checked my phone, and found texts from Carly, Angela, Clive and Deb, and I remembered that no matter what happened here I always has support at home. Such a comfort. Looking around at the debris of broken beer bottles, knocked over soggy candles, ant infested bowls of pasta and rice leftovers, dirty china mugs of congealed vodka and orange. I knew the next day was going to bring a horrible bump to reality. - big thank you to the single person who stayed to help clear up.

That week at school I started a project based on public speaking. We began with interviewing and I put a different child in the hot seat and let them interview me. "Teacher, are you married..... do you have a boyfriend?" hmmmm, perhaps I should have stuck with diary writing!
I preserved and took my radio in for class 7 to listen to 'Kiss FM' apparently 'Arusha's coolest sound!' I let them see how to put a program together, presenting the news, the weather, singing jingles, introducing songs. They had to think of a DJ name, and compose a jingle. I was trying not to laugh at Kiss FM's own masterpiece "Kiss FM Kiss FM, Mwah Mwah (imagine the abfab girls making a kissing noise) Kiss FM" I was interviewed by Willbard for his radio slot, " So Mad Emma" he began, "Mad-am Emma" chorused the rest of the class! Hmm maybe not such a slip of the tongue!

Kirsty left that Thursday and we met for a meal the evening before at Jacaranda. With added crazy golf.! Crazy golf in Africa? The hitch was the torrential downpour that lunchtime had left most of the course waterlogged - kept losing my ball in a muddy ditch! Luckily Sam was there to hitch my ball out again!
Although the best bit was completing the course in less strokes than him (something he strongly disagrees with!) K seemed very excited about going home, planning a bath, soft towels, ice-cream, TV, and films. I felt sad, my best times here had been with her, We called each other 'dada' (Swahili for sister) and knew how much each other had gone through ... just to stay here and last the course. I knew that this was it and like the girl in the film 'American Pie' who says a zillion times "This one time.... in bandcamp....." K and I have Africa. We have memories and experiences we will be talking about for years.

" This one time.... in Africa...."

I apologise now!
Report as Spam
  • Your comment has been posted. Click here or reload this page to see it below.

  • You must enter a comment
  • You must enter your name
  • You must enter a valid name (" & < > \ / are not accepted).
  • Please enter your email address to receive notification
  • Please enter a valid email address

Use this image in your site

Copy and paste this html: