Yes, Tony’s in love again. He went to Morogoro to learn a new language – Kiswahili – and he fell in love with Lennie! SHE (in case you are wondering) is his teacher – he probably gave her an apple!
I know that it is love because in his first email he said, “I went for a walk for 30 min. when it was cool this morning . . .” but neglected to say that the walk was with Lennie until he suddenly remembered in the second email. Hmmmmm . . . regardless, Lennie is a teacher who teaches teachers – “People don’t come nicer than Lennie; she is little but mighty and mighty little!” Lennie is a volunteer from the Philippines who has taught teachers in Malawi and Ethiopia.
Tony’s walk was in lieu of a safari. He said, “[The walk] might not seem like much but [it] was quiet and green and relaxing and I was able to take a photo of the mountain ridge behind the centre.” The impression I get is that Tony has been working hard and this short respite gave him an opportunity to look around and appreciate the area around the “Amabilis Centre, this beautiful hotel run by the nuns.” He is promising to send pictures which will be posted . . . .
By not going on safari Tony was able to spend time with Peter. “Peter is a volunteer from Kenya: he is big and mighty and mighty big and very very gentle and intelligent. This is his third time with VSO or some similar organization. He has a business background. He speaks Kiswahili as he is from Kenya and I sat quietly with him and went over some of the more useful sentences I can try out when shopping.”
I’m not sure how many of you caught that last bit, “. . . I can try out when shopping.” I can’t imagine Tony shopping! But, then, they say Afrika can change a man . . . .
Tony continued, “Peter assured me that I would not need to speak Kiswahili with farmers but that shopping and being polite in Kiswahili is important. He also said that I was here to help with ‘capacity building’. He said that, ‘Yes of course, there are top notch producers but they tend to neglect the vast majority of small hold farmers.’ He also said there is a brain drain from Afrika because the salaries are so much higher elsewhere. There is an unequal distribution of knowledge as well as wealth here. ‘We are not being useful to our kinsmen,’ he said. He does not leave for better money because he cares and Kenya is his home and where his family is. He cares enough to volunteer. I like Peter. I admire Peter.”
Tony can sometimes be obtuse. He refers to the group of Canadians as “tortoises” since they are relatively slow learners compared to some of the volunteers like Peter. But then he uses the name “Kobe” as the name of the group. I don’t think there is a Japanese connection so my assumption is “Kobe” is the word for tortoise in Kiswahili.
Tony wrote, “I got myself into two places of refuge [in Morogoro]: the library and a school book store by composing sentences in my scribbler before attempting access.” So, as I (David) write this in the late evening of Friday, February 17, in the northern boreal forest of Alberta with the temperature somewhere below freezing, Tony will be giving a “show and tell” in the steaming heat of Tanzania during his Saturday class: he will be showing them a children’s book written in Kiswahili that he purchased in town that has a picture of a tortoise on the front (kobe?) and I am sure he will entertain his classmates (AND Lennie!) with his descriptions of his trials at communicating in the store and the library and the fun he had doing it!
As Tony prepares to leave Morogoro he makes this observation about the people: “People in the streets of smaller Morogoro and bigger Dar es Salaam carry themselves with dignity: they dress smartly; they are friendly.”
Now Tony will move back to Dar with his new language skills and find out where his adventure will take him next. I believe he is leaving Lennie behind, but I’m not sure . . .