Saturday, August 31, 2013

Mwadui School leavers day

Two weeks ago several expats attended a school leavers day at the Mwadui Primary School. Kwett, a manager for the client company, arranged with us women to make up parcels,  bake cookies and cupcakes and pop corn. These would be handed out to the Grade 7's on the eve of their primary school leavers' exam.

Rina and Louise made the cakes and cookies; Louise popped and bagged the corn. Tilla made a large cake for the teachers attending the function and I organized the juice and large bottles of water.  
 The men set out the refreshments

 Louise, Margaret (Head teacher) and Rina in front of the treat parcels
The Grade 7 learners and their teachers

On Saturday 17 August we ladies with our husbands met Kwett at the recreation club and set up the treats in the large hall. The children duly filed in and stood in rows while Kwett gave an encouraging speech about making the best of this important exam which could launch them into high school and onto bigger things in the future.

Kwett addresses the Grade 7 learners

The head teacher, Margaret responded to Kwett's speech and asked for a volunteer pupil to thank the Mzungus. A young girl stepped forward and thanked us so profoundly which caused us all to tear up!

 A learner responded and thanked the Mzungus for treating them to a school leavers' function

 Louise created beautiful personal bookmarks  which she and Kwett distributed

Then it was time to hand out the treats. Grant and Richard poured the juice, while Rina and Louise handed out the parcels and eats. The children then retired to a little room beyond the hall where Kwett had set up a movie: Madagascar

 Teachers and learners enjoying the movie

We served the teachers with slices of Tilla's delicious cake and a cup of juice whereby they joined the children in watching the movie.
Rina, Louise and I relaxing on the front step of the hall while the teachers and learners watched a movie inside

Afterwards, we ladies sat on the front step and enjoyed a soda while the men found a pub nearby where a South African rugby match was being viewed on television. Shortly after 4pm the movie had finished and we packed up our belongings and came home.

I hope you're all having a wonderful weekend.

Friday, August 30, 2013

Wordless Wednesday

Photo credit from Amanda Hedges' Facebook

A true...

...gentleman... the last crease

Canadian geologist, Dr Williamson, geologist, discoverer of diamonds and city father of Mwadui, against the blue East African sky.

When I walk through the Memorial Garden beyond our home here in Mwadui, I always stop and "greet" Dr Williamson. Being a true gentleman, he - in turn - removes his hat, dips his head slightly and returns the greeting! Then he poses while I take photos for posterity.

For more beautiful sky images, please click here

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Children of Africa

From left: Helen (with hands on hips), Maria, (not Mary, but Maria), Hallo (he insists that's his name), Irene and Vanessa
Last week as I walked across the road from the Guest House to our house, I met these children on their way home from school. They all spoke good English and loved it when I asked them if I could take a picha and immediately posed for me. The little lass on the far left was spokeswoman for the group although all the girls answered me clearly when I asked their names. The little guy in the center was more reticent. Probably a brother of one of the girls and never getting a word in edgeways? 

On Wednesday, I visited the market and other businesses in Shinyanga for the last time before going out on leave. I always like to greet the vendors and other shop proprietors with whom I do business on a large scale for the Guest House. 

Of course, in the market you always find children being piggy-backed by their mums or those that can toddle and older, wandering around alone between the stalls. 

 A little guy whose mum runs a stall at the fruit and vegetable market in Shinyanga

I took this photo the week before while he was having chai/breakfast near his mum's stall

I've had so many interruptions this week, that I'm sorry if I've not been a regular visitor and/or commented on your posts. I spent most of this morning blog hopping and hope I've not left anyone out. The interruptions take on the form of:

1) power outages (so regular and frustrating!) 
2) off-line Wi-Fi connection (which comes on again without an explanation!)
3) no Internet access (does anyone else have this problem?
4) all of the above! 

I have SO much to post about. I've not even posted about our wonderful holiday and tour in June in South Africa and we're due to go out again! I've also had a full nine weeks back on site and would love to share those happenings on Blogger. 

Therefore I've posted about these little children today and have another post waiting in the wings before the end of the day here in East Africa. 

Here's to longevity in connections which keep us going and in contact with the rest of the world!

May you all have a great weekend.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Long-toed Lapwing (Plover)

A few weeks ago, while Grant and I were out birding on the mine, I spotted a "different" lapwing (plover) to the ones I'd seen here before. Now plovers/lapwings are considered quite common, but I like to stop and photograph every bird we see in the field. On two occasions I've photographed lapwings and once I downloaded the pictures, I realized I'd not seen the bird before.  

The first one was a Spur-winged Lapwing (Plover) which I'd seen on the airstrip. The lapwing I saw recently turned out to be a Long-toed Lapwing (Plover). Only thing is I didn't have a full-length photo of this bird so didn't do a post on it. 

Last weekend, while I was focusing on an African Jacana tip-toeing across the lilies in a small pond near the road, Grant pointed to a bird nearby. It was the Long-toed Lapwing. I swung the  camera onto this bird who obliged me, not once, but twice by lifting its leg in the air!
Long-toed Lapwing (Plover) 

Long-toed Lapwing (Plover) clearly showing its long toes!

For more posts on beautiful  birds around the world, please click here

I hope you're all having a wonderful week.

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Mfanyakazi a mwezi

Regular readers of my blog will know that I initiated a monthly award system, Employee of the Month,  for the wonderful workers in and around the Guest House, locally know as the Kempeski,  and in and around my house, called Yumbani Mbili / House number 2.

For the first six months that I ran the Guest House, there were  a number of staff changes. But for the past year, the personnel and number has remained on an even keel. The only major change was my gate guard, Edward Askari. A few weeks ago the production manager, Thys and Grant were discussing the fact that he needed an off-sider on the mine. (From what I could gather from this conversation at the lunch table, is that an off-sider in mining talk is the man who sharpens drill bits and measures up the area for the next blast. In short, quite an important post.) I'd always thought that Edward was under-utilized opening the gate three times a day when Grant leaves for or returns from the office, so I asked Grant to consider him for the job. They did, and Edward, to his great delight,  is now working on the mine! The upside of the loss of Edward, is that I asked Grant if he could transfer Michael to our house as askari, which he did. (Michael is not only my gate guard, but the head gardener at our house and also the cats' new best friend. More about this later!)

Back to this month's Employee of the Month. Pendo, whom Grant employeed as a kitchen helper in the Kempeski in February last year, has grown in leaps and bounds. Every morning, she and Regina arrive at my house at about 7.40am, clean the house, hang the laundry and, if the Guest Cottage behind our home is occupied, the clean that as well. It's Pendo whom Ambrose posted about in Sunday's post. 

By 9am the ladies have finished their work here and go across to the Kempeski. Regina prepares the green salad and a fruit salad for lunch, after which she'll help with any of the preparations taking place in the kitchen. Pendo cleans three of the flatlets and then helps to set the tables for lunch. In the afternoon she helps Salome (the third lady on my staff) to iron the mounds of clothes for the eight miners who live in the Guest house.

Although Pendo didn't know much about basic house-keeping when she started, she is now a fully fledged cleaner, ironing lady and general helper in and around the kitchen. 

Pendo is also expecting her third child and will go on maternity leave when the baby is due at the end of December.
 Pendo, August Employee of the Month (Photo credit: Amani)

When I present this award, it has been a surprise until this moment. I print and laminate a poster depicting all the staff's photos. The Employee of the Month is in the center. I make up a large parcel in an Africa bag (see bottom left of photo above) which contains staples like rice, sugar, maize meal, cake flour, dried beans, tea [leaves] coffee, tinned fish, cooking oil and salt. For a woman, I add talc powder, toilet soap, several hair clips, some Tanzanian shillingi for airtime vouchers. As a real treat, I enclose a large bag of toffees, biscuits and a jar of Nutella (peanut butter and syrup mixed) for the children. 

 Pendo inspects the items in her Africa bag while the rest of the staff look on (Photo credit: Amani)

After the mkutano/meeting, I ask the whole staff to pose with Pendo, while each holds an item. 

From left: Amani, Salomi, Michael (with maize bag on his head) Paulo, Isaac, Jackson, Regina and Madu

For more posts of other people's worlds, please click here

Monday, August 26, 2013

Off-line, power-outages, what next?

These two phenomena are so regular in our area now, that they already sound like poor excuses for an excuse! Over the weekend, my Internet went offline. It came back again without an explanation and as you know, Ambrose got in first to do his Sunday post about their life/s of Riley in the Hedges Kitty Hotel. 

On Sunday I managed to get my banking done, I visited a few blogs and BAM! the power fails. For THREE WHOLE HOURS. Grrr.

So this post is just to let you know, I am still around, I'm still trying to post about our holiday trip way back in June, for goodness sake! And I have so much to tell you about what's happened on site these past two months since we returned from South Africa.

Meanwhile we spent a good hour birding and while the bird, a weaver, is quite common, I loved the fact that the tree had sprouted beautiful blooms. Yippee. The first since of spring.

Here's wishing you all a wonderful week ahead.

Sunday, August 25, 2013

Waiting patiently

Hello Bozo and all mum's blogger friends. Once again poor mum couldn't post as the Interweb went off-line again. This time Kipara (dad's IT friend) is on holiday in a far place and couldn't help mum. Then the Interweb came on again and voila! I had the computer to myself when this happened.

We kitties here in Tanzania have a lovely life. The second most favorite part of our day is having our second breakfast;  this time Kibbles. Early in the morning (it depends on when Unca Shadow can wake mum or dad up with his special "prr-neouw, prr-neouw"call  we have a spoonful of cod and plaice in jelly. Or tuna in jelly. Or salmon and seafood in jelly. It has to be in jelly, else dad Ginger turns his back on the bowl, and when no-one is watching Unca Shadow eats it. (Our yoomen dad says Unca Shadow cleans everyone's bowls because of his disadvantaged early kittenhood when he almost starved in the slums of a great big city near a great big river.)

Anyway, once we've had this jellied food, we all have a short nap while we wait for mum to prepare herself for the day. Then we all go outdoors where she hangs the washing on the line and does some gardening with our new askari, Michael. We three kitties explore the flower beds, drink water from the bird ponds, (if mum would let us, we'd catch some of those cheeky birds)  and romp around in the bushes.

Once mum has finished  outdoors, we come inside again and we three kitties take a nap. (Playing is exhausting stuff!) Then we hear Pendo pulling a plastic bucket across the kitchen floor. She pours water on the floor and dries it with a bunch of ropes at the end of a long stick.

This is our signal that soon she will put kibbles into our cookie bowls! So we stretch, and go to the kitchen where we wait patiently.

We three kitties wait here until Pendo feeds us our second breakfast for the day!

For more cute pet posts, please click here

Friday, August 23, 2013

Blue Moon

 A golden - orb moon greeted me when I went outdoors to photograph it last night

To fit the theme of my post today, I did a little photo-enhancing

There are different definitions for Blue Moon. By popular acclaim, Blue Moon refers to the second of two full moons in a single calendar month. A Blue Moon might also be the third of four full moons in a single season – a season being defined as the time period between a solstice and an equinox, or vice versa. Or, someday, you might see an actual blue-colored moon.

This month we had a  Blue Moon which fell on the night of August 20-21, 2013. It’s a Blue Moon by the seasonal definition, that is, the third of four full moons to take place in a season, in this case between the June 2013 solstice and September equinox. The last Blue Moon by this definition happened on  November 21, 2010
Every month typically has a full moon  (although sometimes February doesn’t have a full moon at all). In fact, our word for “month” comes from the word “moon.” In Swahili the word for moon and month is the same: mwezi.

Most of the time, the names for full moons coincide with particular months or seasons of the year. So whether you define a Blue Moon as the second full moon in a month – or the third full moon of four in a season – the name Blue Moon accounts for times when there are more full moons than is ordinary.

The term once in a blue moon used to mean something rare.(Source: Google) 

When I decided to photograph this "Blue Moon" last night, I went outside but the moon had not yet risen. Mr Mayunga, our night-askari told me it would soon be up. I came back indoors and half - an - hour later Mr Mayunga knocked on my screen door and said: Mama, mwezi na-kuja/ the moon has arrived! 

For more beautiful skies, please click here

Here's to a great weekend for you all.  

Thursday, August 22, 2013

Another ...

...tough... Africa!

Eek! I've been off Blogger for almost a week now but once I start posting again, you will see all the exciting/hectic goings-on in our small town of Mwadui.

Until then, I hope you're all having a great week!

Sunday, August 18, 2013

Official garden portraits

Hi Bozo and all mum's blog readers. Mum was offline again this weekend and couldn't post anything... anywhere! I'm glad that Unca Pikara (dad's friend who's a very good ET fixer-upper) fixed the problem tonight. I jumped in and added my post !

Last week we spent ages lying in the sun while mum and Askari Michael (who is also her official gardener and knows all our names) worked in the sun. Even though I may say so myself, I think the photos (the cats in the photos!) are very pretty.

My cat-dad, Ginger
Unca Shadow

Moi, aka Ambrose/ mtoto/ baby

For more cute pet posts please click here

Friday, August 16, 2013

Grinning head...

...against the bright blue sky

The man above, Joseph Motetsi painted our house roof in Marquard. It was also he who kindly took the aerial shots of my garden which featured in yesterday's post

For more beautiful sky images, please click here

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Blogging, non- commenting readers...

... and the fine line in between.

Actually, what I meant to post as a heading today was: 

"The use of English and other languages, and the astuteness to understand that what this blogger (moi) posts about,  was originally gardening (in South Africa);  currently about life in East Africa, often about birding, nature and domestic cats, and -  above all - always non-discriminatory subjects". 


As you can see, it's too long for the title box!

When I started my blog way back in 2008, I posted regularly about my garden and the way we, as a family and with our friends, got great pleasure from it. I moved into our Marquard house in July 2000. In October year, I joined Grant in West Africa where we lived on a remote goldmine site in North-western Guinea. However, I moved back to SA in March 2001 to nurse my mum who passed away at the beginning of 2002. 

At the end of that year, with the encouragement of a dear friend, Betty, who has a beautiful garden, and with the help of John Tsie , my Sotho gardener, we tackled our overgrown, unsightly plot of ground adjacent to our home property. 
 So from this... this.

We had to do everything by hand, as,  even though I could have hired a machine to clean the area, the garden was walled

 Ultimately to this...

...and this...

...and this...

Serenity is...


The three interlinked garden ponds provided giant water bowls for the dogs!
My primarily indigenous garden attracts an abundance of wildlife

Southern-masked Weaver
 Pineapple flower
Our resident Free State hedgehog

Our dogs enjoying the garden
As did Shadow during his eight-month stopover in South Africa! 
 Plumbago is one of the most rewarding garden shrubs

Our house garden: an extension of the garden "next door" 

 Our garden patio to the rear of the house

In January 2011 Grant and I moved (as expats) to Kenya. We lived on a remote camp in a beautiful valley within the Great Rift Valley. 

What did I do there?

I changed the exotic garden into a primarily indigenous garden. My Kenyan gardener, Stanley and I eradicated anything and everything that was high-maintenance or that attracted unwanted insects and disease and replaced it with natural African flora. 
 Stanley and I walked into the bush and dug out plants with which we -re-created our Kenyan garden

 Our Kenyan house was surrounded on three sides by thick African bush

Ginger came with the house and we brought Shadow, who originally hailed from the Sudan, from South Africa to Kenya

Tacazze Sunbird in my Kenyan garden

The Beautiful Sunbird delights us with it's song

Since moving to Tanzania in January 2012, I've created an enclosed  shamba wapaka/ cats' garden behind our house. Our youngest cat, Ambrose, often posts about the fun they have in this safe haven. 

When I started creating my garden in South Africa, I was very frustrated because, although John Tsia was willing and hardworking, he and I might as well have come from different planets. I just couldn't communicate with him in Sesotho (South Sotho) and he couldn't understand Afrikaans or English. My son suggested I learn to speak his language which is what I did. I enrolled in adult Sesotho classes and after year of weekly lessons and a written exam,  John and I now converse on many levels! 

When Grant and I lived in the Sudan, (where I created an indoor garden on the stairwell!) I felt most alienated when shopping at the street markets. There was absolutely no English spoken, and because I couldn't even begin to understand Arabic, I struggled against exploitation. Grant arranged for me to study workable/local Arabic with a tutor. After this, life in North Africa took on a whole new meaning.

Arriving in  Kenya, there was no problem of not understanding or being understood. The universal language is English. It was only obvious on the few occasions when I spoke to very old Kenyans living in the rural areas, that it would be good to speak Swahili. 

Enter Tanzania year later, and it hit me with a force that I couldn't understand or speak to  the people working in the Guest House. Going shopping at the market and trying to communicate with the vendors was a nightmare. Fortunately while in Kenya I'd bought a comprehensive Swahili-English/English-Swahili dictionary which I use regularly. 
 My well-worn, much-thumbed Swahili-English dictionary 

Another blessing is that Regina, my house-lady,  speaks perfect English and helps me with spelling, pronunciation and generally sets me right when I struggle for a word. William, the company driver, who takes me to Shinyanga when I shop for the Guest House, has an excellent command of the English language. He actually understands concepts like suspicion/depression/concentration and much more, which he then translates for me. 

I feel when you live in a country where the majority of the people speak their local language, it pays to learn as much of it as possible. It's also a sign of respect and once you get the hang of it, you garner respect in return.   On the other hand, I can make mistakes in speaking and when writing a foreign language, but I am never discriminatory.  When I post about life in East Africa, and the occasion calls for it, I use the Swahili expression in italics with the English translation immediately after it. As a writer, journalist and regular blogger, I make sure that,  not only is my spelling correct, the grammar,  syntax and phraseology is socially acceptable and easy-to-read but that it's totally non-ist (non-ageist, non-sexist, non-racist). 

Regarding my blog and non-commenting readers:  ironically I only have two South African followers: one is a man from Port Elizabeth on the East Cape Coast and the other is my brother, Phillip. Both these men have their own blogs and comment on mine. If they had issues with words or subjects that I may have posted about (not that they ever have) I'm sure they'd mention it politely in my comment section. All my other followers are beautiful people from Europe, the UK, the USA, Canada, the Far East and Australia who gladden my heart with their regular comments.

For those readers who don't comment, and issues with my blog, my apologies. But remember this: in the words of a wise old woman I once knew: "If you take offense, you may as well take the gate as well!" HA-HA

The bottom line is I love blogging; I love blogging and I love that other bloggers read and comment on my blog. I, in turn, enjoy blog-hopping and adding my comments on fellow-bloggers post. It's politically correct, it's right and it's the polite thing to do.

Long may the blogger live !