With a long drive south, we were up at 6.15am and at Tembo just after 7.00am. We both ordered rolex and the service was very quick. We were soon on our way off the Mweya peninsula, past UWA headquarters and onto the road south to Ishasha and Bukorwe. I have to admit that the drive down to Ishasha is not my favourite, you basically drive in a straight line south for two hours with savannah on either side of you for the most part. There was some consolation in that we saw topi, buffalo, kob, baboons, monkeys and elephants in the distance while the road was in much better condition than I remember it previously. We reached Ishasha and then turned left on the road towards Bukorwe. We had to stop at the ranger station to pick up Albert, the new community ranger. He was not there, but Benon, who used to be the community warden at Mweya, soon appeared out of his office. He was delighted to see us!!! We had to sign the visitors’ book and he was very keen to know all about our visit.
Before too long, Albert arrived and we drove the remaining five minutes of the journey to Bukorwe Primary School. Vicent, the deputy head, was extremely pleased to see us and after a brief sit-down we toured all of the classes saying ‘hello’ to the children and giving words of encouragement. A boy in P5 performed a poem about Ugandan wildlife and conservation that he had written especially for our visit. Once again I attempted to speak Runyankore Rukiga to the predictable laughs or faces of bemusement. Vicent, however, was very impressed and said that the reason the children were reacting like that was because they never thought that a muzungu would try and speak their language, so they were actually very impressed. I got plenty more practise with the P1 class who are taught by Vicent’s old teacher. I was soon counting to twenty with them to the delight of the children – I think I found my natural level in P1.
The main reason for our visit was to pass on letters from Clanfield, Bukorwe’s twinned school. One was from the headteacher, Mr Pickering the other was from a Year 6 pupil, Lucy Mannie, who had written to a pupil at Bukorwe. Vicent said that the pupil, Alex, wasn’t actually attending school at the moment, but the fact that a letter had arrived for him would mean that he was far more likely to return to school. As my experience at Kafuro had already shown, letters from British children are a big deal in Uganda.
Bukorwe’s new headteacher, Posiano, wasn’t at the school as he had to go and collect end of term exam papers from the district headquarters. It was expected that he would be back at school by 2.00pm. Therefore, Vicent took Mrs Green and I to Kihihi for lunch. We went to a Muslim restaurant where we were served matoke, rice and a beef and goat stew. The goat served was part of its innards so Vicent kindly swapped my goat for his beef. Innocent, the other teacher who came with us, did the same for Mrs Green. We drove around town thinking we might find jaggery in Kihihi, but once again we were not in luck.
Finally, a message came through that Posiano was on his way back from the meeting and would meet us at his house. We immediately drove there and stopped outside. As usual Mrs Green and I leaned out of the window and said ‘hello’ to the local children. Big Mistake! From one of the houses emerged one of the drunkest men I’ve ever seen, the term ‘red eyes’ was invented for him. He proceeded to hang around and generally made a nuisance of himself until Vicent told him that he smelled and he went away. Things then took a more bizarre turn when Posiano arrived and invited us into his house to talk. Vicent, Innocent, Mrs Green and I all walked in followed by the drunk guy who made himself completely at home on Posiano’s sofa while we talked about school business. When we left, Mrs Green put some anti – bacterial gel on her hands and the drunk showed a real interest in that. I told Mrs Green to put some on his hands and to tell him to lick it – it did contain alcohol after all!
With our business at Bukorwe concluded, we headed up to Kikarara, a school I hadn’t visited before, which is twinned with Greatham Primary. The school appeared to be in the middle of nowhere on top of a big hill and when we arrived the place went crazy. We were almost mobbed by the children! After talking with the staff and exchanging email addresses, Mrs Green was taken on a tour of the school while I had a question and answer session with the children. They wanted to know a lot about football teams in the Premier League and what it was like living in the UK. When Mrs Green joined us one girl asked her if she would turn white if she lived in the UK. When Mrs Green told the girl (who coincidentally had about 100 more questions) that she would like a photo taken with her, the girl nearly passed out with excitement. She was jumping up and down, and became even more excited (if this is possible) when Mrs Green showed her the photo I had taken. When we left we had to shake the hand of every single child who was there; I think for many of them it was the first time they had seen a muzungu.
With our visit complete we left Kikarara at 5.30pm and headed home to Mweya arriving at about 7.20pm. As we sat in Tembo and reflected on the day with Jess (who was eager to hear about our news) we realised it had been something special.
Tomorrow is our final visit to Kafuro and then we’re off to Mahyoro.