Uganda 2018 Day 7: The greatness of Stan Laurel

We had a full program of activities at Kafuro so we were up and on the road by 8.30am after our usual breakfast of fruit platter and toast (Mrs Green) and rolex (me). The others were going to Katunguru for the day but didn’t have to be that early. We were taking Dave from the Banded Mongoose Project with us as he had not yet visited a Ugandan school and was considering doing some work with them along the lines which Jess Mitchell did a few years ago (see 2014 and 2015 blogs)

As soon as we got to Kafuro, I went off to teach P7 while Mrs Green went to do some baking with P6. My lesson was all about misconceptions Ugandans might have about the UK. To start off, I asked the children to tell me everything they thought they knew about the UK. Their answers were fascinating and (although they had some good knowledge in other areas) completely confirmed the stereotypes some Africans have about the UK. According to them, everyone in the UK was rich, we all live in big houses and there are no black people in the UK – we are all white.

My next step was to give the children twenty photos of the UK to look at and to write about using the same proforma that we have at Liss. I used the projector I had brought out from the UK and wrote on the chalkboard to model the type of writing I wanted. After that, I set the children off to work. Some of the photos were deliberately chosen to reinforce those stereotypes, but there were also photos of homeless people, a food bank, the roughest estate in London that I could find and Mo Farah. Yowasi had to explain to the children what a food bank was, but when they heard they were quite shocked. Likewise, when I told them the story of Mo Farah and how he was one of the most famous people in the UK and even more famous than Stephen Kiprotich (Ugandan Olympic Gold medallist in the London 2012 marathon) they were very impressed. The lesson concluded with the children and I talking about how easy it is to draw stereotyped images of each other’s country and expressing the wish that it was up to us to fight against those stereotypes and to educate others.

I left the lesson to find that Mrs Green had been making scones and bread rolls with P6. The children had never tasted sultanas before and really liked them. We had also bought some Kenyan strawberry jam – no clotted cream was available however. The children loved the scones and the bread rolls: Mrs Green and Yowasi cut them up small enough so that there was enough to feed three classes.

After a brief spot of lunch, Mrs Green was going to teach Gloria, the pupil that we arranged to cook at Tembo last year, how to make a British – style cake. I was with P4 and we were going to watch some Laurel and Hardy short films. This had been a film choice that I had fretted about. I have loved the films of Laurel and Hardy since I was a small child and firmly believe that they are the greatest comedians of all time. I was worried that the Kafuro children would find the films dated and wouldn’t understand the humour. I couldn’t have been more wrong. From the start they were doubled up laughing and the physical comedy that Stan Laurel used had them in stitches. Before I knew it, the door to the classroom opened and children started pouring in. Within ten minutes, almost the entire school were squeezed into the room and roaring with laughter. It became apparent to me that when it comes to physical comedy that children are the same the world over. What made it so special (and emotional) was that they were feeling exactly the same feelings that I had when I first watched Laurel and Hardy. It’s moments like this which remind you that we have so much in common as human beings, the power of film to connect people and that the world is really a small place.

When the final film had finished (I ended up showing four) the children broke into a spontaneous round of applause and were full of chatter as they left the classroom. I went out to see the cake that Mrs Green had been baking with Gloria and it looked very nice. I didn’t get to taste it as Gloria was taking it home to share with her family, but it looked very nice.

Before, we headed back to Mweya to meet the others, we met with Yowasi to evaluate the Conservation Cup. Then we made the long drive home stopping only to drop Dave off with one of his Banded Mongoose Project colleagues. We met the others at Tembo where they had all been teaching in different classes and really enjoyed it. They had also sat in on a debating competition between the two Katunguru schools. All of them were really impressed with the organisation and the standard while feeling that debating is a skill which is being lost in UK schools.

Stu and his family were also at Tembo so we were a very large group together eating that night. Tomorrow is our final day at Kafuro.

You can have so much fun with a hoop!
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