Monday, June 14, 2004

Tidbits from Nairobi Primary:

Houses: The students were divided into 4 houses (yes, just like Hogwarts) and my sisters and I were in "Impala". This meant that when we had swimming meets 1/4 of the stands would cheer "Im-Pa-La, Im-Pa-La!" as I swam my flailing crawl the length of the pool. One other house was Simba but I don't remember the other two. Maybe Tembo? As far as I was aware there wasn't any stigma or particular pride attached to any house other than that my house was best. We didn't wear special colours but we sat in separate areas of the stands. Like Hogwarts, any personal triumphs or disciplinary slips counted for the whole house.

Food: For several years we ate in the dining hall with the boarding students for lunch. We did not get afternoon snack for which we were grateful as it was comprised of bread with shortening spread on it and weak tea. We ate family style around large rectangular wooden tables. Each table had a faculty member at the head and an older student at the foot. One girl from each table was assigned to pick up food and clear plates. We all had to eat one serving of everything served. The food, as I remember it was filling but featured oversalted, overcooked vegetables and mushy meat. We drank milk and water. We were allowed to decline dessert which was often custard or puddings of different sorts. The worst, in my mind, was tapioca pudding made with giant tapiocas that did look like albino frog eggs about to hatch into see-through tadpoles. One time the dessert was jello, a big treat, which came to the table in a large bowl dotted with whipped cream. Several students wrinkled their noses against the whipped cream so I volunteered to scrape their cream onto my jello. I should have know better; it was mayonnaise not whipped cream. Cold mayo on jello! Disgusting! The dining room was always loud and steamy.

Start of School: Every morning we started school with Assembly. We gathered in the courtyard and stood with our classes in orderly rows. We were led in prayer and song from a nifty little songbook/prayerbook (picture several hundred earnest British and Kenyan accented voices singing "All Things Bright and Beautiful"), we sand the National Anthem in English and Swahili, the flag was raised and there were announcements. I don't think I ever actually heard an announcement just that Peanuts' adult blahblahblah. When dismissed we marched in line behind our teachers to our classrooms. I can still sing the first verse of the Kenyan National Anthem in both languages.

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