Kids vs. staff
Karibuni to Boogie’s first blog entry! So far I’ve left the writing to the pro (my missus) but it’s about time that I give you all some of my own thoughts.
On Friday, 28th of September, all eyes turned to Amani’s own football pitch (who needs grass when you have dirt?!), as the Walezi (staff, to which I now belong) were set to take on the Watoto (kids) in an epic battle for school bragging rights. The Walezi (in burgundy jerseys – or ‘jazi’, in Kiswahili) were a few players short (some of them mysteriously disappeared before the game) and had to be supplemented by some willing student-reinforcements. I tried to ask my team mates in what positions they would like to play and soon noticed that this would bare little relevance given the interesting African strategy applied: instead of controlling the match with a clever passing-game, most players would simply try to kick the ball with all their force at every opportunity, hoping to get it as close as possible the opponent’s goal. It took me a while to get used to this interesting brand of ‘Goalie-Pong’ but, alas, I was able to help my team to 5-2 lead by the end of the first half (during which we lined up 80 kids in order to give them each two much-appreciated Gummi Bears). During the second half the Watoto clearly benefitted from the Walezi’s poor physical shape and scored four goals in succession. A last minute header-goal from yours truly then led to the 6-6 end result that everyone seemed happy with (although the spectators did demand a dramatic penalty shoot-out, which they were fortunately denied).
The game was quite intense indeed: the kids passionately cheered us on (and loudly laughed at our every mistake), the young referee was attacked at every turn, and at one point a pretty sizeable dust-tornado swept through the field, causing one of the most dramatic sights I have ever witnessed (due in part to the Kilimanjaro backdrop). Strangely, the kids referred to me (the only white guy on the pitch) as Yaya Touré (one of my favourite players – and a 2 meter tall black man) and all came to high-five me after the game. It was the perfect end to a fascinating week and I’m happy to report that my football career within the Amani grounds has gotten off to a good start…
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Nearly 2 weeks here and we’re getting settled in to the “pole, pole” (slowly, slowly) lifestyle, as well as completing our first week at Amani. Following the 10th anniversary celebrations last week, school life is slowly returning back to normal (although classes only start next week) and B and I are coming to the end …
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Finally some blog-time. Sorry for my 4-day absence; I can’t even blame bad internet for it (it’s still working remarkably smoothly), just long, busy days with a good measure of after-dinner laziness thrown in. (You wouldn’t blame me if you saw the kind of tasty but huge and very carb-heavy evening meals they serve us …
Our street in the evening sun.
Our late afternoons/evenings so far have consisted of: A 45-minute walk along charming dirt roads/side-of-the-main-road paths from Amani (a bit outside the city) to the center; a nice locally grown & brewed coffee/juice/smoothie in a local cafe courtyard (away from the laid-back mayhem of the busy rush-hour streets), walk back to the hostel as the sun sets around 6, quick dinner with our fellow guests (about 15 of them at the moment), and reading + a hasty online news reading-session in our mosquito-net fortress before the neighborhood guard dog barking lulls us to sleep…
The day was amazing and really laid back at Amani; finally some awkward-but-sweet “I don’t really speak Swahili yet but we’re somehow communicating”-interaction with the kids. We ended up finding common ground in football, the odd word of Swahili and English, dancing (they LOVE to dance – I’ll try to get some video of this tomorrow) and Michael Jackson.
Tomorrow’s a huge day – the long-awaited 10th year anniversary celebrations for Amani, with a big march & street performances planned to raise awareness and publicize (locally) the good work that they do. 100+ kids and more than 40 staff will take to the streets of Moshi… It’ll be mad. Look forward to updating you guys soon (I’m one of the designated photographers for the day).
Much love from Mother Africa,
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And voila! Our second day in Moshi is over and we’re floating somewhere between cloud nine and a more-severe-than-expected-first-few-days-in-a-totally-different-world-kind-of culture shock. To be fair, this place has been very kind to us so far – the weather’s been balmy and sunny, and the people are warm and helpful, unfailingly greeting you with either ‘Jambo’ or …
An empty shell.
It never seizes to amaze me how quickly a cozy, lived-in home can turn into an empty shell of one. I’ve moved enough times to know this strange transformation not only changes how a place looks with the obvious disappearance of pictures and paintings from the walls and furniture too, but also how it sounds. As I was walking through our half-empty flat yesterday, I noticed how the echo was different. Sound seemed to bounce off the walls with a newfound energy; a melancholic if soothing energy for me, an undoubtedly invigorating one for the couple that will move in in a few weeks’ time.
And just like that our home has seized to be. A few days of frantic packing and we were ready to move out this morning. For the sake of sheer nostalgia we’ve decided to keep our mattress here for two more nights and sleep in our shell-of-a-home as we clean it up, so it’s ready to take on a new couple, a new home; one that, no doubt, will look and feel entirely different from ours.
But this shell doesn’t make me sad. Nostalgic, perhaps. A little melancholic, definitely. But somehow not sad. It’s been an amazing flat to live in and these three years have been some of the best of our lives. The strange noise that the gas heater makes as we crank it up in the winter, the insanely creaky floors, the beautiful old plaster cast ceilings, and countless summer evenings spent chilling on the roof terrace… I’d be crazy not miss this, but somehow it seems right to move on, move out and give this shell for someone else to fill with their life, with their energy.
A home is where the heart is, no doubt. But it’s also where life settles for a time and then aches to move on. It sheds extra layers as things are thrown out, and then seeks to settle again, starting the cycle all over.
Goodbye Geigergasse, it’s been real.
PS. One of my all-time favorite songs that fits the mood just right.