#17 2014 Dinner with Friends, Talent Show and off to Nakuru
After all the driving around, shopping for Talent Show Day (TSD), including picking the bottle caps, I had just enough time to shower and be off to La Belle, a local restaurant with pretty good food and not outrageous prices. I had invited Anastasia and her husband, Mwangi for dinner. You may recall several weeks ago I wrote about going to dinner at their house, taking David Kamau, very bright high school student from Mji Wa Neema. They are both engineers with Ken Gen and will be mentoring David. I wanted to meet with them to talk about that, although we talked about so many things.
We all arrived exactly at 6. I had prepared myself for their arrival on Kenyan time by bringing a book to read, but in fact they were standing outside the restaurant as I drove up. Talking with them was an old friend, who had happened to see them as he was on his way to their house for a surprise visit. He introduced himself as Fr. Nick. Since this was my dinner, I felt free to ask him to join us, an offer he didn’t hesitate to accept.
He’s a young priest from a neighboring diocese who has been their good, good friend for a long time. After I learned all that, I knew my instinct to include him had been right and he turned out to be very interesting and a lot of fun. In fact we sat there for 3 hours, talking and laughing until I felt I had to leave to get back. La Belle is only 5 minutes from home, but I don’t like driving here at night. I collected the bottle caps that La Belle had saved for us from our afternoon visit and was off. Of course the drive home was totally uneventful.
Next morning SFG was alive with activity. Everyone rushing here and there, intent on some very important errand. I had promised they could use my camera, as well as the video camera which Craig had purchased for use here. TSD was scheduled to begin at 9, but at about 9:45, when it hadn’t begun, I suddenly realized I had left the charger for my camera at home and the battery would never survive the 100’s of pix I knew they would take. Off to home, get charger and back to school, having just missed the opening.
There were wonderful traditional dances, songs, skits, modern dances, acrobatic performances and long waits between same. They day was wonderful but my sitting apparatus was definitely worn out before the end. In fact, my whole self was worn out and at about 3:30 I asked Esther if I could take a nap at her house. I was literally asleep by the time she had let herself out of the house to go back to TSD.
Fortunately a 1-hour nap revived me, so when time came for teachers to perform I was up to the challenge, although my offering was very different from others. I called up all the Mji Wa Neema girls to help me and as they came forward, wondering what in the world I had in mind, I explained that in my world, parents read to their children at bed time. In my case I also sang, not so much to my children as to my grands, and one of their favorite songs was about a small bear named Winnie-the-Pooh. I’d taught that song to the kids at the home many years ago and they always sing it with great gusto. It was fun and everyone accepted out offering with much clapping and noise.
The grand finale was the selection of Miss St. Francis, accompanied by much screaming for favorite candidates. I finally saw the purpose of the bottle caps, whichhad been attached to the train of a gown to make a rattling noise as she strutted her stuff. They all strutted like any pro in the Parisian couture. Many of our girls are stunningly beautiful, statuesque and sexy. My heart went out to the 1st and 2nd runners up. The others were back stage, so could show their disappointment, but the “also-rans” had to stand there, each wishing it were she getting the sash, the tiara, the bracelet Janet and I had chosen the day before and the screams.
Finally the bedlam settled so the judges could announce the winning class. Of course the form 1’s had no chance. They’d never experience TSD, so this was their learning opportunity. The big contest was between forms 3 and 4. It was very close, but form 4 won and the jumping up and down, dancing, high 5’s, screaming nearly brought down the house. There was no containing the excitement until it ran its course. I was given the honor of presenting the big prize, which was 3 small pastries they evidently cherish, because when I pulled off the cover bedlam again broke out. And then everyone was crowding around Miss SF and wanting pictures. Words can’t describe the excitement and energy. It was like the end of the World Series or the World Cup—especially after Ruth announced there would be no night preps, but that 1 hour after dinner was over, everyone was to be in bed. That one really brought down the house.
One of the many great things about TSD is that it comes right before exams for forms 1, 2 and 3 and the mock exams for form 4. It’s a perfect way to get out the tension, wear everyone out and then send them to sleep. By Sunday they would be back in the classroom, assiduously studying, but hopefully more relaxed.
It was dark and after 7 by the time I was able to gather my camera and beat a hasty retreat. ACH!!! What a day!
Sunday I had to get ready for my visit to East Pokot and Fr. Kiriti. After mass and breakfast, I finished up most of the packing and waited for Ludwin to arrive for a short visit. She’s one of the first students to be sponsored to university. She had wanted to major in engineering, but had missed the cut-off by 3 points, so instead majored in accounting and finance. I had not seen her for several years and had wondered how she was faring and only saw her this time because of a chance encounter with her mother. As happened to me, Ludwin had lost all her contacts and didn’t know how to call or email me or her sponsor.
She had been in the last Archbishop Ndingi class to include girls, which means she graduated in 2006. It was great to see her. She looks wonderful, loves her job, which is with a credit checking firm based in Nairobi, but her area of responsibility is Malawi and Rwanda. This is a new job, so she is spending many hours, but her eyes really sparkled when she was describing her work and how much she enjoys it.
Ludwin brought along John, also a Ndingi graduate, although I didn’t remember him. He is an entrepreneurial type. Right now he has a worm farm, which may not sound like much, unless you are an organic gardener. Then you will know how valuable those little critters are. John grows the worms to keep himself alive while he makes independent movies. He’s even done one starring Ludwin and is thinking about doing something with the story of SFG.
We had a lovely visit and I was so happy to reconnect with Ludwin. She tells me she has been supporting children in a children’s home, and now promises to “pay it forward” by donating to Empower the World, to enable more girls like herself to go on to school.
Finally I had to bring the visit to a close, to get ready to go. I had to run up to SFG to retrieve my camera charger (having a hard time keeping that), fill the car and check the air pressure, which was low in all the tires. Petrol has gone up again. I paid $5.14 per gallon!!! (Over $50 to fill the car)
Had imagined Sunday afternoon would be an easy drive to Nakuru, but the road was full with the usual slow trucks and all the rest. I was concerned that I’d left so late it would be dark before I arrived and in fact it was almost 6. My plan was to stay with my friend Agnes, but she was called away to Mombasa to her 90-year old mother. She assured me her daughter Fatma would take care of me. As it turned out, her husband, James was just returning from a trip to Uganda. He stopped at an easy to find hotel, where I picked him. It was very nice to have a guide to their house, which I would have been hard-put to find on my own.
James and I chatted while Fatma prepared a wonderful dinner. He is a professor of Kiswahili and Linguistics at Nairobi and has recently been made dean of students. The latter is very challenging, as students here are demanding and often go on strike. It is providing many learning opportunities for him. Agnes and James’ oldest son, Karama, was also there. He is in University, studying communication and media. Fatmas is waiting to enter university. She has not been told which school she will attend, but hopes to study international relations. She is named after Our Lady of Fatima in Portugal, but her parents thought Fatima sounded too middle eastern, so they spell it Fatma, but pronounce it Fatima.
Now it is Monday morning. I am writing from my bed, but will now dress, eat and be off to East Pokot to visit Fr. Kiriti for 5 days. I’ll drive to Maragat, which isn’t a very demanding drive, as I recall. I’ll leave the car with the nuns in a convent there and will ride to Kositei with Fr. Kiriti. That is a drive and a half. Roads go every which way across the bush. Once I asked him how he knew the road when it either wasn’t there at all or there were many choices. “The road is in my head,” was his reply. Well, it’s not in my head, so I’m grateful he would drive to Maragat to pick me. He has a very old truck. My car would give up after the first 5 miles!