Stars, Seasons and Teaching

Publicity_shot Posted by Nigel and Carol Weallans on Sat, 13 Feb 2016 | 0 comments | Bookmark: digg this Post this to del.icio.us Post this to Facebook

If the stars should appear but one night every thousand years, how man would marvel and stare.

Ralph Waldo Emerson obviously never went to Ibba. The display of stars at night is amazing! We often turn off my torches to marvel and stare. My basic camera would not come near to doing justice to it.

To everything there is a season and a time to every purpose under the heaven: A time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted. (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2)

Ibba is a place of seasons. I don’t simply mean the dry and wet seasons. Currently, we seem to be in the season of making mud bricks and building tukuls (thatched mud-brick huts).

The church has been making mud bricks to build a house for the new Dean. It seemed like a daunting task to produce 7,000 bricks by hand, but the total is already close to 3,000.

We are also in the season of eating cassava roots and leaves (well pounded, before cooking in boiling water) and sweet potatoes, which are boiled or fried and taste a little like roast potatoes. Cassava root is also fermented, dried and made into flour for the local staple food. Water is added, to make a sort of porridge, which is eaten with greens.

Many people are harvesting groundnuts (g nuts), which are made into a paste, added to greens, or simply shelled and enjoyed. It is also the season of burning the leftover plants in people’s gardens, prior to preparing the ground for the next crop. The rainy season may well begin at the end of the month and many people will plant millet.

Usually, the rainy season is also the malaria and typhoid season, but it is worrying that we know of two children who have died from malaria.

Ripe pawpaws do not get the chance to fall to the ground. These are poked with long sticks, to encourage them to leave the tree and be eaten. We have also tasted delicious sweet pineapples. During the rainy season, the children throw sticks, stones and unripe mangoes into the trees to dislodge the ripe mangoes.

During the rainy season, it becomes very hot, prior to high winds and pelting rain. Some evenings, Ibba is surrounded by lightning, which is sometimes horizontal, and makes an impressive display. This is also the season when most fireflies seem to appear.

Teaching in Ibba is a novel experience. There are three sacks of dried cassava stored in the corner of the classroom. Students politely stand up when I enter the room and ask to be excused, if they need to leave the room. At the end of the second lesson, three students were unsure of what was to happen next, so applauded. It is not felt to be unusual to start with the Lord’s Prayer and to close with a prayer before leaving.

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