Mango Logic

Publicity_shot Posted by Nigel and Carol Weallans on Tue, 08 Mar 2016 | 0 comments | Bookmark: digg this Post this to Post this to Facebook

‘’Teacher, if you have two sons and four mangoes, do you give one son two mangoes and one son one mango?’’

This was the irrefutable logic of Eva, one of my students of English, after I had given two exercise books to one student, whilst others received one. In my defence, I imagined that the book was to give to his wife (the pastors’ wives sometimes attend in the morning), but found myself lost for words.

It was also Eva who, on another occasion, informed me, ‘’Teacher, people are asleep.’’ Given the heat of the South Sudan afternoon, and the effort they had been putting into preparing their ‘gardens,’ for planting crops, I was not surprised or annoyed. This was the same day that she caught up with me on the path to the training centre and offered to help carry my laptop bag, which she easily balanced on her head.

We still seem to be the star attraction in Ibba. The other day, three children on their way to nursey stopped opposite our veranda and sat down. Children are not provided with chairs, so they were carrying their own. We are accustomed to children coming to greet us on their way to school, but did not know what was expected of us. Perhaps they thought we would perform a play!

Pastor Simon’s younger family – he has eleven children of his own, plus those of his extended family – are regular visitors and we are always pleased to see Esther, his youngest daughter.

Today, I went to the nursery school to talk to one of the teachers. On the approach to the school, I was mobbed by excited children, who wanted to greet me and hold my hand. I managed to make my way to Simon and held a conversation in the middle of the scrum of smiling faces. To escape, I gradually disengaged from each group and left.

I was free to visit the nursery, because my English class had been postponed to allow the pastors to carry out manual labour. This involved cutting back vegetation from the path leading to the training centre and planting a hedge. The soil is so fertile and climate favourable during the wet season, that this meant pushing a row of cuttings into the soil along a string line.

After three trips to the borehole to collect water for drinking, washing ‘smalls’ and handwashing, I went to the training centre to do some mild manual labour of my own – painting the blackboard. Some students had been struggling to read what was written on the board and probably need spectacles prescribing; this is not possible in Ibba. Arkangelo appeared and offered to ‘support me in painting.’ I had to admit that he did a better job than me! When we came in 2014, it was a rendered grey oblong and painting it black made a big difference. It only needed half a tin of paint, so will get a second coat at some other time. I threw the brush away, as I had no means to clean off oil-based paint. It will wear off mine and Arkangelo’s hands, eventually!

It seems that the rainy season has arrived. This means that those who are building mud-brick buildings need to finish them. Those who are burning their bricks will need to complete the process in the next few weeks. There will be much work to plant crops in people’s ‘gardens,’ and the children are already climbing trees and throwing projectiles to dislodge the ripe mangoes.

Before it rains, there is usually a strong wind. Yesterday, this loudly slammed the door and windows of the training centre. I became concerned that this would damage the pastors’ houses, as it was lifting the grass from the roofs. We finished in prayer and they left early to check that their houses and families were safe. As they exited, the wind dropped, but, soon afterwards, the rain arrived, and I sheltered in the church office as it tap danced on the metal roof. Eventually, it died away sufficiently for me to pick my way through the puddles along the path home.

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