Skip to main content

The Bakiga Window: Taufiq Islamic Primary School

The Primary 6 class 'revising'.
The sun is relentless this afternoon. After a typically rainy season morning of mist and showers, the clouds have parted and I can feel my skin beginning to cook under Uganda’s wide blue skies.

It is Wednesday 13th April and I have delegated my group leader responsibilities for a few hours, in order for me to go about following up on something I promised I would last year, namely visiting the Taufiq Islamic Primary School.

When I visited last year, my immediate reaction was use a selection of adjectives, all with negative connotations. This wasn’t as a reflection of the school as an organisation, or of the small, but hard-working, Muslim community who look after it, but more focused on the cramped conditions that the boarding students had to live in.

So it was, that after a short lunchtime meeting with the father of a student from Kigezi High School, I followed the path down to Taufiq: past the ladies selling bananas, weaving my way through the hive of activity that is the taxi rank, through the clattering of men working on bits of metal. There I met with Teacher Bright.

After signing the guest book and chatting about whether much had changed in the year since my last visit, he started to take me on a tour of the inner courtyard of the main building. Needless to say, it wasn’t long before a Primary 6 class, who were meant to be revising for a test, saw me and began to look excitedly at their mzungu visitor.

I asked the teacher whether this small class was always this excitable. He replied, “not really. Most visitors to the school aren’t here to see the children.” I asked whether I could meet them and he obliged.

The pupils took it in turns to ask questions and either giggled or gasped in response to any answers I gave them. At first the questions were about England: “Do you really have a Queen?” and “Does it really rain all the time?” The questions moved on to “do you have Muslims in the UK?” I then informed them that in London, where I teach, most of my students are Muslim. This surprised them, but also brought smiles to their faces.

At this point a phone call came through to teacher Bright. There were reports coming through that a mzungu was visiting the school and the Sheikh hadn’t been informed. I took this as an indication to leave, albeit feeling somewhat disappointed, and I made my way back to the road.

Later that night, Yasim, the KHS bus driver and a member of Kabale’s Muslim community saw me walking home, still in a melancholy mood and called me over. He had heard about the mix up at the school and was able to inform the Sheikh that I was good man, a friend of Islam and someone without ulterior motives.

I was left waiting on a phone call to see if I would get a formal invite back to the school later in the week.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

From a Crooked Rib by Nuruddin Farah

Cover image. © Penguin Books. I stumbled across Nuruddin Farah’s novels when searching for something written by a Somali author. Perhaps due to the conflict that has raged for years in Somalia, it is very difficult to find much from Somali writers published in English. From a Crooked Rib was published in 1970 and tells the story of Ebla, a young, orphaned, illiterate nomadic girl, who runs away from her encampment. She takes the decision to leave upon learning of her Grandfather’s intention to marry her off to an older man within their Jes (a group of families living in an encampment together). She firstly escapes to a town, Belet Amin, where she finds her cousin and his pregnant wife. She also finds a guide and confidante in a character known only as the widow. Things seem settled until, yet again, Ebla finds her freedom compromised by a male character – this time her cousin, whose wife and child Ebla has been nursing. In her haste she leaves Belet Amin with the w

The Bakiga Window: Taufiq Islamic Primary School: Part II

In a manner so typically Ugandan, Yasim approaches silently and politely asks whether he can have a word with me – it is one of those ironies that a word has to be had in order to have a word with someone. Irony aside, he has heard back from the Sheikh and arranged an appointment for me. It is Wednesday 20 th April and once more I find myself en route to Taufiq Islamic Primary School. The morning started in the usual way: waking up sleepy students, ensuring that everyone had 'taken' breakfast and had a supply of bottled water, and then walking with the group down the hill, into the town. At the foot of the hill, the group scattered into many fragments, with everyone off in search of their own adventures. I head straight on, past the noise of the metal workers, over to Taufiq. After having had to beat a hasty retreat last week , I was unsure of who would be in my reception committee. Teacher Bright was the first to greet me, before taking me inside to m

Beach Huts, Southwold, Suffolk

Sleeping beach huts on Southwold Beach, Suffolk. Safely back from my annual visit to Rotterdam, my parents invited me to spend a few days with them in a small holiday cottage in Southwold, Suffolk. Give or take driving through Newmarket a few years back when studying at Anglia Ruskin University, I'd never really seen much of the county. Southwold itself is a beautiful seaside resort which happens to be the home of Adnams , a well known brewery, which means that for a small place there are a healthy number of pubs - suddenly Dad's choice of location made sense . On the early afternoon of Wednesday 20th February  I took a walk to the Harbour Inn to meet my parents for lunch. The pub was just under two miles away from Grace Cottage , where we were staying. This gave me the opportunity to take some pictures of the sea. On our way towards the see we also spotted  Georgie Glen  from Waterloo Road humming happily to herself on the High Street. Southwold is lovely,