Thursday, February 24, 2011


Seriously though, what was I thinking? Starting how many new blogs? All in a fit of excitement over a whole day with electricity. So now I can feel triply (tripoli) bad when I have bloggers block. 


So I went to Mwanza, on lake Victoria for a couple of days. To be with the actors who are performing there for a week. Left the baby gal at home for two nights. First time to leave her overnight. I felt positively nauseous to begin with but soon got used to it! I think she barely noticed I was gone, frankly!

I'm sorting through the pictures now but here are a couple for now.


Oh and I've also posted on one of my other blogs!

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Blogs out of ears

Something strange happened today.

We had power. All. Day. It means we will not have any tonight but that's okay. It also means that I have been connected to the computer intravenously all day. I need to finish this post and get outSIDE.

And so the novelty of having electricity all day somehow made me a little overexcited and for some strange reason I have started not just one other blog, but TWO. What was I thinking? Like I find enough time to even update this one, let alone three! Well four actually if you count Hometown Arusha. Geez.

It all started with an e-mail from Lori suggesting I post more about the baby gal. And I agree but am worried about boring the less baby minded people out there. So The Mothering Times was born. And at the same time as creating that blog I'm updating our website and thought, huh, maybe I should have a blog on there. And so another one, for my work stuff. What's with this compartmentalising my life?

Anyway, I really must get outside. It rained last night on the hill for the first time in MONTHS and it is glorious out.


Friday, February 11, 2011

The Power of Thought


So I was riding through the dusty loose-stoned cow- tracked korongo on my motorbike yesterday, on my way to meet P. And I was having this conversation with her, in my head, saying “I’ve ridden through that korongo so many times I can’t believe I fell off”


And as soon as the thought was out there in the atmosphere, BAM, I hit a stone and tumbled off, banging my knees and hitting my head on a rock. Thank god for helmets!


As I said, I was on my way to meet P and we were going to drive to a performance a couple of hours’ drive away, in Karatu. The actors are camping there for a week, then they’re off to another spot for a week. Ten weeks performing, three weeks rest, then another ten weeks. Covering all districts in the country, two groups, performing twice a day. Shew.



The play, if you’re interested, is about children’s rights. 50% of Tanzania’s population is under the age of 18 and the premise is, if we don’t look after our children now, treat them with love and respect then what of the future? What will the future leaders and citizens be like? How to develop as a nation when children are routinely beaten, spat at, called dogs?


Beating, burning children with hot knives, tying their hands together so they can’t fight back. These are all extremely common ways of disciplining children. It is so common that trying to get across the message that it is wrong is very hard. It is normal. ‘It’s how we teach we our children.’


When we first started creating the play, I had a file full of information. Statistics. How many young girls have to drop out of school because they have been fallen pregnant by teachers (8,000 girls dropped out of school in 2007 due to pregnancy); how many people have experienced at least one type of physical violence as a child (70% of females and 67% of males); that nearly 30% of females described their first sexual intercourse as unwilling. The stats go on and on and on.



So we spent the first week with the actors (twelve of them all together – two casts of six each) and swopped stories. Of the twelve actors only one had never been routinely beaten (only once, she said). They all started comparing scars and stories. One of them had stolen food from the pot as a child and blamed it on his younger brother. So his mother got the brother, tied his wrists together, filled his hands with dry grass and kindling and set it alight. Until his fingers burnt almost to the bone. Another shows a scar where she was burned with hot knife. Another tells how her young child always went through her and her husband’s pockets looking for coins. So in order to teach her not to she tied her daughter’s hands up and beat her until she knocked her teeth out. “I thought I was teaching her not to steal”. The stories, like the stats, go on and on.


Our challenge of course is to take this information and try and make an exiting, positive and interesting play. I firmly believe in positive messaging, and keeping things light despite the heavy topic. The heavy stuff is there, of course, but I think it is very important to balance this out with the fun, the positive, the happy. Laughter is a way of making intimidating issues more manageable. Positive thinking, positive messaging.


So the story follows the life of a boy Ilunje/Kitonyo (the two plays are slightly different which is fun, same basic story but the spicing, if you like, is distinct for each play) and his step-sister as they navigate through childhood. There are scenes of abuse, of hope, of hunting, fishing, working and playing.


hunting warthog

We’ve tried to keep it real, break down stereotypes, balance out the serious with the fun and above all, not to lecture, not to wag fingers, look superiorly over the tops of our spectacles and say condescendingly, “now now, don’t do that’. The play is interactive with the audience so they have a say in what goes on.


mother and son

Am I boring you? It’s hard to explain, doesn’t  translate very well, but culturally especially, it’s very effective.


Aaanyway. The actors have been amazing. I auditioned them from all the small theatre groups and societies in Arusha, trained them up and created this play, over a few months. They are so excited to be on the road and are very very keen, enthusiastic and energetic! They say that Tanzania has never seen any theatre like this. They want to perform as much as they can wherever they can.


I hope it lasts, its early days.  But I think it will.


Positive thinking, right?


Picture Window

I realise I haven't posted pictures of our picture window for an age.  This is probably because these days it looks like this:

Can you believe how much that tree has grown?. Hopefully it will continue to do so and soon we'll have our view back AND a lovely big tree in our garden!

This is November 2009

And February 2010

July 2010

And today

Monday, February 7, 2011

Show on the road

So our show is finally on the road. Damn, as I write that I see that I missed an opportunity there. I could have sat in the back of a pickup truck and shouted "Lets get this show on the ROAD" together with unnecessary circular hand movement, finger in the air, round em up style. Its the sort of thing one always wants to say isn't it? Along with "you're probably wondering why I've gathered you all here today" and "I'm gonna take you DOWN". Ooh and "see you in court"

Or is that just me?

So yah. After months of crazy rehearsals (two casts, one play) they're on the road for 20 weeks. Two casts performing twice a day to schools and marketplaces across the country. So exciting! 

Here are a few pics from the first week. 

riding in an oxcart



and audience shots...