Losing my Bottle

An ordinary Gambian morning: a bit of teaching, some slobbing about and a couple of “chicken steamies”. I’m obviously not being let off this Milanda-inspired cotton wool bread. At least breakfast is local bread, but the butter’s not going down fast enough and beginning to smell rancid. The lashings of jam are almost not enough to mask it now. But I’m happy!

I failed in my attempt to get my class of 5 girls to sing “Ten Green Bottles”. This wasn’t just a random fancy: I was getting them to cut/copy & paste the verses together to make the missing verses and get everything in the right order. The girls didn’t know the song though Saikou, who came in during the lesson, claimed to have learned it at primary school. He wouldn’t sing it either! This was a variation on the exercise I normally use: The 12 Days of Christmas.

After lunch I spent some time chatting to Dr Johnstone. Older readers may recall he featured last year. Like me he is staying in the Motel, but downstairs as he has dodgy legs. He is a nice chap, obviously highly educated, who hails from these parts but is currently living in London. He has had various diplomatic roles, I think. Anyway, he’s apparently intent on settling here in The G and is going to have a house built. After that, he will divide his time between The G and the UK: goodness knows why he is living in this place, but I suspect he’s tight with his money. He says that his new house will have a pool as he has been advised to swim to strengthen his legs, but commented adversely that he had tried to use a local hotel’s pool and had been charged GmD25 (50p) which he considered extortionate. I doubt he’d get much swimming for 50p in London.

The other chap I got speaking to was Lamin (let’s not start all that again: Lamin the Net as the Welsh might call him). He had the ISP back today and the new wireless link is installed and he’s just waiting for a password. After that he’ll be able to start breathing life into the IT suite. I think the wireless campus is a bit off yet, but it’s definitely on the agenda. He’s keen as mustard and has been suggesting all sorts of moneymaking schemes to the CE. The IT lab has generally been available for the public as a sort of Internet cafe, but a) it rarely worked and b) no-one knew! Lamin wants to advertise and also suggests that he train up some students to repair and service IT equipment. Then they could go to schools and other official entities to provide IT servicing at a lower price than many of the big names. He is also pushing for publicity to attract new students as the PIA are facing competition from the GTTI (Gambian Trade and Technical Institute or something). If the PIA has a few staff with his drive – and I believe it does – and the new CE is as good as he seems to be, then there is considerable hope for the future.

(I had planned writing more, but you have been saved by the fact that for the second evening in a row the power went off at 7ish and stayed off until I was woken by the bedroom bulb coming on in the small hours. But this time I still had water.)


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