Never a Dull Moment

Never a Dull Moment

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Today one hears harrowing stories in Uganda about how hard it has become for rural families to get their children and especially daughters, through the primary school years successfully. It would appear that there are enormous difficulties in getting children to master the basic skills of reading, writing and arithmetic, let alone to learn and apply the basics of personal hygiene, an acceptable work ethic and respect for individuals and institutions. In a spirit of wishing to demonstrate how some rural parents used to pursue and accomplish successfully an education for their children, this book tells the story of how Ntaanya negotiated her 12-year passage through various home and modern schools in a rural village in 1950s. All the stories in this short book are based on actual events spanning a twelve year period generally corresponding to the period when I was growing up in a rural village. The book attempts to show that perhaps the modern school is paying far too much attention to the mechanics of school learning and in the processes it is eroding the complementary work of a variety of traditional learning agencies that in the past, not only provided a child with their first mental and practical curriculum but also greatly supported and consolidated the skills taught in the modern school. While the book does not deal directly with the curriculum of the modern school, it pays a great deal of attention to describing what a young girl learned from the cultural and home environment right from very early childhood. Starting with the processes of naming a girl child, the foundational lessons for a child's identity were laid. Sometimes the lessons were accidental as when Muzeeyi and Mugabi's baby daughter ends up receiving a name Ntaanya meaning trouble - when the woman from whom she must inherit the name is already in trouble and has been ostracized by her family, and therefore can never be a positive role model for Ntaanya. Muzeeyi is made aware of this when she introduces Ntaanya to Nasedde, Muzeeyi's father-in-law. At other times the lessons are subtle and not actually meant for the child. For example, weaning a toddler would seem like a simple and straightforward matter but it is not so for Muzeeyi who had previously suffered nine miscarriages before Ntaanya came along. The village matriarch and respected traditional birth attendant Zakuzza sees clearly a future problem a child that gets spoilt by an over protective mother and her foster children that are eager to please. Zakuzza speaks her mind and Muzeeyi and Mugabi must obey a village elder. They take action immediately by removing Ntaanya from their home to her maternal grandmother's residence located some fifteen miles away, where a well functioning weaning school has been operating for many years. The wisdom and psychology of weaning away from home is amply demonstrated by Digonda's handling of Ntaanya. Digonda knows that the first step of removing the breast as the focal locus of getting a child spoilt has been achieved by distance. Therefore, Digonda continues to provide Ntaanya with all the other elements of any child's expectations as the center of attention. Yet during this period, Digonda ensures that Ntaanya starts on her learning to shape her character, to consolidate her identity and to learn to participate in all the chores and activities that support a thriving household and its industry, including learning to fetch water and preparing herbal medicines, which is Digonda's specialization. Importantly Ntaanya's need to play is neither ignored nor taken for granted. As a matter of fact it is emphasized but in a very practical way where Ntaanya learns how to make her own dolls and play cows with the assistance of Digonda and older children in the household. In addition, Ntaanya goes out exploring with the other older children including participating in the harvesting terDuring a Kalisoliso lesson in the second term, Nalumba had put up in front of the class a diagram, which she had said showed the human digestive system. The teacher had explained that she had made the diagram and then went ahead toanbsp;...

Title:Never a Dull Moment
Author:Katherine Namuddu
Publisher:Xlibris Corporation - 2012-10-01


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