Butiama Chronicles – Week Two


Week Two

The thing which has put me out of my comfort zone the most has to be the storytelling sessions this week because, as anyone who knows me well will know, I’m not normally too happy about getting up in front of an audience and speaking. However, the storytelling sessions have been so much fun and there is such a good atmosphere from everyone which makes it a lot less nerve-wracking – Shauna Caskie

After the students did their progress tests and reviews on Friday, there was a campfire and reflection session that night. After a refreshing (and tiring) camp excursion to Saa Nane Island in Mwanza for the weekend, their third week (and my second) was ushered in.

Out of the 11 students (one of them, Laura, left last week to join Uni in Australia), 2 are from the university of Copenhagen (Denmark) 1 from Texas university (USA) and 6 from Edinburgh university (UK). The summer program has put them in such a sync that you can never tell that most of them only met once the program begun 5 weeks ago. Well, except when they are teasing Joe about being a cowboy. Another beautiful observation is the diversity of courses that they are taking: from medicine, to international politics, to religion and social anthropology and biology. Such a beautiful blend!

This week, I will be the students through comprehensive rehearsals and telling techniques.

Monday 18th July

The story session was slotted last on today’s program. After dinner and before bedtime. We kicked off with an engaging yoga session from Ida. I wonder how those guys maintain balance in such awkward poses! I was so unstable.


The University of Edinburgh Summer School

The University of Edinburgh Summer School

Then, the students shared their pieces. It was commendable to see that they had all been translated to Swahili. Even more exciting for me as a teacher was to observe the subtle personal touches that the students have added to their stories – like the princes who refuses the proverbial happily-ever-after ending of being married to prince charming and instead calls for a teksi to take her home.


Tuesday 19th July

Kweli, hakuna siri ya watu wawili!

So, Mwalimu Steve had hatched this idea that he would love to surprise the students by also performing a story this Friday. He had enlisted the help of Janeth and myself and we loved this suggestion. But, he forgot to tell Janeth that this was supposed to be a secret, a surprise to be unwrapped on FRIDAY. So, after finishing her tutorials, Janeth went around the compound looking for Steve, explaining to the students that they were supposed to be practicing a story that they would tell on Friday.

It was hilarious when, during dinner, the students were like, “Steve, good stuff that you will also be telling a story on Friday. Mwalimu Janeth is very excited too. She has been looking all over for you!”

The students have had a hectic week. After today’s rehearsal which was late in the evening, I told them to take time off their scripts. It is almost impossible to be creative when you are stressed out.

Wednesday 20th July

They look more refreshed today. For the first hour, we had a light session trading banter, riddles, puns and tongue twisters. Then, the paired up in their groups for technical rehearsals with assistance from Walimu Steve, Yahaya, Janeth and Twaha. The teachers have been really supportive of this creative adventure.

IMG-20160714-WA0026Thank you so much for these two weeks. I have learned so much and I know that I will remember this for a very long time – Joe, Swahili Summer School Student, Texas A&M University

Thursday 21st July

Today will be our final rehearsal. I am amazed at the progression so far. From hoping that we can hack at least ONE story in Swahili, then there, I can proudly say that tomorrow, the students will be performing five GOOD stories in coherent Swahili. They have been a great team, challenging me as they challenge themselves. Whatever happens tomorrow, I am super proud of them.


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