After getting things worked out on Monday I decided to head into the primary school today. When I arrived the children were in the midst of a recess. Kids were playing soccer, keep away, jumping roping, and running everywhere. I walked around trying to spot Pam but I couldn’t find her anywhere. After searching for some time the bell rang and kids started to head back to their classrooms. Around this time I saw Mr. Dume, a teacher I had worked with two years ago. I asked him if he happened to know where Pam was, and he told me she was absent. I asked him if I’d be able to just go with him to his class.He didn’t have a problem with it and we both made our way to room 6C.
Mr. Dume is originally from Zimbabwe and doesn’t seem to like kids. Furthermore, I think he is biased against South African kids. Why is he a teacher in a South African township school? I have no idea, but it’s not working. There were more than a few noteworthy observations during my day with Mr. Dume. Here are a few:
South Africa has abandoned capital punishment within its school systems. Meaning they are not allowed to beat their students. Most teachers still carry a stick with them for intimidation, and they’ll slam the sticks on the table to get the kids attention. Mr. Dume still hits his students. He doesn’t do it excessively, and doesn’t do it hard, but he certainly still does it. I remember vividly being in his classroom two years ago when he unloaded a very undeserved beating onto a child. It happened so fast that there was nothing I could have done but I still felt terrible for the student. Long story short, a child got beat because another student told on him for getting hit by said student. Dume didn’t hear or see anything but still beat the kid. He often tells me how unintelligent these South African kids are, and how bad they are. I really don’t have anything nice to say about the guy.
The next thing I noted about him that still hasn’t changed is how he announces failures. It’s getting close to the end of the term and teachers are beginning to put together report cards. He started naming children and asking them to stand up. Neither the children nor I knew what his intentions were. Once he finished reading off the list he announced that all these students would be failing his class because of how poorly they did on the last assignment. Half the class was standing, and they all looked embarrassed. I knew some of them and saw them standing there hoping I wouldn’t notice them standing. If that many students are doing that poorly I think it’s safe to blame the teacher.
This flows nicely into Dumes final segment; His teaching… or lack of it. After some time went by where the kids did nothing at all, Dume announced to the class that they should open their books and read something. He suggested reading something in blue highlights because he found it to be the most interesting, but that was the extent of his lesson. He proceeded to sit down and read his newspaper. I was shocked. He offered me a section (he actually handed me the advertisement section… not that it makes a difference) but instead I got up and walked around the class to see if the students were actually reading. Most of them didn’t even have their books and the ones that did have their books had no intentions of reading. These students struggle to speak English and can hardly read Xhosa. To ask them to independently read a book in English is just asking them to fail. I tried to encourage the students that had books to read, and the ones that were doing work for other classes I let continue working. Once Dume left the classroom I worked with a group of students on English to Xhosa translations. They were interested in teaching me Xhosa but to do so I knew they’d have to use their English. Before the class was over one of the students had written for me a list of words in English followed by a list of words in Xhosa. They told me I had to study it.
A few students followed me home after school but went their separate ways before getting to Mama Zulus. I was starving for lunch and went in to go make something for myself. I got two texts from Mieke followed by a phone call. When I picked up the phone it seemed as though she had called by accident because there was some crazy noises, like receiving a butt dial. When I sat down to eat I saw the girls walking onto the Zulu’s property and waved them over. They were both frantic and disheveled. They told me, that a block from Mama Zulu’s house, they had almost just got mugged. Apparently as Mieke was texting me someone ran up and tried to steal her phone. That was the crazy phone call I had received. The girls abruptly started kicking and screaming and were able to hold onto the phone. The screaming drew enough attention that onlookers came to help and chased the guys off. When crime like that happens in Kayamandi it is almost always from an outsider. Had it been someone living in Kayamandi they would have been recognized. I was glad the girls were alright, and felt bad that I wasn’t able to help. We joked about how when they called me in need of help I instinctively hung up. They didn’t even know they had called till I was talking with them over lunch. This is the first time I heard of someone almost getting mugged that close to Mama Zulus. I know it happens but I’ve never felt unsafe. We determined that it was probably because they had their phones out and because they were girls. Lucky for them, they were able to hold on to their belongings!
Around 4, the girls went to get Eric and head into Stellenbosch. I stayed back because I was planning meeting up with Aphiwe’s parents and getting their signature on the permission slip. Eric really wanted German bread and the girls wanted to get some water.
Since Aphiwe didn’t end up coming by till 6 I told him he’d have to wait till I finished eating dinner before we could go to his mothers. During dinner I found out the bread Eric coveted so badly had gotten forgotten on the mini bus. I won’t point any fingers but let’s just say Hanneke owed Eric a drink later that night.
After dinner, around 7, I walked with Aphiwe, Riri, Lupo, and Chester across Kayamdni to Aphiwe’s home. I met his mother, Mpumi, two years ago and looked forward to seeing her again. Her English is great so I knew I wouldn’t have any problems telling her about the trip. Aphiwe was also one of the two students who received the letter I sent half a year ago and she told me how happy they were to get it. We exchanged emails so we’d be able to keep in touch when I get back home.
At this point it was pretty dark and we had a bit of a hike to get back to Mama Zulus but I wasn’t concerned. I guess walking with the kids puts me at ease because I know they are watching my back as much as I am watching theirs. It also helps that the community is so close knit and if something where to happen to me the kids would be able to almost certainly identify the perpetrator. Either way we ran into no troubles and I still hold Kayamandi in the highest regard.
The plan was to head into Stellenbosch and visit the Cubana, a bar I visited quite frequently the last time I was in SA. We were given a number of a taxi service that would be able to drive us and he told us that he would pick us up around 8:30. The price was higher than I paid in the past but split amongst four people it was only about 7 dollars each, and that would cover both ways. Since I had last been to the Cubana the only thing that changed was the night of their specials. Rather than Tuesdays, they had been moved to Wednesdays. We still enjoyed a night of fancy cocktails at a cheap price but not as cheap as it would have been had we gone on the right night.
We contacted our driver to come for us around 11 and he got back to us at 11:15 that he would be there in 20 minutes. Last call was at midnight and since our ride still hadn’t come yet we were left stranded in the bar while the staff started to clean. Feeling bad that we may be keeping them, Eric and I helped bring the outdoor furniture back inside. Our ride didn’t come till closer to 1! I don’t know if “African Time” is to blame for this or just bad service. Either way we had no intentions of paying full price for how long they made us wait. We all had early mornings ahead of us and hadn’t planned such a late night. I did talk to the staff and found a few of them that lived in Kayamandi. We were actually just about to head back with them when our ride showed up. I think in the future we will just plan to ride with Kayamandi staff back to the township. Once home we all went straight to bed.