“Omari, there is a problem with the outlet in my room. I think the circuit is overloaded, and I’m a little reluctant to plug anything in.”
“Hakuna Matata, I will install special new outlet next to it.”
Images of popping light bulbs, sizzling computers, and smoking wiring circuits flashed through my mind....
“Uhhh... right. No, thanks.”
I was convinced these “ingenious” solutions of Omari were definitely overloading the circuitry. I was careful from then on. My computer charger worked (thanks, Mac), but only for 10 minutes at a time before it got overheated.
My morning walk had become a pleasurable and interesting event. The Outpost is in an area on the south side of Old Moshi Road in reasonably
pleasant surroundings; mostly well-landscaped large private properties. I would circle around the blocks a few times to get an hour’s worth of exercise.
But the unpaved roads were potholed and dusty. Even at
7:00AM in the morning, traffic was busy with commuters trying to a short-cut to the city centre. I would have to change my route.
I discovered the north side of Old Moshi Road was similar; large properties mixed with what I later was told were the finer restaurants – The Flaming
Tree and Pepe’s. The big difference? The roads were nicely paved and traffic was minimal. The walk was also a botanical treat. Large pine, ficus and jacaranda trees provided shade from the sun. Rows of purple, white and red bougainvillea shrubs adorned the high brick walls protecting private properties.
Friendly security guards at well-designed entrance gates greeted me in English. By each walk’s end I had passed hundreds of pedestrians and cyclists;
mostly well-dressed office workers and domestics, quick to offer a generous smile.
A common sight were young men “taxiing” young female office workers on their bicycles. The women, sitting side-saddle on the cushioned rear wheel carrier seemed quietly comfortable as their cavalier struggled with every peddle stroke. On one walk, I was humoured by the reverse situation; a young woman slowly peddled by with a young man on her carrier. He grinned broadly as he passed, giving me the thumbs-up.
At the half way point of the route is the Arusha High Court, set back a distance from the road, and looking more like a large private colonial residence than a government building. Dozens of men and women were constantly milling about in the outdoor grounds, probably awaiting their turn, or news of a judge’s decision involving the plight of family or friends.
Each day I would return to the Outpost, invigorated and in a cheery frame of mind.
On one of my morning walks I saw a sign, “Little Stars Nursery,” a short distance from the Outpost. It had an arrow pointing down the road, so I
ventured forward and managed to find it, with the help of a local young boy, tucked away at the end of a side road. The gate was open, so I strolled
inside, and was greeted by a friendly middle-aged woman – Helen Osambi, dignified, attractive and colourfully dressed, who introduced herself as the headmistress of the four-classroom nursery. After explaining my projects, she was only too willing to show me around.
In addition to the nursery building, there were also four primary level classrooms arranged in a square with an interior courtyard. I was impressed with
the design and construction quality. Lots of windows, high ceilings, a breezeway, separate washrooms for staff and pupils, grassed areas and colorful planting and shrubs. It seemed like the ideal design model. It was a private school financed by two retired African professional women, a former banker and a UN administrator, who obviously placed importance on design aesthetics.
After the tour, Helen insisted I meet Mr. Peniel Nahumu Mero, the school headmaster. I entered his office to see a slightly stooped, weatherworn man nearing retirement. After introductions, Helen whispered a few brief Swahili words to him, and then left. His solemn demeanor surprised me. He asked me to sit down in front of his desk where he proceeded, still without cracking a smile or speaking a word, to write out almost a full page of his resume.
I sat there silently, wondering; “Is this guy looking for a job?” He handed the resume to me and said, in wonderfully African-accented English: “I can
I couldn’t believe what a stroke of luck this was. He was a primary school teacher who also worked as a district adult education officer, district education officer and zone inspector of schools. He had been headmaster of four English medium schools: St. Ann’s School, Moshi for 4 years; Swift English
Medium School for 8 months; Scottish School, Moshi for 3 years; and now at Little Stars. This is exactly what I had been fretting about for two months; how do I find the right people to assess and prioritize the need for new schools?