Friday was the culmination of the World Leadership Program. The school held an assembly to mark that occasion. The 900+ students plus the teachers and staff gathered around the basketball court for the program. One class – fourth grade, I think – recited a poem that went on for a good five minutes or more. The content of the poem was somewhat philosophical, about how to live a good life, how to stay away from violence and, in general, how to be a good person. There were hand gestures, dance steps and other movements to accompany the poem. The fact that this group of at least twenty children could remember and recite a poem that long was amazing in itself. The added dance routine made it even more impressive.
The Drama Club presented a play that, in a humorous way, laid out the problem of girls being married off rather than being allowed – much less encouraged – to finish school. It was complete with a father (apparently a Maasai man with a red plaid shuka, a walking/herding stick, and a determination to exchange his daughter for a nice profit), a mother who stuck up for the daughter, the girl herself, the head mistress at the school, who was asked to help keep the girl in school, and the potential suitor, an elderly, rich man. At the end, the police came and arrested both the father and the suitor for breaking the law against selling daughters. What we had learned earlier from Adrienne, the TEC Program Coordinator, was that there is a girl at Tumaini Junior School whom they try to keep at school during breaks because the family is anxious to marry her off.
Finally, the teenagers from the two schools – Tumaini Senior School and a school in Montclair, New Jersey – did a dance routine. They were dressed in colorful, African cloth and accompanied by drums. Then students from each school thanked the school for hosting them and reflected on their time here. In all, the assembly probably lasted an hour, and the smallest children were getting pretty wiggly. Everyone was dismissed after singing the national anthem.
Friday is usually sports day; children do sports after lunch. Because of the assembly, those activities were delayed until the end of school. There was a rousing game of volleyball; the fifth and sixth grade soccer teams played each other; and games were being organized on the basketball court. Jumana and Abene got involved on the basketball court while Nick, Kamran and Ashley played soccer. In fact, the soccer game lasted until dinner time.