Friday, August 8, 2008

Camp Graduation

Camp Msasani ended for the summer. It was wonderful to spend time with Bodie and 14 toddlers beach combing, making art, singing and dancing. What was amazing, and unforeseen, was how the nannies (each kid was accompanied by one) gelled so that they’d start singing at a moments notice. The songs, all from their youth and in Swahili, have certain movements, and these two year old kids learned to put their hands on their hips and shake, or raise their hands to their heads, singing, “ay ay ay kipepeo, kipepe”.

One of my initial goals in coming to Dar was to get to know Tanzanians, and I’ve felt thwarted in that. But over the summer, I’ve been able to spend a good part of each day with 14 Swahili-singing, dancing and drumming women.

Last Thursday, after a mind-challenging exercise of finding and counting 10 things on the beach, the kids came up to the house for a brief graduation ceremony. Each received a certificate of achievement and a Camp Msasani t-shirt with primary colored handprints stamped by each camper. Each nanny received a camp t-shirt with “staff” emblazoned on the sleeve.

Parents came for this first graduation and the nanny’s started dancing and singing the songs they’d been singing to the kids all summer. All the parents stood and cheered the show, and I thought smugly to myself that I’ve had the luxury of being a part of this for six weeks. If anyone is considering starting a Tanzanian summer camp, a good selection of songs include: Jambo, jambo bwana, Mauwa Mazuri, Ukuti Ukuti, Watoto Wadogo, Kofia Yababu, Lingu Lingu, Tulingeba yuyo, Saa yakwenda kwetu, and the classic Simama kaa.

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