T Minus 164
I mentioned in earlier posts that the desire to work / teach abroad and in particular Africa is something which has been with me for a very long time. So long in fact it is hard to pinpoint when exactly. However, the thoughts crystallised about the time I completed my PGCE, when I said to myself that one day I would teach in Africa.
I have already speculated on the reason it has taken so long so here I want to list the things which have inspired me.
I have thought long and hard but here is my list.
1. Doctor Dolittle
Whoever I visited my Nana, I used to read these books and later had my own copies. Though about lots of travels, it was the search for the mythical Pushmi-pullyu and the journey to Africa which caught my attention. I recognise now (but was unaware of then) the stereotyping / racism shown towards the Africans, but for me as an 8 year old it was about a magical land and adventure.
This TV show broadcast in the UK in the 70’s was regularly shown on children’s telly, and a regular favorite alongside others of note (Banana Splits, Double Deckers, Why Don’t You etc). The word ‘Daktari’ is Swahili for Doctor. The Doctor in question a Vet based in East Africa. All a bit contrived but nonetheless…
3. African Adventure
One of a series of children’s books by Willard Price. Concerning two boys Hal and Roger and their adventures. Many of these books were set in Africa. They were great reads and gave a real sense of adventure.
Other African stories included Safari Adventure, Elephant Adventure, Lion Adventure and Gorilla Adventure
Another TV favorite of the early 70’s in the UK. This TV program was regular viewing.
5. Atlases & Flag Books
It has been said that I “swallowed an Atlas at an early age”. At one time I could tell you the Capital of any country on earth and new their Flags ‘off by heart’. I reckon I can still give it a good go – although the plethora of new countries of the ’80s and ’90s have made the task harder. The continent of Africa with its exotic flags and ‘strange’ place names held a particular fascination. I remember learning that the capital of Upper Volta (now Burkina Faso) is Ouagadougou.
6. The World About Us
Sunday evening was always bathtime which was followed by watching a nature program on the BBC. Many of these were set in Africa and showcased the immense variety of wildlife across the continent. Programs such as The World About Us were a favorite.
Later there was the amazing Life on Earth and the famous David Attenborough vs Gorilla scene
This was one of the first records I recorded of the radio when I started to get into music. A great track by the band Toto. Later I bought the record. Fabulous and evocative tune
8. Out Of Africa
I remember going to see this with a group of friends whilst at University – a good film which charts the life of a woman going out to Africa to live in Kenya. Amazing music by John Barry
A favorite film of my Dad – we used to watch it whenever it was on Telly. Although it tells of the battle of British Troops against the native Zulu warriors of South Africa and is very much focused on the British side – it is nonetheless an amazing story of bravery on both sides, and the African scenery is superb. The first clip is of the Zulu War Chants.
The second clip features another great theme by John Barry.
I actually knew about my wife before I met her. I actually knew her parents (my in laws) before I knew Anita. It was 1993, Heather and Geoff were part of my church in Bletchley. I was running the Drama Team, they were involved in the Mission Partnership Group and we were planning an event for Mission Sunday in which we were to perform some sketches. I heard from them about their daughter (Anita) who was working in Malawi. Hearing of her Development work and all that she was doing to help teach Preventative Health was inspiring.
11. The Lion King
One of my favorite Disney films – and watched many times over the years as the kids grew up and recently rewatched. Africa is as much a part of the story as Simba, Timon, Pumba and Scar. It has some great tunes too!
12. Gambia Experience
My own chance to visit Africa came in 2006 when I had the chance to visit the Gambia. Although I was only there for 8 days I actually visited 2 countries – spending about 4 hours touring in Senegal, as well. This means I have actually been to more countries than Anita (who has thus far, only been to Malawi!). It was a fabulous week and one I will not forget.
13. Watoto and African Children’s Choirs
In the past few years we have had visits to Milton Keynes by the African Children’s Choir and Watoto Children’s Choir. Both have sung inspirationally and given a flavour of their continent.