Letters from Sonja: 1962 - The Year of Uganda's Independence
January and February of 1962.
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First published: April 9, 2006
January 4th, 1962 -
Barbara walking quite steady now.
Our Christmas parcels from Germany arrived in time for Christmas in spite of the abnormally heavy rains. To my greatest surprise they were under the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve.
Michy showing interest in the doll's pram.
The children were very excited when they first saw the Christmas tree and all the presents. Barbara's gibberish definitely expressed a lot of happiness and surprise. Both children first went for the doll's pram and it was only after this that Michy saw his tent, which took up most of the space.Inside the tent were all the other presents.
Michy and Barbara inspecting their Xmas presents, Micky seeing the tent, Hubert helping out.
Michy wanted to give his new school bag to Gerd as he thought it was meant as a bag for Gerd's camera. In the meantime he is trying out his school bag several times daily and next Thursday he will go to school with it for the first time. The school fee will be 150 UGS per term, which is UGS 50 cheaper than the Kampala Kindergarten School.
[Today the cost in an International School in Kampala amounts to US$ 7000 per year. I wonder who can ford this?]
Michy with his German school bag and the Nakasero Primary School Uniform.
Tomorrow I will have to get the remainder of Michy's school uniform. He still needs khaki shorts and white shirts and socks. I have got everything else already. The uniform consists of brown shoes, grey socks, khaki shorts, white shirts, a green pullover, a green and white striped belt, green and white striped tie, a grey felt hat with a green and white striped hat band and a badge that shows a crested crane, that looks at a book, and the inscription "E Kampala S". The crested crane is the State Bird of Uganda and is part of the Ugandan coat of arms. The letters E and S stand for European School. Meanwhile the school is, however, called Nakasero Primary School and is interracial. European School anyway was not the correct description of the School, as the school so far has been a purely English school and non-English children were not admitted. The Greek Consul for instance, whom we knew quite well, could not get his son admitted to this school.
Fortunately shortly before Independence certain things changed in Kampala. Originally we did not even know whether Michy would be able to go to school in Kampala at all. At that moment Col. Bartlett was still the headmaster. He wore a moustache and - according to Michael - looked quite frightening. I had to come to him with Michy for an interview, after which he graciously decided to accept Michy to the school. Before Independence Col. Bartlett was replaced by Mr. Lacey, who in my opinion was the ideal headmaster for an interracial and later international school. Mrs. Lacey, by the way, was the headmistress of the Kampala Kindergarten School.
January 22nd, 1962 -
Gerd has safely returned from his vacation. He drove 2,500 miles on very bad East African roads. He did all the driving which is quite an achievement. The direct road to Mombasa was totally closed because of the heavy rains. So both ways he had to travel via Tanganyika. From Mombasa they flew to Zanzibar, which is producing 75% of the gloves for the world market. He toured the island by taxi and was informed about the industry and agriculture of Zanzibar. Gerd saw Zanzibar town from a rickshaw, a small two-wheeled cart for one passenger; pulled by one person, which means that a laborer pulled the rickshaw for two hours through the narrow alleys of Zanzibar.
[I do hope, that this practice does not exist anymore.]
On their way back they went to the Ngorongoro Crater in the famous Serengeti steppe. That's where young Michael Grzimek was killed in 1959 when his aircraft crashed.
There is a lot of wildlife in the crater. This is unique in the world. For instance, they saw 30 lions plus rhinos, elephants, buffalos, gazelles, antelopes in really big herds. This whole adventure has cost Gerd 2,000 UGS or a little more than 1,000 DM for items including films and some big carvings. Mr. Kenneder has paid half of the petrol cost, which was surprisingly little in a VW beetle. I think this vacation was well worth the cost as it certainly was a unique experience.
Animal pictures taken by Gerd during his vacation. Some poachers were disturbed. Gerd and Mr. Kenneder came to this spot when a game warden was there. Gerd helped the game warden to remove the rhino horn.
The latest news from Tanganyika is very disturbing. 5 Europeans have already been deported. I think this was very justified in one case. The other cases, however, show how outlawed Europeans are in Tanganyika so short after Independence there.
[This is exactly what I wrote home. I cannot remember why the Europeans were deported, but it is what I felt at the time.
In Kampala, a very, very good friend of us, Prince Akiki Nyabongo, has written an article against Germany. He said, Germany wants to dominate Uganda and the whole of Africa after Independence. I cannot agree with this article, which appeared in the Uganda Argus. He wrote this article after visiting Jomo Kenyatta. Before Prince Akiki Nyabongo left to visit Kenyatta he visited Hubert. After he came back he made no contact with us. This was the very first time that he was in Kampala without seeing Hubert in the workshop or at least calling him. It makes me very pessimistic, but Hubert is still optimistic. For the first time today he however said that there is still the VW factory. We will just wait and see.
Hubert heard today that Tanganyika wants to leave the Commonwealth.[I did not consider this a very good idea.]
Hubert has ordered more building material for the tank today. How we urgently need the money for clothing and a certain reserve. But we have started and, therefore, have to carry on. Perhaps we will get lucky.
Gerd's boat will soon be ready.
Meanwhile, in Kampala a supermarket will be opened within the next few days. I have been hoping for a long time that we will get a shop with fixed prices. This is another welcome change before Independence.
Hubert's contract with Cooper Motors ends on July 31st, 1962. That means that we could go on home leave this year. According to the contract only the passages for Hubert and myself will be paid and we would have to pay for the children. So we are discussing at the moment, whether we will be able to go on vacation or not.
February 2nd, 1962 -
Michy, of course, is going to school meanwhile. He likes it very much. He is very adaptable and gets used to changes quickly. Therefore - so far - there have been no problems. He is using his school bag daily. It is still nice. He only uses the slate and the slate-pencils at home. During their first year the school provides all the material the children need. So at the moment he is only transporting his juice-bottle and something to eat during break and the work he has been doing at school and is allowed to bring home in his bag .
As of next year Michy will have to go to school for the whole day and he then will have to take his lunch at the YWCA. Children who have a long way home will be taken there by a school bus. There is no school on Saturdays and in the second year they also don't have school on Friday afternoons. At the moment the school hours are from 8.25 a.m. to 12.30 p.m.
The children certainly are not being overworked. They still play a lot and have breaks in between, as it can be quite hot in Kampala. I cannot see much progress as far as writing, reading and number work is concerned compared to the Kindergarten School. But regarding general knowledge, hygiene and so on, there is a big difference. It is actually surprising what the children are taught in school here and in such pleasant way. I cannot remember that we were introduced to learning in such a soft manner. Everything like brushing teeth, cleaning nails, blowing the nose is part of the education and the children are taught all these things with the help of little poems. That way, the children really enjoy learning. Once a week the children have a kind of ballet and once a week they have religious instructions. For the few catholics, the priest from Christ The King Church in Kampala comes to school. Once every week the children play band. Each child is playing a simple instrument. Michy is playing Tambourine, other children are playing drums, triangle and so on.
Every Friday all classes of the school sing together. This singing is attended by the headmaster. On this occasion the children, whose birthday was during the week, get a sweetie from the headmaster personally.
There is still physical punishment practised at school. Miss Hope, Michy's class teacher at the same time is headmistress of the lower classes and she exercises the physical punishment. She does not exclude her own class. Michy also was laid across the knee once. This does not surprise me. But he still likes it very much at school.
Barbara is still a very good child, although compared to Michy she is very wilful. As she is very quiet, that does not show too often. Michy compared to her is nerve-wrecking. Maybe you can see them still this year. Michy suddenly would like to go to Germany. He always wants to know, what Oma is going to say when she sees that he is so big already. He always says, Oma will be so happy to see me.
Hubert recently, many years after the end of WWII, wrote to an American whom he had taken prisoner in France. Out of this, a great friendship developed that is lasting until this day.
Our animals are becoming less and less. First the little monkey disappeared. We think he has been taken by the big hawks we have around. These birds take away everything, even my washing brush and floor cloth. They already took a banana out of Michy's hand, which he was going to eat. For 3 weeks Phylax is missing. We have not given up hope completely, but it is quite a long time, since he is missing. So far we have no trace of him. We feel very sad about that.
Arco and Phylax.
The news-cutting about changes in Stuttgart is exciting. In comparison Kampala is a village. But we too make constant progress. Many of the bigger buildings in Kampala were built after we got here. And now we even have a supermarket. The supermarket is not much bigger than the self-service shop Nanz in Reichenbach. For Kampala it is a big step forward. I am so glad that I don't have to depend any longer on the almost daily changing prices in the Indian shops. The supermarket is a European owned shop for all races. The Europeans are becoming a more and more dwindling minority. The basket is handed to you by an African. The personnel that is packing the stuff airtight are all Africans. At the two cash desks a young Chinese girl and a Goan girl are sitting. African woman are packing your shopping. The managers of the shop are an English butcher and his wife. Apart from them another English lady is overseeing the shop. The shop is very clean and could be anywhere in Europe. And the prices are all below the prices in other shops. The prices fell drastically over night.
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First published: April 9, 2006