Letters from Sonja: Off to Kindergarten
The two mechanics who regularly went on safari with Gerd.

Letters from Sonja: Off to Kindergarten


Will the house at Buziga Hill ever get finished?

By Sonja Winklmaier
more from author >>
First published: January 20, 2006


Click Here: Previously on "Letters from Sonja: Oma Kaggwa, Dr. Aliker and Mr. Obote"


Regarding Buganda's declaration of Independence, as far as I remember, nothing, just nothing happened. I did not mention anything in my letters. Business just went on as usual. I often thought about the Bagandas- that they are no fighters. I see this quite positive- I thought the majority of them are just peace loving people. The only time when Mutesa II really stood up was in connection with the lost counties. At that point, however, it was too late in my opinion.

January 20th, 1961 -

Barbara has now got 5 little teeth. Compared to Michy she almost is phlegmatic. She still sleeps a lot. Michy already was crawling a lot at this age. Barbara is not that interested yet. She occupies herself far more serious with everything than Michy. She can keep herself busy with the same toy or even with just a nappy for a long time. Michy in comparison is more superficial. He cannot sit still for even 5 minutes and he is very quick breaking his toys. Even the bicycle we had to take from him, as otherwise he would completely take it to pieces. It is really rather difficult to keep Michy occupied.

Since January 12th he is going to the Kampala Kindergarten School. He has got his first school hat with the school emblem. He really likes it there and is very enthusiastic about it every day. On the other hand he brings home funny opinions. The other day, for instance, he asked me: Are the Germans very bad people? He wants to know, why he is not English. He rather would like to be English. He does not want to speak German. I should talk English to him. When he plays, it always is about killing. He says then: The bad Germans are coming. Kill the bad Germans. Bang, bang, bang! It is difficult to convince Michy of the contrary. He is still very young. Apart from that I can well understand that he does not want to be an outsider at school. He did find friends immediately. He is very adaptable. But he keeps on abusing the Germans. I am disturbed that the English people instigate even small children in such a way, because they only can learn this from their parents.

Children in the Kindergarten Class in 1961
Very few children of non-European origin were going to Nakasero Primary School at that time. In the photo below, Mamata, Sahra, Genevieve and Samteser are African children. Fatima, Sahru and Richard are Asian children, whereby I am not quite sure about Richard Cotram. I highlighted the different races, as I will later write about the changes that made the original purely English Nakasero School to a- one can say- international school, where children of 27 different nationalities and all races went to school. This soon changed.

I will at least mention their names, as these children might be looking at the letters.

Children in the Kindergarten Class in 1961

Children in the Kindergarten Class in 1961.

First row in the front from left to right:
Jane OClements, Susanne Butters, Susanne Chesseman, Valerie Lennox, Joy Gilford, Patricia Cowley, Linzy Sheatham.

Second row from front from left to right:
Jinny Hops, Fatima Ahmed, Kay Wheatley, Fanella Hume, Kathrine Strott, Genevieve MacCourt

Second row from the back from left to rigtht:
Samteser, Kevin Brownbill, Richard Cotram, Douglas Carea, Adrian Turner, David Hayward, John Slater, Michael Winklmaier

Back row from left to right:
David Smith, Richard Worall, Mamata, Daniella, Sahra, Sadru Zambulini, Mark Wimmer

January 20th, 1961 -

Next week or the week after we want to continue with our building project. This time it will be the sitting-room that gets re-done. The front towards the lake, which consists of 3 large glass panels, of which the middle one slides open, has to be renewed. The whole front is about 7 meters wide. Hubert and Gerd together already have made a steel construction for the sliding door, which includes a giant t-shaped steel support over the whole front.

(When Gerd together with Kivumbi transported this big steel support in a huge Thornicroft lorry up the hill, at one point, Kivumbi, who was driving the lorry, refused to carry on. Kivumbi was a very good and experienced driver, but the very steep and winding road up the hill was very scary. So Gerd took over the steering wheel and while reversing in order to make it into our drive-way hit an electricity pole. Fortunately he hit it very carefully, so that in fact nothing happened.)

The wood-frames made of mvule are being made at the moment by a carpenter. He might not get them quite ready this week. We therefore perhaps can only start a week later. Apart from that Hubert and Gerd are putting in a new ceiling made of fibreboard and fixed with a mvule latticework that appears as squares. Apparently Martins parents (Martin is Gerds friend in Germany) have a ceiling like this. The ceiling will be made according to Gerds plans. We used to have a similar ceiling before, but the latticework was flat and painted over. Ours now will stick out and will be the natural wood polished. Over the whole width above the sliding door pipes will be built in serving as ventilation. The fixtures to hold the curtains will be of mvule too and will be fitted with fluorescent tubes behind them to give some indirect lighting.

Then, of course, the whole room has to be painted. We still argue about the colour. I am supposed to get curtains, too. Only I dont know yet, who is going to pay for them, as they will cost a fortune for this giant glass front. If only everything would be done already!

The new sliding door with ventilation pipes.

The new sliding door with ventilation pipes.

February 1st, l961 -

Since Friday 1/3 of the house-front towards the lake is missing. Its terribly dirty!

February 21st, 1961-

Once again our building project is stuck. The sitting-room is still open and it certainly will take several more weeks, before we can move in again. Gerd has been on safari for a week now and Hubert cannot possibly carry on without him. The next step will be to fix the giant glass panels again. We have broken one already. This is an expensive amusement. Hopefully the two other panels wont break.

As soon as the sitting room is ready and our financial situation permits we will carry on with building the extension to the present house. The extension will consist of two more bedrooms and a shower. The present two bedrooms and the bathroom only need painting. We only will do this once we have more room in the house. No part of the present house is damaged anymore now. Everything we are doing now is either extending or beautifying. The roof is still good. We do hope that it lasts for another 5 years, provided we are still here then.

Sometime later -

The sliding door is working now, but there is still a lot to be done. We might be ready by Easter.

February 21st, 1961 -

Hubert has been to Nairobi for a week recently. He said he did not recognize Nairobi anymore and that it has nothing to do with Africa anymore. Its rather like any European big city with high-rises and all the comfort. While Hubert was away in Nairobi, Barbara had an attack of malaria. She needed two Nivaquine injections and had to take Nivaquine for a whole week. The temperature did not want to go down. Every moment she was bathed in sweat and was then shivering like a wet poodle. But now she is very well again.

April 11th, 1961 -

This morning I did my weekly shopping. Wutzi was sitting in the car seat for the first time. Michy came with us too, as he has got vacation this month. He has finished his first term at the Kindergarten-School and starts the second term on April 27th. They both were rather tired by the time we came home. So it is unusually quiet in the house at the moment for a change. It was quite hot to-day.

I dont know, whether Gerd already has a Uganda drivers license or not, but he came home several times already by himself in the Landrover. The latest sport of Hubert and Gerd is that they both lie to me all the time. I therefore dont ask anything anymore. Gerd wants to buy himself a car. So far none was good enough for him.

I still have to write a letter to Austria. Recently Mr Stern, a manufacturer from Austria, who owns a textile-printing-factory, was in Uganda on a vacation. He came to our house together with his wife for a cup of coffee and noticed that we need new curtains now that the sitting room is ready. He wants to give us the curtains as a present. In the meantime he has already sent samples for us to choose from. So I have to let him know now about our decision. This is an enormous help to us. Otherwise I really would not know how to get curtains quickly, as we really need a lot of material. We would have to pay at least 1000 Shs for that much material. Now we only have to pay for the customs duty. Mr. Stern and his wife have been hunting big game together with Professor Zwilling from Vienna. It was through Mr. Zwilling that we got to know this couple.

My chicken-farm at the moment consists of three hens and a cockerel. The hens dont lay eggs yet. I would like to raise chicken. We also hope to get a pair of ducks and raise ducks, so that we every now and then could have a roast.

The sitting room showing bookshelves and the ceiling.

The sitting room showing bookshelves and the ceiling.

May 9th, 1961 -

On April 30th, Hubert too got a year older. We moved into the sitting-room at last on his birthday. We are now ready, except for a few smaller things, for which we still have to wait. Everything turned out really well and Hubert and Gerd admire their work not mine of course - constantly.

The ceiling has been painted in a pale yellow and divided in squares by mvule ledges. That looks really nice. Two of the walls have been painted in a pale pink and two in a grey with a tint of purple. All woodwork (doors and window-frames) are yellow and the floor is red. The mantelpiece and the ventilation-pipes above the sliding door will be painted black, as soon as we have got the paint. Hubert will finish the support for the curtains and the indirect lighting above the sliding-door this week and by the end of this month the material for the curtains from Austria should arrive. I only will have to sew them then. (Mr. Stern has actually airmailed all that material for the curtains to us.)

Sonja with Barbara (Wutzi)

Sonja with Barbara (Wutzi).

I am very glad that we are that far now. But I will be even happier once our extension is ready. So far some miracles will have to happen, that we get the necessary money. We try to find buyers for an emergency-generator, for the aluminium boat and for the engine. Two bedrooms definitely are not enough for our large family. Michy has got a big bed now, because Wutzi does not fit in the pram anymore and is urgently waiting for Michys cot. Gerd and Michy are still sharing a room, which is not ideal and Wutzis cot is in our bedroom, what is not a good solution, as the bedrooms are not very big.

Click here to continue to "Walking Sideways"

By Sonja Winklmaier
more from author >>
First published: January 20, 2006
Sonja Winklmaier moved to Uganda in the 1950s to follow her husband, Hubert Winklmaier, as the German Volkswagen Factory sent him to work with their agent, Cooper Motor Corporation.

Go to: Letters from Sonja