Letters from Sonja: We had Snow!
Nyoka, nyoka kuba sana!
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First published: July 12, 2006
August 16th, 1962 -
The German chancellor, Mr. Herold, yesterday asked me many questions about nursery schools, kindergarten schools and proper schools. He told me that he needs to send a report to Bonn so that they perhaps send a German teacher to Uganda. That would be wonderful. Michy could then get proper German lessons. Barbara is doing exactly the same as Michy already. She starts to prefer the English language. I, for instance have taught her, that a "handkerchief" is a Taschentuch. Since she has heard someone not using a Taschentuch but a "hanky", she also has a hanky now. Our language is quite difficult. The endless long words alone make it difficult and so is the grammar. Every Englishman makes remarks on the length of our words. They never learn to say for instance Aktiengesellschaft oder Donaudampfschiffahrtsgesellschaft ( Corporation or Danube steam navigation society) and so on. A little child, of course, prefers the easier language, especially as almost everybody here understands that language and only a few people understand the more complicated German language. But - at home they have to speak German as much as and as good as somehow possible. At the moment I try to introduce Michy to German grammar.
I found two pictures of Tisa. She looked so sweet und a little later made such a mess. I never wanted to have a bitch again.
August 31st 1962 -
I must mention that for quite some time I have got a regular help in the house again. John is a Luo and a very nice person to have around. He is very good with the children.
A week ago Barbara had an accident. She was running through the house and fell before reaching the kitchen. She hit the edge of the open kitchen door with her forehead, which made her bleed very badly. She now has a 2 cm long scar exactly in the middle of her forehead. John went to neighbours and phoned Hubert at work. Hubert was at home exactly 6 minutes after the phone-call, which is almost unbelievable considering the rough roads. We took Barbara to Nsambya Hospital and Dr. Sister Eugene took great care to make the scar as small as possible. She did not put in any stitches for that reason but made a "butterfly", which is a certain technique that leaves smaller scars. It looks quite good already and during the years it will almost disappear.
Our ducks have been killed by Tisa one after the other. I think I am giving up the animal growing idea. I just cannot handle this.
There are still very few German children here. This year Michy is the only German child at school. Next year he might be joined by two more. The son of the Consul who arrives on Sunday is supposedly the same age as Michy. The Germans want to make the German language popular here. They intend to teach African children German as a foreign language. In the course of development aid it is quite possible that a German teacher is being sent to Kampala. Mr. Herold is very optimistic. In January a Goethe Institut will also be opened here.
We still expect visitors from Nairobi today. It is an elderly couple that got married a few weeks ago. Mr. Schweinoch was put in an internment camp after WWII broke out while his wife and their small son were sent back to Germany. Since then they could not see each other again. The Schweinochs came from Upper Silesia. This part of Germany went to Poland after the war and Mrs. Schweinoch received no permission to leave Poland. Mr. Schweinoch always tried to help his wife and son and has sent parcels to them for many years. After all those years of separation they have decided to get divorced. Mr. Schweinoch had befriended a woman working for the German Foreign Office at the German Consulate General in Nairobi. They now got married. He never saw his wife and son again. What a fate due to a war!
Left to right: Mr. Schweinoch, myself, Hubert, Mrs. Schweinoch and an old German whose name I cannot remember at the moment. He served in the army of Letto v. Vorbeck in Tanganyika.
September 20th, 1962 -
My poultry keeping has been hit again. On Sunday evening at about 10 p.m. we heard a terrible shriek by a hen. We had Bob Roberts and his fiancée from Germany visiting us. Both Hubert and Bob went outside and we heard Nyende, our gardener calling, "Nyoka, nyoka kuba sana!"[Snake, a very big snake]. Hubert looked at the beast, got into the car and off he went. Nyende took refuge in the kitchen with us. Hubert came back quickly with Mr. Hitchens, our neighbour, and a gun. A python, more than 2 m long, had attacked our chicken pen. The first shot Mr. Hitchens fired hit the head of the snake, but he used a very small calibre and snakes are very tenacious. The snake escaped and was cornered again. All in all it took 15 shots to kill the beast. Only one or two of the shots went into the body of the snake, all the others hit the head. And yet it was a young python; a mature one can get 5 - 7 m long.
Some days ago we were able to get very nice peaches in Kampala. However they were quite expensive. In spite of that I have bought some. I especially wanted to please the children with them. They both did not eat the peaches!
We have a saying in Germany: "The peasant does not eat what he does not know."
I have just measured the Python. She was 3 m long not about 2 as stated in my letters.
This was the first and last time I bought peaches. The children are quite happy with bananas, pawpaws, mangoes, passion fruit, pineapples and so on. They don't seem to miss the European fruits at all.
Kampala now already looks very good for Independence. All the buildings on the main road are newly painted. Very colourful! All over the town billboards and triumphant arcs have been erected and the now black-yellow-red-black-yellow-red striped Uganda flag with the crested crane in the middle is flying everywhere already.
And now the most exciting bit of news: We had snow! OK, not in Kampala but in Eldoret, about half way between Kampala and Nairobi. Eldoret is situated exactly on the equator but at a very high altitude. There was a very nice photo in the newspaper showing the snow in Eldoret. Unfortunately I have lost this picture. Michy always wants to know, what snow looks like.
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First published: July 12, 2006