This week I interviewed two of my students, Thoko Banda and Thandi Kadongola. They are in the TaKagunda percussiongroup, an initiative to get more girls to engage in music. Both of them are skilled and fast learners.
Monday 5. Dec. I´m sitting relaxed under the summer hut enjoying a pleasant breeze. As usual its hot. Thoko, which is nine years old, is sitting in front of me. Next to her is twelve years old Thandi. They are both smiling wondering what´s about to happen. Why did the teacher want to talk with us after today´s TaKagunda class? I start to explain that I´m writing a blog, but as I speak, I realize that explaining a blog to these kids will be more challenging than expected. How do you explain a blog to someone that barely have heard about internet? At last I make it clear that I want to show people in Norway that there are lots of similarities, but also some crucial differences being a student in Malawi compared to other countries
My first question is about their place of birth. Since they are young, I need help translating from the local language Chichewa to English. Dance instructor John Makawa is sitting by my side, happy to help out.
Are you from Nkhotakota?
Thoko: My father is from Blantyre, but my mother is from Nkhotakota. I´m born here, but I have never been outside. Thandi: I was born in Dowa, but we moved to Nkhotakota
Do you have siblings?
Thoko: Yes, I have three brothers, and one sister. Thandi: I have one brother, and five sisters.
What do you want to do as an adult?
Thoko: When I´m as old as you, I want to be a nurse. I want to help people in the local community. Thandi: I also want to be a nurse because i want to help people,
Why are you attending TaKagunda?
Thoko: I like to play in TaKagunda because I want to motivate other kids to play instruments. Thandi: I want to learn new skills, and I like to learn about different cultures.
What do you like to do in your free time?
Thoko: I like to do homework, read books, help my parents at home, and play in TaKagunda. Thandi: The same as Thoko.
What is your favorite food?
Thoko: Nsima made of corn, and meat(Nsima is a local dish consisting of flour and water). Thandi: Rice and chicken.
What makes you happy? And what makes you sad?
Thoko: School and reading makes me happy. I get sad when I´m chased away from school because sometimes my parents can´t afford to pay the school fee. I also get sad when I have to go to school without books. Thandi: I´m also happy when I can go to school. I get sad when I think of children that don’t have both of their parents. Then I´m thinking of my own parents and that I would become sad if I lost one of them.
And lastly: do you have something to add?
Thoko: Nothing, or ¨palibe¨ as they say in Chichewa. Thandi: Sometimes we don’t have food in our house, so I can´t go to school.
TaKagunda was initiated because of the poor gender balance at the music school. People tend to think that girls either should dance or sing. We want to show that they can play instruments as well. Both Thoko and Thandi encourage more girls to join as being role models is one of the reasons why they´re attending the group.