Friday, July 24, 2009

Farewell St. Augustine University of Tanzania, and farewell St. Nicholas!

The semester of teaching at St. Augustine University of Tanzania is finished. In mid-June students wrote the exams for both our courses: Introduction to Political Ideas (Adrian) and Introduction to Philosophy (Wendy). We marked these right away, and turned in the results. So the time came to say goodbye to SAUT and Mwanza, to express our thanks for five months of teaching, and for opportunities given to make contacts, also at other universities in Tanzania. We arrived early in February in order to volunteer our services. Overall, we found the experience at SAUT enjoyable, even though it also had its challenges.

On campus, behind our house

In Tanzania we discovered the "other face of Africa" in a country which is politically stable and peaceful. We also discovered the great need in education and a warm welcome for IICS/CSI faculty to come and teach. We were not only at SAUT to teach, but also to investigate possible placement for CSI/IICS professors in the future. We found SAUT to be an excellent university—the second largest university, and the largest private university in Tanzania. It is well-organized, certainly in comparison with the norm at federal universities of Nigeria. Right now there is an urgent need for more lecturers. All the universities are experiencing enormous growth, but there are not enough qualified lecturers, especially in some areas of study. Moreover, Tanzania is the most peaceful country in Africa. Thus we feel that SAUT is an excellent place to send professors, whether for long- or short-term assignments. Both in Mwanza and in Dar es Salaam we heard the same story: "We are facing a scarcity of teachers at all levels." One of the most important aspects of our visit to East Africa has been to recognize and communicate that need.

We did not find it hard to settle in and adjust. Even without much knowledge of Swahili, the language used everywhere in Tanzania, we did not find it difficult to purchase basic items, such as dishes, pots and pans, cutlery, towels, etc. With a smile, good will and gestures we were able to communicate our intentions and to purchase grocery and market items as well as the basic necessities to make the house habitable.

Our dining room

Our living room

Our kitchen

We were even able to coax some flowers to make our home a bit more attractive

Of course, we discovered power outages; but we counted the hours when we lost electricity, not those when it was working (as in Nigeria). We experienced some water shortages, but mainly at the beginning, before the university provided a water tank, which gave us a regular supply of water. Provision of a gas tank was also very helpful, allowing us to cook even when the power was off.

Saut community day

We found the end of the semester rather hectic. We had not been adequately informed about the methods used in submission of marks for continuing assessment of students (i.e. marks for assignments and tests given during the semester), to be handed in at least two weeks before the end of the semester. As a result we were faced with a few busy days compiling these marks and collecting the required signatures of the students when the time came. After that we had to submit our proposed examination papers.

Wendy working with Lucas, one of her best students

Partly to accommodate our desire to leave by June 23 (the day before the end of the exam period), our exams were scheduled during the first two days of exams, June 12 and 13. So our busyness only increased as we marked exams and prepared marks for submission of results to the examination officer. On the exams students identified themselves only with their examination code number, so we had no idea who wrote each exam, nor could we know individual results. The examination office will calculate the final marks by adding the continuing assessment mark to the results of the final exam. Both of us know that several of our students failed, but we are not sure which ones. Adrian’s students will receive mostly Bs, while Wendy’s students will get the whole range from As to Fs.

The pace changed on the final days before departure. We received invitations from several colleagues to share a meal; the Vice-Chancellor and the DVC Academic also took us out for dinner at one of the more fancy restaurants in Mwanza. They told us that they wanted us to stay at SAUT, forever! Unfortunately, we have to leave, we told them. Before we left for the airport to fly to Dar es Salaam, the DVC dropped by to wish us farewell. “It is a sad day,” he added.

Rev. Dr. B. Mfumbusa, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor, who was our main contact person

After leaving Mwanza (June 23) we spent almost a week in Dar es Salaam where we investigated some universities as well. Our first goal was to visit the University of Dar es Salaam, where we had a contact, the father of one of Wendy's students, prof. Mutakyahawha, senior professor in geology. We met him at his home and shared a meal as we told our story of the availability of IICS/CSI lecturers to come and teach.

Prof. Mutakyahwha

The next visit was at the Dar es Salaam Business School of Mzumbe University, where we met the dean, Dr. Andrew H. Mbwambo.

Prof. Andrew Mbwambo

Again, we heard of the great need for lecturers, especially in subjects like accounting, marketing and management. Although we do know of a few people who have expressed interest in going toTanzania to teach, over the next weeks and months we hope to interest more who are willing to go there.

Not only did we say farewell for St. Augustine, we also said farewell to St. Nicholas Church. When we first arrived in Mwanza, we attended the Catholic chapel on campus, but services were in Swahili, and the Catholic regulations do not allow us, as Protestant, to participate in communion. One Sunday we did attend a bilingual and international service of the Assemblies of God Pentecostal church in town, but the worship style was far too loud for our ears. Then we found St. Nicholas, the Anglican church with a service in English spliced between two services in Swahili.

The English congregation at St. Nicholas had its own pastor, named Paul, and a worship leader, named Moses, who greeted us every Sunday with a hearty, “Welcome church! You are not lost. You have come to the right place.”

St. Nicholas Church

Pastor Paul's baby baptized in May

We continued worshiping with St. Nicholas for the rest of our stay in Mwanza, and quickly found friends there. Adrian even preached there several times, a highlight being the Easter service. We are very thankful that we were able to find a church where we could feel at home.

St.Nicholas dressed up for Easter

The experience of being in Mwanza is one that we will treasure. We have left Mwanza, and only God knows whether we will be able to return to SAUT and St. Nicholas Church in the future. But we certainly can warmly encourage other professors to come to Tanzania in the years to come.