Tag Archives: education

Sunday Reads

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Sunday Reads

  1. This article on that tragic election.
  2. This lady trying to make sense of that election (1,000 comments but good).
  3. An education on the for-profit education sector in Kenya and Uganda.
  4. Extra-judicial killings in Kenya. HEARTBREAK!!
  5. Undertaking a life audit/ preparing for your 2017 New Years’ Resolutions.
  6. Why it is important for adults to give back in their community.
  7. I am definitely a sampler. I used to be a compartmentalizer before I got married and had to force diverse groups of friends to meet 😦
  8. Simple items that you can turn into a gift by framing them.
  9. Yummy vegetarian meals.
  10. Debunking the myth of a biological clock.
  11. Who are the middle class in Nigeria? PS: This is not a direct economic answer.
 

Book Review: The Book of Memory

Image result for the book of memory

The story that you have asked me to tell you does not begin with the pitiful ugliness of Lloyd’s death. It begins on a long-ago day in August when the sun seared my blistered face and I was nine years old and my father and mother sold me to a strange man.

Memory, the narrator of Petina Gappah’s The Book of Memory, is an albino woman languishing in Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison in Harare, Zimbabwe, after being sentenced for murder. As part of her appeal, her lawyer insists that she write down what happened as she remembers it. The death penalty is a mandatory sentence for murder, and Memory is, both literally and metaphorically, writing for her life. As her story unfolds, Memory reveals that she has been tried and convicted for the murder of Lloyd Hendricks, her adopted father. But who was Lloyd Hendricks? Why does Memory feel no remorse for his death? And did everything happen exactly as she remembers?

Moving between the townships of the poor and the suburbs of the rich, and between past and present, the 2009 Guardian First Book Award–winning writer Petina Gappah weaves a compelling tale of love, obsession, the relentlessness of fate, and the treachery of memory.

The book reminded me of the book, We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo particularly when she talks of the Harare township where Memory grew up. The characterisation of township life was totally believable and reminded me of my experience growing up. The book also does a good job of personifying the life behind bars and the dynamics of womanhood and female friendships.

Overall, Gappah is a lovely story teller, she builds it up slowly and steadily then lets it slow down later. I loved the pace. It totally sucked me in and I read it over a day or two. Then at the end I just hugged the book and smiled. The story continually switches between a flashback to the past and present time. Despite this, it was still easy to follow the broader tale.

Common themes raised in the book include: language, memory, family (siblings, mother-daughter, husband-wife), religion, colonialism(or race as a subset). Various questions I had though while reading the book include:

  • In light of the decolonised free education in our lifetime protests currently happening in South African universities, is the best education White/ Western and in a foreign (ex-colonialist) language? To what extent has this changed? Would you/ I feel comfortable to take our kid to a native school ala Spilt Milk? I am not sure. In terms of decolonising language, the best book I have read on this topic so far is Decolonising the Mind by Ngugi wa Thiong’o.
  • The book also touches on Africa’s complicated history with the White Man. Was Lloyd African? Why because he spoke the language and understood the culture / had allowed himself to be immersed in it fully? If we contrast Lloyd and Alexandra the sister, who is more African?
  • Colonialism and the White Mans’ burden also comes across when we look at the motives of Lloyd in adopting Memory.
  • That duality of existence that I find so intriguing about South Africans and now Zimbabwe. That deep belief in ancestry and mainstream religion or a more modern life. I grew up raised in a predominantly Bible-focused culture and so this duality is totally alien to me.
  • Do we trust our memories? Is it ever as we think or are there things we remember that as we have gotten older we have to come realise are not as they were. As the last child in my home, I have some clear memories of myself as a child but to be honest, I know that a lot of them are mainly based on what I have been told and not necessarily what I particularly remember. What are your earliest memories?

In closing, I am not sure why they did not translate the Shona bits which made me wonder who the real audience is here. It was quite frustrating for me a non-Shona speaker.

Sunday Reads

  1. On the importance of community in marriage.
  2. Beautiful images of women.
  3. Famous logos – before and after.
  4. Me right now
  5. This skirt seems fairly simple enough to stitch.
  6. On getting rid of all the pause/fillers we use in conversation.
  7. Love is a verb! Yep, like this!
  8. Not a fan of kale but this looks like a yummy salad and I love the dressing.
  9. All male panels in Development and 2016. Really?
  10. Desegragation and education of minorities. (NYT article)

Sunday Reads

  1. Very similar education issues (SA) (USA)
  2. Teaching parents to become better parents for better outcomes.
  3. Dealing with your partners’ anger.
  4. So grateful for my upbringing.
  5. Recently finished God Bless the Child – Toni Morrison
  6. This first chapter of this book looks very interesting.
  7. Nothing says winter like wanting to bake bread.
  8. Falling in love and staying with your (long-term) partner.
  9. All things meatballs.
  10. There are two kinds of people – those who take restaurant menus as a given, and those that think its a suggestion.
  11. Read this article on the relationship between graduation rates and socio-economic backgrounds and I must say I have very mixed feelings because I know of so many local rick kids that do not finish school and seem to be able to do that because they have a safety net.

Sunday Reads (the how-to version)

  1. I love this beautiful Joburg home – the art and the styling. Yum!
  2. How do you stop dirty money flows?
  3. How do you invest your windfall?
  4. An experts summary of how to reduce sugar in your baking.
  5. For anyone that needs tips on conception.
  6. So many ethical issues regarding this Surrogate mother’s tale.
  7. As the gap in education access and attainment continues to broaden, this is the reality for some kids.
  8. How to crotchet a chunky knit blanket.
  9. For all of us that need to learn to say no graciously.
  10. How do you get health officials not to steal donor funds? You send an enforcer and you put in repercussions.
  11. On the unpaid work that women often do.
  12. Watch 100 Years of Black Men hairstyles in one minute.
  13. On Cancer and other health scans and the depths that people will sink to.
  14. A project that shows how fickle international borders really are.

 

Sunday Reads

Happy Valentines Day all … Something warm and fuzzy!

  1. Healthy pumpkin and oat bread
  2. Finally government and ruling party comment on the evil virginity bursary schemes.
  3. Loved this story about second hand booksellers in Joburg.
  4. Simple enough DIY involving a wok that turns into a lamp.
  5. Childhood obesity is on the increase. In Sub-Saharan Africa *GASP*
  6. Fascinating read on a river that actually boils.
  7. Lunch club anyone?
  8. Always in life it helps to be a unique individual. Always. Be Unique.
  9. This cooking project in Delhi just warmed my heart for some reason.
  10. On the schooling options for Black children and the issues to consider: One and Two.

“The paradox of elite education in SA is that it breeds an economic elite with very little social literacy, and who display contempt for the idea of social intelligence.”

Sunday Reads

  1. Interesting to read that Chartered schools do not do any better for children in more suburban areas.
  2. Planning an upcoming Cape Town city centre adventure.
  3. Cooking with sweet potatoes
  4. Celebrating love, marriage and all things in between. Also, check out their podcast, season 2 is coming up.
  5. How to help a friend going through a rough time.
  6. On meeting your biggest idol!

Sunday Reads

Better late than never ….

  1. Because we all need to be more productive at work.
  2. Liked some of these comments on the state of play between men and women and the chores at home.
  3. The (silent) perils of a PhD.
  4. I enjoyed this profile of Michael Phelps and congrats on the upcoming Baby.
  5. Fascinated by the paths that people that go to highly sought after schools take afterwards.
  6. Ain’t this life though?
  7. Alanis Morissette redoes “Ironic”. HILARS!!
  8. If you wish to read all of HONY’s stories on the Refugee plight in Europe.
  9. Love this story about revealed and stated preferences.
  10. Some great conversation starters
  11. If you have loads of tea and love to cook with it.
  12. Roasted green beans with hazelnuts

Sunday Reads

  1. Must make this recipe – Lentil and Basmati salad 
  2. This recipe too! Pumpkin Risotto with prosciutto
  3. I definitely want to start a Cookbook Club – would be so awesome!! Anyone keen in the Cape Town area?
  4. If only I had money to assist to bring this service to scale.
  5. Sir David Attenborough narrates the intro to Adele’s Hello. Interesting!
  6. I enjoyed watching these two sisters on Masterchef SA and I am equally happy for them on this venture. If you can check out their launch, go ahead.
  7. THIS all sounds good but I am not sure that this is the best way to educate children or spend these large sums of funds.
  8. Manufacturing and the state of industrialisation in Africa.

Enjoy!!

16. Friday feel-good something

Be careful that you do not burst into tears …

12. South Africa v Kenya 2015 audit

Following from Fridays post and this one two years back I would like to extend the list by  a few things that say home to me and that don’t feel the same here

  • Kenya has a huge tea culture. Even when families have a big do and people have been drinkin’ when tea time (4-5pm) rolls in, people – old and young, male and female, will all take a break and have a cuppa. Not so much in SA. How many times have I hosted people, offered tea and heard, ” well, we are drinkin’ so maybe not.”
  • Also, just the fact we prefer tea to coffee. Despite growing and exporting both.
  • Also, just the fact that it took me years to find a local brand of tea bags that was brewed as strong as the one I loved at home. Hello Five Roses African Blend which is perfectly strong and is sourced from Eastern Africa teas.
  • Taxis that do not have a fare collector or someone that calls out the route. Meaning that the person that seats up front, next to the driver, has to take the fare and give back any change. Nerve wracking when I used to take a taxi where the fare was R11.50 per person and you had to quickly decide how much was due for all the 15  taxi passengers. Fast. It also never ceased to amuse me how the driver would be so uninterested i.e. if you needed him to give you two fifty cents for R1, he would look ahead and say he has no change! So what must happen?
  • In addition, you have to learn all the different taxi signs to be able to signal correctly to the driver.
  • All this, against the fact that I do not speak any Zulu, which is standard taxi language for Johannesburg. NERVE WRACKING!
  • Also, I find that I still compare the price of taxi (matatu) fare in Kenya v SA. Very expensive in South Africa.
  • Standard rice in South Africa is fat and Basmati is quite expensive. I will just leave that here because in Kenya we have different quality of Basmati rice for all!
  • One ply tissue? One ply tissue? WHY? What does it do. I find that I totally judge any establishment that has one ply because ONE PLY TISSUE IS INEFFECTIVE!
  • Fast food and eating out is much cheaper in South Africa than in Kenya. Although, the food in Kenya is naturally organic whereas it is highly processed in SA. On this, I would rather be in Kenya.
  • Being asked all of the time (still) what my name means. Urrggh! Almost universal fact is that all South African names have a meaning and it is expected that similarly African names on the continent will be the same. Which for the most part is true. I just happen to be that minority with a name similar to a local name that has a meaning, but mine doesn’t. It would take a separate post to explain all the inappropriate places where I have been asked what my name means – just off the top of my head, calling for official purposes to speak to an individual and having to leave a message with the receptionist who will keep me on the phone longer to ask what my name means and whether I have heard of the local equivalent. Urgggh just urgggh!
  • I miss the fruits in Nairobi that taste great all the time!! Not so much here where it’s a lottery of what you might get.
  • Talk radio. Bye Bye all the morning drive filth in Nairobi. Just good bye and good riddance!
  • How the country bleeds or shines when the Boks, Proteas and Bafana Bafana play. I don’t get it. I am most likely to be the person shopping because people are at home or at Sports bars and I can finally pack by the entrance to the shopping centre.
  • South Africans have labour rights and a social security system that actually works. It still surprises me!
  • The state of education. I argue all the time with people I know that it is unacceptable and that in Kenya poor people work hard and get the best quality of education that they can possibly get for their kids and the pass mark is much much higher than here. It saddens me that in Public primary schools, the kids get like half an hour of homework, Monday to Wednesday and maybe on Thursday and this stops almost a month to the final exams! Yes, I know there are private schools but there you get what you pay for – as it to be expected!
  • Beach fronts in Cape Town and Durban are easily accessible to the public. You can park your car and walk to the beach and not to have to walk through a dingy path or pretend that you had gone for drinks at a hotel. Nah! None of that, you just walk across and sit beach side 🙂
  • Expiring data??? Not sure if this applies in Kenya but where does expired data go? Does it slow down or what happens? I do not understand why data has an expiry date.
  • Also just Kenya rocks for the fact that Wireless is widespread and the net speed is much faster.
  • Our lackluster presidents. UK and JZ belong together and both sadden me!

If you have been to or lived in either country, please let me know your thoughts? If you have only ever lived in the one country, what makes it home for you?

4. Sunday reads

Happy new month and here are some lovely reads for you this morning!
  1. Interesting read on the long and short run effects of labour rigidity and the effects of being in a Union.
  2. Separating truth from myth when considering the focus, magnitude and nature of Chinese investment in Africa.
  3. Do married men or women give more and what does the success of household cash transfers depend on? Very interesting read – one of those where you wanna look at the underlying data.
  4. In true Economist style, here is a slightly different view of the trust games between spouses.
  5. What actually works where the intention is to keep girls in school. Here is a three part series attempting to answer that: One. Two . Three (Out in October, will update it later and link back to this).
  6. This is why we need more women in power, but generally, a closer consideration of who we select to positions of leadership.
  7. I don’t know, this just broke me!
  8. In light of Tuesday’s post, Kim Cattrall talks not having babies.
  9. All eleven of these successful relationship tips I FULLY AGREE WITH.
  10. How DO YOU tell your little child they are HIV Positive? I feel like the article was too simplistic but hey, let me know your thoughts …
  11. How do they get the writing on the Parmesan rind? Well now you know …
  12. Ever lost something? Wondered where it went? Wished you could track it down? Well this lady lost her iPhone and found out where it went.
  13. Stuff you can do to stay active mentally.
  14. This is a good primer on blogging and why I write a post or not sometimes.
  15. Recipes:
    1. Zuccini Rice gratin
    2. Ginger carrot salad with Quinoa
  16. A simple enough DIY Project
 
 
 
 

Sunday reads

Hope you have a blessed and restful Sunday, enjoy your reads!

  1. iPad Apps for the Kitchen
  2. A good story coming out of Africa
  3. Some lovely tips for dyeing natural hair. 
  4. Boo to gender stereotypes but I also believe in traditional roles for wives and husbands 😦
  5. A recipe I tried and definitely loved past week that had very good results – Zuccini Cake.
  6. A feel good story that we all always need to hear every so often!
  7. Beautiful natural hair looks to rock for weddings and other formal occasions
  8. I love this couple. Viva!!!
  9. An easy ricotta gelato recipe if you are interested to try
 

Sunday Reads

Hope you had a lovely week, I certainly did. Below, enjoy!
  1. I really don’t know what I feel about this story.
  2. As a Christian and a so-called “infidel”, I am not sure how to think of such evil!! May God judge them ever so severely!!!
  3. Again on the ethics of having a live-in lady take care of your kids while hers have to make do. BUT, beautiful writing.
  4. On being overly PC at school and dumbing down academic rigours at American Universities.
  5. Not an easy practice, but necessary. Doing your best work and checking that it is, despite knowing/ feeling that this is the best you could ever get.

Best work followed by best work followed by more best work is far more useful and generous than merely doing your best work once and insisting we understand you.

 
 
 

Book Review: Capitalist Nigger

Buy here

I recently read this book and hated it.

It was poorly edited and very repetitive, also, I felt that Onyeani, the author, did not really counter the accusations he made against Black people – that we don’t really like to research and come up with new knowledge, rather we just sit back, consume and adapt what people around us have done. I would have liked to see his well-thought out theory that is counter the status quo. However, he did have some gems that I took note of.

  • You must understand that the same amount of time it takes to start a small venture might be the same amount of time or even less than it takes in starting a major one.
  • You must possess great discipline and an iron hand if you are to succeed in this world … One of the greatest drawbacks to our march to the promised land of wealth and money is our lack of discipline and persistence in the face of adversity.
  • If you are a slave, you cannot be independent and distinct from the whims and caprices or dictates of your conquerors.
  • Capitalist Nigger … understands that the State of Black economy can only be created when a group of young Black men and women dare to be success. Yes we have to dare to be successful.
  • If you cannot buy African, there is absolutely no way you are going to create a Black economy.
  • A Capitalist Nigger understands that for the Black economy to be created, he must have to create a niche for himself. The movement to restart the Black economy must be planned with absolute focus, with each individual focusing on how he can contribute to making it a reality.
  • The Capitalist Nigger is not going to patronise people who disrespect him and denigrate his intelligence as inferior.
  • It is extremely necessary that we take a few minutes,  hours,  days or months to ponder the intelligence of a race who cannot produce the basic things of life that are needed for their survival and have to depend on those who have oppressed them for years to come to their aid.
  • The question really is how could Africa have millions of educated men and women, yet have to import experts in all fields to manage areas of economic development, engineering and others for which Africans had gone to the same school.
  • Today, Africa is incapable of defending itself militarily, it is incapable of sustaining itself economically,  it has lost its culture and its socialisation is based on European culture.
  • The second annihilation which confronts the African child when he begins his school life is the name he must answer to. … They insisted that  if Africans had to become “Christians” they had to abandon their names which are historically and culturally rich. … I have never seen a European adopting an African name, despite the fact that some of them had lived or were born in Africa. They are not a conquered people ….

The book made me ask myself/ think of:

  1. How am I procuring from black people and making sure that the money circulates within the community I live in or if not, among African people? During the wedding, I tried to have as many African vendors as possible and sometimes it didn’t work out but for the most part,we did keep it within.
  2. It did get me wondering about some of the franchises closest to me and how many of them are owned by a African owner. Also, how would I go about finding that out?
  3. I had to come clean to the fact that part of my reluctance to patronise African-owned establishments is the lack of #excellence and the expectation that because I am supporting them, I should be happy to take scrapes from them. None of that! I won’t have it!
  4. Any establishment that disrespects me or my worth as a buyer, I complain about and if after suitable time no change is made, I vote with my feet and tell my constituents to also abstain from taking their patronage there. And this is the case, African or not!
  5. English/ Caucasian/Foreign names for African children in this day and age. NO! JUST NO!
  6. I still feel sad that I do not speak an African language. Thankfully I have Kiswahili which is African. But I wish I could speak with my grandparents and now some of my in-laws!

I would further recommend Decolonising the Mind by Ngugi wa Thiong’o. Similar subject but mainly about language and literature and the editing is THAT bit better!

Sunday Reads (Evening edition)

  1. More benefits to all from paid paternity leave
  2. Struggling to make a decision? Here’s how to go about it.
  3. I know about schools like this.So much pressure to succeed or be the best. SO. MUCH.
  4. A pea pilau recipe Smile
  5. A huge risk for little or no pay. So sad

Spare a thought (and tears) for the Children

On Saturday I wept as I stood in front of a group of 15 high school students ranging in age from 15 to 18 (Grade 10 – 12).

For the past five weeks, I have been volunteering my time to tutor a class of Grade 10-12s at a school in Soweto to assist children from under-equipped schools with their school work in order to boost overall performance. There is an education crisis in South Africa and as a privileged member of the society; I have decided to take some time to give back.

 What is Maths Literacy?

 The competencies developed through Mathematical Literacy allow individuals to make sense of, participate in and contribute to the twenty-first century world — a world characterised by numbers, numerically based arguments and data represented and misrepresented in a number of different ways. Such competencies include the ability to reason, make decisions, solve problems, manage resources, interpret information, schedule events and use and apply technology. Learners must be exposed to both mathematical content and real-life contexts to develop these competencies. Mathematical content is needed to make sense of real-life contexts; on the other hand, contexts determine the content that is needed.

 There are five elements to it, Maths Literacy involves:

  1. the use of elementary mathematical content.
  2. authentic real-life contexts
  3. solving familiar and unfamiliar problem
  4. decision making and communication.
  5. the use of integrated content and/or skills in solving problems

 Source

 A bit of context here is the fact that until three or four years ago, Mathematics was not a compulsory subject for high school students and in fact many of them elected not to do it at all. I, who studied in Kenya until first degree level, found this extremely odd as Mathematics is compulsory for all until the twelfth year of high school. Further, that some of the outcomes being measured at Grade 10-12 level I did between Grades 4 and 8 to varying complexity.

So why did I cry?

A key skill they have to learn in Maths Literacy is ratios and proportions. For the past five weeks, I have been trying to teach them about cross multiplying in order to equate two relationships. On Saturday, we had a price list for vegetables and had to qualify cost; weights bought and undertake other related calculations.

The problem

If the price of strawberries is R29.99/400g:

  1. What is the price of 1 kg of strawberries?
  2. If he bought 0.4kg of strawberries, how much did he pay?

Each of these questions took us over 15 minutes to solve and I could tell that they just didn’t get what was required of them and tended to guess the final outcome. For instance, I got answers to (ii) above in grammes.

To test whether they understood this price-weight relationship, I would ask whether in (i) they expected an answer that’s greater than or larger than R29.99 and again, they had no clue. Here I was checking whether they understood the relationship and to introduce the idea of sense checking an answer rather than diving in to answer without understanding the question.

After the blank stares, I actually lost my head. For five weeks, we have applied cross multiplying to so many different circumstances and still they can’t apply it or even recognise when it’s the best way to arrive at a solution. What’s worse, even when I reminded them that we have looked at it repeatedly each Saturday without fail, in a bid to refresh their memory, there was no concern or even sense of urgency on their part. In fact, this was my issue to deal with as frankly it had no bearing on them.

The national pass mark is 30% and even with that, some 15.9% of Matric students failed Maths Literacy. The bar is so low and it broke my heart that even with such a low bar, these kids still had little fighting chance and that despite being sufficiently grown up to understand this, they still didn’t an I almost had the sensation of how hopeless my efforts were, almost like I was repairing a fast bleeding wound with the tiniest of plasters.

But that was one sad moment, today I am hopeful and looking at different ways to help them understand this principle as well as make Maths Literacy a practical subject for them and to empower them to have the confidence to do succeed and advance in their studies.

 

 

Long weekend reads

It’s the Easter weekend, four long glorious days to reflect on what Christ did for us and to rejuvenate with our family and loved ones. Be safe and enjoy the links below:

  1. How to boost your baking experience
  2. Taking stock of your spices
  3. I can’t imagine this level of isolation or unquestioning belief. Not good or bad, just different.
  4. I love that me and the Mr are a trend
  5. On the idiocy of copying a foreign education system, just for the sake
  6. Asking your salary has become the new black. But it shouldn’t
  7. Preach on Chris Blattman
  8. African School of Economics – based in Cotonou, Benin and offering a Master in Mathematics, Economics and Statistics (MMES) and Master in Business Administration (MBA)
  9. How well do you know your neighbours?
  10. This is us/ our near future
  11. The only piece of advice I would give to people planning a wedding (oh! and thank God I never felt the post-wedding blues or the crash)
  12. I know of Sasha Grey from Entourage. You?
  13. So true! Foreign blacks are always prepared to indigenous Blacks
  14. Advice before you get started on your PhD
  15. Women in Kenya and the need for safe spaces (I totally have an intellectual crush on the writer!)
  16. On being a woman in Tehran (and staying)

What’s the most enjoyable hour of your typical weekday?

Its definitely got to be helping my nephew with his reading. He is the most darling and eager child that I have had the pleasure to watch grow up and now at 6 years and 11 months, he is learning to read and each evening we spend about 15 to 20 minutes to go through the given book sections and it warms the cockles of my heart. Definitely reminds me of learning to drive and the persistence required to keep pushing and kept learning and putting yourself out there!

I still think that its a bit too late and I don’t even for a moment imply that its a developmental issue, merely, an indictment of the local education system. To enrol in the first year of primary school, you  have to be 6 before June of the enrolment year and this means that most of the kids in the classroom vary in age between 6 and 7. Granted,they are at their prime to learn to read, but maybe we could push it to a year or so before. Maybe? I did a bit of phonetics as a kid but largely most of it was rote learning and the only plus, is the fact that he is taught to recognise the letters and their sounds and this is how he has learnt to join two, three and then four letter words a practice that may then be applied to bigger words (difference, hideout, camouflage anyone?).