Ordinary people, extraordinary stories: Finding the thread that connects us

Transitions: Views of life in a changing world

“There were also the stories I didn’t tell because they just felt too personal, and writing them down and attributing them to a particular person felt like an invasion of privacy. There was the woman I asked what brought her to the US and she shrugged her shoulders matter of factly and declared, ‘A lawsuit’. The young girl who confessed she had survived three suicide attempts, the man whose parents were both cremated along with the family dog and all popped into an urn together. And now when he and his partner travel the world on cruise ships for their annual holidays, as his parents once did, he sprinkles a couple of spoonfuls over the seas so his parents – and the family dog – can keep on traveling.”

The last couple of years I’ve found myself falling in love with Zimbabwe all over again, or maybe for the first…

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The gestation period of a college student: the first trimester

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“In the first trimester of pregnancy common symptoms can include bouts of nausea, depression, fatigue, headaches, restlessness and mood swings. You might be left feeling delighted, anxious, exhilarated and exhausted — sometimes all at once. Even if you’re thrilled about being pregnant, a new baby adds emotional stress to your life.”

When I fell pregnant everyone had helpful advice…whether I wanted it or not. There were screeds of books and pamphlets and magazine articles about everything from conception to labour…and I was constantly having them thrust at me. I went on a lengthy course of antenatal classes where the midwife, in perhaps the greatest understatement known to man, described labour as “somewhat uncomfortable” and had everyone I came across – from family members to total strangers – using my belly as a free-for-all; it was touched and rubbed so many times those nine months I felt like a statue of the Buddha! Everyone would croon and crow when I came along, very nearly achieving that rare phenomenon of being almost as wide as I was tall, and took turns to be the current authority on pregnancy and childbirth.

I got through it successfully twice, although some may not call a 24 hour labour and me, the once-ardent supporter of natural childbirth, sitting on my knees about 12 hours into it, hanging on to the nurses legs and begging for drugs, a huge success. Then I went on to the rearing and raising as best I could, still with the ever present advice and good counsel and helpful advice and magazine articles to guide – or in many cases – confound me.

Nineteen years passed like a flash and I found myself on the threshold of a son going off to college…and suddenly there were no magazine articles or self-help books to guide me. No one could give me any advice how to deal with this pain. There were no drugs – well none that as a responsible mother I should dabble with – to take the edge off.

It’s hard to describe just how much of a wrench it is to let your children go, no matter how independent you think they may be…or you without them. There’s no getting away from the fact that they have been your absolute first priority from the moment they are put, slippery and screaming, on to your chest, at birth. Yes, it was often terrifying, those first few days and weeks when I wondered if we had what it took to keep him alive till his first month birthday, times when, in the middle of the night, I’d wake up to his ear-splitting scream and have absolutely no idea what to do, nights when we’d get so little sleep that I was sure my brain would seize up and stop functioning altogether. While your children are solely under your care every decision you make every day puts them first. Every major life decision has their best interests at heart. And then they’re gone and someone else is in charge of the daily task of seeing to their needs and you’re left with a whole lot of free time and head space you don’t know how to fill.

So it’s been a week since we saw him off to university on the other side of the planet and I’ve had some shaky moments – while sitting in his favourite armchair in his room, for example, the books he didn’t have room to pack still piled up on his desk, the smell of his aftershave still woven in the air. And in his cupboards I’ve found his old bag of Lego and the little Thomas the Tank Engine train set he loved so much as a toddler. They’ve all brought fresh rounds of tears accompanied by feelings of dizziness, nausea and mood swings: the first trimester of the gestation period of a college student.

Other parents going through what I am, you’re not alone. That sensation like you’ve just had a limb amputated or a vital organ removed? It’s real. But as a good friend said to me recently, there are countless parents who send their children off to war…or on a shaky ship on rough seas seeking refuge from turmoil. There is every chance they will never see them again.

I sent my son off to a wonderful college to get one of the best educations available – far greater than my financial means could ever have hoped for – and his achievement in getting accepted and qualifying at the end of it will be the reward. It’s much like that first trimester of pregnancy: even as I was lying on the bathroom floor those first three months, wasted and dehydrated from hours of endless vomiting, deep inside I knew there was an incredible prize at the end of it. And the promise of a prize will keep me going again now.

In living colour: Multi-media presentation on the Seychelles Trip

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Report by Ben Evans, Keletso Moyo and Seth van Beek (Form Ones)

Last Friday the Media and French Club held a multi-media presentation for parents on their tour to the Seychelles.

The presentation was held in the Staff Room where boys who participated on the tour, together with the Head Boy and a group of prefects, ushered the guests to their seats and handed them their programmes as well as commemorative group photographs from the trip.

Mrs Kee-Tui gave a welcome speech and then Ndaba Mazibuko took over as MC.

The boys presented their trip in the form of PowerPoint slideshows, prepared by Form Ones and Form Twos, and videos edited by the Editing Team.

The Form Three gave a French presentation, describing the trip, followed by a Creole conversation between Seth van Beek and Ricky Shahzad. Tino Msasanure and Tanaka Marape then described the lifestyles of the Seychellois, in French.

Mrs Davies highlighted the many educational aspects gained by students on the tour and with the help of students, as well as photographs taken on the trip, explained areas such as the history, the geography and the geology of the islands.

The last speech of the evening was given by guest, Mr. G. Moyo, who had been instrumental in initiating the tour. His speech inspired the parents to take their children to different places to learn and study.

Mrs. Evans (Ben’s mom) thought the presentation was really good, well thought out and very well presented.

Mrs. Van Beck (Seth’s mom) said it was a really good idea to take the children the on this trip. She thanked the different parents for sending their children on this wonderful trip.

Mrs. Moyo (Keletso’s mom) thanked the teachers for making this trip possible and said she was inspired by the speech given by Mr. G. Moyo.

The Club says special thanks to:

The headmaster, Mr Thomson and members of the Executive and members of staff for attending the event and for all their support

To Doc Van Rooyen who is always very supportive and always willing to give up his time to support the Media Club

To Mrs S. Mpala of Mpala Boutique Hotel (www.mpalagroup.com) for her generous  help with the decor. We look forward to working together more in the future.

To the parents for all their support financially and otherwise to make both the Seychelles trip and the presentation a great success.








Seychelles: More than just a pretty face


During CBC`s recent travels, the Media and French club set sail for the beautiful coast of the Seychelles. Beautiful, why? You might ask. The coast is a unique and dynamic environment: exotic plant and animal life inhabits these coasts and we can see coastal erosion processes at their best. For a geography student like me, studying the coast is more exciting than watching the world cup.
One feature that became prominent from the trip was the presence of coral reefs. The genesis of these unique Coral reefs came from underwater structures made from calcium carbonate secreted by corals. Coral reefs are formed from colonies of tiny animals found in marine waters that contain few nutrients. Most coral reefs are built from stony corals, which in turn consist of polyps that cluster in groups. The polyps belong to a group of animals known as Cnidaria, which also includes sea anemones and jellyfish. Unlike sea anemones, coral polyps secrete hard carbonate exoskeletons which support and protect their bodies. Reefs grow best in warm, shallow, clear, sunny and agitated waters.
Just as coral reefs were found, several coastal erosion processes also came to light. Firstly wave pounding, the name says it all, waves produce 30 tonnes of pressure and this is directed at the base of the cliff; with this continued pounding the compatibility of the cliffs results in pieces falling off. Secondly, hydraulic pressure and, in case you are wondering, it doesn’t involve a car. Surges of waves trap air in the cracks of the rocks and compress them; when the water retreats the air expands making the cracks enlarge. Thirdly is abrasion. The waves transport rock and sand particles that scratch and hit the cliff; this weakens the cliff and, again, pieces fall off. Fourth is attrition. Rock particles within the wave collide into each other causing the rocks to fragment and divide into small pieces; they are transported on to the beach and create its profile, which I will touch on later. Solution: the sea is home to some weak acids which react chemically with the rocks which are soluble in water, for example carbonic acid in sea water. Plus calcium carbonate of limestone rocks create calcium bicarbonate which is soluble in water. Finally the last erosion process which doesn’t involve marine action at all is sub-aerial erosion; this is the impact of rainwater, wind and frost. Rainwater can erode the surface of the cliff giving it wonderful and abstract shapes as found in the Seychelles.
One last mention of the beautiful coastline of Seychelles, which has a unique beach profile due to the influence of high and low energy waves: the clear, golden crisp sand is a sign that low energy waves are present as they bring sand particles for deposition on the beach, which gives it a flat, wide gradient. However very minor parts of the beach are under the influence of high energy waves, which percolate through the large air space within the pile of rocks at the backshore as high energy waves can carry heavier rock particles further on to the beach giving it a narrow, steep gradient.
As a geography department we would like to commend the Media Club boys for their participation in this trip and for giving us photos of the sumptuous sands and omnipresent oceans of the Seychelles. We hope that after this success the college can co-ordinate more beneficial trips such as this one.
Gamuchirayi Manungo 
U6 Geography Student

“Seychelles: like seeing the world in colour for the first time” by Kishan Parekh (L6)

IMG_1530 (640x427) IMG_0482 (427x640) IMG_1175 (640x427)How was Seychelles? That’s the question everyone asks me now, and the answer is never easy to give; after all, so much happened, that it’s hard to fit it all into a single conversation.

When I first signed up for the trip, I was apprehensive, worried it wasn’t going to be as good as I had hoped, but that feeling was lost in the excitement of the departure, forgotten amidst the sleepy goodbyes and last minute rush.

Following a noisy but uneventful trip, spent partly in a book and partly in conversation, we arrived, tired and irritable, at the Elsjes Country Inn. As the only Lower 6 student that had signed up for the trip, I felt like an outsider, the other students already falling into groups, assisted by the fact that they were already classmates.

We awoke the following morning to bitter cold. Bundled up in our tracksuits, our blue tour caps atop our heads, we made our way to the airport, where, after a tedious check-in, we spent the latter half of the morning browsing shops, before rushing onto the plane, delayed by our large number.

The flight was long and tiring, a large portion of it was spent catching up on the sleep we had missed the previous night. After almost five hours we landed at the Mahe International Airport, stepping off the plane into hot and humid weather, running through a light drizzle to get to the airport. The sudden change left us slightly dazed. Sweating and uncomfortable, we made our way to the National Sports Council where we would be staying.

The next day most of us were better adjusted to the weather, which had continued to be rainy through the night, and we were subjected to a light drizzle while we awaited the boat ride to the Saint Anne Marine Park.

The mood that had seemed set for the rest of our stay took a sudden change in that moment.

A crane collapsed onto an empty motorway, marking the time the trip began to change, in my opinion; at some point while we stared in fascination, the drizzle stopped and the sky cleared, the equatorial sun beginning to beat down on us.

Sunblock was applied liberally, and before long the two boats – belonging to Creole Travel Services – that would be taking us arrived, and we piled into them. We were introduced to our guides for the day and to the glass bottomed boats, Christine and Nanette, which would be ferrying us through the Park.

We set off, cruising through the bay, taking pictures of everything we passed: the NSC, the other boats, the wind farm, and of each other.

We slowed as we passed over the coral reef, taking pictures through the glass bottom, or over the side of the boat, of the fish and of the coral, leaning about both, and even getting to feed the fish, that came in shoals, eager for a bit of bread. We left the reef, though the fish followed us for a few minutes after, and landed on the beach of Moyenne Island.

It was a significant occasion for me, because that moment I put my bare feet into the water and waded to shore was my first time at a beach of any kind, and I drank in everything around me, from the light breeze in the air to the sand between my toes, knowing I would not experience this for the first time again, so I made the most of that moment.

We walked along the beach, then up a staircase cut into the rock, to an enclosure of sorts, where most of the giant turtles were resting. We took a few pictures with them, as they lumbered around, allowing us to scratch their chins.

We walked through the island paths, being told about the history of the National Park, before stopping at the museum, where we examined collections of shells and coral, learning about the original owner of the island. We walked on, passing a few signs, before coming out of the foliage onto a headland looking out to sea.

We sat there for several minutes, snapping pictures, chatting, or otherwise simply sitting and enjoying the view. I found myself staring out to the horizon, a point where the world seemingly ended, a straight line marred only by a single distant island.

As I looked on, I wondered at how much there was to see beyond those horizons, beyond the old horizons I had once known, back home in Zimbabwe. Looking out further than the eye could see, learning so much, discovering places more vibrant, more complex than I could ever have imagined, I suppose it was in that moment I first gained a fervent desire to see the world, and every hidden gem it had to offer.

We moved on, walking down paths, hearing more about the islands past, and soon we returned to the beach, and I walked along it, back to the boats, the waves lapping at my feet. As the boats cruised out back to the reef, we were given a crash course in scuba diving, before we all plunged into the water one by one, underwater cameras in hand.

After a few moments of floundering, I figured out how to swim with the snorkelling equipment, and began paddling around the reef, snapping pictures and laughing with the others, almost colliding with them several times, distracted as I was by the scenery below me.

Forty-five minutes after we started swimming, we pulled ourselves back onto the boats, and were ferried off once more, this time to Cerf Island, where a delicious traditional Creole buffet awaited us – barbecued fish, chicken, and salad.

After the meal, we spent the remainder of the afternoon on the beach, burying each other in sand, cracking open coconuts from a nearby tree, or otherwise enjoying the beach. Too soon, we had to leave, and for the last time that day we piled onto the two boats, which took us back to the port, from which we travelled back to the NSC.

Showered and refreshed, we joined in the National Day celebrations, though I returned to our dorms the moment I bought my dinner from one of the many stalls, not the type for huge crowds, and while the others wandered the food stalls, I chatted with those that returned early, beginning to make friends, though I eventually settled down with a book to read.

The day passed, we turned in for the night eventually, and awoke the next morning bright and early, rushing for the showers, before trooping onto buses, heading out. We stopped briefly on the roadside where we met a pirate hunter, a man who dedicated a part of his life to searching for treasure, braving poison, rock falls and flooding to get to the fortune hidden on the island. He told us of his difficulties in finding the treasure, of the indicators that they were on the right track, and the artefacts they had already found.

We set off again, this time arriving at the Beau Vallon Beach, where we swam constantly, interspersing those moments with walks along the beach, enjoying the local cuisine, interviewing beach vendors, or going for rides on jetskis. We spent the whole day there, and I will admit I was excited to build my first sandcastle on the beach, something more befitting younger students, though I didn’t care at the time, and still don’t, even now.

After our day at the beach, we packed up and left for Eden Island, a land reclamation project consisting of hundreds of beautiful houses and a few elegant shopping malls. We talked with the mechanic for the largest boat at the pier, before going on to the pizza place, where we chatted briefly over a scale model of the island, and proceeded back to the NSC.

On the fifth day of our trip, we made our way to the Sir Selwyn Selwyn-Clarke Market, where we observed the trades in fish, fruit, and souvenirs – which some of us bought – before taking a tour bus from ‘7 Degrees South’ to visit the Mission, what’s left of a school for slave children. While there, we learnt about the palm and cinnamon trees and about the mission itself. We also sampled some cinnamon and coconut cake, made by the locals.

Before long we were on the road again, and I chatted idly with the other students. Without realising it, I had at some point made friends with them. When I had first signed up for the trip, I had hoped to make friends with people who had similar interests to me: books, reading, and the like. What I had not expected were for those friends to be the people I came with to Seychelles, rather than the people already here.

We arrived at the Seychelles Tourism Academy, where we were served a five star lunch while chatting with the students. It was my first conversation with anyone my age since I had come to Seychelles, and while talking with the other CBC boys was pleasant, it was refreshing to talk with students my own age.

After dessert, the Tourism Academy students demonstrated one of the local dances and a few of the boys took part, before sharing a demonstration of our own gumboot dancing.

We said our goodbyes and moved on to the next stop, The University of Seychelles, where we were given a quick rundown on the University, its courses, and the costs. We visited the Environmental studies department, where we are told about their efforts to educate the children of Seychelles on the environment around them.

After this we had a few minutes before departing for a quick snack and drink. I politely asked the ladies serving us if any of the juice was made from fruits from the Seychelles. They told me there wasn’t, but offered me Seychellois orange juice. To my surprise the lady who made the offer disappeared into the kitchen for a few minutes and returned with a tall glass of freshly squeezed juice, which tasted better than anything I’ve had before, and was likely better than what the other students had drank. Politeness, I learnt that day, could take you far.

The next day, bright and early, we arrived at the port, and boarded the Cat Cocos ferry to Praslin. If anything happened on the ride, I was unaware of it, having fallen asleep near the beginning.

Disembarking from the ferry, we made a brief stop at La Cuvette Hotel, to drop off our bags, before heading to The Vallee De Mai, the nature reserve where the famous Coco De Mer grows, and here we met a few students from Vijay International School, our host. We hiked through the rainforest, learning about the Coco De Mer and several other native plant species, as well as learning about the geology of the island, why exactly the beaches are as cool as we found them to be.

After a long and educational trek through the forest we headed out once more, to yet another beach, La Anse Lazio. We had a picnic on the beach, prepared for us by Mr Kennedy, the Headmaster of the host school, Vijay International. I spent half my time in the water, swimming with the students from CBC and from the International school, or on the beach, snapping pictures, walking in the shallows, or reading the book I had brought with me.

We headed back to La Cuvette, where, after checking in properly, we were escorted to one of the local restaurants for dinner. On returning, we talked with our hosts for a while, before one conversation led half our number to bringing their phones to one of our hosts, who worked as a technician for computers and the like, in the hope that he could fix their splashed phones.

Eventually we turned in for the night, but not before a stern talking to about proper behaviour, being cooped up together for so long had led to some of us becoming restless and irritable.

The next day it was off to the tiny island of La Digue where we visited Anse Severe.

This particular beach was covered in seaweed, shells and bits of coral, especially in the shallows, which, combined with the strong waves, made it unpleasant for swimming. Thus, after a quick dip, most of us spent our time collecting shells, talking to locals – including an octopus fisherman – or building elaborate sand sculptures, including several cities, and two people, named Sandy and Andy, by their creators.

After spending the afternoon on Anse Severe, we headed back to Praslin. On the bus ride back we talked with our driver and discovered that not only was he a former policeman, but he also had a black belt in Karate and was a bodyguard to many diplomats. To us he seemed like a character that stepped out of the pages of a book. After a quick dinner, and making sure we were packed, we headed to bed.

The next day was our last day on Praslin, and we visited the International School, leaving our bags in their Library, we gave a quick presentation of the Media Club trips to Victoria Falls and Matopos, and of our school play. We split into two groups, and were given presentations of the local dances, the students’ art projects, and the history of Seychelles, before having a quick break, where some of our number joined in the students’ soccer game, and seemed to win, despite the lack of goalposts or any other way to measure their success.

After our break, we had the opportunity to exercise our artistic skills by making a few quick sketches of White, a baby giant tortoise owned by Mr Kennedy, while learning a bit about his life span – the four year old tortoise would outlive everyone in the room, living for at least another two hundred years.

After a quick lunch, we returned to the School Hall, where we listened to an anti-drug speech delivered by the Care Relay, a group of students from La Digue who first educated another schools’ student body on drugs, before passing the baton to them, to pass the message to the next school.

Finally we made our last performance; first a description of the Zimbabwe flag, in English, Ndebele and Shona, before singing the National Anthem, followed by the School song, both of which were conducted by Mrs Davies.

I don’t know when it had happened, but when we sang I realised that I no longer felt like an outsider, I had made friends, I had become a part of these groups, I had made my own group of friends. It was a profound moment for me, because I realised that, in those ten days of living together, we students had achieved what so many back home had tried and failed to do their entire six years of schooling – we had become a family.

We said goodbye to Praslin and to Vijay International School, and boarded the ferry for the last time, escorted to the pier by the owners of La Cuvette, the hotel we had stayed at. They saw us off, and we headed back to Mahe over choppy waves that drove many to seasickness.

Once at Mahe, we were able to do some proper souveneir shopping, where we found that our politeness earned us discounts from the vendors. After an afternoon of shopping, we returned to the NSC for our final night there.

We woke up well before dawn the next day, packed and ready for the flight to South Africa. After check in – and a quick stop by the bookshop on my part – we were on the flight and out of Seychelles, saying goodbye to the Tropical Islands.

After a four and a half hour long flight, we were met at the South African airport by Elsjes Country Inn, ready with a bus to take us back to the inn and freshen up for a lunch and an afternoon at the Eastgate mall. It was there I saw what was probably the most amusing thing during my trip to Seychelles – the CBC boys piled into bumper cars, driving around and having the time of their lives. We returned through heavy traffic to the Inn, where we worked through the night on our presentations.

The next day we spent entirely on the road, finally arriving at CBC after a long ten days away from home. We greeted our parents sleepily but enthusiastically, and we said our last goodbyes, heading home, the trip was over.

Seeing Seychelles was, to me, like seeing the world in colour for the first time, and coming back everything looks different, but it is not this place that has changed, it’s the way I see the world that has. Being back home, I want to leave once more, to see the rest of the world, now that I have had a taste of what it has to offer.

Last year I studied a poem, titled ‘People are made of places.’ Back then I never understood it’s meaning, but now I do. Zimbabwe was where I was raised, where I grew up, but in Seychelles I found a part of me that I never knew was there. I found a part of my identity.

Day 8 and 9: The long journey home and there’s still sand in our shoes

All good things must come to an end, and such is the case with our amazing trip to the Seychelles. We flew out of Mahe island at 8am yesterday – which, allowing for check-in time – meant a dawn start and some grumpy faces…although that probably had to do less with the early start and more with the thought of leaving. We arrived in a very chilly Johannesburg at 11am and reluctantly swapped our flip flops for boots…but we’re still finding beach sand in our pockets and tucked away in corners of our backpacks to assure us it was real and not just a really great dream.

We had another dawn start this morning and, this evening, 22 extremely tired but happy boys pulled into the CBC car park to a joyous reception by parents with pre-warnings on our whatsapp group not to “squeeze them to death”. The comments from boys and parents, both before, during and after the trip have been incredible and we’ve been recording them and will share them with you over the next few days. We’re also compiling more photographs to share with you and are planning a full presentation at the school, details to follow.

What we have realised is that we don’t want the blog to die, so we are looking at ways of keeping it alive as a CBC Media Club initiative. We’re still working out the logistics but watch this space for details.

Just time for one photograph today…”the crew” waiting for the Cat Rosa ferry to take them from the island of La Digue back to Praslin on Sunday evening.IMG_1449 (640x427)

Day 7: International School provides fitting end to an amazing journey

“Every good story needs a strong conclusion,” says Mr Moyo at our planning meeting the last evening on the island of Praslin. “Let’s make our conclusion great!”

And that’s exactly what we did: we gave the story of our trip to Seychelles – a far-fetched dream which transformed, part through hard work and determination and part through sheer miracle, into reality – a great conclusion.

The trip ended with a visit to Praslin’s Vijay International School…and we couldn’t have asked for a higher note on which to end it.

The whole of last week the school had been preparing for our arrival and, by the time our two buses pulled up at the school – crammed with our ubiquitous luggage – the year 8, 9 and 10 students were waiting for us in the hall.

The CBC boys in their Number Ones, miraculously unwrinkled despite being carted over the last week by various modes of transport including bus, plane and ferry, were an impressive sight and, after a short introduction by headmaster, Mr Kennedy, it was over to us to give a video and slide presentation on Zimbabwe.

It’s hard to describe the poignancy of that moment in the hall today: seeing our boys sitting alongside the VJIS students, watching images of Matopos and Victoria Falls and Hwange with the background of an African drumbeat, and seeing the wonder in their eyes. It’s moments like these which make all the planning, the hard work, the challenges and the sacrifices worth it.

The Media Club presentation was followed by a clip from the 60th Anniversary Variety Show from the Drama Club and the students thoroughly enjoyed the three performances, especially the gum boot dancers.

After the presentation was over the boys were divided into two groups and led off to different classrooms where VJIS students had prepared a cultural exchange comprising workshops and power point presentations representing Seychelloise culture, music and dance as well as its history, flora and fauna.

The boys watched a demonstration of dancing and were then pulled on to the “dancefloor” to join in the sultry sega; took an impromptu art lesson sketching a baby giant tortoise belonging to Mr Kennedy – four years old but estimated to live for another 200 – and then took French conversation classes with the VJIS French teacher while our own Mrs Davies taught the Year 3s.

Our boys’ French conversation class centred on listing the contrasts between Zimbabwe and Seychelles: they mentioned the weather, the beaches, the language and then, in conclusion, the girls. Said Ndaba Mazibuko, with a characteristic glint in his eyes, “Ici les filles sont plus belle qu’au Zimbabwe.” Let’s hope the girls in Zimbabwe are forgiving of him on his return! 🙂

When the cultural exchange ended it was off to the cafeteria for break, during which our boys joined in an impromptu soccer match with their VJIS counterparts, and then back to the hall for assembly.

Our visit happened to coincide with an anti-drug drive with a group of students from La Digue and our boys listened intently to their message to youth.

Then it was time for our big conclusion: holding a Zimbabwean flag brought to be handed over to the school, the boys explained – in English, Shona and Ndebele – the significance of the colours and symbols, followed by a stirring rendition of the Zimbabwe National Anthem and the school song, Viriliter Age.

It was a proud moment for us teachers – and for the entire CBC family which they represented, so far from home on this tiny little island of Praslin in the Seychelles archipelago. And afterwards, when they chatted and laughed with the students from VJIS, we were reminded, once again, that when you strip away the language, the race, the colour and all the other superficial differences which separate us, we are, really, all the same.

If there’s one lesson the boys have been able to take away from this incredible experience, we hope that’s it.

This evening, our last on the island of Seychelles, the clouds are sitting low on the surrounding mountains, heavy with tropical rain…as heavy, in fact, as our hearts as we think of leaving this beautiful island. It’s an experience that has changed us all in a myriad ways, some obvious and some less so. But we’ll let you discover that yourselves once your boys come home and tell you all their tales.

Seth van Beek: The best part of the day was going to the international school and meeting all the students. I interacted with them as well as learnt more about the dangers of drugs. I also really enjoyed playing soccer with the other students at breaktime. We won 2-0 and I scored both goals…from amazing set-ups by Ndaba!

Ricky Shahzad: My best part was going back to Mahe on the ferry on choppy waters and not getting sick!

Jordan Edwards: The way the teachers and students were helping us to work out our sentences was great; they helped us with our confidence by giving us a chance to add our own opinions and then share them with everyone.

Malcolm Sithole: I would have to say the best part was when a girl from the school gave me her number…without me even approaching her!

Tino Msasanure: Today was a great day. We spoke to the students in French and then played the local soccer team…and beat them on their home ground!

Jacques du Plessis: The part about today which impressed me the most was the friendly welcome we received from everyone. I think the quality of classrooms was also impressive: they were very neat and tidy and there was no litter at all. I really enjoyed learning about their diverse culture, from  dance to different languages.  20140623_093912IMG_4627 IMG_4656IMG_4610 IMG_4607 IMG_4597 IMG_4583 IMG_4579 IMG_4569 IMG_4564 IMG_4543 IMG_1703 IMG_1690 IMG_1683 IMG_1656 IMG_1643 IMG_1636 IMG_1625 IMG_1623 IMG_1602 IMG_1583 IMG_1570 IMG_1562 IMG_1552 IMG_1533 IMG_1531 IMG_1530 IMG_1528 IMG_1526 IMG_1520 IMG_1516 IMG_1514 IMG_1503 ??????????????????????????????? ??????????????????????????????? IMG_0216 IMG_0209 IMG_0182 IMG_0165 IMG_0159 IMG_0157 IMG_0150 IMG_0091 20140623_104410

Day 6: Simply beautiful La Digue


We awoke to the soothing sound of tropical rain. As Vijay International School headmaster, Martin Kennedy said: “What do you do when it rains in Seychelles? You wait five minutes then start swimming again.” The showers never last long and, due to the humidity, practically evaporate before they hit the ground. It’s often a refreshing break from the heat and doesn’t deter us from doing anything…not even swimming.

After breakfast we spent a leisurely morning by the pool then headed off to the jetty again, this time to catch the Cat-Coco’s “little sister”: Cat-Rosa. This is the ferry that takes visitors from Praslin to the even smaller island of La Digue. A rough population guide: Mahe has a population of 91 000, Praslin 6 000 and La Digue 3 000. Until quite recently there were only three cars on the island though locals estimate that number may recently have swelled to the double digits!

Transportation is largely by bicycle – both by locals and tourists – as well as tri-wheelers, golf buggies and the odd ox cart though, nowadays, the latter is largely for the tourists. We did, however, see a cow tethered to one of the bungalows on the island, along- side the family fishing boat.

La Digue’s greatest draw-card is its simplicity. Step off the jetty and it’s like stepping into another era. Another era surrounded by some of the most striking coastlines and beaches in the world. Once again the granite monoliths of this unique archipelago give it its distinctive character, rising out of the turquoise ocean, some shaped liked sea mammals, others like the intricately carved cathedrals of Europe.

We watch a group of old men play dominos under the shade of a palm tree, the ubiquitous bicycles tied to the trunk; two girls – one pedaling, the other sitting on the rack at the back – cycle by and giggle; a pair of teenagers sit on the step of a tiny azure-coloured kiosk, licking on ice cream lollies; a woman cycling by with the ingredients for the Sunday evening meal in a basket attached to the handlebars; three pre-teen neighbourhood “bad-boys” who slouch on the handlebars of their bikes and size up our boys.

The houses, in various states of upkeep and neglect, with neat little attics and long verandahs, sit snugly together along the narrow cobble-stone roads; on a picturesque hillside is the local cemetery, each grave lovingly maintained with fresh and artificial flowers; and visible, even from the ferry, is the proud local church, decorated, today, in blue ribbons and white roses for a wedding.

But as unspoilt as it is, there is evidence that La Digue is, in its own quiet way, also moving with the times: round the corner of the row of bungalows and you come across the newly-built fire station, a brand spanking new candy-red fire engine parked under its eaves. The local police force – though the word “force” is a grand name for the handful of police officers tasked with protecting the safest place on the planet – watches us from under the newly-painted police station, the “Exotic Exchange” Money Bureau tucked up close beside it.

After our tour of the island – our options were on foot or by bike and we chose foot – we cooled off at the coral beach of Grande Anse, regrettably our last dip in the sea.

While at the beach we met David who was busy preparing an octopus for curry tonight. David looks after the guest house of a friend, right on the beach, and cooks for and takes care of clients. This week he has a British couple staying and there’s octopus curry on the menu.

He was washing it in the sea then rubbing it on the granite rocks to soften it, he explained to us.

“Den I will boil it before cutting it up to make curry,” he smiles.

Another regular at the beach is Beau whose regular perch is a log at the entrance of Grande Anse, where he and a friend sit and call out to all the pretty girls. When he hears where we’re from, he breaks into a dazzling smile and starts to serenade us with Bob Marley’s “Zimbabwe”. We hear him all the way up the steep cobble-stone hill that leads to the jetty.

(Thanks to Christine, a student at the VJ International School who joined us for the day and quickly became a part of our group. She was also very co-operative about conducting interviews in French with the boys.)

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Day 5: Island life on Praslin

This evening we’re spending the night far from the relative bustle of the capital city, Victoria, tucked away down a lane of candy-coloured bungalows with white wrap-around verandas on Praslin Island. Our hosts are the Morel family who run C’est Mon Choix Hotel, across a tiny island road from the sea. The island was a one-hour journey on the famous Cat-Coco Ferry and although waters were choppy, we were treated to the incredible sight of flying fish as well as a vivid rainbow rising up over the shimmering sea.

When we reached the dock we were met by Martin Kennedy, headmaster of the Vijay International School and our sister school until Monday. An Englishman who came to Seychelles for a short term contract and decided to stay forever (these stories of people who give up their homes, their countries, their lives elsewhere and move to the Seychelles after falling head over heels in love with it, abound!), Mr Kennedy had arranged two buses to carry us and our extensive luggage to our hotel and then on to the Vallee de Mai Nature Reseve, otherwise known as the Garden of Eden. The reserve is custodian to the island’s iconic coco de mer as well as five other endemic species of palms. Micheal, an islander with inexhaustible knowledge about the flora of the Seychelles, guided us and a group of international students who joined us, through towering palm trees which made us all feel like characters out of “Honey I Shrunk the Kids”…and told us the complex and fascinating story of the coco de mer.

After a full hour’s worth of stretching their sleep-deprived brains to the limit with botanical terms and biological processes, the boys welcomed a visit to the beach…no ordinary beach, mind you, but Lazio, rated among the top three beaches in the world! Mr Kennedy and his students met us once again and treated us to a picnic on the beach: honey mustard chicken, hot dogs, burgers, mushroom risotto with parmesan and salad. The boys were shocked that Mr Kennedy himself had cooked most of it! The best part about the co-operation with the international school is that they are seriously talking about a return visit to Zimbabwe in April next year and we can’t wait.

We’re off now to a pizza and grill restaurant, La Breeze, a beach pebble’s throw away from the hotel, and even as we post this blog there’s the rhythmic beat of a Caribbean street band mingling with the sound of the sea. It’s easy to understand how easy it would be to leave the real world behind and move here!

Ben Evans: The water at Lazio was so lovely and refreshing and I saw a school of fish swim just near-by me. The students we met were quite friendly and I tried my best to speak french to them but luckily they spoke English as well.

Malcolm Sithole: We spent a great day at the beach and I really enjoyed it. I was in so long, though, that I started to shrivel!

Kishan Parekh: It was a beautiful beach we went to today and we even saw fish as we were swimming. We realised, after talking to the students from the international school, that it isn’t that Seychelles isn’t that different to Zimbabwe: it has its good and its bad points.

Ndaba Mazibuko: I met some students from the international school and it was great having conversations with them in french. And they were pretty 🙂

Mkhokheli Nkomo: The scenery on Praslin is breathtaking. It’s much more natural and unspoilt than Mahe and I really like that about it.

Saaven Ranchod: I had an interesting day at the Vallee de Mai. It was very informative and we got to learn a lot about the flora of Seychelles.

Chadd Zaloumis: I really enjoyed learning about the island, all the details and information about the plant life. I also enjoyed meeting the new people and I practiced my french with them…mixed in with some creole phrases.IMG_0839 IMG_1172 IMG_4486 IMG_4434 IMG_4386 IMG_4381 IMG_4352 IMG_4351 IMG_1096 IMG_1102 IMG_1115 IMG_1129 IMG_1168IMG_4486

Thamsanqa Moyo: I enjoyed my day on the beach, especially the picnic and spending time with the local students. I learnt some new French and Creole words from them.

Keletso Moyo: When we were coming to Praslin on the ferry the waves were very high and were making the boat rock. It made me feel a bit ill.



Day 4: Ki dil…what’s up






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“Ki  dil” or “whatsup” has become the boys’ Creole word of the day. But worry not, parents, they’re speaking French too!

This morning we awoke to another brilliant blue-skied day and, after breakfast, were collected by Jude and Cecile from the Seychelles Tourist Academy. Cecile and her team of hotel school students took turns guiding the boys in French and English (and a Creole word or two) through the South of the island. The boys have never looked more interested in culture and history…and we’re sure that had nothing to do with the fact that one of the guides, the lithe-limbed Gabrielle, was knock-out gorgeous! No coincidence, either, that the next phrase they asked for in Creole was “I love you” (mon kontan ou). Start preparing the lobola!

Anyway, luckily they learnt a thing or two…or so we hope. Cecile has promised (threatened) a quiz on the bus trip back so we’ll see.

Part of the tour was a visit to the incredible fish market, tucked away behind the winding alleyways and cobble stones of Victoria, where the boys interacted with the stall holders and took in the colours, smells and sensations that abounded.

They spoke to Christopher who has been selling fruit here all his life.

“I started coming there as a baby, with my parents who were selling at the market,” he said in his sing-song Creole-accented English. “And then when I was old enough, I started myself. My brothers and I all work here.”

He lifted a dreadlock and tucked it under his cap then started to slowly and meticulously sharpen his knife against a cement step. Once he was done, he started to open up the massive jack fruit in front of us, easing out one of the segments for us to taste. It was cool and sweet, a combination of pineapple and banana.

“But you have to eat bread fruit,” he called after us as we turned to leave. “Dey say if you eat bread fruit you will always come back to Seychelles.”

The bread fruit stall was, naturally, our next stop.

After the tour, which also included a visit to the Mission, a school built in the 1800s for the liberated slaves with a commanding view of the turquoise bay, we were hosted by the Academy to an incredible Creole spread.

They’re so impressed with us, they’re talking about setting up an exchange programme with local students. Watch this space for details!

Now it’s off for a tour of the University of Seychelles and more Creole lessons with Gabrielle! 😉