In each location and after three days of intense teaching and learning, it is customary and expected that a presentation and closing ceremony will take place. Celebrating learning and achievement is highly valued here and for many any form of certification is likely to be a rare, if not a unique experience. Brevity is not an option. The TA (tribal authority) and district commissioners love to get in on the act and vie with each other to practise their speech making talents, outdoing each other in length and sincerity whilst testing their audience’s endurance and sleep resistance skills in the afternoon heat.
The chiefs, welcomed to the front with a slow melodic cupped handclap reserved to acknowledge their authority, keep their comments mercifully short, mindful that they have to live with their subjects for the foreseeable future.
Combine this with fifty or so certificate recipients who individually dance their way to the front to spontaneous song and cheering and you are in for treat whose length would make Danny Boyle’s Olympic efforts appear a little on the slack side.
Each certificate recipient triple shakes hands African style with the crowd of dignitaries and training facilitators, each bowing lower and lower to demonstrate respect and gratitude.
This, see-who-can-handshake-the-lowest contest, can have unforeseen consequences. Whilst trying to return a suckling child to the African cloth on her back, bowing and simultaneously receiving her certificate, a serious wardrobe malfunction occurred. Unabashed the recipient deftly popped the offending pair safely away, whilst I valiantly attempted to maintain eye contact.