|Fireworks Ban in Nairobi|
It was an odd sort of November 5th and Diwali in Nairobi this year, with all fireworks banned due to possible confusion over security threats and grenade attacks that have been threatened by Al Shabaab since Kenya began its 'incursion' into Somalia to flush the terrorists out.
A strange atmosphere pervades. There was a real worry that the Safari Sevens that took place in Nyayo Stadium last weekend might be a target for attack but fortunately all went smoothly. Somebody summed it up for me yesterday,
"Yes, of course." I said, trying to show some famously British bravado in the face of adversity. "why wouldn't I be?"
"Well, it's okay until it happens" he said, "...if you know what I mean."
1. On the upside, cancelling fireworks meant that nobody got killed or maimed at the Karen Club fireworks display, which usually takes lack of health and safety measures to a new level - with small boys throwing firecrackers and lighting their own fireworks willy nilly; toddlers and teenagers alike all disappearing into the poorly lit wooded area, mud, chaos, parents drinking heavily and failing to keep an eye.
2. Our (better policed) school fireworks display was reduced to a 'family fun day' from 1pm-4pm, in aid of charity (Kigulu school in Kibera) and despite fears that the whole thing would be a damp squib without the firework crescendo - it was in fact a great success. The school does normally lay on a 'family fun for charity' organised by the parents association, from 4 until 7pm when the fireworks take place, but this year the whole thing was moved forward in the day so that it included lunch and we were all safely long gone before dark.
Every year I promise myself that I will join the school parent's association (especially since I now have 3 children at the same school) and every year I somehow manage to swerve it. This time I failed to turn up to the first meeting because I didn't read the newsletter, so then managed never to enter the loop of organising anything. I don't like meetings or commitment but have to admit that I do have a bit of a weakness for volunteering on the day. You are generally supposed to just do an hour of volunteering but I'm a bad example. I get very possessive over my 'pitch' and often find it hard to hand over, then walk away saying in loud, martyred tones; "do you know, I was stuck there for two and a half hours!" - but obviously it was only because I wanted to be..and just want everyone to know how marvelous I am.
My all time favourite is the lucky dip where I'll selflessly give hours of my time to collect money and watch little faces light up at each gift and tell the kids to put their rubbish in the bin. There's always a rumour amongst the children that inside the lucky dip is at least one mobile phone (I think there was one once, in the past) - so it's always by far and away the most popular stand.
|lemon tart (not mine!)|
My fortunes changed when I was distracted by noticing the Head of the PA negotiating with the men who had been hired to turn up with the giant inflatable hamster balls that children could get inside and roll around, also known as 'Zorbs'. She was trying to hand over tickets and sort out a system but it looked like chaos, she was already mobbed by children who angling for the first go while the balls were being inflated.
|Zorb in motion|
Seeing an opening, I swooped.
"Need any help?" I asked innocently.
The head of the PA was efficient;
"Um, why don't you go and stand over there and get all the children to follow you" she said, "then get them to queue up and group into bunches of five. We want the balls to start over there so that they can roll down the hill."
"Have you got any kind of system going here?" One dad asked pointedly.
Why anyone would want to climb inside and inflatable ball in the midday sun, then roll down with four friends tumbling on top of them was beyond me, but boy - they kept coming. It soon became clear that we were NOT going to be using the harnesses that were inside the balls. I had to group the children roughly by age mates to prevent crushing, fortunately to some extent they did this themselves. Some protective parents looked concerned. One dad (but only one) pulled out his crying child from the ball and told me that he "didn't think it was really suitable for the younger ones".
"Look out Below!" as the two children filled balls went hurtling down the hill ready to knock down innocent passers-by. Then,
"Push harder, put your back into it!" when they had to roll it back up again.
I chatted to other kids in the queue while they patiently waited, sold more tickets, counselled smaller ones who had bought tickets but suddenly (and understandably) had second thoughts about getting in, put an emergency call into the chief organiser when I ran low on tickets or high on cash. I was in heaven.
As usual, when a reliever turned up, I wouldn't go - when I did finally hand over, I kept popping back to see if she was okay, only to find that she had implemented a much better queueing and ticketing system than me..I guess I should have simply been grateful that nobody suffered any broken bones.
As I put my feet up in the evening and bit into some lemon tart, I had the warm and noticeably smug feeling wash over me of a good job well done. Roll on next year...ha ha..