By contrast, the peacefulness of Bukoba by day is broken several times during the night by the local dogs. It seems that some disturbance sets one or two animals barking at something they cannot see, as the nights are very dark owing to the lack of streetlights and the waning moon. Others take up the alarm with howling, baying and yapping all over the town, which rapidly reaches a crescendo before ceasing almost instantly as if the conductor of a canine orchestra had signaled the end with his baton. Thankfully the audience doesn’t start applauding but we turn over and try to get back to sleep. I last encountered this phenomenon in Kathmandu where the ‘twilight bark’ was a regular interruption and reminded me of 101 Dalmations.
The auditory sequence in the morning is the call to prayer, the cathedral bells, the crowing of cockerels, the growing chirrup of birds and insect life, the occasional vehicle and as dawn breaks the cries of the cranes which sounds like the bleating of goat kids or the insistent crying of a baby. The cranes are most noisy at dawn and dusk although they call at times during the day as they squabble and chase overhead, sometimes drowning out our lectures. The final sound comes at 7 am when the Auric Cessna Caravan 208B takes off on its regular flight to Mwanza.
At 6.30 on Sunday the cathedral bells pealed for the first service of the day calling me from bed out into the fresh cool day to explore. There was virtually no traffic and relatively few people about, compared with the bustle of Dar es Salaam or the activity of rural areas in Cambodia. Many who were abroad walked purposefully and carried a bible. I followed one young man as far as the cathedral where I joined the congregation as he continued along the road. The Lutherans, legacy of the German colonial period, are the strongest in this northwestern corner although the Catholic Church dominates the country as a whole.
Wide steps climb to the entrance of Bukoba cathedral and once inside, the marble floor slopes steadily down to the chancel and altar allowing everyone to see and hear as well as possible. The service was well under way and the building packed with, I guess, a couple of thousand worshippers. I was not left standing at the back for long and the value of the long pews was evident as an usher encouraged people to move along to add yet another late comer on the end. The service was being conducted in Swahili although I fancy some Latin was spoken too. There was much singing but no dancing and perhaps half an hour later, after communion, I left through another crowd gathering outside for the second service.
We took lunch together around 4.30pm during the Manchester Derby in an open-air restaurant bar where the degree of lassitude of the waiters and kitchen staff contrasted markedly with the enthusiasm of the United supporters. Mustn’t grumble – we would have missed the game completely had we been served our meal on time. Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool and ManU are the principal Premier League teams supported here, and at least it helps the local faculty connect with our origin in the Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine. At halftime we left to prepare the rooms for the course starting on Monday – a pity because by all accounts the second half made this the most exciting game of the season so far.
Thankfully all our equipment had arrived safely after two days on the road. All that remained was to source from the local pharmacy a few missing items of kit such as intravenous fluids and giving sets, and disposables like flip chart pens.
We are all set for another busy 4 days…