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Monkeys, a snake and a princess

School days seem to fly by here, before I know it Monday ends and it seems to be Friday already. My days are busy at school, I feel like I am constantly running around! But I have never yet had a day when I have woken up and not wanted to be here, so that’s a good thing.

A few weeks ago we had a very exciting day at school; we were to have a royal visit! The Aga Khan’s daughter and son – Princess Zahra and Prince Hussain visited Mwanza and our school. The students were very excited! We had many prominent members of the Ismaili community at school all dressed in suits looking nervously around waiting for their arrival. The school was swept and tidied –the neatest I have seen for a long time. The only problem was that this happened to be the day that the monkeys appeared again!

Princess Zahra Aga Khan

Princess Zahra (from – although she didn’t have headphones on for our visit

Now, we have a troop (or whatever the collective word is for a group of monkeys) of black-faced vervet monkeys that live near the school, they seem to be around for a few weeks and then disappear for a bit. I was only saying a few days previous to this that we hadn’t seen them in a while, and sure enough this was the day they decided to pay us a visit! Now these monkeys are not really threatened by humans – if you approach them quickly they will run away, but generally they are not bothered by us, they are more preoccupied with going through the rubbish bins looking for food.  They were working particularly hard this day, and so the poor grounds men were desperately trying to clean the school, and every time they left one area the monkeys would appear and start filtering through the bins again!

Play fighting

Play fighting

Black Faced Vervet Monkey

Black Faced Vervet Monkey

Green Tree Snake

Green Tree Snake (library image,

Just before the Princess was due to arrive I walked across our quad area and a teacher was looking intently at one of the bushes that was very slowly moving. Yes of course it was a snake! Now after my previous experience with a snake outside our front door (the deadly black mamba) I was extremely wary and to be honest pretty scared! Thankfully it was not a deadly serpent, but a green tree snake, which are actually very beautiful and not harmful. Ironically it was I that had the job of standing near it as students changed classrooms. Snakes are generally a taboo subject with most Tanzanians, regardless of their species. The Askaris eventually arrived to get the snake, and I am afraid to say that they killed it, which I wasn’t too happy about… but I guess with important people visiting we didn’t really want to create a scene while they were there!

Anyway the visit went very well, my 6th form students were very excited to see them walk past, although we were a little disappointed that the princess was not wearing a crown or even just a tiara! All in all an exciting event – we don’t have many of these occasions at our school!