About João Pinheiro

I was born in England but grew up in Portugal. I am now 60 years old. This blog will be dedicated to subjects that are connected with my personal life and experiences. I will try to keep party politics out of it and concentrate on other matters. Wish me luck!

What Dunia wants to say/Swahili text

Kwanza – natowa shukrani kwa mwaliko wenu

Pili – tunashukuru kwa mapokezi mazuri  (kuanzia mwanzo hadi mwisho)

Tatu – Tumeanza ziara yetu kutembelea umoja wa manispaliti na kupata maelezo ambayo tumeyapenda sana.

Nne – Tumetembelea kiwanda cha mikate na kiwanda cha mbao. Tumependa sana

Tano – Nimevutiwa na kazi za wajasiriamali jinsi wanavyoshirikiana katika kutafuta maisha. Wajasiriamali hawa ni watu wazima lakini bado wanajishughulisha na kazi za kuzalisha mali badala ya kukaa nyumbani

Tulitembelea Makumbusho ambako tulifahamishwa shughuli za vijana hasa baraza la vijana linavyoendeshwa. Pia tulikutana na rafiki wa Makunduchi na kuwaelezea Makunduchi tunayotaka iwe.

Tulitembea skuli na kuona ufundishwaji na mashirikiano baina ya wazee na skuli ambayo ni mazuri na hivyo kusaidia ufaulu wa wanafunzi.

Vile vile tulienda kwenye mchezo wa kuangusha chumba kwa kutumia mpira mzito “bowling” Mchezo huu tumeupenda sana na kuufurahia na natamani na sisi tufanye ili kiwe kivutio cha watu wazima.

Pia tunawashukuru wote waliotuandalia vyakula vya aina mbali mbali na kututembeza maeneo tofauti. Ahsanteni sana.

Mwisho tunatoa pongezi kwa uongozi wote wa Sundsvall . Tunaomba tuzidi kuwa na mashirikiano mema. Udumu umoja wetu. Tupendane, tushirikiane, tusaidiane. Ahsanteni. 

Bredsand and bowling

Dunia projecting the missile on her first Bowling match.

By this time Bredsand school just outside of the center of Sundsvall is becoming well known inside and even outside Sweden. Being a suburb with many students coming from abroad, specially from Somalia, where war situation has left many without or with very little education it was noticed that school results were below average.

The solution found was to engage a couple of assistants to the teachers with the main task of helping the children and at the same time keeping parents engaged and informed on what was going on as far as school progress was concerned. This way of building bridges of knowledge and contact with the homes was named “Bridge building” and it has proven very successful as rates of students managing their studies increased. It was the destination for the Makunduchi delegation’s visit on Thursday afternoon.

Thursday morning was filled with workshop on methods to prioritize development issues, choosing visionary subjects. This exercise was successfully performed and from 20 suggestions the group could finally agree on three priorities: Education at the lower levels, Entrepreneurship for younger people and Culture.

In the evening the whole group could finally engage on a spare time activity so we went up to the Södra Berget Hotel for a game of bowling, a new experience to all. Coming up on top was Mr. Mussa that besides being the agricultural technician for the Makunduchi ward showed some natural talent to role the bowling ball and successfully getting down more pins than anybody else in the evening.

Teacher Camilla and Abdi Moalin show how they work with Bridge Building at the Bredsand school.

Mr. Mussa Abdullah proved to be best Bowler.

Being in touch with the future

Being in touch with young people is being in touch with the future. The Makunduchi delegation was given the opportunity to get information from Sundsvall’s youth coordinator Pia Fjällmo on her work with young people when it comes to engaging in society planning.

In Sweden there is a survey done every three years aiming at knowing what young people are thinking and what they value most. This survey is called LUPP and it has been very important for legislators specially on the education, health, culture and leisure side of planning.

Engaging young people is not easy in any country but if the ambition is there and it is supported by documents such as the Children’s rights act, that Sundsvall municipality signed or the UN goals for global development it makes it into law to involve young people.

Mrs Zainab Fadhil and Mrs. Dunia Haji both members of the Makunduchi Ward and teachers themselves followed this information with great interest as they recognize the situation from home with too many youngsters dropping out of school and thrown into a situation of unemployment as a consequence.

During this visit from Makunduchi much emphasis is being put on visionary work for the development of the Makunduchi community so this morning we followed up with workshops aiming at lifting three issues to pursue. After a this exercise where the whole group was involved we could see that the priorities were defined on Education, Entrepreneurship and Culture. These three legs could well help Makunduchi to leap forward and be a reference for whole Zanzibar.

The group could define a strategy for implementation and dissemination of these goals and mainly the way the workshop progressed impressed me very much.

Mrs Zainab Fadhil during workshop activity.

Friends with Friends

Group photo with members of Friends of Makunduchi

Just about a year ago an association was built to keep a special connection between Sundsvall and Makunduchi.

The association has now 25 paying members and yesterday we were able to arrange a meeting at the Ibn Rushd premises on Centralgatan 14. Members Lejla Porovic and Raage Shirwa took upon themselves to organize the event and we could enjoy interesting conversation as everyone present had a connection with Makunduchi.

Besides a nice evening meal enjoyed by all we could hear from the Makunduchians themselves how they saw present and future development of their village aspiring at becoming a town. Besides the necessary points made on the importance of a well organized and functional education system, there was emphasis put on how to engage young people and channeling ideas into practice through entrepreneurship skills.

It was also brought to everyone’s attention the necessity to better assess the needs of Makunduchi and how this assessment could be achieved. Another important point had to do with the necessity to improve information about what is being done in Makunduchi.

It has been a profitable first year seen from the viewpoint of the association both in terms of its growth as the possibility to engage in small but important activities such as selling products here from Never Give Up shop.

That the association can do some good things is something that members a Johanna Nyström and Lejla Porovic feel strongly about.

Johanna Nyström and Lejla Porovic awaiting guests with welcome drink

Stöde and Makunduchi

Visiting Stöde

Surviving in and developing a village out in the countryside are two aspects joining the village of Makunduchi in Zanzibar and the village of Stöde in Sundsvall.

If the delegation now visiting Sundsvall ever came to Stöde it was all due to the initiative and effort of Kerstin Brandell Svensson and her husband Lennart. Apart from receiving the group in her home and cooking a delicious lunch she provided information and visits to local businesses, hopefully providing ideas that can be useful also in Makunduchi.

Stödebröd was established by the grand parents of the present owner and so it has stayed in the Edström family for three generations. The bakery makes thin bread and the product can be found all over Sweden and even in other European countries.

Besides her job as a music teacher Kerstin runs a Bed and breakfast-business Sweden4u and this enterprise rents out a cottage. Her husband Lennart cuts wood into properly sized logs for use in open fires for heating and coziness- Stöde Energi.

Last visit was at a n association of handicraft producers that together run a shop and expose their products for sale. This shop goes under the name of Stöde Form.

Mbanja Makame himself a businessman in Makunduchi commented that these experiences will be useful showing some new solutions and that it is possible to expand business even in a smaller village away from the main economic centers.

Useful morning

This morning at 9 o’clock as planned the Makunduchi delegation arrived at the SKL headquarters where Lena Langlet hosted with an interesting presentation on how the Swedish local authorities and regions are organized and the role of this association. I learned that for foreign ears SKL is SALAR and as you might know at next month’s congress there is a proposal to change the name to SKR.

This visit I consider was of great interest to the delegation and it particularly gave Mr. Mohamed Salum secretary of ZALGA a good insight and understanding on how the Swedish counterpart functions.

These are his comments on the visit.

1-I learned a lot on the means that enable SALAR to have smooth connection with municipalities, the idea that I will portray to ZALGA.

2- I learned from SALAR how it best can emphasize itself to the Central Government on what is not being done.

3- ZALGA can use experienced and sometimes retired staff from the LGA (Local Government Authority)

4- Many other things, but the need to learn further from SALAR is essential.

We are now sitting on the train and expect to arrive at about 6 pm. Everybody seems to be in good spirits and looking forward to this coming week’s program.

Meeting point

This picture shows a well known Swedish meeting point. You will find it at Central Station in Stockholm. It was also here I was supposed to meet up with Zanzibar delegation from the village of Makunduchi.

When I arrived from spending the night with my daughter in the outskirts of Stockholm our guests were already there. My worries about them not having printed out train tickets or that they might have muddled up time since we turned back our time yesterday were in unnecessary.

Tomorrow our program will start, now with everyone equipped with warmer clothing. In the morning we will visit SKL which is the federation of Swedish local authorities and regions. There we look forward to get some information on this organisation’s democracy responsibility towards local governance. Big thanks to Lena Langlet at SKL who could facilitate the visit. On the Zanzibar delegation we also have Mr. Mohamed Salum who is director for the Central District on Zanzibar and also secretary for the corresponding Zanzibar organization to SKL.

This is all for now and I will be reporting on this blog on development of proceedings during next week.

Updating on life

Abby has settled in

In November last year I predicted I would be writing more often on my blog. Well, it didn’t happen… Truth is I have had too much to do. Besides trying to learn some Swahili and Italian, sold our house, emptied it, sold and gave away stuff by the tons, bought a flat in Granloholm, Sundsvall, took a car trip to Lisbon with lots of stuff to the flat there, went on to empty it and order renovations that are now in (slow) progress. I have a new granddaughter since august. Anyway, I’m back now and hopefully not having to go through so many energy and time consuming activities in the future.

As far as learning Swahili I can say that I have completed the Duolingo course and that it gives me some ideas on how the language is built, I have some vocabulary, but without practice I am at a loss. I embraced the much easier Italian language and what prompted me to learn it was that my grand daughter Liv Gudasic is in Florence doing a course in Graphic Design. Hopefully we will find the opportunity to pay her a visit in the future.

Life in Granloholm is pleasant. In a smaller flat we have achieved becoming free of all debts and simplified our life as things are well organized here. We have 200 meters away, the possibility to leave all our waste sorted out and not having to take it by car to the recycling stations. We have a common laundry but can do most of our washing indoors.

The bus runs nearby at regular times without much delay. I travel on a monthly ticket that costs me only 100 Sek. Our cat Abby has settled nicely in.

This new situation means that we increase our possibilities to travel which is something we look forward doing.

Next coming week we will be receiving a delegation from Makunduchi and this will mean a trip to Stockholm to receive them. More about this in coming articles.

Sundsvall in winter by Liv Gudasic
How Liv sees Sundsvall in wintertime.

Bernard’s travels (3): Alexandria

Corniche Avenue

Some places are so beautiful they need no publicity: Venice, Siena, Amsterdam.

Some are so awful even tourist campaigns cannot win over visitors. Some years ago I visited the Faroe Islands. Soon after I returned, there was a publicity campaign, promoting them as ‘Europe’s newest tourist destination.’ I was amazed: I had found them dark, cold, wet, the very opposite of appealing, with a population practicing a narrow-minded Calvinism.

There are places whose appeal has fluctuated. One such is Tipasa, on the Algerian coast. It appealed to the Phoenicians, then the Romans, then after almost two millennia of obscurity, to the French. I visited it in 1963, shortly after the war of independence. It was exhausted, drawing breath for the next round of savagery that followed the brief peace. Now I hear it has the makings (again) of a Mediterranean resort, with a new museum to house the Roman artefacts.

Alexandria is like that. It was home to two of the seven wonders of the ancient world: its lighthouse and its library. The lighthouse went centuries ago, but in recent years the library has been re-born. It has also been home for limited but significant period, to two of English literature’s major figures: EM Forster and Lawrence Durrell.

Forster arrived in Alexandria during the First World War, at the age of 36, working for the Red Cross by attempting to put soldiers involved in the conflict in touch with their relatives. He stayed three years. He had a love affair with Mohammed el Adl, a tram conductor, and wrote a curious book, Alexandria: a History and Guide, not published until 1922, and not always particularly easy to find subsequently. However, its value is still recognised; Tauris Parke published it in paperback in 2014. It includes an invaluable introduction which Lawrence Durrell added in 1982.

Durrell himself arrived penniless in the city in 1941, having narrowly avoided capture by the German army in Greece. He became the British Government’s Information Officer and started work on what was to become his masterpiece, The Alexandria Quartet: Justine, Balthazar, Mountolive, Clea. Durrell’s Alexandria’s population included a heady mix of nationalities, ethnicities, sexual and religious identities, producing a colourful narrative. They are to some extent drawn from real life and the Alexandria of Durrell’s time must have been an exciting place to inhabit.

Durrell’s return to the city in 1977 was a dispiriting experience. Arabic was spoken universally: previously speaking four languages was not uncommon for businessmen. Posters and advertisements were similarly universally in Arabic. Cafes were dull and the harbour, ‘a mere cemetery.’ Once again Alexandria has sunk into oblivion.

My own experience some forty years after Durrell’s return confirmed these impressions. The magnificent corniche road, several miles long, around the sensational bay, is in effect skin deep: a few yards behind, the buildings universally shoddy, with featureless design. The city lacks sparkle. Historical monuments look scruffy. The new library’s splendid modern exterior is not matched, according to a recent informant, by its content. The English section is dominated by books you would find in an airport shop. All is not lost: for those who choose not to visit, Michael Haag has written a marvellous book, Alexandria: City of Memory (Yale University Press 2004) which combines history (including literature), the city’s present state, and many rare and brilliant illustrations. Save the airfare and pop into your local bookshop!

Becoming Portuguese

I have now taken decisive steps to recover my Portuguese nationality. At the registration office I was told I needed a criminal record for both the UK and Sweden and some type of proof that I could speak or understand the Portuguese language.

As to whether I could speak Portuguese or not it was easy enough for the the officer at the local agency to decide in that but we agreed that it would be necessary to contact my old school and acquire a certificate of education ( habititações). This is what I did this morning.

The school where I completed my studies in Portugal was the Liceu de Oeiras. It was great fun to go into the premises and see that many things still looked the same.

At the school office I showed my school book that people at the office had not seen for a long time. This “caderneta escolar” followed the student throughout secondary school. This photo shows my marks at the 7 th year of schooling or 3rd of secondary school.

In those days the school had about 2000 students with girls in the morning and boys in the afternoon. We went from Monday to Saturday, Sunday was free.

The entrance to the school still looks very much the same. Here we can see how it looks like today.

Entrance to old Liceu de Oeiras.

In about one week I will return to get my certificate of education. Another small step for man, and another small step for mankind.