Imbafi Secondary School

Workshop Day 1 - 11.2

The sun rises at 6 - at least the sky brightens quite suddenly and by 7 it has risen above the hills around the campsite. The gently sloping hill with the neat group of buildings Seppo has constructed with local people provides a perfect place for visitors to the Kondoa Rock Art sites. There main building is an open thatched roofed construction with a small kitchen and solar power panels providing electricity to a battery that should charge enough to feed a power point where we can charge computers, phones and batteries for my camera. It seems to overload more than it should so I take care to use my laptop only for the essential downloading of flash cards and transfers of back up files.

The campsite
Down the hill to the village of Imbafi we turn up the long road that leads to a group of single story buildings grouped in a U formation, outcrops of rock poking out from the dense green on the hills just behind. Saturday is a voluntary day of school and we have no idea how many students are going to take part.

Sign to the Imbafi Secondary School
Inside the classroom we meet two teachers and discuss the project in more detail. The morning is heating up and the cool classroom is a relief from the hot sun outside.

Seppo and Clive discuss the project with teachers

The Class timetable - Saturday is a voluntary day for students


 Seppo presents the idea to them - the Rock Art of the future. Using images based on the things that they encounter in their lives, they will make drawings first on paper and then directly to the rock. 

Seppo shows examples of the Rock Art that lies deep in the hills around the school

On the floor we have spread copies of the ancient drawings in the area and Seppo tells something of their meanings. 

The students listen to the plan for the day before heading outside
Outside the children hunt for stones they can use for their images. Gathered under the shade of the trees they sit and draw on the white paper with pencils in silence.

Under the shade of the trees, students draw their ideas on paper
There is no drawing in the school curriculum, just academic subjects and I can see that many of them are struggling with representing the images that are in their heads. CM has joined us to help out and sits making brushes from the materials we found in a hardware store the day before. 

Mobile phone drawing
Everyday things like the cup with a handle this girl has drawn are the things we take for granted

One of the teachers turns up with some feathers - a much better idea as the line made from a feather is cleaner. 

Hand made brush and feathers
Soon the images appear - mobile telephones, a shirt, fish, a clock and a house and many more. The pencil drawings are stiff and tight but once they start working with the brushes the line develops a rich quality with the deep red paint.

We head back into the classroom with the painting of the stones compete and lay them on the floor to be photographed. The Epson 3800 is plugged in and in a few minutes we are printing. This is a first experience for many if not all of these boys and girls. To see something they have created photographed and then printed on the hand made papers has animated them and the atmosphere is great.
Printing on the Epson 3800 using battery power
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After the printing we arrange a group shot in the shade of a tree in the yard. The feeling is great but the encounter is all too brief. We should have more time. One of the young boys had started to speak to me about photography, about printing. Maybe it was just a spark of inspiration and maybe this short few hours will give him something more than just a print on paper smiling out of this group photo in this remote region.

Imbafi School Rock Art Project group with their first prints
A few days later I showed an elderly man in another village the work the children had done. 'Who taught them to draw like that?' he asked. 'No one', I replied. I talked with Seppo later about this. If they don't get any drawing classes or do any creative work outside of their normal school curriculum, then some of them probably do some kind of drawing at home.

As we left the school around 3 pm, the Land Rover filled up with students wanting a lift home. In their hands they had carefully wrapped prints - folded sheets of white paper protecting the colour group photograph of their creative work. For some it is a walk from 5-10 kilometers.