“I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to die.” I raised an eyebrow and quickened my step as i walked into the Library. I was drawn to the funny accent of the reader who was doing a near perfect imitation of Nelson Mandela. I had just returned from a Reading club at Thornicroft Primary school. I had left one of my colleagues, Dinika, with about thirty children.
I peeped into the Children’s reading room and could not suppress my gasp of surprise. The surprise was coming from two sources, first, the room was packed; the register later reviewed that there were 63 children all seated quietly drinking in every word from the reader who was reading from the Children’s version of Nelson Mandela’s Autobiography: Long Walk to Freedom. Secondly, I was surprised to see the reader. Dinika was so engrossed in his reading that he did not even notice me entering. Normally we just let the children read one or two books before going home, but today for some reason Dinika had decided to read to them. I let out a chuckle when he raised his voice to mimic an angry Nelson Mandela and the children looked at me, some with murder in their eyes, some joining me in surprise.
All the children in the room followed his every word and gesture including a few faces on my naughty list. Looking at their eager and concentrating faces, I felt something stir in me. The km walk from Mutare road in the rain that had baptised us had dulled my mood but the faces in the room reminded me why i had chosen this vocation and I smiled. Dealing with children is not an easy thing, especially when you are trying to get them to read. There are some who are just naughty and you feel like slapping them, but well that is a strict no no. To see them this quiet and concentrating was quite surprising and somewhat gratifying.
The only noise happened when Dinika closed the book halfway and announced that it would be finished on Monday as he was not going to be present on the next day, which was a Friday. “Uncle, let’s just finish the book.” They mourned, but Dinika being Dinika refused and placated them with going outside for a game. As the children left, I moved in to clear the ‘havoc’ that had been left in the room. There were no books on the floor as they had followed the instructions to put back the books on the shelf. The trouble was that, the books were all over the place. Children will always be children and I didn’t expect them to understand the Dewey Decimal Classification (DDC) system. To them, it was done as long as the books were on the shelves…….