Friday, October 26, 2012


up late. my sleep has been off lately. fasting/working/praying/sleeping/eating... all weave in and out of my day quite randomly recently. all is well, though. God Bless.

i've been giving that conversation about girls' education and women's roles the guys and i had the other night some thought. the disparity between my point of view and that of, at least, two of the other young men was alarming.

so the question came to mind: am i too progressive/liberal? or are they too conservative? dare i say, backward. reflecting on it now, i feel like it's the latter... stagnant. regressive.

4 young muslim men talking about marriage

back from another long night at Buba's. we talked, prayed and talked again. the talking was about education again. girls' education. young muslim women in wum. why aren't they being educated? are their parents' perceptions of "western" education (post-primary) justified?

it turned into a far-ranging conversation on women and marriage. here are some of the questions/topics that came up:
  • educated muslim women, are they too independent? is there such a thing? too opinionated? 
  • what are the roles/responsibilities/rights of muslim women to their men? what of muslim men?
  • how will we raise our daughters? do we want to raise our wives? [i.e. wives much younger than us]
  • what kind of wives do we want? "educated" or "illiterate?" in what sense of each term, western or islamic literacy/education?
all really very interesting points that the two Bubas, Yusufu and i were discussing. each with a point of view leaning in a particular direction. me with probably the most liberal/western notion of who i want to marry and how i'd like her to be. one of the Bubas also more liberal than the other two. yet none of us saying anthing out of the norm in terms of 4 young muslim men talking about marriage.

we disagreed on most points except educating our daughters. a must. but in what sense?... some western, some islamic, and some both styles of education. again, i know that distinction is problematic. all of us understood that. 

i must say that having the conversation with these 3 other young muslim men was enlightening. as to their views on such topics and, in light of their views, my own. am i that liberal? is it the westerner in me? where is this influence from? my mother? my sisters? being around american women, muslim or otherwise?

Saturday, December 10, 2011

a wide stance

some notes here. it's late. and my sleep has been off:
  • had to salvage a sinking lesson, Chemistry of Life, with Year 1 at GTTC. it's tough to teach that class. only 3 students in it! i just said forget it... let me lecture. almost lost my patience. kept cool, though. some parts were tough. i had to answer my own questions. but we moved on... gotta adapt. be flexible.
  • finally got my hands on that book in the Saudi fatwa series. the one with the section on the Tijani tariqa. those Wahhabis are merciless, i tell you! they seldom mention the tariqa by name without calling its people the staunchest of infidels, misguided polytheists (i.e. shirk). they say you cannot pray behind them, cannot marry from them, cannot pray on their departed, etc. while i can't deny that i still have some purist tendencies, leftover from ISA and especially on issues of shirk and the seal of prophecy, these fatwas are just too much. [see the following article, in French, on how this conflict plays out in Douala]. you can't just excommunicate people left and right. it takes much more حِلم [forbearance] than that... والله أعلم [and God knows best].
  • just back from taraweeh [ramadan evening prayers] at Buba's. they got into another heated conversation after prayer. it was about this same topic / same book above. but to go back to a point from last week. i really enjoy conversing with and hearing these shabab [young men] converse. reminds me of myself and the fellas [shabab] back home. academic debates with influences from Shakespeare to Plato to the Prophet. a foot in the West, and the other in the East. a wide stance, indeed. and, these days, as these worlds seem to drift apart, it feels like we're being forced to choose which side we're on. to lift one foot off one of these worlds or risk being torn in two. but is that right? is that the only way to conceive of this?
  • i had two points to make, based on these conversations with the shabab, in terms of education: 
    1. come to terms with our ambivalence between "Western secular" education and "Islamic religious" studies. i feel like most educated young mulsim men our age, at one time of their lives or another, feel torn between the two. wanting both, but too often seeing them in conflict, and feeling forced to compromise one for the other. and it makes no sense. i've had friends both here and in the US tell me they want to leave "western/secular" schooling and go off to study religion... be it nigeria or saudi arabia. again, it makes no sense. what is "secular" education, anyway? which brings me to my 2nd point... 
    2. come to terms with the fact that our faith does not ask us to choose between it and secular education. in fact, it questions the notion of "secular" knowledge and calls upon us to pursue knowledge in all fields. and so – for the sake of this "torn" generation, the generations to follow, and our faith itself – we need to find (or re-establish) a way to do both. to educate ourselves religiously, and for lack of a better word, "secularly." والله أعلم

Friday, December 9, 2011

let's hope we get a leader...

Note I posted on my door.

...long days. kata, cough and fasting are knocking me out in the evenings. haven't been writing much. at GPS [govt. primary school] today. observed some lessons. some students doing better. talked to the VP briefly.

we had a few teacher meetings at GPS. faculty teachers [the teaching staff at GTTC]. cooperating teachers [teaching staff at the practice schools]. student teachers [our GTTC students, the teachers in training]. basically, the VP laid down the law. told us/them how things should run. better late than never, even he admitted. so...

no more marking lesson notes at home. instead, at school on MWF. that should be fun! especially as faculty teachers barely show up. something like 4 out of 9 at the 3 schools today: nursery school, GPS I and II. and we have to mark lesson notes, observe and give feedback! right... we keep begging for more teachers. the admin says even the handful they sent out were like pulling teeth. 2-2000 cfa each.

i walked back towards town with the VP and Mr. Nsuh... talked about Auntie and what she's doing to our school. how it could/should be running. let's just hope that if/when she's replaced, we get a leader. in the true sense of the term. the VP shows occasional hints of it. professionally, at least. but what to say of him personally? really?...

Saturday, November 26, 2011

good notes, poor delivery

i'm at GBSS. 10:15am. moral instruction is on now. now-now.

but i'm just from [teaching practice at] the primary school, where things are not moving well. not enough of us TTC teachers. i spend all my time marking lesson notes and little to no time observing or giving feedback. and that's what our students need most!

they just can't seem to deliver their lessons well. the lesson notes are well written. but poor, stiff, passive, forced, uninteresting, un-interactive lessons. anyway, it's only week 1 of teaching practice. by week 2 and then the 2nd and 3rd terms they'll be better, insha'Allah.

i'll continue after this class. this afternoon. still gotta go up to GTTC. Allah ya'een.

Sunday, November 20, 2011

water cycle

Water Cycle (Hydrologic Cycle)
  • What are the 3 phases (states of matter) of "H20"?
    • Liquid = Water
    • Solid = Ice
    • Gas = Vapor

  • How does H20 changes from one to the other?
    • Freezing
    • Evaporation
    • Condensation
    • Melting
"The water cycle involves the alternating of H20 between these 3 states through the processes of evaporation, condensation and melting as H20 passes between oceans, air and land."

Random ordered outline activity! First student do to it right wins a prize!

Group Work (~4 groups)
-each group has H20 cycle diagram
-answer the 3Qs, in their books and present them:
  1. Outline/diagram the H20 cycle
  2. Identify the biotic and abiotic factors involved
  3. How do humans impact this cycle? At which steps? In which ways?

H.W. How might a molecule of H20 that was once in the ocean be part of the meat you eat?


this lesson above was OK. but most students are still confused about #3, human impact on the water cycle. specifically, why/how things like deforestation and pollution affect the cycle. we'll go over that by next week, insha'Allah.

just came back from a moonlight stroll with Maggie. moon almost full. 14th of Ramadan. eve of the 15th. first "dry" [non-rainy] moon in months. since Mali even. speaking of since Mali... PCMO [PC medical officer] called earlier. i tested schisto positive. looks like that trip to Yaounde will be a must. treatment should be simple, insha'Allah.

in other news... teaching practice is on. full days. especially with Ramadan. GPS Group II. GTTC. back and forth. watching students struggle. lesson upon lesson. over-talking. they're not listening. they're not getting it. our teachers not showing up. am i the only one marking lesson notes? 4-6pm daily. little time to rest. no time to cook.

why don't we have more teachers assigned to the school? they're idle. why can't things be more organized? why can't teachers be responsible and professional... let alone organized, effective, productive leaders. is there never a plan of action? a pre-meeting. are we all on the same page? never.

am i going to tell Auntie what her problem is? what our administration's problems are? and the school's? is that my problem? will they listen? do they care? let me stop.

i need to write about some conversations i've had with the shabab [guys; i'm referring to my young muslim male friends in wum]. Bubas and Yusufu. on topics like...
  • ideas of Islamic vs. "secular" education
  • ours being a tradition of knowledge
that's it really.

Saturday, November 19, 2011

kata and cough

kata [mucus; stuffy nose & throat] and cough knocked me out last night. also a lot of food in my belly. i ate hummus and pizza at Maggie's. i'm sure allergies didn't help my kata and cough. that cat disturbs me! could not even breath right when i got home.

the crew came in from their nkambe-nyos-wum trek on wednesday. tired and a little less than positive about their journey/adventure. yet in good spirits. it rained on them the first 2 days/nights. little sleep. lack of food. injuries. gendarmes issues at Lake Nyos. regardless, they're alive to tell about it.

i did Moral Instruction at GBSS on "ramadan and fasting" a couple days ago. went OK, i think. it's too general of a topic. i did "patience" at GHS yesterday. went better. it went well, actually. they're also more used to me.

the Bubas, Yusufu and i are organizing a Qur'an competition, on juzu' 3amma [the last 30th of the Qu'ran]. 4 categories. by the end of Ramadan, insha'Allah. with Qur'ans as prizes. of various sizes. my prediction: that little girl in GHS will win a prize (if not 1st prize) in category 1.

one note... as i was introducing Imam 'Ali's khutba on patience, i asked about the khulafa'/Caliphs. who were they? who led muslims after the Prophet? people were unsure/didn't follow/didn't know... who came after the Prophet in leading the muslims?

finally, one young man raised his hand and said "Shiekh Ahmed Tijani." OH MY LORD! i just moved on with a simple "no, that's not it brother." OH MY LORD! talk about brainwashing–no, wait, that's not fair. just lack of knowledge. unaware. unread. under-educated.

the blame begins with the parents, i think. it's unfortunate. Yusufu was saying the other day after we prayed taraweeh [ramadan evening prayers] at Buba's that he wouldn't know a thing abuot prayer if it hadn't been on his own initiative. that no one at home told him to pray or read.

i asked about muslim girls in school. there are so few of them. 3 in GBSS. 2 in GHS. sad... again, gotta go back to the parents. but can we simply blame them? do they, on their part, know any better? did their parents know any better?

subhan-Allah, how much parents are responsible for... for generations. not just our children, but of entire peoples. alhamdulillah for mine... God bless the. they've done their part. Lord guide and protect us... help us do our part.