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Zai Fights the Education Sacrifice

By Isabella and Group, assisted by Joseph Kavulu as Director of Writing

Nov – 2009

Zainabu Fights the Education Sacrifice


[The action takes place outside a rudimentary hut that served as a Home to an internally displaced (IDP) family, with parts of the thatch roof blown away and the door broken and askew. This is the aftermath of an attack by the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) rebels. Everything is in disorder. There are two survivors – a mother called Sarah, and her 8-year old daughter called Zainabu, but popularly known as Zai]

  • Sarah [alone, in tears – walking all over in distressed form, sometimes kneeling down to pray, etc] Not again, Not again – oh Lord: have you forgotten us? But we pray, and beg you to stop them. Lord, this is the third time this month that these rogues have attacked our village. Have you forgotten your own people? The first time they killed my husband and the last time the rogues kidnapped my son. May be he is also dead by now. Is there anybody out there who can help us? Somebody say something. Are we all going to die like chickens? Oh my God – where is my daughter Zai? [Calls out – Zai, Zai – very loudly & repeatedly until Zai appears, running frightened]
  • Zai – I am here Mama. I was hiding in the bush. I saw them, they were ten. But they did not see me. They abducted our neighbour’s son. They had long guns that could vomit bullets like this – tra, ta-ta, ta-ta, and you could see the empty shells falling down. They uprooted and took our food. They also took our three goats. What shall we do, Mama?
  • Sarah [embracing Zai] Do not cry over that, child. Thank God that we are still alive. Go and check what is left inside our home. [Zai enters the hut and comes out in seconds].
  • Zai – Mama, mama – there is nothing left. Even the water pot is broken, and the old kettle grandma gave us has been smashed.
  • Sarah – Zai go back inside, go back and check about our money. Is it still there? Let me go and check myself [Exits Sarah into the Hut]
  • Zai – I wonder what happened to our school. When the alarm was sounded, we were having a Social Studies lesson. We all ran, and left our books in the class. Let me go and find out what happened.
  • Sarah [Enters as Zai tries to exit]. The money is safe. Where are you going ? Why cant you wait? There are unexploded grades out there. [A struggle ensues between Mother & child, — Zai wins, and exits in a hurry]
  • Sarah – That is the trouble with young children. They do not know the risks, and fail to listen to people who have witnessed the force of destruction. It is true the rebels are our relatives. But everybody in the world is related to somebody. Why should the merchants of death be my relatives? My husband was beheaded by the rebels by the village square close to the big mango tree. We saw him die as we hid with the children in the bushes, and his last words were – The Lord brings peace. Peace be with you my brother. But where is the peace he died for? [Enter Zai]
  • Zai – Mama, Mama. All the classrooms have been burned, and all our books are in ashes. Our two teachers are missing, feared abducted and the Church Pastor is dead. What shall we do? The village water pump has been ripped off and taken
  • Sarah – First let us pray to the Lord for saving our lives; then let us pray for our daily bread; then let us go out there in the field and find what God has reserved for us. [Scene is faded out]


[Time dragged on. And eventually the rebel attacks fizzled out, and peace returned to the land albeit in a different form. Zai completed her local elementary school, and with the help of sponsors went on to College and eventually graduated as a Teacher

Scene-2 takes place in a classroom with only 3 pupils out of a possible 10. The teacher is a young woman we knew as child Zai

  • Zai [reading names from a Roll-Call register] – Barbara
  • Pupil-1 [Standing up & waving her hands] – she stayed at home to help baby-sit her youngest sister as her mother went trading. Madam today is market day
  • Zai – Next: Michael?
  • Pupil-2: [Standing up & stammering] – As I was running to school, Michael was walking to the village well with ten jerry cans. He indicated that he had to work for one hour before coming to school.
  • Zai – This is totally unacceptable. What is more important than your education – business? Education is the light at the end of the tunnel that we all need to brighten up our future. [Just then Michael walks in, obviously exhausted from early morning duties; And pupil-4 also buts in]
  • Zai – And you the latest arrival, what is your name and what is your story?
  • Pupil-4. Madam, Madam – my name is Roger. I have been selling small items but I have got the final missing payment for my tuition fees. [Roger jumps around with joy]. Quiet everybody, this is not a Gym
  • Roger [kneeling & appealing] – I had to help my dad open up his hardware store, and carry all the heavy merchandise to the veranda for better display. Then a tycoon appeared from nowhere and bought all the bags of cement, and my father paid me a commission. Today is my happiest day, if all customers were like that man we would all be in class.
  • Zai (a little louder & irritated). Silence everybody. Some of you like Michael and Roger need to be reminded of where we are coming from, and where we are going. Twelve years ago, my father was killed by the rebels. Everything we had was destroyed. Somehow God remembered us over the years – and with one miracle after another, here I am as your teacher. Because you have not suffered, you do not care about your future. Petty trade is not your future. You need a proper qualification that can stand the weathering of time. God helps those people who put in their best efforts. Be serious now, so that you will have no regrets in your old age. United we stand [and all the pupils answer – Divided we fall]
  • Zai – OK, now let us focus on our lesson in Social Studies. Today we shall revise what we have learned about different peoples of the world. Each one of you will come forward and in 20 seconds tell the class about peoples of the world. We shall start with you here – The Sahara people [Sarah pointed at Pupil-1. She stood up, and went to the front of the Class]
  • Pupil-1: Some of the people who live in the Sahara desert are called Tuaregs. They keep camels because these animals can last up to 2 weeks without water. They cover their faces with clothes for protection against desert storms. Their food is mainly milk and blood of animals. Once in the desert they know how to navigate to oases – these are small places in the desert where there is fresh underground water. [She imitates the dance of the desert people – by wriggling her hips while at the same time waving her hands in the air in a sweeping movement above her head from left to right, then below the knees and back to the left with a slight bending of the knees in courtesy, plus a change of direction of the dance by 90 degrees]
  • Zai – Time up; next? This time we need a boy
  • Pupil-2 — I am going to talk about the people of North America. They are very tall because they do not carry water and firewood on their heads like us, and they also eat big burgers and they travel in cars and do not get tired.
  • Pupil-3: [Interrupting, without notice or request] – The original people of North America are called Inuit of the First Nation. They build houses made of ice called igloos. Excuse me Madam Teacher, that pupil does not know his Social Studies.

[Just then the school bell rings, and that is the end of the lesson. Fade out]