Khartoum and Addis Ababa: KICS and ICS

I’ve just come back from two weeks working in international schools – one in Khartoum (Khartoum International Community School) and one in Addis Ababa (International Community School Addis). I can’t begin to describe the welcome and warmth with which I was received. I had the most wonderful time, woking with children, teachers and librarians, and being shown  a little of two amazing african nations.

I’ll write properly about it soon but in the meantime here are some pictures from Khartoum and a poem I wrote in response to the many things I saw and felt, and the responses of pupils at KICS, to the city and to the experience of coming to a new place, a new language and a new culture…at first unfamiliar and then, beloved. From a distance the impression of  Sudan can be negative, but up close it is a wonderful, an extraordinary country, with the friendliest, kindest people.

More about the delights of Addis when I’ve downloaded my pictures!


From the air Sudan shines, but on the ground you see the dust….

At first the new apartment stank of loneliness.

We slept under one blanket,

We were not ourselves –

I hit my brother with a golf club,

Not quite by accident.


Outside the streets made no sense.

There was rubbish in the treetops,

And the heat felt like a punishment,

A brutal weight of light.

I stumbled, blinded in new language

With nothing on my tongue but dust.


And then, like camels walking from a mirage:

Words and meaning,

‘Friend’ and ‘welcome’ and ‘hello’

From the haboob of the strange and new,

A pattern grew:

Everyday the same man and his donkey,

His feet kick, kick, kicking;

Everyday the dawn light slanting

To make the colours sing;

Everyday the mid-day spiral kites,

The chairs waiting on the riverbank for dusk;

Everyday, the calls to prayer

Naming, then, now and tomorrow.


Everyday, everyday, everyday

Until Khartoum was beating in my heart.


From the air you smell the smoke of burning tyres;

You hear the gunshots;

But on the ground, green shoots through the desert’s crust,

The people smile, ‘Peace be upon you.’


with reception KICSShark teethShark lessons receptionLovely KICS librariansEvening Talk to ParentsWith taseer in Sudanese national dress

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