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Article Title

Teaching in Uganda : what ever became of Rukia?

Abstract

About 40 years ago, the author was posted to a government school in the north of Uganda, run by an Irish priest belonging to an Italian missionary order. The school had two campuses: one for the girls and another for the boys. The author was to teach English and asked what the class had been reading: Thackeray's 'Vanity Fair'. The author recounts the girls' reaction to the famous sofa scene in Chapter 53, wondering if the hidden meanings in the story had been understood when they declined to answer his questions about what lay behind the words. He was then asked to also take over the library in the girls' school, which was managed by a head girl - Rukia, whom he remembers as one of the brightest in the class. After talking with Rukia - who surprised him with her response - the author realised that she and the other girls had indeed understood the hidden meanings in 'Vanity Fair'. He wonders what happened to Rukia in the wake of Africa's political purges; perhaps she became a teacher herself, a writer, a lawyer? Perhaps she became a mother and is now a grandmother, or maybe she died of AIDS. Perhaps she is still charming people with her bright eyes and mischievous smile. [Author abstract, ed]