Friday, 17 January 2014


I never imagined meeting someone from Eton College.  
It is a place you only hear on the news and movies. They include famous writer, Ian Fleming– creator of James Bond- who died aged 57 in 1964. James Bond is as part of British mist, fog, horses and rain, as is the Queen, Beatles, Spice Girls, Fish and Chips and of course Eton.  The said establishment has on its hit list, 19 Prime Ministers – past and present.

Famous  journalist and author George Orwell  who wrote such masterpieces as Animal Farm and 1984, studied at Eton. Pic from Telegraph Site...

These are the chosen few, upper class, royalty. Cost to enter Eton is in the region of £30,000 per year; more than three times the cost of an average University annual fee, which majority students find hard to foot; and if you heard of the 2010 student- fees riots, you can imagine the colour of money, smell of cash.  Currently many foreign students are looking elsewhere in Asia and Latin America or just local universities to study.
Yup. Eton is something else.
 A boys’ only boarding school; it was founded by King Henry V1 in 1440- a very long time ago, indeed. The school has been referred to as the chief nurse of England’s statesmen, and a saying goes: “the British Empire was built on the playing fields of Eton.”

Statistically, majority Eton students make it to University, a third of those to Oxford and Cambridge. We can cheerfully brag that first President Nyerere studied at Makerere. Kenya’s brilliant writer Ngugi Wa Thiong’o went to Makerere. Those were the days when Uganda’s Makerere University was considered the cream of East African academics.

 So when we speak of Eton (albeit in different circumstances, Makerere was not for the wealthy), you get the picture. Eton makes leaders and legends.
So how do you meet an Etonian?
Or to re phrase the question. Why meet an Etonian?
Mr Dilip Navapurkar, Director of Safari Hub which sends tourists to Tanzania, offered us the clues, last week. Both his two sons, he says want to become professional tennis players. This is not impossibility at Eton.  On January 1449, King Henry V1 wrote a poetic, colourful Eton motto: “… we may impart something of royal nobility, which may declare the work truly royal and illustrious.”
King Henry V1

Teaching children that they may impart something “noble and illustrious” gives them confidence and meaning of life. 19 Prime Ministers from one institution is historical. Eton College is the best school in the world; this statement keeps popping across the internet.
 Safari Hub in collaboration with Eton and the support of the Tanzanian High Commission in London set up a month long pilot project in 6 schools in Arusha and Moshi. The project will be made possible through ACE Africa and the Future Stars Academy to jump start football leagues.
Mr Navapurkar told the press reception at the London High Commission: “We all hope to see Tanzania’s National team doing better in the Africa Cup of Nations and the world Cup and also to emulate the success in other African countries -Nigeria, Ghana, South Africa, Ivory Coast, etc-.”
Mr Dilip Navapurkar of Safari Hub... speaking at the Tanzanian High Commission last Friday. Pic by Urban Pulse Creative Media

Some might be suppressing yawns as soon as the word “football” - is uttered. Sports are an essence of a nation’s culture and image. Tanzania is beautiful and peaceful, yet what Tanzania lacks is marketing, Mr Navapurkar insisted.
Compare and think of seasoned winners, e.g. Brazil and Spain.
Brazil is attractive to visitors because they want to see not only the famous Maracana stadium but other hallmarks. This is hope and opportunity : jobs in the tourist industry, shopkeepers and entertainers making a living;  chances for small and large businesses.
Spain has recently blossomed into a football powerhouse, thanks to investment in football academies. According to Wikipedia, since 2002, La Masia has been praised as the best football academy in the world. It is here where the magical Lionel Messi and other excellent Spanish players attended.  Now. Is it impossible to find a Tanzanian Lionel Messi or 2013 Balloon D’Or winner, Cristiano Ronaldo? Tanzania has an ability to produce such star players too. The only problem is lack of facilities and training.
Glen Pierce, Head of Sports at Eton College, who will accompany the three students said they were  selected because of their skill and experience, having played for Eton’s first eleven and excelled in other sports. Only those attending school will be trained in Arusha and Moshi. Ali Lyon (19), Nicholas Zafiriou (18) and Tom Pearson (18) are very enthusiastic and looking forward to Tanzania.
Guests pose for a group picture with Ambassador Peter Kallaghe (fourth from left).
Amos Msanjila (Minister Counselor), Tom Pearson, Dilip Navapurkar, Ali Lyon, Nicholas Zafiriou, Glen Pierce and Trade Centre UK Director, Mr Yusuf Kashangwa. Pic by Urban Pulse Creative Media...

The London ceremony which was hosted by High Commissioner Hon Peter Kallaghe and Minister Counselor, Amos Msanjila, was a “send off” for the youths who will apart from teaching, travel across the country,  wildlife, Zanzibar and climb Mount Meru.
Long term aims include establishing links between Tanzanian students and Eton, and hopefully one day seeing “Eton College coming to Tanzania on a football tour and a team from Tanzania going to Eton.”

Published in  Citizen Tanzania- Friday 17th January, 2014...

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