Yollie was at a proper, grown-up cocktail party. True, she was being served non-alcoholic drinks based on ginger beer, fruit, and sparkling water but she enjoyed the fizz and the bubbles in her glass really did make it feel like a party. Her dress was on loan from the Chief Purser’s fancy dress wardrobe but it was a 1920s crystal-besewen sheath with a paired silk flimsy coat that precisely matched the period of the captain’s salon décor. She was wearing stockings too, not pantyhose, and they were pale green with a metallic honeycomb pattern woven into them. Yollie was rather pleased with both them and the garter belt that held them up, even if she did think the pointy-toed shoes and the beaded headband that completed the outfit were both a bit clumsy.
The other people at the party seemed to think she looked all right; the captain had nodded approvingly and she certainly felt more comfortable than some of the older ladies looked in their shoulderless, sleeveless or backless outfits. The foreign ladies in kimonos looked perfectly comfortable, as did wife of a married couple from the Kongo Empire in her long, golden yellow outfit with loose three-quarter sleeves and a matching head wrap. The captain had introduced Yollie to the Ihungas and Madam Ihunga completely approved of her journey to university.
The tall, dark, elegant lady said, “Sometimes, when you have to change your responsibilities it is best to physically move away from the old ones so people don’t expect you to do both things.”
“It’s a problem we tend to run into with boys from traditional families who expect them to tend the cattle full time, because that’s what young men their age do, and attend full time classes,” her husband smiled. “That’s one of the reasons we have our colleges located in our larger centres, so most students can’t live at home during their studies.”
“The other thing you have to remember about education,” added Madam Ihunga, “is that six generations ago, in most of the world, formal education was mainly for the children of the well off. I cannot speak for your country, but in ours it was a deliberate policy that moved us from that to every child having a few years in primary school to learn the rudiments of reading, writing and mathematics. Then to every child finishing primary school; followed by everyone getting some secondary schooling; and then everyone finishing secondary schooling. Now we are building on our tertiary education delivery.”
“It’s not,” said Mr Ihonga, “that we don’t need farmers. Everyone needs farmers, don’t let anyone tell you otherwise, but we need our farmers to be more productive so not everyone needs to be a farmer. That way we can free people up to be engineers, road builders, and all the new professions that changing technologies require. One of the things my department does is teach traditional farmers improved husbandry practices-.”
“Dear,” interrupted his wife, “you are beginning to talk work. You know very well that you’re supposed to be having a break.”
“I know,” he sighed. “I would still have liked to have done that study tour on European bovines, but I do realise that sightseeing for pleasure is a valid activity.”
“We could go over to the windows and look at the sunset,” offered Yollie. “I’ve not been up this high so before. Does it make a difference?”
“It will set later than it does at ground level,” replied Mr Ihunga as he turned to go towards the westward facing windows, “and tomorrow it will rise earlier too. I remember that on our wedding trip up the Nile,” and he continued to gently lecture on happily through a most glorious sunset.