So now we’re waiting until quarter past 9 to see if we’ll actually be having the workshop. The opposition called a general stay-at-home strike for this whole week so public transportation is difficult (the state-run buses are running I heard, but the taxis aren’t and youth are stoning privte cars on the road in town). So far only three of our out-of-town participants came out of about 10 or 11, and we have two more from Addis. The “disturbances,” as everyone calls them, kept people away since they weren’t sure what kind of transport they would find once they got to Addis, and it may take the in-town participants some time to get in. Apparently it’s fairly quiet in town since it’s a stay-at-home strike. . .
Afternoon now. We ended up with about 10 people, which wasn’t bad and proceeded as planned with the workshop. We’ve ended a bit early since the staff bus back to Addis went at 4:30 and took half our participants with it. Two of the Addis participants are staying here so that they don’t have to worry about getting back and forth. Loza arranged it all; she’s been wonderful. We’ll start again tomorrow and combine the modules that Vimbai and I were going to do this afternoon. Gracian, Vimbai and Steve have been great with rolling with the punches and adjusting on the fly. I’m seeing how important it is to have great people who are used to the contexts.
The first day went well and we actually got to do more hands-on since it was a smaller group. It would still be nice to find a way to consolidate a bit more in the intro to AGORA and HINARI and electronic resources part, but Gracian says the trick is to do it without overwhelming the users. From a training point of view collapsing a lot of content seems fine but once you see users struggling with browser functions, one thing at a time becomes paramount.
Since we’ve got more of the afternoon, I’m going to try and post the pictures I took with the cheap keychain digital camera I bought ($20!). As you can guess from the price, the quality is not stellar. But I may be able to show you some of the flowers and trees I’ve been seeing on campus, and give you a bit of an idea about the beauty of the ILRI campus. As we said this weekend, it’s not a bad “prison”:) A big contrast to the actual ones here; I heard this mornning that the government has jailed about 10-11,000 young people (about 4,000 of those young women) in a prison way outside Addis in a malarial region. . .Hearing stuff like this just makes reading the government statements more ironic–see http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/africa/4413694.stm. As someone said, it’s like when a husband murders his wife. afterwards, the news asks him how he feels and of course, he says I regret it deeply.
Looking at this in comparison to the French riots (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/europe/4413250.stm), the results seem the same but the causes different. I know there was a lot of tension in France ten years ago between those from the former French colonial territories (“departments outre-mer” I think they were called–mostly North African countries like Algeria, Morocco, tunisia; some sub-Saharan African countries like the Ivory Coast, Senegal, etc., and the Caribbean like Maritinque and Guadeloupe) and the rest of the French population. I know that before I opened my mouth, if it wasn’t immediately obvious I was American, or if I was with friends from these places, I’d get flak on rare occasions. And the situation in the projects in the outer parts of cities in Paris was similar to a lot of inner cities in the US, so it’s not surprising to hear that long-held tensions have spilled over. It’s just a shame that it has come to this.
Here in Ethiopia the causes are more obviously political–the government is trying to supress the opposition and the opposition isn’t having it anymore–but in some ways it seems a similar situation of disenfranchisement. Any time to you supress people to the point where they feel their only recourse is violent protest, you have a problem.
It’s hard to equate the two situations in other ways. Ethiopia is political (with ethnic overtones). France is political in different way–a leftover colonial situation it seems (with economic and social as well as racial and religious overtones); it reminds me more of the US.
But I am not known for detailed political analysis:) and this probably not why you’re reading this blog, so pictures . . .