Friday, June 22, 2007
Meanwhile, I am preparing to leave Makeni in a couple of days. Emotions are very mixed. There is a presentation that I have to make to the many people who have supported me here and the City Council is hosting the event. Ceremony is an important cultural cornerstone and there are many speeches on the agenda. The Paramount Chief will opening the proceedings and I have a new set of African clothes for the event – made by Ibrahim.
Friday, June 15, 2007
Living under a corrugated tin roof the noise is unbelievable and apparently July and August get worse. In Freetown it is dreadful getting around in the muddy streets and even the old rusty cabs are not much shelter. Most of the cabs are so run down that the windows are permanently open.
In Makeni the rain means a huge profusion of farming vegetables. The pcture shows the leaf of a gourd called a “Mattan” which is great with Jollof Rice.
Mosquitoes enjoy all the puddles and breed and I suffered a bout of Malaria – not a pretty picture. Altogether I am not unhappy about leaving in a couple of weeks. The last picture is a local "cotton tree" a very large and striking figure on the landscape.
Thursday, June 07, 2007
Some might know that Tony Blair came to visit
I and the other 5 or 6 Saloneans attending the “meeting” were astonished at the condescending rudeness of this rather imperious lady Brittania and her no negotiation delivery. “Any questions” at the end was treated as a mere perfunctory but I did manage to pipe up as politely as I could that a library that big required a Freetown population rather than the selected location in a town called Waterloo some 30 very long and congested kms from Freetown. I was immediately shot down and I cant now recall the answer but I felt the sting. Another brave soul from the library gingerly commented that he didn’t have the trained librarians to run such a large library. The answer was “ well you’ll just have to train them, after all you have got a couple of years.”. The unsaid but clear statement was “how ungrateful you seem to be”
The “meeting” ended and in the small talk afterwards “she” complained to me about the lack of water for a shower that morning and I tried to explain that this was normal. Moreover I tried tacking upwind by emphasising that this was an example of the very low level of standards in the country to service a huge building. Clearly not amused Ms Clair –Thomas moved to an easier ear to bend. I was so shocked that I forgot to take a picture. Oh well.
Unfortunately I believe that this way of providing “aid” to poor countries is all too common. There is a severe need, much poverty and hunger with the attendant poor education, healthcare, sanitation and nutrition etc etc. However the delivery seems to be insensitive to the needs of people here and seems more about an easy way of salving the consciences of those in the west. This very broad statement might not be true but over the past 8 months I havnt seen much to counter it. In fact it is a common refrain, even from those belonging to respected NGOs. Much of the aid may in fact be detrimental and just serves to diminish the Saloneans self image and self confidence that they can do it themselves. Teach how to fish seems to be a simple rule …..?