Stained earth

Extreme situations call for extreme measures... or extremely big candles

“Some times I get lost in my trips to escapism, vision of a world free from creed war and racism.” – Sweatshop Union

My sense of linear creativity has been expended of late and become a sure source of boredom, so I present to you a synthesized piece of stream of consciousness non-linear creativity.

What is it like living in Africa? Well, it’s a lot of things. Among those however, this excerpt from the BBC Focus on Africa issue does an excellent job of explaining one aspect.

“In globalized Africa we have mobile phones but no electricity or clean water. We have computers but these are locked away in cities and internet cafes. We are part of a global economy but have withering local economies. We have the vote but we do not have the right politicians. Indeed more wealth is being generated but dire poverty is increasing. Quality of life is on the rise, but life expectancy is falling. Weigh Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni against the former dicator, Idi AMin, or Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenaawi against his predecessor Mengistu Haile Mariam and there is progress – somewhat. Things are getting better and at the same time they are getting worse.”

This describes precisely what it feels like; living in a developing society that is being built from the top down. Infrastructure in most developed countries has from the beginning continually evolved and advanced as technological advances have been made. In Africa however in many nations the infrastructure has not evolved with those technological advances, so a huge gap exists. Attempting to become developed they target the newest technology for construction, however the more basic necessities have not been built yet, creating a backwards acquisition of infrastructure. An example of this would be that they are currently laying thousands of km’s of fiber optic cable for high speed internet all over the city, however they cannot even keep the electricity on for a full day.

Electricity and water have been real problems the last few weeks, I think the power has gone out at least once every single day for the past 2 weeks. They are supposed to be rationing one day on one day off, however that isn’t really a reality. Although it is usually off when they say it will be, it is more than often not on when it should be. Water has also been off several times for 3 days at a time, there is water at school maybe 40% of the time. The frustrating part is that several new generators just went online and they are supplying electricity to other countries, before their own country has been fixed.

My room was transformed into a recording studio to dub the Amharic childrens show Tshehai Loves Learning (created by local Baha'is, Gails brother and his wife) in Sudanese Arabic

Despite all this I think that I have it pretty good however in comparison to how much worse it could be. That is not to say that running water, electricity and high speed internet are not going to seem like the greatest luxuries of my life when I get home.

I think that my approaching departure date is somewhat soothing, creating in me a greater sense of contentment.

The whole living here has really begun to change my outlook on the world. Reading things like BBC Focus on Africa I feel like I can relate to it, I understand. I had never read it before I got here, but I think I would have had an entirely different perspective reading it 6 months ago. My outlook on international aid has begun to change, and become a little tainted by what seems like reality. I can’t help visualize what Africa might have been like if foreigners had never lent a so-called helping hand and stayed clear of the continent.

I think that the continent in general would probably be much less developed, but I think the standard of living relative to Africa would me much higher, but by different standards than the developed world. Maybe the earth wouldn’t be stained red with the blood of genocide and war. Maybe it would.

Sometimes I feel like I’m not wanted here, like people don’t like foreigners trying to help them. I remember a driver on my trip telling me about Ethiopia’s great potential, and that they did not need any help from anyone. Every African conflict that I can think of has roots in foreign tampering, or over resources to be sold to the developed world, or in attempts to mimic western society. Maybe their lifestyle would be barbaric by our standards, but who are we to judge?

I feel a little bit like a victim of racism, being a minority is not a lot of fun.

Yoniton gazes happily out of the pink barred classroom window.

If anyone feels like being interactive, I would love to hear your opinions. What do you think Africa would be like if foreigners had never become involved in the continent? Feel free to post your thoughts as comments on this post.

“Yet for such a complicated world, the truth of our existence is simple – to be with and take care of those that we love, to nurture our children for the next generation, to be happy, and when the event arises, to suffer with dignity.” – BBC Focus on Africa

Notice the when not if, that’s life in Africa.

Someone brought a monkey to school.