Monday, January 15, 2007

In Uganda

I’m in Munyonyo, Uganda at the moment for a workshop. I was hoping that I would have Internet access in my room and blog, or at least, check my blog everyday but the access in my block has been down since I got here (and it will probably go back up the day I leave).

The workshop has been really interesting so far and focused on building ICT-enabled networks in Africa. Networks could refer to coalitions of organisations all working to achieve shared goals e.g. networks of agricultural or environmental protection organisations. This workshop of course is related to my ICT4D interest and I have to say that I have learnt so much from it, especially in terms of refining my own goals. It has been rewarding to listen to experiences of fellow Africans all working in many different aspects of development. Yes, I worked in an NGO in Boston but the realities of implementing projects in the United States and on the African continent are very different. I have also had the opportunity to meet fellow blogger Gbenga Sesan whose reputation in the ICT4D area - particularly in the Nigerian and African context - precedes him. Talking with him about the work he has been involved with over the years has been an inspiration that if you follow your passions and are vigilant to look out for opportunities along the way, they will surely lead you to some great and unexpected things.

Being here has, in many ways, felt like being in school. We attend various sessions for most of the day, go back to our rooms to rest for a while or type-up notes from the day’s workshops, have dinner in groups and go out dancing all night. I haven’t been dancing all night in a long, long while so I’m severely out of practice. On Saturday night, we went to Ange Noir and about 2.30 AM, I was ready to call it a night. The only thing was that my companions were only getting started. I sat down for a while and by 3.30, got a fresh burst of energy. However, by 4 AM, when my friends were finally ready to leave, I could not have been more glad. I cannot hang like I used to.

On this trip, I have been introduced to the world of the professional conference attendee. They move from one conference to another; one country to another and very often from one continent to another. They know each other fairly well, since they meet at least a few times a year. It sounds like a fun world, with lots of free trips and first-class accommodation. And let’s not mention the interesting people you meet and the bracing feeling of continuous learning and flexing those cerebral intellectual muscles (and let’s face it, many us get intellectually lazy after university). I likes, I likes but perhaps without the back-to-back traveling (I’ll take only 65% of that).

It’s my first trip to Eastern Africa and the parts of Uganda, I’ve seen (from Entebbe to Munyonyo, from Munyonyo to Jinja, and going through Kampala) remind me of parts of Abeokuta – rather provincial with narrow single-lane roads.

On Saturday, I visited the Bujagali Falls and the source of the River Nile. I’ll post pics later.


tuckergurl said...

I've always wanted to go to Uganda. There is a whole scene where people just travel the world going to conferences. Not bad if you ask me!

Ore said...

Angela, I'm sure you'd like Uganda a lot. It's a very laid-back place, very unlike Nigeria (well, the driving was a lot worse than I was expecting).

Going for lots of conferences is great as long as one has time to use some of what they've learnt. The people I met were talkers and doers. A winning combination!