Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Brutal name-calling on Christmas Eve...

I just returned from the local Superette owned by Asians - and (before today) supported by myself for the odd last-minute shopping. I left with a bad taste in the mouth and almost a broken noise... and a long time afterwards still a sense of amazement and lingering fury:

Imagine a isiXhosa-speaking youngster in a bright red soccer sweat shirt at the bread counter - as thin as a reed - with a cold drink under the arm. See, also a big, bold Chinese-speaking business owner in a suit with a stick... and throw in the accusation that he is trying to steal in the shop. In broken English both tried to make their cases: The Chinese gentleman with fury, the youngster with sheer embarrassment and smiles, and the entire scene of staring customers and shouting from the small community of Asian workers escalated quickly to the cacophony of sound at the counter next to me. At which point, the business man decided to hit the young man against the head and called him 'your bloody liar and thief' ... and right there I lost it!

I should probably NOT have done it, but I stepped in between the two and held up a flat hand: "Please stop it. Just... Don't!". (It was like being trapped in a movie strip...) He basically stepped right through me, as one would guess. I stumbled against the sweets counter and tried to stay upright with some dignity. But there was a brief moment of sheer disbelief before he continued to bully the man into the street and threw him onto an equally bewildered security guard. On his return, I told the suit that hitting is unacceptable and he tried to explain how the young man allegedly 'planned to steal from them'. I was furious. Lost. "Here, in this country, we don't hit our customers. You make a case with the police if you have a problem with someone".

I patiently waited outside the gates for *Zolile and called him over. Asked him about the incident and yes, there were tears and again, the embarrassment. Shock. He was bleeding. "Do you want to go to the police... I will be a witness of what happened"? ... and he said, "Yes, please"... but friends convinced him otherwise and he walked away with them. "Spend your money elsewhere, those are dangerous people *Zolile; and they will mark you..", I managed.

I do not know if he did or did not steal. I also do not know if he did or did not plan to steal. I *do* know that he was assaulted and humiliated. I do not know if I (too) am prejudice towards Southern people from the cultural group we engage mostly in our projects - and in simply assuming that the young man spoke the truth in my short talk with him, with the man from the East not being justified in his behaviour. Maybe I should not have judged. Then again: I *do* know violence cannot be tolerated where dialogue could have been used, and I also *do* believe that there are still laws in our country and processes (like I was reminded by the fellow customer at the cashiers). I also understand I could not possibly be welcome there anymore, and I also won't do last minute shopping ever again at the small supermarket in Kommetjie Road at Sunnydale in Cape Town.

There may be good relationships at a macro-level between the Chinese and South African governments. And this may be an isolated case of prejudice and fear between different cultures doing business on the same corner. But I am convinced this is not the first and not the last clash between people at this little store....

And so, my Christmas Eve starts with much on my mind: a young man with tears in his eyes, and a white bread and soup powder on my kitchen table, that I cannot touch yet...

Monday, December 22, 2008

Dylon's Birthday before Christmas

I just received a call from a fellow Director who was on the telephone this afternoon with Berenice Bougaard, principal of Sunrise Educare Centre in an informal settlement, Vrygrond - South Africa. She called on behalf of one of their learners, Dylon (7 years old), who suffers from cancer and is terminally ill in a wheelchair. The prognosis is really not good and there is every chance this will be his last birthday and final Christmas.

I don't normally do appeals like this, but lately my heart has recently been drawn to the under-resourced primary schools and educare centres in our country. This particular centre is supported by the Alexandra Stark Memorial Foundation in France in terms of infrastructure, but this is an ad hoc appeal for a particular learner who is loosing the battle against cancer:
The request from Berenice was for a financial donation of R1000,00 ZAR (or 103.06 USD) to have a special birthday party for Dylon and his friends at the centre tomorrow (23 December) evening South African time.

Please let me know if you are willing to assist with a direct donation. We will not apply any funds received for any other purpose and the entire amount will be transferred directly to the centre via Uthango Social Investments. The nature and time frame of this appeal
(the event is tomorrow!) make South African donors the most appropriate in this instance, but we would appreciate any support from the global community for similar initiatives. Please contact us directly or visit our secure donation page with credit card facilities on Uthango's website...

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Half-way there for Auntie Rosie...

Today, I was in Heinz Park, close to Mitchell's Plain, to deliver Christmas gifts and represent a company at a party for a local orphanage and safe house. I realised how relative 'safety' is some times...

It was incredibly hot in Cape Town and I was glad the bizarre and unfit-for-Africa 'Father Christmas' outfit (complete with white beard) remained behind. The ordeal would have surely led to an unfortunate collapse of a staff member, no doubt ... The children did not miss him one bit, as they started to sing 'Happy Birthday' to one of their own instead at the sight of the gifts!

It was an tiresome day with ambivalent feelings of wishing to be elsewhere when we were told the 'stories' of each child, indiscreetly, openly. I politely tried to divert "Auntie Rosie's" show-and-tell to the direction of the incomplete rooms of the home instead - a fruitless attempt to increase the privacy and dignity for the children listening to the traumatic version of their lives, shared with newcomers. The reality of everyday struggles was amplified by a visit of a drunk uncle demanding that his twelve-year old niece return home soon. Auntie Rosie met him at the closed gate to chase him away firmly (handing him some cake in the process). Dinah* was taken aside with a few encouraging words... She needs to know 'he is NOT her father and she should NOT let him walk all over her". I could not help but see how she collected herself, her anxiety, slowly and shifted herself into a faint, shy smile - for the guests. (In that moment, I asked her about school and her progress and started to think I may have a possible sponsor in mind to assist her next year with school fees).

And the small ones sat on the cement floor fixated on the icing and chips, and assisting each other with plates. There was no fighting or squabbling for the two hours that we were there and it was crystal clear that Auntie Rosie and her assistants rule supreme. (The backyard is filled with dangerous building rubble on the hot white sand, and yet, ideal for creating a small playground).

This very small informal settlement is close to Phillipi and Mitchell's Plain in Cape Town and has been described by the Education Department as follows:
Poverty takes on an ugly face at Heinz Park Primary where 99% of the parent body are unemployed and dependent on social grants. Social evils that often accompany poverty – abuse (both physical and sexual) of learners, learners with AIDS, tuberculosis, drug dependency, hunger and a host of learning barriers – are highly prevalent at Heinz Park and educators struggle on a daily basis to instil (sic) better values in the lives of their learners and to help them see that a sound education holds the key to improving the quality of their lives.
Our company ended up here this Christmas due to one of our corporate clients wanting to 'do something for Christmas'. (It really DOES boil down to the willingness of the leaders in a company to 'do something' and I was particularly glad for this call, as the staff members also participated. Corporate Social Investment is less about giving money, it is more about also making change happen in a world beyond the boardroom).

I see many townships annually, but Auntie Rosie's tears about her son dying of HIV/Aids last year and the physical state of the two bedroom home for 17 children - with some sleeping in the kitchen - will haunt me a bit longer than others. The most important need here is (again) one of infrastructure, and in this case it is the resources to complete the home - a slab for the half-completed building. This is the same building (without roof!) that will serve as the local Christmas venue for the families - "because we have so many rooms here already", she adds with a big smile. They are "half-way there" with the building and build further each month as they can afford it. A lot of things are half-way there... here.

There's much to do at Sinethemba but it is the desperation with this group of children that I have not seen this year, and that finally gets to me - keeping me up a few hours longer. Even the smiles of brothers Robbie* and Jeremy* did not seem to go further than the surface and a tearful gaze (for no apparent reason) of a nine-year old boy will linger in my mind. Nellie* fetches the puppy from the back to show us, and I wish she didn't. Three puppies died already. I want to take it home for more than one reason.

I battled with leaving the home later that day and finding two more boys hanging from their front gate - looking in on the party. Some times, I cannot stand my work...

Today, I hope that 2009 will be a better year for Sinethemba (meaning Hope) and that there will truly be a better outcome for each of the children - one that decreases the sense of loss that is so vivid. "Oh, it has been eight years", says Auntie Rosie, "eight years since I have been to the sea with my kids". I am speechless for a moment: "We will have to make a plan", I say, "but I can't promise". (I repeat my motos in my head: Never, ever-ever promise. Never create expectations. There are too many broken promises. Just do what you can when you can with what you have).

There are three women that stand in the void for these children. They stand in where humanity has failed them. They do what the rest of us cannot or will not do: They manage an orphanage and a safe house without any cash flow, without security, with a broken washing machine, without a decent roof on their house, with an outside kitchen, a few uncovered mattresses and three beds, with little support from government, with little compensation (if any) , without all the necessary skills and with not much prospect for change... And they wish on us blessings when we leave...

Ps: Let me share with you - I have never wanted to be 'a bleeding heart' or a fundraiser that appeal to others purely on the basis of dire poverty and need (with matching pictures of hungry children). I have always wanted to run with innovation, with sustainability, with indigenous solutions as the focus of grant-seeking actions. But there comes a time, like today, when your heart DOES start to bleed and you slip into that same desperation that you see around you. In this moment, you want to cry 'help' - toward others - in the same way as those that look toward you. The challenge would be to move beyond this moment - like the people I met today.

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Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Ripples from the Zambezi reaches Uthango...

"If people do not wished to be helped, leave them alone - this should be the first principle of aid!!" ("Small is Beautiful" by E.F Schumacher)

I really enjoyed this video of Ernesto Sirolli as I have much respect for the way he deals with development in Africa. He is one of the most respected development experts that echo the philosophy of our own work. He discovered the same lessons in working with indigenous communities as we did - and came to some of the same conclusions. I had the pleasure of meeting Ernesto Sirolli in Johannesburg at the South African Business and Technology Incubation Association conference in 2006. I left inspired and am grateful that his talk is now captured on a small video.... Thank you!

Please do play this one; it will enrich your life....

I am excited that Ernesto visited our project online and hope to share virtual worlds with the pioneering Sirolli Institute - that recently started a new social network, HippoNexus, for enterprising people with enormous potential. Maybe we could organise a talk in Second Life (R) and more people could benefit from his experiences...

Friday, September 19, 2008

Not that Connected - Missed the Course (Cause?)

I found this fascinating quote today:

Connectivism and Connective Knowledge is a twelve week course that will explore the concepts of connectivism and connective knowledge and explore their application as a framework for theories of teaching and learning. It will outline a connectivist understanding of educational systems of the future. George Siemens (SL: Whatever Russel) and Stephen Downes – the two leading figures on connectivism and connective knowledge - will co-facilitate this innovative and timely course. The course will run from September 7, 2008 to November 29, 2008 and will be fully delivered online.
Fleep Tuque, Chilbo Community Blog, Sep 2008
You should read the whole article.

I wish I did not miss this opportunity. It could have been interesting to learn more about the theories linked to 'connective knowledge'. Well, Google and self-study for me then!

Monday, September 15, 2008

Social Networking - Tools, Hobby or Sport?

I found this fascinating entry about a few social networks on a blog today - mind you, I actually found it VIA a microblog entry of Aliza Sherman (a professional marketing specialist et al) whom I met for the first time as the optimistic 'Cybergrrl Oh', again via an international cyber-volunteer for our Virtual Africa project in the virtual world, Second Life.

This personal experience of knowledge sharing demonstrates in a small way the very nature of connectedness in social networks - one leads to another in a bemusing cluster and we slowly grow the individual swell of professional and personal connections. However, to return to the point (that often gets lost in these type of conversations!), I read the entry and realised there are even MORE social networks and applications that I do not know - and always will be, I suspect. And the question that the entry starts with is a valid one...
How many social networks and Web 2.0 tools are enough? I clearly don’t know when enough is enough. What if the one I don’t join is the one that will truly change my life/work/future?Web Worker Daily, Sep 2008
You should read the whole article. More important, however, is reflecting on the question: What is the purpose of your own engagement with these networks and developments? The first time I deliberately started to 'network' it was an extension of our communication in every day nonprofit work. The need for more appropriate tools in development work led me deeper and deeper into innovative alpha and beta tools... and what started out a search for tools, soon became an entertaining hobby. Then, a part of my life that I do not wish to set aside...

Social networking is not a sport for me yet, but I know some people that take the discovery of these tools and application of them REALLY serious! Getting a good grade on Twitter or more karma on Plurk is an important achievement in their eyes. (And I don't refer to those professionals that need to be doing so, due to the nature of their profession). What *is* the purpose of social networks and Web 2.0 tools? This is the question that has plagued me for the past few months and (only recently) I feel closer to an answer... In the mean time, I am blessed by those people across the world that enrich lives - including my own.
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SimSalabim; I have a favourite Rose...

I discovered these roses at a small shopping mall in South Africa, and I bought a bunch for my mom's apartment. I am completely, head-over-heels, crazy about these flowers. I never had a favourite rose - now I do. These are from God's paintbrush on a rainy day, I am sure..

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Written on the Side in a Spaza

Recently I visited a tiny home shop (called 'spaza') in a township in South Africa. It was part of a fact-finding mission to see how the small business landscape changed in a particular informal settlement that we surveyed two years ago. I stopped by a local shop owner to get some cool drink. It was not the 'WHO'S NEXT?' signage above the counter that attracted my attention - but the two words scratched to the side of it on the frame: "WHY ME?"....

Those words kept me awake for a night or two as I pondered their meaning - the feeling behind them, and it also resonated: These days I often ask: Why me? The reasons are different, but I do ask the exact same question - especially when I wonder about being part of the development arena here in Africa and we get so frustrated with 'red tape' and political unwillingness. Just yesterday, it was another organisation that was jealous of our support in a community, and particularly "offended" by the local City of Cape Town Council for allocating a grant to our initiative - and they demanded promptly to "be part of the project" (read, share in funds that we acquired after 2 years of battling with Council) "or else"... which could mean anything from outright sabotage to creating destructive drama during the implementation. One of our Directors reflected yesterday in a public meeting: "It is no wonder that development is so slow in this community - there are way too many personal agendas". And she also asked me afterward: "Why (make it so difficult for) us?" A collective version of, "Why me?"

But if I think about it more clearly, it is the simple words scribbled on a wooden frame in a cold spazashop that hit harder and ring more true than my own frustrated thoughts as outsider development practitioner. It is after all the person standing behind the counter that has been asking this question for some time now - at least since our democratic election in 1994. Why do I still live like this? Why do I struggle still? Why is my income still below the poverty line? Why did my place burn down last year, and flooded this year? Why me? I also speculated that the graffiti possibly appeared as a disgruntled response from an impatient, waiting customer at the wooden-tin shack. (In our 2005 research of 3700 township customers we found that township residents often find shops locked up and people cue restlessly while the shopkeeper "feed babies at the back", "do not care about me". We have been told to shout for service...)

Until I asked the shop owner eventually: "Who wrote these words?" and the answer came: "I did. A long time ago. It is because I am blessed to have this shop. I remind myself everyday - Why me?" And I learn... never, ever assume anything in Africa. Ask, and Ask again. And I start to count my own blessings and think: "Why me?"
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Wednesday, August 13, 2008

When "Freedom" translates into "Public Theft"...

Robben Island as viewed from Table Mountain. T...Image via Wikipedia
On 11 February 1990, Nelson Mandela was released from prison in South Africa. For his 90th birthday on 18 July 2008, we celebrated at Uthango in virtual style and spent real time thinking what it means "to be free".

Ironically, the rumors about the mismanagement of funds by the Robben Island-based Mandela Museum surfaced again the same time, with CBS reporting: "The museum received $5 million in government funding this year, an amount Langa would like to see tripled. But two executives were suspended last year after the museum reported an unexplained deficit of $3.2 million. Government arts and culture minister Pallo Jordan says an audit uncovered "shocking mismanagement."

I wrote from the Mandela celebrations on the Africa in Virtual Worlds website:

"How DO we measure the value of people? The man we honor, said once: “We accord a person dignity by assuming that they are good, that they share the human qualities we ascribe to ourselves”. For a variety of reasons, we have not been able to (yet) build the Robben Island that we see each day in our actual Cape Town, here in South Africa. The place of which Mandela wrote, “I see it as a celebration of the struggle and a symbol of the finest qualities of the human spirit…” However, we HAVE seen the people living in virtual worlds that carry with them the very values that Nelson Mandela defends, the greatest of this being: FREEDOM"Alanagh Recreant, Africa in Virtual Worlds, Feb 1990You should read the whole article. However, the issue troubling me today is: "How 'responsible' executives could so easily, and for so long, manage to cross the boundary between being trusted by the public (having the FREEDOM to manage a public asset) and slowly stealing public funds"? And this disgrace! happening at one of our most important world heritage sites: Robben Island

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Mandela Museum Plagued With Problems

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Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Nella leaves DeBalke

It has been a cold winter day in Stellenbosch two weeks ago, when our organisation met with Nella Paulse* (real name protected) and her father to help vacate the home she stayed in for the past seven years.

She could not choose a worse day to tackle the move - the mud was thick and heavy and so the little rented '
bakkie' and trailer could not make it up the tracks. She and her family carried all of her belongings in the rain, and made eight small trips from the premises they occupied illegally for many years. "Can't I just come and get the matrasses tomorrow?", she asked at some stage, "it will be soaked!". There was no more tomorrow for her at this place, so we all made a plan instead with borrowed plastic sheets.

I could sense the collective emotion in the air, and the old barnyard (a popular and naughty student dance hall in my years at university) was filled with memories. It hung over all of us as the entire family helped to clear the space where the bar was still dark and prominent at the heart of the barn. I could physically feel the plastered farm walls calling out for repair - holding years of laughter and also many, many tears of hundreds of people crossing its doors. It is a sick building now - cold and huge. Not conducive for human occupation; let alone a family with children. But our Nella made it home for them all, with artifical flowers standing tall at a 'lay-buy' lounge set, and dim electricity fed from the local security hut to open light bulbs via a patched, snaking 'lead' across the wet grass. We fear for her young son to electrocute himself as he boldly disconnect their 'wires' to take it with them. "Rather leave it", I ventured, but Nella's brother interjected determinately "Hurry up, Nella won't leave without her stuff!" An old coal stove - probably more valuable than the home itself - belongs to her grandmother, she said. It worked for them, until recently. Made some 'pap' in it and it kept them warm. I took a picture and my mind spun back to our own home where my dad built such stove into our fireplace.

We managed to broker a reasonable deal with Nella after a complete deadlock and legal cases between her and the developers. She drove a hard bargain. All parties are pleased and relieved that it is all finally over, before the dreaded date of the 'balju' and police ending on the door step to 'put them out on the street again'. No-one wanted that...luckily. It is one of very few happy endings to the extreme housing crisis here in South Africa - where we need more than 400 000 houses to cover a shortage in Cape Town area alone. This will not even stem the tide of homelessness, where the number grows with 16 000 per year as people migrate to the city for opportunities away from rural poverty.

There are several innovative solutions to housing in South Africa, and communities are willing to contribute to their own future. Often, facilitation is needed. In the case of residents at the Doornbach informal settlement at Milnerton, Cape Town, the residents from form a housing scheme themselves and have already saved R41000 since September 2007. The experiences of residents to 'step out into muddy water when you get out of bed' are common during the floods of Cape Town and 'invading' a derelict brick house (like Nella) is certainly not an option. We need to understand that many informal settlements are erected in natural (winter) flood planes, and these conditions are inevitable unless more suitable land and resources are found. Property developers could (and should) play a role together with government to address the challenge.

Why do so few people know about the housing crises that is escalating here in this beautiful part of Africa...??

This is my life here in South Africa. The 'Nellas' with their broad smiles and tired eyes that seek a space for themselves, and end up 'making their own deal' with someone else that needs cash quickly and move on. I stood watching quietly as she handed over the key to 'her home' - a smile of expectation breaking through. Nella shivered and swept the old stone floor for one last time, because "one does not leave a place like this"...
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Saturday, July 12, 2008

Alanagh Recreant in SL

Alanagh Recreant in SL
Originally uploaded by MeerKatje
Visited Desperado for the latest sim creation by Eshi Otawara. I have taken some stunning pictures of my avatar there and we were certainly seeing something else that is "Not Possible in Real Life"!

Walking with Tigers

I recently returned to the book 'Walking with Tigers' written by Frank Furness and I must say I enjoy the simplicity of the messages. There is also the personal touch that makes for a good read. These days I am so aware of the 'short' lives we have here on the planet and time should (and could) be used more productively. Years ago I also read a book, and now forgot the title, where the phrase 'riding tigers' was used and stuck in my mind. I feel daily I am riding tigers here in South Africa, in the work we do. More later...

What do I want from life? More importantly maybe - what does Life want from me?

Saturday, May 31, 2008

Dedicated to my Mom

"Can a mother forget the baby at her breast
And have no compassion on the child she has borne?
Though she may forget,
I will not forget you!
See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands;
Your walls are ever before me."

Isaiah 49:15-16

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

Hermit's Unreality Check

I ran into Hermit Barber on Second Life and am fascinated by the project that she works on, called Reticulus - essentially it is "an utility infrastructure model that provides multiple utility services simultaneously; it provides handling for fresh water, waste water, data and communications, gas, electrical energy, heating and cooling in a single connection".

But more importantly, I enjoyed her philosophical insights into the reality of Second Life on the CoV website and quoted in full beneath:

"Sneering that SL is "just a game," or perhaps suggesting that the "real world" and people in it should come first, or even that the norms and ethics of the physical world can't, don't or shouldn't apply to the virtual world, are all assertions that the person making the statement is in desperate need of a reality check, a perception tune-up and, or, a lesson in politeness.

All of the argument that SL is somehow not reality - or that reality does not incorporate SL - is futile. Not only because Virtual Worlds (including SL), are already a superb and continuously evolving tool for visualization (making real) of non-existent things and things which are difficult to visualize in the physical world, as well as being, potentially, an unparalleled didactic, consensus and explanation generating tool, but also and probably more importantly, because such an argument misses the fundamental psychological, philosophical and ontological issue, which is that while SL is a "virtual world", the opposite of "virtual" is not "real" but rather "physical."

A virtual world like SL is just another source of sensations and experience, exactly as is the physical world. Both the virtual and physical worlds have to be interpreted by our brains - in precisely the same way - to establish a "map" or "interpretation" of how we perceive and project the underlying reality - which we establish inside our heads in order, as Plato put it, to interpret the shadows on the cave walls. To those capable of recognizing that the map is not the terrain, that any and all maps may be useful, but none are more or less "real," merely more or less appropriate for whatever purposes are to hand; virtual and physical are, after all, merely aspects of perceived realities which exist only within our own skulls; until such time as they are shared with, and accepted or rejected by others.

We can safely conclude from the totality of the above that the differences between SL and the physical world are much smaller and less important than their similarities. Both are vehicles for conveying meaning, stimulating and providing access to those malleable constructs existing only within our own minds, wherein we manage, manipulate and prepare to share our perceptions of what we call reality. For this task, SL is as effective, and being more plastic, is in many ways much more suited to the task, than the physical world.

Now consider that all the improvements we know of in the human condition are the result of creativity and thought, of people who were able to change the maps and imagine the theretofore unimaginable. Examples abound. Geometry and the concept of zero, atomic theories and the development of the scientific method, the calculus of infinitesimals and the laws of special and general relativity all have played significant roles. All were small steps on the way from the physical world to the virtual world, easing the process of manipulating and communicating different realities. All of them improved our cartography of the mind in one way or another. Second life and other virtual worlds continues and accelerates this process; allowing almost anyone with a pulse and a functioning imagination to more easily express creativity. Granted that virtual realities are seldom used to seek fundamental change, but, and this is extremely significant, they can be, and when they are, they have the potential to go far beyond any of the previous mechanisms we have evolved, if only because virtual reality can, and eventually will, incorporate everything we have developed to date, in a largely user transparent and easily applied format.

From this it follows that anyone attempting to argue that there is a fundamental difference between the "game of life" in the physical world, and the "game of second life" in the virtual world, other than that the one is physical and costs more to manipulate; the other virtual and much more suited to exploring alternative scenarios; is making a sad statement about their lack of comprehension of themselves, of thought processes and of reality; as well as denigrating those who are too busy creating things to pay attention to the rather minor differences between these aspects of reality. And, of course, denigrating others is impolite".

Copyright Hermit 2008. License Creative Commons Attribution + Noncommercial + ShareAlike (by-nc-sa)

Tuesday, April 29, 2008

A bit more of Africa in Second Life (R)

Uthango had an awesome time on Thursday 24 April with the launch of our Virtual Africa sim(ulated) savannah environment in Second Life (R) - combined with hosting the first annual Africa Day in Second Life, on Orange Island!

The event was 8 hours long across 3 different sims and attended by more than 230 unique visitors! It was an unforgettable experience for our company. Please feel free to visit VIRTUAL AFRICA ON FLICKR for some event pictures (or post your own!) and also our main project blog to read more. The complete log is posted at AFRICA IN VIRTUAL WORLDS....

Monday, February 25, 2008

in There

in There
Originally uploaded by Dizzy Banjo
Some of my friends visited the virtual world THERE; I still need to go although I registered ages ago... I think it is important to visit other virtual worlds before developing an absolute loyality to one. I hope it is not too late for me!

Saturday, February 23, 2008

My Tweet Map

If you are a user of Twitter, you can enter your Twitter name and password, and all the "tweets" by the people you follow will pop up on a Google Map, showing where they are located.

read more | digg story

Friday, February 8, 2008

American Elections...

We have our favorites here in South Africa. Our policy at work is to keep politics and religion out of the workplace, and certainly out of our community work - it could be the cause of much conflict and we do not seek to complicate our presence in communities or our relationship with influencial leaders. It has been really difficult...

And then there is international politics; and specifically the political arena of the United States of America. We have followed the elections very carefully - since I was a child. It has been important, because American politicians and their related policy towards Africa and the East always affected us in one way or another. And so, I also watched President Bush getting elected a second time and our jaws dropped to the ground. Yes, I am much more bias and outspoken about American politics, and my views are shared by every single African I have met the past six years. We all spoke about the second time election of a Republican to office with stunned amazement. How could so MANY people in the USA believe so many obvious lies? But it is not our country, and it is not our vote...and maybe we should not have an opinion...but we do...So, here I offer my perspective, for what it is worth and for maybe being able to swing one vote towards a presidential candidate that could bring hope to the world:

Frankly, I do not care whether Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton gets elected, as long as one of them actually do! However, I think it is critical to elect the one that has the BEST chance of representing the ideals of the country towards a free society that respects human dignity and diversity, above corporate interest groups. I also think that the candidate needs to have the BEST chance of winning the elections to return it to the Democrats. At a fundamental level, it seems to us that the Democrats have a far superior international policy and APPROACH to other nations than what the world has seen the past few years. For that reason alone, I selfishly declare myself an non-voting supporter...

I watched some of the speeches of Barack Obama and have the same sense of hope that we had in our 1994 elections here in South Africa. There is something in the air when he speaks, and because I believe in the wisdom of crowds and not the intellect or experience of one person - I do not care much for his so-called 'inexperience'. Having said this, I think that Hillary Clinton has the makings of an incredible Commander-in-Chief and has what it takes to lead the country! It simply does not matter - both candidates offer the hope we all need...

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Fog and Information...and me - somewhere!

Some mornings when I get up here in Cape Town and the air is still crisp and clean, I find fog outside, hanging across the lake and reaching to the sea in the distance. Yes, I live in a beautiful area. A few miles north, our clients wake in the wetlands and deal with the same fog (meeting a muddy front yard as they walk from the front door) and prepare to go to work in the early summer mornings... Most mornings the view is clear for all of us and the fog lifts quickly as the sun rises, but some days, it hangs for a while and I feel connected with a larger universe - and at the same time, overwhelmed and unsure.

This is the same for me, most days, when I reach for the keypad and look at the screen: Information overload. Too much to read, to find, to discover and to throw away. Indeed, a foggy affair which asks for skills of discernment, sound judgment and the ability not to horde! Because, so easily one can sign up for every second social network, freebie and once on the inside, get bombarded with even more information.

I am trying to be selective these days. I am trying to listen to reputable friends and when there is genuinely a trend that seems to make sense to more than one in my trusted circle of friends, I go for it. I fearlessly sign the MEERKAT in to be part of a meaningful conversation with people I have come to trust. Well, I have just joined Blogger... and I hope this will be a journey in itself.

I feel rather foggy today - with more than one 'personal' webblog on the Internet. There is a need to consolidate my online life. This much I know. And the sun will come out tomorrow again.... and I will feel connected with many others despite (or maybe because of!) all this information and opportunities...

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