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Showing posts from February, 2011

Friday Five Questions: Salha Kaitesi, from Beauty of Rwanda

Salha Kaitesi is the founder of the UK-based online business Beauty of Rwanda. Being of Rwandese extraction, she decided in late 2010 to start a business that provides an online platform for her compatriots to sell traditional crafts to the wider world in a way that rewards the artists and craftswomen fairly in the process.
Recently, she has commenced the 'Only One Basket' campaign (see #onlyonebasket on Twitter) and is preparing to formally launch the campaign in London and East Africa.
Salha took time out of her busy day to answer the first ever Friday Five Questions for Ayohcee.
Ayohcee: Something that you’ve mentioned a lot during our conversations is this expression “fair trade, not aid”. Why is it so important to focus the world’s attention on the fact that your project is not just another aid project?
Salha Kaitesi: I think it’s because every time Africa is mentioned, especially here in the West, everyone just concludes that we are asking for aid. I want the world to know t…

Les Journaux Africains: Byoona Amagara, Lake Bunyonyi, Uganda - 19.31 10/04/2010

With the busy morning over, the day's tempo has finally dwindled to the pace it is now - slow and relaxing.
After setting off from Kigezi High with a mixture of UK and Ugandan students and staff, we arrived at the Byoona Amagara jetty on the southern edge of Lake Bunyonyi. Here, after unloading all of our gear for camping - including my cricket set - from the Kigezi bus, we immediately commenced to reload all of it onto the boats ready for the twenty minute journey to the island.
The boats seem completely unfit for the level of burden that we place upon them. Once they have taken on board our bodies, bags, bottled water and anything else we've accumulated en route, they sit incredibly low in the water. In fact, they sit so low, that should anyone so much as sneeze, the rocking looks as if it may risk capsizing the craft.
Regardless of the fuss our easily frightened students create, the journey inevitably went fine and upon our arrival on the island resort of Byoona Amagara - Ruki…

Lacock Abbey, Wiltshire

A photo taken in the cloisters of Lacock Abbey in July of 2010. I was staying in the vicinity of Bradford-upon-Avon whilst visiting my cousin and his wife. This picture has not been tinkered with at all, but is the product of being in the right place at the right time with my iPhone.

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Les Journaux Africains: Green Hills Hotel, Kabale, Uganda - 07.01 10/04/2010

It is Saturday morning and the busy week that has passed me by already is manifesting itself on my face! I have the look of a very tired teacher - anyone who thinks that our time in Uganda is a stroll in the park is sorely mistaken.
Matt also seems to be suffering a little bit this morning. Having had me as a roommate all week, with the added consequence of me having woken him up at silly o'clock every morning, he is now making the most of Saturday morning to snore away to his heart's content. He even slept through the clattering of me attempting to pack my bags.
Lake Bunyonyi is now beckoning us where the cool water, combined with the detachment from civilisation, is possibly the most restful place that any soul can visit in this life.
Before we set off to the lake we have one last mission - the training morning at Kigezi High School. This year the whole event is being organised by the Ugandan teachers. I am very much looking forward to it.

Zimbabwean Coffee from MamaAfrika.com

Twitter has a lot of faults, but these are far outweighed by the benefits that it can bring. These benefits can come in the form of cheap advertising for a small business, promoting your various philanthropic projects and getting things for free when they are offered.
I've followed a small business called Mama Afrika for a few months now. The enterprise is based in USA and working to raise the profile of fair trade alternatives and make money for a variety of causes in Africa. So, when Mama said, 'do any of my followers have a question for me?' I was always going to respond with, 'yes, do you ever give samples of your coffee to your followers?'
Luckily for me, the answer came back in the affirmative and two weeks later a package containing both Zimbabwean AA and Kenyan coffee arrived in a parcel from the USA.
On the night of the package's arrival I opened the bag of Zimbabwean coffee beans and, due to a lack of a proper grinder, proceeded to grind a portion of…

Les Journaux Africains: Kigezi High School, Kabale, Uganda - 18:00 09/04/2010

Friday fever has kicked in well and truly at Kigezi High School. With it being our last full day at the school, it has been a time of tying up loose ends - capped off with the euphoria of the 'Jimmy Cup' five-a-side football tournament. 
At around 2pm I handed out the prizes for the best poems in the creative writing contest - I'm not sure what happened to Stefan who was meant to be doing likewise for the short story contest. Sebi had promised a large number of entries and a hard-fought competition and he wasn't wrong. After a good deal of time judging them the night before, the eventual winner was Martha Mpambara who basically scored full-marks for her poem.
A little while later a small pitch was marked out where the netball court usually is on a grass quadrant in the school grounds and the Jimmy Cup was off to quite an innocuous start. Yusuf Jimacale, the eponymous organiser, seemed to relish taking charge of things and everything seemed quite calm in the compound - th…

Mugabe and the White African

I have, over the years, kept a reasonably close eye on political proceedings in Zimbabwe. It was this interest that drew the film Mugabe and the White African to my attention - the film had seemingly passed me by upon its release.
The film focuses upon Mike Campbell and Ben Freeth, his son in law, and their fight for survival as white farmers living under the constant threat of eviction at the hands of Robert Mugabe's government. We follow Campbell and Freeth as they take their case, challenging the Zimbabwean government's controversial 'land reform' policies which exclusively target white farmers, to an SADC Tribunal in Windhoek, Namibia.
Campbell, having bought his land after independence, and having received the proper permissions and allowances from the government at the time, is told twenty years down the line that he has to leave the farm. This order doesn't come about as a result of any injury he has caused the country, or to his workers, but rather because he…

Dambisa Moyo @ Cass Business School

I've briefly stepped inside another world. I'm in the Cass Business School, part of the City University, London. Walking through the revolving doors and into a glass palace, I'm catching a glimpse of the life in the kind of university campus I could have attended had I opted for business and commerce over the arts.
This aside, the purpose of my visit is to see Dambisa Moyo give a lecture for the Adam Smith Institute. Moyo is a leading light and a refreshing voice in the world of economic theory whose career as a writer blossomed following the publication of Dead Aid: Why Aid is Not Working and How There is Another Way for Africa - a book that strikes a major chord with my own relationship with projects in Africa and assists me greatly in my new role co-ordinating aspects of Global Citizenship into my college's curriculum.
I get to a seat, instinctively at the back of the lecture hall, where I have a decent vantage point of the whole room.
As the time approaches 6.30pm, th…

Les Journaux Africains: Staffroom, Kigezi High School, Kabale, Uganda - 12.45 09/04/2010

This was another hectic morning that involved getting down to Edirisa early-doors to carry on the decorating work. The plastering of holes was all but finished off yesterday, but one small corner still needed my attention. I was armed with my radio this morning and so, like a real builder, I drank tea, listened to Ugandan pop music and made a mess of my clothes.
A few of our students were on hand with Frankie being sent on regular trips to the hardware store, Sarah (who is very tall) painting the ceiling and the rest of the students attacking the walls. A notable absentee was Ruth who appeared to be running on what I hear so often called 'Ugandan Time' - late!
After a while, my job was completed. Still on my schedule for the day was to give out prizes for the poetry competition and to attend the inaugural 'Jimmy Cup' five-a-side football tournament up at the school.
During my first Fanta break of the day, I realised that Charlotte had been waiting patiently for me to fini…

The Yacoubian Building by Alaa Al-Aswany

I have Petros - a dear workmate of mine - to thank for bringing this book to my attention. He promised me that the contents of the book would be an eye-opening experience, that would shine a light into the darker aspects of not just Egyptian society, but also a great deal of African and Middle-Eastern societies too.
As you read the stories if the diverse occupants of the once glamourous, but now seedy, Yacoubian Building in Cairo, their lives seem to touch on many of the root causes of the recent events in Egypt - not least government corruption.
The fragmented story traces the lives of an aging single man, a beautiful young female, a man who turns to extremism, a corrupt politician, an illicit gay couple, a greedy sister and a would-be entrepreneur, all of whom are bound together by this architectural relic of Egypt's more 'European' past.
The winding nature of the text and its evolution over the course of the book, is countered beautifully by the short, episodic nature of t…