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26 November 2015

The first day of the conference.

Karibu – hello in Swahili.

My ordeal is over, everything was worth-while, had a great first day.
Hotel room is good, comfortable bed, hot water, good food. Kisumu is a fish area it is right on the shore of Victoria lake, so I am having fish everyday
The day started off with an explanation and apology about the misunderstand that occurred yesterday, I appreciated it and accepted it and we moved on.

I had a fantastic day today. The conference was very fruitful. A real interaction between cultures. The people are from, obviously from Bondo , but also from other universities in Kenya, from Congo DRC, Uganda, Netherlands and me (from Israel). It is very small so we have a lot of opportunity for real discussion, and real brainstorming.
The conference is about technological transfer and cultural interface. This is a very interesting subject which raises many questions. The main question which we are trying to answer is how can Africa take from the west technology which is appropriate for her and combine it with its own set of values. Or must technological adoption come with an adoption of the values of where it was designed or innovated. Big question. We will see where this takes us.
We are talking about the contributions Africa can make to the world. We discussed the openness of Africa to things that we do not accept in the west, there is no one or right answer for issues, there is more than two beings, of male and female, I am told that there are 12 in the bantu culture. And many other issues are being discussed. Religion is viewed very differently than it is viewed in many western cultures, there is more room for openness and less dogma. We are going very deep here……(loving it), I even learnt something about Jewishness, from our host. That in the Jewish faith it is a way of life, not dogma or just a faith, as well as it looks to the future. Obviously we in Israel feel very differently about this statement, we feel that there is much coercion in religion, but then I thought about ashkenazi and sphardic, thinking that we always say that if we can adopt the sphardic way, in which Jewish meant culture and a way of life it would be all different and less over bearing. And that the dichotomy of being religious or secular actually came from Europe, and put us in a spot where we must choose, it was a total non-issue in the northern African countries or the sphardic culture, where it was just a way of life, the secular/non secular issue has only been adopted recently by them as well, from the ashkenazi. Very interesting stuff.
So much more to talk about, but it might get too boring so I will stop.  
Two very nice Kenyan traditions: what we call a coffee break is called here a Health break, I thought this is a marvelous terminology, first time I heard it. And for their tea they have Milk water, which is actually milk diluted with water, great innovation. there are also diffrent kinds of ways of showing apprecition and clapping, really nice, difficult to discribe. loving this.

On our health break we got tea with milk water, a kind of sweet doughnut, and yams…..

Will continue to report tomorrow

Bondo here I come.

Back in Africa. This time in Kenya, I am going to my first academic conference and I am very excited. We will be hosted by the Jaramogi Oginga Odinga University of Science and Technology, in Bondo, which is about an hour and a half from Kisumu the third largest city in Kenya.  I am looking forward to talking to people about the same issues that concern me, project sustainability , technology transfer and more.
It is 8:15 in the morning, 11 hours have passed, since I started my trip (20:40 in Israel), I arrived in Nairobi, A bustling airport, people from all the corners of the world, all shapes and color, in the airport, American country music is playing in the background (s t r a n g e), I have a five hour wait here until I can take the flight to Kisumu, thank God for laptops and cell phones, I have a lot of work today and they have electricity charging points. Reading tension of Empire of F. Cooper and A. Stoler, an assignment we got, in class.

Malarone pills - apparently the kisumu area is a Malaris zone

Frustration kicked in and it is now 16:30, It has been 2 hours after I landed in Kisumu, I am so tiered – 18 hours have passed, from my departure from Israel. I expected the bus to be there at 14:30 and by now to be already in the hotel. But that is not going to happen. apparently he has to pick up some people at around 17:00, now he tells me they will come at 17:40, and since I have already waited so long, why not wait some more. The airport is quiet small so everyone already knew me. Everyone is trying to help, the poor stranded tourist, offering me their cell phone, their support, suggestions and such. The security guard came up and said "why do they behave like Africans" I was actually shocked to hear it from him and gave a slight smile, not knowing what to answer and continued to keep calm. Now I am told that the Pope (everyone is very excited) has landed in Nairobi so all flight are delayed, they are supposed to arrive at 18:00, they did not, at 19:00 we decided to leave just me and the driver. FUN.

Kisumu from the plane

What was going in my mind: I can't stand it any-more, it's too hot I need a shower, a bed and I am starting to get hungry, my last meal was at 10:00 in the morning; I decided to play it "African", waiting, not getting annoyed, this is the African experience, many Africans wait for hours, see it from their  point of view, you are not in a hurry anyway, so what if you are tired;  In Israel this would never happen, such a waste of time and money, waiting is not an option and so much more; We learnt last week the location of your research is a very important component in your well-being, people that have archives in the French Riviera are very lucky, people that have 4-5 hour extensions of waiting in remote parts of Africa, probably less; Am I an adventurer or just waiting, is this the African experience or just a fluke; What does this say about me. Finally,  I decided to stretch my legs and tried to have a short sleep. In the background somewhere from the airport was a monotonous African drum tune playing. It was very soothing and very beautiful. I fell into a slumber, I think I even heard myself snore a little.

the univesity bus
Eventually I arrived at the hotel, at 20:30, this is exactly 25 hours after leaving Israel. (1 hour time difference between Israel and Kenya), Had a quick dinner and went into a deep sleep.
Was this a true Africa experience or just a whole waste of time, I am not sure but it was definitely something worth to write home about.

That’s it for now, tell you all about my travels tomorrow. 

08 November 2015

It's been a while

It's been a while since I wrote last actually a little bit over two years. In this period I had some ups and downs in this subject (sustainability of water projects in rural sub-Saharan Africa – "SSA") I am writing about and how I deal with it. The down was that waterways was not picking up as much as I would have liked it to and although the many contacts we have made we were not able to bring it up to the recognition level we had intended, maybe we are premature, maybe we did not market it well I am not sure, but I came up with two conclusions: first, There is definitely an interest here and need, everyone we talked to felt that something needs to be done and that sustainability or rather lack of sustainability in  water projects is a big problem and second, I need to learn more on the subject and develop an expertise in it. And here comes the upside from 2014 I started to write a Ph.D. dissertation on the subject, in Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. Since then I learning everyday a new thing and enjoying every minute of it.

The start of my research was to understand as much as I can about the history of Africa, now many of you might say, Africa is so diverse and there are 54 countries, how can you still talk about "Africa" in this day and age. I totally agree, it is wrong to do so, but curiously enough, from my work in the last 5 years and my visits to several African countries and my talks with different professionals from different countries, it seems at least in the beginning of my research that the problems are very similar. So I will proceed to talk about the African continent, but obviously my examples and case studies will be of particular areas and project themes.

Going back to history, there is no doubt that historical developments have played a very significant role in the lead up to the present-day severe water situation in rural "SSA". And if so, I chose Colonialism as the era of interest due to two issues: the first colonialism although only a short period of time, around 80 years was probably the most transforming period of Africa and its people, the second, is that it seems that up to colonial times and in the colonial period, there was not a big issue with water. Water started to become an issue and major challenge of Africa, after colonialism and currently. It is therefore important to find out what happened in that period that had impact on this change.  

So this is where I am at back to school.....and what I have been doing. This new section of the blog will document my research, writing process, insights and voyages I take to better understand the phenomena of non-sustainable water projects in rural SSA.