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Re: [learningfromeachother] Some thoughts on My Food Story and Cawdnet.

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  • samuel kongere
    Dear Androus Send me the information for styrating aworking group. Samwel Pamela McLean wrote: Andrius As a result of our recent Skype
    Message 1 of 2 , Nov 21, 2006
      Dear Androus
      Send me the information for styrating aworking group.

      Pamela McLean <pam@...> wrote:

      As a result of our recent Skype conversation my understanding of the My
      Food Story project has changed - and I am hoping my present thinking is
      in accord with yours.

      This is how it seems to me : -
      # The project is one where product and process are equally important.
      # The obvious product is the stories about food.
      # The other product, arguably more valuable, is what we learn about the
      process of working together to create the food stories, and the
      structures we develop as a result.

      To me, the attraction of the project lies in exploring the processes and
      improving them. I was not sure if Cawdnet's systems for gathering
      information were robust enough to join in the My Food Stories project -
      but now I see that exploring the process is part of the project I feel
      more confident in saying we will join in. I will do my best to deliver
      stories about poultry - and as we do so we will also be looking at the
      systems we have used to gather, and share, that information. Working
      together will give us a chance to learn together and develop better
      systems for future collaboration. This makes the project very attractive
      to me. I hope the Food Stories that we gather will also prove useful in

      I am not sure how our approach will fit in with the targets you
      described. However if we succeed in meeting targets we get a bonus - so
      I will try to understand and fit in with the structures you have in
      mind. I am not sure how they relate to our limited access to the
      Internet. I was expecting to do grassroots work in gathering local
      stories to share with you. I was not expecting to do any Internet based
      research. I need to clarify my understanding on what is expected in that
      direction. If we fail regarding targets then at least we all learn
      something about the problems related to the process and can aim to
      improve them for next time. I am excited at the prospect of enabling my
      friends in Africa to join in this project and hope it will bring
      benefits all round and lead to long term relationships and better flows
      of information. .

      A shared understanding of the networking system I shall be using may be
      helpful at this stage.

      Things have changed a lot since 2000 when I was first involved with
      development in Oke-Ogun - through my friend the late Peter Adetunji
      Oyawale. In those days communication between his present home in the UK
      and his family and community in rural Nigeria was difficult. There was
      no communication infrastructure "back home" like the infrastructure we
      used in London.- no Internet, no phones, no reliable postal service.

      Our options were limited.

      Peter could phone Mr "Baba" Adetola - a successful business man, who was
      like a father figure - (hence "Baba" - as I understand it ). He has
      since been made a chief. Chief Adetola lives in Ibadan, which is the
      Oyo state capital, but he also belongs in Ago-Are which is Peter's home
      village in Oke-Ogun, in Oyo State. Chief Adetola has a wide ranging
      social and business network, and well established communication
      strategies within it. He was making his network and influence available
      to Peter to build his community project. In the early days of the
      project he was the only person we linked with who had a phone. Phone
      calls from UK to Ibadan were expensive, and were in Yoruba not English.
      Chief Adetola speaks little English. This was no problem to Peter of
      course - but later there was a language barrier challenge to be
      overcome. After Peter's death Chief Adetola and his network formed the
      foundation for my continued involvement in rural Nigeria.

      Back in 2000 we could also send letters (and some small packages) by
      courier. Formal courier services are expensive, but we sometimes had to
      use one to send something urgent.(I don't imagine courier services reach
      out to rural areas - we only send to cities.) Usually we'd send by
      informal couriers. If we heard through the grapevine that a friend of
      a friend had plans to travel home to Nigeria we'd make contact then
      hurry across London to hand over our message or package.. Peter had
      another strategy too. He told me that he would go to Heathrow airport
      to find someone who'd take the message for him. He explained to me how
      the benefit of tribal marks could come in - tribal marks are the
      patterns of scars that some Nigerian have on their cheeks. If you
      recognise tribal marks it is almost as if people are wearing labels on
      their faces saying which area of Nigeria they are likely to be visiting.

      Peter said he could simply find someone with the right tribal marks and
      ask for their help. If he was lucky they would get his letter to the
      right part of the country.- near enough for the next stage of the
      informal courier system. The next stage involves going to the
      motor-park (a kind of bus stop) and asking one of the drivers who is
      headed in the right direction.to take the letter further on. To maintain
      communication between the UK and rural Nigeria we have had to be
      creative in overcoming communication infrastructure problems. Cawdnet
      has always been driven by the need to communicate, so we use whatever
      means are available - the boundaries of the Internet are too restrictive. .

      Things have moved on dramatically since 2000. Now there are cyber cafes
      in some of the large towns as well as the cities, and there has been a
      rapid spread of mobile phones. It is even possible to hear ring tones
      out in rural areas, in the darkness around a cooking fire. However there
      are still big challenges. There are huge differences between the
      practicalities of "having a phone" or "having access to the Internet"
      when I am here in the UK and when I am with my friends in Nigeria. I
      hope Cawdnet's involvement in the Food Story project will help more
      people to understand about those differences.

      My personal network has also grown since 2000. I never expected to go
      to Nigeria, but Peter's sudden death changed that. In 2001 I went to
      Nigeria for the first time - to attend his funeral. As a result I got
      more involved with "his" people - which is how the network now known as
      "Cawdnet" began. It is that network which I shall be using for the Food

      Samwel Okech kongere
      Nyamuga primary school
      P.O BOX 191,
      MBITA  040305-KENYA.
      Cell: +254 725 600 439
      Community Development
      UDOGO youth development group-coordinator

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