Re: [learningfromeachother] Some thoughts on My Food Story and Cawdnet.
- Dear AndrousSend me the information for styrating aworking group.Samwel
Pamela McLean <pam@...> wrote:Andrius
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
Stories.Samwel Okech kongereNyamuga primary schoolP.O BOX 191,MBITA 040305-KENYA.Cell: +254 725 600 439FOSS ADMIRERCommunity DevelopmentUDOGO youth development group-coordinator