Gertjan has many ideas. I never cease to learn something interesting.
My advice: read further.”
Prize Laureate, Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, USA
Chief and Vice-Chairperson of the House of Chiefs, I am really
inspired by this book. It tackles cultural issues that affect rural
communities across Africa and describes African realities of life. It
might be the first of its kind describing integration of technology
and culture. I trust it will inspire people on both sides of the
digital divide, as it asserts the necessity for higher technologies
and rural communities to merge in a collaborative effort to bring the
two sides of our globe together.”
House of Chiefs, Zambia
admire Gertjan for his creativity, unique vision and unbelievable
stubbornness. Combine these characteristics with a good portion of
humor and keen eye for worthwhile snapshots of life and you get the
author 'Futures of Technology in Africa', Nairobi, Kenya
is a readable and absorbing journey of experience, covering many
topics in such a short book. The completeness of each theme embarked
on is thrilling. The work is a witty re-collection and reflection of
oneself and the environment and yet it sends a strong message to who
ever wishes to stop and reflect on their past stand point and face
tomorrow with different approaches to issues pertaining to the rural
situation - whether one lives in Africa or the West!”
Chartered Accountant, Choma, Zambia
have followed with great interest, admiration and respect what
Gertjan van Stam and Janneke van Dijk have been doing in Macha. They
follow their calling with compassion and perseverance, demonstrating
what humble, servant leadership means.
stories in ‘Placemark’ are testimony of years of hard work, of
growing insight in the specific context of rural Africa and local,
traditional culture, of frustration about bureaucracy and
stubbornness of the development aid establishment, of lessons
learned, of the possibility of sustainable progress, and of the joy
I returned from my third trip to Macha, which was three years
after my previous visit. The progress I have seen was amazing and
inspiring. Empowered by being connected to the Internet, the rural
community develops in many fields: education, healthcare,
agriculture, sustainable energy, craftsmanship, entrepreneurship.
Houses, lodging, a restaurant, care house, schools, and a radio
station have been built and construction is continuing. Several
villages in other parts of Zambia have been connected to the Internet
and their peers from Macha are training local people. But maybe the
greatest achievement is the fact that local talent has taken up
leadership and is in full control of operations. Truly, there is hope
for rural Africa!”
Professor of ICT, Tilburg, Netherlands
is an engineer living with his family in rural Macha, Zambia, since
from Rural Africa
rights reserved. Any part of this publication may be reprinted or
reproduced or utilized in any form or by any electronic, mechanical,
or other means, now known or hereafter invented, including
photocopying and recording, or in any information storage or
retrieval system, without the written permission of whomever.
in Macha, Zambia, 12 September 2011
my parents, Jacobus and Hendrina
Pick A Baggy
The Bore hole Pump
Sports, part of Vision Community Works
Internet in African Bush Changes Lives
Africa is Large
Learning versus Reporting
Living at Altitude
of Internet in rural Africa
Greet and Smile
A Triangle of Partnerships
Ideas on involving grassroots levels in Africa
Broken Bicycle Seats
How DO you?
I am, because You are
The Art of Living
What About The Children?
Internet needed in rural Africa
The Relationality Of It All
That Drive Progress
Here and Now
It’s About People
kids play outside as usual. Merel (10) and Elmo (8) have grown up in
rural Africa. Both of them show remarkable social skills that, like
others around them, they demonstrate daily whilst roaming our rural
neighborhood with their group of friends.
am wondering if I ever will get it right here in Africa. My
engineering background and experience might be helpful in observing,
but they are not necessarily conducive to participating in this
enthralling environment. Well, I will continue to try, and mark our
2003, we - that is Janneke van Dijk, Merel, Elmo, Beauty, and myself
– have been living in the rural community of Macha in Zambia,
Africa. Macha is our home, amidst a sea of undulating bush land where
people live along with extended family, in homesteads; where daily
life centres on communal activities like working in the fields
growing food, and where everything is discussed, discussed, and
areas are deceivingly tranquil. For us, the 10 consecutive years in
rural Africa resemble more of a rollercoaster ride. Amazed by the
‘deep waters’ people dwell in around me, I endeavour to gain
insight and to draw out purposes, visions and plans in those who
cross my path. I observe, and try to participate in the community,
hopefully contributing and facilitating, through interaction with and
introduction of technology, to strengthen the infrastructure for
human interaction and training.
Macha, an interactive community development structure is cultivated
and solidified through the collaborative efforts of many. The model
focuses on inspiring people in rural communities to reach their
collective and individual potential. Now dubbed ‘Macha Works’ a
co-operative of local
marches on for the betterment of their rural communities.
2008 onwards, my observations spilled over onto the Interneti.
In the form of blogs, they are there for all to see, in the hope that
these words could build bridges between international communities.
This book compiles these observations and emerging thoughts in
chronological order. The subject matter is a haphazard mix of aspects
of daily life, reflections on rural Macha and the world, the Internet
as a stepping-stone towards sustainable progress, and culture.
book is dedicated to my parents, who shot this arrow. Sally Green
edited its content.
course, these observations formed while being guided by many
individuals, present and not present. It is with gratitude to them –
and foremost my family as life partners in this journey – that I
present these observations as a Placemark ‘for what it is worth’.
van Stam, Macha, September 2011
screen in the airplane seat in front of me shows a curved line from
IAD (Washington) to JHB (Johannesburg). The line touches West Africa,
somewhere below Mauritania, but then quickly goes back over blue, the
Atlantic Ocean. Now the screen switches to numbers. Height: 10,073
meters, Outside temperature: -47 Degrees Centigrade, Ground speed:
905 km. Distance traveled: 4064 kilometers, Distance to destination:
9160 kilometers, Time to destination: 10.26 hours. Time at
destination: 04.37 hours AM, Time of arrival: 02.57 hours PM.
is an epic journey:
15 hours of flying time, from take-off to landing, direct from
Washington DC to Johannesburg SA, from winter to summer, from North
America to South Africa, from here to there.. An aeroplane is a
marvel of engineering indeed.
trying to have body, mind and spirit moving at the same pace while I
back in Macha, it is all hot. The temperatures are high - over 40
degrees these days. My family is hot - their love is by far the
hottest thing existing. Ubuntu Campus is hot - with a great new
jungle gym. And the thoughts are hot - how to deal with it all. It is
was good to be in the USA for two weeks, after 5 years absence from
it. The West is an important world-player and seemingly dictates many
priorities in the world. I noticed a lot less explicit grandeur
in the US compared to previous visits. The cars are smaller, and
advertisements feature less boasting 'I am #1'. Still lots of
‘vogues’ and the latest 'cool thing'.
I was viewing the animated movie, Story of Stuff, whose link was sent
to me today through the Internet. It puts it all in a rather bleak
is good to be back in Macha. Heartwarmingly, a number of people
visited our house to welcome me back home today.
looking around, it is obvious that some of the answers to the
problems of the world are here, for grabs, right at our rural African
the value of relationships
the value of sustainable progress that benefits all
the value of lessons learned through history
the value of not giving up and persisting in face of whatever
and the value of sheer enjoyment of life.
is wonderful that many people met in Washington, New York, Boston,
Norfolk, Santa Barbara and Los Angeles resonate and confirm this
insight, hopefully offsetting the CO2 added to the atmosphere by my
recent journey. Now it is important to continue forward and expand
our community, so there will be true, continuous and inclusive
collaboration all over the world.
will be cool!
International Airport is becoming renowned for its bag-picking. Once
again, something was stolen from my luggage this week. It is pretty
amazing, as my hard suitcase was locked and arrived locked. But a
relatively small external computer DVD-drive was taken out of its box
whilst in the bag. It was in the locked suitcase, and in a box, in
another box, in the suitcase. The box was neatly closed again, as was
the suitcase. And nothing else was missing! It took a pretty
sophisticated thief, one who needs equipment, I guess, to know what
was in the suitcase.
is not the first time that my stuff has gone missing at Johannesburg
International airport. Early this year two duffel bags, with building
materials from people coming to help in Macha, went completely off
the radar, never to be seen in Lusaka, nor where they came from.
Specific electronic equipment also went missing - video and photo
equipment, watches - have all been removed from suitcases of family
and friends flying through O R Tambo International Airport.
the huge, wonderful gift from friends in the USA - a full size Yamaha
electronic keyboard - went through untouched.. Maybe it was too big?
Yes, ok, it got delayed for three days and went completely off the
radar in the baggage system, but, thank God, it showed up at lost
luggage in Lusaka on Friday. Flying Mission picked it up and flew it
to Macha, and now Merel, Elmo and their friends don’t talk about
anything else apart from 'The Piano'. It is another miracle: a full
size electronic piano at our village residence. Merel is scheduled to
receive piano lessons from friends in the USA via Skype.
the pursuit of sustainable progress at Macha, we take an holistic
approach to relational thinking. That has delivered tangible results.
is always good to come back to Macha from other places in the world
to see what is being achieved. We are able to bring together a broad
coalition of partners in the South and the North whose aim it is to
to take the reins in their communities, realising their collective
and individual potential. It is being done at the Centre of
Experience in Macha. We hope for many more Centres of Experience to
follow - ideally at least one rural site in each province – so we
can harness the local and rural experience and bring it ever nearer
to all those who can benefit from this resource.
three key ingredients of the approach are:
in the driver’s seat
scalable solutions that work in rural settings.
are we making progress! Everywhere I go I find people busy.
I touched base for two hours, after a two-day visit to Lusaka. In
that short space of time I saw all this mind-boggling amount of
activity – and this is just the tip of the iceberg of what is
working on clearing for high voltage power lines to go to the Ubuntu
working on new roads to a proposed site for Bio Energy production
working on the replacement of a worn-out water pump
working on building a classroom for LITA (the ICT-training branch of
the proposed Works Academy at Macha)
working on finishing the MICS House, the housing facility intended
for destitute children at MICS including housing for dorm parents who
will guide the children
finishing the first two rondavel housing experiments at Macha
improving the roof of Vision Broadcasting House at the onset of the
working on new technology implementation at LinkNet in a makeshift
laboratory environment, in both network mesh technology and access
and accounting technology.
going around I met local
which I learned about our financial and accounting processes; also
outstanding draft reports and funding requests. With other
I learned about the implications of the ethics of administration and
our wish to be fully transparent to the local community, the country
of Zambia and also the international stakeholders and the
international community at large. Then we continued, discussing the
flight schedule of the airport with the local leaders at ABFA-MACHA
Aerodrome, bringing new drugs to be tested at MIAM that I transported
from Lusaka, handing over an old battery that I received in town for
a local person in the rural area. All the time we were discussing how
to make a culturally appropriate response to the realities we had
observed during this short tour. With us was also a Dutch student who
just arrived in the country yesterday.
continued working on putting the verbal information into written
format. It covered locally-defined and tested ideas, plans for
health, education, transport, communications and agriculture. Great!
I have got access to the Internet in the whole of Macha on any
device, so we can continue communicating and interacting over
cultural, geographical, time, or any other barrier.
morning I went to observe proceedings at Macha Innovative Community
School (MICS). For the first time this season we had steady rain in
the early morning, so it was a nice, fresh start today at MICS House.
It was impressive to see the discipline of local teachers being
supported by others from various backgrounds and areas from Zambia
and overseas. There is strict and tight planning, and lessons start
on time and hit the ground running. There is drive and power in all
involved, which is rubbing off. The head teacher commented: "These
children learn more then I did during my primary school".
Christmas play was being rehearsed. During the first years of
education the focus is on Reading/Writing and Mathematics. This
provides the foundation for further development. I observed Grade 4/5
breeze through a school DVD on the subject of paragraphs and, when
probed, the students had no problem giving the definitions of
imperative, exclamatory, and interrogative questions. In Grade 3, I
saw the children working on the different prefixes and suffixes of
words, and on sentences. In the Reception Class the children were at
"W", almost at the end of the alphabet. During activity
classes each grade worked with gusto at puzzles of different
is wonderful to see that MICS is succeeding in integrating high
quality education with local resources in a rural African setting. It
was special to see how the teachers communicate within the context of
the cultural setting in a truly African way. They focus on positives,
affirming good behaviour and results, all in a collaborative and
currently has about 100 students, with numbers estimated to double at
Ubuntu Campus in about three more years. At the same time MICS acts
as an example-school, inspiring and encouraging growth in the other
primary schools in the area (and beyond). This will up the need for
resources, with an ever-increasing demand for class rooms, teachers
and housing. All this is to assure quality and quantity growth. The
current team has grown MICS from the ‘proof-of-concept’, with one
class room in 2006, to ‘proof-of-reproduction’ with two class
rooms in 2007, to ‘proof-of-production’ with 7 grades operating
in 2011. They have never ceased to work hard in a difficult and
resource-challenged area. To grow this work is a massive, important
and rewarding challenge.
morning I saw two ladies sitting at the Vision Community Works,
Library and Craft shop in Macha. They are from Mabombo area in
Chikanta Chiefdom. The previous night they had travelled the 60
kilometre distance over near-impassable dirt roads. They come to try
to sell their locally-crafted Tonga baskets and will go back with
money to pay for transport, their children's education, clothes, and
other goods that will help them in daily rural life.
is moving to see that opportunities in Macha are drawing people from
far. These ladies come with their hands full of goods they have made.
In the process they chat with people from Macha and learn about the
developments that are taking shape. They will go back inspired by
fresh ideas for adapting their own communities in order to reach
their collective and individual potential; empowered by what they
have seen with their own eyes.
reminds me what a long road it has been to come this far as a
community; I have had to learn a lot, and I continue to learn every
of all I had to get rid of my drive to
In this inclusive environment, everybody is geared towards helping
each other, and this includes geared towards helping
I had to re-assess the virtues of rationality, as in the rural
African context first and foremost relationships, relationality
is where it is all about.
I needed to reorient from looking at goals set by answering 'what?'
questions, to goals that are enshrined by answers on 'who?'
western sense of individuality also needed to go, since, in rural
Africa, the individual is defined as being part of the collective,
on it went. Next to go was my understanding of (legal) security. This
needed re-routing to link security to relationships with persons in
authority, as they have received such authority to secure that all
people take part of the community.
my drive to accumulate tools to get the job done was challenged by
the environment, where one acquires the resources, including tools,
for the job only through tested relationships.
takes a considerable length of time to become a member of the rural
African community, and experiences from my previous “non-rural
African” life were unhelpful! An important barrier to being
was removed when I realised that my ‘default’ linear view on time
clashes with the more corkscrew or circular notion of time in rural
Africa. To begin with, I was mainly motivated by opportunities in the
future. It all became more wholesome when my appreciation grew for
the community, where people work from wisdom and knowledge distilled
from past experience.
is a privilege to be together with the ladies from Mabombo. I
recognize that it is almost inevitable that new entrants to rural
Africa go through sometimes severe culture shock and strain in their
personal lives as they adjust to the local environment. We have done
that for almost seven consecutive years. It is worth it!
Bore hole Pumpviii
comes from deep down in Macha. In this area, boreholes are over 70
metres deep. The yields are low, due to the solid rock formations in
the ground. Boreholes often run dry. Continuity of water supply in
rural Macha is a challenge. Today we had a miraculous saving of our
lone borehole and pump at Ubuntu Campus.
had to drill three boreholes in order to find one yielding water -
rated 1.5 litres per second, 60 metres deep - at Ubuntu Campus. Costs
of drilling one borehole range between EUR 4,000 and 8,000, depending
on the supplier and relocation costs of the drilling rig to our rural
one-horsepower borehole pump cost EUR 1,500 one year ago, excluding
transport costs, and it stopped working about a month ago. Diagnosis:
burned engine! Result: no water at Ubuntu Campus. Leaving people
hauling drinking water in all kind of barrels and jars to Ubuntu
Campus, I made a trip to Lusaka with the pump for assessment
(transport cost USD 800). The diagnosis was confirmed: a burned
engine due to a worn-out pump. As we have ‘run dry' in more than
one sense, I bought a new 1.5 horsepower engine, with pump, with
private funds and took it back to Macha.
assembling the pump and pipes, and lowering it all into the borehole,
it was found that our two operational generators were not strong
enough for the new pump. Fine-tuning of the voltage from a
newly-acquired generator took another couple of days.
a few minutes of pumping, the new borehole pump stopped working. The
electronics became hot and the pump needed to be stopped. No water
was flowing. Assessment was made by the experts from Lusaka by phone:
it was a wiring error. Our chief technician took the Thursday plane
from ABFA- MACHA Aerodrome to Lusaka with pump, engine, electronics
and all 100 meters of wire. That same day, it was assessed that,
although the wiring was OK, the pump was full of mud, drawn in during
the short exercise. After the cleaning of the pump, Lemmie took the
whole assembly back to Macha. He arrived home at 02.00 hours after
taking a taxi in Lusaka; bus from Lusaka to Choma; then taxi from
Choma to Macha.
Friday morning the restored pump with the well-tuned generator was
pumping from a higher position and water filled the tank at Manzi
Office (manzi = water). After 15 minutes the borehole ran dry and the
pump had to be switched off.
the whole assembly had to come out again. With the pump lower, it
worked well for 10 minutes, and then again water stopped flowing.
in crisis, as users were out of water again on days of almost 40
degree temperatures, good relationships ensured that 10 people would
work on the bore hole site this Sunday morning. Disaster really
struck when the nylon pulling-rope, attached to the pump, broke, just
when the pump, engine and pipes were reaching the surface! The
sisal-based rope was probably weakened by a year of soaking in water
in the borehole. Now the pump, with about 20 metres of 40 mm diameter
piping, full of water, was hanging only on the electricity cable
attached to the pump.
this point I was invited to come to the scene.
saw a hugely-strained electricity cable holding many tens of
kilogrammes of pump, engine and water-filled piping about 10 metres
under the surface, in the borehole. The risk of losing the borehole
pump and the borehole itself was huge, as upon dropping the assembly
could clog up the usable range of the borehole.
there were no other alternatives so we started pulling on the
strained electricity cable. Five or so men carefully pulled the heavy
load. When the pipe came in sight, the wire started to slip and it
felt like the electricity cable would snap and the whole assembly
would soon disappear into the deep hole! We blocked the cable and
reviewed our options. There were none so the unanimous decision was
to keep pulling. Apparently 'down there' something got some grip, the
electricity wire was still in one piece, and the pump came further
out. Then the electricity cable slipped down again.
all logic, we kept pulling and, miraculously, the water piping now
appeared from the borehole. When it was halfway out, we noticed the
electricity wire had come completely loose from the pump and was
entangled in a bunch of thin earth wiring between the borehole pump
and water pipes. Further pulling of the bundle revealed that the
earth wire also had come loose, and become entangled with the
remaining nylon rope. In the end only the rope was attached to the
there are still many obstacles to overcome before we have water
running again - like where and when to get new nylon rope and new
water pipes - this morning, when it was all over, it took over 15
minutes for the adrenaline in my body to settle to normal levels.
Elation over the miracle of saving the borehole continues!
part of Vision Community Worksix
Macha we have many students visiting us from various 'walks and
activities of life'. They take time to be part of what is going on in
Macha. Some do so as part of their studies, others as an extra
activity. They become human resource for those tasks that need
attention, and might fall in between the cracks. Most students come
to be involved in the medical fields at Macha. Some students are
easy-going, some need lots of attention, but for each individual it
is a worthwhile and moving experience to live within the rural
African community. Students frequently keep blogs about their
experiences and, with a Google search, you might find several of
a student gave his final presentation after a three-month period in
Macha. He is a Physical Education (PE) student at the University of
The Hague and has been instrumental in helping the activities of
Vision Community Works and Sports take another leap forward. Pim
worked under the supervision of local community works expert, Fred
is instrumental in facilitating opportunities in rural community
development. It provides tools in the development path between value
systems. Those value systems pertaining to traditional and ritual
ways of tribal group life and those that incorporate higher authority
and direct, absolutist rules. It trains participants in asserting
themselves and handling dominant behaviour and power; it imparts the
real-life skills needed when confronted with a changing world. And,
of course, sport is conducive to good health.
we have been trying for years, it has been difficult to get attention
on, and funding for, sports development in rural areas. As Macha is
now used to 'new developments', Pim entered a fertile area. Like most
students, he worked diligently and supported the teaching of Physical
Education at various schools, including Lupata Basic School and MICS.
This inspired local educational talent to consider questions such as
'why sport?', 'how do we provide sport education?', and how to use
sports equipment. This went alongside training and participating with
in organising sports events, workshops and more.
intend to measure the effectiveness of visiting experts and students
in the amount of co-production with local
they produce. To this end, Pim worked with Mr. Kennedy Kanane,
Physical Education and Mathematics teacher at Macha's Francis
Davidson Secondary School, to draft a 'rural proof' syllabus for
is still a lot to do and there is a lot of room for further study.
For instance, how to understand the rural mindset and view of sports.
And how to build and maintain an innovative Vision Sports Facility at
Ubuntu Campus. However, it is clear that sports activities are
another important area for holistic and sustainable progress in rural
morning whilst cycling with Elmo, Beauty and Merel to the primary
school at MICS, the air was full of noises of people working in the
fields. Men cheered their oxen pulling the plough, and children
joined their mothers and grandmothers in working with the hoe in the
fields. Holes are made, seeds are dropped, holes are covered and
prayers go up for good rains and affordable fertiliser.
afternoon the first good rainstorm hit Macha. So today people plough
and plant. Last week we brought 1,200 kg of seed maize from Choma to
Macha for the workers at Building Activities. Just then all was still
very, very dry. Today looks different, with muddy paths and messy
roads. One big rain storm makes all the difference. People are
working in the fields, working quickly from sunrise till going to
work in the hospital, the schools or the main works at Macha. Every
piece of land is being used.
encyclopedia defines Subsistence Farming as: a
form of farming in which nearly all of the crops or livestock raised
are used to maintain the farmer and his family, leaving little, if
any, surplus for sale or trade.
We might have to define 'Existence Farming' too.
morning alone, I counted four power outages of the electricity grid,
and power has been off since 05.45 hours. I am writing this text
while on generator. There are no banking facilities in Macha, and
business loans are not readily available to people in tribal lands;
to hardly anybody in Zambia actually. Heavy machinery and other
production assets can only be bought in major towns, hundreds of
kilometres away from our rural area. Fuel and other consumables are
not readily available. Most supplies need 'imports' from other
clusters of activities, like towns. Then transport is hardly
available, and if it is, it is very expensive. So much for
the other side, the perils of the economic trouble in the world are
hardly known to people in Macha; its effects noticed only when taking
a long term view on the future, which is not a prime feature of the
local culture. It is all going by as an iceberg in the far distance.
An analogy is climate change: Africa is the region in which the
impact of climate change on agriculture is predicted to be the most
severe. Well, only a few in rural Africa know, do observe, and try to
play part in preparing for what is to come. Hopefully rural Africa
will become empowered to manage it all and be part of a solution.
20 per cent of sub-Saharan Africa’s GDP is generated by
agriculture. In many countries, agriculture is the main source of
employment. Our next chiefdom, Chikanta, even with very poor
infrastructure (no electricity or means of communications whatsoever)
and further away from centres of activity than Macha, is renowned in
Zambia for its production of maize. Yes, maize for sale too!
food production in most of sub-Saharan Africa has not kept pace with
the population increase over the past four decades. Lack of access to
markets constitutes a binding constraint to the agricultural sector
in most of the continent [Source: United Nations report "Trends
in Sustainable Development, Africa Report 2008-2009"].
Previously, harvested maize produced the seeds for next year. Now,
with hybrid seeds, that is not possible, so we need cash-in-hand to
buy seed. One has to put aside all these gloomy pictures and press
today, people are again planting fields that were used by their
ancestors, given by the chief to the family in the oral tradition of
we are blessed with good rains, then we will harvest, and eat.
Whatever happens with the electricity, heavy machinery, bank loans,
buildings, and fuel, we will eat and live. Therefore we go early
morning, digging and planting. And later in the season, weeding in
the early mornings. We will eat, understanding the works of our own
hands, like our ancestors did.’
look forward to innovations in the area of agriculture:
when we start planting oil crop for local and small scale production
of bio-fuels, growing a diversified economy
when knowledge will emerge on new crops like sunflower and soya
beans, indirectly stimulating crop rotation and thus the yield of the
when we can supply for local production of healthy, High Energy
Protein Supplement foods, especially for those affected with HIV.
is about the 'human measure', the collective to understand and
comprehend, to align with and preserve local culture. It is all about
continuity of existence. Today people farm for their existence. We
want to, and will be, part of it. Let's put our hands to the plough.
in African Bush Changes Livesxi
is a powerful engine for development. Today it made another big
impact in our family life.
impact of having full-time availability is in inspired lives, some
Kalambo is now a certified pastor in the Brethren in Christ Church,
after numbers of years of hard study ‘at’ a college in the USA:
connected from her home in Macha. She did so while uninterruptedly
serving patients in Macha Hospital and the rural community at large.
* Fred Mweetwa
is well underway in his Bachelors studies at the University of South
Africa. He does so from his tiny room in the Ark, while continuing to
serve as an emerging leader in Rural Community Development.
Sitali is studying for a Masters in Public Health from his house in
rural Macha, while continuing to serve as Medical Doctor at Macha
* And in
Mukinge, long time matron of Mukinge Hospital, Lynn Hacker, has
commenced an online MBA study.
professionals I know in these rural areas are now studying online, or
have plans to do so. This development in the minds and skills of
local people will have lasting impact on society.
of most professionals in Macha is now intertwined with the rest of
the world. Sending and receiving e-mails is a continual routine;
searching the Internet for answers too. Exchanges of pictures of
medical cases to check with colleagues are nothing special anymore.
We are all connected through Facebook and Instant Messaging, we post
and discuss, and put Standard Operating Practices on Intranets. Local
and online file servers, document servers, and application servers do
their job, and Internet libraries are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a
week. Some even buy cars in Japan, and all flight tickets and most
hotel bookings are done online. In Macha it is now news when the
internet is down, not when it is up. It is like tap water, after its
introduction, one only takes note when it is not flowing.
this is not applicable to everyone in Macha. In fact, most people are
not yet connected to, or using, the Internet, just like many do not
have running water or a mains power connection. However, Information
and Communications Technology (ICT) are now available and accessible
so that most professionals in the community are able to use this
connectivity to communicate with family and friends and do online
studies. Through peer-to-peer communication with others, the quality
of work improves. One can even start thinking about 'efficiency' in
rural Africa as personal effectiveness is enhanced. We now run
between 4 and 10 Gb a day through the internet from this rural
village. That is almost a DVD full of information flowing through
this rural area, every day. It was only a few years ago that the sole
means of communication was by weekly post batch or by radio, with
data connectivity of 300 bits per second a few times per week.
Today, for our
family, there was an apotheosis. At 17.30 hours, Merel sat behind her
kindly donated, full size piano keyboard, glancing at the computer
screen in front of her. Through the Internet connection she was able
to hear and see what her teacher Kristin was saying and showing on
her piano, over 15.000 kilometers and 8 hours time difference away.
Diligently she played on the piano keys for the first time, keenly
watched over by her teacher in her music studio in Lakeville, near
Minneapolis, USA. Merel played "kitten are we, cute as can be,
playing the keys, meow", and other rhymes.
We live as a
family in rural Africa. This implies advantages and disadvantages for
our children. I saw our daughter doing piano lessons today..... there
are no words to describe how I felt. Wow, I thank God, technology,
all involved, and anybody else! This is life to the fullest, which
should be available for all on earth, also to those living in rural
my way from Lusaka to London on a day flight, there was plenty of
opportunity to see Africa. The flight took almost 10 hours, more than
7 of which were above Africa. It is the Gall-Peters projection that
shows areas of equal size on the globe equally sized on the map, and
see: Africa is really long!
looking down, and thinking of the tens of hundreds of millions of