I am currently in Québec, visiting family. Yesterday my aunt held a little party with family friends, about 12 people total. Out of that relatively small gathering, I was pleasantly surprised to find out that five of us had been to Burkina. One couple had worked and lived in Burkina for several years, more than 30 years ago! (They were there during the coup d'état when Sankara came into power as well as the coup d'état when Sankara was assassinated). It was fun to share our experiences, though kind of sad to realize that in the past 30 years, not much has changed. Have to admit that in the little town of Sherbrooke Quebec, I never expected I'd be exchanging experiences about Burkina Faso.
July 2011 Archives
Kate Parry writes:
One distinguishing feature of the Kitengesa Communiity Library is its Library Scholarship scheme. Seven students are selected from the neighbouring secondary school to work in the library, keeping it clean and tidy and helping look after the children who come in. In return their school fees or other educational expenses are paid out of Library funds. They also have access to the Libraryís computers and, of course, the books.
Katumba was a Library Scholar from 2008
to 2010, when he reached Senior Four and took his School Certificate
(ìOî level) exams. His results were unusually good for a student
from a poor village school: he passed in Division One and is now
studying for the Advanced School Certificate at the government
secondary school in Masaka town. I asked him to write about his
experience, and the other day, when we were both in the Library, he
handed me this letter. I have typed it without editing.
RE: SPECIAL THANKS TO THE BOARD OF GOVERNOR KITENGEESA COMMUNITY LIBRARY.
Dear Madam Kate Parry,
I would like to take this golden opportunity to tell you that I appreciate for all the good things I have acquired from you and the library at large. You enabled me complete my ìOî level course successively and it was after your help that you funded for my school fees. During my time I have been a library scholar I acquired a lot of things from the library for example. I got chance to use any book of my wish at any time which helped me pass my exams very well. I also got chance to access computer literacy from the library which was free of charge and it is an important think in thick world of technology.
Before I had got the library scholarship, thing were worse in a way that school fee at my side wasnít easy to get and I were usually sent for fee every time it was to be. I thank you because the moment I got the library scholarship I were able to be at school every time which helped me get all the concepts from the teachers and this was the best of like that I wanted. This helped me concentrate on books without fear that they will send me to day or tomorrow for fees. I were able to read my notice that way given to me by the teacher plus the books that are in the library and this provided me a lot of knowledge that I added to that I got from the teacher.
After all I had every think I needed to study I used that chance to make it out. I passed my UNEB [Uganda National Examination Board] exams 2010 quite good that I got a ìfirst grade of aggregates 25î. [The aggregate is the sum of all the grades obtained over eight subjects, the highest grade being 1, the lowest (failing) grade being 9]. The day for the return of our results I were filled up with joy and excitement as I appear in the new papers of BUKEDDE [the Luganda language newspaper] 9th Feb. 2011. The library also helped me get courage from the Librarian that is Mr Ahimbishibwe Daniel who is a good man and a social one.
It is from the bottom of my heart that I thank you in particular that you arranged for the set up of Kitengeesa Community library which has been a very important place the community at large and me in particular. I pray to God that he gives you a better life and keep you alive for more many year for you good heart and fair treatment you offer to the people.
I remain yours faithfully
We recently received the photobooks created by last year's RWA group and I've truly been enjoying going through them all. Some have very engaging story lines and absolutely beautiful photographs. What I love most is that several of the books are not only fun but quite educational. I can easily see nurses at health clinics using Coughlin's "L'hygiene pour tout le monde!" and Lobodzinski's "Ou trouver de l'eau" to educate children on proper hand-washing techniques and clean water sources. Or primary school teachers using Read's "Les Adjectifs," Brown's "Le livre des formes et des couleurs" and Melvin's "Les arbres du village" to accompany class lessons.
Albertson's "Qui veut chanter? Le Vagabond et A La Forge" and Goodloe's "Devinettes!" are absolutely perfect for librarians to use during song and riddle activities at the libraries.
Overall, a great batch of books that we'll soon be sending down to village!
The books are available for purchase here!
Lieu : Salle polyvalent Paul Zoungrana
Ouagadougou, 28-29 juillet 2011
PRINCIPAUX AXES DU COLLOQUE :
La démocratie américaine d'hier à aujourd'hui : principes fondamentaux
Les relations Afrique/ Amérique des années soixante à nos jours : leçons et perspectives, regard critique sur la constitution américaine et les constitutions des Etats Africains
Les organisations sociopolitiques africaines et l'évolution actuelle du continent : regard critique et contributions possibles
Les questions identitaires dans l'ancrage démocratique en Afrique : conséquences sur l'idéal démocratique et solutions possibles.
La constante mise en cause de façon perpétuelle des constitutions africaines: raisons et conséquences sur l'évolution politique et l'ancrage démocratique
L'urgence, un film documentaire des réalisateurs Kollo Daniel
Sanou et Jean Claude Frisque, retrace les difficultés causées par
la crise ivoirienne sur la scolarité et l'éducation des enfants
burkinabè revenus massivement de la Cote d'Ivoire. C'est un
excellent documentaire qui permet de comprendre les stratégies mises
en place, non seulement par les autorités mais aussi par la société
civile burkinabè afin d'apporter un début de solutions à
ce problème ; malgré un contexte scolaire déjà difficile
dans ce pays. A voire !
of the Ivory Coast Conflict on Education in Burkina Faso
Burkina Faso has certainly been the country that felt the biggest blow from the crisis in the Ivory Coast. With the return of nearly 600,000 nationals fleeing the war and "xenophobia," Burkina Faso has faced many difficulties with their reintegration.
"Apres L'Urgence," a documentary film directed by Daniel Kollo Sanou and Jean Claude Frisque, recounts the difficulties caused by the Ivorian crisis on the schooling and education of the Burkinabe children returning in masses from the Ivory Coast. This is an excellent documentary that provides insight into the strategies put in place, not only by authorities but also by civil society in Burkina Faso, to provide a solution to this problem, despite the country's already suffering school system. To see!
And so begins Malidoma Patrice Somé's Of Water and the Spirit: Ritual, Magic and Initiation in the Life of an African Shaman, which I can say has been one of my favorite books to read this year.
In his autobiography, Somé seeks to create an understanding of two drastically different worlds: the Dagara of Burkina Faso and the western world. Somé was born in a Dagara village during the early 1950s but is kidnapped by a French Jesuit missionary as a "child of God"--trained to be a priest--where he suffers verbal, physical and sexual abuse. At the age of 20 he escapes and finds his way back to his village but, having lost his ability to speak local language and having a European education, he is not accepted by the villagers ("they understood literacy as an eviction of a soul from its body...to read was to participate in an alien form of magic that was destructive to the tribe"). He undergoes a dangerous 6-week long initiation in order to become one of his people again.
The book is both engaging and fascinating, but I think I enjoyed it so much for two reasons. 1) Somé is Burkinabè. Gotta support Burkinabè authors! 2) Since I arrived in Burkina, I've always been so curious and intrigued by the world of animism. It is such a strange, magical and secretive religion. I remember when I was in Pobé, I asked several of my friends to tell me more about animistic traditions, but they all responded with a shy smile and a shrug of their shoulders. This nassarra wasn't about to get any information about the secret world of animism. This book, much to my excitement, goes in great detail about some of the animistic rituals, traditions and customs Somé witnessed. As a foreigner reading this, you think that it has to be make-believe. The walking dead, visiting the underworld, defying gravity...these things just don't happen in the "real world." Yet for the Dagara people, it's a part of their life. I found it all so fascinating. I also found myself highlighting phrases, writing in the margins and actually wishing I was back in college having to write a paper on this book.
A quick Google search on Somé tells me that he holds three masters degrees, two doctorates and taught at the University of Michigan. He travels the world sharing his story. The book says he lives in Oakland, though it was published in 1994. Something tells me that meeting Somé would be an incredible experience.
- Camp organization. This year marks the first time that several libraries will run reading camps: Béléhédé, Bougounam, Niankorodougou and Pobé-Mengao. The librarians were able to discuss and share how to prepare and what to expect for the camps.
- We received a grant to buy 50 African children's books on HIV/AIDS and maternal health to use and discuss with students at the camps. Jean Paul Ramdé of REV+, an association fighting against HIV/AIDS, was invited to speak to the librarians.
The videos below (in French) were made by Dounko and Elisée
This brief reflection was prompted after reading the Janet Currie's Ely Lecture published in a recent issue of the American Economic Review. Currie summarizes a variety of efforts to quantify how much unequal access there is (particularly in the United States) to good conditions in the womb. She presents suggestive evidence, usually very current statistical techniques, that perhaps one fifth of the gap in the incidence of low birth weight between white college-educated mothers and black high school dropout mothers can be explained by the much greater likelihood that the black mothers live near to toxic-releasing industrial plants. The gap is about 10 percentage points. So two percentage points might be explained by the greater toxic pollution "imbibed" by black mothers. The other eight percentage points presumably attributed to poverty/culture/nutrition etc.
Low birth weight, in turn, is correlated with all sorts of bad life outcomes.
When I read the article I couldn't help but wonder what the gap is in birth weight between American mothers generally and mothers in rural Africa. And then what the life consequences of that still larger gap. That gap won't be made up by public libraries, very much. But one of the causes of the gap is a quiescent citizenry, etc.
This month has also ended in atmosphere which was very conducive for almost every individual and it is time for our second quarter report. Everything went on well.
There are so many activities that went on during the month and these activities were as follows, Watching pictures from the picture book, reading stories like Ananse's stories, Henry penny and the English text books from primary one to five. They were they very people that come to the library. Picture books had always been used almost every day in the week. Almost story telling had been done by the librarians. On Fridays they always play games since Fridays has been choosing as games day. The games are skipping of rope ludo game, cards and almost all the puzzles. Two weeks of effective training of librarians has also taken place in the library by Lucas Aligire, Northern Ghana library coordinator (FAVL) and Mad Marilyn Deer. They thought them how to handle library materials, reports writing and statistics. Keeping of accounts, assessment, maintenance of books, etc Pro library activities such as general cleaning, re - pasting of posters on the wall and Ghana map has also been done by Mad. Deer, Rose and Cynthia.
The patronage of the library was okay as compared with some months in the past but children were the most users of the library. The number of adults that comes to the library is very low because of farming activities. Meanwhile, the library was meant for both adults and children as it was indicated in the statistics.
After checking every step of librarian's petty cash, it was obvious that Elisabeth Dzansi owned the library the sum of GHC1.90.
i Jonas Dumelor donated two bee keeping books to the library ii Charlotte Defevre, French volunteer in Jordan-Nu donated two books entitled Lies enfants de l'hiver and Environmental science. iii Marilyn Deer the sponsor also brought new story books, reading glasses, puzzle games and a doormat to the library. iv Herbicide was bought by the committee at the cost of GHC6.50 and this has been used by Ernest to spray the yard. v. Two electrical bulbs have also been bought by the community at GHC 8.00 to replace the worn-out ones in the library. v It was detected that insects are destroying the shelves and a liter of dusband was bought at the cost of GHC14.00 by Marilyn Deer to spray the wood.
The library had only one visitor in the month. He is Mr. Lucas Aligire from Sumbrungu northern library coordinator (FAVL). He was invited by Marilyn Deer to come and train the new admitted librarians. He worked at Jordan-Nu for two weeks.
Adults are not visiting the library regularly due farming activities and teachers are also not allowing pupils from primary six to JHS because of the distance from the school to the library. Some of the RME text books were missing. They books were learned to teachers by Elisabeth Dzansi.
We suggest that teachers should allow students to come to the library and make good use of the materials. The library committee members should do something about the books learn by Elisabeth to teachers.
One of the front view windows was replaced by Komla Yerenkyi the carpenter and John ofori. John Offei the painter also repainted the entire building both inside and outside. He filled some spaces between the ceiling and the walls in other to avoid dropping of bat feces. A blackboard has been design by Komla Yerenkyi and was painted by Mr. C.K. Kwami. Wilson Ametefe from Nyagbo repaired the stiffen chairs whilst Patience Atsu Afi repaired the woven stool. All this repaired work has been sponsored by Marilyn Deer except Patience Atsu who did a voluntary work. OTHERS The library board always meets to talk about what to do to develop the library for the benefit of individuals. The first meeting was the Guest House to welcome Marilyn Deer. Their regular meeting with Marilyn Deer was to discuss the annual report, interviewed the newly appointed librarians and to read Elisabeth Dzansi's terminating letter to the house by Marilyn Deer. In fact this was not an easy decision.
The first librarians to be interviewed were Edward Kpor from Ho and Cynthia of Jordan-Nu. Edward reported on the 1st of June but unfortunately his health does not permit him to work in the library and we felt that you will you forgive us with his inappropriate behavior. He was replaced by Ernest Dogbe an energetic young man from Saviefe on the 6th of June by the management of the library in consultation with the High Priest W.K. Kudior. i The board meets again with Marilyn and Lucas and our discussions include letting the treasure of the committee knows her duties of entering all records in her cash book but not Jonas as it shown in the past.
ii Change of closing hours from 6:00pm to 5:00pm.
iii The sign post for the library was also approved at the cost GHC120.00.
iv Librarians allowance review
v Inviting Mrs. Otoo to meet Mad Deer .
vi Reviewed on librarians role and job descriptions., etc.
On the 26th June, the board met finally with Mad Deer at the library to bid her goodbye and to welcome Cynthia Dika and Ernest Dogbe to the their first committee meetings. They have now taken the positions of Elisabeth Dzansi and Rose Mensah. Cynthia read their monthly report and applications letter to the house and had been paid for June services. On that day, the committee decides that, hand washing" education is not in good favor with people washing water in the same bowl rather it should be done under running water. A container with a stop cork/tap is therefore needed for the library and this idea was welcome by Mad Deer. Mad. Deer organized a send off party for Rose Mensah the outgoing librarian with a bottle of Malta guineas each and biscuits. We were overwhelms with the party you gave us last Sunday. Mr. C.K. Kwami the committee secretary read Rose's appreciations letter to the committee written by Marilyn Deer and signed by each member of committee. Mad Deer .presented a special thank you card to the committee for making her visit comfortable and giving her encouragement as she try to help the community.
Members leant with surprise and regret that after taken inventor a lot of materials include games were missing in the library and Elisabeth Dzansi allowed some library books to taken by teachers and failed to gather them back and even could not keep proper records of books. Rose should therefore get to Elisabeth to try to get the books back. The board really appreciated the entire information Lucas shared with them. Lucas has many years of experience and has been recognized on several occasions for his innovative training skills. It is therefore expected that once the training activity takes place, there should be a change in the knowledge base of the librarians and hope that the librarians will change their behavior by putting the training into use. The librarian's expresses their gratitude to the vetting committee presided over by Mr. C.K Kwami for giving them the nod to work in the library. Our appreciations also go to Madam Marilyn Deer for her great love and concern for children, your glowing reports about your ability to inspire and motivate the community. We hope that this momentum carries all the way to the end. We will be delighted to join our team soon. Thank you.
Alice Munro's "Gravel" is interleaved with ideas about memory and the stories people tell about themselves. The stories we hear, especially from our parents, shape the memories we think we have, so that memory is really a loose "gravel" of all these interwoven stories and events.
Presumably, a family story can be somewhat cohesive, and often, even if it is not "true", it creates a ground for an identity that works. The trouble comes, the tragedy, is when the stories are not complete or are not true, and this fragmented, incoherent and distorted truth gets re-ordered and cemented into a belief.
We do this to ourselves, we create the cement around the particulate of incoherent experiences, things heard, and things seen. Sometimes this constructed sense of self works because it's more true than not; sometimes it doesn't work at all, because there's so little truth in it. The tragedy is, though, the whole thing has set. Even when the truth bubbles up, we resist it. Our story of our life is as set the house that's built, in the end, atop the filled in gravel pit.
Toward the end of the story, Neal, who once played Banquo in a regional theater, reveals how he now prepares students for exams, and that he helps them write their essays. "Sometimes, you might say, he wrote their essays." A man who once played Banquo's ghost, Neal now ghost-writes student work, essays that are an illusion floating out there, big as life, as reality. Perhaps these are their college essays, the "story" of some important moment in their lives, stories that other people now believe and act upon.
Ultimately, "Gravel" is a story about a woman who has a ghost written self, different parts written by her mother, her father and her parents' lovers. In part the ghost writing is in their spoken word, but like ghosts, they also speak in silences.
Upon first reading, Neal as ghost writer appears to be the completely unambitious failure you suspected him to be. But the idea is also planted - we sometimes have our ideas about ourselves "written" unwittingly by other people's stories.
"Gravel" revolves around a child who believes she has caused her sister's death, and who builds her "truth" with threads she's gleaned from her mother and father and their lovers. Because this mother and father have many silences and secrets, what the daughter makes out for her truth seems to be actually be a distortion, and what she hears about the truth reveals to us a tragedy - that she is someone whose life interests her parents not at all. So she lives with "demons". The girl has managed to survive into adulthood without it ever occurring to her that her sister's death is first and foremost her parent's responsibility, not hers, so powerful are their silences and stories. After all, she was only five.
(Munro also plays with the "stories" people tell their confessors. The narrator tells us she once went to a "professional person", who must, in fact, create yet another story line. The narrator rejects the therapist's take, and yet the reader wonders if the therapist's take, if overly sex-determined, was nevertheless, headed in sort of the right direction. The narrator's belief about herself is so powerful, that she could be "satisfied" with the therapist's story line for only a while. While the therapist may have been technically wrong - that the trailer door was locked so the mother and lover could have sex, she may have been right that the mother is blinded by loneliness and desire. And the daughter is blinded for life by her idea that her mother has done no wrong. She accepts without comment that her father does not blame her mother for Caro's death. She adopts this story line in the manner of a five year old - without elaboration.read the rest...
I read Deborah Scroggins'
"Emma's War" while I was in Togo. Emma McCune was a young, beautiful British woman who came to Sudan as a relief worker and ended up marrying a rebel warlord.
I enjoyed the book but did so mostly because of its descriptions of Sudan. Scroggins is a journalist and it shows; the detail and in-depth explanations demonstrate the extensive research she did. It's very well written. I learnt a great deal more on the country's history: colonization, civil war, massacres and the horrific famines.
While Emma's story is interesting, it doesn't really merit an entire book. (In the book itself it says that Emma tried to get writers to help her with her autobiography. They responded with uninterest; one telling her, "There isn't anything there but a black man boffing a white woman.") Thankfully, Scroggins also recognized this. Instead, the book interweaves Emma's story with the history of Sudan as well as Scroggins' own experiences of reporting in the country. As a volunteer I was also interested in her examination of humanitarian work--why they come and how so often they try to do good but really only cause more damage.
While transparency has improved, accountability does not appear to have changed much, in part because necessary political, legal and institutional improvements have in most cases not been put in place. But another reason is that most EITI outreach is simple dissemination activities and not support for social actors to empower them to apply EITI data for increased accountability purposes.There are thus few indications that EITI programmes are so far having impact on dimensions such as governance, corruption, poverty reduction or other objectives stated in EITI's Articles of Association.I appreciated very much the point about "simple dissemination" which goes to the heart of the role of librarian as social actor. A library and librarian not only is a repository for dissemination, but also an important actor. Burkina Faso produced its first EITI report in April 2011. The reaction has been a big fat zero. Imagine though a Burkina Faso with an extensive network of 500 community libraries, and each one having a prominent display board area where a nice graphic about EITI were displayed. Or just where newspapers were available? And a librarian who could direct readers to more comprehensive materials. Especially if they were located near mines. Now you are beyond "simple dissemination."
One of these days FAVL will have a proper evaluation like this (costing more than our entire budget for a decade probably...;-)
La semaine derniere j'ai eu la rare opportunité de lire Sankara le rebelle (livre introuvable) qui est le récit de la très extraordinaire vie de Thomas Sankara, par le journaliste malgache Sennen Andriamirado. Un président qui fait de ''l'avions stop'' ou qui est incapable d'inviter des amis à manger parce que son frigo est vide ou qu'il n'a pas d'argent. Voici autant de réalités et de privations auxquelles était confronté Sankara par souci d'économie pour les maigres caisses de l'Etat. Ces faits, l'auteur en était témoin, lui qui a eu la chance de partager des moments de vie de ce chef d'Etat hors pair dont il était aussi un ami. Sankara invitait les burkinabè à vivre selon les réalités du pays réel, c'est-à dire vivre en tenant compte des maigres ressources du pays. Sankara le rebelle c'est aussi l'histoire de l'évolution politique et sociale de la Haute Volta entre 1974 et 1986, pays qui a été rebaptisé Burkina Faso, ou ''pays des hommes intègres'' par le même Thomas Sankara. A lire !
Last week I had the rare opportunity to read "Sankara le rebelle" ( a book not found in stores); a story on the extraordinary life of Thomas Sankara, by the Malagasy journalist Sennen Andriamirado. A president who often "hitchhiked" on other presidents' planes and was unable to invite his friends over to eat because his own fridge was empty or he had no money. These were real deprivations that Sankara faced in respect toward the country's meager funds. These facts were witnessed by the author, who had the opportunity to share moments of life with this outstanding head of state as one of his good friends. Sankara invited the burkinabè to live by the realities of the country, meaning living in relation to the country's meager resources. "Sankara le rebelle" is also the story of the political and social evolution of Upper Volta from 1974 to 1986; the country was renamed Burkina Faso, or ''land of the upright people'' by the same Thomas Sankara. A book to be read!
We'll rotate the books around the 11 libraries so that each librarian can use them during activities and see the books' popularity. I personally think these books are fantastic and if a FAVL supporter is interested in donating books, they would be a great choice! Check out more at http://michel-lafon-education.com/
Nicholls is a fine writer, and this book would have been great on an airplane or beach holiday where I had nothing to do. But it hard a hard time competing with Merlin (if you have 8-13 year old kids, you probably know about the dreadful Merlin TV show I am referring to). I just found myself bored, and not really caring much about the characters. One of the problems of writing skillfully about a superficial person (the man, is).
The silver lining is I am again anxious to read African fiction. The contemporary characters are often more interesting! (Paradox? African historical fiction non-existent, English historical fiction is great. African contemporary fiction just as varied with good quality as English.) So can't wait for African historical novel... and another perennial dream, the Vernor Vinge of Togo!
We love seeing local support for the libraries. Thank you!
About Madame Portia, she was so friendly, kinda unforgettable! When we asked what her name was, she quipped "Portia, like in the Merchant of Venice". !! Portia Dunenyo was AT the library reading a book called The Beginning of Jealousy. She recounted the complex plot of the book in great detail! She also said that she would like to work with the children and help them read, but they were not interested in her help! When she is at Jordan Nu she visits the library almost every day, but has recently been in Accra visiting her daughter. Mdm. Portia said she only completed grade 4 in 1969.
This morning Elisée and I stopped by to check out this new library media center. The building itself is very large and dominant, the interior nice and modern, with an atrium and staircase decorating the building's center. While the building is ready, the majority of materials (books, furniture, computers, etc.) are still on their way. Unfortunately for us, the media center is not scheduled to open officially until October.
Nonetheless, several librarians were there organizing some newly arrived books and an incredibly friendly librarian gave us a tour of the dozen or so empty rooms. The media center will include rooms for youth, adults, periodicals, computers and media, video and music, conferences, offices and more.
Everyone seems really excited about the opening and for good reason. While there are several small libraries in Ouaga, I think it's fair to say that this is Ouaga's first real public media center. Despite not yet being open, there were already a couple university students using the few tables and chairs available to read and study.
Once the "Mediathèque Municipale" is officially open, I have no doubt that it will be an incredibly popular place. Hopefully FAVL will be able to attend the opening ceremony and I think it would be a fabulous place to bring the FAVL librarians and staff the next time they are all in Ouaga.
I'm not that surprised about that indifference... most Italians don't even care who Beppe Fenoglio was, either. The rest of her article is here....
The Milan Central Train Station is a grandiose building and a forceful presence at the heart of the city, used daily by 320,000 people. But this busy European railway hub harbors a dark history: Underneath the station, hidden from view, is the secret track used to deport Italian Jews to Auschwitz.
Opened in 1931, the station was designed, at the request of then Prime Minister Benito Mussolini, to reflect the ideology of Italian fascism. The secret track, rediscovered in 1995, lies down a quiet street a short distance away from the 24 regular platforms, to the east of the station's main entrance. The entrance opens wide into a warehouse space where stairs lead down to a boxcar, a cargo lift and a single train track.
"There is no similar archaeological site in all of Europe," commented Michele Sarfatti, one of Italy's most important historians of Italian Jewry.Since 2002, this track of horror has been the official site for the Memoriale della Shoah di Milano, a planned memorial to honor the Jews deported from Milan in 1944. The completion of the memorial has been stalled time and again, partly because funds have been hard to raise. After almost 10 years, the end is still not in sight. But according to many involved in the project, there is another, more insidious force stalling it: an atmosphere of indifference to the idea that Italy was an active participant in the Holocaust.
Activity: Newspaper Class
Age: JHS Form 1
Number of Participants: 20
Time: 7:00pm-9:00pm Fri, 1 month duration
Description: Our purpose was to introduce the students to the Junior Graphic paper; to show them what a great resource it was and to engage them in current events. Our culminating activity was having them write and submit letters to the editor about an issue in Ghana that was important to them, and one was actually published! We talked about the crisis in Cote d'Ivoire, discussed what they thought were the biggest problems in Ghana (unsafe driving, education system, etc), and played fun games from the newspaper, such as word finders.
Observations: We were relieved to find that this age group understood us fairly well, and the children were very bright. They seemed to enjoy writing the letters, and we're sure they were excited when one of their classmates got published!
I definitely recommend this activity again for the future. I think knowing about current events in the community, Ghana, and the world is greatly beneficial for the students and their education, yet they seem to be unaware of how to educate themselves, or lacking the motivation to do so.
In a country like Ivory Coast, which combines large-scale immigration and ill-defined citizenship, identity issues are deeply dangerous. Bédié's ivoirité was a path to self-destruction: in search of its true and immutable self, Ivory Coast could only discover otherness. The country went mad and the outside world began moralising about Ivorian xenophobia. You have to be Senegalese to drive a taxi in Dakar; you have to be Togolese, or French, to own real estate in Lomé. Ivory Coast, an ultra-liberal country, wide open to the outside, until 1994 the only African country where foreigners were allowed to vote, and where they have consistently held senior positions, including ministerial posts, eventually had second thoughts about the virtues of reciprocity and pan-African sharing. Its citizens felt that they were doing all the giving or else being taken advantage of. I think they were wrong, but people have similar feelings in Holland, where foreigners account for 12.2 per cent of the population, in the US (12.5 per cent), in France (8.1 per cent) and even in the UK (6.5 per cent). How would they feel in a country where one person in every four isn't a citizen?
But the book is great fun for the history of the British war effort in Ghana. The transformation of the airfield at Takoradi, the air ferry to Cairo, and the defection of the Gyaman... all nicely described and extensively documented.
And I had not realized just how short the Vichy-leaning AOF lasted. Basically from June 1940 to November 1942 when Eisenhower began negotiating with Admiral François Darlan (late assassinated) for AOF to swtich sides after the Americans/Allies invaded North Africa. In December 1942, Governor General of AOF Pierre Boisson also switched sides. Boisson was later tried and condemned (lightly) in the post-war trials of the Free French.
Because my favorite album is Fleetwood Mac, Tusk, and "June" - especially the 'Hold on' chorus bit - has a very Lindsey Buckingham Tusk era thing going on. I like the moog-as-bass on a lot of the tracks. Is it moog? Some other vintage electric organ sound? (Oh hey: here's a live version of "Seer". And a live version of "June".)Personally I like "Walk a Thin Line", especially as the second-to-last song on a long run.