Am back – and been observing!

Africa, well Kenya, was a cathartic exerience in every way.

I was:

  • offline
  • seeing Tom and doing something for someone else
  • getting my Vit B from the sun
  • given an opportunity to spend five peaceful days in great company – should I need it

Primarily the trip was about Tom. I saw him on three separate occasions and am so glad that I made the ‘effort’. It is possibly too soon for me to describe in any detail how the whole thing went – I know, it is frustrating – but it is very emotive to see a friend in prison, especially a high security Kenyan prison. However, I feel better for having seen and hugged him… although it is not so good now being back in a place where I cannot do anything practical to help.

I was not able to see him over the weekend, so was spoiled rotten by his parents and friends… photos on Flickr www.flickr.com/photos/mulquem/

That aside, I did get some peace to consider communication and its variants across the globe. Believe me, being in a country where Internet access is a suspicious luxury is extremely debilitating… yet freeing (discuss!)

On the plane home I believe I had a minor epiphany.

I was standing at the back of the plane and just stretching, avoiding the catatonia of screens and food, when I noticed the diversity of people on the flight. I tell you, the flight back from Nairobi is a wet dream for anthropologists.

Yet every screen was on. Row upon row of people from every background, plugged in to some form of digital entertainment. It was a scary view!

In the seats directly surrounding me, I had two lads, both African – neither had flown before. One sat next to me, the other in front – the one in front was very young, with a nun who was clearly his guardian. Both lads were unsettled throughout the whole flight. Not because of the flight itself, I saw no nerves around take-off or landing – but they were plugged in to a wealth of vision/audio options that they had no real choice but to fiddle about. Neither of them stayed with one channel, audio or visual, for longer than a minute or so… but when they were asked to engage and interact with the screen – then they seemed keen to involve themselves.

I was feeling strangely displaced as – normally – I am the one glued to the computer screen, but I think we need to do more to ensure a balance and ensure that the attraction of digital/social media is managed carefully enough not to make zombies out of all of us.

More when I have had more sleep! And Amy has officially turned six!

6 responses

  1. my website doesnt matter. Not into self promotion.
    Good that you back but oddly not good because and this is the important bit. You helped a real person in that short space of time and you did a damn find job. Our blog chatter pales to nothing compared to the suffering some people have. My guilty kebab would feed a family for a week. How the f can we redress the balance or help the oppressed like tom.

  2. You are all too kind… well, we will find a way to help redress the balance, I say. I need to ponder, but there is something we can do collectively I am sure.

  3. Good to see you back. you did such a good thing and will have raised Tom’s spirits and given him some hope. you’re also making his plight visible and growing the support for him and others like him. that’s one way of redressing the balance!

  4. True, Tom’s passion at the moment is making things right for his fellow prisoners. I am not sure how much I am allowed to say, but there is rampant disease in the prison, very little water – the bore hole needs pipes (which Tom could get from the farm- but no one will accept his offer). There are far too many prisoners on remand, treated as if they are convicted… they lose electricity on a regular basis, when I was there they had had no power for 5 days (luckily they do now). So, yes I have raised Tom’s spirits, but it would be more productive to help everyone at Kamiti.

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