Nigeria, Nollywood, and Peanut-Butter-Applesauce Toast
Today I ordered a hamburger in India. Well not really.
But Thomas Friedman told me I could, which is just as strange. I’m about 100 pages into The World is Flat, which explains the depth of globalization and both the advantages and disadvantages of it in terms of the future economy. Can you imagine ordering your McDonald’s hamburger through a call center in India and then being handed that caloric sweaty bundle of meat 1 min 16 sec later in OhSoNowhere, Idaho? What a deliciously strange world…
Speaking of a flat world…read on and make pancakes –..–..–>
Today I started at Ashoka: Innovators for the Public. Go see for yourself: ashoka.org. I work in the Venture-Fellowship office, which means that I help research/write/organize/create thing in reference to people applying for grant funding around the world who are trying to start their own be-the-change-type organizations. It’s absolutely fabulous. What’s cool about the office is that everyone is a changemaker…..everyone has an idea, or 10 ideas, or endless ideas. My boss today told me to come up with my own ideas about what I wanted to do during my internship. He said it could be anything from pursuing my interest in photography in relation to Ashoka to painting the wall of the office. He literally threw me a crayon and told me to draw.
Well not literally, but almost. How many jobs have you had where you get to make your work…okay well maybe a lot of people have those kinds of jobs. But I never have. I get to pick the brains of people who are going to CHANGE THE WORLD; I get to read and write about people who are already doing it on a huge huge level; I get to try to make my own change my own way.
Toast with peanut butter and applesauce on top…DELISH
Not only is my boss a member of the Ashoka Africa Venture Team, which is awesome, but on my very first day, we had a Fellow presentation by Chibuzo Ekwekwo, a Nigerian lawyer who has started an organization and worked tirelessly to combat corruption in Nigeria’s public sector. His newest venture is to use Nollywood film as an venue to promote political FREEDOM and right practices. He is creating an awards program that rewards films who work to fight corruption in the government. Chibuzo also has a large focus on education and getting more people engaged through a grassroots, BOTTOM-UP SOLUTION.
Here is were the FLAT WORLD comes in. I walked into the conference room and there was all this technology set up…computers, a big screen, all kinds of things. Turns out, this presentation was a Live Feed online…so people could watch the presentation from the comfort of their swivelchaircouchbedpillowplaneofficebathtubiphone and then TWItttttttttttttttttttttttttttttttter their questions in which Chibuzo could answer again, on the LIVE feed. Before the talk, Chibuzo and I stood behind Will and marvelled at this technology. He said his wife in Cote d’Ivoire would be watching!
Simon then walked in, discouraged because many people in the Ashoka offices didn’t want to come into the conference room since they could watch the presentation from their desks. What’s funny is I’d just read Friedman’s account of a trade agreement between two countries that had been executed through video technology; the account related the “virtual handshake” that solidified the agreement, while the leader on one side of the screen in one country stuck his hand out, as the leader in another country on the other side of the screen did the same. Human Contact is officially dead. We’ve exchanged reality for convenience, laziness, and momentary intrigue. Why see someone in the flesh, shake their hand, make eye contact, have a personal conversation face-to-face, share a space and experience together when you can do
none of that.
I’m all for technology and progress, but before we start making love to robots, let’s take a minute…
Back to my HEART OF DARKNESSSSS:
While I was listening to the talk, I was thinking about a paper I just wrote (91% so don’t be factually swayed by anything i have to say…when i get a 98% I’ll call you back)
on US foreign aid to Africa. Bush’s Millenium Challenge Corporation has collaborated with other organizations like Freedom House and others to create systems to rank the level of political liberty and freedom as well as the level of corruption within aid-seeking countries. Based on these ratings and data, funding is awarded. In my paper, I was quite nearly convinced it was a great thing; and perhaps it is the way the United States government must interact with Africa in order to maintain its committment to democracy promotion and national security interests. But aid will never fix Africa.
Like Chibuzo said today, it has to be bottom-up. Organizations like Ashoka and the rest of Western civil society needs to find ways to both politically and economically empower grassroots African organizations through education, microenterprising and microloans, women’s rights organizations. I asked Chibuzo after his talk how early he began educating and engaging children on political issues. I was disappointed to hear that the answer was not very early at all. But whyohwhy? You’re talking about a huge population of kids that eventually will be able to turn the continent around. If we build education enough in Africa to
1) make kids aware of the political and economic plagues on Africa
2) give them the educational capacity within Africa to become educated enough to want to stay in Africa and help fix these problems
we might just be able to put some bandaids on this region. Who knows…eventually remove the stitches.
oy I’ve been watching too much ER.
I miss my boulder. I found a gym to try tomorrow. I need some love from the rock and the chalk.
Speaking of Africa my Senegalese cab driver and I marvelled at the irony of non-Arabic speaking Muslim Senegal…he prayed in Arabic while I told him what he was praying for. Oh the