Monday, June 16, 2008

Report by Wilson Masaka: with or without electricity the spirit is still alive

Here is a part of Wilson's report (Nairobits consultant) he has written after having taken Rukia's place as head teacher for a week (25th May to 31st May 2008).

One couldn’t believe such a popular and beautiful island goes without electricity for a period of 1 week and the time frame when probably the problem is going to be fixed can take even months. This is a comment from a local resident who are quite humble and are adapting to the situation. I could imagine if this was somewhere else, what could happen? But let’s leave this for another day.

In Zanzibar electricity is one of the economy’s boosters in almost all the sectors like the hoteliers, water supply and the small business. People depend on the electricity for their livelihood like making cold drinks, fruit juice, and storing fresh perishables in freezers for the next day’s sale. So you can imagine no ‘umeme’ (electricity) means live is so challenging or rather difficult even for the locals. `

Despite the power black out all over Zanzibar I was so impress by the ZanziBits team, staff and students. During my stay without power for five days life was normal in ZanziBits with all students so enthusiastic and motivated having attend all the session I held and everyone was on time always. Thumbs up to the team for making ZanziBits a place to be and I must congratulate Mr. Guy and Mr.Hashil for making all arrangements for all of us, especially on Friday for purchasing the generator which will serve the premise quite effectively, so with or without power ZanziBits is in full control.


What is creativity? There are many definitions you can use but I like this the most…

- 1+1= 11 and not 2
- Thinking outside the box
- Generating an idea and manifesting it.

Among the technologies if I may call it that is not going to be over taken with time very soon is the use of pen and paper. During my experience with power black out in Zanzibar this was an interesting subject to introduce to the students and prepare them psychologically to the creative field which is quite wide and for us to be partner in it we had to learn the basics and this are; How you see things, imaginations, how you think and perceive things, beliefs, attitude and expectations which will make you more creative. Computers are just tools that help us execute our creative ideas to a more tangible product.

“Give someone fish for a day and the next day teaching him/her how to fish and he/she will eat for a life time”.

Daily activities

Day 1 (26th May 2008)
On the first day we recapped the previous lessons taught and this was also done more creatively. Each students was given a piece of paper to write any computer related question which was rolled and shuffled for everyone to pick one, each student read out the question and a tempted to answer the question if someone was not in apposition the team could answer and if not the trainer gave the right answers. This made everyone to participate actively.
In the afternoon students where introduce to the field excursion assignment which was to follow in the next day. A visit to Zanzibar Butterfly Centre (ZBC) and as a starting point we had an exercise on how to use the view finder for practicing on how to take good quality photos. The view finder helped the students to select elements to capture and also keeping the right distance. Other subject of photography was also touched on briefly like light, attention to details and background. For the assignment students where supposed to make photos and write text which later they were to use Microsoft power point for presentations. The presentation didn’t happen the next day as planned because of luck of power but due to availability of the new generator on Friday we got a chance to recap practically on the assignment.

During the briefing meeting with Rukia before my departure we agreed she will follow up on this assignment and every student will present their work to the group.

Day 2 (27th May 2008)

Visit to the Zanzibar Butterfly Centre. The day was quite a success whereby we were introduced to the butterfly family and the entire project which has attracted many people around the area. I didn’t know butterflies are such beautiful insects until I came close to them and also learned about their life cycle and their importance to the environment (pollination) it was also interesting for the students to learn different species and how butterflies protect themselves from the predators. The day ended with lunch together at nearby village. This was the first time the students were visiting ZBC (Zanzibar Butterfly Center) which is in the villages and everyone was happy for a great day spent.

Such field excursion should be arranged once in a while to make the students get versed with the environment which is a great source of inspiration to make them more creative.

Day 3 (28th May 2008)

At this stage there was no power yet in the premise and Zanzibar as a whole which required me to think on other creative ways I could share with the students to make them motivated and get inspired. I like this scout motto: Be prepared, yes it really works.
The following are the topics we discussed and shared with the team

1. Creativity – Thinking outside the box

We started with discussions that would make the students think, for example what would happen if there was no color in the world? This would make them appreciate the importance of color in our daily life. Imagine this; can you take gray rice and black potatoes? I know this will trickle down to personalities, cultures etc but the biggest test, will you have appetite? So we see how we are attached to colors in all aspect of our life. The second exercise every student was given a blank A4 paper and I asked them to do anything with it, the result were all the students either drew something or wrote some text and this is the convention out there and to break this

I did the same exercise but for me I made a box with the paper.

2. Text v/s Picture. We also touch on how a text and pictures works together within a composition.

3. Color and culture – We had a great discussion forum where by we learnt colors in the cultural perspective. There are global standard colors and there are colors with more than I meaning to different cultures etc. This was an interesting discussion forum to make the students to appreciate colors and during the discussion each student was expected to give examples.

4. Story board – Pen and paper story boarding and visualizing a story using either letters or illustrations.

Day 1 (29th May 2008)

- In the previous day students where asked to bring anything they could say as been creatively done. It could be a page from a new paper, magazine etc. We had a chance also to look at the pieces and learn from them like nicely calendar layout, poster etc.

- Self esteem; in the one week time my major focus was also to help improve the students self esteem by organizing discussion forums, public speaking tips / how to make presentations and games which everyone actively participated including myself. Youths have talents which are not yet realized and by this kind of arrangements youths tend to gain confidence and pursue them to great heights.

Day 1 (30th May 2008)

The happiest moment Mr. Guy and Mr. Hashil delivered the generator to the school every body was every happy eagerly waiting to see the connection fixed and use their computers again. Later in the evening we got a chance to work with Photoshop and MS power point. I pointed out to the students how they can use the internet more effectively by learning by themselves be it Photoshop which they really like so much even there is a student called ‘adobe’. As we know internet is a powerful tool and anything you think of is ready available to be served in most cases. The main point was the bad, the good and the ugly of the internet which the students were enlighten on how to use the tool for educative purpose and avoid other materials that would waste their time and good planning was also a great deal here. The introduction of the topic was done more creatively and without leaving anyone in doubts. Youths are creative and eager to learn and without caution anything can run through the punch of the keyboard and for sure you will get answers.


My week was quite successful and I’m very happy to see the progress the students have made. I have been also learning more about the Zanzibar culture from how they talk, eat, dress etc. Cross cultural exchange through internet between NairoBits and Zanzibits students has been going on and they have forged friendship by keeping in touch on the daily activities and personal life whereby they share ideas cross the border. On my way back to Kenya I had packs of goodies from the Zanzibits students to take to the NairoBits students and I tried to fit them all in my luggage for students. It would be great to see these guys meet face to face!

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