Saturday, July 4, 2009

Kigali too

Date: June 10th 2009, 11:10 PM

Venue: Cyber café, Kigali, Rwanda

Passing through the lively streets of Kigali in the morning today, I just couldn’t help thinking what a cool music video could be made here. Like something MIA would pull off. The shops that lined the streets all had colorfully fun, painted walls- very few boards; And the light has this amazing color. The kind we usually photoshop our photos to death for. Something to do with the red soil and clean skies I think. And oh! There’s an “Obama Shop” near our hotel on Nyamirambo! How cool is that?(update: on our last day here, we noticed that the Obama had been painted over. Apparently shops here are pretty versatile with their brand identity etc.)

It’s really amazing to think that only a few years ago, this country went through the horrible experience of the Rwandan genocide; it seems to be doing exceptionally well for that. The streets are clean, most of the people we met, optimistic and the government has quite a few innovative programs going on(although one could argue that most of them are dependant on foreign aid for their survival. But hey, at least they’re putting the aid to good use). The government started KIST, the Kigali Institute of Technology(the place we had most of our training sessions at, btw) some years ago and they dub it as the MIT of Rwanda(It even has a Media Lab :P), and of course, they have a massive OLPC deployment going on too.

The workshops have been excellent so far. Comprehensive, but not too demanding. Among other things, learnt to open up and fix basic XO hardware problems, set up the school server, learn to use the basic XO programs, etc. There was ample time to get to know folks from other teams and exchange some useful ideas with them. I am looking forward to the rest of the week.


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