01 02 03 Africa Expat Wives Club: Only Connect 04 05 15 16 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 31 32 33

Only Connect

Last night’s presidential debate was riveting – up until the point where I couldn’t watch anymore because my eyes were closing. No offence to the organizers, but getting x8 two minute responses to each question posed, did get slightly wearing after two hours (*I was on the edge of my seat for the first hour).

I wish I could have watched the whole thing, but the spectre of my daily alarm clock going off at 5.45am, ensured that reason prevailed over political curiosity. On balance, I felt that election favourites Uhuru Kenyatta and Raila Odinga came off worst in the debate and the day was carried by the underdogs and rank outsiders who had some refreshing and challenging questions/opinions to bring into the room. Having all the candidates lined up in one room for the first time was a great leveller, even if their party policies were fairly similar, their body language spoke volumes.

An exciting week in politics; this week is going to hold further momentous events –

1. An ICC video link exchange due to take place this Thursday and on Friday 15th between the Hague court and Uhuru and Ruto, to discuss the logistics behind the upcoming case due to start on 10th April and

2. a local supreme court ruling on whether Uhuru Kenyatta and William Ruto are legally allowed to stand in the upcoming election since their integrity is in question, (according to article 6 of the new constitution).

Politics aside:

Our collective obsession with being ‘online’

“Hello” said a Canadian voice outside a mountain hut at the weekend that my husband was staying in (on Mount Meru).

“Hello” says my husband and his friends who are inside the hut, albeit tentatively.

“Hello”, the Canadian voice said again – this time louder, more insistent.

“Hello” – says my husband and his mates ring in again, also louder.

After a time, they realise that the man outside is on a phone. Now this becomes a joke.

“Hello” (Canadian)

“Hello” (giggling 40 year olds inside the hut)

“Hello.” Apparently the Canadian has finally got through, “I can’t hear you well.” The man says. “I’m in the middle of Africa – I’ll probably lose you when the satellite moves over.”

It sounded like he was talking to someone at work.

“Er, hello” – says one of my husband’s 3 friends loudly coming out of the hut. “Do you want to borrow my mobile – it’s got a full signal!”

The fact that ‘AFRICA’ is out of range and offline – could not be further from the truth. Last week I chatted to some safari guides about the trouble they have with clients who are supposed to be on holiday but insist on keeping in touch with work and online throughout their visit to Kenya.

“It’s not generally a problem,” the friend said, “you can usually get online wherever you are.”

(Cue – photo of Masai holiding a computer while sitting on a kopie)

Apparently things have changed greatly from the bad old days when a holiday really was a holiday. Now you can get a signal almost everywhere in the country – in fact the coverage here is even better than I can access back home in England.

The guide said that he had one tricky client who googled all of their safari destinations in advance of his trip of a lifetime, in order to check that there was connectivity in each place that he would visit. When, in a mountainous region, he couldn’t get online (the safari guide had told him in advance that it might be tricky hre, but apparently the client had known better) – the man in question sat in camp, staring at his phone – utterly miserable, to the point where he was unable to join the rest of his family on their trekking/wildlife experience. When the truth came out, the 65 year old client in question admitted that he had not confessed to work colleagues that he was going on holiday, so had been hoping to dupe them by doing his job ‘remotely’ throughout the trip.

I have noticed the same problem with house guests and my own family. It’s a 21st century dilemma. Over the past couple of years we have had a wireless internet connection at home – if the wireless is offline (often due to misaligned signals or frequent power cuts) our lack of connectivity quickly becomes an issue. Visitors want to skype home, email or text almost as soon as their plane touches down. Once an idea pops into your head to check something online, you expect to be able to do this immediately.

My husband is the worst culprit. He relies on catching up on emails during home time because he received hundreds every day and is often out of the office. He’s on his smartphone literally as soon as he opens his eyes in the morning to the moment he closes them at night. So addictive is it, that when he’s not dealing with emails he’s internet surfing, Facebooking and Ebay cruising – to the point where it’s actually hard to hold a conversation.

We recently bought a computer for my 12 year old daughter because she HAD to have one for a school geography project. Up until then we had been holding out. Increasingly she is being pushed online for social reasons too. Apparently the biggest disaster in her life currently is that she is not on Facebook – but she’s not yet 13 which is the legal requirement to join, so I have put my foot down. In fact I offered her $200 to stay off Facebook until she is 14 (an idea I got from XFM radio yesterday morning). She turned me down flat and says I am lucky she hasn’t signed up behind my back because it is actually simple to lie about your age on Facebook and ALL her friends are on the social media site – EVEN WHEN THEY AREN’T YET 13! - SOB!

(I really hate Facebook. It’s all that comparing wonderful lives via photographs. I’ve never joined due to fear of falling into a deep depression. Isn’t Facebook getting a bit dated people??)

Even without Facebook she is online at every chance, spending endless hours playing ‘Stardoll’ – a sort of online ‘sticker-dolly-dressing‘ program that she (and most of her friends) are currently addicted to.

And let’s face it, I can’t talk; I have my blog (which, as you know, I am not very good at updating), but worse - am addicted to news websites; the Nation, Standard, the Bing newsfeed, BBC, Telegraph and Daily Mail – following stories that I notice become increasingly irrelevant and inane the longer I surf. This week I realised that I can only get constructive writing done if there is a power cut, but only for as long as my computer battery holds out.

Right now I’m down to 12 minutes battery life remaining – must sign off!!

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