Please join me in celebrating Zimbabwe's Heroes Day, equivalent to
America's Veteran's Day. Cde Mugabe spoke about pensions and other
veterans' matters at a ceremony at the impressive memorial to the
unknown soldiers on a peak outside Harare. Tomorrow (Monday) is a
The ice seems to be breaking in Botswana -- I just spent a week and
a half in Gaborone. Unconfirmed rumors suggest that Compuserve
local dialup is now quietly available, and a bill is on the floor of
Parliament to liberalize the telecommunications sector. I
personally know one person who's planning either a leased land line
or satellite link for local Internet service once that's permitted
by law. For the local research support institute SACCAR, USAID is
offering its list server facility until such time as a local
organization offers such a facility in Gaborone -- hopefully soon. I
suspect that the SADC headquarters will be among the first to offer
such a server, under the able guidance of Bessie Saidie.
All too brief discussions with SANGONet staff in Johannesburg
revolved around the critical issue of user support in the region. The
idea is to make the Internet more accessible to those who might not
be too experienced with computer technologies, which suggests more
user training than is often available from service providers in the
region. The tentative plan, pending funding availability, is to take
advantage of meetings, for example a regional meeting of
sorghum/millet improvement program scientists in Harare, to schedule
a workshop organized by SANGONet staff, demonstrating in practical
terms ways the Internet can contribute to research.
Now Zimbabwe, where I'm looking forward to a first ever meeting with
Rob Borland on Tuesday -- one of the continent's Internet pioneers.
Today I browsed through the telephone Yellow Pages, and picked out a
couple of dozen advertisements that list email addresses with
Internet Africa. I spent an hour this afternoon browsing some of the
files available from Mango's file server.
But for the weekend, it was fun visiting lions and cheetahs in game
parks about 20 minutes outside of town -- drove within 20 meters of a
white rhion munching grass by a lake. Later wandered around
the main public garden in Harare -- we witnessed a performance of
traditional dances and songs by a dozen different primary school
groups -- great stuff! I can easily see why Zimbabwe is such a
popular tourist destination. The art museum was great. There's a
hotel downtown that's just incredible -- the Meikles, listed in the
book "The Leading Hotels of the World" along with London's Savoy and
New York's Ritz-Carlton.
Outside of town is a bit more sobering -- public housing available
with utilities in an affordable rent-to-own plan, and "squatters"
camps near a platinum mine suggest not everyone gets a job.
Headline in the paper: "Thousands for President's Wedding", and also
"Trade Union Membership Down after Retrenchments". And "Citrus
exports soon to leave Beira for Europe". Impressions from
Jeff @ Harare