Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Ethiopian Journey: part four

Irene and her colleagues have arrived at the hotel where her organisation's other team in Ethiopia are based. They are there to inform the team's chief coordinator that his project is being immediately closed down.

"There were a couple of volunteers loafing around at the entrance to the hotel, but we barely recognised them as such. They weren't wearing the black t-shirts with the organisation's logo, but instead were clad in white linen suits, but suits that looked like they had been worn continuously, unwashed, since their arrival in S-----. And they had the vacant eyes and continuously working jaws indicating enslavement by khat, a local narcotic. One of them, though, seemed a bit more alert than his fellows. Seeing us, he bounded over excitedly. I recognised him as D-----, a puppyish fellow I had met at an orientation meeting in Dublin. His eyes looked now like he had seen things that had aged him beyond his young years.

'"You are here to see the great work we are doing, yes?', he asked. 'It is all thanks to Mr K-----. His methods have yielded the most excellent results'.

"'Where is K-----?' I asked. 'We need to see him.'

"'I will take you to him, of course, yes. Come this way!'

"He led us into the hotel, which seemed to double up both as where the team were staying and where they were conducting their courses.

"'Look here!' said D-----, 'A classroom! See what we are achieving!'

"He pointed us into a classroom, where Ethiopian students were working at computers while linen-suited teachers strode up and down behind them. But this was not like any other of our classrooms – the teachers were carrying canes, and striking the students in response to mistakes or perceived lapses of concentration.

"D----- saw our dismay. 'It's the only way,' he said, 'It's the only language they understand. K----- saw it clearly, we must make them fear failure if they are ever to succeed.'

"But then my colleague J----- interrupted. 'Dear God! Look at the screens! See what they have on the screens!'

"Would to God I had ignored her, that I had looked away. But I did look, and I cannot forget what I saw. On the computers' screens we could see their workspaces. But they were not Ubuntu workspaces. The PCs were running Windows!


Lisa said...


More! More!

Lisa said..., I mean, "the horror, the horror"....

dok said...

It's like Heart of Darkness set in Rl'yeh.

Ammonite said...

Ian, do you have this under copyright? You should!

Mark said...

Gavin's gonna come at you like the northern bullet for ripping off his shtick.

ian said...

Ian, do you have this under copyright? You should!

You can't copyright THE TRUTH.