High > Low < Tech

2 weekly blog resisting the second law


March 2015

Chapter 13 – Furaha

[Emilia Torrini – Jungle Drum]

One of my collegues writes me from Switzerland. She hopes I don’t have to do to much work so I can discover this unique island. I don’t know how I could discover this unique island without my work.
Waking through the backstreets of Kinyasini suddenly a quad tour of a near by hotel passes by. Starring and disbelieve. Here are supposed to be little black children waving at them not some pale, blonde dude in torn trousers with a notebook in his hand.

While I am sitting in the shadow on the side of the road chewing some sugarcane and chatting up a local, a taxi passes by. Behind the window a camera lens, behind the camera a tourist watching the scenery passing by on the little preview screen.

For displacing some 30 cubic meters of earth Daniel organizes the local football team from the next village. One day leaving the construction site they give me a ride. Imagine 20 young men on a mini trasporter, hardly fitting yet drumming and singing and turning it in to a party at 90 [km/h].


One evening we leave Matemwe in the evening. Its a small transporter with two covered seats and an open cargo area and we are 5 people. Off course I jump on the back. Hassini protest I have to sit in the front. Hapana, Hapana. I’m fine. I want to sit here. Okay but then he wants to sit on the cargo area as well. Omar starts driving. I protest. But now Omar is alone in front. The car stops, the door opens and Omar joins us in the back. For a moment we are five grown men sitting on the back of a transporter with running motor and no driver. Then everybody cracks. I offer to drive but Omar and Hassini are already taking their places in front. As the transporter pulls away from the shore an orange colored full moon rises from the Indian sea.

Off course this is before I meet Furaha. She is asian. We are an odd couple but we are getting along better and better. Lots of heads turn our way. Before me there was a Brazilian guy. But he didn’t give her much attention and now he is leaving the country anyway. She hums vividly as we fly over the dusty asphalt road. The first time we went out together she snapped at me. Twice. I wanted to know what she was made of and pushed to hard. Full throttel in the fith gear. Snap, jumping to 10000 rpm and no traction. I calm her down. Back to 4th gear. Lets try this again. Since the boundries are set we are getting along just fine. Just adjusting to each others temper.

I named her Furaha. The kiswahili word for Happiness. She opens up a whole new dimension to my stay here. The things I can freely explore now are expanded, the way I organized my day more flexible. I sing to her very loud and off tune while driving. She does the background. A weird duett. Anyway sometimes I do miss being squeezed into a dalladalla, or huming jingle bells while driving with Daniel in the car. But thats all still possible. Furaha is not very possessive. I just have to invite her for a drink every 200 kilometers.


Chapter 12 – Pace of Life

[Kings of Leon – Wasted time]

It is a curious thing. Time. It stretches and compresses seemingly beyond our control. Living in a beach house the days seem endless yet the two weeks there fly by. Before I know it I live in a tiny room in Stone Town. Driving over the island at day never takes long but driving home at night, alone over the bumby roads the rides get endless.


Time ticks differently here in Zanzibar. It slows down. Opening an account can take weeks, even month.Sometimes people come late – a day late. You never know when the next Dalladalla goes, so you just sit in the shadow and chew on some sugarcane or nibble on some roasted corn. Hakuna Matata. But although it slows down it doesn’t stop. The traffic for example is pulsing and chaotic and requires fast reactions. Finally all those hours playing GTA pay off. Who says computer games have nothing to do with reality?
Zanzibar is an island off the east coast of Africa, Zanzibar is an island between stand still and the hasty hectic. It is moving. But like an anti-newtonian fluid pushing harder only creates resistance. To nerdy? Try to run in water that is hip deep. It will cost you a lot of energy without actually being faster. If you lean back and float with the current you’ll be probably get to your goal much faster. To much metaphors? Bottom line: There is a natural pace to things. “The west” definitely goes to fast. Way to fast. Other places stand still or move in artificial slomo. Here it feels right.


There is this saying you hear in places like this. “You (industrialized countries) have the clock, we have the time.” And time is our most valuable resource. Is it not? If you haven’t (re)read Momo you should. I had much time recently to think, to reflect, to philosophy and to work on stuff. Realizing that the needed technology exists but is not implemented raises the question: Why? And the answer lies in the control and distribution of resources. Time is a resource. Education is a resource. Food, Water, Fuel. All resources. Money a resource. Trade necessary to get access to the ones you can’t mine yourself. But in the end it is all about time. Food and water so we don’t perish and thus have time. Extra energy to get more food and water and faster and thus have more time. Money to be able to redistribute and store time. In this idea than the most fundamental question is “What do you spend your time on?” Follow that question ruthelessly and it will lead you on a path slowly unraveling “certain cultural narritives that only serve elites.” [Russel Brand].


Money is actually a meta-resource. It does not translate directly into more time. It has to be exchanged. The definition of the value can be changed. By making it the main resource the group definening its value gains control over all other resources and ultimately what you spend your time on. You can exploid socities by devaluating it. Basically saying “Your time is worth shit.” or you can block access to resources by putting the value up. This can be seen in exchange rates. But more importantly you can use it to keep people running idefinetly by constantly devalueing the money they collected – Inflation. So they won’t find rest and will keep doing what you want them to do.


Resources. After visiting so many different projects questions about how to evaluate their impact became more and more important. Because good intentions and impressive pictures are just one part of the truth. Just because a community gets equipment doesn’t necessarly mean it stays there. More money doesn’t necessarly mean it is spend on better food or education. And so on. So now I am trying to setup an excel sheet to aid in raising data and crunching it to analyze the control and distribution of resources in social groups. So for example if in a community the women are earning all the money but the men get to spend it then a women empowerment project should achieve a considerable shift in that pattern.


I know this may sound as if I spend the last three weeks inside thinking and sitting bend over my tablet. But no. I go running and for walks. I go out. I was snorkeling at a reef. I’ve been working and trying to learn kiswahili. I’ve been cursing the contractor, bargaining for food, walking through the back alleys of tiny villages. I have been driving. And had my fare share of close encounters with truck headlights at 90 [Km/h]. I have been dancing. Yet in the evenings my minds gets pounded by Alan‘s speeches and Paulo‘s essays and their words echo in the parts of the days inbetween inspecting the construction side and being crammed into a dalladalla, at noon siestas or a beach walk under the milky way.
Good things to spend your time on.

PS: Some time I did spend bend over my tablet. So now this blog has a chronological archive and a media section.


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