[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.