Mali Field Camp Files – Unexpected Down Time

Wow!  Well I’m back from the field – and have been since the 9th April. This is my first post since way back – 25th March. Why so long away from the internet? Why indeed..

After 2 weeks at camp, about which I will be posting blogs in the coming few days and weeks, I was getting excited at the prospect of getting online and updating you on what’s been going on.. only to find that in Bamako, there was a power cut.  D’oh!

Ok – no biggie. It’s been 14 days and counting without a constant electricity supply, so I was kind of used to it.  Instead of worrying about anything in particular I opted for a leisurely soak in the tub.  At least the geyser was still warm, and there were ice-cold beers still in the fridge!  Absolute luxury!  A few hours later – the power came back on, but the internet connection did not.  Sunday came and went – still nothing.  Either it was our modem that had packed up in our absence, or it was the service provider.  One way or the other – we were only going to find out once the working week began again.  Monday did provide the answer, but it wasn’t one I was particularly enthralled with.  A mere trickle of an email or two came through on our local email addresses – one of which was from the service provider explaining just exactly what the problem was – and it had been going on since the 1st April.  April Fool’s Day lasts a flippin’ long time around here it would seem – and wasn’t a laughing matter.  The internet service to Mali is provided via an optical fibre connection from Abidjan, Ivory Coast.  It had been disconnected.  Mali was “cut off” from the big world-wide web.

As I am sure most of you are aware – there has been political and civil unrest in Ivory Coast since the incumbent president Gbagbo decided not to accept the results of the democratically elected president Ouattara – way back in November.  Over the last few months this unrest has escalated, – claiming approximately 1500 lives in the process.  This week, however, has seen Gbagbo debunked from his hideout at his presidential palace.  At around lunch-time today I saw three helicopters – all military in appearance, fly overhead and heading south.. In a country where you see hardly any aircraft overhead on any given day – this caught my attention.  About 2-3 hours later, I was watching the latest update on Gbagbo’s capture on Sky News – where it was reported that Gbagbo has been removed from Abidjan, the capital and his stronghold – and taken to the north of Ivory Coast – Ouattara’s stronghold.  I don’t want to speculate on who was going where – but I do wonder if the two are in some way connected.  Seeing helicopters flying anywhere in Bamako or Mali for that matter is a very rare occurrence indeed. Someone was going to be visiting someone else somewhere south of here…

At 4:30pm this afternoon, the internet suddenly sprang into life, which is great for me – as I have 3 weeks worth of emails to trawl through – not to mention banking and boring monthly business and paperwork to attend to.  It does occur to me, however, that there are 1500 souls out there who will not be springing back to life – all for the sake of yet another African dictator who’s ego has caused bloodshed.  According to the locals here in Mali, Gbagbo “doesn’t want to be forgotten”. Well done, sir.  You needn’t worry.  You won’t be forgotten, but you won’t be remembered for any good you might have done for the country in the past…only the war and bloodshed of the present.

It will be a more cheery topic tomorrow. I promise!

It'll be a new dawn tomorrow...


2 thoughts on “Mali Field Camp Files – Unexpected Down Time

    1. Oddly enough, since the down-time – internet connectivity appears to be slightly better than it was before. There are some sites, previously unaccessible, that I can now browse through ( being one of them!) Facebook is a lot easier to access now too. Otherwise it is about as speedy as a 2G plug-in modem in Trompsburg…. 😉

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