There are many days like today in Kibera. I went down to KCODA early today to pick up video clips, and ended up staying for hours with students from the nascent Kibera News Network : helping add voice over audio clip to a completed piece, realizing that we were editing the wrong clip, converting a mysterious file type into one compatible with our software (this never succeeded), transferring materials via my flash drive (a rare commodity) from one computer to the next, and then suddenly – the power went out. And then, it started to rain, hard. So we all sat in the dark office and watched the rain, our day suddenly stopped in its tracks. Julius, the KCODA director, about to leave for lunch, us about to finish editing some video, and then – nothing but the sound of the rain, nowhere to go, nothing to do.
I had started out the day rushing around trying to accomplish things without success: getting my computer repaired, exchanging my new USB plug-in modem for one that works. These tasks had also failed, and now, watching the rain pour down harder and harder onto the mud streets of Kibera, I had to just give up. And wait.
I often think that in Nairobi, things work just well enough to make it frustrating. You expect the power to stay on, you expect the computers to function, you think your new Orange modem will work with your Mac. Everything functions at breakneck speed, until we’re reminded (much like the lesson of the Icelandic volcano ash, I think) that it all really hangs on a thread and nature, bureaucracy, fate, malice, just plain traffic jam can pull it down at any moment. In fact, the Friday afternoon traffic jam today was standstill, given the rain.
After a nice chat with the guys at KCODA the rain finally eased up, and I left – frustrated, but not for long. Check out this insanely beautiful rainbow I was then treated to, while sitting in a dirty matatu listening to the driver’s reggae mix:
Oddly, no one else seemed to be looking at it. But what wonders a natural wonder can do for you after a week of struggling with community technology.