Posts Tagged ‘internet’

“I will never, never take water for granted again.”

I repeat this mantra to myself as I stand in the shower, somewhat awkwardly. Shampoo is still lathered in my hair and is slowly dripping into my eyes. The water has stopped pouring from the spout again. It just ran out. It does that here. The irony of course is that the CLP came here to report on water scarcity issues, some of which we are experiencing first hand.

Talk about immersion journalism. Sarah walked for 2 miles with a woman from the remote village of Dillo just to fetch water for her community. Now, I’m learning to anticipate such situations, and more than ever before, have begun to appreciate the true value of water. Who ever thought water was a luxury? For many in Ethiopia, it is just that, and it’s still taking me time to fully understand how such an essential resource has become as much a source of conflict and hardship as oil. Water should be a basic human right.

Woman washing clothes
In Addis Ababa, this women walks miles from her home along with hundreds of others to bathe and wash clothes at the springs at the top of Mt. Entoto, where the Italians had left water points during WWII.
A few hours later, I repeat another mantra I’ve grown used to repeating:

“I will never, never take internet for granted again.”

I’m sitting at the internet cafe hoping to connect with family and friends. But the blog-page has frozen, e-mail won’t send, and the photos are too large to upload. This hasn’t been the first time, so I brought a book to keep me busy while the pages load. There’s a couple interesting reasons for the dragging internet. One – the Ethiopian government holds a monopoly on internet by owning the only internet service provider in the entire country. Lack of competition and restricted freedoms (it’s impossible to start a blog from Ethiopia. They have them blocked), have made internet a rare commodity limited to the rich. And two – just a few weeks ago an underwater break in the fiber optic cables caused an “internet blackout” that swept Eastern and Northern Africa, the Middle East and parts of Asia.

Thus, the lack of working internet has been an issue for the CLP group since we arrived here. But this comes with the terrain when you are an international journalist, especially when you’re dealing with online, multimedia journalism.

The circumstances have been a blessing and a curse. We have learned to live spontaneously, to expect the unexpected, to go days without a shower or e-mail, and to revel in the chaos of a city like Addis Ababa, or the fragility of the remote villages of Oromia. It is frustrating, but frankly, sometimes I love it. Every day has brought something new, and despite the failing internet or the lack of water infrastructure, I will miss this country desperately when I leave. But before I return, please do me a favor. Take a warm shower. Surf the speedy internet. Revel in its rare luxury, it’s blessed comfort. Don’t take it for granted. Although I’ll miss Africa, I’m relieved it will be waiting for me when I return.


My colleague Ernest and our interpreter Ali visit an internet cafe in the town of Awassa during our 3-day long journey to Kenya. Ernest said the internet was so slow we couldn’t open e-mail, so we decided to hit the road.

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