28 July 2006

You mean these old cranks can actually get along?

Today was the first day of our two day appreciative inquiry workshop for the tribal leaders. We had about 30 people, out of 32 invited, which isn't bad. Unfortunately though, there was only one woman in the group. We can't do much to control that, however, since the various tribes and counties select their representatives to the forum. Nonetheless, the discussion was good. A few people didn't quite get the idea that the objective was to focus on positive things on the camp, rather than problems. Basically, we're looking at what good things we have here that can be built upon in order to solidify a spirit of peace and reconciliation on camp. In a place like this, if we just talked about problems, the conversation would last so long that most of the old men in the room would die before we finished.

We first discussed what unifying forces exist here that can be built upon, and then we discussed what big ideas or dreams we have for future activities. Tomorrow we'll get more into concrete steps and hopefully get a rough sketch of an action plan. I also hope that we start a little more promptly tomorrow, so I can get to the beach sooner. ;)

The conversation went well though, and those in attendance seemed to accept me as a facilitator, when I really half expected them to completely ignore the young white kid. But at the end of the day, they clapped for me twice, and the Chairman of the Elder Council extended his good wishes and personal thanks.

Yesterday I was pretty convinced this thing was gonna fall on its ass. The leaders of the Elder Council came to the office, where there was a dispute because one of them didn't get his ID card. It was all a little petty and easily resolved, even though it took two hours. Yet today they really seemed to get along and worked well in small, diverse groups.

Note to those trying to divide people into groups in Africa: do not use birth month as a means to organize people. The obsession with perfect order and regimented bureaucracy makes your life difficult when you realize the October-November-December group is massive and needs to be split up.

Also yesterday, Emmanuel and I went to the Kofi Annan Centre. I got a lot out of it personally, but they don't really do anything for grassroots stuff, so Emmanuel was a little down (plus intimidated by the place). Yet we did meet with a Liberian academic there who gave us some good contacts and a pledge of personal support.

Anyway, time for my final peace cell mobilization. Only 3 days left....

1 comment:

Amanda said...

Hey Jason!! I had no idea that you could post blogs while in Africa until yesterday. I was at Mamaws and she informed me thats how she has been keeping up with you. Anyway, I just wanted to know that you have been in my thoughts and prayers while in Africa. I can't wait to hear about your trip in person and see pictures. Email me if you get a chance. Amandatnqt@yahoo.com I would love to hear how you are. Love you!