Sunday, March 31, 2013

When the international community takes its forty winks: A typewriter and the dream of an artist

Underneath the surface, the lands and peoples we ignore. Metal and fence in Salzburg
Pic by Philo Ikonya
Will the world always remain this tilted towards the nations that have achieved much more development? 

I dreamt of changing the world and have not stopped. I realise even more clearly that it is not so hard. Not so hard because there is something you can do right now and change the world. The statistics may not matter. Today and now you can decide that when you see people you will check your own barometer of justice. Check if at once you feel you are better than the people you see around you because of a specific reason. Check what that reason is and dismantle it. You cannot know that you are better than someone, superior by just looking at them! And even if you contested on something, you cannot always be the winner. 

The other way of changing anytime is learning something new and reflecting on it. Writing is a physical and spiritual way of reflecting.

I was not so aware of what tantalum is until I read about minerals that are used to make computers and practically every other gadget that we hold in our hands as electronic. And then I read about coltan too. Many nations want to claim that they all have some. China, Norway, Finland and many more. I think Russia too says she does have it. 

It is all essential for making phones, computers and all our current plethora or contemporary connection goods. 
But one thing is for sure, the country known as the Democratic Republic of the Congo has more of these minerals than any other country we know. 

But the sad part is that these minerals never lead to peace and prosperity, instead they fuel wars. Diamonds and gold do the same for there is something in humans that makes them compete immediately for any resources that fetch money and quick. Power and wealth. 

The DRC is not so often in the news and when it is we hear of a musician or a crisis that affects the country, the last one having been a volcanic eruption. Then the main international channels followed some tourists there. When the rape of over 200 women in the Kivu carried out by some UN Peacekeepers was publicised, I did not see much footage on the area around Kivu. 

I have not seen the country marketed on ads on international channels the way I have seen Zambia, South Africa and others do. But we are a global village. A global village in which our neighbours and their problems are hanging off cliffs but never in the centre. For I know this country and others need more information to be aired on their growth and sustainability. 

I fear that we believe we have everyone in sight when we do not. 

I hear that the International Community is at work for all nations but when I listen hard, the song of exploitation of minerals and the people in the DRC and other lands, I do not hear so loud. Instead I find out that most electronics are dumped in Ivory Coast and other lands of Afrika. I find out that in general, climatic changes are going to hit Africa hardest. One has to wonder what we are doing to bring some issues to prominence long enough for all of us to understand them. How is positive action against these changes being measured? How can we try to take the burden off Afrika? She has not polluted the world the most. On the contrary!

 It is high time that we stopped believing that these games are fair. Time to audit and question what goes on. For all things need to be re assessed today. How is technology affecting us and our relationships, our families? Is it time to look carefully and see how we are evolving to a different level that will be studied in the near future?

There was a time when young people used to believe that their parents knew everything and did all very well. Such times might still exist in some places where the wonders of self connectedness has not overcome. 

Somewhere in worlds that are still away from all social media. A place where it is normal to stare at the sky and dream. Walk for ages without getting a phone call or without listening to music. That place is rapidly shrinking all over the world and with that something is lost and much should be found.

For our fingers are trapped into tapping. Typing has become old fashioned for some. Two quick fingers does it all on the phone. Keyboards are no longer the ones of the "The quick brown dog jumps over the fence!". 

You can look all the time and just touch type as you go a long. Did the sound of the keys upon punching a typewriter make a difference to our capacity to be alert? Remember that sound? Some kind of rapping ability it had and it rung a bell " Zweee!" when you happily returned the carriage. And with it some satisfaction. The writer and the typewriter.

I remember how keen I was to teach myself to touch type. I had a big heavy book with practice exercises. I picked up speed fast in a few evening classes. I did not include the numbers but I got the feel for the 'f' and 'g' keys and that is half the job done. 

I loved to look at a neatly typed sheet. Of course white out was always there on the side. It did not look quite so neat although it did the job. Carbon papers were hard to control for a copy. 

Today you can just delete forever with the delete key. As for copies you can make as many as you like on your computer, print if need be and  come back for some more. We have leapt over a chasm in technology and moved so far. But what about our imagination?

There are so many gadgets available. You can have almost all your books on a Kindle or on the computer too, especially the new purchases of the time. I never thought about all these things in the 80s did you? 

I never imagined that I could be in touch with the world at any time - audio-visually. So much has changed. One thing thing however remains true. The muse of inspiration is still a muse. 

There are pleasing moments in which I can get lost completely in my fantasy and dream stories and write them either by pen or on a computer. I can also sit down and just think about them.

The life-span and location of the manuscript has changed. I can share a poetic verse often and I do that on my page on facebook. 

I can share thoughts on my Timeline. What have I gained and what have I lost? Well connecting as I like is my gain. Using that connectivity for growth is the challenge. Sometimes it remains just a connectivity there with the potential for sparking off some useful work or not. But with nations, we cannot afford to sleep on the job. We have enough media to make all places anywhere on earth to be accessible and almost all knowledge and information. Then we there might be something global about us even if not a village! Maathai celebrated (1st April 1940 - 25 Sept 2011)


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