Brother JJ doesn’t hang about in the mornings. The energetic 76 year old nearly kicked our door in this morning whilst yelling ‘are ye up men?, ’tis nearing 6′, i managed to respond with half my mosquito net tangled in my face with ‘No bother JJ, we thought you had slept in’. No answer from behind the door, though tomorrow will be a 5am morning call I’m guessing. By the time we have readied ourselves, he had tended to most of the animals on the little farm, thawed the days milk and made up everyone’s porridge. You feel a sense of wasted youth, laziness and guilt just by looking at him labouring around the seminary all day every day, he never stops.
The early start was in order to catch to 07.10 CR bus to Livingstone to meet with our contact Clement Mbvula. He will be escorting us to two schools in Livingstone; St. Raphaels with 15 computers and the David Livingstone College of Education with 25 computers. Fintan dropped us down and waited with us. Whenever you ask anybody in Zambia when does an event begin or what time does a service start, the reply is always ‘any time now’ or ‘soon’. It is frustrating for scheduling but its a part of life and Africa time is something you will have to deal with. An event starts when the last person arrives. We bought our tickets for 55000K (11 Euro) each when we saw the bus coming around the corner at 07.30 and poured ourselves into reasonably comfortably recliner seats. A nap drowned out the pumping local music which got louder at every checkpoint we passed. By the time we got to the weighbridge three hours into our journey, it was deafening. For the remaining hours we sat and prayed for a pothole on the road restoring calm for a few minutes as the CD would skip and had to be reset.
Livingstone is a town a short distance north of where the Zambezi River drops over the Victoria Falls. Clement met us at the bus station on the Mosi-oa-Yunya road which has lots of Banks, a Post Office, Wireless Internet coffee shops and public phone offices. We headed straight to the David Livingstone College. It was an amazing ten minute drive and we weren’t expecting to see the spray from the falls on our descent from the town centre to the school. The spray shoots up about 150 feet into the air as the Zambezi River water is forced up on impact at it hits off the gorge and river bed below. It looks like a huge rain cloud constantly forming and regenerating from within itself over the desert plain.
The DL College’s computer room is tended to by a man called Bishop whose interest and enthusiasm in the Edubuntu operating system is of great practical knowledge for us. He stated that he doesn’t get any virus attacks on his Camara Edubuntu machines unlike other machines when they are connected to the Internet. Those other machines are unusable and redundant after a couple of weeks of constant attacks from spyware and malicious viruses sent in emails and through webpage downloads. The students data is corrupted and they have to rebuild the entire computer. Bishop was eager to be a part of the training and wanted all of the teachers to receive training and become Skillbuilder certified. Its nice to know that our time here will be appreciated and that the work done will be continued by teachers like Bishop. The DL college also has secured broadband from USAID which means that they can easily upgrade their Camara computers for free.
Next on our list was St. Raphaels which has 450 students but it doesn’t mirror the facilities and investment of the DL College. A basic computer room with only 10 computers popped a vein of concern as the room was very small and none of computer equipment was surge protected. It will need 5 more computers, a little rearranging and the installation of power surge protection plugs. They ensure that the computers will not break if there is an electrical cut and protect against electrical surges when the power comes back on. We discussed these issues with Clement in the teachers lodge while familiar cooking smells flowed in form the kitchen next door. After the full Irish breakfast (Justin is a veggie boy so myself and Claire ate for three), we left to find a guest house to stay in for that night.
We booked into Ham’s guest house 5 minutes walk from the main street. Basic, very basic but safe and affordable at a tenner a head. Tomorrow we travel back to Masabuka on the noon bus but not before accepting our invitation to travel to the Victoria Falls with Clement who will also be grateful of the day off. He has the look of a man who works very hard and i doubt his job as a teacher of Physics and Chemistry with limited resources and equipment can be anything but easy.