Sunday, March 05, 2006

The Era of Forgetfulness (by Peter Ndelo)

I believe we are in our era where forgetfulness is a common disease, whether one is old or young daily we try to rely on diaries in order to remind ourselves of what we have planned to so or say. My Grand mom had no written records but over the years, she could talk about the first and second world wars better than reading a textbook about these wars. She even became my school reference book.

As a matter of fact, in telling the time, we rely on the shadows at the corners of the house or merely glanced at the sky and knew what time it was. She had legends and myths that we wonder if there wasn’t an in built archive in her head. She never went to school, yet so organized in her mind, that she never mixed issues or stories.

Her attitude to work was also very different from today’s work. Work today is regarded as a compensation for whatever is lacking in life, but to her, work was life. Imagine waking up early before cock crow, make a fire and prepare break fast which consisted mainly of warming up left-overs from the night before she would set off with the family basket balanced on her head, child on hr back, a hoe slang over her shoulder, and a panga in one hand while the other pulled a goat that would be tethered in the bush near where she would be working.

It was my delight to explain to her the things that had come up so that she too could keep pace and just make comparisons with things of her time. Things like grinding mills that grind sacks and sacks of millet flour where a surprise to her but could be advantageous to modern rural Africa,. And how could I have defined the computer and it’s technicalities the concept would have been utterly beyond her explaining after being told about the memory storage of the computer and the ability to give people information woo, How can one help transform life in Africa?

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