In this posting, I will list some of the fact-finding exercises we have done during the first two days of the training, starting with a warm-up of some more simple research in order to activate our brains and minds to the more challenging fact-finding exercises.
To find out the population of Iringa Urban District, the phone number of the Media Council of Tanzania and the street address of the Embassy of Finland in Dar es Salaam were yet easy tasks. Populations, geographical and political details and such can usually be found in a Wikipedia article that you would reach just by searching for the name of the place or country. Links to contact information are usually found on the top of the website at the right end of the page, or in a column on the left side of the page, or at the bottom of the page.
The task to find out who is the president of Sweden was a bit more difficult as the country is a monarchy and has a king – with no political power though. The prime minister is the head of the government.
Some other assignments were a bit more challenging for a warm-up, like what president Jakaya Kikwete exactly said about elephants last week at State House in Dar es Salaam. The direct quotes of the president were found by narrowing the search to the last week only, or by narrowing the search to the exact dates of Tuesday and Wednesday last week.
Later on, the participants did three separate search assignments and finally took some more time to write and publish a short story about one of the topics. At the end of the exercise they also provided links to their original sources.
The first assignment was to find out what is Smart Kigali. It’s a new initiative by the capital of neighbouring Rwanda, which is now offering free wireless internet in public places and public transport all through the city. Part of the plan is to donate smart gadgets also to poor citizens to assist and encourage them to access the web.
The second search assignment was to search for more information about the family of Lupita Nyong’o, the Kenyan actress and a sudden new African star celebrity after winning the Oscar Award for Best Supporting Actress for her role in the film 12 Years a Slave. Lupita’s father Peter Anyang Nyong'o was a professor of political science persecuted in Kenya during the time of president Moi and working in self-exile as visiting lecturer in Mexico in 1983 when Lupita was born, the reason why she also has Mexican citizenship.
The third topic was about why the Ugandan president Museveni recently announced that he would rather work with Russians than with Americans. The statement was made last month at the launching ceremony of a Russian fighter jet simulator at the Ugandan Air Force base at Entebbe airport, and it was as reaction to the criticism from U.S. president Obama on Uganda’s new anti-gay bill. More info could of course be found about the background and details of that harsh law; about the general treatment of homosexuals by Ugandan police, politicians, violent mobs and media; about the still very close military ties between the United States and Uganda; or the criticism that Russia received from the Western countries for its own anti-gay bill especially during the Winter Olympics hosted by Russia recently in Sochi.
All of the topics were almost equally popular by the participants. For the Ugandan president’s statement and the anti-gay bill, I recommend the postings by Nehemiah Rubondo, Elisha Mayallah and Marko Gideon. For the Smart Kigali initiative on wireless web access, see the article by Musa Leitura, Loliondo Community Radio. And here you can find a nice story about Lupita Nyongo and her family, written by Grace Ruhinda of Triple ’A’ FM. For all other texts, see the links to the blogs on the right.