Saturday, September 05, 2009

In Makeni

(sixth of a series)

We did our recording project at a local radio station located on top of a hill. Every morning, we hiked up around 10 minutes from our base on a rugged path. This made me really sweat and pant. My younger colleagues and the locals didn't seem to have the same difficulty. It took me a few days to adjust to the routine. Ugh, here we go again... I will walk and not faint... I can do this... This is good exercise, I kept reminding myself. I am burning calories and developing leg muscles... Not that I need any more (leg muscles). Sometimes I sang quietly to myself to take my mind off the trek.

We hiked up this road every morning with our
recording laptops.

We worked the whole day into the night as late as 9pm. Once we stayed up till 10. Going down the hill at night was tricky because the road was dark and often muddy after the day's rains. With only lanterns to guide our steps and with my poor eyesight, I had to be very cautious.

Although Makeni had no electricity, the radio station had its own generator that supplied its power 24 hours a day. The major thing that disrupted our work was the rain. It made a lot of noise on the tin roof so we had to wait for it to die down. We also experienced some technical glitches with our equipment that the techs managed to work around or resolve.

One of the techs recording

I was the administrator/journalist. My task was to document the whole process, do interviews, handle the money and other administrator stuff.

Me, on the laptop, surrounded by local
recording participants

I had ample opportunity to interact with the local people every day. I really enjoyed this part. I learned a lot about the Themne culture and community, and made more friends. What a friendly people! All they needed was for you to smile, say hello, ask questions, and they would start talking. They loved to talk with strangers. The were very quick to offer help too. "May I help you, please?" I thought that was very polite.

They liked being photographed too. This man, who was
walking by as my picture was being taken, indirectly
asked to be in the photo. "Please join me," I offered.

(Next, On air)

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