Kwa heri

Goodbye and see you, as this is my last day in Iringa. Tomorrow Daniel will take me to Dar es Salaam to take the overnight flight to Amsterdam.

It was a busy but fruitful period and it’s always a bit sad to take leave of the nice people here in Iringa and especially the people from Tumaini University College. Many started a chat with me, asking who I was and where I came from; enquiring what I was doing at Tumaini and if I enjoyed my stay. Well, I did!

Yesterday, we had the final session with the deputy librarians and Rev. Simba. We talked about leadership and coaching. Later on we discussed collaboration and collaborative teaching. Important issues in an educational library and there was much interest in learning new things.

I’m leaving Iringa with many impressions and ideas, as teaching is learning as well. You learn from your students through their questions and feedback; your learn by observing what other people are doing and you learn to enjoy simple things, staying in a house without all the tools and equipment we, western people are used to.

Today I went to Hasty Tasty Too for lunch; another ‘last time’ for this visit. I’m gonna miss this small place with its great meals and a tv-set: the only tv I saw for 12 days.

Contrary to Sunday, there is no nice singing in the chapel behind the house: this time they’ve decided to do it LOUD and off key: I’m not going to miss that ;-). While the pastor is using the microphone as if he addressing a football stadium, I close the series of blogs on Tumaini, Iringa – Tanzania.

I hope you all enjoyed reading them. Who knows, maybe there will be a third visit. If so, I will share it with you again.
Now it’s time to pack my things and make sure I don’t forget anything. Tomorrow we’ll pass Mikumi Park and I hope to see some wild life, like last year when the elephants came to drink – a wonderful view.
So, cross your fingers for me and thank you for joining.

“Weather with you”

This is the quietest Sunday morning, I have experienced in ages and in mean quiet in the exact sense of the word. Although the project house is surrounded by other houses, it looked as though I was in the middle of nowhere when I woke up. No sound, nothing, even the birds kept quiet en the cock slept late and started to crow after 9.15. A weird feeling if you’re used to the sound of heavy traffic and other noises around the house for almost 24/7.
But nice and I took the time to enjoy it. While I’m typing this, I can hear the singing coming from one of the many chapels around here. I presume it’s the Lutheran chapel and it is enjoyable to listen to.

Friday was a busy day with a session (workshop) with the chief librarian and the deputy librarians Andrew, Isa en Amani on library trends in the morning and (digital) repositories in the afternoon. Especially the ‘trends-session’ gave enough food for thought and reason for feedback: critical questions and debate. The young deputy librarians are eager to learn and implement new ideas, but they have the courage and sense to not simply adopt new things, but reflect on it to see how it can work for Tumaini.

Friday evening I prepared the session for Saturday morning: a workshop for the whole staff on customer services. It was a recapitulation of what we did last year completed with some new ideas, trends and a more in depth way of looking at it.
We started at 8.00 am sharp and I had about 1,5 hours before the library opened again and the staff was needed downstairs. We managed to stick to the time and it was a good session. People were taking notes and eager to learn.
When we closed up, I had the opportunity to give them a small token of my appreciation for their warm welcome and kindness, which was highly appreciated: ‘stroopwafels’ (treacle waffles) and small pieces of ‘Delftware’ for each of the participants.

Later that morning I accompanied Rev. Cornelius Simba to meet the Board of Trustees of Tumaini University College. They were coming to see the new extension of the library, “for which they signed the papers” as they explained to me.
This new extension is a wonderful bright and open building of three floors with office rooms, rooms for special collections and activities and a computer area that will be used for information literacy teaching. The problem is that this building is still empty: except for some chairs and tables, no furniture, shelves or computers have arrived yet. The students don’t seem to bother: they are using the new building as an area for group work and independent studying.
As the new extension has such a nice air, the chair of the Board of Trustees explained his ideas about the office dedicated to Simba, the chief librarian. In his opinion, this office should become his office and he wasn’t joking!! I’m wondering if he gets his way, if he is going to do the shelving every morning and evening too ;-).

Yesterday afternoon I had some time off and took the chance to walk downtown Iringa and see the hundreds of little shops and market stalls where you can buy all sorts of things. The traders invite you to come and see their commodities, but I just wanted to wander around and enjoy this free time. When I came back to the house, Maria was there to clean up and do the washing.

Today it is a lovely day: sunny blue skies like the days before. November is the start of the rain season, but until now I’ve been lucky: only a few downpours and only one of them hit me.
On my computer there is a tool showing me the weather near Baexem: 12 degrees and raining! Like Crowded House wrote and sang ‘you always take the weather with you’  and I have to admit a lot of other feelings and thoughts.


The project house is situated just outside the center of Iringa on a compound of the Lutheran church.
It is a guarded area and the guard has two very friendly dogs, who come to greet me, as soon as they notice I’m entering or leaving the house. They must have smelled I have a dog too.
For Tanzanians, dogs are like other animals around the house: cows, goats, pigs, chicken. My story about my own dog Spunkie to Daniel Lutego, my wonderful PA here in Iringa, made him smile.
He wondered if we also had cows and pigs in our gardens in the Netherlands and when I told him this is usually not the case, and that we keep dogs and cats as pets, he shook his head. I made it even worse by telling him that Dutch people spend a lot of money on buying dogs from a special breed that they specifically want. He answered: for that amount of money we can buy a car! A real joke was that we pay taxes for keeping a dog: he laughed out loud.
Our conversation reminded me of a column from Youp van ’t Hek in the NRC some time ago. His daughter was working in Africa and she made the local Africans wet their pants by telling them we have ‘animal ambulances’.
Since I’m here, I can understand that story even better.
But I’m still Dutch and I like dogs, so I consider these two as my guardian angels and friends.

When I arrived this morning at the Library, I was too late: the shelving was already done. I had promised the staff that I was going to help them with this tedious and time consuming job, but apparently there was not so much to shelve today. I’ll give it a try tomorrow again.

Together with Andrew, the system-librarian and Isa the cataloguing librarian, I spend the whole morning on the planning of the implementation of the new WebOPAC. I worked late last night to prepare a few documents that could help the staff. Now it’s up to them: they have to start thinking, planning and documenting the process. I will take a lot of time to convert 80.000 books into the new system.

I took rev. Simba for lunch at the Hasty-Tasty-Too restaurant: a famous place (it’s mentioned in the Lonely planet and the Rough guide) and we had a nice meal and a talk about the HIV/Aids problems in Africa. In Tanzania the problem is not as big as in South Africa and Namibia, but also here there a too many victims, especially children who are left alone with no family at all.
Simba explained to me that it is a complex problem and has to do with poverty, ignorance (lack of education), and cultural issues and simply donating money will not work. Anyway, the university is doing it’s best: one of the best posters I’ve ever seen on HIV/Aids. [Graduate with A’s not with Aids] Sorry folks, cannot upload photos with this poor internet connection. Will add them later.

This afternoon I worked on the presentations for tomorrow: one on library trends and one on digital repositories.
Although the internet is working on my laptop it is rather slow, compared to my system at home, so it takes a lot of time to find and produce material.

Tomorrow, it’s already Friday: time is flying when you’re having fun.

Intellectual Apathy

Contrary to yesterday it was sunny and warm today. Yesterday there was heavy rain and walking from the office to the library, which is only 500 metres, made me soaking wet. The temperature is so nice that it doesn’t take long to dry up again, so no worries about that.

Two lectures were on my schedule for today, each 1,5 hours. The first group was quite responsive, but the second class started at 12.30 pm and they were very quiet and some even fell asleep. Their stomacs were empty, and without food the brain cannot work. Interesting, especially when one of the topics was ‘critical thinking’. I comfort myself with the fact, that it must have been the timing – not my lecture ;-).

Later on Rev. Simba and I went for lunch on the campus and I had typical Tanzanian food, which was really nice. There is so much to talk about, that we could have chatted all afternoon, but one has to do other things, like preparing the following day.

Danny took me in the car together with Bukaza Chachage to town and I was invited to visit the new bookshop Bukaza started recently. A challenging and interesting undertaking and it was good to see there is a children’s section with picture books and of course a section with business and economics textbooks, of which I recognized several being in the MSM-collection.
I was more interested in African publications and managed to buy two books: Poems from Tanzania co-ordinated by Richard S. Mabala ISBN 978 9976 1 0205 5 and Nature Notes from Tanzania by Anne Outwater ISBN 9976 973 74 8.
Very nice reading stuff!

Back at the house we found out that the power was down: no electricity at all. Luckily enough I asked Danny to come inside to check the hot water system as I had a problem with that. Danny and the caretaker managed to fix the problem. I had no idea what I should have done without electricity: no computer working, no lights and no coffee – that’s probably the worst.

Tomorrow, another interesting day when I’m going to work with Andrew and Isa on planning the implementation of an automated catalogue, based on KOHA. First, I will help the staff to shelve the books: a task that takes them at least two hours every day and they are working on it with the whole team. It’s one of the less agreeable jobs in the library so they can use some help.

I’m closing this blog with copying one of the poems I found in the book I bought today. The poem is called ‘Intellectual apathy’ by E.L. Baregu. I finished the second session of today with a story about my grandmother, but the relation to this poem is purely coincidental.

Intellectual Apathy

One day I’m gonna tire
of reasoning out with Darwin
on the origins of man,
for what then did god do
those seven days?
I’m simply gonna tire
of the sermons of the philosophers
on man and society,
on religion and politics,
on science and arts.

I say
I’m gonna stop prying
the colonial scars
that have healed outside but
bleed inside.

I simply will grow numb
to the thorns of imperialism
that prick my being and threaten
to disease it.

I’ll be apathic to this giant strangler.
I swear
I’ll close my eyes to the maleficence
of exploitation
I’ll just lie back and let it
sap me dry;
I’m gonna let its worms ravish
my flesh to the bones
That day
I shall reject completely the doctrine of Karl Marx.
I shall plead ignorance to any kind of ‘ism’
I shall appraise no more the efforts of Lenin,
I will block my mind to the thoughts of Mao.
That day,
     Before I’m finally engulfed,
     I shall go to grandpa to hear some

Karibu – How are you?

With the words above people are greeting you when they meet you; it doesn’t matter where you are: on the street, in the restaurant, on the campus, in the library. The Tanzanians are not only friendly but truly interested in others.
Meeting people and talking to them is easy, as long as you’re returning the question with the same prhase. They always want to know where you come from,what you’re doing in Tanzania and if you like it here.
For me, it gives a welcoming feeling and it’s one of the charms of being in Tanzania.

I have not shared with you my travel experiences. The flight was fine: on time and I finally managed to get an aisle seat; very helpful when you have a sore back and cannot move around easy.
Daniel was waiting for me at the airport and on Sunday Dr. Bukaza Chachage (project coordinator) was there to greet me too and join us on the travel to Iringa.
On the way we picked up another traveller from Tumaini (an MBA-student) and we had a nice lunch at the Swiss restaurant just outside Mikumi Park.
Travelling through Mikumi brought us a wonderfull view on a herd of elephants; I’m sure the babies I saw last year were there too: grown but still not as big as their parents.
On the way we did some shopping the Tanzanian way, which means you stop alongside the road and start negociating the price of oinions, meat or other things you want to buy. As soon as you stop the traders come to the car to show their goods and I was happy that I did not had to decide what to buy: to me all the onions looked the same ;-).

Today, the real thing started: a workshop with the deputy heads and the chief librarian, Rev. Cornelius Simba on the challenges and opportunities for the library.
We discussed strategic management issues and used a SWOT-analysis to define the strengts, weaknesses, opportunities and threats of the library. Making the SWOT turned out to be instrumental in coming up with strategic choices for the future. Some of these choices are: collaboration with the other universities in Iringa to improve services for all students en to beat the competencies of the staff. Accountability is another focus as well as marketing the library. The workshop will be continued on Monday morning and then we’re going to discuss leadership issues, coaching and intermediation and the different roles of the library professional in an educational library.
A big challenge for the library, its staff and users is the availability of a fast and reliable internet connection. The trend to provide more and more resources online is difficult to follow if the connection is too slow and blocks the access to resources and tools. This item is going to be discussed further on Thursday and Friday when we going to talk about the new automation system and library trends.

Tomorrow two lectures are scheduled: one on research techniques for a group of counselling students and a lecture on information literacy for a group of students of the faculty of journalism. I’ve just finished preparing these lectures and although they’re based on the lectures I did last year, all links, screenshots etc. had to be checked and if necessary updated.
I will be interesting to see what the feedback of the students will be, but about that, I will tell you in the next blog.

Back to base

Although global (net)working is core-business, some providers seem to think differently. So, that’s why it took some time time to write on this blog: I simply did not have internet connection even with a modem and satellite connection.

 Anyway, Tanzanians are wonderful people, at least the man from the Zain shop (Tanzanian provider), who helped (which took an hour) and made it work. Three hurrays for this person!!

So, I’m back to base and it feels already as being home. I’m back at the project house, my own comfort zone, where I can work quietly and prepare for a full program. I’m remembering the noises in the background: a dog whining and a pig rooting about in the ground, behind the house and of course the mosque making sure I’m not sleeping late.

As I said, a full program again, which is good, because that’s what I came for. Here is an outline of ‘things to do’: training sessions with staff on Tuesday and Monday; lectures to students on Wednesday; meetings with the library staff on Thursday and Friday and a session with Rev. Simba, chief librarian on performance appraisal on Saturday. Well, I will not be bored. I’m sure, there will be some time to share a few thoughts and happenings on this blog. For now, this is it. I’m off to dreamland.

Till next time.

Iringa – Tanzania revisited

Nog drie nachtjes slapen en dan zit ik weer in het vliegtuig op weg naar Iringa in Tanzania om daar te werken met de staf van Tumaini College University Library.
Precies een jaar geleden werd ik uitgezonden door Maastricht School of Management om een bijdrage te leveren aan de ontwikkeling van de bibliotheek van Tumaini College University. 
Het was een fantastische ervaring: bijzondere mensen, uitdagend werk en een prettige omgeving om te werken en te leren. En nu mag ik weer terug om nog een keer met het personeel van de bibliotheek te werken aan de verdere ontwikkeling van de collectie en de dienstverlening en er samen voor te gaan zorgen dat de bibliotheek een bijdrage levert aan het onderwijs en de prestaties van de studenten. Ik verheug me erop!

Vorig jaar heb ik uitgebreid over m’n ervaringen geblogd en ben van plan dat dit jaar weer te gaan doen. Er is echter een beperking: de blogs zullen enkel in het Engels zijn. Het schrijven en vertalen kostte veel tijd en die tijd wil ik liever besteden aan andere nuttige dingen.

Dus, wil je m’n belevenissen volgen – stay tuned en reageer!

Asante Sana!

De trip zit erop – vanmorgen ben ik weer veilig geland op Schiphol, veel ervaringen en indrukken rijker. Dit zal (voorlopig) mijn laatste post zijn over de reis naar Tanzania.

De rit terug naar Dar Es Salaam was opnieuw adembenemend: er is zoveel te zien onderweg. Prachtige natuur, levendige straathandel, fleurig geklede mensen en Olifanten! Ja, dit keer had ik geluk. Een kudde Olifanten met een jong kwam drinken in Mikumi National Park, terwijl Danny en ik daar even wat aten. Vervolgens kwamen er nog Giraffen, Impala’s en verderop lagen Buffels en Zebra’s. Fantastisch en een geweldige afsluiting van mijn reis naar Iringa in Tanzania.

Blijft nu de vraag, hoe nu verder? In ieder geval heb ik wat vrienden gemaakt in Iringa met wie ik contact zal blijven onderhouden. En, uiteraard komt er een rapport voor mijn opdrachtgever Maastricht School of Management en Tumaini University.

Tot slot, wil ik graag alle meelevers en –lezers van mijn met avontuur in Iringa bedanken voor hun steun en ‘comments’. Ik bedank Henk Verbooy voor de link in IK Magazine, dat nog meer lezers en reacties opriep. 
Uiteraard bedank ik Dr. Bukaza Chachage en Reverend Cornelius Simba en alle medewerkers van Tumaini University en de Bibliotheek voor hun gastvrijheid, openheid, tijd en hulp om mij te woord te staan, wegwijs te maken en me thuis te laten voelen.

Last but not least, bedank ik Daniël (zie foto onderaan), mijn chauffeur en ‘personal assistant’ voor zijn geduld, begrip en uitleg.

Lieve mensen in Iringa: ASANTE SANA (heel erg bedankt) voor alles. Ik hoop dat dit geen ‘vaarwel’ is maar een ‘tot ziens’.

[English summary]

My journey has ended – this morning I arrived safely back in the Netherlands, packed with many experiences and impressions. This will be (for the time being) be my last post on Tanzania.

The trip back to Dar Es Salaam yesterday was again breathtaking: there is so much to see underway. Beautiful nature, lively street trade, colourful dresses people and Elephants! (see photo). Yes, this time I was lucky to see Elephants, Giraffe’s, Impala’s, Buffalos and Zebras in Mikumi National Park, when we were having lunch there. A fantastic and wonderful ending of my travel to Iringa in Tanzania.

The remaining question is, what’s next? In any case, I have made some friends in Iringa with whom I will keep in touch. And, of course there will be a final report submitted for my client Maastricht School of Management and Tumaini University.

In conclusion, I would like to thank all readers and friends in the Netherlands and abroad for their support and comments. I´m thanking Henk Verbooy of IK Magazine for putting a link up to my blog, which included even more readers.

Of course I´m thanking Dr. Bukaza Chachage and Reverend Cornelius Simba and all staff of Tumaini University and the Library for their hospitality, openness, time and assistance to see me, to familiarize me and letting me feel at home.

Last but not least, I´m thanking Daniel (see photo below), my driver and PA for his understanding, patience and explanations.

Dear all in Iringa: ASANTE SANA (Thank you very much) for everything. I hope this is not going to be a ‘farewell’ but a ‘goodbye’.

Onderwijzen en Leren

Mijn gastheren hebben speciaal voor mij een korte tour georganiseerd naar 3 bibliotheken in Iringa: de bibliotheek van Ruaha University, een ‘College’ gelieerd aan SAUT, een universiteit in Dar es Salaam, de Public Library van Iringa en de bibliotheek van Mkwawa University, een staatsuniversiteit. Er zijn grote verschillen met Tumaini maar ook overeenkomsten. In alle drie klaagt men over het gebrek aan bronnen en ook over het te beperkte budget. In Ruaha is wel een computerruimte maar die is momenteel niet in gebruik omdat de betreffende medewerker een opleiding volgt. De bibliotheek was een kruip- en sluipdoor van allerlei ruimtes, die wel logisch waren ingedeeld. Men komt ruimte tekort, maar ook hier wordt hard gebouwd aan een nieuwe bibliotheek.

De OB heeft maar 1 computer die enkel wordt gebruikt om te catalogiseren en is dus niet toegankelijk voor het publiek. Het is een relatief kleine bibliotheek met toch zo’n 3000 uitleningen per maand op een collectie van 17.545 boeken (de statistieken waren hier prima op orde!) en dagelijkse  openingstijden van 8.00 – 18.00 u en dit alles gerund door 4 medewerkers, zonder budget van de overheid. Een geweldige prestatie, want het zat er bomvol toen ik er was. Mkwawa doet in eerste instantie het meest modern aan: veel Pc’s waar echter niemand achter werkt: de studenten staken en zijn naar huis gestuurd. Ze zijn niet tevreden over de studiefinancieringsregeling en blijkbaar kan er niet onderhandeld worden. In deze bibliotheek valt op dat het overgrote deel van de collectie stevig achter slot en grendel (een stevig hekwerk!) staat opgesteld. Slechts een klein deel van de collectie is direct toegankelijk.



De volgende dag (zaterdag) wordt er hard gewerkt aan de nieuwbouw van de bibliotheek van Tumaini University. Ik wandel naar de ingang van de Bieb om een tweetal workshops te gaan verzorgen voor de medewerkers (zie foto boven) aldaar. Rev. Cornelius Simba wacht me bij de ingang al op en we gaan naar boven naar zijn kantoor waar stoelen, laptop, beamer, water en koekjes klaar staan.

De eerste workshop gaat over marketing, pr en dienstverlening in de bibliotheek. Ter illustratie heb ik wat boekenleggers, pennen, foldertjes en drop meegenomen. De ‘goodies’ worden dankbaar aanvaard, maar ik voel me wel een beetje als een missionaris die met spiegeltjes en kraaltjes de zwarten kwam bekeren. Ik heb echter ook wel een boodschap en dat is dat de bibliotheek meer is dan een simpele faciliteit waar studenten af en toe een boek komen halen.

In tegenstelling tot de studenten eerder deze week, zijn de medewerkers wat terughoudender, verlegener misschien ook. De boodschap die ik kom brengen is ook grotendeels nieuw voor ze: jij bent er voor de studenten; de studenten zijn er niet voor jou. Simba is dik tevreden als we na 1,5 uur voor een korte pauze naar de kantine gaan, maar ik denk dat er nog wel wat gedaan moet worden voordat die omslag in denken en doen kan worden gemaakt.


De tweede workshop gaat, hoe kan het ook anders, over information literacy. Deze workshop maakt wat meer los zeker omdat ik gezien de actualiteit voorbeelden gebruik waarin Barack Obama een rol speelt: dat spreekt aan!. De vaardigheden en kennis van online zoektechnieken is zeer gering. Niet verwonderlijk, als de toegang tot computers zo beperkt is en men dus zelf niet vaak kan oefenen. Gelukkig is de belangstelling groot. Nu maar zorgen dat er mogelijkheden worden gecreëerd om zelf aan de slag te gaan: een goede manier om de vaardigheden onder de knie te krijgen.

Aan het eind van de 2e sessie maak ik nog even een bruggetje terug naar de 1e. Het feit dat je n.a.v. een vraag van een student of docent ook spontaan kan aanbieden om op je eigen computer iets op te zoeken is nieuw voor ze en dat maakt de verbinding met het eerste deel compleet: anticiperen en creatief zijn, bepaalt in grote mate het niveau van dienstverlening en is een prima manier van marketing.


Na afloop van de sessies haalt Danny ons op en rijden we met een aantal medewerkers naar Riverside Campsite Iringa , (zie foto beneden) 14 km buiten de stad. Het is een camping, annex lodge, annex cursuscentrum vlak bij de kleine rivier Ruaha (er is ook een ‘grote’ Ruaha rivier). Een prachtige en rustige omgeving waar voor ons een heerlijke maaltijd wordt geserveerd en tijdens het eten een voor mij zeer leerzame en levendige discussie ontstaat over (alweer) ontwikkelingshulp, Afrikaanse politiek, globalisering en natuurlijk Barack Obama. De Afrikanen verwachten veel van hem. Het is te hopen dat z’n adagium Yes, we can, de Afrikanen inspireert om het heft zelf in handen te nemen. Ze willen dat in ieder geval zelf heel graag en zoals uit de discussie bleek: onderwijs en leren speelt daarbij een cruciale rol.


[English summary]

Teaching and Learning

My hosts have organized a tour to 3 libraries in Iringa: Ruaha University Library, Iringa Public Library and Mkwawa University Library. There are huge differences with Tumaini University Library but also similarities. All libraries are having the same challenges towards budget, collection development and technical infrastructure. Ruaha has a computer room but it is not in use, because the staff member is on a training course. The library itself is a go-through of several different rooms with books and working places for students. The library is growing out of its vest but a new library is being built. The public library is a lovely little place with 17.545 books (statistics were perfectly in order) and 3000 loans a month. It has 4 staff members but no government funding. When I visited the library, it was packed with visitors, all reading and using the resources: a wonderful performance for which they deserve a compliment.

At first site Mkwawa Library looks modern with many Pc’s, but there are no students, because they are on strike. They are having an argument with the government on scholarships and study loans and apparently negotiation seems to be rather difficult. Remarkable is the fact that most of the collection is stacked behind a vast metal fencing. So, students cannot browse through the books themselves.


The next day (Saturday), I walk up to the library to give workshops to the library staff (see photo above). Rev. Simba is already waiting for me and we start with the 1st workshop which is on Marketing, Public Relations and Customer Services in the library. I’ve brought some ‘goodies’ like bookmarks, brochures, ball pen’s and Dutch candy, to illustrate the topic. I feel a bit like a missionary bringing knick-knack’s like in the old days, but they seem to appreciate it. Contrary to the students, the staff is a bit reserved and shy. The 2nd workshop is on Information Literacy. In this workshop there is some more feedback: apparently this topic is more alive to them, maybe also because I’m taking Barack Obama to be used in the examples.

I’m a bit shocked about the level of their searching competencies, but on the other hand, this is to be expected if there no computers to use and practice.

At the end of the morning I’ll try to combine both topics of the workshops: if you want to be customer-oriented, you need to use all sorts of searching and retrieval techniques to help the students and faculty: a very good way of marketing the library.


In the afternoon we visit with a group of staff members, Riverside Campsite Iringa (see photo below). A Camping, lodge and language training centre where a wonderful meal is served in a very quiet and peaceful environment.

There is a lively discussion on development aid (again), African politics, globalisation and of course Barack Obama. With great interest, the Africans anticipate his presidency. The adage ‘Yes, we can’ will hopefully inspire the Africans to take their lives and development in their own hands. Anyway, that is what they want, as I’ve learned from the discussion and Education and Learning will play a vital role in this.


Foutje, bedankt!

Net uit bad, haartjes nat, zit ik te genieten van een schoon huis met een vers bloemetje op tafel. Maria, de ‘housekeeper’ is vandaag geweest en het huis (zie foto) is weer spic en span.

Ik kan er even van genieten, want vandaag was ik al om 17.15 u thuis: de geplande lecture ging niet door: er was een politieke meeting op de universiteit en alle staf en studenten werden geacht daarbij aanwezig te zijn. Rev. Simba baalde als een Tanzaniaanse driepoot stekker, want de les eerder die ochtend om 8.00 u was prima verlopen. Er waren ca. 30 studenten van een opleiding tot counsellors. Het onderwerp was ‘Referencing for researchers’ en ik behandelde researchtechnieken, het opstellen van een bibliografie en plagiaat. Dat laatste onderwerp leverde wel wat gegniffel en vele vragen op: ‘hoe kan de docent nou achterhalen dat je hebt zitten kopiëren en plakken?’ en ‘op internetsites kan de docent het toch niet terugvinden?’. Van de verzekering dat dit (helaas voor hen) wel kan en dat plagiëren strafbaar is, kwam men niet zo erg onder de indruk: studenten zijn overal hetzelfde. Maar mijn opmerking dat plagiëren niet zinvol is omdat je niks leert en daar dus last van zal hebben bij verdere studie en werk, had meer impact. Het was een levendige les met veel vragen van de studenten en aan een uurtje hadden we dus niet genoeg.


Tijdens een bakje koffie hadden Rev. Simba en ik een interessante discussie over ‘ontwikkelingshulp’. De dag ervoor had ik studenten en staf geïnterviewd over hun beleving, wensen, kritiek en meer ten aanzien van de bibliotheek en een van de stafleden maakte onomwonden duidelijk dat hij in ieder geval helemaal niet zit te wachten op technieken, bronnen en meer uit het westen/noorden. Het wordt niet alleen als bevoogdend ervaren maar levert ook bijna hilarische taferelen op. Zo ontving de bibliotheek kisten vol met boeken van een Amerikaanse uitgever voor de faculteit Rechten. Men had er alleen even niet bij nagedacht dat deze boeken natuurlijk Amerikaans recht behandelen en daar doen ze in Tanzania niet aan. Die konden dus linea recta naar de schredder. Foutje, bedankt! In een ander geval ontving de bibliotheek dozen vol boeken van een christelijke organisatie (de universiteit heeft een Lutherse grondslag); daar zaten ook prentenboeken en fictie voor basis- en voortgezet onderwijs in. Niet erg bruikbaar voor een universiteit en hogeschool. Men vergeet ook nog dat de handling van zo’n zending erg veel tijd en mankracht kost en als het dan weinig oplevert is dat zonde van de tijd. Nog een prachtig voorbeeld van hoe het niet moet: in een nabijgelegen district zijn tientallen organisaties bezig met de bestrijding van AIDS/HIV. Van enige samenwerking of coördinatie is geen sprake, want iedereen wil zijn eigen project doen. Dat levert geld op voor de farmaceuten en de NGO’s. En dat noemen we dan marktwerking. Want ook de NGO’s (Non Gouvernementele Organisaties) moeten tegenwoordig in grote mate hun eigen broek ophouden en als het aan het geachte Kamerlid Boekestein (VVD) ligt, moet die marktwerking nog verder worden doorgevoerd. Misschien moeten hij en “de blonde god uit Venlo” (citaatje geleend van Paul van der Steen van De Limburger) hier zelf maar eens komen kijken. Ik denk trouwens niet dat de Tanzanianen en andere Afrikanen daar nu op zitten te wachten, mits ze met goede ideeën komen, maar daar heb ik beide heren nog niet op kunnen betrappen.


Zo, genoeg over politiek. Terug naar de Bieb. De interviews bleken een goede manier om meer te weten te komen over wat de klanten (studenten en staf) van de bibliotheek vinden. Ik heb zo’n 15 studenten gesproken en 4 stafleden. De studenten bleken overigens heel wat openhartiger te zijn, als ik ze alleen of met z’n tweeën sprak. De belangrijkste klacht van de studenten is het tekort aan computers en bronnen. De studenten mogen gemiddeld drie uur per week op een PC werken en de internetverbindingen zijn zo traag, dat ik me kan voorstellen dat men daarover klaagt. Opvallend is trouwens ook dat men graag nog veel meer boeken wil hebben. De collectie heeft nu zo’n 80.000 titels voor ca. 3000 studenten.

De opmerkingen van de staf leverde op wat ik zelf ook al had waargenomen: de bibliotheekmedewerkers doen erg hun best, maar er zijn twee punten van aandacht: het gebrek aan de juiste competenties en de klantvriendelijkheid. Die twee zaken hebben natuurlijk met elkaar te maken. Men houdt zich precies aan eerder vastgestelde procedures en regels. Als het onderwijs (c.q. docenten en/of studenten) iets anders, iets nieuws vraagt, heeft men geen idee hoe hierop te reageren. Het aanleren van ‘thinking outside the box’, creatief zijn, zelf initiatief nemen, wordt een leuke uitdaging. Dat is trouwens het woord dat we hier gebruiken. ‘Hamna shida’ = geen probleem. We hebben geen problemen, alleen uitdagingen.


Fotootje onderaan: mijn nieuwe huisdier 😉


[English summary]


Sorry, just a little mistake!


Just out of bath, I’m enjoying the quietness of a clean house (see photo), with fresh flowers on the table. Maria, the housekeeper came in today and the house as spic and span again.

I was home early, as the planned lecture was cancelled because of a political meeting at the university which all staff and students had to attend. Rev. Simba was not happy at all, because the lecture this morning at 8.00 am, went very well. The topic of the lecture was ‘Referencing for researchers’ and included research techniques, preparing a bibliography and plagiarism. This last topic was of great interest to the students as they wanted to know how teachers can see you’re copying and pasting. The fact that this easy to find out, didn’t impress them very much. More impact had my comment that you don’t learn anything when you plagiarize and that will hinder you in further studies and a professional career.


Over a cup of coffee, Rev. Simba and I had an interesting discussion on ‘Aid programmes’. One of the staff members I had interviewed the other day told me that he has no need for western policies, ideas, and resources; it is not only patronizing, but can also lead to hilarious situations. The library received boxes full with literature from a USA publisher with books on law. As the Tanzanians do not use American law, these books were useless. Sorry, just a little mistake!

In another case they received books from a Christian organization (the university is Lutheran based) and it contained children’s fiction books. People seem to forget that sorting out these materials takes a lot of handling and if it does not add anything to the development of the library, it is a waste of time.

A better way to deal with this is, to ask the library what they need and provide them with the materials they can use.


The interviews were a good way to find out more about the library users opinions. I interviewed about 15 students and 4 staff members. The students complained about the number of computers and resources, although there are 80.000 titles in the library for 3000 students. The time students are allowed to use the computers is about 3 hours / week. The slow internet connection makes it almost impossible to get some work done, so I can understand why they are not happy about that.

The staff members had beside the same complaints also other worries: the level of customer service by the library staff. I had observed that myself too. The library staff is very committed but they lack the competencies and attitude to ‘think outside the box’ and to deliver services that are not described in their procedures. A big challenge to do something about that!  ‘Hamna shida’ = no problem. We don’t have any problems, only challenges.


Photo below: my new pet 😉