Hello Africa: to be continued.

Since the grand opening of our documentary at the Schikaneder Kino in Vienna, we have been busy distributing it through different channels. Several cinema screenings are already planned, and we’re promoting it to film festivals around the world. Confirmed screenings and dates will be published on our Hello Africa Wiki page.

The movie is released under a Creative Commons license, so it is available for anybody to watch and distribute for free. There is a online version up on Vimeo (488 views as of today), from there you can either stream it online, or download as a .mp4 file if you scroll down the page. Another option is to download a high-quality version on Mininova (705 downloads so far), where it’s featured as a high-speed torrent. This is a .ISO DVD file, 1.56 GB in size, which can be burned directly onto a DVD, or played within a media player of choice. Just grab the torrent file and download it with your favourite torrent client.

Since last week we also began to publish informational video snippets out of the movie, on our YouTube account. The video clips are putting the different uses of mobile phones into context and explaining some of the buzzwords as seen in the movie. We also have a lot of interesting clips that didn’t make it into the final edit, they will all be shown here, so keep an eye open.

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Hello Africa: to be continued.
was published on 25.05.2009 by Anders Bolin. It files under east africa, sub saharan africa
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Greetings from London

Just a short update from London – today we flew here to attend Africa Gathering tomorrow.

Today we already went for dinner with Africa Gathering organizer Ed Scotcher, Erik Hersman, David McQueen and several other interesting people, it was a really great evening and food at Ethiopian restaurant Lalibela was superb.

I’m really looking forward to meet the people at the event tomorrow – around 200 according to the organizers. Martin will also have a speech and present the new trailer of Hello Africa. It can be viewed on Youtube (Hello Africa Trailer II) and according to editor Anders Bolin it looks best in HQ mode.

More tomorrow, we’ll keep you updated.

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Greetings from London
was published on 25.04.2009 by Florian Sturm. It files under global
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UZI Africa update

A little update about our mobile phone documentary from Africa and Zanzibar. A first draft is now finished and can be read in its full context on our webpage. I have outlined the main ideas we want to express, what we have done so far, the characters ans stories we like to present and more. The picture below shows the sewing machine of the local tailor on Hurumzi street who produced 200 awesome DVD covers made out of recycled Kangas (and by the way, we found out that uzi in swahili means “thread”). Next step in the post-production process is the making of a trailer. Stay tuned & read all about it!

Jambiani was the first village in Tanzania that started with seaweed farming. The practice began almost 20 years ago and the harvesting was and is still done almost exclusively by women. This was once one of the only ways for women to earn their own money, giving them a greater independence in the household. Jambiani is considered a good place to farm since the weather and environmental conditions are optimal. Seaweed can be used for the Pharma industry, cosmetics, plastics and a variety of other uses. Sadly, the profit does not make it back to the community. Two main companies run the show, a Tanzanian state and a Japanese company.

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We arranged for a private course in Swahili at the Jambiani Primary school. The school is located in the exact center of the village and teaches about 1.200 pupils. For one month, three days per week, we attended school classes; sitting on benches made for 7-year old kids. Mr Faridi was our tutor and mentor- he unlocked the code of Swahili for us. Mr. Faridi even arranged a special class about mobile phones for us. We met and discussed with other teachers as well regarding their views on the possibilities and challenges of mobile phones.

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UZI Africa update
was published on 14.01.2009 by Anders Bolin. It files under sub saharan africa
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Zanzibar for sure. Stories from the field.

Due to the load of field work we have been busy with, and the lack of decent internet connection, we have not been able to post as frequently as we would have liked. So we give you here a wrap-up of the recent weeks activities so you get a glimpse of the many stories we have documented so far. Next week we will have free wi-fi in our apartment so we can also post some good shots.

We want to mention that the output of our misson is to shoot a movie and we will publish all the raw material of the Nikon D90 HD-ready video and H2 Zoom WAV audio as Creative Commons Attribution Sharealike and provide download or mail delivery service. (You should attribute “ICT4D.at” and link to http://ict4d.at)

The champion

We had a very interesting meeting with a guy called Juma Lukondya. We met him in Jambiani while we were staying at a local kitchen and he introduced himself to us as the bicycle champion of Zanzibar. It turned out that he is sponsored by the Austrian bike team Cyclopia. He is using his mobile phone to keep in contact with his family in a remote part of the mainland. He also get updates in his phone from upcoming bike competitions, it also keeps him in touch with the Austrian team. We have footage of him training on the beach, riding his bike and using his phone.

Massais at Paje Ndame

We had a very successful day meeting traditional Massais working in Paje. We interviewed Faraja who shared his experiences with mobile phones. He introduced us to his friends who were very cheerful and avid mobile users. We have lots of film material with them chatting and telling their stories and opinions of network operators. One guy was all the time dancing to his favourite mobile tune on his Nokia. Later they all gathered to play a traditional game called Bao, and all the time the phones are ringing while they are playing.

Fishermen

As the tide was good we decided to go out fishing with captain Mohamed and his crew on a traditional sailing boat. The weather was stable but as we left Jambiani there was heavy rain all time we were on the boat. Everything got wet and everybody jumped into the water to have a swim. So no mobile phone acitvity on the boat. The fishermen left the phones at home charging. As we got back to their house on the beach they started using the phones and we did some interviews while they were repairing the fish traps and the nets and peeling the fish.

Local wedding

We were invited to a local wedding ceremony. It was a very nice experience and we were allowed to catch everything on film. It started outside and there was a big gathering of families and friends of the couple. There was a lot of people taking pictures with their cellphones and also DV cameras around. We brought a gift for the bride therefore we were invited in to their house where they had already set up a scene with lightning gear and filming equipment. Afterwards we were offered traditional spicy Pilau rice dish outside. All people were sitting on the ground between the village houses together with goats and chicken and eating the food with the hands from big plates.

Sound recording

We met a cool guy in Stone Town, Akhran Mohammed. He makes his living in town as a shopkeeper but his real passion is recording songs with his friends. He showed us to the basic studio they have and we filmed them while they recorded a new song. The sound producer provides a cool beat on his  Macbook while Akhran is rehearsing a catchy lovesong. When they are finished recording the producer converts the new song into a mp3 file and transfers it via bluetooth to Akhrans mobile phone. Later Akhran plays the song for his impressed friends on the phone in town.

What else do we have?

We cover the school in Jambiani where we are having Swahili lessons. Our teacher Mr. Faridi is holding a special class about mobile phones in his secondary school class. We interviewed the teachers and got a lot of opinions about mobiles. We have a lot of night life shots here and there. most of them in local bars and people having party.

We cover Zanzibits, a Dutch project, which is a multimedia school where they teach programming and handling complex software for editing media. We have a local band called Dwumbaki. They are playing Ngoma, traditional Zanzibarian music. We cover a local kitchen where potatoes are fried and we see randomly shots of customers coming in and out. We have the Jambiani town councellor and we follow him around in his duties. We feature the seaweed women harvesting and drying seaweed.

We follow the student Muhammed when he is playing football and taking photos with his phone. We film a fundi in town repairing and hacking phones. We join an engineer which is building up a new lodge. AND we went to another wedding (!).

We want to mention that we are using a 3 year old Nokia Communicator 9300i and we share it (2 people). It is very useful to write SMS on the keyboard and manage contents in folders. it is also a great notebook where you just enter rich text, format it with RTF editor and then bluetooth it to the Macbook, transfer it to a USB stick and then post this blog 🙂 Also, people we meet love to play with it and pretend doing phonecalls with it.

That’s all for now, stay tuned.

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Zanzibar for sure. Stories from the field.
was published on 09.11.2008 by Martin Konzett. It files under sub saharan africa
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MobileActive08: Kutoma Wakunuma

This is the second of the interviews we shot the MobileActive08 conference in Johannesburg last month (organized by MobileActive.org and sangonet). In this video Dr Kutoma Wakunuma from Sheffield Hallam University (UK) talks about the social and economic impacts of new technologies in developing countries. She is specifically interested in gender aspects and investigates how mobile phones and the Internet can empower women in countries like Zambia. In the interview she discusses results from a study that she conducted in Zambia four years ago, regarding differences of mobile phone use between men and women. Her conclusion is that there is a need for more research focusing on the downsides (like social conflicts) of new technologies in developing countries.

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MobileActive08: Kutoma Wakunuma
was published on 07.11.2008 by Martin Tomitsch. It files under sub saharan africa
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Truly Zambian

Shortly after MobileActive08 we took the plane to Zambia with South African Airways, At the airport we got a Zain (formerly Celtel) SIM card for about 3000 Zambian Kwacha (less then one US Dollar) and some credit. We were picked up by Patience Tropo with our driver Henry and a Mitsubishi Pajero, which was supposed to take us arround the following days. We took the road from Lusaka towards the Zimbawean border to the town of Chirundu. The road was built by the Chinese and it is in pretty good condition. Near the border there were a couple of hundred trucks waiting for clearance. Most of them were US brands operated by South African companies. Many of them bring in goods to Zambia, a lot of them transit to Congo.

In the evening we arrived at Gwabi River Lodge located 20 km east of Chirundu just next to the river Kafue. They offer wireless Internet there for USD 5 for half an hour. We had a very nice dinner at the lodge and decided to do a whole day game drive the following day at Lower Zambezi National Park. So we got up early and hit the road along the river Zambezi. The road was in a horrible condition but after crossing Kafue river with a pontoon we arrived at the first gate about one hour later. Elephants were crossing the road shortly after the gate, which was pretty exciting. Then we lost the track and ended up at Kasaka River Lodge to ask for the way. The guys working at the lodge pointed us to the leaking radiator of our car! So we had a lot of luck not beeing stranded somewhere in the bushes with a overheated car. They fixed it properly and did not even charge for it. Thanks to Kasaka for this great favor. We continued our way and picked up a guide at the park gate, who was supposed to bring us to the animals. We were not very lucky and we had only one hour left to do the game drive, since we had lost quite some time with fixing the car. We saw zebras, impalas, crocodiles, baboons and vervet monkeys which was still very exciting. No lions though.

On our way back we again stopped at the gate and did an interview with Moonga Mulauka, one of the rangers. He mentioned that there is no cell phone network coverage in and arround the park and that they use radios to communicate. He pointed out that no coverage is actually good for the park, because otherwise poachers (illegal hunters) could easily communicate with each other using cell phones.

On the next day we went out to Zambezi river with a speed boat to do some fishing. Again, we were not lucky, but the fish were 🙂 We ended up watching a herd of elephants taking a bath in the river and crossing over to a sand bank to feed there. This was terriffic! While on the boat we also did an interview with Moses Banda, the boat captain.

After that we went back to Gwabi to do the check out and head back to Lusaka.

In Lusaka we met up shortly with Patience again and got to see the Zain headquarters, which is in the embassy area. We wanted to take a picture of the front building which turned out to be quite a hassle, the guards finally agreed after a lot of convincing.

More about the trip from Lusaka < > Dar Es Salaam coming up on the next blogpost!

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Truly Zambian
was published on 21.10.2008 by Martin Konzett. It files under sub saharan africa
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