Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Speakers Day 1

Today was day one of the Colloquium on Economy, Society and Nature here at UKZN. There are several South African known speakers speaking on South African labour markets, race, development and state and other related topics. This morning we heard from Ann-Marie Wolpe whose late husband, Harold Wolpe, was known here in South Africa with assisting Nelson Mandela out of apartheid through the MK (spear of the people)and Lilyleaf. Another speaker, Ari Sitas, in Sociology at UKZN spoke about there needing to be a "steering mechanism" where social action must take place before this trend of South African authoritarism or crisis begins to take hold and the "democratic form of state will miss out in the balance of equality and freedom" (Ari Sitas). A clear example of this was yesterday, shanti dwellers were beaten by police during a peaceful protest here around Durban for property rights and reform. More interesting stuff to come.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Myrdal's Theory of Development

I did a bit of catch up reading this weekend (besides picking avocados and spotting the tails of whale sharks from the beach) where I came upon this Swedish economist named Gunnar Myrdal. He started to change the way of thinking of economics to include factors not dealing solely on markets but as well with non-economic factors of welfare, and standards of living. He came up with conditions that can either move a country either forward or backward depending on investment on resources for industrialization, distribution of income and land reform, and promotion of social equality. He used his studies to prove that a nation cannot grow without the elimination of poverty and inequality. We may think that this is obvious now but he started this movement of thinking with his publication Asian Drama and his works to follow. He also argued that people should not accept an inevitability of inequality because it is morally unacceptable but also that it is causally not true.

Thursday, February 23, 2006

Microfinance Speaker Series: Canadian Universities

If you or your friends wanted to know what type of Microfinance work I am interested in, the Aga Khan Foundation is hosting this tour on Microfinance at universities across Canada. If you are in Vancouver, check it out at UBC under:

The Role of Microfinance in International Development: Unleashing Opportunities for the Poor, will feature speakers from Pakistan and Egypt.

Thursday, March 23rd, 2006
5:30 - 8:30pm
Multipurpose Room, Liu Institute for Global Issues
6476 NW Marine Drive
Vancouver, British Columbia

If you are not in Vancouver, you can check the website for other locations and dates.

The Power of Telenovelas

Well, first week is over and I am already falling behind on assigned readings and preparing for upcoming presentations. Talk about throwing you right into the lion's den. I'll have to get the balance right with beach and school time. Another really interesting student I met at the international student office - Annette. She comes from Uganda and she is doing her Masters in Communications and Mass Media. Previous to coming to S.A., she had worked for a public relations firm in the capital. Her studies will be in using media for public health messages. When I was living in Mozambique, I heard that this method of social marketing was very successful in Brazil with their telenovelas in advising the public about HIV/AIDS and other public health messages. I also heard that Brazil intergrates some powerful messages in the lyrics of some popular music.


Originally uploaded by make_change.
Here are some of my photos from the recent trip to St. Lucia game reserve on the East Coast of Kwazulu-Natal Africa. These rhinos came right up to our vehicle with the pointy horns. Could have been a close one if they didn't become occupied with other priorities. Click on the link for a few more photos.

Economics: 'What is, will not be'

Just had the most insane Economics seminar yesterday. It was just the dumb-strucked lesson I needed to hear about the world and its evolution of thought in development and economics. It's a dynamic and exciting place to be and the school makes me confident to believe that there is a future or "professionalization" in this discipline. For example, the World Bank announced in the 2006 World Development Report that equity was needed in order to enhance the power of efficiency and growth - this is the first statement of its kind to appear in such publications. These type of statements display a movement towards considerations of human capital and politics when addressing a once rigid look at economics at a solely competitive market standpoint. As well the recent Havard president resignation of Lawrence Summers show that even professionals in economics can make the most ridiculous claims on women in science and solutions to environment. Next week, the Centre for Civil Society in our department will be hosting a COLLOQUIUM ON ECONOMY SOCIETY & NATURE which will be hosting some renowned South African economists and development people. Should make for an exciting week!

Monday, February 20, 2006

Quick message to you

I have started classes finally! Today was on Comparative Development and its Problems. Basically it was a debate if the classification of 1st, 2nd, and 3rd World is obsolete in our present society. What I am reading: Reclaiming Development by Ha-Joon Chang and Irene Grabel. Some contemporary policy issues to development. What else; surfed some small waves at Garvies and learning to drive standard! clutch, 1st, accelerate...digs

Friday, February 17, 2006

Jean from the Congo

As part of my goals to further my interest in the development field, it is to meet interesting people who have done work in developing countries and get their perspectives on change. Today at a small class picnic, i met Jean from the Congo. Super interesting guy who has worked as a Program Director for an NGO, National Union of Women with connections with UNDP, in Djibouti. He went to talk about how his program involved gender related issues such as teaching women Arabic, learning to sew, agricultural initiatives. He even worked closely with the First Lady of the country as she led this National initiative. His greatest accomplishment though in the program was working with the community to end female mutilation. It took close to 3 years to convince the imam (Djibouti is a Muslim country) that this practice is not representative in the Koran and find alternative employment to those women who once performed this unsanitary, painful operation to work in midwifery. I'll have to say that 3 years is amazing to accomplish such a feat and hats off to anyone that has kept another female from this abuse.

Thursday, February 16, 2006

Natal Sharks Board - St. Lucia

Apparently the strike is over at University of Kwazulu-Natal but I haven't noticed since I took off North-East with the Natal Sharks Board to St. Lucia Marine Reserve. A friend of mine, Sean, had been invited to go with Devin and Jeremy from the Sharks Board to assist with tagging sharks up near Sodawana and Raggies Reef and asked if I wanted to come along. We left Tuesday afternoon and drove 2 1/2 hours north to a tourist town of St. Lucia to pick up some provisions then continued North through the game reserve and into Cape Vidal to stay at one of the log cabins. It was so humid and hot, at least 30 degrees and the electricity had been down. We decided to do a bit of a drive through the game reserve and spotted rhinos, waterbuck, kudu, wart hogs, ZEBRAS! It was getting dark so we wrapped up with a mincemeat dinner and off to bed. The divers got up by 4:30am the next morning to prepare the boat while I slepped in until 7:45am and had a small breakfast before hitting the white sand beach. On my walk, I spotted several monkeys and this other fawn watching me. The water was crystal blue, a few waves behind the reefs. It was a fairly empty beach until 10:30am when all these school kids came running onto the beach. The Sharks Board boat came back by 12:30pm for lunch. They had a successful trip and saw about 20+ ragged tooth sharks circling their one of the listening stations they were monitoring. After we cleaned up, we cruised through the game reserve down to the estuary where there were hippos and crocodiles milling around the sea. One thing I noticed were loads of burned stumps throughout the game reserve. These were foreign trees that had been planted here a long time ago. Unfortunately, the trees had been sucking the grasslands dry and in order to bring the reserve back to its natural state, they have unending fields of burned stumps. Hopefully in 20 years the grasslands will once again be the sanctuary it once was.

Monday, February 13, 2006

Riley, the deaf pointer

Riley, the deaf pointer
Originally uploaded by make_change.
Here are one of the beach pups that come and visit the house where I am staying. You can communicate by sign language with her and she loves shell games and playing with shadows and light. I will post information on my first day of classes (which didn't happen) as soon as I get better web access. A cool thing: at the beach, saw some kind women drive up in a car in the lot and break out food for all the street kids. Kathleen

Friday, February 10, 2006

Week One: Check!

Soooooo... the first photo is the view from my place on the Bluff. Second photo is the law building on Howard Campus. So first week of Orientation is done and I'm about as lost as Waldo. Just as Waldo, I'd tip my toque, straighten the glasses and continue to walk around with a smile on Howard campus. Yes, I got lost trying to find my way home. Yes, the strike has kept me from registering for any classes, getting a student for the purpose of use of the internet in the labs and other academic things (library. ha). The administrator at the School of Development Studies is sympathic to the internationals since we are the majority and has been in and out the office assisting with course materials, answering questions. Other business, I went out for my first surf yesterday in the town. Small 3 metres, super gentle, on a nice sandy bank... I need to ease into the surf again considering my last month in Vancouver consisted of very little exercise. Trying out this 7'4 mini-mal a bit heavier than Stewart board back home. Another surf this afternoon, another westerly blowing so should make for some nice off shore waves again on the south coast. Have a good weekend and talk to you all soon.

Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Arrival in Durban

Finally arrived in South Africa after a 7 hour flight to Dakar, 1 hour fuel stopover, then 8 hour flight to Jo-berg, followed by a stroll through the international arrivals to domestic departures with my 28 kg suitcase and backpack. I was picked up and staying over at a house in the Bluff facing the beach. Huge 5 footers rolling though after the storm and will take photos as soon as I get my Apple set up. I started a Writing Skills class today and met about 20+ classmates for my Masters... yeah, only 2 of them are actually South African. Some from Kenya, US, Ethiopia, Norway... just what I was looking for. Ask for the class, I think the main point I got out of it is to keep writing and ideas will flow. Don't be closed off by a structure or narrow path as you might miss some of the best ideas doing the alternative. Thank you for all your emails and I will do my best to write back once I get real online access. By the way, the school is on strike. fancy that. ha.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

New Yorkers...

What a fabulous time in New York! I arrived on Friday evening awaiting Barinder and Param at the JFK airport, took a cab in to Manhattan and there was Terri all stoked on the city. We took in the sights: Times Square, dinner at one of the hundreds of delis, Madison Square Garden, just strolled around the city until 4:30am! B & P had been to New York City before so they had a good idea of the area, subway use and references to every TV show or movie there is in New York. The next morning, we rolled over to Greenwich village for some brunch at a wicked egger and margarita spot. We passed through NYU and then Soho for some shopping. Then back to the Paramount Hotel for a bit of a rester before dinner in the Meatpacking District at an italian spot called Vento. To follow a hardy carb meal was all night dancing at Aere. Something to remember when moving around is to love your locals and your concierge; they can be the most wonderful helpful people in a fast-paced city like New York. Chris gave us full VIP access straight into the bar (that usually costs $20 a person) and you should have seen the look of some of those lined up. If we only had a camera at the entrance. Then all night djing that I had been dying to hear for my whole life. All I could say is that the legs could not say no! Finally we rolled out of that club and cabbed back to the hotel by 5am. The next morning, Terri and I took the trip up to the Empire State Building with the most incredible view of this concrete jungle. Then back on to the subway to head to the airport for my 17 hour flight. Thank you Terri, Barinder and Param for a great start to my journey, I couldn't have asked for more...

Friday, February 03, 2006

Off to South Africa

After months of school preparation and non-commitment to this blog, I am opening up the flood gates of 2006 with new and exciting stories from South Africa starting next week. I noticed that as the day gets closer, people are getting excited around me for the trip yet I remain nervous and calm... I think it might be partly due to the unpredictability of whether I will actually get fully engaged and interested in the content of my studies, or if it will become a surf trip of a lifetime. I wish for both. To those I will see in New York this weekend, can't wait! To those I leave behind, you are doorsteps away from Durban. See you soon.

luv Kathleen