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Reflection 5 June

I talked with Sumaila (local project coordinator) and then later with Chloe and Brandon (bico coordinators) today.  The Fellows spent their first full day in Dalun.  They took breakfast, then had their first in-person Dagbani lesson with Sumaila (having begun learning from him via audio and video files during predeparture phase), went to greet and present themselves to the Chief, and visited/learned about the Information Communications Technology (ICT) Centre.  After dinner Brandon led their first reflection session.  I learned that they talked about the sense of relief they felt on coming to Dalun after the hectic pace of Accra, and also their initial observations on gender dynamics.  

I thought today, three years into this work, that talking about money and budgets is not a diversion, a distraction, or a necessary evil.  In fact, it is part of the way we are in relation to each other.  Not the only or, necessarily even and certainly not always the central way, but a way.  So I feel able to embrace the ongoing talk about cash, funds, expenses, transfers, fundraising, negotations, salaries, choices around all of these. 

Brandon raised the wonderful point that it's important for the Fellows as they enter the scene not to lose hold of the responsibility and opportunity they have to craft their own projects and way.  As Emeke Okereke, photographer/Artistic Director of Invisible Borders Trans-African Organisation, says, "Use the space and let the space use you."  So even while the orientation program is structured (and it will change), it is important not to let it socialize the group into expecting that kind of structure.  Also, what is structure in this project?  How do different people involved understand it?  What is its scope in time and space?  There's the structure of individual fellowships, of relationships, of the broader and ever emergent community and institutional partnerships.  Okereke speaks to the importance of resisting the call to define, saying that people only seek to define what they want but don't have.  He calls for ongoing movement offers the gesture of "trans" -- the going beyond -- and the practice of exchange as key approaches to African identity formation.  I think we can learn from this.

I told Chloe and Brandon about the walk behind the Simli Centre to the river.It's a good, quiet place to jog. You can see Madam Azara's rice farm there.  Last year, I saw red peppers growing there in one of the farmers' fields, and returned to the Baobab tree we'd visited when Rob, Lil, and June were with me.  


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