My Village diary – cellphone communication in a village in Kenya

May 30, 2011

I am in a remote village-Kandula- on the hills of mbooni, south eastern Kenya. Am here on vacation, to visit family and reconnect with the village folks. Life here is pretty much laid back, nothing much to do, so I have time to blog. I have a netbook, wireless internet connection, a camera and a cellphone. These gadgets are unnecessary while on vacation but I need to stay connected to share stories from the village. I am particularly curious to find out how village folks are using cellphones – literally every household has a cellphone – and what social changes and trends are emerging here in the village, if any, due to the increasing use of cellphone. I want to do a random research – none scientiefic – just by observing and listening to stories on how cellphones are being used here in the village. I will also share my own experience on how I am using my local cellphone.

I used the cellphone to find out about the possibility of re-charging my netbook at the local market.

My netbook battery lasts 2hours. There is no electricity in my father’s house. He uses solar operated battery for lighting and to run the radio and TV. The battery and solar panels he is using are not big enough to generate enough power to charge extra electronic gadgets. There is electricity in the local market, about 1.5 kilometers away. I therefore bring the netbook to the market for recharge at 25 cts.

My first phone call today was to a friend who owns a shop there. I wanted to find out if the power was back since there was a blackout most of yesterday. It was back so my father took the netbook for recharge.

I used my cellphone to catch up with 90-year-old grandpa

 My second phone call was to my 90-year old grandpa. He has had the cellphone for 3 years now. I wanted to inform him that I was around and I will visit him before I head back to the city. I also chatted with grandma who is eager to see me. Though it was not a face-to-face communication, it was a great way of re-connecting since last vacation – last May.

I also phoned a neighbor who manages several community development projects here in the village. I wanted to let her know that I am around and would like to meet her to discuss the village projects.

My father phoned a neighbor today to let him know that a pipe supplying water to his home was broken and that it was going to be repaired and water would be supplied later in the day. The water project is owned and sustained by the local community with little support from the government. Friends of mine also supported the project by supplying pipes to the various homesteads in the village. The water is pumped from the central tank every once or twice a week to the homesteads where it is stored in tanks for home use. Usually, the village folks are informed via cellphones when the water will be supplied or incase of breakages in the piping system.

Connecting with family and friends in the city

 My brother who works in the city (Nairobi), is also here in the village on vacation. He phoned his boss today to discuss work.

My brother has also been calling everyday to check on his daughter and his wife.

I used my cellphone to buy chicken!

Yesterday I needed to buy chicken, so I informed a neighbor who then phoned another neighbor and he brought over the chicken to negotiate for the price. I bargained and settled on a good price!

This morning my brother also phoned a newspaper vendor in the local market to find out if the daily newspapers had been delivered from the city. He ordered for one and picked it later in the day

Using cellphone to mobilize support in times of need or grief

Yesterday I was chatting with another neighbor about the loss of his wife and his brother. He mentioned how he used the cellphone to inform neighbours and friends and to mobilize for support and to make arrangements for their funerals. I will blog about it tomorrow…may be!

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2 Responses to “My Village diary – cellphone communication in a village in Kenya”

  1. monica Says:

    terry i like ur blog, it seems the village even with the power difficulties is completely cellfon savy

  2. Terry Mutuku Says:

    Amazingly so. Thank you for your comment. I hope you will continue reading…

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