Thursday, February 28, 2008

Under control

A couple of weeks ago, the side rear view mirrors on both sides of my car were stolen. My car was parked in the centre of town just outside the Kigali city administration and opposite the restaurant of a friend of mine.

has an extremely low crime rate, especially in the built-up areas. This is basically because in a small police state with a high population density, it is easy to completely control and know most things that happen. Occasionally though, someone will get away with a minor theft. But that doesn’t mean that the crime wasn’t noticed…

So how does one handle the rear view mirror situation in Kigali? Well first, I ask the owner of the restaurant to ask his cooks whether they can’t buy the mirrors straight back from the thieves at a discount. Normally, this would work, as everyone knows everyone. After a few days however, it seems that the thief was not a friend of the locals. A little surprised I try my second option: I phone the car garage. They ask me where and when my mirrors were stolen. Two days later, they magically have my mirrors waiting for me at the garage. I buy them back at 25 dollars a piece.

I some strange way, everything seems to be under control here, and even petty crime has a clear system.

Of course, a controlled and ordered state is not necessarily a stable one. That is an entirely different debate.

Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Word of the Day: development tourist

Development tourist (n.) – An intern or short-term employee on a contract of up to 1 year, who wants to “experience the developing world” and “help out”, and who will afterwards leave the country, leave Africa and/or even leave development aid work altogether. By some estimates, development tourists make up over one third of the white population of Rwanda.

Tuesday, February 05, 2008

Word of the Day: Donorbabble

Donorbabble (n.) - Language used by organisations working for or with the donor industry to make their work look clever. A typical example of donorbabble would be: “We will organise a multi-sectoral working group to plan the development of a sector-wide capacity building master plan.” In standard English this roughly means that a big group of people will talk about planning a plan to train people in everything. Donorbabble is used by the donor industry itself, by development consultants and also by poor country governments who "speak the language of the donors".