Basel to Blantyre and back

My daily routine has engulfed me already. But I want to add some notes on my recent visit to Blantyre. And point you to some photos. And travel tips.

Untitled

Let’s start with the travel tips:
A very favourable recent development for Blantyre-bound travellers is the fact that Ethiopian Airlines now flies to Malawi’s commercial centre from Addis. In fact, there are daily flights to and from Addis.

And Kenya Airways flies to Blantyre from Nairobi 3 times a week.

This is a great development. Some competition is good and I hope fare prices will fall.

Untitled

My second tip is:
Visit Liwonde National Park if you’re into game viewing. We saw lots of animals. August is a good time to visit. It’s not too hot yet and very dry. The animals walk down to the river and graze in the plains of the Shire River. Liwonde and Machinga district are densely populated and it’s good to support national parks and conservation areas such as Liwonde.

One lasting memory I will try to cherish is the beautiful sunlight I saw on the day when I arrived in Blantyre at around 4 pm. It is so beautiful to arrive in Chileka and see the familiar outline of Michiru mountain.

While travelling from the airport on that first day, we encountered a funeral procession crossing the main road. As is the custom, all vehicles on the main road stopped. People got out and stood next to their vehicles. The first part of the procession was singing one song while the latter part sang another. There was loud crying. Quite a cultural difference to Europe.

Later on the same day, at the shopping mall in Chichiri, a man was lying on the ground bleeding from his mouth. A crowd of people had gathered. Maybe he had been caught stealing? In which case, he can only hope that the police is nearby or the mob may beat him to death. Street justice is widespread.

My stay in Blantyre was happily uneventful. No zigubu queues. Hardly any power cuts or water supply interruptions.

I am fascinated by the mobile phone culture. People walk around with 2 or 3 cell phones in their hand. You can buy airtime, units for prepaid SIM cards, every 50 meters. TNM and Airtel have achieved distribution networks comparable to that of Coca-cola. Both mobile phone companies are advertising their mobile payment options on a wide scale.

Identity and culture

Somewhere deep inside of me, I have this blog post bubbling up and forming about identity. It is influenced by my own state of being an eternal foreigner, an Auslandsdeutsche. But also influenced by other observations on organizational cultures and the changes within the internet.

I started watching this talk by Anil Dash:

He says being a blogger in the early years (a decade ago, from approximately 1999 to 2006) was an identity. Bloggers had a shared set of values. There was a culture and a common understanding.

Nobody calls themselves a Facebooker.

I recommend viewing this video and reflecting on the thoughts.

Sunny Sunday

I just got back from a run around the Finnenbahn. The distance is nothing to write home about, but it was a pleasurable experience with temperatures around 18 degrees. Spring is here.

With all the fresh air rushing thru my system, I was in mindblogging mode. Reflecting on all the data I have been consuming here and there.

Yesterday afternoon I tried out new bicycles at a bicycle shop in downtown Basel. I am thinking of buying a new bicycle. My Univega will soon be 10 years old. And a lot has been happening in the bicycle space since then.

mein velo

I read Scoble’s post on reducing noise on Facebook. Useful! I don’t really have the a signal to noise problem on FB, but they are offering more and more control. Which is good.

On Twitter: Did you see that you can now embed tweets?

How to find the embed code:

  • Select a tweet.
  • Click on Details.
  • Click on Embed this Tweet.
  • Copy the code to your webpage.

Although I am quite sure that I will keep my screenshot collection of fun tweets.

The effort to tweak all these corporate social media channels is getting higher than high. Don’t let the social media corporations take over.

Instead of just consuming content, I encourage you to create content. Write a blog, take photos, learn something new, write how-tos, write about your area of expertise, own your own data, participate, enter into dialog, have fun. Here are some ideas:

I am planning to attend BarcampBodensee in June. Anybody else coming from the Basel area? It would be a great opportunity to present an updated version of my presentation on mobile internet usage in Malawi.

So much has happened in this space. And even in a downturn, TNM has managed to increase its subscriber base by 35% in 2011. Compare and contrast those kind of numbers with the saturated markets here in Europe.

The number of Facebook users from southern Africa is increasing despite the high internet access costs. Socialbaker lists 95 820 users from Malawi.

socialbaker stats for Malawi

Leave a comment or contact me if you can provide further interesting data / anecdotes / user behaviour on internet usage patterns in the warm heart of Africa.

Thank you for reading and supporting chiperoni.ch. Alles wird gut.

colorful and calories

P.S.: I missed a LOLCat photo opportunity today: a cat stretched out on the seat of Vespa. Unfortunately I didn’t have a cam with me.