Early on Sunday morning, the power went out in Buea.  Apparently, Sonel (the Cameroonian electricity company) was doing maintenance for the day in the entire South West region.  Rumor had it the lights would be back at 5 pm.  Just before 5, we had the first big rains of the year—usually, the rains don’t come with such intensity until mid March.  Most people I’ve talked to about the weather attribute the early arrival of the rainy season to climate change.  It’s been like this since 2005, they tell me.  After a few hours of heavy downpour, the sky cleared, opening up a spectacular view of Mount Cameroon—the blues and greens and greys that usually fade into the haze or fog were clearly contoured against the sunset-streaked sky.  But the rains had done their work.  No lights at 6 pm, or 7 pm, or 10… 

On Monday morning, we woke up to find the electricity still decidedly absent.   The question over tea and coffee was: how do we run a class focused on updating student websites without power?  As it turned out, we didn’t have to ponder this quandary for long—we called the computer lab manager at GHS Limbe, only to find out that they had never lost power at all. Sonel must have a soft spot for sunny beaches and large oil refineries.  We made the trip to Limbe feeling lucky.  Once in Limbe, however, we discovered the Internet was down at the school.  Running a class focused on updating student websites is only slightly more feasible with electricity but without Internet than it is with no working computers at all.   So we developed plan B (completely reschedule the class), and plan C (stay to work on typing up information and return for a make-up class on Wednesday).  We put it to student vote, and the decision was nearly unanimous—stay for now and then come back again on Wednesday.  So maybe they’re not only in YAN for the Facebook?  We held a shortened class centered around typing up “Advocacy” pages for their websites (to be posted at a later date, for obvious reasons). Now that you are the experts, I told the students, you can advise your community, your country, and the whole world about how your issue can be resolved.  What specifically should be done to prevent water pollution in rivers?  Who needs to take action?

I could continue narrating the saga that this week became…all the classes that needed rearranging (Internet was still down in Limbe on Wednesday), or the fact that Yahoo is not longer recognizing the passwords of half our students, or the realization that all form 5 students will be occupied with test prep during our scheduled class times from now until June. But recalling with detail the trials and tribulations of teaching computer/media classes in Cameroon would give a falsely bleak perspective on YAN and our students.  Things don’t always work out the way we plan, and yet we have a core group of students who are sticking with us, finding ways to come to extra class sessions (even on a Saturday!), and doing incredible work.  Check out, for example, the website on water resources that Mingeley and Kennedy have been creating: http://www.waterincameroon.wordpress.com.  I can’t wait to see what they do with our upcoming units on photography, podcasting, and video making. 


P.S.  We’re off to climb Mount Cameroon this weekend in honor of Josh’s 25th birthday.  If we aren’t swamped by rain, the views promise to be spectacular.  We’ll post shots of the hike early next week, but for now, here’s what the mountain looked like this morning: