Semester 2 has started. Well it’s started in this little corner of Central African Republic, the official start date is five days away at time of writing. The start of a semester for a distance learning student, living the life of a monk in a remote corner of Africa, is a frantic time. I suffer from periods where there is no internet connectivity so I need to download all the readings and ebooks as quickly as possible. Once they’re on my computer, I can study at my leisure without the need to access the Blackboard learning portal every single day.
I’m about to take two weeks of leave back home in the UK. Owing to the amount of time I spend in the UK each year, I don’t have internet in my apartment, nor do I have a mobile phone. I’m 47 years old and can actually remember when this was normal. It’s clearly not normal now and I need access to the internet. So, when I study at home during my leave, I pop along to the local library on alternate days to post my weekly contribution and comment on the contributions of others. Lack of communications and connectivity though….give it a try, it’s liberating. I find I cease to care about who said what on Facebook very quickly during my leave periods.
In my last blog I wrote that Central African Republic had finally reached the point where it was able to safely hold presidential and legislative elections. Unfortunately events have taken a turn for the worse. But before I go into detail on that, I’ll give you a little anecdote. As the only caucasian in the town of Bocaranga and the entire prefecture of Ouham-Pendé, I’m quite a well known face.
People know that I have access to news from Bangui, and that I can contact people easily. I’ve had quite a few people ask me, or knocking at the compound gate, asking me to explain what happened in the first round of the presidential elections three weeks ago. Yes, despite casting a vote for a candidate, the residents of Bocaranga are in the dark as to who won and who has qualified for the second round. Imagine not knowing who had won the UK general election three weeks after you voted! Unfortunately, since the first round, the legislative elections have been cancelled entirely while the second round of the presidential’s will go ahead. As a student of international politics I’m intrigued as to how this will work – a new president with no parliament. The potential for instability is obvious.
In the past seven days I have received my marks for the final two pieces of work I submitted last semester. I was pretty happy with those marks, and like all students I get that little twinge down below when I see the email drop in from my tutor with the grade. No worries last semester though (I’m sure my tutor might have a word or two to say about that regarding my first essay) – now it’s on to Foreign Policy Analysis and more staring at a computer screen through the dark African nights.