October 28, 2005

Bye Bye Conakry ! (I'm not conna cry!)

Well, that's it ! I am leaving Guinea today, and I thought I'd wrap up with some reflexions on the country. I only spent a month working in Guinea, so the impressions I'm sharing here are in no way intended to be an exhaustive comment on this mysterious and messy country.
Et bien, ca y est ! Je quitte la Guinée aujourd'hui, et j'ai pensé que je concluerai par quelques réflexions sur le pays. J'ai seulement passé un mois a travailler en Guinée, donc les impressions que je partage ici n'ont nullement l'intention d'etre un commentaire approfondi sur ce mystérieux et triste pays.
Guinea.... well, Guinea is beautiful. My experience with Africa was mostly Sahelian countries, so I was very impressed with how green the scenery was. The mountains on the road we took to the site visits were National Geographic material. N'Zerekore (one of the sites) was a particularly pleasant city, quite clean and quiet.
La Guinée.... bien, la Guinée, c'est jolie. Mon expérience avec l'Afrique était pour la plupart avec des pays du Sahel, alors j'ai été très impressionnée par le paysage vert de Guinée. Les montagnes sur la route etaient dignes du National Géographique . N'Zerekore était une ville particulièrement plaisante, propre et tranquille.

Conakry itself does not do Guinea justice : the city is dirty, everything is covered in mold, and there are slumlike habitats pretty much all around, mixed with hotels and appartment buildings. It's depressing to think that a country with so much ressources is so low on the ladder of development. I'd always associated development issues to lack of natural ressources. I guess Guinea is the utmost expression of what bad governance can do to a country otherwise blessed by nature.
Conakry en soi ne rend pas justice a la Guinee : la ville est sale, tout est couvert de moisissure, et il y a des bidonvilles un peu partout, entre des hotels et des immeubles residentiels. C'est deprimant de penser qu'un pays avec tant de ressources est si bas dans l'echelle du developpement. J'avais toujours associe les problemes de developpement au manque de ressources naturelles. J'imagine que la Guinee est l'exemple parfait ce qu'une mauvaise gouvernance peut faire a un pays autrement beni par la nature.
Logistically, it's difficult : no running water (most expatriates who would otherwise need it truck water in for their house), electricity is available according to a certain schedule (my neighboorhood on Monday, yours on Tuesday, and so on) and even then, electricity cuts are numerous and frequent. As well, I've been told that there is effectively no acceptable physician to go consult in Conakry. H's experience confirmed that.
Logistiquement, c'est difficile : pas d'eau courante (la plupart des expatries qui ne peuvent pas vivre sans se font livre de l'eau par camion), l'electricite est disponible selon une certain horaire (chez moi Lundi, chez toi demain, etc.) et meme dans ce cas, les coupures d'electricites sont nombreuses et frequentes. Aussi, il parait qu'il n'y a dans les faits pas de medecin acceptablement competent que l'on puisse consulter a Conakry. L'experience de H a confirme cela.
Guinea is presently governed by a military and it's very visible. Military presence is everywhere. Given all this, I give credit to the Guineans for not being more intent on violent actions.
La Guinee est presentement sous gouvernement militaire, et c'est tres visible. Leur presence est partout. Considerant tout ca, je felicite les Guineens de ne pas etre plus tournes vers la violence.

At the same time, some aspects of Conakry are endearing : the street sellers are selling random items (as in many other African countries), people play soccer on the roundabouts, and it's not uncommon in the morning to see scenes of domestic life right out on the street.
En meme temps, certains aspects de Conakry sont attachants : les vendeurs de rue vendent des objets aleatoires (comme c'est le cas aussi dans d'autres pays d'Afrique), les gens jouent au soccer sur les rond-points, et il n'est pas rare de voir le matin dans la rue des scenes de la vie domestique.

It's these last small things that always make me fall in love with Africa, all over again.
Ce sont ces dernieres petites choses qui me font toujours retomber en amour avec l'Afrique.

The local team and the auditors regroup for a team picture (taken by yours beaverly). In the end, the audit process is a collaborative effort, and we got great support from the local team. Yeah team !

L'equipe locale et les auditeurs se retrouvent pour une photo collective (prise par castorement votre). A la fin, le processus d'audit est un effort commun, et on a eu droit a une excellente collaboration de l'equipe locale. Yeee team !


The Beaver


Merci, JP et Mylene, d'avoir mis vot' tit' pinne sur ma belle grande map !

My guest map is wonderful ! And you'd all be wonderful to post, all of you lurk mode readers!
Thanks and may the winds of Fate blow your way !

5 comments:

Qalamana said...

¡Hi Beaver!
I'll finally stay in Madrid (at least until next september, inshallah!)working as a foreign trade consultant for the Ministry, so I'd love to see you next Spring

Salt Water said...

Dearest Beaver, this, for today, is PQ1 (Problem Question 1). I will use Salt Waters invitation to a costume party and appear on his behalf. In doing so, I intend to attend as a personified question, namely: What if Mother Culture is really killing Mother Earth?. In being a PQ I will seek PAs (Possible Answers). When it comes time to do skits, I intend to use your post today as a PA. You are an answer to many of the worlds problems in general, but inparticular, your kindness, understanding and honesty are the real hope for humanity. If we cannot find away to inspirer others to be more like you, we may be doomed. I will simplify this to: "Blogging is the answer" and then raddle on about what it means if possible. Thanks. Have not tried the "Green Leaf Sause" yet. Looking forward to it. Thanks also for the new word. I have a 1984 Collegiate Dictionary that is being retired today. It did not have this new word in it. But the new 2003 edition did. I now know "Sahelian countries" refer to the semidesert S fringe of the Sahara that stretches from Mauritania to Chad. Fantastic! You make life sound so fun. As you say, and I still don't understand, On On!

Mymy said...

On l'a mis au bon endroit la pin?? Je suis pas trop certaine, c'était nébuleux comme méthode de "pinnage"! hehe
Ouais, Marie, tu fais des jeux de mots incroyables (conna cry! mmmmmm c'est pratiquement sublime!)

Salt Water said...

I have now tried the Green Leaf Sauce and posted the result. It would be a great green if short on food. Thanks. Your fans are glad to see you are okay and out of Conakry. I am sad if you're sad, but it sounded "Scary" to me. I am not fond of authority or authoritarian types. Where to now?

007 in Africa said...

Just wanted to let you know that I'm still reading your blog and loving it :)