“So how would you avoid making the same mistake as Mugabe?”
It wasn’t a question I’d expected to ask of my trainees yesterday, the staff of an organisation called A Little Bit of Hope in the nearby-ish town of Busolwe. They’d raised the Zimbabwean president’s name: we were discussing the role of a communicator and one of them had mentioned the time Mugabe had delivered a whole speech without realising he was reading out the one he’d given last month.
The point was relevant though – and a sign they both understood my questions and were volunteering their own ideas, two things I’ve learned not to take for granted. A Little Bit of Hope is a few years ahead of the organisation I’m based with in Busembatia – they have paid university-educated staff, for one, each equipped with a laptop (plus a generator in their office, I noticed with envy). As the organisation “professionalises” they want to get better at writing reports and case studies – in terms of structure and style, but also in terms of what information to include or not.
It was fun, and fulfilling, to work at a somewhat higher level for a day. With some added benefits: running water and back-up lighting in the Busolwe guesthouse, and shops with actual aisles you can walk through and electric things and stacks of plastic baskets and cartons of juice you can buy. It made Busembatia, where untethered goats and cows and chickens wander sleepily down the main road, feel a bit wild west.