All About Africa - Exciting New Project Goes Live in April 2005
We'd tried every search engine and every Libyan number in the Lonely Planet Guide without success. Dejected, we phoned a local travel agent and when the girl said "Sure, I can get you a phone number for a hotel in Libya", we didn't really believe her. The number for the Bab Hotel in Tripoli worked and at last we were through to Libya!
We have lots to do. Much more to worry about than tracking Libyan Hoteliers. In early April we leave for Africa on an eight-month All About Africa mission. Our goal is to raise awareness of Africa and Irish aid agencies, like Bóthar, who are working there. We want to bring our story and the story of Africa into the classrooms and homes of East Cork.
We have an All About Africa website, www.AllAboutAfrica.net. Admittedly, it is still under construction. We will update it while we are away with stories and pictures from our trip. We are putting together a map poster to be displayed in public spaces in the Imokilly area and will use photos from the trip to create a calendar for 2006. We will also be writing for the Imokilly People and want to work with local radio stations. We also hope to organize an All About Africa exhibition when we return.
Our route is adjusted regularly because we keep stumbling across impassable or recently re-opened borders. It looks like a speedy bus, boat, train combination from Castlemartyr to London, Paris and Rome. From Italy we will cross to Tunisia, the softest landing point into Africa. We will travel east through Algeria, Libya, Egypt and then head south through the Sudan, Ethiopia, Djibouti, Kenya, Uganda, Rwanda, Tanzania, Malawi, Zambia, Botswana, Namibia all the way to South Africa.
Of course, if this All About Africa project is to work we must actually survive the trip. This is no mean feat for a couple of faranjis (foreigners). We've heard quite a few stories from returned expatriates. "Don't Go!" they say. Paul Theroux, tells a remarkable tale in his latest book, "Dark Star Safari". Travelling by truck through Northern Kenya, he is shot at by highway bandit men. But then Africa is full of contradiction. In Algeria, a country suffering from continuing political violence and instability, invitations to tea will, apparently, be not only common but also genuine. Go figure!
So who are we?
Malachy says: "Niamh O Riordan doesn’t put an apostrophe after her name and after one fiery look I don't either. Be under no illusion, she is running the show here. She plays great piano. She has studied for years, until getting a job just last Summer, at the Bank of Ireland on Bridge Street. Her sociology and computer studies are going to be very useful during our trip. Already, she has done a very fine job on the website, www.AllAboutAfrica.net, but don't tell her that! Schooled by the Sisters at Scoil Bhríde and St. Mary's in Midleton, and looking forward to a bit of travel, she is distressingly undaunted by what lies waiting for her in Africa. But then, she was unfazed by that parachute jump…"
Niamh says: "Malachy Harty always does his own thing. Like when he was seventeen and decided to do his work experience in Kenya. He went to Saleen N.S and Midleton C.B.S and after a three-month stint in Portugal during sixth year he finished his Leaving Cert. He studied photography and journalism and also qualified as a chef. He really enjoys life's simple pleasures; he will stop you in your tracks and make you smell a flower. Total bully. But he knows a lot about travel. And photography. In fact, he's probably taken your picture once or twice."
Individuals and businesses throughout East Cork will have a chance to support this local education project at different times. You can find out more about us at www.AllAboutAfrica.net and about sponsoring the project at www.AllAboutAfrica.net/sponsorpack.asp