In Nigeria: Weekend exploring
July 5, 2009
Yesterday, I traveled to a Michelin (yes, the tire company!) plantation for a party thrown in honor of the new Secretary to the Ondo State Government, Dr. Aderotimi Adelola.
Michelin grows rubber trees on this sprawling estate. It took nearly 20 minutes to get from the highway to the primary school deep inside the plantation where the celebration was held. Tapped rubber trees pictured below!
I was invited to a table inside the Governor’s main tent, and spent most of the time just looking around at all the government officials, and chatting with the Chairman of SITEDEC, Cyril Egunlayi.
The high point of the afternoon was Dr. Olusegun Mimiko’s speech welcoming Dr. Adelola to the government. He’s a charismatic speaker. The people around the perimeter pressed closer, and were attentively silent for his 10 or 15 minute speech. He emphasized education—his hometown’s slogan is “Home of Education”. He also said that despite Ondo State’s history of leading Nigeria in educational opportunities, the state had regressed and needed to catch up again. Mimiko speaking:
The car ride out and back to the plantation took about two hours each way. I spent much of that time talking about open source options for various IT infrastructure, where something like Google Apps might fit in for them, and passed on information I’d gotten about microwave links from a Portland WiMax provider, Stephouse Wireless. I also told Cyril about feedback regarding a replacement for Exchange. My followers on Twitter universally recommended Zimbra, and that was confirmed by at least one End Point coworker, Adam Volrath.
We also stopped by the office on our way home to check in on a new wireless repeater the engineers were installing on the tower they have out behind the SITEDEC center. We still have a few details to work out for the class arrangements.
In the evening, I enjoyed some Nigerian barbecue with Deji Agbebi. Originally from Lagos, he worked for a Canadian firm in the early 90s who’s goal was to provide clean drinking water to villages in Ondo state. For various reasons, including a military coup, that business failed. Now Deji works in the US. He’s a friend of Cyril’s, and is here in Akure, hoping to help with the work the government is trying to complete before January.