Dec. 12th, 2013

djafifa: (Default)
(These post are delayed. I have a wierd relationship with machines. I am writing all the time but in my book first then on the machine. it feels better and it flows more. I date all my entries in my book.)


i will begin my journey here even though it is not where it began. They announced the interns today and i am one of them. An intern with Debian in the Gnome Outreach Programme for Women. It means alot and I am too excited to think. But i am thinking and thoughts are running through my mind. I think what excites me most is the community. I am joining a community of people who care about technology, making things. Debian is apart of the Linux community. I think my first lesson is community.

What is community?
How do you build it? Sustain it?
How is technology doing this?
Why is linux doing this?

At the same time i am thinking about the Debian project i am thinking about the research project on activist cultures i will be starting next year. Both are connected and this is why i say my first lesson is community.

women in community
djafifa: (Default)
My research on ICT4D has taken a very interesting turn. During my research my view of technology as i heard it being talked about and saw it operate was cynical- this is the best word that comes to mind. By cynical i mean doubtful of what i was told technology would create for us in the way of progress or development or just what it was suppose to mean. I saw the latest cell phones were there was not a regular supply of electricity. I saw 3G phones/devices where there were maority CDMA networks. I generally felt that we were getting a bit ridiculous in Jamaica and taking the technology thing too far. I have always felt that i was living in a time when we were just putting the cart before the horse.

I looked at the E-Learning project (introduction of computers into schools to improve student performance) with a very critical eye and saw how technology was imposed to create a miracle.

My understanding of technology is now changing as a result of a few events.

1. The Politics of Open Source Software

Matthew McNaughton ( Executive Director of the Slashroots foundation in Jamaica) had mentioned to me that he had done research for his first degree on open source software in Cuba.Looking specifically at how Open Source Software could democratize development. I was fascinated by the concept of how by using open source software individuals and governments were countering the dominant narrative of innovation and development and creating their own space and terms.

2. A Problematic installation of Windows 7 on my computer forces me to install and work with Ubuntu. Launching me head on into the world of Free and Open Source Software with a new level of commitment.


3. Working as Programme Mananger for Code for the Caribbean Programmme stimulates my interest in the technical aspects of techhnology, coding and designing and forces me to explore Linux more.

4. An exploration of the presense/absence of women in technology after a bad day at work leads to me finding FLOSSIE. a collective of women based in England that explore Open Source and hardware.

5.Watching a series of lectures on Youtube about the Flossie Movement and Linux.

6. Discovering the FOSS OPW internship for women applying to translate the Debian installer in Patios/Jamaican English and getting accepted.


All of these recent events have led me to see;

1. how community can be created around technology

2. There are alternative cultures all over the world that are not capitalist and oppressive but about creating cultures of sharing community access and innovation.
djafifa: (Default)
(Jamaican English)

Mi neva did really plan fi write dah pos yah innah Jamaican english but mi change me mind and mi a go write it. Mi did write it down innah mi book innah english but mi realise seh dis haffi talk innah patois mi will write it di oda way innah english lata.

So mi get thru fi di internship with di linux people dem name debian and mi ago put fiwi jamaican language (dem seh fi call it jamaican english, but a di same patois) innah di debian operating system installation instructions, di operating system a di ting weh mek every computa work. Debian different though cause a open source. dat mean it free fi anybody install and use pon dem computa. when mi explain to people weh me a do some get i but some nuh really get it cause fiwi langauge a nuh fi computer world. Some people think is a cool likkle project but dem nuh really think it ago go easy fi translate and dem nuh really see the relevance still. but mi a gwaan thru same way. mi beleive is a good move. when mi look pon it. mi always see fi mi language in a story book a gi joke and a so dem use it. when mi did a teach some class a uwi mi realise seh people nuh really get certain idea until u tell dem innah patois. but innah our culture we have a thing we call reasoning the Rasta man dem really doa whole heap a dat. we siddung and we talk bout things. when we a reason we a use our langauge patois, some people a use patois and english mi call dat jamaican english but as mi seh before a di same patois. so if we can reason innah patois why we caan write innah it to. mean seh why we caan write like how we think. and if we can give joke innah patois den why we caan tell people bout important things innah patois too. a long time dis debate a gwaan innah jamaica though bout if patois is a langauge or not and if it can write. people like louis bennette a talk an a write innah patois long time but dem nuh teach we innah school and it nuh recognize. everyday you a hear pon di radio seh u we better off innah life if u can talk good english. mi use to work a one place weh dem a deal wid litercay problem innah adult and yute and mi see seh di biggest thing weh mek we illiterate as cording to government is because we caan write like how we talk.

Mi have one friend we work a di national newspaper. it name the jamaica observer, him so excited him decide fi interview mi and di article come innah di sunday paper and nuff likkle people a talk bout it.

see di link fi di article yah so.

mi frigthen fi see some a di commment dem. one a mi fren dem write this pon facebook:


Afifa is my friend, she is a great person and I love her. Thumbs up. But why on earth is Jamaica continuing this backward, counterproductive drive of translating reading materials (the Bible and now computer software) into Jamaican patios? Why are we sending this message to our people that in a world that is becoming increasingly interconnected, and where other countries are pushing their people to master standard English, we need to stand out and do the opposite? How can we be doing so badly in CXC English, and yet be printing patios Bibles, and pushing a patios written word agenda? Why are we making our people backward, when the world is moving forward?! First the Bible, now software, are they gonna get visa applications forms in Jamaican patios too? Are they gonna get their job application forms in patios? Are they gonna be able to speak patios to immigration officers who only understand standard English, and expect to get into a country? Or are they gonna get vex when their reasons for visiting doesn't stand up and they are sent back? Are we gonna continue to beg for multinational companies to come and invest in a country where they will meet difficulty communicating with the locals they hire, because the latter somehow got it into their heads that their local dialect is superior to a standard mode of universal communication? Where are we going to be as a country is 50 years time? In the stone ages? Anyone who can shed light on this please do, maybe I am just over-reacting.


even di comment dem unda di bottom a di article even more interesting. Carolyn cooper write one article innah di oda national paper name di Jamaica Gleaner she a talk bout the same thing she write it innah Jamaican English. see di article yah so.

is a big conversation a gwaan and it a gwaan from long time. di las time something really get translate innah jamaica was the Bible, but dat dis cas nuff money and ting and nuh till ong hafta mi realise seh fi translate di bible innah patois a nuh bout the bible itself a bout di patois. mi mean seh a bout meking jamaican people see weh dem a seh write down and waan write some more things because a dat.

(English)
( Title translation- Surprise Surpise- Some Jamaicans don't surpise me)


I wasn't planning on writing this post in Jamaican english. I had written it in english in my diary first but then changed my mind and decide to write it in Jamaican English and then Translate it to English after.

I was successful in my application for the internship with Debian. My project is about translating the Debian installer into Jamaican English( They refer to it as Jamaican English but it is patois as well). When i explain what the project is some people don't really understand because they don't beleive that our language ( native tongue belongs to the world of technology/computers. Although some other people think it is a cool project they still don't beleive it will be easy to do the translation and they don't see the relevance either way. I don't pay too much attention to these comments i beleive it is a great move.

When i think about it though, Patois is always is used to tell stories and make jokes. When i taught some classes at the University of the West Indies, I realised that there were many students who wouldn't understand some ideas until they were shared in patois. In our culture we "reason" alot. It is something that we learnt from Rastafari. Reasoning is about talking and debating and sharing ideas. when we do reason, we reason in patois. So my question is if we can reason in patois and we understand and it makes sense to us why can't we write in that langauge too.

The debate about language has been going on for a long time in Jamaica. Most of the debate is about whether it is really a language. Although one of our great poets. Louis Bennette has been talking and writing in patois for a long time. Patois is not a recognized language by the Government in Jamaica and so it is not taught in schools. We are always hearing on the radio that you are better off if you are able to speak English well and that several opportunities globally available for you.

I used to work with an organization that deals with Adult Literacy and I saw that the biggest problem with literacy was that a large population of people who were native patois speakers who could communicate well in patois but not write engish well or express themselves well in English were branded as illiterate.

I told a friend of mine Stephen Jackson who works at the Jamaica Observer about my internship. He was so excited he did an article on which appeared in the papers. There was lots of good conversation about this. You can find a link to the article here.


Another friend of mine commented on facebook:


Afifa is my friend, she is a great person and I love her. Thumbs up. But why on earth is Jamaica continuing this backward, counterproductive drive of translating reading materials (the Bible and now computer software) into Jamaican patios? Why are we sending this message to our people that in a world that is becoming increasingly interconnected, and where other countries are pushing their people to master standard English, we need to stand out and do the opposite? How can we be doing so badly in CXC English, and yet be printing patios Bibles, and pushing a patios written word agenda? Why are we making our people backward, when the world is moving forward?! First the Bible, now software, are they gonna get visa applications forms in Jamaican patios too? Are they gonna get their job application forms in patios? Are they gonna be able to speak patios to immigration officers who only understand standard English, and expect to get into a country? Or are they gonna get vex when their reasons for visiting doesn't stand up and they are sent back? Are we gonna continue to beg for multinational companies to come and invest in a country where they will meet difficulty communicating with the locals they hire, because the latter somehow got it into their heads that their local dialect is superior to a standard mode of universal communication? Where are we going to be as a country is 50 years time? In the stone ages? Anyone who can shed light on this please do, maybe I am just over-reacting.


Even the comments at the bottom of the article were very interesting. An article appeared in another National paper the Jamaica Gleaner, written by Carolyn Cooper. Her article was commenting on the debate over the value of our language. You can find a link to the article here.

This is a major debate that has been going on for a long time. The last time there was any major translation in Patois it was a translation of the Bible. This cost a lot of money. It wasn't until recently that i really recognized that to translate the Bible in patois wasn't about the Bible it was about the Patois. It was really about making Jamaicans see that how they speak, how they express themselves can also be written and to encourage them to want to write other things important to them in their language.
djafifa: (Default)
Just in case you didn't read the previous post. I am including a sepearte link to a story that was carried about the internship with DEBIAN under the OUTREACH PROGRAMME FOR WOMEN.

Translation underway to include Jamaican English in Linux-based operating system

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