Dadamac Day 2009 was a new and exciting extension of our annual online celebration. Usually it is pretty much "a family affair" - reuniting people who already know each other. This time we widened our reach, both in the UK and in rural Nigeria, so there were extra guests at the celebration.
Audio and video
There were exciting audio and video connections too. During the year we are limited by bandwidth, and the core groups communicate by typing. But for Dadamac Day - when we all get together - special arrangements are made and there is usually more bandwidth available. We managed a brief video link (very extravagant on bandwidth) which was a chance for people on both sides to smile and wave and greet each other out loud. This is hugely exciting and important for us as it is such a rare opportunity - and the closest that many of the group ever get to a F2F meeting.
On the UK side, we had moved out of our normal comfort zone of working privately in front of our own screens and had gone public. Dadamac Day was a fringe event at BarCampAfrica, with one of our laptops linked to a big screen and all comers welcome. This meant that the people in Nigeria, at Fantsuam, got to see new people in the UK, from BarCampAfrica, smiling and greeting them - not just Nikki and I from the UK team.
Local children's choir
We also had a special treat of being entertained by a local children's choir at Fantsuam, directed by Seth, a local tailor (who has made beautiful practical traditional outfits for me in the past). The choir has recently come top in a competition between choirs. Dadama Day provided an excellent opportunity to involve those young people in the excitement of linking in with us all: the team at Fantsuam, their guests, and the people over in the UK. It was a delight for us to be able to hear them sing.
Local language greetings
Most of the people who joined Dadamac Day from rural Nigeria joined us from the Knowledge Resource Centre (KRC) at the Fantsuam Foundation main compound, in Kaduna State. Folabi Sunday was the exception, joining us, via his phone, from Oyo State - deep "in the rurals" in or near Ago-Are. Fola was greeted in his local language, Yoruba, by one of the BarCampAfrica visitors to Dadamac Day. Another BarCampAfrica visitor posted a greeting to the KRC in Hausa - the main language of Kaduna State.
The celebration at the KRC was organised by key members of the Dadamac UK-Nigeria team who meet online via Skype every week. All of the Dadamac team in Nigeria have some involvement with Fantsuam Foundation.
Teachers Talking participants
The Nigerian team had invited some of the original Teachers Talking (TT) participants to join the Dadamac Day celebration. They were honoured guests indeed, as Dadamac Day has its roots in TT. The original TT course was prepared with the help of an online support group. (TT 2004 was an introduction to ICT which I designed and presented for teachers at John Dada's request) The involvement of the online support group lead to a "transnational online community experience" that was the highlight of the first TT course, and the start of TT-Online.
To get an idea of the excitement of that TT experience, imagine you live in a place with no phones. One day you go on a training course. You have never seen a computer before - but by the end of the day you have started to use one, and you have discovered the Internet, where people from thousands of miles away are waiting to greet you and help you. Each day during your five day course you get a chance to work online and to experience being part of an online supportive community.
Start of annual celebrations
That initial experience of online community lead to the first online anniversary celebration, and influenced the TT-Online element of all subsequent courses. Without TT-Online there would have been no Dadamac Day, so it was great to have TT participants come back to Fantsuam for the 2009 online celebration.
Fantsuam Foundation guests
Also at the KRC were other people from Fantsuam Foundation. One honoured guest, Yinka Talabi,is a member of the FF board who had come from Lagos to see the relationship between Fantsuam Foundation and Dadamac in action. There were also people from Fantsuam Foundation (FF) who do not usually attend the regular UK-Nigeria team meetings. New and stronger relationships were forged between UK and Nigeria and also between Dadamac and people in the local community.
After the main online celebrations most of the people at KRC went offline for refreshments and other activities. The Fantsuam team served locally made fruit-juice drinks, part of a new SME (Small and Medium Enterprise) initiative that Fantsuam Foundation is currently working on. People who were new to the team were taught something of our history by the TT participants.
Some of the core team stayed online for further discussions on a more serious level with BarCampAfrica participants. Professor Cornelia Boldyref, Associate Dean for Research and Enterprise at the University of East London, had a discussion with John Dada about One Laptop Per Child and the Sugar Labs project. There was also a serious discussion on Open Source Software between people at Fantsuam and a couple of Open Source enthusiasts from the Nigerian Diaspora in the UK (that conversation is already showing evidence of being ongoing through the exchange of emails).
Thanks and looking forward
Before and after we received messages of support and encouragement from people who would have liked to attend - from four continents and various time zones. Our thanks to everyone who has encouraged and supported us in any way during our special day or during the past year. We look forward to another exciting, productive and unpredictable year ahead, to welcoming more people into the Dadamac online community, and to celebrating Dadamac Day again in November 2010.