[ubuntu-za] Distibuting Ubuntu CDs in Africa

Charl Wentzel charl.wentzel at vodamail.co.za
Wed Dec 17 10:22:06 GMT 2008

Way to go, Piet!

-----Original Message-----
From: Piet Beukes <zabear1 at gmail.com>
Reply-To: Ubuntu South African Local Community
<ubuntu-za at lists.ubuntu.com>
To: Ubuntu South African Local Community <ubuntu-za at lists.ubuntu.com>
Subject: [ubuntu-za] Distibuting Ubuntu CDs in Africa
Date: Wed, 17 Dec 2008 11:52:33 +0200


Sharing 50 Ubuntu CDs (HH8.04) with delegates throughout Africa

I had the opportunity to attend the All Africa Council of Churches
(AACC) meeting last week in Maputo, Mozambique. I went as a participant
representing a South-South NGO called The Bench Marks Foundation
(focusing on witnessing to business regarding corporate social
responsibility). About a thousand people attended the meeting for one
week, coming from all oven Africa as well as some representatives for
other parts of the world. Africa, south of the Sahara was perhaps better
represented, but there had been delegates even as far as Egypt (Coptic
Church). The meeting was about equally attended by men and woman, with a
large portion made up by younger people (25 to 35 years, representing
their church's youth organisation or as youth leaders). All major
churches and even some independent churches were represented, with many
bishops, priest s and ministers present, as well as teachers,
developmental workers and even some IT people. A major focus was women
who came from all over Africa representing HIV/Aids organisations in
their countries. But environmental issues also was highlighted, with
water issues really standing out. Human rights, economic justice and
children were other focus areas, among various others.

The foundation which I represented, allowed me the opportunity to share
Ubuntu Open Source software, as the sharing and open source philosophy
fit well in with the Bench Marks Foundation's principles. I had a stall
(with air-conditioning – it was VERY hot outside) in the main venue in a
prime location, resulting in major foot traffic passing. I had prepared
for the event by taking about 50 CD's with me to hand out. I took Ubuntu
Hardy Heron as version along (8.04.1, LTS release, which is easy to
install, and quite stable). For identification purposes, I decided to
wear my South African Ubuntu LoCo T-shirt, alternating with a similar
T-shirt with the South African flag. Ubuntu as OS software was quite
unknown to the majority of the people to whom I spoke. Only four people
came to me to say that they recognised what the T-shirt stood for (one
person from the Salvation Army having used Ubuntu previously in
Colombia(?) in Latin America). Linux was also unknown to the majority of
the people to whom I spoke. People coming from Southern African
countries however recognised the word 'Ubuntu' for its meaning as
'humanity'. Further North the word ' Ubuntu' was met with a blank stare
and I had to explain its meaning. People coming from Rwanda surprised me
by saying that the word 'Ubuntu' was well known to them. In the local
lingo of Rwanda the word 'Ubuntu' meant 'free'!!! 

I had the difficult job to decide to whom to give the 50 Ubuntu CDs to,
it not being candy. I used as criterium people who were using computers
within a larger community (schools, theological collages, community
youth organisations or influential church leaders etc.). I had my own
laptop available for show-and-tell sessions, dazzling my captive
audience with some tricks which I had picked up (playing some SA jazz,
while showing my mail program, opening a window with a Bible translation
program and showing some Open Office programs regarding the conference
with Freecell open on one side, using some shortcuts to navigate
quickly). I also used Kubuntu 8.10 for this purpose, explaining the
difference. The fact that Ubuntu is free and can be legally copied, was
much appreciated. I did explain about the various Ubuntu possibilities
(edubuntu, xbuntu, kubuntu etc) and how the CD should be installed
(underlining that a person with IT skills should be asked to assist with
installation, back-up to be made beforehand etc., using the Ubuntu
forums for questions which might arise and getting updates). I also
asked people to link with a Linux group in their own country if
available. It took some time to go through this with each CD which I
would hand out, but I had the time, sitting in the stall with people
moving about throughout the day. I had been worried that I would be
asked by people for CDs once they heard that I was handing it out for
free and that I would therefore not have enough to hand out to my target
group. I therefore made each person to whom I gave a CD promise that
they would not tell anyone about it at the conference. This worked
reasonably well with the result that I had about 3 CDs left at the end
of the conference. The CDs went to about 20 different countries. I
presume that I will hear from some of the people, either to tell how it
worked or where they had problems. Getting the news of Ubuntu out to a
new audience in Africa, as a prime goal, was however achieved.

>From the Bench Marks side, the meeting was very successful. Contact was
made with numerous people, about 350+ pamphlets handed out and links
forged with other NGOs etc. Social corporate responsibility issues was
highlighted in various ways and forums at the AACC. 

With this report I would however like to thank the people who made the
CDs available to me to take along (especially Morgan and Karl).
Hopefully some new Ubuntu users and users groups will come out of this.
Time will tell.

Rusty (zabear1 at gmail.com)

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