If I empty Dadamac things out of my head what do I find?
- My history in Africa and the history of Dadamac.
- The influential people and their stories.
- The questions and confusions and attempts to find out and make sense of them.
- The different organisational strategies.
- The relationships between it all.
- The digital tech.
- Academia and practice.
- Local and global.
- The “good the bad and the interesting”.
- Connections, connections, connections.
- Much more besides.
What do I find under some of those headings?
The history and names of some key people.
This is the tidy retrospective version of the history. The longer version has much more overlap and interweaving, and connections with many more people and organisations.
In London I got involved with the early days of the Committee for African Welfare and Development (CAWD) and Oke-Ogun Community Development Agenda 2000 Plus (OOCD 2000+) through my friend Agnita. Agnita was a teacher, and I had just returned to teaching. She was married to the visionary founder and director of CAWD, Peter Adetunji Oyawale. I had no particular interest in Africa or international development, but Agnita recognised that Peter and I had shared interests in distance learning and the uses of ICT (Information and Communication Technology) in education.
Tragically, Peter died in December 2000. I found myself inheriting the role of acting director of OOCD 2000+ working at a distance with people on the ground who I’d met at his funeral in Ago-Are in February 2001 (my first visit to Nigeria). By the end of 2001 I was working through email with the newly formed OOCD 2000+ Committee – consisting of Chief Gbade Adejumo (chairman), Chief Mojoyinola (secretary), Chief Adejumo (treasurer) and Mr Timothy Oyawale (Peter’s uncle, who is a farmer and the only committee member who was resident in Ago-Are).
I was based in London. The project was in rural area SW Nigeria. Just as Peter had done, I was working in a voluntary, self-funded role. It was a rich learning experience, and a privilege to be included.
The committee and I arranged for a VSO (Voluntary Service Overseas) volunteer to come to Ago-Are and manage the project. He was David Mutua ,from Kenya, and ideal for the role. I visited the project on working holidays, for ‘reality checks” on the project and life in Ago-Are, and to work with David and the committee. My involvement grew and I changed from full-time teaching to supply teaching and private tutoring so that I had more flexibility (and less responsibility) in my day job.
Back home in the UK I served the project by being its eyes, ears, and ambassador in London and on the Internet. I was continually going online to try and learn more that would help me to help my friends in Nigeria. I was disappointed by my failure to find much of relevance from academia, although there were some notable exceptions, especially Richard Heeks, Tim Unwin and Mike Gurstein.
I connected with
I was helped in the UK by Lorraine Duff. We called ourselves CAWD volunteers, in memory of Peter, and we called our network Cawdnet. Core members of Cawdnet were John Dada, and Kazanka Comfort from Fantusam Foundation, North Central Nigeria, David Mutua and Chief Gbade Adejumo from OOCD 2000+ in SW Nigeria, Mrs Adetono, from a small NGO in Okeho in Oyo State, Lorraine Duff and me, from the UK.
Thanks to Tobias Eigen and Kabissa we were able to send out a regular OOCD 2000+ newsletter.
Lorraine Duff, Agnita Oyawale and I did some fundraising for the continuation of Peter’s work, and we registered a charity called CAWD (Charity for African Welfare and Development). By that time the Committee for African Welfare and Development had been wound up.
I worked with John Dada of Fantsuam Foundation (North Central Nigeria) at his invitation (a voluntary role, with working-holidays in Nigeria and online collaboration). I developed and presented Teachers Talking (TT) for him – an innovative ICT in Education combined course and online community.
During TT we experimented with various platforms, most notably yahoo groups, wikis, chat rooms, something we called “the friendly wiki”, Moodle and one webinar.
David returned to Kenya.
Our Moodle implementation was thanks to Omo Oaiya and Lorraine Duff. It was called Cawdnet Campus.
The Cawdnet Campus team helped Dick Heller to develop two pilot courses for launching People’s Open Access Education Initiative: Peoples-uni
TT at FF also took me to Zambia and (through David and CoL) to Kenya.
I represented John’s work in London and online (under the name Dadamac – short for John Dada and Pamela McLean) I felt I’d never be sufficiently well informed on the details of Fantsuam Foundation (FF) to say that I represented the organisation, but I could confidently talk about what “we” (John and I) cared about and what he was making happen on the ground.
`Organisations I connected with in UK included PRADSA and AFFORD (African Foundation for Development) especially through AD3 (Africa Diaspora Development Day). I met Elfneh Bariso through AD3. Through PRADSA and through Elfneh I connected with various parts of London University.
I connected with people working with pattern language, especially Doug Schuler, Helmut Leitner and Yishay Mor (then at Lonodn Knowledge Lab).
The project in Ago-Are was taken over by IITA (International Institute for Tropical Agriculture) and CoL (Commonwealth of Learning).
I was increasingly perplexed by the disconnect between what I read on the Internet about International Development, and what I knew through my developing circle of African friends and contacts, and through my involvement in pro-active and entrepreneurial community development in Ago-Are and at Fantsuam.
I felt that if only people were able to access accurate information from the grassroots, through people like John, then many problems could be overcome, and resources would be used more effectively, so I set up an appropriate organisational structure with John Dada. We registered Dadamac Limited.
Like all my previous UK-Africa collaborative work (OOCD 2000+, TT, CAWD, and representing my contacts in London and online) Dadamac Limited turned out to be a drain on my pocket and another rich learning experience When criticised by a friend for the way I was using my time and money I responded by saying I was simply a life-long-learner investing in my studies – and if I had been spending so much on formal courses of study he’d think it was a good investment. He agreed.
I was influenced by, and active in, many online groups and communities especially Andrius Kulikauskas’ Minciu Sodas (which Andrius called a laboratory and where I learned so much that I thought of as my post-grad university).
Start of annual Dadamac Day, and monthly online First Thursday meetings.
Working in UK with Nikki Fishman. In theory this was to build Dadamac Limited but it didn’t turn out that way.
Development of the online Dadamac Community.
Regular weekly UK-Nigeria meetings.
Various collaborative projects.The eco-dome. Fast tractor. Plastic recycling.
CAWD was about to be wound up. Nikki put new energy into it and it was renamed Dadamac Foundation.
I was influenced by Dark Mountain, Uncivilisation, Collapsonomics, Tuttle, Peer-to-peer Foundation, School of Commoning, GlobalNet21 and other Meetup groups.
I was reflecting on the wider context for my UK-Africa work and my interest in ICT and education.
2011 and 2012
Contributed to four books, two on education and two on futures.
Recognition! I attended ICT works Fail Faire 2012 – I responded to Wayan Vota’s invitation to join the other project failure story-tellers, told some anecdotes abut my efforts and to close the ICT reality gap, was acclaimed the greatest failure and presented with what the organsisers dubbed another failure – my own OLPC (One Laptop Per Child) computer.
Major review of the strengths and weaknesses of Dadamac and its future direction.
Continuing work with the online Dadamac Community/Network.
Dadamac Foundation and Dadamac Connect emerged as separate entities from Dadamac.net.
Dadamac Limited was reactivated in response to a contract I was given with Avanti on a DFID project.
Influenced by Impact Hubs, Unplugged, Escape School and Culturevists.
Organised with Nikki Fishman a launch event in January for #dadamac 2015 – Connect, Communicate, Collaborate.
Development of new website.
Setting up advisory council and addressing other issues of governance and sustainability.
Collaboration with Tobias on Kabissa’s Dadamac online forum.
Clarification of symbiotic relationship between Dadamac Foundation and Dadamac Limited
- My earnings, through paid work in Dadamac Limited and elsewhere, have helped to provide the money that I contribute to Dadamac Foundation.
- My learning, through voluntary work in Dadamac Foundation, has helped to provide the networks and knowledge that I contribute to Dadamac Limited.
- In future if we grow Dadamac Foundation and grow Dadamac Limited that symbiotic relationship could become more formally part of the relationship between the two organisations.
To be continued
I haven’t worked through my initial list, but the history has covered several of the list items.
I’ve never written my story before, for various reasons.
At first my involvement was driven by anger for the way Peter had died and the terrible waste of his vision, life and energy. I was determined that I would not be the weakest link in the remaining chain of people connected with his work, but I didn’t want to focus on his death when telling the story. It was too easy for “outsiders”, who had not known and loved Peter, to sensationalise his death rather than focus on his continuing work.
It has always been difficult for me to tell the story separate from Peter’s involvement because, for me, he was the beginning. Before his death things were just getting off the ground and the only active people in the UK were Peter, Agnita and me, so I had no established organisation to back me up or give me an “identity”. The organisational names and structures have evolved and changed in many ways over time. This has meant that I couldn’t easily tell the story of an organisation, but it would have been wrong to tell “my” story, because so many other people have been involved.
As a white woman living in London and supporting projects in Nigeria it has been hard to escape from people’s assumptions about my role (based on the norms of NGO’s and UK initiated interventions). I have tried to explain that in my case things are rather different, but it’s not a simple story to tell.
I need to share the story now because since our event in January more people are getting involved. We have clarified the mission of Dadamac Foundation – “We listen to changemakers in Africa and enable effective use of resources.”
This year we aim to continue helping John Dada and his team in FF, and also support three additional changemakers and their projects.
If the new helpers know the story behind Dadamac I think it will help them to understand what we are doing and how and why it is Africa driven, not UK driven.