Bermi Village
April 3, 2001 3:50 AM   Subscribe

Bermi Village - I lived in this small community under Tanzania's Rift Valley for two years. After talks with village leaders, we started to build the site. I'm about to return to the village to develop it further. There's precious little written by Africans on the net and this seems to be the only site by a rural African community. Have you any thoughts or advice for me?
posted by quarsan (23 comments total)
The picture on the home page is spectacular.

Main crops are maize, beans and corn.
Maize, corn? Not the same? What is maize if not corn?

Keep up the good work.
posted by a3matrix at 4:30 AM on April 3, 2001

I have but one piece of advice, my friend. No self linking on MeFi.
posted by Outlawyr at 4:49 AM on April 3, 2001

From the webster

Corn, n. [AS. corn; akin to OS. korn, D. koren, G., Dan., Sw., & Icel. korn, Goth. karn, L. granum, Russ. zerno. Cf. Grain, Kernel.]

1. A single seed of certain plants, as wheat, rye, barley, and maize; a grain.

2. The various farinaceous grains of the cereal grasses used for food, as wheat, rye, barley, maize, oats. &hand; In Scotland, corn is generally restricted to oats, in the United States, to maize, or Indian corn, of which there are several kinds...
posted by lagado at 4:57 AM on April 3, 2001

I have but one piece of advice, my friend. No self linking on MeFi.

I was going to say that although really this post is a lot more interesting that most of the posts on Mefi in the last 24 hrs (I mean like 4 posts all on the spy plane fiasco). Still Outlawyr's right, them's the rules.

The careful veiling of self-links is an ancient Mefi art perhaps worth your learning, quarsan.
posted by lagado at 5:23 AM on April 3, 2001

I thought about the self-link thing too...but since you had typhoid for god's sakes, it seems like you don't need any more troubles on top of it, least of all somebody like me who enjoyed your site telling you not to self-link.
1. Tiny nitpicking detail - mispelling of meetings on the 'read this' site page. Perhaps spellcheck the text, although that was all I noticed.
2. How about some longer quotes from the local people? Perhaps life stories in their own words - what about blogs/diaries. Or maybe a daily diary changing authors every week (slate style). I would like to read more information about what life is like there, and also what their philosophical/religious beliefs are. Details.
3. What language do they speak?
The pictures are beautiful and the topic is fascinating.
posted by u.n. owen at 5:55 AM on April 3, 2001

Well done. I applaud the efforts to get more african voices on the web (which I thought the discussion would focus on). And yes... the pictures are beautiful.
posted by trox at 6:49 AM on April 3, 2001

self linking- well I apologize, it's not going to happen again as I will be away from the net for a year. I thought that you may find it interesting and unusual.

writing the history section took five days of meetings with the village elders, but it was fascinating. the village are wanting other sections on self help work, education - the villagers built two schools - and so on.

the logistics are tricky, I can e-mail occasionally from 40km away, but the nearest place for ftp is 170km away - a round trip that takes three days.

u n owen - there will be lots more from the people in their own words, talking about their lives. there are a dozen languages spoken in Bermi, the main language is kiirqaw. there will be a Swahili version of the site.

once again, apologies for self linking but as I leave in two days I genuinely need all the advice I can get.
posted by quarsan at 7:25 AM on April 3, 2001

I smite thee.
posted by SelfPostGuy at 7:31 AM on April 3, 2001

This is one of the most interesting sites I came across in a long while. The site works because one really gets a feel for the village.

I was a little saddened by the fact that larger, higher quality images are not available. If this is due to cost, perhaps you could consider having the current photos link to bigger versions on or something similar.
posted by Witold at 8:09 AM on April 3, 2001

So self-linking is bad - so what? That's a great site, although I agree with Witold about the images.
posted by binkin at 8:11 AM on April 3, 2001

thank you witold. the photo gallery will be completely re-done, and although i planned thumbnails making hi-res versions of some of the photos is a good idea. i'll do it.
posted by quarsan at 8:13 AM on April 3, 2001

It is about time that there was more representation of true African culture on the web. Outstanding -- quarsan, I'm looking forward to the expansion of this site.

And indeed, if the photos are an issue, I'm sure that beyond type services, there are individuals who would be willing to donate some server space for this great project.
posted by Dreama at 8:17 AM on April 3, 2001

Quarsan, if you will only have access to email, you may be interested in mr. Boyd's famous accmail page.
posted by sonofsamiam at 8:28 AM on April 3, 2001

i will be able to put bigger versions up. i didn't really think about it, and i appreciate the suggestion.

i've prepared a listbot as i hope that the village will send an email a month with news from the village. do you think this is a good idea?

a friend is donating some server space for video clips, once i can get hold of a camera, but i might have to convert from vt. Bermi has no electricity yet so it's not going to be easy.
posted by quarsan at 8:33 AM on April 3, 2001

I really liked the site, I have a few suggestions.

1. Typos, things that spellcheck wouldn't/didn't catch like and=any. Not a big problem, but it does chip away at ones credibility.

2. I'd love to know more about their religious beliefs.And also their philosophies.

3. How about the male/female hierarchy? Do they even think about it?

4.Who raises the children, is it a village thing, a family thing, a woman thing, a man thing?

But its really great, I'm glad you posted it.
posted by fiery at 11:12 AM on April 3, 2001

The church link seemed to be broken at

I really enjoyed the pictures and I look forward to seeing more of them. Good luck in Africa, quarsan.
posted by Loudmax at 11:39 AM on April 3, 2001

i lived for 3 months in NW Tanzania, near Bukoba in a village called Igabiro. also no electricity. learned Swahili. i wish you well.
posted by Sean Meade at 11:59 AM on April 3, 2001

thank you for your questions. they are a bit complicated to explain, m f relations, children etc. however i will ask the village to cover these sections. Bermi is 50-50 christian and muslim. although an answer for an individual will be "i'm half christian half traditional".

there is little on the net about the iraqw tribe, but they are very keen to talk about their beliefs and traditions. i think a site about the iraqw, written by the iraqw, will be fascinating.

sean, habari gani?
posted by quarsan at 12:36 PM on April 3, 2001

quarsan: your site made me almost want to cry. This is what the net ought to be about.

The people of Bermi are on the other side of the globe, do not speak my language nor I theirs, and I have no connection to them whatever - yet their history and home are surprisingly interesting.

Thanks for sharing the link.

posted by Mars Saxman at 1:56 PM on April 3, 2001

Great stuff, quarsan: especially the oral history links. This kind of thing is unique and precious. (And self-linkage here is a venial sin, I think.)

It's perhaps worth knocking together something in the manner of a press release for the big online news people. (An 'on the making of' feature would be completely up Salon's street, for instance.) Now that a lot of journalists are happily looking away from the corporate net, they're rediscovering the qualities of the medium that made it such a big thing in the first place.
posted by holgate at 2:27 PM on April 3, 2001

thank you for your kind words. the villagers are going to be very pleased. they're proud of their village and the website. I am very relieved to see the history section being praised. to myself it is how the site is going to be.

I sat with the village elders for 5 days to write it and it has an honour to see them discuss their history. they are insisting that we make a booklet of it!

the idea of a press release is something I never considered. but I will think about it. I work in the english lake district as a mountain trail builder and foot and mouth has cancelled all my work. I expect things will be fine for next year.

so I asked myself what I wanted to do the most. so I'm going to Bermi to work on the site until I can work again next year.

I do apologize for self linking. I won't do it again. I did think you would be interested in it and I need some ideas asap.

mars - I was touched by your post. I'll tell you the most beautiful thing I've ever heard. 1000,000 years ago humanity began migrating from the rift valley. from these humans we are all descended. when you look at bermi, you are looking at your relatives. humanity really is one big family.

isn't that just great.
posted by quarsan at 2:55 PM on April 3, 2001

quarsan, you and the website you're helping to create are amazing. keep up the excellent work.
posted by crushed at 3:28 PM on April 3, 2001

Great stuff! The documentation of the oral history is wonderful. You've helped these people reach out and that is a priceless gift. Mars' post brought to mind a radio piece about lost African languages which were recovered from old wax recordings. I remember having to pull off the road as I listened.
posted by gimli at 4:46 PM on April 3, 2001

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