Community engagement vs community invasion

gold mine

When we arrived at the gold mine the teachers established a rapport with the locals before we got off the bus. This meant that the community were more willings to allow us to film and interview them. However it was only our group that had based our film around gold mining, so arguably the presence of the other groups and arrive on a coach was unnecessary.


Our group of trainers made a point of asking only the crucial roles (the interviewer, camera man, and one trainer) to be there during the interview so we didn’t crowd our interviewee. We felt this would allow the interviewee to give more honest answers, without being distracted. Despite this our groups and members of other groups didn’t really pay much attention to this suggestion. We thought their ignorance of this maybe something to do with the cross over of cultures that being crowded in this way would shy a prudish Briton, but not so a Kenyan.


When we got back to the university we faced a number of technical difficulties and for a time we really struggled to keep momentum and engagement. The other group had similar issues with editing so we combined groups and talked through the editing process as a whole. Accessing the community needs but also working with limited internet access was often challenging and frustrating. Having one computer controlling 4 desktops is cost effective but rather impossible when it came to trying to edit because it meant everything was very slow. Sometimes it felt like nothing was going to come together therefore when we managed to get the film finished it was quite an accomplishment, as I’m sure the other video, photography, and audio groups would agree.


Both at the gold mine and during editing we did our best to work on community inclusion. This was not quite the case when we made the 3 hour trip to Lake Victoria. Unfortunately the community wasn’t really expecting us which we have come to expect as part of the Kenyan way of doing things. This meant that even excluding us (the University of Brighton students), the discussions consisted of 1 community member to every 5 participants from Rongo University, and in the other group even more. In addition the academics from Rongo dictated and directed most of the discussions. Therefore what was meant to be community engagement turned into total community invasion. One of the students from Rongo even congratulated a community member on attending the meeting. I thought this a little patronising, especially as the community group had only been quickly been pulled together after our arrival so they probably didn’t have much choice.


The trip to Lake Victoria didn’t actually need the presence of the University of Brighton at all as we did nothing to contribute, except allow Jerry to present us like show ponies. Much like the meeting with the governor yesterday, I felt it was time wasted talking about what we are trying to develop here rather than actually making these things happen. However eating fresh fish and ugali with our hands was quite the Kenyan experience.

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