Monday, June 8, 2009

The journey so far...

This is a part I had not narrated to you before. It wa typed but not published yet. Anyway, since arriving on Saturday morning, the journey from Addis Ababa took us 7 hours (Francis, am I right?) At least I know that it was the longest I have spent in the air so far.

This excluded a 4 hour wait at Addis Airport, 1 hour of which was inexplicable, (an airline official perfunctorily told us the Captain was switched from the flight).

In the 10 degrees, at 7:30am Paris time, we "hit the tarmac" on the runway at Charles De Gaulle airport, with a slight drizzle. Our hosts had dispatched a AVIS staff to pick us from the airport.

But because of the delay in flight, there was a glitch in linking up with the AVIS Monsieur Monand TAYA. But the other Burundian journalists, Corneille and Vincent, we think for knowlege of French, were already in the waiting car. There was a bomb scare at CDG.

Monsieur TAYA said that they receive a bomb alert nearly every month and they turn out false. It seems to me that this has become so routine that waiting crowds at the airport are never so alarmed.

This scare was proved false, but security was at hand to do its work and did not take it lightly. Arriving at the hotel, which we will call home for the next seven days, Francis is checked into room 319, while I am in room 416 on the 4th floor.

In the week ahead starting Monday 8th June, there will be little luxury to walk around the city. So, on arrival and after a few minutes of rest, we walk around Paris city in the windry afternoon as far as our legs could carry us.

The sun set at nearly midnight on Sunday night but this could not deter me from enjoying my second night in Paris. The bed was comfortable with no mosquito bites! I had a Facebook chat with friends in Uganda as well as UK did some email correspondences before I went into slumberland.

Earlier in the day though, Billie Kadameri, a Ugandan journalist based in Paris with Radio France International phoned l'hotel Cayre. We agreed to meet at 2:30pm. But before the minute hand would click 31, Billie was at the hotel reception. Not an hour late, or a minute more!

We boarded the Paris underground train for the first time to travel to another part of the city for lunch. Francis, Billie and I ate chicken pitta, poulet, and riz at an Indian restaurant in another part of the city.

Indians are such business savvy people that one will find them even some of the remotest parts of the world (even Uganda), doing business. I admire their spirit of adventure and business acumen.

Over the lunch, our chat centred around journalism in Uganda and as well as practicing journalism in France for Billie. The staff at RFI, where Billie works are on strike. Reason is that the French government unveiled plans to scrap some radio services broadcasting in various European languages. This is part of a grand plan to introduce other language services such as Swahili and the widening of the African section at RFI.

This plan to scrap some language services means job cuts for over 200 staff, including journalists. This has made the plan so unpopular that there is an ongoing strike at the radio. The sad thing is that intially, it had been programmed for us to visit RFI. But because of the ongoing strike, the visit was cancelled.

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