bribery, corruption and the dewey decimal system

Back in Tamale, and finding it benign. Friends had suggested that my penguin (if you are on facebook you will know him) might be suffering from PTSD (Penguin Traumatic Stress Disorder) given what happened last time I was here, but he is showing no ill effects. It’s good to be getting back on track, research-wise. I am replacing the interviews I lost, and I now have friends here who seem worried that I will fall into a ditch or be beset by bandits, and are being very sweet. So I am here all week, waiting to meet Prince from Damongo, whose interview is now the property of two thieves. Then to the Upper East region at the weekend.

Today I went out to the University of Development Studies’ Dungu campus, where the school of public health is. Visits to UDS involve long hikes from building to building across what appears to be empty savannah, usually at midday (I get there early, but there is a lot of waiting to see people). I am going to the UDS campuses to find and copy theses to do with migration, for a Sussex project that isn’t part of my PhD.

Copying theses makes librarians here nervous – there is a sense that independent research should remain safely hidden in the library, in case people should read it and benefit from the information therein. These are development studies theses, offering information on why people go hungry, or get sick, and what might be done to mitigate it. So it makes sense not to let anyone see them…

In this case, I had to convince the librarian that he should let me copy one of these precious theses. This was tough – I had to go to the dean of the campus and present my credentials, which took a couple of hours’ wait. He was very nice, and sent me back down to the library with the assistant-to-the-assistant-registrar, who talked in hushed tones with the librarian, causing him to stomp around scowling and finally let me sign the thesis out for copying. Then the assistant-to-the-assistant-registrar took me to a corner and, again in hushed tones, explained that the librarian was affronted and felt this was all wrong and the rules were being bent. So I should provide him with ‘fanta money’ (as in, cash to buy fanta, i.e. a bribe), to mollify him.

I responded loudly that I would hate to worry the librarian, and all three of us should go straight back to the dean so that I could apologise for my request. I was bundled out of the library at high speed, and the thesis was photocopied for me. Phew.

As if to celebrate, Tamale provided me with two fabulous travel images coming back to town. A goat on a bike, and the best truck slogan yet: goat on a bike

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