University of Botswana has something similar to TechAnnounce. Nope, let me take that back. UB has a system in place which is the antithesis of TechAnnounce. Everyone makes fun of me because I always read TechAnnounce. Now even more people will make fun of me since I admit I read it every day while living in Africa. But I do appreciate it because it allows me to keep up with university news and share relevant information in my classes that may be of interest to my students.
Here at UB people use the email system as their personal communication tool. And EVERYONE uses it. And they send everything to EVERYONE. And even worse, they CC EVERYONE and then hit REPLY ALL. Sometimes we get useful information. But UBAnnounce tends to be more along the lines of professors sending out posters about the house they are selling or soliciting new clients for their Herbalife business. Every time someone dies a death announcement is sent out to the entire university. Often the death announcement is followed up with five dozen emails attempting to organize transportation to the village on the edge of the Khalari Desert for anyone interested in attending.
Today there were two separate UBAnnouncements which struck me as unique, something I would never expect to see back home. The first was an email from a professor on campus with the subject line: Nelson Mandela’s Will. The only message was “FYI” along with a scanned copy of Nelson Mandela’s will attached, all 42 pages with signatures and everything. I don’t know why I need this information, but I will admit I did skim it. If anyone is interested let me know and I can forward it to you, or write a blog post bullet pointing who got $300,000, who got $100,000, who got 100,000Rand, and how the homes were divvied up.
The other interesting UBAnnoucement was probably the most useful, but also most unusual email I’ve received since I arrived here. Subject line: The monkeys are on a rampage. The email went on to explain that everyone on campus needed to be extra careful to ensure their windows, doors, cars and personal belongings were “secured because the monkeys are on a rampage.”
Now, I have had my own share of monkey problems, literately. I absolutely appreciate a heads up that the monkeys are acting out and stealing more than usual. But when I read that cars needed to be secured it reminded me of the scene from Jurassic Park where the old man owner says that the dinosaurs are so smart they have problem solving capabilities. Then I flashed back to when the velociraptors were chasing the kids. The kids hid and one said to the other, “Do you think we are safe?” The other child replied, “Yeah, as long as they don’t figure out how to open doors.” What happened next? Yup! The velociraptor opened the door! This made me wonder if the monkeys have learned to open car doors.
To borrow a favorite phrase of my father, here in Africa “I am often amazed but seldom surprised.” Who knows? Maybe next time I will see the monkeys driving cars they have stolen. I will keep you posted.
An example of TechAnnounce for anyone interested: