It's a cool, dry Sunday evening. It's almost 8pm, and I am sitting at the Internet cafe of the Hotel. I have in my hand one newspaper--Le Renouveau. It's subtitle is "organe du rassemblement constitutionnel democratique", and the redacteur en chef, or editor-in-chief is one Nejib Ouerghi.
Here are some of the headlines on WSIS in today's paper:
1. XVIIIeme Anniversaire du Changement--Le Chef D'Etat recoit des messages de felicitations de plusiers organisations et associations. Cohesion autour de Ben Ali et engagement a faire reussir le SMSI:: 18th Anniversary of Change. The Head of State Receives Messages of Congratulations from Many Organisations and Associations. Cohesion around Ben Ali and an engagement to make WSIS Succeed.
2. Reprise, aujourd'hui, des travaux de la Prepcom3. Le document politique et la declaration de Tunis, a l'ordre du jour: The Resumption, today, of PrepCom3. The policy document and the Tunis declaration top the agenda.
3. L'urgence de reduire la fracture numerique: The urgent need to bridge the digital divide
4. Les Jeunes Au SMSI:Une mobilisation remarquable, un engagement total: Youth at WSIS: a Remarkable Mobilisation, Total Engagement
5. Intel entend lancer un projet de modernisation par le tout numerique en AFrique du Nord et Moyen-Orient: Intel counts launching a modernisation project...in North Africa and the MIddle East
6. Quatre secteurs seront cibles par investissement: l'entreprenneuriat local, l'education, laccessibilite au systeme digital et la specialisation des competences techniques: Four Sectors will be Targetted for investment: Local Entrepeneur, Education; Accessibility to Digital System, and the Specialisation of Technical competencies
...and many more.
Looks like Tunis is capitalising big-time, as one would do, on its status as the cynosure of the place where information society sits at the cusp of historical change.
And it certainly looks to be a big summit. Internet governance talks started tpday, but I stayed in the hotel most of the time, being fed French news and some French inanity left, right centre. It was only later in the afternoon that I decide it was time to listen to the radio, and check out a few good radio stations.
Of course good is relative.
I ended up, apart from Radio Mosaique that inspired yesterday's title, finding two or three other stations. There was Radio Tunis international on 98.2 FM. They surprisingly have a mosaique of languages. First, I heard English, where they interviewed around 2.30pm a civil society activist on the WSIS, then later French news, then later Italian, and some Italian music.
Talk about eclectic.
The other stations were playing some alluring and rather sensual Tunisian music, which sent signals viscerally to your body to shake some body stuff, y know:-)
Later, after having my bath, strolled down the boulevard that runs adjacent to the street that leads to the Hotel I am staying in, and I enjoyed the fresh air and psychedelic lights.
I went to one particular hotel -- Hotel Africa -- that is a towering edifice located right in the heart of the boulevard. AFter passing through the hotel security, where I was asked to take off my watch, several dinar coins and other metalliuc stuff on me, walked through the elegant hallway that made no bones that it was a five star hotel.
I just had to try the food here. SO up I went to the fifth floor. I knew it was fifth because I was here yesterday evening to an empty room.
It was empty again, but I persisted. I asked for Couscous and Lamb stew.
Couldn't even finish it all. For dessert, Tunisian patisserie, which was predominantly pistache and sugar baked together very elegantly. Didin't finish that either. My orange juice, like yesterday at another eaterie, was freshly-squeezed.
AFter about an hour, feeling a bit cut-off from the outside world as I sat all alone on the fifth floor eating, I left--with a very full stomach.
I needed to walk, so I walked plenty...found some papers, and here I am.
Earlier, met two civil society delegates from Zimbabwe who were doing some passive window-shopping. Passive, because the shops were mostly closed.
As I write now, shops are re-opening, and activity has begaun anew.I've been here almost two hours again.
Tomorrow promises to be interesting; I am definitely looking forward to it, but before I take leave of you, must note for posterity that the magasine I bought just a few hundred metres away from here had the alluring title: SMSi. Les Enjeux du Sommet de Tunis WSIS: The Stakes of the Tunis Summit.
Internet Governance is certainly one of those.
I hope to be able to blog from the Kram Exhibition Park tomorrow, despite the business of the place.