Its always nice to venture out of your comfort zone, that is what I believe, so once in
a while, I get to do things that I will have to struggle to understand or grasp, just to remind me that I still have a long way to go.

So, my comfort zone is ICT and all the tech stuff; I am in Addis for the AU meeting on ICT which starts on Monday, Jan 25th. But before then, there are a flurry of meetings at the AU complex in Addis; one of the meetings is a meeting on AU and gender and I attended.

I used to write on women issues in my early journalistic years but I can not remember why I fell out of love with the whole NGO movement. As a member of the Association of Media Women in Kenya, I covered lots of women stuff but this week, I have been wondering why I fell out of love.

It did not take long for me to remember; on this first day of the gender meeting, I tried to interview one of the AU gender reps and the way she blew me off, you will never believe it.

I introduced myself earlier in the day, because she had two presentations and indicated that I would love to talk to her at the end of it and she agreed. She had presentations, and thats all I wanted.

She will not give me her presentations; even when I said that I wanted to get the facts correct, she refereed me to another NGO member, saying that she understands the jargon better than me.

The AU is known for data hugging or for being stingy with info (look at the website) but I got my own taste.

She had brilliant ideas of what the AU is doing to coordinate with the UN resolution this and that, and I just wanted to get it right, quote her right and not give her an opportunity to say she was misquoted.

She even said that 2010-2020 is going to be a decade for women and there is even a budget and its only fair to get the presentation. Can you imagine if I was asking her to put it on a website? Data hugging at best.

Its just like coming to an Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN) meeting where people are saying…..I think its wrong for GAC to take such stand on the AoC which the gNSO, ccNSO and ALAC have shown the changes so far… and the African ccTLDs are doing better than last year.

For many people, the statement is just gibberrish or mumble jumble…but to someone in tech and within internet governance circles, they would understand well or get a drift.

Anyway, I met the other person and explained to her how disappointed I was because Litha heads the gender department at AU and she would have been willing to shed more light or at least share the info.

The incident reminded me of some accusations I have heard; that some people in the NGO movement like to behave like a “secret society” where everything is shared among them, maybe because they understand the issues better and won’t ask elementary questions like me.

Others point to the fact that some of the NGOs have had the same leaders for long or the leaders revolve around the same NGO circles. I have no facts to support the argument, just throwing words here and there.

What my first day at the gender meeting taught me is that maybe am better off with my tech circles or the private sector circles.

But the terms, and resolution this and that…. UN security Council resolution, AU protocol, policy this and that; it made me feel like a first year University student in a philosophy class.

I bet today I was at my lowest productivity.

Back to my tech stuff; at least by monday, I will not feel like a fish out of water so much….