The Great Internet Outage of 2007

A few Fridays ago, when the always-sketchy Internet here at Tumaini began hiccuping, we didn’t think much of it. It was normal. Almost two weeks later, we know better.

The first few days, we attributed the lack of Internet to environmental causes, like the weather. Or perhaps the guy who holds the data tubes together had fallen asleep. When we run out of water for strange amounts of time, I wonder the same thing.

Then, we began to ask the computer room teacher, Ann, what was going on. She asked us if we’d seen “those wires in the street.” I thought for a moment–yes, running earlier that day, I’d seen some wire coiled up in the street. “The problem is those ones,” she said. Apparently, that was the phone line for the area. And yeah, that would be a problem.

In what seems to be typical Kenyan fashion, every day we asked Ann whether she’d spoken with the communications company and if they were going to fix it, she said, “Yes, they’re coming tomorrow to fix it.” ‘Tomorrow’ kept one day ahead of us, however, and so Thanksgiving passed without e-mail contact.

We took bets on when the Internet would be back. We were all wrong! I began to worry–all my online projects might have suddenly failed and I wouldn’t even know.

Finally, all the ‘tomorrows’ coalesced into ‘today’, and a Telkom employee came to fiddle with something this morning. The Internet works again! I can catch up on more days’ worth of e-mail than I’ve had to in over 10 years. We can write blogs again–and stay tuned, because a lot of great stuff has happened in the past few weeks. Apologies for our absence!

Like water and electricity, the Internet has truly come into its own as a utility…

By Jonathan Lipps

Jonathan worked as a programmer in tech startups for several decades, but is also passionate about all kinds of creative pursuits and academic discussion. Jonathan has master’s degrees in philosophy and linguistics, from Stanford and Oxford respectively, and is working on another in theology. An American-Canadian, he lives in Vancouver, BC and has way too many hobbies.

1 reply on “The Great Internet Outage of 2007”

So I am going to be a Sumer Fellow this summer, and I was wondering what happens when you run out of water like you just mentioned in this blog. Just curious…the answer could be in my orientation packet that I haven’t read yet. I can deal with no electricity or internet, but I’m wondering about the water…thanks

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