Yesterday, I worked with Rose to modify one of the market smocks to safely, and potentially secretly, hold a tablet.
And today, I spent time more with Juliet and Gertrude, two youth who sell tomatoes and onions in Bugolobi Market. Their mother Sarah sells Irish and sweet potatoes. Through hanging out with Juliet and Gertrude this past week, I’ve learned that they have much greater mobility than the older women. Not only do they have the luxury of swapping and taking turns watching their own stand, but they also have a mother who rarely leaves the market during the work day, which therefore allows Juliet and Gertrude to leave behind their responsibilities to go to school, prayers, the saloon, or just to hang out with friends.
As Juliet and Gertrude more freely travel around the market and to the outside, what if they carried the tablet with them, recorded their experience, and shared it with the elder women back in the market? What if they could live stream the video to women back in Bugolobi Market?
Gertrude used the modified smock and tablet to try out this idea for an afternoon. She left the market to visit her friend in a shop across the street, and also visited a friend in a saloon. She shared the Gospel MP3s with her friends, and they watched other videos on the tablet together. Her friends ask if the tablet is a phone, and Gertrude carefully clarified its functionality.
When Gertrude returned to the market, she shared the video of her experience with Maama.
Maama and Gertrude laugh together as they watch the video, and Gertrude explains the joke to me. “I am asking my friend if she uses our toilets in the market. It is very far, by the time she reaches,” she says with a smile. They laugh again and Gertrude says, “Now my friend is asking me about black guys. I told her, ‘Me, I don’t like black guys.’”
Not speaking Luganda means I only grasp parts of their interaction – the parts that I am pushed to ask about and that they are willing to explain. But as Gertrude shares her video with Maama, it is clear why Gertrude is less interested in the Bugolobi Market SMS Mailing List and more interested in using the tablet and phone to make and share videos, audio, photos, and emails. Although she will oblige me by sharing her new media with friends and connections within the Bugolobi Market context, both Juliet and Gertrude are more interested in sharing with friends outside of the market.
“These women aren’t my friends. I can chat with them here; I don’t need to send messages to them. If the mailing list was to the outside and allowed me to chat with my friends on the outside, then I would join,” explains Juliet.
Juliet has noticed that I’ve grouped her together with the older women, so she is clearly differentiating herself by not joining the mailing list. While their mother Sarah has lived her life in this market, Juliet and Gertrude are part of a different generation – one that does not want to sell tomatoes and onions for eternity.
“What do you hope to do after school?” I ask Gertrude as we eat lunch in the market at Auntie’s table.
“I want to get a job as an accountant,” says Gertrude. Juliet is also eager to start school again, but the money for fees is not enough.
“Me, I have my mother put half and then there is a program Compassion, where I have a sponsor in Canada who pays the other half,” explains Gertrude.
Through working with two different age groups of women in Bugolobi Market, I’m learning how they approach and use media differently. As a result of the very different social- and business-related needs and desires of these two generations, technology and media needs two very different entry points.
All of the women in the market desire ‘the outside’ to inch closer to their small stall in Bugolobi Market in some way. The older women want to bring other markets a little closer, connecting with vendors who also sell matoke, sharing prices, learning what’s in stock. But the younger women want the outside to come so close that it swallows them up, leaving Bugolobi Market behind.