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Tunde Oladunjoye
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Behind the scene bits from Carthage 2006
Edition Spéciale JCC 2006

Flight connection in Africa

THERE is still a lot to be done by African nations in terms of intra-African trade cooperation, especially in the area of flight connection and telecommunication. Imagine that to get to Tunis from Lagos via such intercontinetal airlines as Air France, Lufthansa among others one first had to stop over in Europe (France, Rome, etc) before heading to Tunis in Africa. On African Airlines, you are not sure you will be picked or when you will get to your final destination. This writer boarded three aircrafts operated by two airlines in 24 hours to get to Tunis from Lagos!

Tunis is very clean

One thing you cannot but notice as you drive from the Carthage Airport is the cleanliness of the environment. The road is gelaning to the extent that you may be tempted to ask if the road is polished on a daily basis. Tunis, the capital city of Tunisia, is generally clean.

No call to prayer

You will be mistaken if you think because Tunisia is an Arab country, there will be mosques everywhere. Sorry, you may not even find a mosque or a place so designated. No loudspeakers reminding the faithful of prayer times. As I woke up around 4.00 a.m. I grabbed my Wole Soyinka's You Must Set Forth at Dawn. I was reading Part One: Ogun and I, and there was no early call to prayers to disturb the serenity of the dawn. Then I remembered Nigeria where such calls could be heard within two-kilometer radius. The question that came to my mind was: Why are we more catholic than the Romans? Or is it just being more Islamic than the Arabians?

Everybody smokes

Nine and a half out of 10 people in Tunis smoke.

There are smokers, male and female, young and old, everywhere. But no single restriction to take care of non-smokers. Tunis is definitely a risky place for asthmatic patients. The typical scene in any of the too numerous cafes that dot Tunis is that of a kitchen filled with smoke and about to be engulfed in fire. In fact, any government that attempts to ban smoking in Tunis may not survive.

Journalists are well treated here

At the press room located on the first floor of Hotel National, journalists are treated like queens and kings: Free and unlimited internet acceess, free photocopy and printing facilities and free local telephone calls. About 100 journalists from different countries are covering the festival.

GSM usage still low

Getting a GSM sim pack in Tunisia is not as easy as it is in Nigeria where you can even buy one in road traffic. Before you can get a sim pack for five Tunisian Dinar (about N500), you have to go into a shop where your international passport would be photocopied. It reminds one of those early days in Nigeria when you were almost asked for your grandmother's birth certificate before an exorbitant line was issued.

By Tunde Oladunjoye

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