Eritrean Institute of Technology (EIT) main campus is located about 20Kms from the Capital of Eritrea Asmara in Mai-Nefhi.
Indeed, another name for the institution is Mai-Nefhi College. With over 5000 students, distributed in 3 colleges, the institution is the focal training center for Science and Technology related courses in Eritrea.
We arrived in Asmara in the last week of January and went straight to work: Implementation of the Koha Integrated Library System.
For five days we engaged the EIT library team and ICT team without a break. And it paid off.
We had virtually completed the the key deliverables from System installation, converting legacy data, data migration, system configuration and system customization.
We had also some time for basic training!
The last day was however the most exciting because we had the real opportunity to engage and sample Eritrean culture and cuisine in a more relaxed atmosphere.
It started with a traditional Coffee ceremony held conveniently at the main library’s circulation area. It was then that i learnt legend has it that coffee was actually discovered in Ethiopia just across the border. But there are counter-arguments to that story.
Eritrea and Ethiopia share a common border, lot of history and lots of culture. Take ‘Himbasha’ for example, a large, slightly sweet flat bread served only during special occasions. It made the occasion truly special.
Then we had an evening dinner where we had the best of Eritrean cuisine. ‘Injera’ is the most memorable. But before that we had ‘Mess’. Am not sure if hat’s how it’s spelt but i remember the disclaimer that it can mess up with you if you consume it in excess.
Brewed from pure honey, the drink is served in clear glasses with a thin bottle-neck. Very smooth and refreshing drink. Probably because of the stories and the ‘mess’ effect, the night ebbed away very fast.
Despite the night freezing temperatures and the erratic Internet connection, Asmara is a cool and a friendly city with great people. Unfortunately we ran out of time and couldn’t manage to sample the life out of the city and the touted Red sea coastline. Maybe next time.
By Benson Mugambi (Busara Core Solutions)