20 July 2007

Kids in Conakry, Guinea gather late at night to revise for exams in the airport’s main carpark, vying for positions under the streetamps. The country’s economy is in severe crisis and most of the country, under martial law, is currently without electric power. A scene that’s at the same time too strange, vivid and touching, too depressing and somehow optimistic to have been invented – with a reality like this one Science Fiction scarcely seems necessary.

The lot is teeming with girls and boys by the time Air France Flight 767 rounds the Gulf of Guinea at an hour-and-a-half before midnight. They hardly look up from their notes as the Boeing jet begins its spiraling descent over the dark city, or as the newly arrived passengers come out, shoving luggage carts over the cracked pavement.   

“I used to study by candlelight at home but that hurt my eyes. So I prefer to come here. We’re used to it,” says 18-year-old Mohamed Sharif, who sat under the fluorescent beam memorizing notes on the terrain of Mongolia for the geography portion of his college entrance test.

I found the story by a link at the excellent BoingBoing.