Great performance Asif Ali Khan & Party in Amsterdam

Talking about streaming knowledge and wisdom. Last night I had a wonderful experience of Sufi music: Punjabi qawwali from Asif Ali Khan & Party in the Royal Tropical Institute in Amsterdam. This “Soul Of Pakistan” gave a moving and electrifying performance. His deeply emotional performance got people on their feet and joining the essential clapping rhythms of his highly spiritual and devotional music. It even triggered people from the audience throwing money on the performers, which I had never seen in Holland before.

Asif Ali Khan is one of the most promising qawwals since the much regretted Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan. Asif’s personal style and energy in his performance is in the direct line of a egalitarian Sufi tradition. His spiritual concerts are a blend of music and mystical poems, as a way to get to experience the divine presence within one’s own heart. This Sufi tradition still counts some 50 million adepts from Morocco to the Indian sub continent and is remarkably alive and well today.

Asif Ali Khan undertakes regular world tours and is acclaimed by the Pakistani diaspora everywhere, even going as far as a duo with Bruce Springsteen. He still has profound ties with the Sufi shrines in Pakistan, continuing to offer his singing, his faith and his relentless spirit at the numerous spiritual concerts held there throughout the year.

You can listen to songs of his album Mazarana on various sites using, one is Artist Direct.

Leapfrogging knowledge: India cars in America and Africa sewers and water closets

In the last week I came across two interesting media stories that touched on leapfrogging development. One on Africa being advice to leapfrog from sewers and water closets straight to eco-sanitation systems; the other one on a small, fuel-efficient sport-utility vehicle from India getting into the rich market of America

2009 will see the arrival of big emerging-market brands into the developed world, writes Tamzin Booth, European business editor of The Economist (p.127) in a special issue The World in 2009. Mahindra,  an Indian conglomerate with a strong brand, which sells everything from tractors to insurance, will launch a small, fuel-efficient sport-utility vehicle in America. Strawberry Frog, the advertising company working on the launch, says that emerging-market brands such as Mahindra can leapfrog rich-world markets by using guerrilla techniques and new media.

Africa should leapfrog from sewers and water closets straight to eco-sanitation systems in the same way as they did with going straight to mobile telephones instead of fixed lines, said Rose George, author of THE BIG NECESSITY: Adventures in the World of Human Waste, in an interview in a Dutch development magazine. She travels all over the world telling stories from her book, as I reported on the IRC monitor page: IRC in special sanitation theme issue of Internationale Samenwerking magazine.

For a good definition of leapfrogging development and an example from China see The Significance of Leapfrog Development of Education in China, PDF.

IRC 2008 symposium ends with big party


Friday night 21 November I celebrated the 40th anniversary of my employer IRC in the beatiful Royal Tropical Institute in Amsterdam. There we also did the last morning of our anniversary symposium on Urban Sanitation for the Poor. Rosemary Rop, WSP Africa Nairobi in her key note speech to the symposium identified six drivers of successful urban sanitation for the poor.

In the afternoon we had the Prince of Orange’s presence in a closing ceremony of the he International Year of Sanitation and many activities by Dutch coalitions. Around 250 visitors joined this Looking Beyond the International Year of Sanitation session, a joint activity of IRC, Simavi and the Netherlands Water Partnership.

Weekly knowledge streams

Knowledge will stream from my blog from Amsterdam mainly in weekends. I (Dirk de Jong) am going to combine my knowledge on water and sanitation with my knowledge and views on ICT for development. You can check who I am on my personal web site and on the one from my work at the IRC International Water and Sanitation Centre.