Thursday, November 5, 2009

Why The Price of Oil Rises

I've always wondered why the price of gas at the pump ('petrol' in Britain/Zimbabwe) keeps rising. Here in Northern California I've gone from paying about $1.61/gallon in 2001 to over $3/gallon today. I've never believed the experts I hear on TV talking about "troubles in the Niger Delta", or "security tensions in the Persian Gulf". I've always thought that there are more complex issues at play. Here's Prince Turki Al-Faisal, the former Director of Saudi intelligence, giving his take on the continuing rise of the price of gas/petrol.

Prince Turki Al-Faisal - "The sad fact is that four oil-producing countries [have] failed to live up to expectations. In 1998, Iran, Iraq, Nigeria, and Venezuela, were producing 12.7 million barrels per day. Everyone - including major companies such as BP and our own planners at Saudi Aramco - expected them to be producing 18.4 million barrels per day in 2008. Instead, due to civil strife, failed investments, or in the case of Iraq, a U.S invasion, they were producing only 10.2 million barrels per day. That drove the price part of the way up. Then speculators in the form of hedge funds, did the rest."

Saturday, October 3, 2009

District 9

Watched "District 9" last week. What a weird and strange movie! But a bloody, good one at that! The movie title harks back to Apartheid South Africa, when the residents of a "coloured" area (called District 6), were forcibly moved to make way for white residents.

The analogy today would probably be the millions of [mostly] Zimbabweans who live - and eke out a living - in the dusty townships of South Africa. My heart bleeds! having said that, this is a good movie, and I can't wait for the sequel.

Monday, September 28, 2009

Mugabe 10 Amanpour 0

I've watched the Mugabe/Amanpour interview over and over again on Youtube. The next time that CNN plans to interview RGM, they should let the interviewer be Fareed Zakaria (on his GPS show). Fareed Zakaria, an Indian-American, has a greater feel for the delicate subtleties and brittle idiosyncrasies that beset Non-Western leaders.

Christiane Amanpour - so unused to the determined and dogmatic mindsets of revolutionary leaders like Robert Mugabe - was always going to be eaten alive by President Mugabe. The man has eight degrees - one in violence - and he's no intellectual lightweight. If the folks at CNN thought that they were going to interview an Obiang Nguema, an Ian Khama or Ali Ben Bongo - in other words, an intellectual lightweight - then they were tragically mistaken.

When you enter into the arena of intellectual gladiators against the likes of Robert Mugabe, you must be fully prepared for an onslaught of logically sound arguments; facts not trivia; and a bone-jarring determination to see through one's point of view. Amanpour was mauled by the old lion, and so next time around, someone like Fareed Zakaria should handle any TV questioning.

Thank you
James Chikonamombe

Monday, September 14, 2009

Documentary: Pan-African Cultural Festival

Last Sunday I watched a documentary about the 1st Pan-African Cultural Festival that took place in Algiers, Algeria in 1969. I watched it at the Pacific Film Archives, on the campus of U.C Berkeley, here in Northern California. The film is actually a re-mastered version of an original film that was released much earlier. For some strange reason the director, William Klein, loped off twenty minutes from the original version.If like me you are a rabid Pan-Africanist, then this is a film you have to watch. Swapo, ANC, The Black Panthers, Frelimo, Zapu, they're all in the film.

The film starts with cultural performances from various African countries, and then really takes off with a marvelous, lyrical ditty performed by Miriam Makeba and Dorothy Masuka. There is archived footage of Africa's greatest soldier/philosopher, Amilcar Cabral, explaining what they (The PAIGC) were up against in their battle against the colonial Portuguese. Augustino Neto appears after that, and then there is a philosophical tour-de-force by the Beninoise Stanislas Adetovi, one of the main thinkers of the Negritude Movement. The Black Panther leader, Eldridge Cleaver, also makes a cameo appearance.The film ends with a superb live jazz performance by Archie Shepp, and a group of Algerian musicians. Once again: for Pan-Africanists, this is the film for you.

Sunday, August 2, 2009


Right now there is an on-going debate over whether to start charging internet users a fee to visit certain web-sites. Well, the providers of the content should tread carefully, and should not make the mistake of the music industry. In the early 90s I lived in England, and I used to buy Cd's for exorbitant sums, 11-99(Pounds Sterling) for an ordinary CD - and this was in the early 90s. Sometimes, the record companies would tag a hot-selling CD as an "import" and then jack up the price even higher. I specifically recollect trudging down Oxford Street in London to HMV and spending 17-99(Pounds Sterling) for Snoop Doggy Dog's first album - then tagged as an "import".

Well, I eventually got even with those music industry bastards. Since file-sharing became popular, I've downloaded - for free - all the music that I could lay my hands on. Now, the only time that I pay for albums is if it's an obscure African release, and then I have to order it from Stern Music's website. Those who will attempt to "monetize" their viewership should take notes from the music industry and not try to gouge the customers. As the saying goes, "the customer is always right", and customers will find a way to get all the content that they need for free, if they feel that they're being gouged at the counter.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

MaMoyo, Dambisa Moyo

This afternoon I watched the Zambian economist, Dambisa Moyo, on the CNN show, "GPS with Fareed Zakaria". All I can say is that I'm overwhelmed with joy, and I agree with everything that she said 100%. Apropos of that, there are some tips I need to give Dr. Moyo about the intellectual and economical environment in which we live in.

In some African countries like Chad, the Aid Industry is the only industry to speak off. In most African countries, aid workers live like Maharajahs, living in the poshest suburbs, driving Land Rovers, and with a retinue of servants in tow. Now: do we honestly think that that they are prepared to give up that lifestyle, just because Dr. Moyo announced that "there should be no more aid to Africa"? I don't think so. In fact they (the aid workers & the aid industry) will fight tooth-and-nail to preserve their privileges in Africa.

Intellectual bullying knows no boundaries, and if I was Dambisa Moyo I would invest in a suit of body-armour, the type that European knights wore in the Middle Ages! The attacks against her will get vicious. She will be accused of all kinds of transgressions. The wilder the accusation, the harder it will be to refute. Whispering campaigns will be launched against her private life; all kinds of lies and insinuations will be put out in public.

Woe betide her if she ever tries to get employed in American academia. She just won't be hired; not even by Appalachian State University! Keeping her away from Academia will stop her from poisoning 18 and 19 year old minds with the silly notion of, "stopping all aid to Africa".

So there it is Dr. Moyo. I hope that you keep doing what you're doing, but it goes without saying, that what you're saying amounts to heresy in some quarters. How can aid to Africa be stopped? The whole global media edifice has been acculturated to the "fact" of a helpless and hopeless Africa that must rely on aid. You just can't come out - from left field - and state otherwise.

If the powers-that-be state that the Earth is flat, then you can't turn around and state that, No! It's actually round. That would be heresy. I'll close by saying that: be warned! The knives will come out for you in due course. In fact "they" are probably sharpening their butcher knives as I post this blog.

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

African Spelling

Here's a piece I posted on a forum (that I belong to) not too long ago in '06. It's about the African spelling of place-names and the general rendering of spelling using African phonetics, I still believe strongly in what I wrote three years ago. After all, the Japanese do not call their country "Japan", nor do the Germans call their country "Germany".

My point is that, "Germany" and "Japan" are what outsiders render those two countries. The natives of both Germany and Japan(as well as Ireland, Greece, Holland, and a host of other nations) all use their own phonetics and spelling to render their place-names, as well as place-names that fall outside their own language areas. We Africans should do the same.

I just wanted to put this out in the open. Should we as Africans still insist on European spelling conventions in 2006? (it's now 2009). It's almost 50 years since Ghana achieved independence and yet we Africans still insist on religiously following European spelling conventions when writing. Why is this so? What's wrong with using phonetic African spelling? After all, AREN'T WE AFRICANS?

In my native language, Shona, "London" should be rendered "Randani" and "Britain" should be rendered "Bhiriteni". Shona has no "L" in its alphabet, and a hard "B" is always followed by an "H". The same rule applies for a "V"; a hard "V" is always followed by an "H". Would I be considered an uneducated fool by my African peers if I started writing "Furansi" instead of "France" and "Muputukese" instead of "Portuguese". The thought tickles my mind.

The Europeans themselves ALWAYS insist on following THEIR OWN SPELLING CONVENTIONS as a rule. This they apply to both family names and place names.
The Senegalese family name, "Njie", is spelt "N'diaye" by the French. "Jobe" is rendered "Diop", "Juuf" is rendered as "Diouf", and the place-name Wagadugu is rendered "Ouagadougou". The Portuguese are just as bad! The Shona-speaking province of "Manyika", in Mozambique, is rendered as "Manica" and "Chikwalakwala" is rendered as "Chicuala-cuala". The great Shona empire-builder from the middle ages, "Munhumutapa" is commonly (and wrongly) known as "Monomotapa".

Can't we as Africans just follow our own phonetic conventions when rendering place names and family names? Why do we use "Mozambique" when describing "Msumbuji". And why do we Africans insist on calling the country of "Mzansi" (or Azania) as "South Africa". Let others call that country, "South Africa". As for place names, doesn't "Burkina Faso" sound better than "Upper Volta", and isn't "Zimbabwe" more appropriate than "Southern Rhodesia"? And finally, who came up with the name, Central African Republic? I'll offer a 6-pack of beer to anyone who comes up with a better name for that African country


Saturday, June 27, 2009


In all true honesty, I've never been a techy, although I first started working with computers way back in 1983. It took me this long to register with "Technorati" and "Blogged". These fellows are really making me jump through the hoops. Now, I have to issue a post with some kind of code - I don't know what for. But here it is: wud5ieqsp6 &

Personal Blogs Blog Directory

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Improving Conditions in Zims

I'd say that, in general, things are picking up in Zimbabwe. The French seem to think so too. They have just invited PM Tsvangirai to the French PM's residence, L'Hotel Matignon. That must be a first for a politician from the heart of "Anglophone" Africa. You can cut-n-paste the link below and go to the French English language channel, France 24, to see another good report on Zimbabwe.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009


Just watched the movie, "W", on DVD. In a way I was missing that old bastard, George W. Bush, and I had to satisfy a craving. Josh Brolin is superb as George Bush, and Jeffery Wright and Thandiwe Newton are both well-cast as Colin Powell and Condoleeza Rice respectively. Richard Dreyfuss really pulls off the best performance as Dick Cheney. If you are too old to watch horror movies, but enjoy seeing real-life evil up-close, then this is the movie for you. One note: Thandiwe newton was born in Zambia to a Zimbabwean mother and English father, and so we Zimbabweans claim her as one of our own.

Never in a Thousand Years

This is just a little comment in response to an article posted in "The Guardian" on June 9Th by George Monbiot, the British social commentator. The title of Mr. Monbiot's piece was entitled, "Outsourcing Unrest", and it was about how the British elites have lived off the fruits of their colonial - and post colonial - endeavours for three hundred years. This is what I had to say to that:

The extraction of wealth from India is well-documented, but the colonial powers really grew rich from their exploitation of Africa. The exploitation of Congo by the Belgians is an extreme example. Portugal became a non-entity after it lost its African colonies, and the French political elite lie awake at night wondering what would happen if the neo-colonial arrangement with their ex-colonies unravels.

Another quick point: Cecil Rhodes and other colonial thinkers thought that civil war in Britain could only be averted if the "lowly hordes" were sent to the colonies in Southern Africa, Australia and New Zealand. It was for this reason why these colonists were so tenacious in their refusal for black majority rule. The ex-Rhodesian Prime Minister, Ian Smith, was a product of that policy.

Ian Smith's father had been a butcher in Scotland, and there was no way that Smithy could conceive of returning back to that life. Being a butcher in Scotland would have been untenable after tasting the fruits of the good life in - what was then - Rhodesia. When he said, "Never in a thousand years", he truly meant it. Smith and his co-horts truly did mean to maintain their colonial privileges for another thousand years.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Back to Normalcy

Things are beginning to look up for my beloved Zimbabwe. The website (Zimbabwe Times) reports that, "agricultural production has tripled to around 1,5 million tonnes of grain." Although, we're still about another half a million tonnes short of what we need for grain self-sufficiency. It had also been reported in the Zimbabwe Situation (another Zim website) that beer consumption was up too. That's a good economic indicator. The ordinary people are reverting to their ordinary ways.

And finally, last but not least, our belated Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai, became the first African Prime Minister or President to be invited by President Obama for a tete-a-tete in the Oval Office of the White House. That was a truly historic scene on Friday - an African leader and the first black President of America in the Oval Office. Tsvangirai was eloquent as usual, and he handled himself well. I gave him top marks.

So, I can say, that Zimbabwe is now crawling its way back to normalcy. The Central African Republic we are not! We still have a way to go, but we're shifting gears and we're moving in the right direction.

Friday, June 5, 2009

One Drop

Just finished reading a book by Bliss Broyard called, "One Drop". It's about her late father, Anatole Broyard, who was a literary critic for the New York Times until his death in 1990. I couldn't use the word "passing" in the previous sentence, since "passing" is what Anatole Broyard did in adulthood in order to get ahead in the white America of the 1950s and 1960s.

Why someone as "white" as Anatole Broyard had to pass as white in the first place just beats me. He probably had more white blood than 40% of the "whites" that I know. In California you can be half Chinese, a quarter Native-American and a quarter Shepardic Jew and still be considered white. Although the rules for blacks - even light-skinned blacks - are much tougher. For them, the "one-drop" rule still applies.

In this century, those who look white and want to be seen as white, must be allowed to be white. Why force someone to be what he is not? Adding to that, there are over 900 million black people who are damn proud of being who they are. It's an insult for Africans and diaspora blacks to be mixed together with people who hate to be considered black. Let those who don't want to be black be! And let the real blacks be themselves!

Sunday, May 31, 2009

French Sniffing Around in Zimbabwe

Zut alors! What brings the French to our neck of the woods? They are not coming to sample the sorghum beer (chibuku) or the grilled trotters (mazondo). On May 30 the Zimbabwean portal ( reported that French State Minister, Anne-Marie Idrac, had paid a visit to Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai and had invited him over to Paris next month. Unbeknown to most African leaders, being invited to the Elysee Palace is like being invited to Dracula's Palace: You are being invited there for a reason - a very sinister reason.

Here's the reason why the French suddenly have an interest in Zimbabwe. In the South-East of Zimbabwe lies a small district called Bikita. Bikita has the world's second-largest (known) reserves of lithium, after Bolivia. The car industry is striving to replace the internal-combustion engine with a battery-powered engine, and yes, lithium is a key part of battery technology. French entrepreneur, Vincent Bollore, has even begun to manufacture a small, battery-powered automobile. Which brings us back to Zimbabwe. All governments in the West are now keen to develop better ties with Zimbabwe since - in the future - whoever controls the battery technology and the resources will automatically control the automobile industry.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

Sacrebleu! Mon Dieu!

As we speak, the French are investigating the financial dealings of Presidents Obiang Nguema (of Equatorial Guinea), Dennis Sassou-Nguesso (of the Republic of Congo) , and Omar Bongo (of Gabon). As you know the last two were the poster boys of "France-Afrique", a shadowy network of French interests in Africa and their African lackeys on the ground. Now the French authorities are being disingenuous to a maximum degree. The only reason that the French are now investigating these shady characters is that Messrs Bongo, Nguema and Sassou-Nguesso have realised that ill-gotten wealth must be spread around - like manure. In other words you can't keep all your ill-gotten wealth in one French basket. The money must be spread around between Paris, London, New York, Dubai and Kuala Lumpur. Now this is what has gotten the French ticked off!

Why did the French forcibly replace Pascal Lissouba (the Previous President) with "their man", Dennis Sassou-Nguesso? Because President Lissouba had started leaning towards the Americans and - heaven forbid - the British. He had given key contracts in Congo's mineral sector to American companies. So the French saw to it that President Lissouba was replaced. But President Sassou-Nguesso has now started rewarding contracts to American and Chinese companies. You see, even French slaves know not to deal exclusively with the French, whose duplicity and avarice in Africa is legendary.

The biggest French boot-licker of them all, Omar Bongo, now keeps most of his money in America - he prefers CitiBank. Adding to the French misery is the fact that Obiang Nguema, whom they had been grooming in the boot-licking business, is now doing a lot of business with the Americans and the Chinese. Sacrebleu! Mon Dieu! What's a French bureaucrat to do! That brings us to all the hullabaloo about the secret finances of African leaders that are being investigated by President Sarkozy's government.

No, President Sarkozy, Africa is not some play-thing, some mistress, that you can discard whenever you so please. We Africans will deal with our corrupt leaders in our own way; and then we will take over control of our economies; and then we will send those boot-licking African leaders out to pasture. Having done that we will re-direct African economies towards intra-African trade, and proceed to have zero tolerance towards French shenanigans on the French continent.

Thank you.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

G.N.U Tips

Oh yes indeed, there is a venal cabal of Zanu hardliners who have no intention of ever seeing this Unity Govt succeed. They will do whatever it takes to derail this GNU. If I were some of the main opposition players I would take packed lunches to work and avoid the sumptuous buffets being offered in the "Chef's" cafeterias. When possible, please use public transport - E.Ts & taxis.

Those who insist on using Ministerial Mercs must always check their tires (and brakes) before they depart. And if you have to drive to your rural homestead, avoid using rural side roads and dirt tracks; stick to the main roads (whatever the condition they're in). And finally: I'll advise against night-time travel at this critical moment in time, for things tend to go BUMP in the night. Whatever needs to be discussed at night can always be discussed during the day.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tsvangirai & Mugabe: Impossible Characters

SADC is meeting for the umpteenth time to discuss the Zimbabwe situation. This time President Mugabe is holding hands with President Mothlanthe and not Thabo Mbeki. The SADC heads are meeting behind closed doors - once again - to thrash out a solution to the Zimbabwe problem. Once again, nothing will come out of this meeting, and President Mugabe will have free reign to do as he pleases in Zimbabwe.

The problem here is that President Mugabe detests Tsvangirai with passion, and until those two combatants are separated, nothing will come out of any unity talks. You see, politics is more than just about ideology and policy; it's also about personalities. Mugabe detests Tsvangirai; Mutambara detests Tsvangirai; Thabo Mbeki detests Tsvangirai; Kgalema Mothlanthe detests Tsvangirai; Jakaya KIkwete detests Tsvangirai; Armando Guebuza detests Tsvangirai; Tsvangirai's only ally is President Khama of Botswana - and he's a political nonentity.
When there is such a personality clash, then it's better - for the benefit of the nation - to bring in a different personality as head.

In Apartheid South Africa, it became obvious to the Nats that PW Botha would never concede to majority rule. That's why they roped in the relatively malleable, FW DE Clerk. It was the malleable De Klerk who chaperoned majority rule into South Africa.
If "Die Grote Krokodil" PW Botha had remained at the head of the Nats, with the support of his hard-line supporters in the security services (Constant Viljoen, Magnus Malan, Kobie Coetzee, Jannie Geldenhuys) then we will still be fighting for majority rule down South.

It's time for far-seeing MDC officials to survey the situation, take notes, and then come to their senses. For the benefit of Zimbabwe, they have to replace Morgan Tsvangirai. The opposition does not belong to him alone. Another leader will then be able to take his rightful place as PM in a unity government. Then we could sort out Zimbabwe's problems.

James Chikonamombe

Friday, January 2, 2009

80 is not the new 60

To all the African leadership I want to offer this piece of advice: don’t believe everything that you see on TV, or hear on the radio. Fifty is not the new thirty; forty is not the new 20; and 80 is definitely not the new 60! Don’t think that an 80 year old man who marries a 29 year old bride automatically drops down in age to 60. No! 80 is still the same old 80, and forty is still the same old forty.

Part of the reason why Africa is in such a mess is that we have a gerontocracy in leadership. President Hosni Mubarak of Egypt is now 80. On TV he looks like a walking mummy. He clearly has no solution to the problems of Egypt’s teeming masses. President Kibaki of Kenya looks clueless on TV. He loses himself when giving speeches and he is forever tired. President Biya of Cameroon is in his mid-seventies, and President Bongo of Gabon is also in his seventies. President Biya is forever visiting French hospitals to cure his many ailments. In fact, he spends more time in France than in Cameroon. Why not just step down to allow a younger leader to take over? The same goes for President Bongo. How someone who acceded to the Presidency in 1967 is still the President defies any sense of realism and common sense. Mzee Bongo is apparently in good health, but he just prefers living in France to his own Gabon. Why be the President of a country when you would rather be elsewhere?

Do forum members still remember the last days of Le Vieux, Houphouet-Boigny? To this day I still can't tell for sure whether his aides had been propping him up on a chair and he actually had been dead along. His eyes were glazed, there was no hand-movement and he had a fixed smile. He looked dead to me, and yet nevertheless, he was still the President. Meanwhile, his loyal deputies such as Konan Bedie were busy wrecking the country. It’s been downhill ever since and I doubt Cote D’Ivoire will ever recover from its problems in one piece.

What about Ngwazi Mawawa, Kamuzu Banda in Malawi. In his last years he was still ruling Malawi when he was over 100years old, wheelchair-bound, and always pushed by his "assistant" Mama Kadzamira. And yet he still was the President, spitting into a spittoon as he wondered what the hell was going on in this world. Meanwhile the family of his assistant/paramour (Mama Kadzamira) were busy helping themselves to the state coffers. I can also add the late President of Guinea, Lansana Conte, who had been bed-ridden for ten years or so suffering from diabetes and other ailments.

Leaders in their early forties to mid-fifties should be in charge of African countries. To have leaders in their mid-70s and early 80s has proven to be disastrous for all African countries affected, and this must cease to be. We need relative youth and dynamism at the top.

James Chikonamombe