Sunday, February 21, 2010

Captain Solo

Now that coups are back in vogue, I was wondering to myself: whatever happened to Zambian coup-plotter, Steven Lungu, alias Capt Solo. This man had gumption. Back in the 90s, Capt Solo literally waltzed into the headquarters of Zambian broadcasting, grabbed the microphone, and then announced - to an astonished nation - that he had taken over. And he was stone drunk when he did this. This man had b***s!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

The Chinese in Africa

With all due respects to China-bashers, like professor George Ayittey, I can say that, overall, the benefits of China's engagement with Africa heavily outweigh any negative consequences.

Firstly, with China's large population it's natural that it would look to Africa to satisfy its resource needs. The Europeans have been sourcing all their resources from Africa for 500 years now, and no-one even bats an eye-lid.

Secondly Africa can gain from Chinese engagement in terms of infrastructure development. The fact that the Chinese often bring in all their workers is a sign of a pitifully low skills-base in Africa itself, rather than in "labour-dumping" by the Chinese. For example, only 11% of Niger's secondary-school age population are actually enrolled in secondary school. It is not possible for Chinese investors in Niger (or Chad, Burkina Faso, Mali, Guinea Bissau) to employ a semi-literate and unskilled work-force. The Chinese are basically FORCED to bring in their own work-force in many of these countries.

Finally, the Chinese in Africa are often at the receiving end of unnecessary xenophobia. People complain about their culinary habits and their living conditions etc. These basically racist put-downs are really trivial and demean all the contributions that China has made to Africa, especially the aid given to Southern African countries in their independence quests.

Friday, February 12, 2010

African Officialdom

I almost fell off my chair when, watching the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics, I saw Ghana's lone participant stride in. What's Ghana doing at the Winter Olympics? Does it snow in Tamale?

Off the topic: I know from experience that African teams often send more officials than athletes to these sporting get-togethers. If, for example, Germany has 90 athletes at a sporting event, she probably will have 15 officials traveling with the team. For African countries it's the other way around; A country like Ghana (or Zimbabwe) can send one athlete and 30 officials/hangers-on to travel with that sole athlete.

Pause for thought
James Chikonamombe