Thursday, December 22, 2011

Faida Hamdi: Madame Butterfly

The "Butterfly Effect" refers to the hypothetical situation where a butterfly flapping its wings in, say Mexico, could set off a chain of minor atmospheric events that (when amplified) can lead to a tornado in, say Texas.  Exactly one year ago, the actions of a female municipal police-officer from Tunisia, Faida Hamdi, set off a chain-reaction of events that ultimately led to the Arab Spring -- a series of revolutions that toppled long-term rulers from Tunisia to Egypt.

This obscure woman, Faida Hamdi, is alleged to have slapped and spat on a street-vendor, Mohamed Bouazizi, and if that was not humiliating enough, she confiscated his cart of goods. Humiliated, Mohamed Bouazizi set himself on fire and the rest, as they say, is history. After all has been said and done, Faida Hamdi deserves a footnote in history.

Steve Jobs: Picking His Brain

Folks:  about three weeks ago I went to see a movie about Steve Jobs, called "Steve Jobs - The Lost Interview".  It wasn't a movie at all, but an interview done by a British team, around the time after Steve Jobs had been kicked out of Apple -- the company he had co-founded -- in 1985. For me, this was a great chance to pick his brain. I recorded much of his statements on my smartphone and I've reproduced some of his insights below. This man was a genius, and his musings need to be carefully noted. Some of the interview footage also appeared in the '96 PBS documentary, "The Triumph  of The Nerds".

Steve Jobs ~ "I think everyone should learn how to write [computer] code, because it teaches you how to think."

Steve Jobs ~ "We at Apple brought a Liberal Arts atmosphere to computer science by seeking out the best in all fields."

Steve Jobs ~ "I'll have to say, I'm a hippie and not a nerd!"

Steve Jobs [himself quoting Picasso] ~ "Great artists copy; great artists steal!"

Steve Jobs ~ "Human beings are toolbuilders and we can build tools that amplify our innate capabilities."

Steve Jobs ~ "The way to ratchet up the species is to take the best of everything [from everyone] and spread it as widely as possible."

Steve Jobs ~ "The problem with Microsoft is that they have absolutely no taste! And their products have no spirit to them."

Steve Jobs [commenting on ex-Apple CEO, John Scully] ~ "He got onto a rocket-ship that was about to take off, began to believe that he had designed the rocket-ship himself, and then changed its trajectory, causing it to crash!"

Steve Jobs ~ "In software, the difference between average and best is 50-1, as opposed to 2-1 in other fields."

Steve Jobs ~ "Xerox [the printer-company responsible for many earlier computing breakthroughs] could have owned the computer-industry, had the product-people been in charge and not the salesmen and marketeers."

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Socrates, Cesaria Evora, Christopher Hitchens ~ Bidding Adieu

In the past fortnight, three people whom I admire greatly, departed this Earth to join the ancestors. It's in times like these that you have to think of your own mortality. I grew up watching the football wizardry of Socrates; in College, I was lulled to sleep poring over the commentaries of Christopher Hitchens; and later on, I became mesmerised by the music of Cesaria Evora, the Cape Verdean "barefoot diva". Now, they've all left us, and in quick succession too. It is indeed true: only God knows what lies in store for us; we can never really be the total masters of our destinies. Those who think otherwise are deluding themselves.
Socrates ~ the death of the great Brazilians midfielder of the 80s came as a total shock. That he died from complications from cirrhosis of the liver was even more shocking. If you've never seen the Brazilian football team from the 80s, then you've never lived! Zico, Cerezo, Falcao, Alemao, Junior and the majestic Socrates himself, orchestrating the play in midfield. Pure magic! In my opinion, this was the best football team ever to be assembled.

They turned the game of football -- the beautiful game (jogo bonito) as Brazilians call it -- into an art-form, a living opera. And then there was Socrates: a tall, lanky midfielder; a creative genius; and somewhat of an intellectual to boot. On top of that, he was a trained doctor, who had a chain-smoking habit! What a player! What a character! May his soul forever rest in peace. 
Christopher Hitchens ~ His death was not unexpected, but it still saddens me to see him go.  He was probably the best rhetorician the Western World has seen since the time of the Ancient Greeks. In any verbal spar he was unbeatable. Like a lion stalking an impala, he would seize upon  his "prey", set them up, and then destroy them to pieces with facts and iron-clad logic. A terrific genius! It will be a millennium before the Western World sees the emergence of such a great verbal practitioner like him.
Cesaria Evora ~ I woke up on Sat morning and read of her tragic death. I instantly collapsed into a heap on my living-room couch. I just couldn't believe it! Her music was pure magic. She truly did capture the spirit of the Cape Verdean people (and it's large diaspora).

 Like most people, I wasn't aware of her music until about the early 90s. Once I had heard her haunting voice, I was addicted! "Angola", "Petit Pays" and her duet with Salif Keita, "Yamore" are my favourite songs. A great musician, she shall be sorely missed.

Friday, December 16, 2011

When Gaddafi Met Mengistu In Harare.

Folks: you know, in the Deep South of America there still are people who believe that Elvis Presley (The King) is still alive. They've never come to grips with his death. Indeed, sightings of "The King" have been recorded and noted from the bayous of Louisiana to the plains of Georgia. In the same vein, some people will never be convinced of the passing of Mu'mar Gaddafi. He's even been sighted working behind the counters of Arab-stores here in Oakland, California. Anyway, here's my short satirical piece about the hypothetical meeting of Gaddafi with Mengistu Haile Mariam in Harare, Zimbabwe. Bear in mind, that the two were rivals whilst in power of their respective countries, Ethiopia  and Libya.

Note well: the commentary in bold letters is also mine.

In a leafy suburb of Harare:

Mengistu: [in a bitingly sarcastic tone] Well, well, well, speak-of-the-devil! Who do we have here? Is that my learned friend, author of the esteemed Green-Book, Mu'amar Gaddafi?

Gaddafi: Hamdallahi! (praise-to-God). It is I! And is that my dear, brother leader, Mengistu Haile Mariam?

Mengistu: It is indeed! Trust that we would meet here in Harare, Zimbabwe! What brings our dear, brother leader to these neck of the woods?

Gaddafi: [taken aback somewhat] I am no longer the leader of the Libyan people! You know!

Mengistu: [acidly replies] Neither am I the leader of the Ethiopian People! Damn them! Fools, all of them! Habbesha people!

Gaddafi: That makes two of us!

Mengistu: I thought they shot you to death, in Sirte?

Gaddafi: That was a body-double! [to roars of laughter]. To think that I would fight to the death in such a God-forsaken place! That's the reason why I overthrew King Idris in '69; they had tried to post me back to Sirte, amongst the camel-jockeys, so I staged a coup and exiled the King instead!

Mengistu: Son-of-a-gun! I thought you had him overthrown for making sexual overtures to your tribal womenfolk?

Gaddafi: That too!

Mengistu: Son-of-a-gun! [to roars of laughter]. And speaking of guns: whatever happened to your golden gun?

Gaddafi: (a) the rebels captured it (b) it wasn't golden! It was only painted medium yellow!

Mengistu: son-of-a-gun! [to more roars of laughter].

Mengistu: you know, I'm immediately reminded of my own flight from Addis Ababa in 1990.

Gaddafi: 1990? I thought that was in 1991?

Mengistu: No, the man on the 1991 flight was a body-double! [to roars of laughter]. To think I would have risked my life amongst those goat-herders of the Amhara highlands! Phweeww! Furthermore, the Americans who had come to pick me up, would have taken me straight to the Hague!

Gaddafi: Can't trust them cowboys!

Mengistu: I don't trust my own brother! Why would I have entrusted  my life to the CIA!

Gaddafi: Speaking of Harare: what employment opportunities are there for someone like me?

Mengistu: Well, you're such a showman! You could set yourself up as a P.R man here in the leafy suburbs of Harare.

Gaddafi: I know the opposition leader (Tsvangirai) sure needs some P.R! And his spokesman, Tamborinyoka, leaves a lot to be desired too!

Mengistu: You're damn right! You can say that again!

Gaddafi: How can I worm my way into Tsvangirai's inner circle then; to get some much-needed P.R work?

Mengistu: Show up at his office with your bevy of female bodyguards! Works all the time! Our man Tsvangirai is said to have a "zipper problem"!

Gaddafi: Like Bill Clinton!

Mengistu: Yes, indeed, like Bill Clinton! [to roars of laughter].

Gaddafi: Thanks for the advice. We should meet again for some tea-and-crumpet. I've got some juicy, Libyan prison-tales to tell you.

Mengistu: That would be grand! I have a bunch of Ethiopian torture-tales to retell myself.

Gaddafi: Next week KwaMereki (a popular Harare eating-spot).

Mengistu: Sounds good. See you then.


Thursday, December 1, 2011

Merry Wives Of Morgan Tsvangirai (part 2).

Like a mosquito in a nudist camp, I just don't know where to start! This Tsvangirai marriage-story has more twists and turns than the Monaco Grand Prix race-track, I tell ya! It's after 1 in the morning (California time) and I can't sleep trying to digest all the ins-and-outs of our PM's (now aborted) betrothal to his paramour, Locadia Karimatsenga Tembo. OK, here are the facts: after initiating marriage-rites through traditional go-betweens, and paying lobola (dowry), it appears as if Morgan Tsvangirai has decided to end his betrothal to Mai Locadia Tembo. This, after the buxom Locadia had traveled all the way to bone-dry Buhera (Tsvangirai's home region) to perform the traditional rites that Shona brides go through when getting married, such as the ceremonial sweeping of the in-laws' front porch.

Now our ne'er-do-well Prime Minister claims in a written statement, that state-security agents had  wormed their way into the whole marriage process -- yes, in Shona culture, marriage is a process rather than an event -- and hijacked the marriage. Those were his own words; I didn't make them up. I had always suspected that something was amiss about this whole Tsvangirai marriage, and I wrote that you can never discount the intentions (and reach) of Zimbabwe's state-security agents. These guys are good; probably the best in Africa (and maybe the world!). I'm now convinced that this "marriage" was a Zanu-pf stitch-up with Tsvangirai as the unknowing victim, the dupe in American-speak. He literally was in the process of being dragged into bed with the same Zanu-pf  ruling-party that he opposes.

Those readers who might accuse me of having a vivid imagination, don't know the M.O of these fellows. They truly are the best in the business! After this sordid escapade, I'll doff my cap in appreciation of their crafty handiwork.

Friday, November 25, 2011

The Merry Wives Of Morgan Tsvangirai

Will the real wife of Morgan Tsvangirai please stand up! In early 2008 I was informed by a relative, who works in the "President's Office" of Zimbabwe, that opposition leader Morgan Tsvangirai had three wives. Initially, I waived this off as Zanu-pf  rumor-mongering, but now I'm beginning to see where my relative was coming from. The love-life of our ne'er-do-well Prime Minister is complicated, to say the least. There is the comely matron, Amai Chihombori and there is Ambassador Zwambila, who is rumored to be an old-flame. There is also the Ndebele beauty, Loreta Nyathi, whom Tsvangirai impregnated and had to pay damages to her family. Her family insists -- rightly so -- that she's not some fling, but is part of the Tsvangirai household.

Now we have Locadia Karimatsenga Tembo, a businesswoman with deep Zanu roots. It had been initially reported that Tsvangirai had paid damages and dowry to the lady's family. However, the part about paying dowry and getting betrothed has now been denied by Tsvangirai's inner circle. And moving on, we have yet another lady, whom we only know as "Elizabeth" and whom is also supposed to be in love with our PM, with a marriage in the works. One wonders: where does our Prime Minister ever get the time to carry out his Govt duties, with all this extra-curricular activity? He does have a very complicated love-life, and not even Agatha Christie's super-sleuth, Hercule Poirot, could untangle the many twists and turns of his love-life!

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Morgan Tsvangirai: Nuptials Of An Area Boy

These nuptials of Morgan Tsvangirai to Mai Tembo are intriguing, to say the least. Mai Tembo is the daughter of a Zanla war veteran, and the sister of a Zanu-PF MP. On top of that, she's a successful businesswoman in her own right, having exclusive contracts to provide provisions to several Zimbabwean companies. So in other words, she's Zanu-pf through and through, since (unless you're in the Zanu mix) you can never avail yourself to any of these exclusive deals that are available to Zimbabwe's politically well-connected. Now, this leads me to ask the simple question: what is such a well-connected insider with ZPF genes flowing through her veins doing getting betrothed to the leader of Zimbabwe's main opposition party, Morgan Tsvangirai himself? Wonders never cease to amaze me!

The apt saying here would be the Shona saying, "chakapfukidza dzimba matenga", which means that "no one really knows what goes on behind closed doors". If only I could get ahold of the "transcripts" of the pillow-talk between the two said individuals! Now that would make for some interesting reading! What games are my party, Zanu-pf, playing at here? Is this really a love-match or are there more sinister motives at work? They are quite capable of anything, you know, these ZPF fellows. We've been able to read Jacqueline Kennedy's innermost thoughts courtesy of C.I.A leaks and similarly it would be fun if RGM's spooks could furnish us with the inner-workings of the Tsvangirai household. The man is now literally sleeping with the enemy. Wonders never cease to amaze me.

James Chikonamombe

Friday, November 18, 2011

Zimbabwe: Someting Is Afoot

Something is afoot in my beloved Zimbabwe. I see it, I can see all the jigsaw-puzzle pieces on the table, but I just can't see exactly how they are going to be put together. We've just had our Prime Minister, Morgan Tsvangirai, travelling to Morocco. Now: what is a Zimbabwean doing in Morocco? I doubt our PM had even heard of Morocco, say, five years ago. Our President is 87 and ailing. He only recently visited China and pleaded with the Chinese and Russians to "stop Zimbabwe from being attacked". What does he know that we don't know. Why the urgency to plead for cover from attack from the Chinese and Russians? What exactly is going on?

Right now, the Western nations are lying flat on their backs, with overbearing debt-burdens and double-digit unemployment figures. They've had a three-pronged attack for economic growth for the past thirty years based on (1) Financial de-regulation (2) easily available credit for housing and (3) internet technologies. All three of these ballasts no longer provide the blast needed to keep the boom going. This takes us back to the old way of making money: through (1) making "stuff" and (2) extracting and refining the "stuff" needed to make "stuff". Which in turn closes the circle and brings us back to Africa.

With a growing Chinese presence on the African Continent, the West cannot afford to be complacent. They will go for broke and insert themselves aggressively into Africa's realities. Either through direct military force or through proxies, one way or the other, the West will try to "grow" its way out of economic malaise by forcing Africa into a new "partnership of unequals". With Libya in the bag, something tells me that something is afoot in Zimbabwe, but helplessly, I just can't map out the likely scenario. Lord save my beloved Zimbabwe.

Friday, November 4, 2011

Is Greece an "African" country.

Am I the only one who has noticed the uncanny and eerie similarity between the economic woes of Greece and the precarious financial positions of African States like Zimbabwe and Uganda in the late 80s. Is Greece now an "African" country ~  an economic ward-of-state that must be told what to do as if it were a child? The similarities between, say, the Greek financial condition and that of Zimbabwe in 1989 are frighteningly similar: Greece has a service-economy dependent on shipping and tourism; by virtue of it being in the EuroZone, Greece is burdened with an overvalued currency that plays havoc with its economic strengths; and Greece is technically insolvent, unable to pay its bills. Furthermore -- like a real African country -- there has been rumblings in the barracks with the Prime Minister being forced to replace the military service chiefs with his "own men".

Zimbabwe in 1989 had an overvalued currency (the old Zim Dollar) that was playing havoc with its economic strengths. Forced to fund  a progressive health and education program, the Zimbabwe Govt found itself in a precarious situation, but what really keeled the fiscus over was the cost of a debilitating war in neighbouring Mozambique that had sucked in 10 000 troops. Unable to pay its bills, the Zim Govt was forced to call in the IMF. The medicine they prescribed is well-known to most Africans over 35 (and too scary to repeat here).

Eerily the Greeks are being served the same rat-poison of massive cuts in Govt-spending and social-service that we Zimbabweans were forced to swallow from 1989-1991 (the dreaded E.S.A.P reforms). As in Zimbabwe, there has been massive emigration of the best and brightest Greeks to wealthier shores and better opportunities abroad. The only solution for the Greeks is to exit the EuroZone, re-introduce the Drachma, and craft their own economic policies. After that I'm sure Greece will rebound in the long-run, but in the short-term there will be immense economic-pain.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011


Just got back from one hell-of-a-concert in Santa Cruz, featuring the Saharan group, Tinariwen.  I still can't sleep and so I had to type this blogpost. Well, first of all, the concert fell on Monday 31st, on Halloween, and there's nothing like attending a function in the Bay Area on Halloween. The venue was full of "Bay Area Types" ~ shabby-looking millionaires, ageing hippies, tree-huggers and pony-tailed College-Professors, the kind of people that just make this region so unique. Add to that, folks were decked out in Halloween costume, some dressed as Dracula, some dressed as witches, but all swaying to the African sound of Tinariwen. The only minus, was that the group's line-up had none of the female singers that have always given Tinariwen a pulse. Maybe next time. But nevertheless, a thoroughly good show!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Rugby World Cup 2011

This post is to all the Rugby fans out there. I'm here at home waiting for the first Semi-Final to kick off (01:00 AM Pacific Time). I have to admit, I've only watched the first game (New Zealand V Tonga) live. Work, family, and time-distance have conspired to keep me from watching more live games. Mercifully, you can now follow all the highlights online, and that's what I've being doing. I always enjoy watching the Pacific Islands teams (Fiji, Tonga and Samoa) and I've always had a soft-spot for the English (colonial sentiments). But this year was not the year for either the English nor the Pacific Islands teams. The French are in the semis, but this is not the French team of old, playing with Gallic flair. This team is more mechanical (less Latin, more Teutonic). Rather, it's the Argentines who have have been playing with what I would call "French Flair".

I no longer can roll off the names of Welsh and Scottish players off-the-top-of-my-head like I could as a schoolboy. I think Gavin Hastings was the last Scottish player I could recall. I wish the Welsh all the best in their semi-final game against France. I feel sorry for the Japanese. They always play with heart, but rugby is a physical game, and they're just too small of stature to compete. I do wish that they would "borrow" some players from the Pacific Islands just to make up for their lack of size.

I've never been a fan of the Springboks, despite the gallery of Zimbabwean players they always exhibit. I wasn't sad to see them lose in their quarter-finals against the Aussies. This leaves us with the All-Blacks, who I presume will beat the Aussies tomorrow and then go on to win the final next week. They've hosted a great tournament. Too bad it's bang in the middle of a packed sporting calendar-year. It's been a great tournament, and a great showpiece for the great sport of rugby.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Mo Ibrahim Prize For 1st Ladies

I'm still stunned at Rupiah Banda's graceful exit from Zambia's political scene. Given past African history, and the fact that it was a tight race, I was expecting mayhem on a grand scale. I was expecting the loser, President Banda, to resist stepping down by all means, plunging Zambia into chaos. But, no such thing happened. President Banda conceded defeat to the challenger, Michael Sata, and wished him well as the next President. Amazing!

Some pundits have proposed that Rupiah Banda be awarded this year's Mo Ibrahim Prize for African leadership, but I suggest an even more revolutionary stance: let's have Mo Ibrahim establish an award for African 1st Ladies, in order to encourage good behaviour and to help our young African democracies firmly establish democratic principles. Furthermore, I propose that the 1st winner of this  award should be Mrs. Thandiwe Banda, Zambia's former 1st Lady.

We can never know the wise counsel that Thandiwe Banda offered to her husband, Rupiah, but let's presume that it was bloody good! In our young, African democracies, the 1st lady is often the Chief-of-Staff of the President, and his most trusted counselor. If she gives faulty counsel, then things in that African tend to fall apart. Think of Cote D'Ivoire under the Laurent Gbagbo/Simone Gbagbo tandem. That 1st lady from hell, Simone Gbagbo, was almost as responsible for the chaos that engulfed Cote D'Ivoire as her husband Laurent Gbagbo

Let's thank our ancestors for having Mrs Thandiwe Banda as Zambia's 1st lady at such an important time in Africa's democratic transition. I don't know what candid advice she gave Rupiah, but it worked! And once again, I'm proposing her for the first recipient of The Mo Ibrahim Prize for 1st Ladies. I salute Mrs Thandiwe Banda; she is a genuine heroine.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

How Great Zimbabwe Was Built

More on the subject of who built Zimbabwe and also, how the great stone monument was built. There is a lot of literature on this subject written by African authors. In my opinion Aeneas Chigwedere and the late David Beach (a white Zimbabwean), are the best authorities on this subject. You can also add Innocent Pikirayi, Stan Mudenge and Pathisa Nyathi. Below is an extract from Pathisa Nyathi's book, "Zimbabwe's Cultural Heritage", where he himself relates a conversation he had with Prof. Ken Mufuka on how Great Zimbabwe was built.
He says, "The Shona are renowned for their stone architecture. Stoned walled structures are found in several parts of Zimbabwe (Khami, Danamomombe, Dzimbahwe), as well as in Northern South Africa." He then goes on to retell a conversation he had with Prof Ken Mufuka on how the stone structures were actually built. "Great Zimbabwe was built of granite, which was found in abundance in the area (present-day Masvingo Province). Construction was done off-season, and no slave-labour was used. Tributary chiefs sent their subjects to undertake construction work. Granite blocks were obtained by applying fire to the stone and then pouring cold water onto the hot rock. The sudden cooling and contraction caused the rock to split. Rocks so obtained were then chiselled into rectangular blocks."

Saturday, September 17, 2011

Africa's Leaky Political Institutions

Chinua Achebe stated that the central problem facing modern-day Africa was one of bad governance. Ah!, but what was the medium, the social framework, that allowed these "bad Governors" to flourish in modern-day Africa. In my opinion, I'd say that what ails Africa the most is chronically faulty institutions. Our Central problem is less a problem of odious individuals in politics, but rather, one of leaky political institutions (that allow these same odious individuals to flourish unhindered, in their own high depths of depravity).

Political commentators will trot out the same institutions needed for social progress (enforceable property rights, the sanctity of contracts, press freedoms, apolitical militaries etc, etc). But, only two essential ingredients are needed to put Africa onto the path of greater progress: term limits and greater press freedoms. If all African Presidents and Prime Ministers were limited to only two terms (with each term lasting four or five years) then we could have the dynamism and change that's needed for any society to flourish. Furthermore, there must not be a proviso that allows our tin-pot dictators to amend the Constitution (with a Parliamentary majority), in order to run again for political office. It would be either one term or a second, and then you're out! We could avoid the situation (of Guinea's ex-President) Lansana Conte who stayed in office for a grand total of 24 years. Ten of those years in office were spent in bed-ridden isolation, as the rudderless country of Guinea lurched from one problem to another.

The second institutional reform that has to be allowed is greater press freedoms. We might never be able to root out corruption or tribalism, but at least with greater press freedoms, we will know where we stand and what needs to be done. If it weren't for Wikileaks we might not have learnt of President Mugabe's health problems or some of the inner schisms that beset the ruling Zanu-pf. We need a vigorous press that's allowed to flourish, and engage and debate with the nation on the various goings-on. It's essential to have greater press freedoms, as living in the dark runs counter to the smooth functioning of the democratic process

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Black-Libyans, Syrian-Christians & Afro-Cubans

There is an important aspect of authoritarian regimes that's often left unstated, and that is that they often do a good job of keeping racial/religious/linguistic tensions under wraps. In my own personal experience, I've found Libyans to be the most vulgar racists amongst all Arabs, and yet under Col. Gaddafi's regime, this primitive racism was kept under wraps. Now, with the probable demise of the Gaddafi regime, we're seeing Blacks (native Black-Libyans, as well as Sub-Saharan Africans) being massacred on the streets of Tripoli and Benghazi.

In the same vein, The Christians of Syria enjoy a level of peace and security that would be impossible in any other Arab/Islamic State (with the exception of Lebanon). They must be praying for the continued survival of the Assad regime, however sinister it may be. Regime-change in Syria would probably lead to the mass-migration of Syria's Christians and the demise of that country's ancient, Christian community.

Finally, I bring you to Cuba, which probaby has the best race-relations in all of Latin-America & where Afro-Cubans enjoy the kind of socio-economic progress that has been denied to Afro-Brazilians, for example. What would happen to race-relations in Cuba if Cuban Communism was to be replaced by full-blooded American Capitalism? Cuba's whites (and almost-whites) would probably pitch their tent with the other whites of North America, blatant racism would return with a bang, and all of Cuba's gains in public-health and education would be thrown out the window.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Arab Joke

OK, we have too many problems on this planet, and so it's time for some gallows humour (Jews are the best at this macabre genre). We've got hurricanes and Arab revolutions and Lord-knows-what's-next, so a joke is needed to lighten our load. This is a joke I was told by a Somali friend, way back in College. There are many versions of this joke & you might have heard it already, but it does deserve a re-telling. Here it is:
Anwar Sadat , Hafez Assad & Muammar Gadhafi are sitting in an underground bunker drinking coffee. Anwar Sadat states that he's just won 90% of the vote in the Egyptian elections. "90%!" blurts out Col. Gadhafi. "What an idiot you are!". He then goes on to add, "Look at our dear brother Hafez over here. He recently won 99.99% of the vote in the Syrian elections. Now here's a smart ruler!" Immediately, Hafez Assad springs to his feet, shaking, in a blind rage. "99.99% of the vote? This is untenable!", he exclaims (waving his finger in the air to punctuate his remarks). He then beckons the head of the Syrian Secret Police, and grunts, "Find me the lone bastard who didn't vote for me!"
P.S. Anwar Sadat was Egypt's President from 1970-1981 (replaced by Mohamed Hosni Mubarak).
Hafez Assad served as Syria's President from 1971-2000 (replaced, or relieved, by his son Bashar Assad).

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

R.I.P Rex Nhongo

Late last night I learnt with shock and horror of the untimely death of Gen Solomon Mujuru. He was the 1st commander of Zimbabwe's integrated Armed Forces after independence in 1980, and helped integrate the then separate Rhodesian, Zanla and Zapu elements into a unified force. I was a young lad in England in 1979, when I first saw  "Rex Nhongo" (as he was then named) on British TV. It was the Christmas holidays and all of us, family and friends, were crowded around the TV to watch the triumphant return of the first batch of Zanla and Zipra commanders to return home. I was expecting to see the tall and bearded Josiah Tongogara, but alas, he was never to make it. In his place strolled the smiling Rex Nhongo at the head of the Zanla contingent.

I would later have the pleasure of meeting him on several occasions in the late 80s and mid 90s. He was very humble, didn't talk much, and when he did talk, he talked with a pronounced lisp. He was not the stereotypical soldier that immediately comes to mind. He was also a good drinker and loved his scotch. He hailed from Chikomba (my home district) and after retiring from the army, served as our Member of Parliament from 1994  to 2000.

True, he had his faults, but in the main, he was good man. Sabre-rattling was never his thing; he always respected the civilian politicians in power, and he knew his limits. With only a limited education, he had graduated from the school of hard-knocks and the university of life, rather than from any academic institutions. He was a true Zimbabwean hero, and a gallant freedom-fighter. May his soul forever rest in peace. Gamba redu: mufambe zvakanaka.

Monday, July 25, 2011

DSK & The African Hotel-Maid

I just read the Newsweek expose on the DSK hotel-maid case. It got me thinking: this woman is a from a conservative, Muslim, African (Fulani) culture. To her relatives, clans-people and even countrymen, she's already guilty just by working as a hotel-maid, cleaning the rooms of strange-men (in a foreign-land). We might order take-out sushi and carry smart-phones, but we Africans are still essentially the products of very conservative cultures. And this kind of conservative thinking still holds sway.

I came of age in Harare's suburbs in the 80s. Zimbabwe's post-independence elite aped the (departed) Rhodesian colonialists down to the "T". So we had a gardener, who lived in the "Boy's Kaya" (servant's quarters), and yet none of the female members of the household would even dare enter, or even come close to, our gardener's room. It was not the done thing for women of the house to be inside (or near) a strange-man's room -- even if he was the gardener who worked for us and interacted with us daily. My point is that social mores in Zimbabwe & other African countries are still extremely conservative. In Zimbabwe -- even in this day and age -- any woman who works as a waitress, (or in any other service industry where she must serve strange-men) is seen as being off loose morals.

So, put yourself in the shoes of the hotel-maid in the DSK case. Her life will never be the same; her relatives probably already see her as a "whore"; and her children will face the stigma of being the "sons-of-a-whore". In the traditionally conservative milieu from which she hails, she will forever be looked upon with a jaundiced eye. I really feel for her. It's so sad.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Ignorance Is Bliss

Quick question: name Ghana's military head? Now, quickly: who's in charge of Zimbabwe's military? Most people -- even those who are only vaguely familiar with Zimbabwe's politics -- have heard of our military head, but no-one knows who is in charge of Ghana's military, and no-one cares either. That's how it's supposed to be. Most Pan-Africanists are very familiar with the names Kotoka, Ankrah and Afrifa, since these fellows were on the scene when the Ghanaian military had their military boots on the collective necks of the Ghanaian people. But, that's all in the past now; the military has withdrawn to the barracks. Don't even bother googling the name of Ghana's military head -- that's an exercise in futility.

When will we Zimbabweans be afforded the luxury of our Ghanaian brothers, of being blissfully unaware and not even caring who our top military leaders are? When? Right now, the Zimbabwean military literally have us by the b***s. This is a very painful and unbearable situation. The sooner it ends the better. Only highly-skilled, highly-educated technocrats can take Zimbabwe (and Africa) forward. The military belongs in the barracks.

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Disney-Land, South Sudan

Earlier on the week, my mind was running through possible scenarios for Africa's newest nation of South Sudan. One of the possible outcomes I imagined was for South Sudan -- within a short space of time -- to become a hellish, Banana Republic, bang in the middle of tropical Africa. This Banana Republic would also come complete with a shortage of bananas.

South Sudan would thus become a "reverse Disney-Land", a hellish "paradise" for NGOs, chancers, crooks, con-artists, and all sorts of fly-by-night "Africa Experts". For these unsavoury characters, South Sudan will be the ultimate "catch", a dream-date so to speak. Once ensconced in their Juba luxury with SUVs, servants, and gated villas, this flotsam-jetsam of mediocrity --the scum of the Earth -- will fight tooth and nail to make sure that South Sudan remains a basket-case, thus ensuring their continued, luxury existence. This is a nightmare scenario with a high probably of turning out to be true. Let's wait-and-see.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Deal With Tribal Issues.

Western journos covering Africa often fail to see the underlying ethnic squabbles that are at the root of so many of our problems. Some African intellectuals also deliberately omit ethnic issues from their analyses, for reasons of not wanting to be seen as "backward" or even "barbaric". Well, we're African, & we're the ones who must sort out our own affairs, and so waving away acute, pertinent issues of ethnicity, tribe, clan, totem and language just won't do. These issues must be tackled head on. If they're not acknowledged and tackled head-on, they have a tendency -- like vipers -- to turn around and bite us in the rear end. Kenya's post-election violence of '08 is a prime example of festering, tribal problems that were left unattended to and then erupted into anarchy at a crucial moment in Africa's democratic journey. We Africans must not be blind to our own realities. We must strive to sort out our own mess.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Prof. George Ayittey -- How To Topple A Brutal Dictator

Like many learned Africans, I've been patiently waiting for Prof. George Ayittey's new book to come out. He first mentioned it to me (in correspondence)  about three years ago and I'm still waiting. Fortunately, he did email me a chapter-by-chapter synopsis of his new-book, and I have posted the synopsis below. The Title of Prof. Ayittey's upcoming book is, "How To Topple A Dictator". Read below, in his own words.

Prof. George Ayittey: dictatorship is a system of governance and will emerge in any political system that concentrates power in the hands of one individual without any checks and balances. I argued in Chapter 2 that a dictatorship is incompatible with the tribal or traditional systems in most developing countries, whereby decision-making is by consensus. These systems also have checks and balances. Dictatorships proliferated after these countries -- mostly ex-colonies – gained their independence. They inherited a unitary system of government, which centralizes decision-making and power. They also acquired the “means” or instruments of coercion (standing armies) and the “reach” (improvements in communications and transportation), which enabled dictators to flourish (Chapter 3).

Chapter 4 discussed the modus operandi of dictatorships. They seize control of key state institutions (the media, security forces, civil service, judiciary, electoral commission, etc.), pack them with their allies, supporters and subvert them to serve their dictates. In other words, a dictatorship insidiously develops tentacles that reach into all segments of the society. Eventually, it collapses under the weight of its own internal contradictions and intrigues (Chapter 5).

However, its demise is accelerated when growing social inequality and discontent spark civil unrest and street protests (Chapter 6). But street protests alone are not enough to topple a dictator. The aid of an auxiliary agent or institution is needed (Chapters 6 and 7) to finish the job. Even then, getting rid of the dictator does not necessarily get rid of the dictatorship. The institutional framework that bolstered the dictator must also be dissembled or gutted (Chapter 8). Otherwise, the next rat will use the same institutional set-up to transform himself into another dictator. Recall the Tunisian lament: “We got rid of the dictator but not the dictatorship.”

Therefore, the question then is not just toppling the dictators but uprooting or dissembling the dictatorship. Chapter 8 is the most important of all the chapters because uprooting a dictatorship requires, not just political reform but also intellectual, constitutional, institutional and economic reform. The judiciary, intelligence services, the media, the electoral commission would all have to be cleansed and the tentacles of the dictatorship severed. But, as I stressed in Chapter 8, all these reform initiatives must be taken in sequence. Reform that is out of sequence creates problems. Premature economic reform or liberalization creates crony or vampire capitalism. In other words, it is not enough to cut down the tree; the roots must also be pulled out in sequence or order. Else, the tree will grow again.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Alex Chola -- Greatest winger of all-time.

A few days ago marked the 18th anniversary of the tragic plane-crash that took down the whole Zambian National Football Team. Also to lose his life on that tragic journey was the assistant coach, Alex Chola. Now for those who don't know any better, or are just too young to know, let me tell you who Alex Chola was, and just how good he was as a football player.

As a young boy living in Zimbabwe in the early 80s I never missed any of the big football matches that would be served up at Rufaro Stadium. Matches against our Zambian neighbours (and rivals) were always well-attended, and the stadium would be packed to the rafters. Even club games against the top Zambian teams like Green Buffaloes, Nchanga Warriors, Power Dynamos & Mufulira Wanderers, would fill stadiums to capacity.

Now there was one game I attended in the early 80s that featured one of the greatest Zambian teams ever put together. KK's 1st eleven(as the team was then known) boasted players like Michael Kaumba, Peter Kaumba & Pele Kaimana playing up front, with the defence marshalled by Jones Chilengi and Fighton Simukonda. But the best player of all had to be the winger, Alex "Computer" Chola. His wing-play was just out of this world: feints, flicks, darts-up-the-middle, hazy dribbles, deft-touches. His play was mesmerizing! I remember the Zimbabwean crowd being stunned into silence whenever Alex Chola got the ball. It's as if there was a collective, "what is he gonna do now", running through everyone's mind. Had he played in the modern era, I'm sure he would have been playing for the Real Madrids and Barcelonas of this world. That's how good he was.

So, I salute Alex Chola, and all the other Zambian footballers who were lost on that tragic late-night of April 27th, 1993. They gave me such great pleasure as a young boy, and may they rest in eternal peace.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Wahala dey o!!!

I had to re-post this cracking piece of Nigerian humor. I'm not sure who wrote it, but the joke is too funny! Read below...........................

Bill Gates organized an enormous session to recruit a new chairman for Microsoft Eastern Europe. Five thousand candidates assembled in a large room. Ayodele, a Nigerian guy, was one of the candidates.

Bill Gates thanked all the candidates for coming and asked those who do not know Java program to leave. Two thousands candidates left the room. Ayodele says to himself, “I do not know Java but I have nothing to lose if I stay. I’ll give it a try.

Bill Gates asked the candidates who never had experience of managing more than 100 people to leave. Two thousand left the room. Ayo says to himself “I never managed anybody but myself but I have nothing to lose if I stay. What can happen to me? So he stays, then Bill Gates asked the candidates who do not have management diploma to leave. Five hundred people left the room. Ayodele says to himself, “I left school at 15 but what have I to lose? So he stays in the room.

Lastly, Bill asked the candidates who do not speak Serb-Croatian to leave. 498 candidates left the room. Ayodele says to himself, “I do not speak Serb-Croatian but what do I have to lose? So he stays and finds himself with one other candidate. Everyone else has gone. Bill Gates joined them and said, “Apparently you are the only two candidates who speak Serb-Croatian, so I’d like to hear you have a conversation together in that language.

Calmly, Ayodele turns to the other candidate and says “Wahala dey o!”.

The other candidate answers “Oh, Oga na wah oooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!”

Bill Gates “ You are both hired”.


The moral of the story: Never give up!

Monday, April 25, 2011

African Leaders: Square Pegs in Round Holes

"Show me the child and I'll show you the man", goes one saying. Well, anyone who follows African Affairs needs to pay close attention to the family backgrounds, histories and family relations of our leaders. We seem to have been ruled by people who, in all honestly, were unfit to hold high office. Someone like (former Ethiopian dictator) Mengistu Haile Mariam: what kind of animal was he? What kind of human being orders the wholescale murder of hundreds of thousands of his fellow countrymen? Could his obscure, lowly background explain his subsequent behaviour? A petty Colonel, of obscure origins, but who somehow managed to rise to the top using street smarts, brutality and guile.

Could we Africans have expected any better from Mobutu Sese Seko? His father a cook and small-time criminal, and his mother (reputedly) a whore? Is it even possible to expect a person of such background to have had a developmental agenda for Zaire. What did he care if Zaire's roads were paved or not! The list of "square pegs in round holes" is endless: Sani Abacha, Idi Amin, J-B Bokkassa; people who really were unfit to hold office, and managed to plunge their countries into disaster.

We Africans really need to pay more more attention to the kind of leaders who are ruling over us: their wives; their family backgrounds; educational achievements; all these things are of critical importance. It's impossible to have any of the major democracies ruled over by a semi-literate, uncouth barbarian (of obscure origins) like Sani Abacha. If America was to be governed by a bunch of High-School dropouts from broken families, it would simply become a Third World country in no time at all. We need more due diligence on the African Continent.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Zimbabwe: What Might Have Been

Sometimes I wonder what would have been had "good eggs" like Garfield Todd and Edgar Whitehead managed to stay the course. They were enlightened fellows, well ahead of their time and they represented all that was best of the Colonial British. With Harold MacMillan's "Winds of Change" blowing, the then colony of Southern Rhodesia might have acquiesced to black, majority rule like all the other European colonies (barring South Africa and the Portuguese colonies). We could have had the upper orders of the colonial British co-managing the country with the best orders of the indigenous Africans. I'm thinking here of people like Joshua Nkomo or even urban professionals like Dr. Silas Mundawarara. We would have had no Liberation War, and therefore no war Veterans to deal with. Instead -- like in Zambia or Malawi -- independence would have been negotiated, with no shedding of blood.

With decent, enlightened, economic policies our country could have been an "African New Zealand" on the Southern African highveld, with living standards to match. Sadly, that was never meant to be. Instead, the lower orders of the Colonial British upended the political tray and had their man, Ian Smith, to represent them. These mechanics, hairdressers and all the rest of the sundry hordes who had been flushed out of the gutter of Great Britain, and banished to the tropics, were never going to acquiesce to black majority rule. "Not in a thousand years" was there supposed to be majority, black rule, so said Smithy.

Well, any extreme action always produces an extreme reaction. Since enlightened racial co-existence, and mutual, economic development was now impossible, we had to wage a guerrilla war to expel these barbarians from our midst. And we're now paying for that short-sightedness and lack of foresight by those "Petit-Blancs" who had managed to worm their way into power. Instead of a multi-racial, thriving country under the management of an enlightened, technocratic, elite, we're now being held to ransom by the last remnants of a guerrilla army. Lord help us.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Me and Blaise Compaore (payback is a bi**h!)

I was in high school in '86 when Thomas Sankara arrived for the Non-Aligned Summit that was held in Zimbabwe. He literally shook the place up. He even upstaged the usual centre-of-attention, Muammar Gaddafi. For the duration of the summit his name was on everyone's lips as folks asked, "who is this Sankara fellow?" That's how I became a Pan-Africanist, living in a country where few knew (or had heard of) "Upper Volta", or were even familiar with what is known as Francophone Africa.

Now, 25 years later, it appears that me and Blaise Compaore have a rendezvous with history. I've been waiting for this moment, literally, for a quarter of a century. When the demise of Blaise is announced, I'll savour the moment like no other. The evil conspiracy of French President (Francois Mitterrand) and his official boot-licker (Blaise Compaore), literally shattered one of the greatest experiments in positive upliftment ever attempted on African soil. I hope the gallant people of Burkina Faso bury Blaise Compaore in a shallow grave; the same dog's grave that Thomas Sankara was (initially) buried in. What goes around always comes around.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Africa: Open-Heart Surgery

I hate to say this, and I say it with a heavy heart, but some African countries now need to be put either under direct U.N supervision, or to be administered by neighbouring African countries that have better governance structures. I'm thinking here about Guinea-Bissau, Somalia and Swaziland. These three countries need to be saved from themselves. I'm a rabid Pan-Africanist and I'm not a cheerleader for colonialism, but how do we guarantee decent lives for the next generation of Somalis and Guineans?

In Southern Africa, Swaziland must now be put under the direct supervision of South African bureaucrats. To leave that country in the hands of the ruling Dhlamini clan, engaging in incest, debauchery and bacchanalia, while the country is degraded to a failed state is just plain wrong. Life expectancy in Swaziland is now 32 years old. There are only a million Swazis, and so having them administered from Pretoria would not be a bureaucratic hurdle. This is doable.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Here's An African Solution For The Usual African Problems

This weekend elections were being held in Nigeria while at the same time, the presumed loser in Cote D'Ivoire's recent elections,Laurent Gbagbo, was holed up in his bunker and unwilling to cede power to his adversary, Alassane Ouattara. We all know one thing: Nigerian elections tend to be marred by fraud and incompetence on a grand scale, and yet the loser never fights on to the bitter end, taking up military action as he defends his turf. Why this total contrast between Nigeria and other African countries like Kenya, Zimbabwe & now Cote D'Ivoire.

Well, in a nutshell: the regional rotation of Presidential-power can explain the total contrasts between post-election scenarios in Nigeria and Cote D'Ivoire. The Nigerian political elite made a tidy agreement amongst themselves: in one electoral-cycle, Presidential powers will reside in one region, and then in the next electoral-cycle, Presidential power will be rotated to another region. Brilliant! Another important note: implicit in this "tidy political arrangement" is the notion of term-limits. Since different regions are all waiting for "their turn" to rule, you cannot have a situation where one politician rules for over twenty-five years or more, as is the case in Cameroon, Zimbabwe or Uganda.,

This Nigerian solution to a potentially murky Nigerian problem should be adopted by all other African States with sharp ethnic or regional divisions. Furthermore the Nigerian practice of teaming running mates from different regions must also be encouraged. In the tragic case of Cote D'Ivoire, having Guillaume Soro and Alassane Ouattara (two Muslim Northerners) as President and Prime Minister designates, was an error of Biblical proportions. Alassane Ouattara should have sought out a heavyweight politician from the South as his Prime Minister-designate.

In Nigeria's previous election, the Northern, Fulani aristocrat, Musa Yar'Adua teamed up with the zoologist from the Delta region, Goodluck Jonathan; as unlikely a combination if ever there was one, and yet they prevailed in the elections. And when President Yar'Adua passed away, the ascension of Goodluck Jonathan allowed the South-South region of Nigeria to have it's first go at the Presidency. Brilliant!

So, there it is my fellow Africans: An African solution staring at us in the face. It was not bequeathed to us by the old, British colonialists but instead was cooked up by bloody-minded members of the Nigerian political elite. It's adoption will prevent much of the African carnage that we see on our television screens.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Strength in Unity

On April 3rd, 2011, the new Somali State of Azania was formed,and so that now makes three States (Somalia, Somaliland & Azania) cut out from the old State of Somalia. Any Pan-Africanist just has to wonder out aloud:"When will this all end". I'm sure that this "State" of Azania will henceforth provide all the accoutrements of statehood, like a national flag, national anthem, maybe even, a few gold medals at the Olympic Games. But - like most African States - it will fail to provide the most basic necessities needed in today's modern world: the rule of law; a functioning bureaucracy; potable water, food & shelter.

Some Africans are under the impression that the colonial borders should be dismantled and new States formed (along ethnic or religious lines). True that may be, but Africa is the most diverse Continent on Earth. It would be un-workable trying to detangle our colonial-era States and then trying to form multitudes of (non-viable) mini-States. Southern Sudan was an extreme exception. Let's leave the borders as they are and work on giving the peoples within these borders a decent life, rather than trying to re-arrange the Continental map.

Breaking up Africa into a hundred or so Mini-States just would not work. We would end up like the Native Americans of Canada who exist as "Bands", or as roving "Tribes", and yet lack any strength of unity, numbers, and purpose to chart their own course. These Indians are virtually wards of the Canadian State. That's where we Africans would end up -- as wards of more powerful States and entities like the U.N.

Saturday, April 2, 2011


In all civilizations, the successes of that civilization are often buried deep in the ethical/moral/cultural structures of that civilization. And yet at the same time the failures of that civilization are often buried in the very same ethical/moral/cultural structures that give rise to that civilization's successes. Most societies of black Africans are organised along age-lines (or age-sets) with (male) members of a certain age-group seeing each other males as contemporaries. Now, herein lies the problem that befits most African societies: in adulthood, members of a certain age-set (or age-group) are loathe to take counsel, or heed the advice, of their much younger brethren who belong to different age-sets. It's for this reason why you hear that a certain African President in his 80s is refusing to take counsel from a fellow President (whom he considers his "Junior" and might actually be an old man in his 60s).

It's a problem that befuddles politics in my native Zimbabwe. President Mugabe, as we all know, is an old man of 87, and resolutely refuses to take counsel from anyone not of his age-group (that means just about everyone). Minister, Didymus Mutasa is a sprightly old 76. He does acquiesce to the orders of his 87 year old President, but anyone younger than him in age, he rebuts their counsel. So, in other words, you have to be older than 76 to talk sense to our venerable Minister, Didymus Mutasa. In the opposition we have the Liberation War Hero, Dumiso Dabengwa, who's 71. Now, Dabengwa is always at pains (when challenged) to tell us that he's senior to much of the military folk who are always in the Zimbabwean papers. He too, won't take counsel from anyone who is younger than he is, or who was Junior to him during the Liberation Struggle (1966-1979).

So, there it is in a nutshell. We're ruled by a doddering, aged, gerontocracy that (for cultural reasons) is totally incapable of taking counsel or heeding the advice of anyone who is not within their age-group or age-set. That cultural dichotomy has led to a lot of fatal decisions and blunders being made in Zimbabwe, and is partially the result of why we find ourselves in such a sorry state.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Acoustic Africa

Just got back from a thrilling concert featuring Zimbabwean maestro Oliver Mtukudzi and his Malian counterparts, Afel Bocoum and Habib Koite. That a Zimbabwean and two Malians could gel to produce such thrilling music only goes to show how deep the bonds are between the different African ethnicities. Mtukudzi would sing the chorus in the languages of Mali, while Afel Bocoum and Habib Koite would chime in Shona when it was Mtukudzi's turn to belt out a song.

We've always been told that our salvation lies with the nations of the West, but that is so untrue; our salvation lies within ourselves, as Africans. We've got all it takes within ourselves to prosper both commercially and culturally. The largest market for Kenyan goods is the East African region, and not England. Naija movies are now dominant throughout much of Africa. All Africans were gutted when (the Ghanaian) Asamoah Gyan missed that penalty at the 2010 World Cup. My point is that, what divides us is also what unites us. We have no other choice but to be Africans, to be ourselves. That is all.

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Cricket World Cup 2011

Need to leave Gaddafi, Museveni, & RGM alone for a while and watch my beloved Zimbabwe take on the Kiwis in cricket. This is civilisation at its best! It's unfortunate that neither the Ancient Romans nor the Ashantis of Osei Tutu knew what a "square leg" was. I'm in my element. Screw Museveni and his oversize hat! There are more important things to attend to.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Zimbabwe: how we got to where we are.

The following post was a response I gave to a fellow blogger,, who had asked the Question, "How did we get here". Read on......................................................

It's the "how" we were trying to get where we wanted to get, that put us in the position where we are today. I agree with what you say (somewhat), but I would be an ungrateful bastard if I used this opportunity to lambast the policies of RGM. Kwame Nkrumah (in Ghana) wanted Ghana to progress 100 yrs in 10 yrs! And look what happened to him! His keen disciple, RGM followed suit in 1980, and now look where we are! However, his model of rapid, state-sponsored development ran aground in 1989, and he had to call in the IMF. That was the beginning of the end for the Zimbabwe that we had known from 1980-89.

State-sponsored development goes against the grain of how the major powers want the developing countries to develop. Any country that defies the major countries is forced to pay a price (see Haiti or Congo-DRC). Yes, there was massive corruption and a lack of essential skills, but that's not the real cause of our demise. We were never allowed to chart our own course of development, and the "medicine" imposed on us by the IMF (E.S.A.P) put in motion the de-industrialization and 80% underemployment that we see today.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Ivory Coast Pt 2

About two weeks ago I posited a possible solution to the mess in Cote D'Ivoire. And yes, I know it was probably laughed out of town. Well, Laurent Gbagbo is STILL the De-Facto head of the Ivorian Govt; Western Govts talk of squeezing Gbagbo out of power, and yet, he's the one who's SQUEEZING Ouatarra to death at his hotel hideout.

Cote D'Ivoire is an African country, with African values, populated by African peoples. It then follows that Any solution to the Ivorian crisis has to be AN AFRICAN SOLUTION TO AN AFRICAN PROBLEM. Why are the neighbouring African Govts parroting Western/European solutions, like sanctions? THIS IS SILLY!

If we were to sit four elders from the different regions of Cote D'Ivoire together, they would all push for a solution that incorporates all the different traditions of Cote D'Ivoire into the political process. Which brings me back to my original solution: a tacit agreement amongst Ivorian politician to rotate power between the wider North (Malinke & Voltaic) and the wider South (Akan & Bete); a re-run of the elections, but with ELECTORS/KINGMAKERS being voted into a National Assembly, who then decide to choose one of their own as the President (WHO'LL BEST SERVE THE NATIONAL INTEREST); and a multi-ethnic cabinet that's ethnically balanced in order to bring all the different traditions of the country into the political process.

That, my fellow Africans, is an African solution to an African problem.

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Raila Odinga #Fail

I still cannot fathom how the A.U sent Raila Odinga as a mediator to Cote D'Ivoire. First of all: does Mzee Odinga even speak French? Secondly, the man himself (Odinga) is on a weak wicket: He's the junior partner, in a shaky coalition, with a determined tribalist (Mwai Kibaki). This is not the stuff that successful mediators are made off!

They should have sent a political heavyweight from the West African region (maybe Obasanjo) or a "Francophone" President with clout (like Blaise Compaore). Raila Odinga was out of his league here, and Laurent Gbagbo rightfully brushed him off -- like a bothersome fly. Let's see if the A.U can come up with a credible "Plan B".

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Dastardly French

According to reports, a Virgin Atlantic flight from Nairobi, Kenya en route to Heathrow, was diverted to Lyon, France and the passengers (who included Prof. Ngugi wa Thiongo'o) were subjected to a very humiliating experience. This happened on the 18th of December, 2010. I've been hopping mad with anger (all daylong) over this callous injustice meted out to my noble African people, and here's what I have to say about this sordid affair.

Without Africa, France is just a middling, European nation of no great significance. We Africans have been gritting our teeth and taking these slights and put-downs for generations. There will come a time when we will walk away from our entanglements with haughty nations like France and seek our salvation within ourselves. The day that happens, France will revert to a being a slightly bigger version of Portugal -- a once-great nation that no longer is worth any mention. Mark my words: that day will come. And WE AFRICANS will have the last laugh!