Whoisit Now?

Whoisit Now?

WhoisWho is Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma? Well, she’s a presidential candidate in South Africa. But after she appeared at one of her scheduled political rallies recently, and not a person showed up but her own team, South Africa’s most provocative political publication asked Who is Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma?

There’s a very important election in America, today. But I’m wondering – like Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma – if elections as we currently endure can really tell us anything about what the electorate wants? Do elections matter, anymore?

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Two Doth Tango

Two Doth Tango

donttellThere are multiple ways to distort news. One of the most effective is to get rid of the person who gathers it. It’s a harsher step than simply bellowing out untruths like Fox News but the latter often foreshadows the former.

Two weeks ago journalist Azory Gwanda was kidnapped and hasn’t been seen since. He was a reporter for a Swahili-language Tanzanian media company that was often critical of the current president, John Magufuli.

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Mānuka Mess

Mānuka Mess

manuka honeyOn Saturday, September 30, Kathleen and I drove our black Jeep Grand Cherokee from Taos west on highway 64 through Dulce, New Mexico, past a facility that aliens had built under the ground to conquer the world. With a prolonged drought depressing South African honey production, the government has removed restrictions on the importation of mānuka honey, which purports to better many antibiotics and is natural.

The first item of fake news is amusing and mostly benign. The second item of fake news can kill South Africans. Like zero tolerance for sexual harassment the cultural revolution needs to debunk one just as ferociously as it debunks the other.

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Trusting Tribe

Trusting Tribe

winterscomingWinter’s coming: Fatigue in the blood-shot eyes of the activist. The man who couldn’t stop jumping for joy when Mugabe resigned. Grandma endlessly flapping her flag after the court annulled Kenya’s election.

Mothers pushing baby strollers at the Womens’ March. Old people in wheelchairs storming a Congress trying to rescind Obamacare. Tribalism strangles Africa. Now it’s gripped its evil tentacles around America. Please take heed.

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Chief Moore

Chief Moore

roymooreIn 2013 after a lifelong success of writing novels about his native East Africa, H.R. Ole Kulet was awarded the Jomo Kenyatta Prize for literature. His short novels are now an essential part of the history of East Africa.

Ole Kulet described life that was changing so fast that today young Kenyans can’t fanthom his characters or his plots, including such things as rich old chiefs sexually assaulting young teen girls.

Get where I’m going?

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Ever Outlasting

Ever Outlasting

travel ban against stupid looking peopleTime to check your clocks. No, I’m not reminding you about the end of daylight savings time. I want to be sure that your ticks still clock, sinets mounting into meconds and inuits into mours, because it isn’t just government that’s falling apart, science is, too.

Our world of disinformation and strangled reasoning has sucked in science. Walrus-looking agricultural science advisors with no science credentials, EPA forbidding use of the world ‘climate’ and what has really driven me crazy, paleontologists speaking like political idiots.

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Moral Dichotomies

Moral Dichotomies

moral dichotomiesIn this incredibly dangerous and mendacious time when little seems to get better but the bank accounts of the rich why is society reacting so quickly to improve its mores regarding sexual relations?

While democracy, poverty, disease and war get worse? Is it because doing, confessing and chastising sexual harassment is easier than stopping a man from killing eight people with a truck in God’s name? Is it because the hypocrisy of the rich and religious has just gotten so grotesque that it’s finally bubbling over?

I surveyed a number of African countries to find out. Here’s what I learned:

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Way Too Much Talking

Way Too Much Talking

way too much talkingWith the testimony this week by social media giants in the prism of fake news, I followed with special interest the discovery announced recently that old human teeth were “rewriting” human history.

A year ago German scientists made a remarkable find of 9.7 million-year old human-like teeth. For some reason, they took a year to officially report it. In a clearly rhetorical postulation the scientists suggested the teeth were hominin, and this would require a radical rethinking of current human evolution.

The mayor in the town where the discovery happened was pretty definitive: “I don’t want to over-dramatise it, but I would hypothesise that we shall have to start rewriting the history of mankind after today.”

His statement was immediately published by such normally careful media as USAToday and London’s Independent.

Well, no.

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Democracy Alive & Well

Democracy Alive & Well

2017electionrerunDemocracy is alive and well in Kenya! Violence has already begun. Tear gas wafts through the city centers of Nairobi, Kisumu and Mombasa, the three largest cities. The main opposition party has told supporters to clear off the streets because continued police brutality has so far killed 33 protestors.

All this portends serious death and destruction starting about a week from tomorrow and continuing as it did almost exactly a decade ago for several months before slowly and painfully settling into another chapter of nervous peace, the country then more scarred than ever. Why can’t this remarkably educated, progressively developed country get it right? Tribalism.

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OnSafari: Tiny Places

OnSafari: Tiny Places

7.classic.mvAutonomy is the buzzword, now. The Navajo Nation, Catalonia, Maasai Ngorongoro, Yukon First Nations or Zanzibar, and they are all wrong. This is becoming clearer and clearer to me as I tour America’s southwest and listen to the same story lines and their dismal outcomes that I have heard in Tanzania for years.

Kathleen and I spent a half-day with T.J. in his pretty beat up jeep in Canyon de Chelly, a part of the greater Navajo nation. He showed us some amazing scenery and intrigued us with closeups of Anasazi, Hopi and other Pueblo indian pictograph and petroglyph. But I was belabored with his stilted view of history and saddened not just by his own personal story, but the story of his people.

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OnSafari: Northern New Mexico

OnSafari: Northern New Mexico

first snow taosWe woke to a brilliant white sunrise over an absolutely still landscape of New Mexico’s first snow. By 10 a.m. it was gone from all but the highest mountain tops.

Two days in Santa Fe is not enough. The museums are brilliant, the ubiquitous art enthralling if a mite homogenous, and the history grand and often hilarious. From Judge Tobin who spent most of his time in a bar to Kit Carson who spent most of his time in dime novels, the wild west slowed down a bit here. The native Tiwa-speaking Pueblo Indians tradition of keeping secret their past seems to have prevailed: An extremely nice Santa Fean gentleman who struck up a warm conversation with me on the plane from Dallas told me to “enjoy yourself as you never have, just don’t stay.”

Nearby Taos is a different world. My personal impression is that this is the last of hippie-dom. More crafts than arts. Sotheby’s, on the other hand, has an awful lot of multi-multi-million dollar private desert retreats for sale up the countless little desert roads around here. There’s a lot less talk and a lot more sitar than in Santa Fe. Everybody goes by their first name, but nobody seems to know exactly where they’re going.

Tonight we go to Catholic vespers at the start of Geronimo celebrations at Taos Pueblo. The Spaniards catholicized the Pueblo Indians and made St. Jerome their patron saint. The annual saint-day tomorrow is the most important day of the year for the Taos Pueblo, and for god’s sakes don’t use TripAdvisor’s conservative admonitions about not bringing children! This is a perfect demonstration of what happens when you try to synthesize modern religion with ancient beliefs. Thank goodness Geronimo won over St. Jerome!

Tomorrow we head west of the Raton Pass that the old wagons had so much trouble navigating, over the high forests across today’s modern ski country into the heart of the Navajo Reservation.

Stay tuned!

OnSafari: Connections

OnSafari: Connections

nativeartsCertain Africa tribes are marginalized by their modern African societies, and this often in spite of noble efforts to reduce allegiances individuals feel towards their tribes. The Maasai are one good example.

This push-pull within a growing, modernizing society is not dissimilar to the history of native Americans. The oppressor is noticeably different: with native Americans it was the colonial conquerors; with the Maasai it’s other African tribes holding power. But many of the dynamics are the same, and I believe both native Americans and many African societies can learn much from one another.

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