Battle to end Battles

Battle to end Battles

africaaschina“The West’s loss of moral authority… has created a vacuum,” says Nairobi’s Daily Nation today. “The rise of far-right movements… and the election of President Donald Trump… has buoyed the anti-democratic forces in Africa.”

Digital and financial connections were developed in the west. Free speech and aggressive, daringly imaginative entrepreneurship was born here. Emerging nations were attracted by these bold opportunities. Africans especially loved everything western. Now that’s changing.

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Uber vs Uber

Uber vs Uber

ubervsuberThe best taxi service is still Uber… in Nairobi, Joburg, Cape Town, Lagos, Kampala, Cairo, Dar… but … not in London or Amsterdam. Uber lost its license in London and its customers in Amsterdam.

The Uber controversy is fascinating, and a perfect example of what’s to come in a better world. (You’ll be surprised what I mean.)

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Paradise Hidden

Paradise Hidden

paradise hiddenThe lofty positions held by a number of Africans in both government and business is jeopardized by the Paradise Papers expose, and for exactly the same reason that Commerce Secretary, Wilbur Ross, is on the way out.

Nothing illegal is alleged in the Paradise Papers’ leaked business deals, mostly with Cayman Island banks. Nothing illegal is alleged in the Times’ expose of Apple’s tax havens in Britain and Ireland.

But legality isn’t the issue. Morality is. Wealth of this magnitude should not be held by so few.

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Donalds Everywhere

Donalds Everywhere

pithouse&kenelectionDemocracy isn’t working, anywhere. South African Richard Pithouse predicted all of this in his summary of Trump’s election: “The Donalds are Everywhere.” Since that analysis nearly a year ago, Kenya, Spain, Italy, South Africa, the U.S., France, Britain and probably to some degree every democratic nation on earth has grown increasingly tumultuous.

Be prepared, folks. If you think the hurricane season is just about wind and rain, you’ve got another thing coming.

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Now or Never?

Now or Never?

tanzanitenoworneverTourists are going to be floored this season by how expensive Tanzanite has become.

The Tanzanian president’s sweeping dictatorial attempts to reduce corruption are currently focused on the country’s precious minerals. The fight is far from over, but so far he’s struck out with the biggest player, Acacia [Gold] Mining, so he’s set his sites on Tanzania’s small Tanzanite industry.

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Michigan Plasticity

Michigan Plasticity

kenya plastic bagYesterday Kenya joined 40 other countries doing something the whole world — except Michigan — will likely soon be doing: ban plastic bags.

Significantly, Kenya’s law is the most wide-ranging and punitive of them all. Violators can be fined up to $38,000 and jailed for four years. Visitors to emerging nations are not surprised at the move, but they are often surprised when they understand the reasons.

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Renewable Discards

Renewable Discards

kenyastraussrenewableSo simple it’s embarrassing: why didn’t Horton’s America think of this: make a solar panel and a roof one and the same. A wholly Kenyan company now does.

Uninhibited by aging conglomerates Africa is streaking past the western world: iPhone clones at $100 each, bricks manufactured at a thousandth of the cost in Tennessee, and now self-contained energy homes. And it’s not just because labor is less expensive. It’s because imaginations aren’t tethered to the Big and Mighty.

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Rich & Richer

Rich & Richer

rich safarisAfrican governments thumb their noses at tourists and tourists flounder in the irony of their wealth. What a story!

Safari fees are increasing fast and furiously, and the blame has begun to fly. Following Rwanda’s decision to double a mountain gorilla fee from $750 to $1500 per hour, Tanzania nearly doubled tourist fees Friday night.

Social media is aghast. Tourist platforms like TripAdvisor are fanning the flames as distorted facts are amplified. Let’s try to sort it all out:

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Golden Gorilla

Golden Gorilla

14Jul.Gorilla.Jim.462a.PdVOnly the rich can see wild animals. That’s the message – indeed, the policy – of Rwanda’s decision over the weekend to raise the permit fee for an hour with mountain gorillas to a staggering $1500 per person.

It’s really more profound. Not just seeing, but helping, conserving, understanding … all the components of saving our earth now become the purvey of the rich and the rich alone. Other implications are equally staggering.

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May Day Dead

May Day Dead

maydayMuch of the world takes a holiday, today. All of Africa’s largest and most powerful countries are on holiday. May Day carries a morbid tradition of celebrating the horrible mental and physical tolls on workers in the second millennium.

So who isn’t a worker? Is Trump a worker? Is Nigerian Aliko Dangote a worker? Is the poor Joe who was once a miner in Appalachia still a worker? Everyone and no one is a worker, today. This is a false moniker for the modern age and it leads us into a sort of dangerous nostalgia.

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Now a Grim Tale

Now a Grim Tale

viewfrom.saruni.518.jun10‘Laikipia’ runs off the tongue into conversation exactly like the beautiful waterfalls that burst out of the high jungles over the dramatic cactus landscapes of deep canyons and endless vistas in north central Kenya.

Laikipia was a beautiful story in the 1970s, still compelling two decades later in “I Dream of Africa,” but it’s a grim and dark tale, now.

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Corruption Starts at Home

Corruption Starts at Home

wherecoruptionstarts“Etete can smell the money. If at nearly 70 years old he turn(s) his nose up at nearly $1.2 bill he is completely certifiable. But I think he knows it’s his for the taking.”

This is an email from a consultant to a top-notch, highly educated, church-going multinational Shell oil executive referring to the bribe offered a Nigerian oil minister so that Shell could get control of one of the largest oil fields on earth. It was published by BuzzFeed working with by Global Witness.

We call this market capitalism. When done with sufficient finesse it’s not even illegal in the U.S. This is how the world goes round. Details at the Secretary of State’s office.

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Give Directly?

Give Directly?

G3FVYeVSeveral secret, unnamed villages in Kenya have become the “beta test” for the theory that a guaranteed income will eradicate poverty world-wide.

The Silicon Valley motivated charity, GiveDirectly disperses its donations to Kenyan villages in cash as a guaranteed monthly income. No tractors, no computers, no medicine, no scholarships or other training – just cash. The organization has operated since 2008 and believes it now has the data to prove its theory.

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