African 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:
Only 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.
Much 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.
Except for bribes, dirty deals and billionaire arrogance, Guinea would be one of the most prosperous places on earth.
Any steel around you? Driving a car? Probably wouldn’t without Guinea. How about aluminum? Do you use aluminum foil after dinner? Not without Guinea! So how come Guinea is the ninth poorest country in the world? Too many Piggly-Wiggly sales?
‘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.
“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.
Africa is growing darker than ever.
Recently Kenya joined Rwanda and Morocco in banning plastic bags. The Ministry’s announcement cited numerous reasons, including the UN “Clean Seas’ initiative. But while this strikes a westerner as environmentally revolutionary, it’s little more than window dressing a far more serious problem.
Several 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.
Africans are putting together the first drafts of policy to deal with Trump and while it reflects the sophistication and skill of today’s African leaders, the outlook is grim. The much loved former U.S. ambassador to Kenya, Johnnie Carson, wrote today, the best Africa can hope for is “benign neglect.”
Which is unlikely if Trump twists the globe and learns there’s a continent over there. The case in point is Kenya. I implied yesterday that Kenya’s unexpected extradition of two alleged drug kingpins to the U.S. was clearly courting favor. Sycophancy aside, the country is preparing for the worse.
Each year at this time one news story is repeated, analyzed, attracts more comments and fuels more anger in Africa than any other single story of at any other time of the year, year after year:
The rich gather at Davos and Oxfam releases its report on the inequality of wealth. Nothing comes close to getting the attention this does African-wide. And year after year it gets worse and worse:
The big news yesterday about France’s election is prophetically linked to yesterday’s buried news of the collapse of Mali’s election.
Results are not yet known, they will never be, for the 12,000 local and regional Mali officials. Cast ballots were burned, stolen and even blown up by jihadists. In the rebellious north most polling places never even opened.
Yesterday I showed Mali as the quintessential example of climate change and rapid development sabotaging African society. The tragedy goes much further: Soon it will threaten France. Ultimately it will kill Trumpism.
Reset by the global recession, reconfigured by massive new production of oil and gas in the U.S. simultaneously with aggressive development of non-fossil fuels, Africa begins to collapse.
Nigeria, Angola, Egypt and Algeria, even Ghana and many countries not wholly dependent upon natural resources are in economic tailspins. The best example is Mozambique.
Unending protests continue in Ethiopia, South Africa and Zimbabwe, and though unique issues power each country’s turmoil, the fundamental driver is economic.
South Africa and Ethiopia are both experiencing healthy growth despite the protests, while Zimbabwe is tanking. Excluding Zim’s recent plunge, all three countries were performing very much like the U.S. over the last 4-5 years: modest but steady growth and improved employment. So what’s going on?
Let’s examine their individual situations, first.
“How can a billionaire businessman who calls Mexicans rapists, …insults women, stereotypes black Americans, admires…Putin, threatens to bar Muslims from entering the country …become a presidential candidate? Surely decent, responsible, fair-minded people would not give such a national and international menace a chance to become the leader of the free world?”
To that South African columnist Donald Trump is as newsworthy as a dozen other crisis in his country this morning and hundreds across the continent.
There’s a lot of news in Africa, today. And a lot of it is about Trump.
More than two thousand ardent scientists and advocates are in Johannesburg today preparing for next year’s CITES. Historical treaties like the Geneva Convention may actually effect our daily lives more noticeably but only CITES has attracted such global consensus that enforcement is aggressive and routine.
Today horse trading like you’ve never seen is going on, but in the end unlike so much else in today’s troubled world, everybody really will come together.
Sound nice? Yes, it is, but there’s still this one thing….