Desmond Delivered

Desmond Delivered

There’s an intersection in the middle of Nairobi city which we used to call the Square of Churches years ago. There’s only one church there, the city’s main Catholic Cathedral, Holy Family Minor Basilica, and it’s a roundabout so I have no idea how the moniker developed.

Kitty-corner from the Basilica is Jomo Kenyatta’s Mausoleum. Between the two on the north end is the Intercontinental Hotel, and kitty-corner from that, City Park. If the new highway didn’t obscure my nostalgic memories I’d suggest that the name of the place be changed to the Desmond Tutu Plaza.
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T&C’s

T&C’s

How about if each of you – especially if you’re strangers to me – each send me $100 for the best dinner you’ve ever had in your life. We’ll do it in about a year. Promise it will be the most memorable meal of your life!

Any takers?

There’s a reason that travel purchases aren’t capitalistic. There’s no enforceable contract between the consumer and the provider of the service. In a sense it’s just hype. You can’t try it on. You can’t return it when it arrives broken. There’s no warranty other than ebullient promises.
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Clasping Covid

Clasping Covid

Whether, when, how and where to travel is more and more confusing.

You would think that someone like myself, having just returned from almost a month in Tanzania, would have some sage advice for you. Our trip to an “adventure” destination – one clearly in the throes of Covid – went off without a hitch. There were new hurdles to overcome that we all managed quite well. So what’s the problem?
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Divide & Conquer

Divide & Conquer

If Boris Johnson hadn’t closed down his country and if scientists were organized well enough to give us a quick determination that the disease caused by Omicron is – as claimed by the South African Chief Medical Officer – mild, and/or that existing vaccines offer as much or better protection against Omicron than the flu vaccine does for the flu… the world would be in a much better place, today.

Whether Johnson’s policies and all those who followed him were well thought-out or reactionary doesn’t matter anymore. The die is cast. This latest blow to tourism in sub-Saharan Africa could be lethal. It’s spreading far beyond tourism. The influential Sowetan-Live news published, “Travel bans smack of colonialism.” The war’s begun.

WHO’s exhausted arguing that Omicron can’t be stopped by travel bans which do however impede research and implementation of global initiatives to stem the virus. The organization concluded a special meeting yesterday begging western nations to open their borders and share more vaccines.

This is no longer just an epidemiological debate. It’s political, economic and cultural.

Think of all the American governors who refused to shut down, to issue mandates or even publish statistics. The “Trump Front.” And the Trump Front’s base is rural, poor and feels disenfranchised from the America we know and love. The Front becomes most vociferous and dynamic where the demographics of the under-privileged meet the urban Mar-A-Lagos. There, the victimized poorest and the criminal richest don’t collide but collude.

Excluding politicians, hedge-funders and other evil exploiters, the common denominator between Mar-A-Lago and The Front is ignorance and the fear that creates when something new and threatening emerges like Omicron. Self-interest becomes muddled when you don’t know what to do. That’s the worst terror for the selfish.

So whether you’re Ted Cruz fleeing to the Caribbean or Donald Trump admitting he obstructed justice, or any of the nameless 600 being hunted down for storming the Capitol on January 6, you’re scared and … reacting.

Like Boris Johnson and the dozens of countries that followed that closed their “borders” to a virus that sneaks through steel mesh. The ramifications weren’t thought out before the bridge was lifted from the moat: Jail for the insurgents. Loss for the politician. Disharmony for the world. The perfect cesspool for a couple more variants to form. (Is war with Russia part of this?)

“Hate for Africa is unscientific, mindless” writes another correspondent in the Sowetan.

”Donald Trump called Africa a ‘shit hole’… Western nations have treated Africa with total and utter disrespect. From monumental human rights violations …to the ruthless exploitation of Africa’s mineral wealth, these racist policies continue… Today, Southern Africa is being ruthlessly punished for discovering and alerting the world for identifying a new variant.”

There is one earth and the virus attacked earth, not Brooklyn, not Torres del Paine, not Stellenbosch. As it divides and conquers us it heaves us into raw and hurtful divisions and those with either nothing to lose or the most to lose begin to fight to the death.

Woeful World

Woeful World

Of Kayak’s 226 countries it provides travel service to, only 6 are open to travelers without restrictions. 52 are closed entirely, sometimes even to citizens trying to return. That leaves 168 which you can visit provided that you are fully vaccinated, have a negative PCR test and are willing to quarantine on arrival for various lengths of time.

Trouble is to get to some of those 168 restrictive countries, you normally fly through one of the 52 (like Japan) that you can’t, now. So the practical number of countries that you can visit is probably less than 80, and almost all of them require quarantine on arrival.
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Face It

Face It

Steve Farrand and I have now completed four days in the northern Serengeti after a couple down at Manyara. Tomorrow we pick up five more intrepid travelers to continue my survey of post-pandemic Tanzania.

The troubled world goes well beyond Fox News. Vaccine is available in the most remote corners of Tanzania, but much of it’s sitting in fridges unused. One of Africa’s most prestigious safari companies, AndBeyond, admitted to me this week that most of their staffs remain unvaccinated.
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For Given

For Given

ABC’s David Muir, the anchor for the most watched evening television network news show in America, is reporting how the climate disaster in Madagascar is causing a devastating famine.

What I’ve seen so far is accurate. Muir represents that unique type of reporter who is concerned with the brain in his head rather than the hairdo on it, which is the case with most of his ABC colleagues. But the heart-wrenching story he’s reporting is most important for what Muir seems unable to tell.
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Mr. 13173

Mr. 13173

Terrible, scandalous, hypocritical and immoral but never surprising. Africa leaders have feathered their beds ever since colonial masters bribed them into submission, ever since world powers bought their Cold War loyalties, then now when giant corporations and disreputable not-for-profits buy influence. Excruciatingly terrible but what’s new?

What’s new is Kenya’s President Uhuru Kenyatta. The expose regarding Uhuru Kenyatta specifically published in the recently released Pandora Papers might just at long last make a difference.
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God’s Will

God’s Will

No doubt that Paul Rusesabagina, fictionalized as the hero of “Hotel Rwanda,” supports the revolutionary group that successfully blew up tiny bits of Rwanda over the last five years. But was his tricked kidnapping by a wicked priest for a show trial in Kigali the right way to keep Rwandans from massacring each other?

Rusesabagina, now a Belgian citizen and permanent U.S. resident, was sentenced to 25 years in prison yesterday for treason against Rwanda. His story reveals better than most the extraordinary supremacy of authoritarianism over the complexities of truth and history.
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Really Lost

Really Lost

Yes, I’ve found a connection between the Serengeti and right-wing propaganda. Didn’t expect it would be so easy, but the take-home is that somebody out there – governments or dictators or god incarnate – needs to control social media. The wild west of information dissemination is destroying truth and I worry it may never be restored.
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Labor Day Lies

Labor Day Lies

RaisedFist1Today marks the extended “Labor Day” weekend holiday in the United States, Thursday-Monday. America’s ‘May Day’ is officially Monday but everyone takes the whole long weekend off.

Vacations end, schools reopen, the fall sports season begins, the culture season with operas and symphonies begin in the great cities… Well, not now. Covid continues to wreck havoc on America; only about half the country is fully vaccinated. Some vaccine is going to waste. How could this be?
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Thar She Goes!

Thar She Goes!

Many of you have sent me a copy of last weekend’s NYTimes article, “Who Needs a Whirlwind Trip When You Can Take It Slow?” Thanks. But no thanks.

A lot of people need, enjoy and prosper with a whirlwind trip, including me. Among the others: those who aren’t super rich, those who don’t get unlimited time off, those who are exceptionally curious, those who are savvy enough to know that four days is usually no better than two and those who recognize that at the current moment “slow travel” is about the biggest come-on I’ve seen in my half century in this industry.

I can think of two reasons this might make any sense.
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Hell’s Hesitancy

Hell’s Hesitancy

So which would you choose as the best protection against Covid? (1) Surrounding yourself with a portable plexiglass outfit; or (2) getting the shot? The quarterback of the Minnesota Vikings proposes the former.

Vaccine hesitancy is worldwide and you might be surprised that the U.S.’ vaccine hesitancy rate is actually relatively low worldwide. African hesitancy is relatively low too, Mideast (excluding Israel) is the highest, Asian hesitancy (excluding China) is moderate, South American hesitancy (excluding Ecuador) is on the high side and European hesitancy is just a little bit greater than America’s.

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No Good Man

No Good Man

No good person can change the world.

Abiy Ahmed Ali is a good person. Barack Obama reversed years of foreign policy to support Abiy in his bid to head Ethiopia, flew to Addis, delivered a rousing speech and increased American aid to a billion dollars annually. When Abiy became head of state in 2018 congratulations flew around the democratic world. When Abiy made peace with long-time enemy and neighbor, Eritrea, the Nobel committee awarded him the Peace Prize. How fooled the world was.

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