Update on UP

Update on UP

Africa is breaking as covid cases surge.

Data collection and compilation varies so dramatically one country to another. Moreover collection and compilation has improved equally dramatically since the start of the pandemic, so each country’s numbers may be inflated by their improved collections. Suffice it to say that not a single African country reports the situation improving and many are sounding the alarm.
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Reflect & Repair

Reflect & Repair

Should people, governments, companies pay large amounts of “reparations” for slavery and similar centuries-old torture? Does it matter if a government “apologizes” for long-forgotten atrocity? We can’t change the past.

Just in the last month, France, Germany and Angola have each separately announced either large restitution payments or policies of deep apology for atrocities, some of which were nearly as old as slavery in America. Why?

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Not Yet

Not Yet

Why shouldn’t you buy a current RyanAir ticket for $11.85 between London and Shannon? Because you can use those funds to buy a cup of coffee and actually drink it.

Western travelers excited about returning to Africa and other far off places have a number of hurdles facing them. The most important one is how to get there. Current enticements by ridiculously discounted air tickets is not a solution.

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Start Date

Start Date

So finally we have evidence of exactly when it is likely to be safe enough to return to East Africa: June 1.

This isn’t said exactly right. This is the date that the most reliable, experienced safari companies in Kenya and Tanzania believe tourists will really return. I agree, though I think it will be much more slowly than they do.

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Dangerous Divides

Dangerous Divides

I stood in front of the Congolese Army tank, its giant shooting nozzle arched far above my head into a meaningless wilderness. It probably couldn’t shoot, anyway: It was there simply to stop us from crossing the border.

The Rwanda genocide was forming, but I had eight clients leaving Kigali, Rwanda, that night. The thousand-year divide between the Hutus and Tutsis had finally touched me. It’s nothing compared to the divide in America today.

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African Digs

African Digs

For my African friends. Well… all my friends, and especially for those who live near Galena, Illinois.

Currently I don’t have potable water. Why I don’t have potable water reflects America today, dysfunctional and imploding. It’s sad and infuriating but for those of us who have lived much of our lives in places like Africa, it’s also very telling.

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Getting Ready

Getting Ready

It will probably be three to four years before the effects of the virus stop impacting travelers to distant lands. Efficacy of the vaccines, mayhem in airline schedules, widely differing and radical airport rules for transfers and most importantly, the hugely damaged vendor communities are all just now being recognized as the travelers’ principle hurdles.

There’s little good evidence yet on the last three hurdles for a good prediction into 2021, although I venture some speculation below. On the vaccine issue, however, some things are coming into focus.

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Melting Time

Melting Time

America, your weak, lilly-white specious religious and facetious democracy with its high faluting quasi morality is in complete meltdown. Wide-eyed Africans watch in disbelief. The “trust” and “transparency” and “morality” of the self-styled always-correct America that kept them at bay are evaporating into thin air like the last drops of water in a burning world.

I can find only one – not two – pardons given by any African chief executive in the last century that comes a mile close to what Trump did yesterday. But guess what. They’ll be rolling off the equatorial alabasters, now.

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Bequagged

Bequagged

I was in Nairobi walking the streets with three hundred dollars of cold cash squished deeply into my cargo pants pocket. It was 1994. I knew Nairobi well but the street I was now walking, not so well.

Riverside Drive was then the esophagus into the underbelly of this city. Yes there were huge slums surrounding the city, but Riverside Drive preyed on that poverty and it wasn’t on the outskirts. It was smack dab in the middle. Riverside Drive wasn’t so much a slum as a mafia promenade. Badly lit, never cleaned up and always putrid, this was where you bought an AK47 for $8.50.

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Plastic Pity

Plastic Pity

Westerners decry plastic islands floating in the oceans and embrace with horror the fact that the weight of disposed plastics on earth will be greater than the weight of all its fish by 2050.

But for many Africans the arguments are already over. They’ve started banning them.

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Gorillas Sweating

Gorillas Sweating

I saw my first gorilla in 1977. It was an eastern lowland gorilla in Kahuzi-Biega national park in The Congo, a species of gorilla (graueri) that’s still going extinct. I watched several Italians throw tomatoes at them. There were no guides then. You just climbed into mountain jungles and threw things at fur. It was an improvement over shooting.

In November the most celebrated of the four gorilla species, the mountain gorilla (berengei), was moved OFF the critically endangered to just the endangered list. I was exhausted and exhilarated learning this. And nobody partied. No ticker tape parades. The world’s just too damned complicated at the moment.

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Militarism in Africa

Militarism in Africa

Populism is not some lonesome social condition. Populism controls democracy, and populism brings down and sets up autocratic regimes. It’s not conservative or progressive, capitalist or communist. It’s not necessarily based on truth. It’s knee-jerk support for – or against – individuals wielding power. Why? How is it harnessed?

East Africa gives us some insight: Ten years ago Kenya hardly had an army. Ten years ago Kenya was in incredible social turmoil, very close to a civil war. Today Kenya is a military powerhouse, rivaling the two other area powerhouses, Ethiopia and Rwanda. And today Kenya’s stable society thrives on a growing populism.

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Good Deeds

Good Deeds

Sometimes good acts prevail even after evil-doers reverse them:

The previous Republican controlled Congress and current Trump administration wiped out Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Bill, the “Rule on Conflict Minerals.” But that rule had such a powerful effect when first passed by Congress that the world embraced it and has continued to strengthen it despite the official reversal by the United States.

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Bad Democracy

Bad Democracy

Africa as my lifeway’s platform for roughly 5 months annually during the troubled times of the last few years has radically changed my view of democracy.

Last week Rwanda celebrated the first quarter century in possibly a thousand years without a mass genocide. The Sudanese Army fired on the Sudanese secret service last night to protect opponents of the government.

The avowed communist state of Ethiopia last year implemented a series of human rights protections that may be the most progressive on earth. All of these stellar human rights’ accomplishments were in totally undemocratic regimes.

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