Written years from now history will describe the fall of Mariupol not so much a military as political defeat. Then more years hence when books are written about the end of modern America, a connection will be made with Mariupol.
Then more and more cross references will weave a history of our current times as one of privileged classes intoxicated by their comfort, unmotivated to carry on the battles for everyone that got them to where they were: Coopted if not corrupted by their own satisfaction. Read more ›
It’s very hard to write in a public forum about anything other than the Ukrainian war. Referring to my own interests rooted deeply in Africa can’t assuage any of the guilt that we’re not doing enough to stop this monstrous conflict.
They say age increases paranoia: Thousands of memories of African dictators and gruesome conflicts sweep through my head, but nothing rises to the destruction in Ukraine. I don’t feel this way because Ukraine is a “white man’s war” or because Ukrainians seem to be more culturally and economically aligned with my own privileged ecosystem than the good citizens of Uganda fighting the LRA. That’s hogwash. Read more ›
Might makes Right.
How about adding, Woke makes Weak.
My wife’s sisters were born in South Africa and my wife was born in Canada because of World War II. Now stretch that out to my own life in Africa. Then let it snap back to the instant. My African spirits whisper, “World War III.” Read more ›
Try to imagine how a soldier deals with fear. I’m no soldier but I think I felt soldier’s fear standing under the elevated gun of a tank at the Goma/Gisenyi border in 1994 as it kept us from crossing the border as planned. I think it’s similar to the adrenalin high that Kathleen and I exchanged in our instant glances after hearing Amin’s gunfire in Kampala. Similar to the instant, complete weakness and rapid heart beating when I threw my hotel curtains open on the 13th floor of the Addis Hilton expecting to smile at dawn and instead looking straight down at 6 human heads impaled on the hotel’s flag posts. None of these compares with a 20-year old florist turned soldier in Mariupol thrown to the ground as half his city blows up. Read more ›
Last night EWT’s first large group since January 2020 arrived Nairobi on Air France. Quoting the leader, “It was a LONG DAY.” PCR testing, endless lines as health officials scrutinized and tested every entrant, and sudden new regs against the Yellow Fever outbreak… “Exhausting” he said. Then…
… two hours after they were tucked asleep in their Nairobi hotel, the Kenyan Government removed most restrictions regarding Covid as a result of the enormous decline in the virus locally. All you need now is a copy of your vaccination. How we want to celebrate! But we can’t because of Ukraine. Read more ›
Six dollar-a-gallon is less painful than radiation burns. Devil in the details, of course, so celebration of America’s “ban of Russian oil” should be suspended until all the details are known. But my African friends think my ardent support for this is hypocritical. One of my favorite commentators, Joy Reid of MSNBC, last night echoed that sentiment. They’re all wrong. Read more ›
“We must complete our recovery from the embers of dead empires in a way that does not plunge us back into new forms of domination and oppression.”
When Kenya’s Martin Kimani, ambassador to the UN, concluded his lambasting of Russia in the UN Security Council last Tuesday we waited for the rest of Africa to follow suit. They didn’t.
My surprise has turned to anger. A life of empathy with Africa’s condition riles my intellect. What the hell is wrong with Africa, the part of the world that has suffered more from foreign occupation than any other? Read more ›
Jared Kushner’s crusade for Arab recognition of Israel is as curious as cursory. It’s pretty clear now that the UAE will not honor most of its agreement but will nonetheless gain advantage in the Yemen war. Now Kushner has pulled off another weekend coup throwing out decades of African diplomacy in the Western Sahara for the King of Morocco’s pledge to recognize Israel.
That won’t hold, either, but the damage this does to the people of the area is as great as it will do to the people of The Horn. The man has no idea what he’s doing to the world.
Shifting alliances is an African political art, something we all need to study in the era America is racing through right now.
More than 1500 people were brutally killed in the several-month Kenyan civil war of 2008, thousands more tortured or maimed and nearly 200,000 displaced. Yet less than four years later the widows and widowers, orphaned children and homeless thousands elected as their leader the man who tried to kill them and their families.
Ready for a new threat? It’s just as ethereal and deadly as Covid-19. It strips away our naive precautions just as efficiently and wrecks havoc far beyond its relatively short existence when it’s finally put under control. In a word, “worse” than the virus. I rely specifically on my African experience to tell you about this.
I experienced it mostly in troubled times and situations, a singular threat to my protecting my group. But it also walloped me when I least expected it, when everything around me seemed just so perfect and peaceful.
The worst locust outbreak ever seen in Africa, the most insidious virus ever known to man, the most flooding and worst earthquakes in history… then, bloodshed.
All Africa journalist Jerry Chifamba has just completed a series of in-depth reports on how accelerating conflict in Africa is directly linked to climate change. No surprise, or is it just that we don’t want to be surprised, anymore.
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.
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.