Saturday, March 03, 2018

Nigerian warrior queen


in contrast to this, a discussion of how Women in Rwanda helped rebuild their country:

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

blood cobalt

StategyPage discusses the chronic civil war (and refugees and starvation and disease caused by the chaos of the war) in Central Africa, partly tribal and partly because President Kabila refuses to leave. The bishops devised a peaceplan there, but were ignored, so it appears it will continue.

The MSM ignores it (just another civil war, folks, just move on)..

But how many in the MSM will cover this: President Kabila plans to tax mining companies taking out cobalt (and copper).

February 10, 2018: Congo confirmed it intends to raise taxes on minerals as well as raise the royalty rate mining companies must pay the government. Parliament approved legislation to raise mining taxes as part of a new "mining code." ... Most of the mining companies affected are European, North American and Chinese. Cobalt will become more expensive and so will copper. Why? In 2016 the world produced an estimated 123,000 tons of cobalt and 57 percent came from Congo. ..
So what, you might say? Well this is why:
Cobalt has many uses, but it is critical in the production of rechargeable lithium-ion batteries, the type used to power mobile digital devices and electric vehicles...
 and who is buying all that cobalt?
China has been a major buyer of Congolese cobalt so that increase will hit Chinese manufacturers particularly hard. In the first nine months of 2017 China imported an estimated $1.2 billion worth of Congolese cobalt.

and then there is the corruption angle:
..Gecamines, the stare owned mining company, plays a key role in mismanagement and "diverting" mining revenues. Gecamines officials are beholden to the Kabila government. (Austin Bay)
so what does this have to do with Zimbabwe?

well, there will be a need to find cobalt elsewhere:

The foremost risk, and perhaps the most challenging to solve, is geopolitical. Sixty-two percent of the world’s cobalt comes from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and combined with production from Zambia, Madagascar, South Africa and Zimbabwe, the five countries mine more than 71 percent of the world’s cobalt. Companies process ore locally and export more than 90 percent of the total to China for further processing and refining to produce commercial cobalt compounds used in batteries.
This exclusive trade between African countries and China exposes the market to Chinese regulatory volatility and export restrictions, a recent example being that of the rare earths market, which saw extreme shortages after the Chinese enacted export restriction in 2010. Since then, countries and private industries have had to resort to alternate sources and materials, and stockpiling.

Well there is a lot of rare minerals in Zimbabwe too, and the mining companies see the new president as business friendly.

Mnangagwa, Zimbabwe’s former spy chief, became president in November with military backing and has offered to hold elections by July.
His administration abolished rules that mining operations must be at least 51% owned by black Zimbabweans for all minerals other than platinum and diamonds.
Zimbabwe is geologically rich, with deposits of gold, chrome, lithium, coal, diamonds, platinum and iron ore.
Mine development stalled under Mugabe, whose policies led to a collapse in the economy and hyperinflation.
more here:

‘Zim could become hub of battery mineral revolution’

With Zimbabwe sitting on a lucrative mineral treasure trove and angling to attract foreign direct investment (FDI), Australian listed firm, Prospect Resources, is on course to spending an estimated US$55 million on a new lithium plant in the southern African country. Zimbabwe Independent business reporter Tinashe Kairiza (TK) spoke to Prospect Resources executive director Paul Chimbodza (PC, pictured) on how attractive Zimbabwe is as an investment destination and how the lithium plant will add impetus to government’s efforts to grow the economy

WSJ laments China's race to get rare earth metals including cobalt

e companies dominate the cobalt supply chain that begins at mines in Congo

Miners pushing their cobalt-laden bicycles through a mine near Kolwezi, Congo, last June. They often sell to Chinese wholesalers.
Miners pushing their cobalt-laden bicycles through a mine near Kolwezi, Congo, last June. They often sell to Chinese wholesalers. PHOTO:DIANA ZEYNEB ALHINDAWI FOR THE WALL STREET JOURNAL
KOLWEZI, Democratic Republic of Congo—Miners push bicycles piled high with bags of a grayish-blue ore along a dusty road to a makeshift market. There, they line up at wholesalers with nicknames such as Crazy Jack and Boss Lee.
Most of the buyers are Chinese. Those buyers then sell to Chinese companies that ship the bags, filled with cobalt, to China for processing into rechargeable, lithium-ion batteries that power laptops and smartphones and electric cars.
There is a world-wide race to lock up the supply chain for cobalt, which will likely be in even greater demand as electric-car production rises. So far, China is way ahead.
Chinese imports of cobalt from Congo, the world’s biggest producer of cobalt, totaled $1.2 billion in the first nine months of 2017, compared with just $3.2 million by India, the second-largest importer, government data show.
“We’re realizing that the Congo is to [electric vehicles] what Saudi Arabia is to the internal combustion engine,” says Trent Mell, chief executive of exploration company First CobaltCorp. , based in Toronto. Chinese firms are keenly aware of Congo’s importance to electric vehicles, he says, and “trying to control the whole ecosystem…from cobalt mining to battery production.”

From Congo to China

Saturday, February 17, 2018

Morgan Tsvangirai

Morgan Tsvangirai has died.

AlJ has this article on the man and his work:

It's a dark moment for Zimbabwe. Iconic opposition leader and former Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai has died after a two-year battle against colon cancer. His death will remain as one of the rare moments that has united Zimbabwean politicians from across the political divide. His loyal supporters are inconsolable at the loss of their icon, but perhaps the greatest tribute is that those from the ruling elite, who have opposed and ridiculed him as a politician, have shown him respect.
Tsvangirai has, without doubt, been one of the greatest and most influential political figures in Zimbabwean history. He has always fought for the underdog, starting his activism as a trade unionist while working in a nickel mine.

BBC article.

 what's new for the MDC ...

The death of Morgan Tsvangirai, Zimbabwe's totemic opposition leader, has left supporters in mourning - and his party having to navigate a precarious leadership transition ahead of landmark presidential elections. In Tsvangirai's place, the Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) installed on Thursday Nelson Chamisa as its acting president for 12 months.

Friday, February 16, 2018

Family News

Good news: The lesion was benign, so the Dermatologist did a simple cautery and removal, and I don't need the specialized surgery.

While in Manila we checked out replacement tablets, but the new ones are still beyond my budget so I bought instead an ASUS convertible tablet. Older design and slower but larger, which is good for my eyes to read ebooks. A newer version of the convertible that my granddaughter had in the past (and lost when her car got caught in a flash flood from a typhoon five years ago).

we also ate hamburger and taco salad at Chilis. I saw the steak but passed... no I couldn't finish the hamburger either, but we cut it in half and shared. Since it was Chano's birthday we sang him Happy birthday, and the staff, hearing this, asked if it was, and then brought him a free ice cream and sang happy birthday to him.

the Mall had wonderful stuff to window shop. But somehow designer Italian furniture and decor doesn't go with our house, which is basic Filipino with rattan. Never mind. It does remind me that there is another world out there. This was in Makati, the business area of Manila and quite upbeat.

The meal cost more than we pay our cook for a week: at least her "official salary", which doesn't include if she can buy cheaper food and pocket the difference, or the money I pay for her grandchildren's school fees, and medicine as needed for her family.

If I ate like that every day I'd feel guilty, but it's only twice a year. Usually hamburger is cheaper: The 2 for 25 pesos (50cents) at the palanke or at McDonald for 100 pesos (2 dollars).

But it does give one a pause about the gap between rich and poor here: essentially two economies, the rich, which cost about the same as in the USA for goods, and the poor, which is cheap: subsidized rice, limited fruits and veggies, and shoddy housing.

but since I moved here, things have improved: Few rich in our town but lots of people like us who are "middle class", so we now have more upscale shops and malls.

And the tricycle drivers and maid now have cellphones, and of course access to used TV's and radios.

The middle class tends to be excessive in buying stuff, probably because like the 1950's in the US, they remember when they were poor and couldn't afford anything.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

StrategyPage links on Africa

I usually find this site is good at analyzing stuff going on in countries where I have worked or lived.

Recent essays on African wars include:

Sudan Stumbling along

Congo Bloody Borderlands

mostly sad news on wars, but does note that Volkswagon is setting up a factory in Ruanda.


the good news is that Zimbabwe is not on their list of warzones.

black superheroes? We haz that


Well, we had lots of Tarzan/Phanthom/She type white heroes ruling in over black populations, often using advanced tech to do it. So I guess I shouldn't worry that the Panther is using high tech,
( probably bought from China who is trying to get dibs on all the African rare minerals).

but I had to laugh at the modern pushup bras worn by the lovely ladies in the dances.

And I wonder: is the Panther Bantu, Nilotic (like Papa Obama) or Masai?

supposedly he united five tribes, but the name of the country suggests a Bantu origin.

but with all the Nollywood talent out there, why are the set designers etc seem to have western names? (African-Americans are considered Americans in Africa, because the culture is different).

The design of the movie’s setting—the fictional African nation of Wakanda—mostly comes from production designer Hannah Beachler (Moonlight, BeyoncĂ©’s Lemonade) and costume designer Ruth Carter (AmistadSelma). “The challenge was imagining how something futuristic looks in Africa,”
then I ran into this:

Beachler says. “What would Africans have done given reign over their own culture, without having been colonized?

Uh, presumably she never heard of Ethiopia?

The cultures of Cush and Ethiopia go back 5000 years, with links to Egypt and the Middle East. Memnon was at Troy, for example. Ancient Egypt, and although traditional Egyptians were mixed race, the pharoahs got their bowmen from there, and they had pyramids, and their own script (one of the "undeciphered scripts alas). They almost took over Egypt during the Hyksos era, and later did take over Egypt. Black Pharohs? yup. The latest kerfuffle is if Nefertiti was Black: Probably not, but since her husband Ahkenatan's mom came from a "military" family, she might have been From Cush. (And Ahkenatan was the dad of King Tut).

One more comment:, the "advanced civilization" seems to be very European/tech oriented, as in Silicon Valley. Fancy trains and super powers.

Uh, what about sewers, midwives, medicine for high blood pressure, insecticides? African culture places emphasis on family ties and cooperation and care for their sick and elderly. Did the producers put any of this into their "advanced" civilization, or is "advanced" defined as techology and power?

yes I know: it's the Marvel Universe. So give them a break.

as for superheroes: Yes Nollywood has done that. 

but I probably won't see the movie until it hits HBO, and even then I may pass. I am not into the superhero genre: the last one I saw was Wonderwoman because my granddaughter wanted to see it and I was "duh".

Never mind.

The real super heroes in Africa:

Dr Vadgama Harsh, a consultant orthopaedic surgeon, operates on a patient at Moi Teaching and Referral Hospital in Eldoret on April 10, 2017.. PHOTO | JARED NYATAYA | NATION MEDIA GROUP 

Wednesday, January 24, 2018

faming and family problems

cross posted from my main blog.

A report on trying to stop slash and burn traditional methods of farming in Central America.

part is the need for land by the hungry, but I know in Africa, the problem was that usually the farm fields got lower yields with time, so they were left fallow for the cattle and goats, while the village moved to better land, burned it off, and then planted new fields.

With the increase in population, of course, the land got over used and ended up a desert. This was especially true when corn was grown.

The answer? Fertilizer.

this guy is pushing fonio: a Sahel crop....but no answer on what is the yield? I don't know much about the Sahel, but there are a lot of different ways to try to get things growing there... the problem is that many of the tribes are goat and cattle raising types, and they have a long history of destroying the crops of the local farmers so they can graze their cattle. StrategyPage report on this in Nigeria, about the casualties of this traditional range war, complicated by the fact that the herders are Muslim and the farmers are traditional or Christian...

Our people in Zimbabwe grew sorghum and other crops that grew better with drought, as a back up if there wasn't enough rain for corn. But the yield was lower... and there are other traditional African crops of course.

I should note that in smaller gardens the women grew peanuts and ground nuts as natural fertilizer, and also grew squash, between the corn plants. And could use the crops for their own use. But because plowing required an ox, the men usually plowed the larger fields which supplied most of the family's food.

Of course, nowadays, men in Africa have long been encouraged to migrate to cities or work in mines, disrupting the family, since they live in dormitories, and the wives are left behind to care for the family's land, which is owned by the tribe, not by the family: if no one is left home to tend the land, it is taken from them to give to someone else. Also since there is no social security, the men need the family to keep the land so they can retire back to their villages.

Am I the only one who notices how modern society destroys family life by separating families?

On the other hand, as the saying goes: How do you keep them down on the farm after they see Paree? Who wants to slave hoeing in the fields 12 hours a day when you can work 8 hours in a factory and go home and watch TV or drink and sing kareoke with your friends at the local bar?

Here in the Philippines, ten percent of our people work overseas, and often the kids are raised by extended family.

But even in China, the kids are left behind in rural areas when the parents work in the city, because government rules limit who can live in the cities...Wikip

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

Central Africa: war and progress

StrategyPage on the Congo: bloody borderlands.

Aid organizations estimate that 13 million people in Congo require some type of humanitarian assistance, primarily food and medical aid. A third of the 13 million are IDPs (internally displaced people)..

lots of depressing information about the wars and conflicts etc. in that area of the world.

and then goes on to point out corruption in Angola:

Meanwhile, in Angola, the new government's crackdown on corruption continues -- and at times it looks like an attack on the old regime. President Joao Lourenco has replaced Isabel Dos Santos as head of the national oil company, Sonangol. She is the daughter of former president Jose Eduardo Dos Santos. She is very rich with an estimated worth of $2.5 billion. Dos Santos was president of 38 years.
Again, people are urged to give money to charities to help people, but who is condemning the corruption that steals the wealth from the people?

However, not all the news is bad: Volkswagon plans a factory to make cars in Rwanda.

Volkswagen confirmed that in the second quarter of 2018 it will begin manufacturing cars in Rwanda. The first Rwanda-made vehicles may be available by late May. The manufacturing deal has been in the works since December 2016. According to senior management, Volkswagen chose Rwanda as a manufacturing site because the country has political stability, does not tolerate corruption, has a growth rate of almost seven percent a year and "a young and tech savvy population."

Yes, Rwanda of the major genocides, but which since then has tried to make peace among factions by promoting... forgiveness.

AlJ article on "peace clubs".

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