Tuesday, January 15, 2019

Fuel problems in Zimbabwe

BBC article:

the price of petro has gone up: and it is hurting people

The reason for the hike, the government said, was to avert fuel shortages that have created national angst. The hike means petrol prices rose from $1.24 (£0.97) a litre to $3.31 , with diesel up from $1.36 a litre to $3.11. Zimbabweans were not pleased by these changes, hundreds of them went to the streets of the capital, Harare and the southern city of Bulawayo, to protest against the new prices.

and it has to do with the problem of the Zim currancy:

The sudden increase is symptomatic of price distortions Zimbabweans have to deal with on a daily basis. The price of fuel is fixed by the authorities. Unlike other businesses, fuel stations have to sell petrol at the same price in US dollars and the surrogate currency - bond notes - introduced more than two years ago to address a cash crisis. Thriving black market The government maintains that bond notes, which is only traded in Zimbabwe, is pegged to the US dollar. But the reality of the ground is different. There is a thriving black market where three bond notes fetch one US dollar....

The principal is "bad money drives out good", in other words, one currency will become more desired than the other. In the case of Zimbabwe and the US dollar, the desired currency disappeared as many withdrew their US dollar cash from the bank, and kept the notes under their mattresses. Most banks ran out of it, worsening a biting cash crisis.


And what worried me more it that my friend hasn't written/emailed me for three months: And hasn't picked up the money that I sent her via western union for three months either. Is she sick? Is there a problem in the bank?


Thursday, December 27, 2018

Albino pride

AlJ has an interesting article about Albino beauty contests in East Africa.

Organized by the Albinism Society of Kenya with partners in Uganda and Tanzania, the contest aims to demystify the condition of people living with albinism and affirm their inherent dignity while challenging myths, misconceptions and negative beliefs around the disorder. The main event was a culmination of auditions held in several countries and a 10-day boot camp where the 30 final participants trained to improve their modeling skills. The contest was aimed at facilitating positive interaction between people with albinism and the society.

Wikipedia article.  describes how they are persecuted and discriminated against in Central Africa. including the recent newspaer reports on the use of body parts of Albinos for ritual healing etc. by shamans.  BBC article.

witchdoctors "diagnose" witchcraft and advise treatment, but one aspect is that some of these people go bad and use human body parts in rituals (hence I use the word Shaman, because murder of anyone means you are a witch, casting a spell, not a witchdoctor).

I ran across a lecture where they said there are 100 thousand Albinos in centra Africa, and many flee to colonies because of prejudice.

When I worked in Liberia, there would be scattered reports about children, usually streetkids, going missing, and one 12 year old escaped and got the police to arrest the guy who was killing street kids for body parts. You put the body parts under the store you are building so that the spirits will give you success.

(even in the west, we frequently put holy medals or memorabelia in the foundations of houses etc. as a blessing, and many places use animal sacrifice for the same reason, e.g. in Santeria etc.).

but I worked in Africa before the HIV epidemic hit, and my friends tell me a lot of men sought witchcraft to cure their disease

(HIV epidemic wiped out much of the middle class in some African countries).

but with the HIV epidemic, a lot of shamans use criminal means to cure the disease, from rape of virgins to killing albinos for medicine.

the BBC article notes that most albinos die before the age of 40, and the photos of the AlJ site suggest why: Skin cancer.

Skin cancer is rarely fatal, but albinos might have dozens of large untreated lesions on their bodies.


When I worked in Zimbabe we had several in our area. One lady had a baby, a beautiful perfect black baby. I was surprised that she found a husband, and asked who would marry her, and was told: Her husband was a blind man.

Apparantly , he lost his sight in a mining accident and had a pension.

They seemed quite happy.

related article: Albino village in Indonesia.

Monday, December 03, 2018

HIV in Zimbabwe

AlJ reports the economic crisis is making treatment of HIV difficult for patients.

Pharmacies and hospitals are not able to keep consistent stocks and, even when they do have the medicine, some will only accept payment in US dollars because the local currency loses value daily. Doctors in Zimbabwe worry that if patients are unable to take or stop taking their medication, they will develop drug-resistant strains of HIV that are harder and even more expensive to treat.
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