Monday, December 09, 2013

Why Mandela was a great man

 from the Diplomad:

He seemed to have an understanding that whites and other non-blacks were essential for a peaceful and prosperous South Africa. He also, surprise, did not go full Mugabe. He won election--although the vote counting was suspicious--served his term, trying to unite blacks, whites, Asians, and others into accepting the new post-apartheid South Africa. He did not try to drive the whites out, and did not go around confiscating farms and businesses. He did not encourage revenge against whites and sought a reconciliation of the races. A practical politician, he turned a blind eye to the rampant corruption among the ANC, finding it better to let the party members expend their revolutionary fervor making money. At the end of his term, he stepped down. Yes, he stepped down. That is an amazing thing in Africa; he stepped down on completing his term of office.

Thursday, September 05, 2013

China in Africa

The ChristianScience Monitor, whose overseas reporting on the background of the news is usually excellent, has a long article on China in Africa.

Congo is increasingly influenced by the penetration of all things Chinese, and that in turn is bringing high hopes for development.
But it is also raising wariness here that Africa's new benefactor may sometimes be driven by the same self-interested motives as the Western nations that preceded it in the colonial and postcolonial periods.
Like most Chinese here, Wei lives a separate life, socializing exclusively with his Chinese co-workers except for an occasional foray down the street to buy groceries and exchange pleasantries with a Congolese street vendor.
Yet to the Congolese, the Chinese have increasingly become a necessary part of everyday life. To buy a cellphone, people go to Chinese electronics shops that offer knock-off Blackberry models at a third of the market price. When people want to enjoy a soccer game, they take a seat in the bleachers at Kinshasa's "Martyrs Stadium," a gift from China in 1993. A drive through downtown Kinshasa runs along a grand central boulevard, newly widened and repaved by a Chinese construction company.

read the whole thing

Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Zimbabwe article

In First Things magazine, an article on the history of Zimbabwe under Mugabe

But why, with many articulate opposition leaders, do they use a photo of a white Zimbabwean? And stress the evil deeds of Mugabe (such as the slaughter of the Ndebele opposition in the 1980's) without mentioning that the Ndebele are traditional warriors, and could have started a civil war for his opponent?

Did this small genocide prevent a much larger genocidal civil war?

As for European farm seizures: a bad move economically, but the hysteria by the UK was ridiculous. This did not require sanctions that ruined the economy. I mean, Nixon didn't put sanctions on the Philippines when our land was seized and "sold" to our tenant farms (who were given years to pay us for the land, and never did).

As for the opposition: They seem to have shot themselves in the foot too many times.

Yet the punishment of the democratic opposition (beatings, arrests, destruction of Hatfield and other suburbs where too many voted for the opposition), the economic collapse, the fleeing of the educated class can mostly be put at the foot of Mugabe.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

China in Africa

A long article in StrategyPage discusses how China's investments in Africa might fail:

the problems?

Instead of hiring locals, they import their own workers, who live in segregated compounds.

Support of hated dictators (and folks will remember this long after they forgot what the development projects helped: The USA is learning this over and over again in the Middle East).

But mainly Chinese racism against Africans.

Neocolonialism, anyone?

The Chinese were mainly after raw materials, especially oil. A lot of that $13 billion was bribes for local officials. As usual, the average African was getting screwed by these deals. For example, a lot of the investment was for infrastructure (roads, bridges, structures), and a lot of those deals stipulated the use of Chinese labor for most of the work. There was never any intention of employing many Africans. The Chinese pay such low wages that they could afford to fly in Chinese for many jobs. China is also flooding African markets with inexpensive goods. Both of these tactics are hurting local businesses, and causing unrest among African business owners and workers. As a result, it's become common for opposition parties in Africa to accuse China of "neo-colonial exploitation." The accusation fits, and the Chinese will pay for it down the road, as will peacekeepers brought in to help clean up the mess.
Chinese merchants have been doing this to SE Asia for a couple hundred years: And even as late as World War II, their kids were called "Chinoys", and there is an Asian hospital in Manila that was started to treat them.

Of course, here in the Philippines, the rule is that foreigners are not allowed to own land or businesses, so usually the Chinese married Filipinas from rich families and put the businesses in their names (local custom allows women to run businesses). So most of the elite who run the country have Chinese ancestry (you can identify them by their paler complexion and round faces).

This intermarriage is not being done in Africa, so makes the Chinese more vulnerable to being ousted, similar to Idi Amin's deporting the many Indian merchants who ran the country, or Indonesia's ethnic cleansing of their Chinese community years ago under the guise of fighting a communist takeover.

As for Chinese exports: here in the Philippines, the exports have ruined a lot of local industries because of the Chinese low wages and their artificially low currancy. The good news is that they are cheap. The bad news is that they are poor quality. For example, our American plumbing fixtures bought 20 years ago still are okay but the ones we had installed in the new area of the house have deteriorated in two years, so we had to replace them from the hardware store in the mall (and have to hope that they are not counterfeit). Ditto for shoes, clothing, and (alas) drugs. Counterfeit and sub standard drugs (originating in China and India) kill hundreds of thousands every year, including Africa,  but when the US "green" types discuss the need to replace the expensive US/European brand names with "generics" for the HIV and other aid programs, this fact tends to be ignored.


I am lax in posting to this blog about Mr.Mugabe mainly because I no longer ave the time or energy or contacts to know if what I read in the papers is accurate enough to post.

so I will limit my links to articles from places I trust, mainly about the development in Africa.

As for Zimbabwe, my last contact there now has a cellphone and internet access from the high school where she teaches, so things seem to be improving.

Saturday, June 08, 2013

China in Africa

from StrategyPage:

These unreported economic problems (because the chinese overreport their economic success) are one reason over a million Chinese have headed for Africa. But that place has not always been the land of opportunity. For example, Ghana recently cracked down on illegal gold mining and among the many people arrested were 134 Chinese. This was not unexpected as the Chinese are displacing Arabs as the main facilitators of illegal activities (mining, logging, poaching, smuggling, and so on) in Africa.

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Male rape and gay laws

Instapundit cluelessly suggests Obama pressure Africa to stop passing laws against Homosexuality.

Which only proves he lives in an equal society, where gay sex is assumed to be consensual between equals.

Yet in Africa (and to a lesser extent, here in the Philippines) we have a hierarchical society, where inferiors are supposed to obey superiors.
And, with tribal conflicts, rape, including homosexual rape, is a weapon of war:

So what about nowadays?

From AlJazeerah: a report on male rape in tribal conflicts.
The use of rape as a weapon against women in Congo's many conflicts has been widely reported. However, the number of male victims is also suspected to be high. Most cases remain unknown because men, like women, are often too ashamed to come forward and talk about their ordeal.

CAPE TOWN, 13 October 2011 (IRIN) - Sexual violence against men, including rape, is under-reported, poorly addressed and has a severe impact on both men and their families, according to a presentation at the annual Sexual Violence and Research Initiative (SVRI), held in Cape Town, South Africa...
Male rape is here often associated with homosexuality, which in Uganda is condemned and stigmatised. Men also choose not to speak out for fear of being branded homosexuals, and victims cannot get proper support because they are accused of being gay.

Yet this is the tip of the iceburg.

So sleeping with the maids in the third world is "normal" (which is why most of our maids insist we hire them in pairs, for a chaparone), and if your employer is "gay" and you are an attractive  male, well, watch your back... literally....And then there are the boarding schools and high schools, where teachers prey on their student (including pressuring girls or boys to become prostitutes).

However don't point fingers:

One of the unreported story of Africa is the sexual outlet of the "white bwanas". The Dominican sisters entered Rhodesia to nurse the first settlers. They soon were setting up schools, not just for the white students, but for the "coloured" children who quickly appeared. When the whites objected, sister said sarcastically that they were "their" children (and hinted she'd name names) so they'd better provide money...

Yet another unreported story of colonialism is that many of the white settlers (at least in British colonies) were exiled there because of their behavior: They were "gay". And of course, in Africa, your employees don't dare say no to a superior.

And gay abuse predates colonialism, as the story of the Uganda martyrs shows.

Yet colonial policies imposed taxes for money on village people, so essentially forced men to work to pay taxes, and colonial policies hired men without making accomadations for their families. Under Apartheid, where pass books were needed, this was even enforced by law.

Then you have the problem of old age: No social security, so an aging man would have to support himself or be supported by his family on his land. But in African custom, the land is owned by the tribe, so this meant you had to leave your wife at home to care for the land or the land would be given to another, meaning you would have no way to support yourself when you returned if she went with you. And although polygamy was legal, few men were rich enough to buy more than one wife.

So where did the men get sexual release? Prostitutes cost money...

Despite all the American talk of "cross cultural understanding", few medical studies of the problem seem to realize that Africans or Asians might not think the same as upper middle class white educated Americans.

Western investigations of gay identity such as this one from Princeton see the problem via western white culture.

This report also discusses MSM in South Africa but ignores the elephant in the living room: The fact that men are pressured by the system to leave their families behind while they go to work in the cities.

Teenaged boys who have sex with each other may not be gay, but merely not have access to girls: ditto for factory workers or those whose wives are at home in the villages caring for the family land. And in rural areas, if a tribe has taboos against vaginal intercourse with a pregnant or nursing wife, one would expect some MSM to be going on to relieve sexual tension (yet without putting that into context you are again missing the problem)

Then there is the problem of street children. When I adopted, we were told to assume if we adopted an older girl we should assume that they had been abused, and we were warned that many of our boys had also been abused.

One report said the MSM abuse rate was 25% among street kids in Addis Ababa

which, by the way, is the same rate as reported among inner city kids in the USA.
(in contrast, a broader survey shows that only 5% of teens admit sex below age 13, but 20 plus percent of gay kids...this does not include rape or sex under threats of violence, 10%).

What is going on in Africa is that with modernization (and the fruits of colonialism) you see a break down in tribal rules. You get chaos and all sorts of immoral behavior (not just sex but monetary corruption and violence) that were limited by tribal laws and customs in the past, but now have few ways for the community to protect itself from predators and sociopaths.

These countries however do have an alternative: religion.

Christianity, which for years was seen as an outside influence, is now indigenous (including many indigneous Christian churches). Even the hated "boko Haram" of Nigeria, seeking Sharia law, is more about stopping the epidemic of Nigerian corruption/bribery than about Islam per se.

The mosques and churches teach strict religious rules, and use shame to enforce them.

The breakdown of the family, a lot of which can be laid at the foot of an oppressive colonialist system that destroyed tribal ties and customs, is a major problem, and the churches are trying to solve it by preaching strict behavioral rules that encourage marriage between equals.

 So the "anti gay" laws are part of a spectrum of laws trying to redevelop and heal the culture from the chaos and immorality inherited from colonial times.

And outsiders who see this as a "gay rights" problem are missing the point. It's not about two equals chosing to marry each other, even though they are the same sex. It's about trying to reestablish morality on many levels.

Westerners who assume  it is about sex between equals are merely making things worse, because the average African sees this an merely another western plot against Africa.

And the revulsion against gays is visceral,

You see sex between equals, so whenwhen you say "don't make homosexual actions illegal", you are saying: "Let those born gay be able to have sex with one another as equals without punishing them".
But Africans interpret it differently: They hear: Let men rape our boys and get away with it.

Given the sex tourism with boys we see here in the Philippines, one could suggest they may have a point.

Saturday, May 25, 2013

Zimbabwe's new constitution

From aljazeerah.

Approved overwhelmingly in a referendum in March this year, the constitution clips the powers of the president, limits presidential tenures to two five-year terms and does away with the post of prime minister.

However, it does not apply retroactively so the 89-year-old Mugabe could technically extend his three decades in office by another 10 years.
"This day is an historic day, it's about the future,"  Eric Matinenga, the Constitutional Affairs Minister said at the signing ceremony.

"I can assure you that this document which is before us is a good document."

A new constitution is one of the pre-conditions for elections to pick a successor to the shaky compromise government Mugabe formed four years ago with  Tsvangirai.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Kony update

Strategypage reports he is hiding out in the disputed area between Sudan and South Sudan.

April 27, 2013: New reports claim that LRA commander Joseph Kony is hiding out in the Kafia Kingi region of Sudan. Kafia Kingi is a territory claimed by both Sudan and South Sudan. The enclave is (from South Sudan’s perspective) at the very western edge of South Sudan’s Western Bahr al-Ghazal state. Sudan currently occupies the enclave. Human rights organizations and the Ugandan government have frequently claimed that Sudanese military has provided the LRA with weapons, equipment, and money. The new reports (based on statements made by LRA defectors) claim that the Sudanese Army has given Kony safe haven. Kony may have used Kafia Kingi as a hideout in 2010. There are reports that he returned to the area briefly in 2011 and 2012.

Friday, April 05, 2013

speaking English

From the African Executive:

The fact that we still shun that which is clearly local and homegrown is a manifestation of the low regard we have for ourselves and one another.  We prefer to use firms with English sounding names rather than vernacular ones and we associate Western or “white” tastes and ideas with superior quality. In what other country would a Shona-speaking mother and a Shona-speaking father produce an English-speaking child? Where does this low self image come from?  Is it a result of being disappointed one too many times by some of our own? Is it a product of our early experiences which inform our foundational beliefs about ourselves?
Yes, it is a problem here in the Philippines too. Which is why Filipino ("tagalog") is the official langauge.

But if you speak English, it opens you to the world of ideas (and jobs in other countries where you can live in comfort and send money home to support the family). In grade schools, local books will be available, but if you want to get more information, you need English.

This is similar to Latin in  the Middle Ages: it was the language of scholarship that enabled educated men to talk to each other.

The polyglot of western Europe started with Dante, and was accelerated with the Protestant revolt against the Catholic church, when Protestants decided to translate their version of the bible into the venacular for ordinary folks to read (and alas interpret wrongly due to lack of scholarship, but that's another argument altogether).

I don't think wanting to learn English is the problem. The real problem is that local goods tend to be shoddy, mainly due to corruption. I am aghast at how things here in the Philippines stop working quickly, because they are made locally, or more commonly, in China . So a Filipino can work in a Korean factory and make high quality goods, but here the same item is poor quality, and everyone knows it.

My husband even refused to buy a cheaper European make car (BMW) that was made in the Philippines, even though the Germans kept an eye on the place for quality control.

Prefering "european" (or here, Korean or Japanese or American) goods may not be from low self esteem, but because they usually are better.

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Africa to pass the Middle East in prosperity?

TPMBarnett's blog keeps an eye on globalization, and in an article about the Middle East he includes this comment:

 The Arab world has an enormous amount of catching up to do WRT globalization, and it will be awful in execution (and with Africa leaping ahead on many fronts, the Middle East and North Africa - or large portions of it - risk becoming globalization's long-term basket case).

he has several other African and South African analyses on his blog, many about North Africa's war on terror, but in this article about cellphones, he has this comment:

Biggest analytic mistake I've ever made was overestimating how slowly (yes, my original post had me mis-stating this) Africa would embrace globalization and succeed with it.  Totally blew it.

Police seizing radios in Zim

also from the BBC:

She and two other villagers were made to identify their neighbours who had radios, capable of picking up FM, AM and shortwave signals, which had recently been handed out by a small non-government youth organisation that had been in the area building a road and some community toilets.
"They took my cell phones and demanded to know the identity of people in my phone," she said, explaining how bedrooms and kitchens were thoroughly inspected.
"A lot of people were taken to the police station and we were warned that those that would be found with the radios [in future] will disappear."
The confiscations have left some people fearing that in the run-up to elections, the free media guarantees in the newly approved constitution will not be respected.

Eu suspends sanctions against most Zim officials

BBC article HERE.

Monday, March 18, 2013

Guess who got arrested?

From AlJazeerah: Zimbabwe police arrest PM's aides Top lawyer and four officials from prime minister Tsvangirai's party detained, a day after constitutional referendum.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Pushing drugs on Africans

From the African Executive:
Musician Chris Brown from the US got lots of money to give a concert, and praised smoking marijuana to the youth there.
As part of Ghana’s Independence celebration, Chris Brown who was billed to entertain the Ghanaian youth, took the entire nation by surprise as the American artist was rather busy smoking “wee” live on stage to the admiration of the security services and the crowd, mostly children below 16 years of age. Meanwhile the act of smoking marijuana in Ghana is a serious crime punishable by severe prison sentence. This is because marijuana has destroyed the lives of many of the youth, a challenge which has prompted the government of Ghana to declare a war on drugs.
The “Hope City Concert” was meant to be a once-in-a-life-time concert, an event specially designed to mark Ghana's Independence Day: a day which Ghanaians ought to have observed in honour of their forefathers who shed their blood in the struggle to rescue the motherland from a brutal and barbaric British colonial rule.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


CIC is a list of trivia at Strategypage and includes this:
Rinderpest, an ancient animal virus that swept across sub-Saharan Africa in the late nineteenth century, devastating cattle, and thus facilitating European imperial expansion in many areas, was accidentally introduced to that continent in 1887, when infected cattle from India were landed at Massua in Eritrea to feed Italian troops on colonial service.
Of course, the reason for this was that, by decimating the wild beasts that allowed the tsetse fly to live, it allowed European cattle to thrive and allowed people to live without the worry of sleeping sickeness.

Wooden "bikes"

LA times article on wooden bikes used in Goma, not to carry people but to carry loads.

Except for termites, muddy roads, and wasting people's energy that could better be used for something else, what's wrong with this picture?

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Killing of the disabled in Ghana

also from AlJazeerah:

Thousands of children have been killed in Ghana because the communities they are born into believe they are evil spirits. When I first heard about this I could not believe it was happening in my country in the 21st century. The practice originally emerged as a way for poor families to deal with deformed or disabled children that they cannot look after. These families approach village elders known as concoction men and inform them that they suspect their child to be a so-called spirit child. The concoction man then takes the father of the child to visit a soothsayer who confirms whether or not the child is truly evil, without ever actually laying eyes on them.
Once this confirmation has been received, the concoction man brews a poisonous liquid from local roots and herbs and force-feeds it to the child, almost always resulting in death.
Over time, this practice has become a perceived solution to any problems a family might be having at the time of a child's birth. By blaming the child for sickness in the family, or the father's inability to find work or provide money to support his dependents, these communities have found an otherworldly explanation for their problems.
In this highly patriarchal society it enables heads of family to pass the blame for their struggles onto someone else. And by branding the child a spirit from outside the family, they can disassociate themselves and feel justified in murdering their own offspring, while telling those around them that now all will be well - the evil presence is gone.
But infanticide has always been a crime against humanity. I believe there is plenty of evidence of infanticide in the history of all human societies and its continued and widespread practice makes a mockery of the democratic credentials of the countries, including mine, where this crime still takes place.


In Zimbabwe, in years long past, often both twins were killed by the grandmother because twins were seen as diabolic or demon possessed. There was a cultural reason for this: An illness where someone got thinner and thinner and died was believed to be demon inspired, and even when we ran the hospital, our nutrition village (to feed up malnourished kids) was full of twins that couldn't get enough nutrition from mother's milk.

However, before you point fingers at primitive Africans, remember that children with Down's sydrome are often killed as late term abortions (when they are already viable) in the USA...the ever so humane Dutch kill kids with meningomyelocoel that could live with surgery, and of course the prominent Bioethicist at Princeton University proposes infanticide to be legalized for any reasons.

Zimbabwe leaders agree to a constitution

From Aljazeerah:

The new basic law would bolster the power of parliament, set a 10-year presidential term limit, and strip away presidential immunity.
"The finalisation of the draft is now being made," said Mugabe. He did not say when a referendum will be held.
The process of drafting the new constitution, which started more than two years ago, was plagued by chronic delays and violence at public meetings.
Tsvangirai's Movement for Democratic Change party has already endorsed the text.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Guns in Africa

But there is actually a gun problem in the world, which is when criminal gangs get hold of guns.

StrategyPage has an article about a lot of AK47's in Africa used by gangs etc to kill people.

The cheap AK-47s resulted in traditional crimes, like stealing cattle or land, turning into bloody battles. The violence has caused millions to flee their homes and wrecked local government in many areas. Sending in additional police and soldiers, when available, quiets things down somewhat. But the local guys with the guns know where to hide and the government reinforcements usually don't. So, eventually, the police will leave and the AK-47s will still be there....

and anarchy/displacement can kill a lot more people than actual bullets:
The disruptive effect of all these guns has halted, or reversed, decades of progress in treating endemic diseases. Death rates from disease and malnutrition are going up. All because of several million Cold War surplus AK-47s getting dumped in Africa in the 1990s.

It gets worse. Read the whole thing.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Monday, January 07, 2013

Tutsi and Hutu and history

StrategyPage article on the history of tribalism in the central area of Afria.

The problem here is that the Tutsi are, by most measures, the good guys. There are only about 2.5 million Tutsi (in Rwanda, Burundi, Congo and Uganda) and they represent a distinct culture in the region. The Tutsi are more disciplined, better educated, wealthier and less corrupt. The Tutsi also dominate local governments, if only because they are better administrators and, when armed and organized, more effective fighters. Most other ethnic groups in the area are jealous, hostile or just afraid of the Tutsi.
The Tutsi problem goes back over 600 years. In the 1500's the Tutsi (plural- Watutsi) nomads moved south from their ancient home in the semi-desert Sahel. With a different complexion (an important point for the Tutsi) and a foot taller than the local Hutu, it did not take long for the Tutsi to take over and install their own brand of Apartheid. The area eventually evolved into two Tutsi ruled empires, each roughly covering the territory of modern Burundi and Rwanda. In 1899 the Germans moved in and made both areas colonies. The British replaced the Germans in 1916 and passed the area over to the Belgians in the 1920's. It was assumed that, when the areas became independent nations, the Hutu (over 80 percent of the population) would run the place. The more aggressive and warlike Tutsi had other ideas, and the Hutu knew it.
Free hit counters
Free hit counters