Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Reading on Africa

Occasionally, I read. As time passes I find myself reading much less fiction than non. Truth as they say is stranger. And being a long time resident of Africa and being in the development business (and it is indeed that. Forget the notion of tied-dyed, trendy-lefty, malaria-carrying do-gooders. This is a business.) I am wont to read a fair amount on Africa—and publishing on the African development business is itself an industry.

I’ve recent read The State of Africa by Martin Meredith, a history of the African continent in the past 50 years, that is since the first colonial African countries—Sierra Leone, formerly the Gold Coast and Ghana--gained independence. It’s a catalogue of disaster; man-made and otherwise; of the former, kleptomania, tribalism, ineptitude, greed, and plain stupidity, most recently exemplified by Mugabe of Zimbabwe. Of the latter, famine, drought, flood and various other biblical plagues. While the book itself is a readable and as far as I can tell accurate account, it offers little if any analysis for Africa’s dire circumstances, let alone broad suggestions on what might be done such as could be comprehensible by a layman like me. I love analyses. They generally give me plenty of opportunity to mumble ‘Bollocks’ or occasionally ‘Fuck OFF!’ which in turn gives my partner chance to say ‘That’s not nice, darling.’ Even so, The State is perversely enjoyable and well worth the time to obtain an overview of African history in the last half-century.

Not so Capitalist Nigger by Chika Onyeani. (Over 20 000 copies sold in South Africa!) The title is presumably designed to appeal to a wide audience; progressive black people who might be both attracted and appalled by the ‘nigger’ and apologist whiteys who enjoy the odd titular juxtaposition. It’s one of those books that they pile high and deep at the airport bookstores; just the thing to say you’ve read on the flight to Nairobi or Addis. The premise seems to be that Africans remain in a state of bondage to their former colonial masters and need to adopt a kind of social networking economy that the author claims to have been perfected by the ‘Asians’.
I say ‘seems’, not because I’m in the habit of using that tentative, academic style of non-assertion but because I can’t finish it. I can’t finish it because it’s the worst book I’ve ever read. My buddy Gerard says it’s the second worst book he’s ever read. He can’t remember the worst, he says, but there must be one. For the time being, this will do.

Let’s not begin to discuss the premise of the book itself; let’s just say it might make for an interesting argument, perhaps even an important one. We’ll never know, at least not from this book. Every page has a new horror; of logic, prejudice, grammar, spelling or plain inaccuracy. Any page. I open the book, weeping inwardly for the tree that gave its life for this.
Page 104; ‘The Chinese, on the other hand, control how America eats. Even in the movies, you always see the actors or actresses ordering one form of Chinese food or another. Africans spend a lot of money eating or ordering Chinese foods. Our African missions to the UN…spend millions of dollars eating Chinese food a year. I have never seen an Chinese going to an African restaurant to reciprocate our patronage.’ (sic.)


I count 8 unsupported assertions, grammatical errors, or specious arguments in one short paragraph.
Take p76; ‘The continent is still a haze (to African-Americans) with the problems of poverty, diseases such as the pandemic AIDS scourge transmitted by Caucasians into Africa, the problem of all kinds of wars.’

I’m sorry?

In my world—clearly not his--Mr Onyeani would not get a passing mark for this drivel in primary school, despite the laudatory comments by two (count them) apparent academics from institutions that I for one would find it hard to recommend. Mr Onyeani is to be roundly condemned for using up his crayons on such deplorable nonsense. But a more grievous sin is that of Jonathan Ball Publishers who seem to have excused themselves from the more conventional albeit tedious task of lending their rapidly-waning credibility to inflicting this misleading twaddle on a gullible public. It was sadly #10 on the best sellers list for non-fiction last week.

I weep.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

OK, if you can get your skirt to do this, I'll give you 50 bucks.

It's Winter. My ass was cold.

Tuesday, June 12, 2007

It's a pachyderm, Brian. Say 'Awwww.'


Chilling, as it were...

Labels: ,

Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Not scary at all, really. Quite cute...


Scary Animals


Monday, February 05, 2007

Kigali, Rwanda

Phonetic Alphabet

You know the thing; A for alpha, F for foxtrot--that sort of thing.

How about these; let's start with some simpler ones.

N for lope
T for two
X for breakfast

but what about...

B for fish
V for la France,

or even...

U for mizzam
P for ming seals?

Friday, February 02, 2007

Pondering...Life. The Universe. Everything.

Biggles Flies Again!

My main Christmas present! Not quite Bond, but serious fun. The Tiger Moth is a 1930's vintage aircraft.

Monday, January 15, 2007


So, David Beckham goes to LA Galaxy to play soccer? That would be from real Madrid to contrived Los Angeles? And Luis Figo goes to somewhere absurd, like Doha or Abu Dhabi?
Pecuniam non olet.
Show me the money.
In the dim and distant past I recall an abortive attempt at a North American League which attracted the stellar (albeit by then waning) talents of George Best and Pele. History repeats. Beckham was on the way out by the time he moved to Real, thanks in part to that dour bastard Ferguson at United. I get the sense that there were few in the UK that wept many tears, except perhaps the Man U. hardliners. Such is British society; build ‘em up and tear ‘em down. It’s the rules. An issue is Beckham will stand out so much that clubs like Galaxy or Fire will need to spend a boatload more money to create a team around him that could actually play the game as a unit.
A report in today’s paper had it that in the US sah-karr is a game for kids, women and Hispanics. Sure, there’s a million soccer moms, and exhibition games seem to attract a fair crowd, the national Women’s team is great and it’s always terrific to see the boys play in the World Cup. But. Despite Beckham and whoever else might be attracted to the game in the States, I can’t honestly see it really taking off. Soccer challenging the NBA? Football? Baseball? I don’t think so. The reverse is also true; basketball rivalling soccer in Europe? Nah.
Does it matter? Not a bit. The Beckhams will earn a king’s ransom, and good luck to them. There’ll be another hero to adore, the league will make a shekel or two, stylists might have a tad more inspiration (I’m open to argument on that one) and more kids will spend more time in the fresh air, rather than being huddled over a steaming Xbox.
Plus, if Disney or whomever wake up and give the squirrel from Ice Age his dues with a full-length feature, they’ve got the voice artist right there.
Oh, and happy New Year. Look after your nuts. May your God go with you.