Monday, March 24, 2008
Sokwanele’s Creative Use of Internet Technology
Check out what Sokwanele, one of Zimbabwe’s most powerful voices in support of non-violent, democratic change, is using Google Maps in a unique and powerful way. By mapping election irregularities Sokwanele is showing us just how “fair” the upcoming elections are going to be. For instance, I can see in Bulawayo, where I lived for a time when I was a boy, that there have been cases of political cleansing, violence, and disruptions of the right to freedom of association.
Clicking on one of the icons on the map brings up a synopsis of the story and a link to the incident in their database. The offenses can be filtered by incident type, too.
It may not change the results, but dictators like Mugabe don’t often do well with bright light shining on their transgressions.
I hate that Sokwanele’s creative use of the technology is so necessary, but glad that technology is serving a good cause.
Monday, March 17, 2008
All That Glisters and Stuff of That Nature
There’s a great big oops involved somewhere in this story.
None of which makes it easier for me to lay out a Russian language magazine when I have no understanding of the language whatsoever. Just sayin’.
Sunday, March 16, 2008
Mugabe’s Government: Strangely Resistant to Change
Robert Mugabe’s government is signaling rather loudly that it will not only do what it can to influence the vote in upcoming elections, but that it might not abide by election results if they don’t like them.
You might imagine that a country with six digit inflation, a wrecked economy, and little in the way of opportunities for its people might be in the mood for change. Not Obama level change, mind you, but real change that might allow the country to find its way out of the wilderness. In practice it hasn’t worked that way because of a combination of constitutional rule changes rigged to give the ruling government a head start in every election, strong arm tactics by government agencies, some remaining popularity because of Mugabe’s war record, a system of payoffs and corruption that has allowed Mugabe to influence the most powerful people in the country, no recognizable free press, and the dependency of voters on the largesse of the government.
But there was always the hope that an overwhelming response from voters might provide change when they finally grew tired of their government’s incompetence. For supporters of the MDC and other opposition organizations--not to mention we outsiders who hope only the best for Zimbabwe--can’t help but feel even more disheartened by the increased open defiance of democratic principles. Not surprised, necessarily, but deeply disappointed.
There is a point to be made from this, as well, for us about the dangers of dependence on the government for our livelihoods. I’m going to leave it alone for another day, though.
Thursday, March 13, 2008
South Africa: Not a Great Place to be Gay
I subscribe to a number of RSS feeds that serve me up a regular dose of the news from South Africa. The news is startlingly violent and I normally dig past the stories of murders, attacks, and brutality to read the political stories--it’s not me nurturing a blind spot, but the violence is so much of the news that it sort of becomes distracting if you pay too much attention to it.
This story about “corrective rape” caught my eye, though.
There is no greater point to be made but that it remains a vicious world out there and we’re awfully lucky to be living in the developed, Western nations.
Thursday, February 21, 2008
There Should Be Some Kind of Award for This…
Not every country could hit 100,000% inflation and still claim to be “functional"--although that term might be overstating things a tad.
So, congratulations to Mugabe for breaking new ground; sympathy to the citizens for having to live under such a nincompoop.
Someday, when Mugabe is gone and someone is trying to pick up the pieces that are left, Mugabe’s defenders and apologists will be able to look on all this and laugh. Mostly because they were probably taking payoffs the entire way through and fat stacks of $10 million (Zim) notes still look impressive. “Ha ha ha, that Mugabe, he was always such an overachiever.”
I’m trying to put together the financing to do a trip to Mozambique next year--an actual journalistic endeavor of sorts--and was hoping to hop the border to get a look at Zimbabwe, too. I wonder how possible that will be this time next year?
Tuesday, February 05, 2008
Hope, from the Sokwanele Blog, explains a little about normalcy in Zimbabwe. As always, Sokwanele remains an excellent resource for gaining a realistic understanding of what life is like in Mugabe’s country--a frustrating, ugly view, no doubt, but far more honest than anything you’ll read from New African’s Baffour Ankomah, an apologist who not only glosses over the depredations of Mugabe’s government, but blames Western powers for Zimbabwe’s economic woes.
Wednesday, December 12, 2007
Dog Collar Protest
While Archbishop of York John Sentamu’s protest might be a tad dramatic, it brought attention to what he was saying on this clip from YouTube. And what he was saying was just good sense.
For Zimbabwe to even begin addressing its problems--dead economy, broken infrastructure, joblessness, a decimated farming industry, eroding freedoms, widespread hunger--Mugabe has to go. Leaving our disgust and anger silenced won’t make that happen and neither, apparently (and just as disgustingly), will leaving it to Mugabe’s neighbors. What will make it happen--or, at least, help prepare for what happens when he dies or is too old to carry on as the head of state--is to support grassroots organizations like Sokwanele--folks who work for democratic change and the protection of personal liberty in Zimbabwe. From their About Sokwanele page:
When you run into people who insist that everything is fine in Zim, that it isn’t as bad as the media portray, and that the only problems are caused by the financial sanctions from the West, visit Sokwanele and read their writing, see the pictures, and understand that these are Zimbabwe’s citizens. I applaud them for what they are doing.
Thanks very much to Matthew from Billy Ockham for pointing out the video.
Tuesday, December 11, 2007
AfricaBlog will be re-launching at the beginning of 2008--I’m aiming for New Years day because I need the deadline and because I like the symbolism. This is open to people of all political stripes who are willing to respect other opinions enough to have serious, adult conversations; it won’t be about creating outrage, it will be about honest discussion and debate. I will be reaching out directly to some writers that I respect from other sites and hope to play host to diversity in political opinion, nationality, and cultural backgrounds.
Point being: I will again be aiming for a group blog with people willing to commit to posting at least once a week or so. If you would like to sign on, let me know. If you know someone who should sign on, let them know.
Friday, December 07, 2007
I Didn’t Know it Was Possible to Insult the Zimbabwean Dollar…
With a single matchstick costing something on the order of Z$3,000, according to the BBC, is it any wonder that someone might choose to use Z$.10 notes as gimmick business cards? They certainly aren’t useful for anything else and to print real business cards would be far more expensive.
But anyone trying such a thing might do well to remember that Mugabe’s regime isn’t known for a sophisticated sense of humor.
Does it possibly get better for Zimbabwe before it gets tremendously worse? There’s little on the shelves, scant hard currency (meaning: stable currency from outside of Zimbabwe) to import things like fuel, infrastructure failing, and not nearly enough food to eat. With inflation having, apparently, achieved escape velocity, the economy is certainly wrecked; it’s hard to imagine a recovery any time in the near future without the help of outside agencies. It’s impossible to imagine that help coming while Mugabe still rules.
In the words of the Boomer Bible, “Poor bastards.”
Wednesday, December 05, 2007
Why Zombyboy Will Never Be a Household Name
Zombyboy will never be a household name because, firstly, it’s kind of a goofy name, and, secondly, with a full time job my opportunity to take part in some of the things I’ve been invited to do becomes remarkably difficult.
For instance, I got an email today from a gentleman at the BBC asking if I would like to be on their “radio programme called World Have Your Say” to discuss how Africa can achieve peace and prosperity. Instead of loosing my brilliance and voice on a world crying out for my guidance (just kidding about that bit), I was knee deep in direct marketing projects.
My job so frequently gets in the way of my happiness…
Thursday, November 29, 2007
Why They Continue to Fail
In a sign of phenomenal regional stupidity, the Southern African Development Community--SADC--is forming ranks around Robert Mugabe and threatening to kill off a summit with the EU scheduled to begin next week.
Sadly, I can’t say that this is unprecedented. The truth is that post-colonial African leaders have a long-standing habit of protecting their neighbors from legitimate criticism, preferring to ignore the corruption and misrule in the region partially, I’ve always believed, as a way of ensuring that they themselves never have to face that criticism. I don’t attack you, you don’t attack me.
Or perhaps it simply stems from some strange belief that they are fortifying southern Africa diplomatically against incursions from a hostile Western world. If that is the case, then it goes far in proving that billions of dollars in financial, food, and material aid don’t go far in buying good will; while the West may hold the markets and the purse strings, many African leaders (and their overdeveloped sense of entitlement) insist on setting an agenda that doesn’t include changes in how they govern and how their economies are structures.
If the EU isn’t even allowed to raise the issue of gross negligence in the governing of countries like Zimbabwe, then no honest dialogue about Southern Africa can possibly take place.
But, again, that’s hardly surprise.
My beliefs on aid--and the importance of those Southern African states to the national security interests of the US--don’t necessarily mesh with most of my conservative and libertarian friends, but I think we could agree on this: without continued and aggressive changes to the governance of those states, our aid money is being wasted. Why continue throwing money down a well when there’s somebody at the bottom digging the hole ever deeper? I applaud the European leaders who are boycotting the summit over the inclusion of Mugabe; I wonder what the remaining leaders will do when faced with this very obvious and very hostile maneuver from the SADC?
Regardless, with the SADC putting up this block to a meaningful summit, an accidental message is being sent to the United States, too. When devising future aid packages, we now know that, regardless of some of the more impressive political changes in countries like Mozambique and South Africa, the urge to provide cover for the most corrupt and self-destructive of their members is strong enough to threaten an important summit with the European Union.
And that is one of the biggest reasons that these countries have continued to fail.
Thanks to Robin Roberts for pointing me toward the story.
Monday, November 12, 2007
Zimbabwe Horrors, Part 1
The continuing crisis in Zimbabwe sometimes loses its human face. The numbers are abstracts, the horrors far removed. But the people suffering have names and the stories of their suffering are terrifying. Adonis Musati was a young man who died because Mugabe has utterly failed the people of Zimbabwe.
There is no food, the money is useless, the jobs almost impossible to come by. There is precious little hope for the failed nation at this point and the exodus of those hoping to find jobs and food in neighboring countries grows. Countries don’t topple without effecting the nations around them; ZImbabwe’s slow motion fall will continue to fill countries like South Africa with needy, poor refugees who aren’t prepared to fend for themselves.
Staring in horror isn’t much of a policy suggestion when it comes to suggesting ways to help right Zimbabwe’s sinking economy. For that matter, with Mugabe still planted firmly at the wheel and looking to run, again, for reelection, it’s hard to imagine any policy prescription that could do much to change the situation. Until Mugabe is gone, ZImbabwe is lost.
Wednesday, November 07, 2007
Is Communism Dead in Africa?
The question posed by the Beeb to its readers: Is communism dead in Africa?. The reader responses are--as they always are to these open questions--entertaining and enlightening (if, at times, utterly maddening).
This is, of course, just a small sampling of the opinions. What is most enlightening is the insight the answers can give to the minds of Africans--it’s rarely a friendly place for the west in general and for America in specific.
Friday, October 26, 2007
The Zomby is Gone
Admit it: you’ll miss me while I’m gone. I’m off to a land where there is much beautiful stuff, beaches, warmth, and booze--and where I can hide from everyone and everything for a few days of overpriced overindulgence.
While I’m gone--and before my two buddies, Don and Jerry, start imparting their wisdom--I thought I’d leave you with a handful of links.
First, Macomber introduces me to Drowning Pool. I mean, I already knew of the band, but now I know a lot more about the band--and this one is for the soldiers. Good stuff.
They should have kicked him in the balls a few times, too. Anthony Anderson is a sick, inhuman bastard.
Ridiculously cool and creative artwork for graphics geeks. I mean, wildly inventive.
No one wants to give me the power of invisibility. I like to think of myself as a reasonably ethical guy, but some temptations are just too hard to resist. Just sayin’.
Some fights are worth losing. No, that isn’t the sound of creeping anti-Americanism, just the belief that even Americans get it wrong some time. If I have time, I’ll address this further when I get back.
Okay, you are now cleared to start missing me. Don’t cry. I’ll probably be back.
I mean, unless the plane falls down or something.
Tuesday, September 18, 2007
Celebrating the Smaller Failures
Of course, you may as well celebrate the small failures when the really really big ones have been piling up for years.
I certainly hope nobody actually takes this as good news, though.
Friday, September 07, 2007
Moving on from naked Hudgens (see previous) and onto naked incompetence (and the pain that it brings), here’s a brief note about Zimbabwe.
While it’s hard to understate the massive incompetence of Mugabe’s government or the fragile state of the country, I would be lying if I didn’t say that I’ve been just as impressed by the resilience of both the regime and the citizens. That’s one of the things that I loved about my time there, though: it was obvious that Zimbabwe was people by folks who, though relaxed, never stopped moving forward. That the country hasn’t completely and utterly fallen into chaos is as much a testament to their will to maintain a civilized view of their situation as it is a reflection of the oppressive tactics of Mugabe.
Why do I want to live there? It certainly isn’t the creature comfort, the stability, or the great health care; it’s that I deeply admire the people and love the country.
Tuesday, August 21, 2007
Correction or Clarification (Update)
Marty Peretz statements about Mbeki (“Mbeki the Nutcase”) are appreciated, but I’m relatively certain that he’s wrong about this bit:
I’m fairly certain that Zimbabwe left the Commonwealth in a bit of a snit a few years back. 2003 maybe? Must check and see…
Anyway, it’s a small point in an otherwise funny little attack on Mbeki.
Update: And right I am.
Which report is seconded by the Beeb.
And, finally, so does the Commonwealth itself:
Monday, August 20, 2007
Talk About Irony
Apparently, if you search for “‘Keep Mugabe in Power’ foreign aid”, you come to RSong. Which couldn’t be more in opposition to my way of thinking.
Down with Mugabe! Hooray democracy!
For more meaningful commentary on the plight of Zimbabwe (going back some four years or so), you can read here and here (the old, lamented AfricaBlog). You can also search the old posts in ResurrectionSong’s old MT-driven site, although many of those posts will be duplicates of the AfricaBlog stuff.
For current news, be sure to stop by Sokwanele’s blog. Not only is the writing illuminating, but the writers are good people who want only the best for their country. As much as Mugabe’s apologists want to make opposition sound as if it comes from imperialist lackeys, the truth is quite different.
Sunday, August 12, 2007
Nigeria Continues to Drift (Update)
Offered without comment from the Beeb.
Update: More Nigerian drift.
Thursday, July 26, 2007
“The economy is down on its knees.”
The title is a sentence from one of the emails from Zimbabwe that the Beeb is running. These notes give a view into the growing disaster of Zimbabwe’s economy.
For another view, Sokwanele has been tracking changes in business for some time now.
Of course, the country’s own propagandists (and for those of you who think that American media are lapdogs of the administration, I submit that you don’t have the proper respect for our free press), see the situation differently. The support for Mugabe is unwavering, as is the call for price controls.
Which, while it’s awfully nice that the noble Mugabe is protecting Zimbabweans from the prowling enemy that is harassing, nay, haunting them, the idea that price controls will somehow stop hyperinflation is idiotic. Moneyweb has a clear view:
All that Mugabe will do, with his strict price controls, is make the underground economy more important and, in my view, raise the likelihood of violence in Zimbabwe. When the official economy is so broken that it doesn’t match the realities of the citizens, then one of the threads that binds a government and the governed is severed. When faith that the government represents the people reasonably and fairly fails, then another of those threads is gone. When people stop believing that peaceful methods--voting, non-violent protest, open and frank discussion of grievances--can cause change, they will ultimately turn to violence.
In Zimbabwe, faith in government is mostly gone and the official economy is near irrelevance. The stories of violence, protest, repression, and corruption are growing; Zimbabwe is near collapse. The only questions remaining in my mind are just how bad that collapse will be, how much bled will end up shed, and what will replace the government when it finally fails?
© 2005 by the authors of ResurrectionSong. All rights reserved.
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