Tag Archives: Africa

A SILVER LINING TO A DRAGON CLOUD


 A recent common complaint in my social circles has been the creeping colonization of our country by the Chinese – all sorts of people are complaining about finding Chinese shops, from big malls in the cities to small shops/cafes in the smaller towns and dorps. Why, I’ve even seen Chinese pedestrians walking back from the shops (presumably, because they’re carrying the ubiquitious plastic bags) in my own neighbourhood, and this is a first for me.

My son travels on a monthly basis on business to three African countries : Angola, Nigeria and Ghana and he says he sees growing evidence of Chinese business enterprises in all three countries. Apparently the Chinese are heavily into big construction projects all over Africa, and sadly, they insist on importing their own Chinese labourers to work on these schemes.   How they get away with this beats me – actually, I know how they get away with it – the word is ‘corruption’ which is endemic all over Africa. But it’s a crying shame, given the vast, unemployed, unskilled pool of labour readily available in Africa. They’re hungry for jobs, education and (often) food. And yet African government ignore their own citizens  and permit the import of foreign labour. Makes no sense at all.  On a recent flight to Luanda, Angola, my son said there were so many Chinese passengers on board that the flight attendant gave the safety spiel in Mandarin!  That should tell us all something!

Given the high level of rhino poaching in South Africa – and it has reached epidemic proportions –  forecasters are saying that within 30 years there will be no rhinos left.  And this to feed the Asian trade in traditional medicine. I’m sure I don’t need to tell you that many Asians regard powdered rhino horn as an aphrodisiac? Which – scientifically speaking – it is not. But that doesn’t seem to matter to the greedy traders and poachers. Public opinion and sentiment says it does the trick to revive a wilting willy.  One of the  cruel ironies of this situation is that in China, if anybody is caught poaching the Chinese National Animal, to whit, the Giant Panda, they automatically receive the death sentence.  Finish and klaar. No messing around. That’s it – bang, you’re dead.

What a pity that African countries don’t adopt the same strategy – poach our rhinos and elephants for the horns and ivory and you get the chop. Again – corruption is the answer. Greedy politicians are making way too much money out of the trade to stop it.

A recent joke doing the rounds on the internet showed a sign proclaiming : Dried testicles from rhino poachers – best natural Viagra!  Now there’s a brilliant thought, don’t you think so?

9 Comments

Filed under POLITICS, SOCIAL COMMENT, Uncategorized

MY BLOGOVERSARY – 100th POST


English: Caravan approaching Timbuktu in 1853 ...

English: Caravan approaching Timbuktu in 1853 (from Travels and Discoveries in Northern and Central Africa by Prof. Dr. Heinrich Barth, vol. iv, London 1858) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Recently a friend asked why I’d chosen Despatches from Timbuktu as my blog title?

I explained that I’d dreamed up and discarded lists of prospective blog titles. Somehow The Foxed Page, Lexical Kedgeree, or From Vellum to Paperback  weren’t right. None of them blew my hair back. And then, from who knows where, in floated Despatches from Timbuktu. I liked it. It was unusual, without being twee or crazy. It reflected the fact that I’m writing from the African continent (let’s not get picky about the fact that Timbuktu is 6000  kilometres from Cape Town; I did say Africa  remember?)

For as long as I can remember the name Timbuktu has had the aura of a place very far distant, immeasurably far away, an exotic foreign destination. In fact, as a child, I thought Timbuktu was a mythical place name that denoted beyond the back of beyond, if not the ends of the earth itself. It wasn’t until much later in my life when I realised that Timbuktu  genuinely existed  – what would we do without National Geographic? Thanks to DSTV’s Travel channel I was able to see its spiky towers, low mud houses, the dusty palms, the white robed turbanned figures, the whole North African thing … but it was still distant and exotic. Tick that box.

The more I rolled the name around in my head, the better it felt.  I wanted to write  about travel, about the unknown, about books,  about life, about anything and everything. I liked the word ‘despatches’. It speaks of  bulletins from bands of explorers –  urgent communications from  brave warriors sending news home from the battlefront – carrier pigeons, Morse code, crackly radio messages, sand-scoured bottles containing tightly curled parchment, rolling up onto the beach to be read by incredulous beachcombers …people and events  strange and distant, mirages hovering on the edges of history and dreams.

Lately I’ve noticed in an upswing on hits to my blog, particularly from unusual places like Egypt, I suspect it’s all to do with the troubles in Mali, the Islamist insurgents roaring around that part of Africa. Sorry guys – nothing in this blog about historic/scholarly/religious topics. Just book reviews, travel pieces, opinion pieces, a sprinkling of short-short fiction, and (no doubt, baffling to earnest political types) the exploits of my four-legged companion, the inimitable Chocolat.

My blog name will remain as is, unless I have another flash of inspiration and choose to change it. Chocolat suggests we change the name to Cat’s Chronicles, or Paws for Thought, but I’m ignoring her. So the religious zealots, the political plotters, the poli-sci students, the bearded weirdos,  will all have to continue grinding their teeth in frustration as they troll through my blog, hunting for the elusive nugget of information they’d hoped to find. Perhaps, en route, they might even enjoy a little of what they’ve read in their searches. I hope so.

That takes care of the casual searchers.  And now to my Regular Readers: thank you for following my myriad posts, for slogging through my travels, enduring my rants, reading my stories, mulling over my reviews.  I hope to continue entertaining and amusing you for many years to come.

Viva, the 100th Blog Post!

13 Comments

Filed under CHOCOLAT: MY CAT, HUMOUR, WRITING