Blog Archive

Tuesday, September 16, 2008

Just before I'm gone again..

..I'll succumb for once to the urge I've been fighting not to put up a post here since I last wrote one a couple of months ago.
I assumed it would take a while to come back to blogging, but truth be told, not this long.
The convinction that the world was not missing much kind of kept me going.
But the intervening period has been nothing short of fun, especially if you like political conventions (American -style), the Olympics and Russian invasions.
That about sums up what I might have offered my 2-pence opinion on.
So while we contemplate who among Sarah, Barack, Joe or John makes it to the White House and Number One Observatory Circle respectively, or the possibilities of warming up for another cold war, let us be rest assured of one thing - your beloved Xchange 2.0 will try not to break its avowed silence on those issues.

Reason: There are a lot of other more important things going on in the world.

And we'll bring them to your attention here starting in full next week, when I come back from a short family visit.

To keep you going till then, consider this: The colour of your skin could mean a higher interest rate from your lender. It's one of some suprising insights I stumbled upon here from the world of social science research.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Adieu: Humanitarian Intervention

There's talk that the era of humanitarian intervention is well and truly over before it ever gained full lift-off. The concept was championed in the late 90s and the early parts of this decade by the likes of Tony Blair and Bill Clinton. But Madeleine Albright (who was Clinton's Secretary of State) has written an obituary of sorts in an OpEd in today's New York Times.

Simon Jenkins writing in the Sunday Times echoed the demise of this concept with a caption that said it all: "You’re safe, Mr Mugabe; we will not act".

So why is the case that in 3 of the 'low hanging fruit' scenarios for humanitarian intervention, Zimbabwe, Burma & Sudan, the champions of yesterday have been merely content with issuing statements and making all the usual noises today?

FP Passport sees the reason for this as being the China Factor. Hear them:
"Guess who is not too enthusiastic about humanitarian intervention in places like Burma, Sudan, and Zimbabwe, and guess who's vastly more powerful than in the 90s?"

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

Commentariat Index (CI) - 200508

The biggest story out of Africa his week has to be the xenophobia raging down in South Africa.
Justice Malala, one of South Africa's leading commentators opened his piece in yesterday's Times of South Africa with the following words:

"President Thabo Mbeki and his ANC successor Jacob Zuma were refugees in London, Zambia, Nigeria, Swaziland and Mozambique, among other places, between 1962 and 1990.
I mention this for those of my countrymen and women who have short memories. We should be ashamed that it is us who are today raping, looting and killing foreigners apparently because they “steal” our houses and “our women”."

The rest of his column is here

The highly regarded Charlene Smith weighs in with a revelation that the source of the violence against foreigners can be traced to the upper echelons of South African society.

"The attacks on foreigners have brought shame to our nation. And again, it is the result of not acknowledging a problem, as well as one of xenophobia within the cabinet. A senior member of cabinet told me shortly after returning from exile, “we must never allow Nigerians into our country, they are criminals.” Another privately referred to the dignified wife of one of our most revered statesmen as a “kwerekwere” — disparaging slang for a foreigner"

Christi van der Westhuizen goes for the jugular: Listen to her

"This is us. No miracle nation. No rainbow nation. Just us: violent; intolerant of difference — hitting where it hurts. Let’s not try to sweet-talk ourselves. This is who we are. Let’s look ourselves in the eye."

Some of the heavyweights of the Nigerian Commentariat are out in full voice today. Though not about the events in South Africa. They rather focus on issues closer to home:

Pat Utomi (The Guardian): Nigeria's public space and reason embattled

Tunji Bello (Thisday): Power Probe: The Obasanjo Defence – An Appraisal

Azu Ishiekwene (The Punch): The shocking truth about power

Olatunji Dare (The Nation): Ogbulafor: Only 60 years?

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Just back in...

...from a drink and munch at my friends' in the next street. What a great day this has been.

This is the beginning (not the end) of a great day.

Thanks to everyone who got in touch today, I truly appreciate you all.

The pick of the pack was Folasade's 4 year old niece wishing me "Happy Many Returns"

You need to watch this

In continuation of my study of Martin Luther, I just watched this brilliant documentary on the Protestant Revolution.

I highly recommend it. It sheds light on the fascinating journey of what has come out of one man's understanding of an idea, and his decision to share such with others.

Watch here

Live blogging an anniversary

A few of the thoughts that I've been coming across lately now seem to be coming together and I'm trying to figure it all out as best as I can.

So in between working, listening to great music on klove and clearing out some clutter, I'll be liveblogging my birthday this year. Do check here often today.

Let me share 2 of these thoughts of mine. Lately, I've been reading up on Martin Luther and the influence of his thoughts and writings on the way we all live today. His 'big break' moment, we hear came with the discovery of a sentence from St. Paul's letter to the Romans. The Good Book records it in Romans 1:17 and that verse ends with these words: "The Righteous will live by faith."

This connected with a reference that a prince once made to faith. This morning, I read an account of that prince's role in a successful military campaign. His words: "Come let's go over to the enemy's outpost...perhaps the LORD will act on our behalf."

This new year, I've made up my mind to step up and do what's on my mind, who knows, perhaps a Greater Force will back me up. Will you do the same?

Friday, May 09, 2008

The Power of the Commentariat

On Wednesday, a report titled 'The Power of the Commentariat' by Julia Hobsbawm and John Lloyd was published. The report was focused on the British commentarati and it's a compelling read for government personnel, party officials, policy wonks and evryone interested in the media's influence on politics.

There's a pdf version of the report here

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Game Changing Tuesday

What is my own? It can only be game changing for Barack or Hillary, but how does that affect or concern a Yoruba boy 'biding in Northern Europe?

Truth is, whoever becomes POTUS among them two will take decisions that affect the rest of the world. (Did I hear me say - give us a break?). So here's the real truth...tell me who doesn't just like the spectacle of this political contest. Fascinating stuff my peeps!

In the lead up to the vote today, Obama's former best pastor has been an issue, and now Christopher Hitchens really thinks Michelle is the reason why Barack hadn't 'rejected and denounced' Pastor Jerry earlier, hence she is "responsible for this whole fiasco"

If by any fat chance anyone is reading this in IN or NC, then David Brooks comparison and contrasting of Hillary's Combat and the Composure of Barack might just make you change your voting game plan. That's if you've not already put both candidates through the 8 question test.

May the best man win today's game.

No, that wasn't a typo as James Carville already told us about her cojonnes!

Commentariat Index - 060508

The first 4 of today's selection have an economic bias. I'm not sure it's unconnected with today being my economist 'twin sister's' birthday. Maybe that's why my mind is somewhat selective in its way of saying Many Happy Returns.

Micheal Nyamute (East African Standard): How cottage industries can lead to more growth

"Indeed the role and importance of small-scale industries has equally been felt even in developed countries, with big business and industrial set-ups. How much more, then, should the developing economies pay attention to this sector?
It would be prudent for a developing economy like ours to turn attention and resources to ensuring this sector plays its rightful and vital role in uplifting the rural economy."

Tunji Bello (Thisday, Lagos): Before the Presidential Rice Arrives

"There are two critical issues we need to take up with the federal government on this matter. The first is that the issue of 500,000 MT of rice from Thailand is unrealistic and looks more of a public relations stunt. Thailand, currently the world’s largest producer of world rice, produces about 30 million tonnes yearly...
So how can Thailand now export about 17 per cent of its annual production to Nigeria alone? Certainly something is seriously missing in the so-called food emergency plan."

Thompson Ayodele (Mail & Guardian): Drug patents are beside the point

"As long as healthcare delivery remains in the hands of dysfunctional governments, the health of the poor in developing nations will not improve. Aid groups and policymakers must instead enlist the help and expertise of the private sector. The advantages of this are two-fold. First, it would reduce corruption, which certainly exists in the private sector as well, but private enterprises with ethical problems risk exclusion from the next round of programmes and contracts. Second, competition governs the private sector. Firms that fail or receive low marks from customers or aid organisations will lose out to competitors. Market participants are forced to improve productivity and patient care or face extinction."

John Moyibi Amoda (Vanguard, Lagos): Generator economy and the power crises

"Corruption is in the very structure of government and its routine practices. Once in a while the veil is taken away, the clouds are dispersed and we are face to face with corruption but fail to recognize it for what it is because of the ideas we have about it.
And because we cannot recognize it, we therefore cannot understand it, and we therefore make our own idea of corruption the reality of corruption. No wonder the more things seem to change, the more they remain the same."

Ernest Kofi Adu (Ghanian Chronicle): Should Criminal Libel be Revisited?

"News communication across borders, we are told, does not automatically lead to better understanding; often it results in enmity and distrust, since the profound political philosophies and differing social ideologies of individuals and parties that have characterized the nation so much prevent agreement on what is legitimate news, hence, the description – dangerous and criminal – for the practice of journalism in Ghana."

Michael Madill (Daily Monitor, Kampala): A government of whores; who is to blame?

"Every government is a parliament of whores. The trouble is, in a democracy the whores are us. These words of American journalist P.J. O'Rourke inspired a recent contribution to this newspaper in which the author wore the spirit of the words. I propose Ugandans consider their meaning for they weigh heavily, or ought to, on democracy."

Binyavanga Wainaina (Mail & Guardian): Pinned & wriggling on the wall

"Wikipedia: according to a British medical journal of 1972 haemorrhoids "are common in economically developed communities, rare in developing countries and almost unknown in tribal communities, where the influence of Western countries is slight."
This is not true. Mugabe is a haemorrhoid. He is not Aids, cancer, leukemia or malaria -- those things that can kill you"

Azu Ishiekwene (The Punch, Lagos): Again, the trouble with Africa

"Like immigration or globalisation, debating how Africa is reported is often a vexatious subject; it provides many people a good chance to enjoy an argument with a closed mind. It’s either you come to the debate feeling that in spite of Sean MacBride’s commission over two decades ago, all reports about Africa in the western media will continue to be about death, disease, despair and destruction; or you are asking whether this whole business is about Africans wanting a separate code of journalism that denies its own reality. It’s black or white, and no room in between for any shades of grey."

Nicholas Sengoba (Daily Monitor, Kampala): The road accidents and realities of failed states

"It is in these surroundings and circumstances that one comes face to face with the way citizens cope with some of the realities of a failed state. You get to know that the one who builds a road that ends up with potholes is not just corrupt but to many he makes decisions that gravely impact on the livelihoods of multitudes.The one who knocks road users off the road contributes more than statistics that add up to the tally of hit and run accidents. He is the beneficiary of weak, under funded and undermined state institutions such as the police and the judiciary which will never make him pay for the severe crime he unrepentantly commits as he recklessly uses the road."

Monday, May 05, 2008

Commentariat Index - 050508


Justice Malala (The Times, Jo'burg): Wake them up before you go-go

"This is a great country. It is great that journalists like me practise without fear. We raise our voices high and loud. We are ignored by power, but we are free.
What do we now need to make this country better? We need a leadership that peels off sentiment and begins to lead with purpose and resolve. We need a leadership that must pick a course and stay with it."

Mahmud Jega (Daily Trust, Abuja): Too many Cooks...

"Although there have been many spectacular probes at Federal, state and even local levels in Nigeria in the last 50 years, most of the reports ended up gathering dust on shelves in bureaucratic offices. In Nigeria here, thousands of people who were indicted by probe panels over the years are still walking the streets as free men and women; more than that, many of them ended up in even higher positions of authority, often through the instrumentality of "ill-gotten wealth," to use General Murtala Mohamed’s favourite phrase."

Edward Mulindwa (Daily Monitor, Kampala): Opposition Politics in Africa

"If Africa as a continent has to become “democratic” as per the West’s dictates, this policy must be across the board! Looking at the recent Zimbabwe’s elections, the West is not concerned about democracy in Zimbabwe at all.
All they want is to show Mugabe that what he did in 2000 about the land reforms did not please them and so, they want to have a Morgan Tsvangirai to right the wrongs. Democracy in the image of the West is good for Zimbabweans, but not for Ugandans, Gabonese, Egyptians or Libyans!"

Ebrahim Harvey (Mail & Guardian): What is the 'black struggle' really about?

"Mngxitama says 70 000 black children die before they reach the age of five. He implies that is purely because of continuing white racism. But it is, rather, the result of a much more complex story of deracialised neo-liberalism since 1994, which has produced Motsepes alongside gruelling black mass poverty"

Sam Omatseye (The Nation, Lagos): Comedy of Fear

"Laughter is closer to the darkness of our civilization than we may imagine.
"The difference between tragedy and comedy," remarks Aaron Allstoy, "tragedy is something awful happening to somebody else, while comedy is something awful happening to somebody else." Spot the difference."

Yesterday's Commnetarati

In spite of the usual saying that yesterdays newspaper is only good for wrapping today's fish & chips (or Boli & Suya in my case), I gleaned some interesting thoughts from 3 of the commentarati heavies that appeared in yesterday's papers. I've considered them worthy of sharing today beacuase they are sure worth a lot more than holding my chips and suya!

Ali Mazrui (East African Standard): African development, Islam and Afrindian experience
"While I do think cultural factors are profoundly relevant for development, I have been advising African policymakers and educators that it does not follow that more Western culture in Africa will mean more development. A combination of Western technique with indigenous culture is the secret of dramatic modernisation and development. Higher cultural westernisation in the Third World has not necessarily meant higher economic and developmental returns."

Thomas Friedman (New York Times): Who Will Tell the People?
"If all Americans could compare Berlin’s luxurious central train station today with the grimy, decrepit Penn Station in New York City, they would swear we were the ones who lost World War II.
How could this be? We are a great power. How could we be borrowing money from Singapore? Maybe it’s because Singapore is investing billions of dollars, from its own savings, into infrastructure and scientific research to attract the world’s best talent — including Americans."

Shashi Tharoor (Times of India): Were the doomsayers right after all?
"This has finally begun to stir the consciences of the world's politicians. Finance minister Chidambaram has called environmentally-justified crop-substitution a "crime against humanity". Outgoing Italian Prime Minister Romano Prodi recently declared that "something must be done to ensure [that] both the United States and Europe stop producing fuel in competition with food". Prodi was blunt about the political motivations for such heartless policies: "People can no longer be allowed to starve to death in Africa simply because some people in the United States or the European Union consider that the votes of farmers or landowners are worth more than the survival of millions of men and women." "

Fred Khumalo (Sunday Times, SA): All grist to the mill of Obama-bashers
"The US has got much to offer the world, and that excludes war.
That’s all Obama tried to convey in that memorable speech of his. It’s a message which, like Martin Luther King jnr’s “I have a dream” speech, will unfortunately not be appreciated today. But future generations will pay it the respect it deserves, by which time much damage would have been done by political administrations with an oil-and-conquest mentality."

Gary K. Busch - When a Drum Begins to Play a Higher Pitch, It's About to Break

"Tsvangirai and Biti announced, to the horror of the security chiefs in the Army and the Police, that the MDC would give back the farms which had been taken from their owners by ZANU-PF. Irrespective of the merits and morality of such an action a precipitate dislodging of the current occupiers would present the authorities with a security nightmare they knew they couldn’t control.. It was a recipe for conflict which no one could control. The security forces were alarmed. Even worse, when the issue of a transition to a possible new MDC government arose at the meeting in Lusaka, the MDC leadership told the African presidents that there were British Special Forces standing by at a ‘secret airbase’ in Botswana run by the Americans who would come in, arrest the Zimbabwe security chiefs, and take over internal security until order was re-established."