March 2005
Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
    1 2 3 4 5
6 7 8 9 10 11 12
13 14 15 16 17 18 19
20 21 22 23 24 25 26
27 28 29 30 31    

Recent Entries

free hit counter

RSS Feeds

RSS 1.0
RSS 2.0

July 30, 2003

A New Opportunity in Zimbabwe?

Opposition leaders in Zimbabwe attended President Mugabe's address to parliament yesterday, and the reaction couldn't be more mixed. Predictably, many are saying that the MDC (Movement for Democratic Change) essentially gave in to Mugabe by ending their boycotts of the addresses--giving Mugabe another dose of legitimacy when they could be applying more pressure to what could be a crumbling regime. Others insist that the move is designed to bring the MDC closer to real talks with Mugabe concerning the economic climate of the country.

Count me among the latter.

Zimbabwe is in the midst of a crippling economic crisis. Not only has this year's inflation rate of 364% (predicted by some to go as high as 700% by the beginning of next year) destroyed bank savings and investment, but the continuation of disastrous farm policies continues to make feeding the citizens of the country a matter of international charitable donations.

Growing dissent has led to even more strong-arm tactics from Mugabe's government led the Lawyers Committed for Human Rights to release a statement that contained this little nugget:

The Lawyers Committee is concerned that the SADC communiqué fails to fully acknowledge the severity of the human rights crisis in Zimbabwe, and the obstacle that these systematic violations place in the way of any resolution of the political, humanitarian and economic crises that increasingly threaten the country and the surrounding region.

Looking at the situation, what's most amazing is that Mugabe has survived these decades without being overthrown. But keep in mind that Liberia lasted for some 133 years under the same essential governmental system before their first coup--and from there the situation deteriorated to what we see today.

As much as everyone would like to see Mugabe gone, a revolution right now that toppled the government would lead to another unstable government in Africa. It would lead to a government incapable of meeting its people's needs and ripe for the same sort of thugocracy that Mugabe already has in place. In other words, it could quite possibly lead to a Zimbabwe that saw coup after coup replacing one bad government with another, one "President for Life" with another, and further impoverishing the citizens.

What is far more desirable is a move towards liberalization of the government that leads to real elections (not the kind overseen by dictator-apologist Jimmy Carter) and a stronger rule of law. If South Africa and Western countries tie food and economic aid to certain governmental behaviors, both short term and long term, it may still be possible to save not only the political structure, but the country's economy.

It's a slender hope, but the MDC's move might signal that Mugabe has opened up to reforms. He's not fool--and for a time, he was the hope for post-colonial Africa. He appeared, at first, to be a moderate who would work to unite the country regardless of racial or tribal make-up. He may realize that his only opportunity to save both himself and his country is in compromise and reform.

As I said, it's a slender hope, and he's mislead his opponents before, but the alternative right now is to see Zimbabwe dissolve into the kind of mess that we see in Liberia.

Read about the MDC attending Mugabe's address.
Read about Zimbabwe's economic crisis.
Read the LCHR news release.

Posted by zombyboy at 06:35 PM | Comments (0)

Bill from Industrial Blog

Hi everyone. This Africa Blog is a great idea and I'm pleased to join the other writers here. By way of introductions, I’m a 39-year-old newsletter writer from the Philadelphia area. I ran into Zombyboy on Dean Esmay's Web site, and wandered over from there and found Resurrection Song to be an outstanding blog. When he mentioned an African Blog and asked for volunteers, I thought it was a great idea and raised my hand.

By way of my own background, I lived in Central Africa for two years – serving in the U.S. Peace Corps as an English instructor near the Gabon-Congo border. Most of my knowledge concerns living in either the national capital or a small provincial capital, and learning from the Gabonese and West African expats I met there.

Even though I've been back eight years, I still miss it immensely. Africa is beautiful -- both the countryside and the people -- and it has a way of sticking with you. I'd recommend everyone go there immediately.

I'm looking forward to participating here any way I can, and discussing possible solutions to crises in Africa.

Posted by IB Bill at 02:31 AM | Comments (0)


I honestly don't believe we (or any entity) can address the issues of Africa without addressing this fundamental issue: are the current nation-state delineations acceptable? We've seen this in the Middle East, and it's worse in Africa. The nation borders are colonial precepts that did not take tribal continuity into account. Actually, they did. I believe many nations were carved out to divide tribes for purposes of control.

My opinion is the current boundaries must stay. Since all African nations are now recognized by the UN (I believe - I can't find an exception) each has sovereignty, a critical component to improvement, monetary access, and telecommunications infrastructure. Attempting to re-incorporate ancient tribal dominions will, in my opinion, create a maelstrom of confusion, and set back the real work. The real problem is compelling each nation to respect the rights of the minority tribes, while ensuring the true representation of the minorities. THAT is democracy, and it's damned hard to engender.

My opening shot of a ground rule. Please feel free to despoil/dispute/demean.

Posted by at 02:11 AM | Comments (8)


I'm Kim Crawford, aka Velociman, impresario of Velociworld. I'm excited to be part of AfricaBlog because I'm tired of looking at a big blank continent on my Mercator Projection. Africa, as the oldest scratching post of humanity, is also the most abused and neglected. And yet it offers the greatest opportunity for the most benighted souls on our planet. I look forward to helping raise awareness for the continent as a whole, and individual nations specifically.

Posted by at 01:43 AM | Comments (0)

July 29, 2003


You might notice that I'm working on the templates for the site. I'll be adding to the blogroll over the next few days featuring sites that support us by linking to us and sites that might provide other views on Africa. There will also be useful links added (thanks for the suggestion, Nathan) on the left as well.

I will leave most of the content-oriented blogging to the other amazing writers who have agreed to be part of the blog. This will last only until I have the site templates polished up--a few days at most.

If you have linked to AfricaBlog and I don't link to you, please let me know. I do check Technorati and my referrer logs regularly, but it's possible that I missed someone and it certainly isn't a personal slight. If you do need to email me, send the mail to africablog - at -

Posted by zombyboy at 11:42 PM | Comments (0)

You can call me Patrick.

I am a 32 year old single guy. The sixth of thirteen children. I live alone in a city near Los Angeles and I work as a city planner for a small suburban city east of Los Angeles. I am a graduate of a small Catholic liberal arts university in the Midwest where I studied “Humanities and Catholic Culture” and I am currently a student in the Masters of Urban and Regional Planning program at Cal Poly Pomona. God willing I will complete the program next Spring.

I have lived and worked in Rome, Italy for a non-profit for about eight months in 2000-2001. My job was to tend to the needs of our Eastern European and Asian branches. I gladly returned home and continued to pursue planning.

I was shocked when I was asked to participate in this blog. I feel a little intimidated by the knowledge of Africa and its problems that some of the other contributors have exhibited. My blog is exceedingly simple compared to the blogs of the other contributors.

Politically speaking I tend to be rather conservative. I am not a conservative because I think the political right has more moral authority. I am a conservative because I believe in the principles of limited government, strong military defense, free-market capitalism and individual liberty. I hold some basic principles of government and the role of the state that I believe are essential if the United States and the rest of the “Western world” are going to successfully address the problems of Africa.

The history of European colonialism in Africa fascinates me. The notion that we can just flood a people with western notions of government, liberty, religion, etc and then expect them to embrace it and carry on with it after we leave them to their own devices is ludicrous. I’d like to use this opportunity to examine the process of enculturation and the adaptation (or lack of both) of more “primitive” cultures to our Western culture. So I am interested in the cultural dynamics of Africa as a whole as well as the individual tribes and nations as far as they relate to what seems like perpetual chaos on the continent.

I hope that I can live up to the talent of the other contributors.

Posted by at 03:39 PM | Comments (3)

Concepts to Remember

There are two concepts that are helpful when discussing or considering Africa: colonialism and the Destabilization Loop.

The impact that colonialism had on Africa is much the same as other areas of the world, and has been mentioned several times in the context of problems we face in dealing with Iraq. The modern borders of nations had nothing to do with natural boundaries between homogenous peoples, interests or even languages. The borders were set for the convenience of the colonial powers. Sometimes to aid in administration, but often deliberately arranged so that ethnic groups were separated into separate nations and grouped with another ethnic group, so that one was always a distinct minority. The colonial power (whether England, France, Belgium, etc) would then put the minority group in power over the majority. This ensured that a significant minority would be educated, relatively wealthy, and firmly committed to supporting the European colonial power due to dependence on the colonial power to maintain the status quo with its military might.

Much of the instability we have seen over the last few decades in Africa is due to majority groups attempting to wrest back control from a minority group accustomed to being in power. One of the most tragic examples is that of Rwanda and Burundi. In both cases, the Tutsis were in placed in power, despite making up just 14-15% of the population. Most of the slaughter in that region comes from Hutus either trying to wrest control from the Tutsis or "getting revenge" for decades of oppression, or else the Tutsis trying to keep the Hutus cowed and in line. (thanks to IB Bill for the catch of my mistake)

The destabilization loop grows out of disturbances like I just described. The theory of the loop describes a domino-like progression, in which a country undergoes difficulties (a common one being the problems associated with overpopulation), and its citizens flee in droves. They flee to neighboring countries who lack the military force to prevent the refugee flow. The refugees are usually put into camps where the standard of living is poor. This acts as a fertile breeding ground for disease, which affects the health at large of the host nation. The host nation is also paying for the basics of living for these refugees, which puts a strain on their finances. Crime rises as people in the refugee camps get sick of living in squalor and attempt to raise their standard of living by force. Conditions deteriorate in the host country by the population pressure brought on by the refugees, and the government collapses, or a neighbor invades, or the military attempts a coup. In any case, the influx of refugees leads to crisis in the host nation in a fairly direct manner. The crisis in the host nation causes its citizens to flee into neighboring nations, destabilizing the new host nation, and so on.

This is something that has played out time and again, and is a big factor in Western Africa right now.

Posted by at 02:56 PM | Comments (3)


I’m a 35-year-old bum who works for the gubmint in some capacity. Alert readers probably already know, but I try not to advertise it.

I’m married with two adorable children. I’ve worked as a burger flipper, a counter person, a pizza deliverer, a waiter, a restaurant assistant manager, a salesman, and a linguist for the US Army. Sadly, my multiple applications for the position of “gigolo” were unanimously rejected. If you have any questions about my exciting career as a counter person, I’ll be glad to answer any questions.

My main interest is in Asia, and China in particular, but I have a vested interest in keeping at least a passing familiarity with what goes on everywhere in the world. I knew about many of the problems Liberia and other western African nations are facing now as long as 2 years ago, but I haven’t blogged about it because everyone always looked blank when I brought it up in conversation. Furthermore, it seemed rather straightforward: things really suck there, and no one cares to do anything about it because we have no national interest in the area. But when Zom By Boy offered the opportunity, I jumped at it. I hope you find my offerings worthwhile.

I think we need to get involved in Africa for several reasons.

First, I don’t think we can stand by and do nothing while a region of the world sinks into chaos and lawlessness. Peoples’ lives are being ruined and snuffed out as we speak. If it was right to intervene in Iraq because of the inhuman tortures perpetrated by the Saddam Hussein regime (and I think it was justified), then we are even more bound to intervene in West Africa, where amputation of both hands is a common practice to prevent the amputee from aiding the opposition. Yes, both sides do it. There are literally tens of thousands of people in Liberia, French Guiana, and the Ivory Coast who have no hands.

Second, Africa is a treasure house of natural resources. But these resources remain untapped, and the people destitute and unable to benefit from the resources because the nations are too unstable to make it worthwhile to develop. If we can help bring about (not impose) stability, the people could bootstrap themselves up to membership in the international political and trade/economic society.

Third, many of the world’s most deadly diseases have developed in Africa. The more stable the nations are, the better chance we have to stop the spread of a deadly epidemic before it depopulates the globe.

Fourth, the average lifespan of an African is something less than 35 years. I’m 35 years old, and I’m still growing in wisdom and knowledge. I still hope to do great things. I can expect to live to at least 70, and maybe 90, if I avoid accidents. But people in Africa are dying out before they can contribute significantly to the world. People are people, and the bell curve of intelligence distribution applies in Africa just as aptly as the US. (yes, nutrition problems probably skew the curve to the lower end) How many Einsteins, how many Leonardo Da Vincis, how many Mozarts have died young and uneducated, unable to develop their minds for the betterment of themselves, their neighbors and all mankind?

But it all comes down to stability. We must help stability grow, wherever we can.

I asked to join this blog because I think that we humans are far smarter in groups than we are individually. As we writers bounce ideas off each other, as you readers come and comment, critiquing or applauding points as you see fit, we will be able to revise our ideas, and the ideas will most likely percolate through humanity, and maybe we can create a landslide of interest and concern about/for/in Africa, together.

I also agree wholeheartedly with Kelley’s reasons to participate, but she put it so much better than I could, I’ll just say, “me, too.”

Posted by at 02:55 PM | Comments (0)

Let the introductions continue

First of all, great thanks are due to zombyboy for putting this together and allowing me to contribute to it. He's started something special here, and I'm proud to be a part of it.

As for me?

I'm a 28 year old administrative professional from Fresno, California. I have a degree in English and did a short hitch in the Navy, and I know very little about Africa. As a matter of fact, I proposed that I be included in this project on that basis, thinking that it might be useful to have such a person in the group. I'll be learning all sorts of things as I go, and hopefully I can bring a fresh perspective to the discussion.

That said, there are a few subjects that particularly interest me. I've been loosely following the debates over food aid and the introduction of genetically modified foods to Africa. There's a lot of contention there, since the policies of most of Europe and the policies of the United States are directly opposed in this area. I'm also quite interested in delving into how policies on other environmental issues may be helping or hurting the continent.

In addition, I'm a news and politics junkie in general, so look for me in some of the debates over issues of military intervention, the role of the United Nations, and our own role in bringing about a peaceful--and prosperous--Africa.

And I think we do have a role. From a purely practical standpoint, we do have interests in Africa that extend to our national security. We'll be talking about specific instances here, I'm sure, but in a larger sense, leaving Africa to fend for herself is, I believe, a long-term threat to the security and stability of the world.

Beyond that, though, we style ourselves a civilized nation. Our policies affect the world, directly or indirectly. If we do not look at what's happening there, if we turn a blind eye to the suffering and the bloodshed, then I believe we are lying to ourselves about the very things we are most proud of.

I'm very much looking forward to, just perhaps, being a very small part of the solution.

If you'd like to visit my home blog, I can be found at The Accidental Jedi. If you want to e-mail me directly, the address is

Posted by at 07:02 AM | Comments (1)

Hello, My Name Is:

First, I'd like to thank zombyboy for taking the time to set up AfricaBlog, and for asking me to contribute regularly. My name is Kelley Martin, and I run a blog called suburban blight. I'd like to take a moment of your time to tell you a little bit about myself, and explain why and what I will be posting here at AfricaBlog.

My curriculum vitae: I'm 33 years of age, married with children. I live in the southeastern United States now, but I lived in Northern California for a few years, and I've traveled in Europe and the South Pacific. I have a degree in history from a major University in this state, as well as various and sundry other certifications in really useful things like Women's Studies and Soviet Studies. I studied extemporaneous debate heavily during college, which instilled a deep-seated belief in the value of heated (yet gentlemanly) discourse.

I have been a market research analyst, an artist's model, a singer, an antiquities broker, a technical education consultant, a systems administrator, and a housewife since I left the University.

My politics range from far right to far left. I'd describe myself as a libertarian, if pressed, but my current political philosophy has more to do with seeing past partisan or nationalist smokescreens and trying to get at the truth than with self-classification. I believe in liberty, justice, and personal responsibility.

I jumped at the chance to be a part of AfricaBlog because I am deeply, deeply concerned about what I see happening on several areas of the continent. The most glaring, of course, is the situation in West Africa, where American troops are soon to be committed, where actual cannibalism is said to have been practiced during the fighting.

Beyond the current news-grabbing scenario in Liberia, Africa is a land of a thousand different cultures - most of them dying of AIDS and AIDS-related illnesses. Millions of emotionally scarred orphans are being created all over the continent on a monthly basis, while superstition and governmental denial prevent the distribution of life-saving treatment.

I feel shame for humanity when I hear of slavery in the Sudan, genital mutilation in Egypt, hundreds of child-rapes in Namibia, where it is widely believed that sex with a virgin (of any age, down to newborn babies) can cleanse a man of HIV.

Many Americans believe that Africa is not our problem. And yes, in a perfectly objectivist reality, that statement is factually correct. But an entire continent on this planet is rotting at its core - and someone had damned well better find some solutions before Africa becomes a post-apocalyptic wasteland.

In short, I want to be part of the solution. As a member of AfricaBlog, I'll try to bring unique stories to the blog, perhaps the smaller stories that take a back seat to large-scale conflicts like the one in Western Africa. I want to delve deeply into the AIDS crisis in Africa, and into the governmental responses to the pandemic. I want to try to make sense of what's going on, and attempt to offer constructive editorial prose on the items I present.

If you'd ever like to reach me to give me personal feedback, feel free to e-mail me at my home blog, kelley [at] suburbanblight [dot] net.

Posted by at 04:51 AM | Comments (16)

July 25, 2003


The banner for AfricaBlog was made using images from African Ceremonies, an amazingly beautiful look at Africa's diverse cultures.

Carol Beckwith and Angela Fisher's lifelong commitment to photographing the vanishing rituals and customs of tribal African cultures culminates in their monumental masterwork, AFRICAN CEREMONIES. Ten years in the making, this definitive work contains nearly 850 full-color photographs covering dozens of ceremonies that span the human life cycle: from birth and initiations, through courtship and marriage, royal coronations, seasonal rituals and healing exorcisms, to death.

Quite worth your time.

Check out

Posted by zombyboy at 08:43 PM | Comments (1)

Welcome to the Africa Blog

Africa Blog is taking shape, and I have a wonderful group of writers prepared to bring you news and analysis of Africa. The goal is to create a site that focuses on the challenges faced by the West in developing policies that help lift the continent of Africa out of the political and economic strife that has plagued the continent.

Out of the discussion, we hope to create a different kind of blog. Instead of simply picking apart policies and pointing to problems, we hope to offer new views that lead to solutions to these problems.

Thanks for coming and taking part in what I hope will be a successful experiment. Look, soon, for introductions from the great writers who will be taking part in this site.

Posted by zombyboy at 08:00 AM | Comments (16)
Contributors to
Deb Yoder
IB Bill
About AfricaBlog
Submissions Guidelines

Contact Us At