Monthly Archives: May 2009

Friday Afternoon Africana

Because this is the perfect example of what happens when traditional South African rhythms get mixed with Western style rock and roll. Johannesburg’s BLK JKS:

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This Week in the Great Lakes

1. Rwanda continues to chant, “We Don’t Want Your Aid.”  But we will take your peace-inducing jazz bands.

2. UN Mission to Congo says prisons in the Kivus really suck; unsure whether being outside is any better.

3. Rwanda makes a play to get itself some water lovin’ from the Nile Base Initiative.

4. Eve Ensler ties rape and coltan together, confounding all correlates of a war situation. Claims every time you make a phone call

5. Nothing better for peace-building than forcing refugees to repatriate back to Burundi.

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The ‘Who the Hell Are You’ Development Metric

I arrived in Sierra Leone a few days ago to scope out the parameters and methodological approach for an evaluation to be launched in mid-June. One part of my work has included collecting data. This means walking into a plethora of Ministries, finagling my way into meeting with relevant officials and essentially saying, “hey, I’m this random white guy consultant and I would really like your data.”

And, I’ve gotten a lot of, “Who the hell are you” looks. Which is encouraging. I actually think it is a sign of functional governance; rarely, anywhere in the world should a young white guy be allowed to sneak his way into government meetings with shallow organizational support and nice shirts. Really, I think a new metric is at hand: the “Who the Hell Are You” Metric.

It can be gauged by a structural willingness to engage, but according to appointments, organizational backing and other characteristics of a formalized process. Indicators of this new metric might include facial contortions, condescending looks, and ridiculous laughter in response to absurd requests as well as any verbal rejoinders with the permutation of, “..and who are you?”

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Best Office Decor in Africa Contest

I walked into the best African office I’ve been into the other day. It included in no particular order or aesthetic combination:

1. Multiple bright pink stuffed animals
2. A multi-paged Adam Smith quote from the Wealth of Nations
3. A lavender pony pen holder
4. An inflatable bob toy of George Bush wrestling the world
5. Empty cans of energy drinks displayed to impress

Best African office décor you’ve seen?

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Friday Afternoon Africana

Because when dorky European musicians and a hoppy Gambian one-string fiddle players get together, it makes you want to geek out. Check out Justin Adams and Juldeh Camara:

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Burundi Whines That it is Left Out of Great Lakes Political Shift

In This Week in the Great Lakes, Burundi was caught whining about the fact that more Anglophonic countries in the East African Community (EAC) for some reason don’t speak French. According to Afriquejet:

Burundi Minister of East African Community Affairs, Hafsa Mossi, on the eve of the opening of the legislative session, pleaded the cause of the French language commonly used in her country, “so that all member states can work in agreement and harmony.”

The EAC, created by Tanzania, Kenya, and Uganda to standardize a slew of monetary policies and broaden markets, was joined by Rwanda in 2007. Not wanting to be the less popular post-genocidal country as it always is, Burundi jumped on board and joined the EAC as well.

However, Burundi’s supplication that French be used at the EAC parliamentary discussions speaks to a larger political shift that Burundi has found itself in the middle of. Over the past 10 years, Rwanda has anglicized itself, realigning its political orientation as an Anglophonic African country and telling France and to a lesser degree Belgium, they suck. Switching to English as the national language was one element of this realignment. Joining the EAC was just another.

In doing so, Rwanda has become the geographic intersection at the epicenter of how the Great Lakes is dividing itself in a post-1994 world. Rwanda is on the path to rewriting its history as an Anglophonic country and Kenya, Tanzania, and Uganda are happy to include Rwanda’s burgeoning market and international attention in it’s ranks. What language you speak is once again at the center of shifting political tectonics in the Great lakes, and English seems to be the taste of the day.

Once again, Burundi feels left out.

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This Week in the Great Lakes

1. Burundi begins their role as host of the East African Community Parliament; whines that they are the only French speakers left.

2. The Democratic Republic of Congo’s newest international export: female soccer players.

3. Swedish aid agency trains Rwandan actors in acting; more genocide films coming your way.

4. OCHA publishes estimated rape rates for 2009 in the Eastern Congo; apparently being a women in the Kivus is still a bummer.

5. Rwandan national paper says Kenneth Roth and Human Rights Watch suck.

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