Being close to Africa, in a country many would include in discussions about that continent, one is more aware of the politics of the region. News headlines, which normally go ignored, are considered. For example, I noted that the United States has announced (and is being criticised for) sending military aid to many African countries, some of which are dictatorships. Many foresee the inciting of crosses like those currently befalling countries on a band from Afghanistan to Libya. The last thing this part of the world needs is more weapons, but these are fertile grounds for the production of profits for weapons manufacturers.
Contrasting the American approach is the way the Chinese are “attacking” Africa. For years, they have been offering economic aid and trade credits to many countries. They are building infrastructure on fertile ground for non-lethal Chinese industries. Of course, they are benefiting Chinese companies, but the natives are gaining jobs, roads, airports, schools, etc.
Guess which nation has the better image….except with dictators…
Two movies that I enjoy and have seen several times are Out of Africa and White Mischief. I avoid the word “favorite” with such broad categories of the arts, such as film, books, music, and painting. One cannot narrow the field of great work to a single choice.
Anyways, I find the period of these films to be fascinating. That said, I am happy to be able to witness a facsimile of that life on film and am pleased not to have lived then or there. I am certain that even rich folks suffered from heat, dust, disease, insects, and wild animals, not to mention boredom, bad manners, and having to endure uncivilized natives. Fortunately, I did not live during that time, because men had to wear tuxedos for dinner every night and drink too much alcohol.
Given the choice in a fictional world, I would pick Greta Sacchi over Meryl Streep...
I watched an interesting program (obviously not on a US-owned media outlet) on recycling of electronic waste. I had no idea about the magnitude of the problem. Bits are saved and reused, but most ends up harming the environment. As with most negative aspects of modern life, the United States is the most-voracious user of electronics/computers and thus contributes most to the problems. Humans might have evolved out of Africa, which does not explain or justify so much of the waste ending up on that continent. Of course, I am also guilty, because I own too many electronic products, all of which will become obsolete, be replaced, and end up in some recycling facility or landfill.
One of the things that caught my attention during the program was about computer games. I know that this is a popular hobby/compulsion/addiction. They focussed on games that are based upon “killing” people. Countless people are spending hours each day trying to destroy “people” and “property” in a virtual world. Perhaps, this explains why Americans accept real killing by firearms with little or no protest. Computer games have desensitized them.
I am, perhaps, one of the least-frequent players of computer games alive today. Only newborn children use them less. I tried the first one: the tennis game that let you bounce a “ball” back and forth on a screen. I tried Donkey Kong...once. And, I played Mario Brothers a few times, when it first came out. Since then, my only use has been the occasional game of solitaire on my computer.
One is frequently confronted with stories about US Government attempts to preach or impose democracy on other countries. Lack of success is usually relegated to less prominence.
I recall articles and editorials, which I read each Sunday during my school years. Target nations were mostly in Africa, although Southeast Asia was not neglected. Perhaps, the war in Vietnam was proving to the world the effectiveness. Anyways, Africa seemed to be fertile ground, possibly because of African students at my school, sponsored by some government agency. We played on the soccer team together, but I recall no conversation with any.
I do recall thinking at the time (precocious little bastard, wasn’t I?) that democracy might not work everywhere. I noticed the conditions in those countries and compared that to American life and history. I took no course is political science. Why was I smarter than the folks in Washington?
Today, similar calls for democracy in countries with widely ranging history, culture, economic development, and just about every other factor continue to emanate from austere buildings in Washington. Even China, a nation of more than one billion mouths to feed and an economy able to buy and sell the United States must hear preaching from hypocrites.
I will go out on a limb and predict that China will never adopt American-style democracy. My batting average on Africa is impressive, so you would not be wrong to put money on me.
I have noticed interesting parallels between a recent program on DNA and news reports about the refugee crisis in Europe caused by unrest in the Arab world.
Revolutions in Tunisia and Libya are the focus of most reports, but the problem is more widespread. Not unlike the drang of humans seeking entry to the United States along the Mexican border or by boat to the shores of Florida, masses of refugees seek to exploit the prosperity of Europe and escape Africa poverty. The waters of the Mediterranean have not thwarted attempts, washing thousands upon the shores of the tiny Italian island of Lampedusa.
This flood of immigrants has revealed cracks in the usual face of European unity. Italy is on the front line and demands help from fellow Europeans in accepting refugees. Most, if not all, are young men, which will add to the unemployment ranks and the burden of social services. The truth is, that although Italy has large numbers in refugee camps, they have accepted far fewer into the country than their northern neighbors. This has led France to stop trains from Italy and refuse entry to refugees, which Italy has granted a pass from the internment camps. Rhetoric is heated between diplomats in Brussels, and Several European countries have entered a war of words in the media. Of course, part of the problem is the Muslim religion of all refugees and part of the problem is jobs. There are parallels to the different responses of states of America to the migrants. Undocumented labor is less a problem in Europe, because they have been dealing with this problem for many centuries before the US was even discovered.
There has been a trickle of migration back to Africa, but the roots are very different. Europeans sought to establish colonies, thus sending settlers, missionaries, and businessmen. But, colonization is about exploitation, whereas migration is about desperation.
What does this have to do with DNA? Recent studies of the human genome have proven that all human life evolved in Africa and different periods in history saw waves of migration. The recent flood of humanity trying to escape a harsh African environment is no different. Now, these latest migrants face bureaucratic hindrances in Europe, whereas their ancestors faced harsh environment, wild animals, and Cro-Magnons. Humans seem to always flee hardship and, like water, will seek the path of least resistance. Temporary hindrances, such as fences, bureaucratic intransigence, and emotions of fellow man, cannot stem the flood of humanity out of Africa...
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.