Category Archives: Africa

Out of Africa

I’m back to the blog after yet another hiatus. Keeping a blog is harder than it seems, especially while traveling. The trip was excellent. I feel like I got a much better sense of Egypt than I did the last time I was there, which was good because I will be writing a honors project about Nasserism. Seeing contemporary Egypt gives me a better idea of how the country works, though perhaps it would be more accurate to say it gives me an idea of how the country doesn’t work.

Egypt is a poorly run place with a government that seems pretty much indifferent to its citizens. Millions of Cairenes live in complete poverty, and, in the words of one Egyptian they “go to bed at night without dinner.” At the same time, a drive along the Mediterranean Coast to the West of Alexandria reveals an expansive corridor of upscale resort developments. Beach condos in gated communities with names like “Alegra Bay”. My examples here are random, but suffice to say that the whole country seems royal fucked up. I will probably write more on this later.

Royally fucked up

Royally fucked up

But wait, you might be asking yourself (because if you read my blog you probably know my travel plans), I thought you were going to Senegal, not Egypt! And to you I would reply, “Yes indeed. I had planned on going to Senegal.” But I am forbidden from entering.

Why am I forbidden from entering Senegal? Because I have been to Ireland. That simple fact, which the mustachioed Senagalese border police were able to discover from a simple sticker on my passport, was enough to keep me from entering Senegal, possibly forever. Does this make me regret having gone to Ireland? No. Does this make me more sympathetic to the Senegalese state? Not at all. When I went there previously, I came away impressed with the country’s economic independence, its large middle class and its friendly citizens. (Which is not to say that I wasn’t trouble by some of the police state aspects of the country.) And now, I am left with only resentment of Senegal’s government.

Does my time in Ireland somehow prove that I am not sympathetic to Panamanian national aspirations? Of course not! It proves nothing of the sort. Furthermore, it is actually a great injustice that Senegal inflicts on the Panamanians through this draconian law. I once met a Panamanian-Irish woman who had much of her family living in Senegal and the border laws prevented them from ever seeing each other.

So in the end, their absurd rule left me resenting them and left their country without the cultural goodwill (and money) that my tourism would have brought. At its worst it adds to injustice against the Panamanians.

It’s good to be back in America where things at least kind of make sense to me.

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Already a pretty good president

My friend Trevor tipped me off to this story today.  The rebels in Nigeria’s Niger Delta who have been blowing up oil equipment are considering a truce because Barack Obama suggested that they do.  Read the story here.

“The MEND [Movement for the Emancipation of the Niger Delta] command is seriously considering a temporary ceasefire appeal by Senator Barack Obama. Obama is someone we respect and hold in high esteem. The period of halting attacks, we hope, when considered, will afford the Nigerian government the opportunity to address the issues with Henry Okah, including improving his living conditions and having access to a bible which he has requested for but was denied,” they said.

Can Barack Obama’s presence alone solve all the problems of the world from Abkhazia to Zimbabwe?  Of course not.  But his is someone who people “respect and hold in high esteem.”  Which is more than you can say about George W. Bush.

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