Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Wangari Maathai.

One routine method of female 'empowerment' involves exposing impressionable young ladies to women who have achieved something admirable. This can be a bit of a hit-and-miss tactic: if the person in question is too awe-inspiring and unreachable, the young ladies might not internalize the idea that they too can be just like her. And if the person is unpalatable, she might just put them off forever. I can confess to a rather unfortunate experience of Vandana Shiva that killed my budding romance with ecofeminism right dead... and colored my perception of Dr. Maathai for the longest.

Until my twin bought me her memoir, in hardcover. No choice but to read it. Having read it, no choice but to admire her. Admiring her, no choice but to try and understand why she was exceptional, to me. And upon her death, no choice but to try and pay what homage I can to this woman.

Pacifism is a rather uncool political choice and becoming uncooler with every passing day. I admit that I struggle with it myself , when people quote Fanon at me as if an African woman needs anyone to tell her what disempowerment feels like. But here's the secret: on my bookshelf I keep Wangari on the same bookshelf as Franz. I like to think that they balance each other out, as it were, and she helps me contain his chaotic destructiveness. I also keep her there to remind me to recognize, respect and embrace "alternative" (read: proudly effeminate) practices of power in superb leaders of all genders:

"Dr. Maathai chose to champion the environment, or perhaps it was the environment that wisely selected Dr. Wangari Maathai to champion Her. Yet it is in the story of her very human life that her true achievements quietly shine. I can only hope that some of the newly enfranchised Saudi citizens think to pick up a copy of her memoir. It has more than one lesson for anyone intent on exploring some of the power that democratic mechanisms can offer to a woman facing the patriarchal state. It is certainly a good read for those interested in the slightly gritty workman details of how one might convert a burning passion into something bigger than themselves. Ultimately we could do with more leaders who take their cue from this fierce and accomplished Kenyan, more revolutionaries who make the commitment to build, nurture and create."

There are a number of conventions for eulogizing someone much admired, but the highest tributes have always, to me, stemmed from warm traditions that celebrate life. So borrowing from the fine custom of praise-song, in acknowledgement that it is not nearly good enough, I make my offering to the memory of Dr. Maathai: Wangari Maathai, The She-Elephant who led her Herd to Water, The Matriarch who was a Man amongst Men, The Fighter who never stayed down, The Commander who led from the front, The Nurturer who loved Life, The Faithful Daughter of Kenyan Soil, She of the Many Names, She is no more. Long live Wangari Maathai. Long live Wangari Maathai. Long live Wangari Maathai.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

That's Miz Ambassador To You.

I has been so long since anyone has tried to recruit me online, I've been feeling a little neglected. Quite lonely, to be honest. So it was with great delight that I learned that I have recently been appointed Ambassador to the African Refugees from Libya and Sudan. And here is the letter to prove it:



I am Hon Dr. Johnson Williams, the United Nations Special Presidential Task Force Chairman for Refugees here in Ghana, West Africa.

I am tasked by the Forces mentioned above to pass this information to you that you have been nominated as an Ambassador to the African refugees from Libya and Sudan by the United Nations and the Honorable Members of Parliament of the Republic of Ghana.

The meeting was held yesterday in the Osu Castle with five representatives from United States of America, New York and three representatives from United Kingdom, London respectively from the offices of the United Nations and nominated you to occupy the position of Ambassador for the Government of the Republic of Ghana.

By virtue of this act, the High Panel of the UN and of the House of Parliament of the Republic of Ghana demands that you forward your particulars to this noble office including a scan copy of your passport or driver's license or national identification card with immediate effect.
Should you have any question(s), please contact the UN Appointment Committee on:

We look forward to working with you soon.

Best Regards,
Hon. Dr. Johnson Williams
Special Presidential Task force Chairman
United Nations Head Quarters, Accra-Ghana

Sorry people, got to rush. I am now a VIP: people to represent, Geneva to conquer, got my eye on TEDx, you know how it goes. Toodles. Oh, yeah and credit card information to impart, of course... Who says poverty doesn't pay. Heh.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

Three Opinions From Outside of This Box

There's a nice little culture of informed dissent fomenting in the online TZ intellectual life these days. Here are three recent independent pieces that provided some solid critiques and alternative perspectives:

Jason Lakin of the International Budget Partnership takes exception to the "political will" explanation for what really creates political change: at least as applied to politicians. While I don't think all politicians are devoid of the capacity to serve the greater good, I think he's right to call out civil society on our willful blindness to the mechanics of political change in favor of fuzzy ideals and easy catch-phrases:
Consider recent events in India: Anna Hazare, public crusader, ended his hunger strike a couple of weeks ago after persuading parliamentarians to strengthen an anti-corruption Bill. For 12 days, Hazare did not eat. Large numbers of Indian citizens took to the streets to support his cause. And then, parliament capitulated. Did parliamentarians suddenly discover their missing “political will”? They did not. They discovered instead the will of Indian voters.
Omar Ilyas takes exception to Chadema's recent political activities and the unholy mess they are trying to create in our political culture. It has to be said, I concur with him and have been waiting for exactly this kind of focused critique of Chadema's strategy. I want to like this party (although they are Conservative) and I am trying to respect the handful of keen minds that they have put in parliament. My MP is in league with this band of agitators. I think many of us are having to pull away because their actions are long past indefensible and heading towards threatening. If this party wants to reclaim its quality support, Omar's first paragraph pretty much says it all. This is about defending a political culture that has taken us decades to perfect: (apologies: its too pretty to translate into English and I am too lazy this morning. Please for to ask the Google Translate):
"Matukio ya hivi karibuni ambayo yamefanikiwa kupata nafasi ya juu katika vyombo vya habari kuhusiana na Chama cha Demokrasia na Maendeleo (CHADEMA) yamenijengea mtazamo kuwa ili CHADEMA kushinda katika safari ndefu iliyonayo kama mtawala mbadala kinapaswa kushindwa sasa."
Hafiz Juma of the TEDxDar team- and Chairman of the Dar es Salaam Beard Afficionado Club- responds to M.G. Vassanji's recent article on what's going on with Tanzania. Just to give you a little taster, because there's a lot more where this comes from and you might need the dictionary in your Dashboard:
"There is a glossing over of historical context to the point of obtuse condescension as well as a misleading representation of everyday realities and governance processes demonstrated through confounding contradictions that periodically appear in the prose. This is not intended to be an admonition but rather a critical examination (albeit a meek one) of what I feel to be a skewed perspective."

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Sophocles Goes Postmodern in Dar

When a classic Greek tragedy opens with a man playing the thumb piano while delivering the prologue- a summary of Oedipus Rex and Oedipus at Colonus- in Kiswahili, you know you are about to be subjected to Art. Anything might happen. Sophocles' Antigone was given the postmodern treatment in a joint production by the Parapanda Theatre Lab and Gothenburg City Theatre.

I have a healthy respect for Traditions, but never more so than when they have been subverted and deconstructed almost beyond recognition. This production used Antigone as an excuse to play with a dizzying array of ideas. The plot was clearly subordinate to the experimentation. Frankly speaking, for a story that opens with death and closes with death, the play itself was the only thing that died on that stage. But that's what we have classics for: like Lazarus they can be brought back to life to suffer someone else's murderous reinterpretation. This production wastes none of its 1 hour 45 minutes explaining anything to anyone. It rather tyrannically demands that you keep up.

Let's start with the fact that the lines are delivered in Kiswahili and Swedish, with the sound and lights guy projecting the English translation onto a light backdrop using black Powerpoint slides. Suddenly you are watching a trilingual play with music and subtitles, completely uncertain of how far they mean to go with this. There was no backstage- all instances of disrobing were symbolically done onstage where red costume pieces were exchanged by cast members to signal the handover of a character. At any given time, Antigone might be a Tanzanian woman or a Swedish woman. Haemon, Creon, everyone was up for grabs as actors were called forth to incarnate a character before fading back into the mostly quiet ether of the Chorus. It gave the play a rolling sense of duality: dead/undead, alive/unalive, on/off, black/white, modern/ancient, individual/collective...

At one point I realized that I was grateful that they didn't cross the gender barrier too because things might have unravelled with no constant for an audience member to hold on to. Antigone remained female, Haemon and Creon remained male and I firmly shut the door on gender identity politics so that I could focus on whatever else they were trying to say.

The Swedish minimalism was a nice touch. If a Swiss army knife turned into a play it would look like this: clean lines, strong visual branding, red and grey with multiple ideas efficiently packed into a small space. Take the make-up, for example: nothing but a white line on black faces or a black line on white faces, a passing reference to the Greek actors' mask, a demand that we never forget that the Black/White encounter is a central theme. Like the Nike swoosh or the monochrome Apple logo, it collapses some very big ideas into a lethally efficient visual metaphor. In its own understated way, the production was visually lush.

The Swedish actors came bearing the gift of their acting style: high drama mixed with naturalism, that steely direct gaze, a touch of mild buffoonery with the messenger role. There was an interesting dynamic going on there: Johan Karlberg played lighter roles leaving Creon mostly to Frederick Evers. Physically Johan looks like the guy who gets called up by Viking reenactment groups on a regular basis, while Frederick looks like that guy who sells you carpets and bathroom fixtures at the local showroom. The reversal they pulled off was a rather sly poke at typecasting, but also just good casting: Frederick's regular-guy Creon lurks beneath a thin veneer of civility and good humor. It was hard to tell whether/when he would turn monstrous, one of the best way to play a villain. I really enjoyed Nina Zanjani's scene where Antigone goes to her death: fear, regret, damnable pride and unexpected vulnerability. But I have to say, Anna Bjerkerud seemed underserved. The matriarchal Euridyce role was too easy for such a regal woman, I wish they had messed with our heads a little by maybe giving her some Antigone or maybe the messenger.

The Tanzanian performers? Not so contained. Parapanda are a troupe in the Bagamoyo tradition: they sing, they dance, they act and they play music. They do it all. Naturalism, minimalism, long brooding silences followed by explosive emoting have little place in this style, and when that stuff happens performers rarely drop the barrier between themselves and their role. What the Tanzanian performers brought to the play was a certain light-footed, emphatic energy. They also saved the production from getting too cerebral, too ephemeral. I never thought I would be grateful for a little humor in a Greek tragedy but by the time the witch doctor showed up, I know I wasn't the only person to exhale in that room.*

But it wasn't all songs and jokes: Daudi Joseph might have smiled and snorted and relished swatting flies as a blind witchdoctor, but his comedic timing is flawless and like with Frederick's Creon something genuinely frightening hid itself behind his playfulness. Eva Nyambe's Antigone is exactly the kind of jaw-clenched woman you never mess with at a market stall or at a board meeting. She manages to channel Antigone's fatal flaw in a world where death and glory are masculine pursuits. She reminded me that this is in many ways a feminist play, and complicated. Antigone is not a sympathetic character, even if Nina Zanjani showed us the cracks in her facade.

Amani Lukuli turned out to be my favorite performer in a night of solid work. His Haemon was a warm and appealing young man, affectionate with his father and brimming with excessive passions. His Haemon was obviously stuck in that interesting extended adolescence when it is all or nothing, death and glory. He painted the Anarchist sign on his father's wall as a farewell. We all know that guy- he wants to get the revolution started right this minute and keeps posting Facebook updates about Global Poverty or Western Imperialism or The Environment or why Hip Hop is dead. He's terrified that he might turn into his father, and when Creon is your father this is a real problem. Amani also got the physical aspect right, prancing around yelling and brandishing his can of spraypaint even though his online pictures show that he's growing a nice set of crow's feet. At no point does he make fun of Haemon. Though the audience might chuckle- he's careful with him. Well played, sir**.

The production had quite a number of flaws. The interactions between the characters didn't always work across the language barrier and sometimes the differences in acting styles also got in the way. The pacing was uneven, there was some dead space, I would have liked to see a bit more physicality because that's what makes theatre thrilling. Especially in a play that demands such massive suspension of disbelief on the part of the audience. It was an overwhelmingly ambitious project but I think they pulled it off in the end, perhaps because they approached the cross-cultural conversation with care and respect.***

Two nights is not nearly enough in a town where professional theatre is almost impossible to come by. Music, Dance- they get lots of love, but Theatre is definitely neglected. I watched Antigone for the first time when I was around eight and I haven't recovered yet. I asked a couple of kids who attended this production what they thought. They were popping with energy and excitement where kids normally wilt into a nap, escape or complain incessantly to cope with incomprehensible adult entertainments. This is the kind of production that should be staged at the national theatre, free entrance for all primary and secondary school students. It has a fighting chance at recruiting some impressionable young minds to the highbrow arts, so that we can start to heal the wounds inflicted upon us by Nyerere's brutal political decimation of Tanzania's cultural and intellectual life. It might even inspire the Tanzanian theatre scene to come out of its defensive coma.

*I'm straight-up grim when it comes to acting. I like my actors tortured and soul-searching and slightly unhinged, I like to see the naked fear in their eyes, I despise burlesque lighthearted treatments of dark brooding plays. There is far too much levity in the entertainment industry as it is. But I think that Parapanda have convinced me to re-examine my prejudices.

**Haemon, he's got the same problem as Ophelia. The doomed lover, utterly peripheral to a central characters' self-absorption. I think Amani rescued the character from forgetability. No mean feat.

***One has to be careful about collaborations. If you don't watch out, you can end up "supporting" Shakira as she bellydances in some vile animal print me-tarzan-you-jane outfit on your stage while you provide the background vocals yelling "Waka,Waka, eh eh!" But that's a rant for another day.

The Weekly Sneak: Reverend Mtikila Sues Again

Opps: sorry folks, I had to repost this after taking off the link to Christopher Mtikila's Wikipedia page. I lazily didn't read before linking and so did not realize it was hostile.

True confession: when I was a sapling, my secret ambition was to work for the government when I grew up. I still experience twinges of envy when I come across civil servants, and have to force myself not to question them to death about what work is like. The good ones never really tell you anything anyways- you have to pry stuff out of them with a crowbar and a bottle of whiskey.

And while I love politicians the way Premier League fans love their star footballers, I have a whole other level of awe that I reserve for good career public servants. It has been more than a little frustrating watching how the past couple of generations of civil servants have succeeded at killing the 'profession' in Tanzania. Of course it isn't all of them, but must such an overwhelming majority of civil display contemptible behavior? We the people are exhausted and apathetic thanks to their shenanigans. I place the blame squarely on the shoulders of one Mzee Ruksa, who softly led us into the land of laissez-faire. Lovely man, but really.

From time to time, I have to forcibly resuscitate my belief in the whole national project thing. The good Reverend Mtikila is unfailingly helpful in this regard. I love that the good Reverend keeps our Judiciary exercised by making a persistent nuisance of himself. He is at it again, this time suing them for trying to sell off their own offices. Not all great public servants are paid by the state :) Coming this week to an East African near you:
"Dar es Salaam recently lost the wonderful Nyumba ya Sanaa which had the ill fortune of being placed next to... a historic, flashily refurbished hotel currently incarnated as the Movenpick. There is a pattern here- obviously unique old buildings shouldn't be placed anywhere near hotels as they seem to attract a strange kind of predation. What makes the Forodhani Hotel case particularly distasteful is that the Kilimanjaro is proposing to put in a parking lot. Of all things, the judiciary is willing to give up this historic space in favor of a parking lot? This is exactly the kind of decision that exasperates citizens. If the highest legal authority in the land is not nuanced enough to understand the ramifications of such a decision, who knows what else they get horribly wrong?"

Thursday, September 15, 2011

Tanzanian Woman of Note: Julie Makani Simba

Dr. Julie Makani recently won a 60,000 Pound Sterling prize from the Royal Society. Just to give you a woefully inadequate summary: she is a superbrain researching how to help increase the survival rate of children born with Sickle Cell Disease. You may call her Dr. Awesome. And then if the spirit moves you, which it will, you can show her love by supporting the Sickle Cell Foundation of Tanzania.

Ooooh. I. Love. It. When a Tanzanian woman gets recognized for her brilliance. Instant feminist energy recharge. Context: a number of weeks ago, The East African had as its insert a special on the women leaders of East Africa. Which immediately raised the question of proportional representation. Truth is that many of us living outside Nairobi damned a very good piece of work with faint praise because, well... there weren't as many Tanzanian women as we had hoped to see. It may be that our regional rag doesn't know better. And its not like Tanzanians make it any easier for them.

This can mainly be explained by the Tanzanian modesty thing... actually, I just realized that discussing the Tanzanian modesty thing takes a lot of work so I'll save that for another blogpost.

Dr. Makani has been doing her righteous work for a long time now and has finally been outed. I am a big believer in respecting people's privacy, but there's a feminist agenda that's lagging in this country. A bit of promo work so that people get to understand just how bad-ass daughters of the Tanzanian soils can be is overdue. Our boxy little socialist suits and affable smiles are hiding a plethora of skills and achievements from the world.

So one of these days, while Julie is trying to get some work done, I'm going to take my chances and breathe down the back of her labcoat while asking intrusive questions for the blog. And she's going to have to suffer through it :)

A Note to Binyavanga: It Can Be Done.

Score. Two great pieces going around that combine personal observation with Bigger Picture reflections on the soul of Tanzania. Nothing wrong with the impersonal reportage style of writing that dominates much of the blogosphere. Facts here, cross-references there- all very solid, and admirable, and useful in terms of pushing whatever development or intellectual agenda there is. But sometimes, it is nice to hear from... people. Which is what makes Binyavanga Wainaina is so eminently readable.

M.G. Vassanji asks: "In Tanzania, is it that they complain too much or they expect too much?" You know, the magic of that first line that gets the core question exactly right? Years of practice, man. Years of practice. Frigging beautiful when it is done right.

Pernille has come up with a different set of observations and personal experiences which lead to a similarly conflicted opening statement:

"'What I love about Tanzania is the deep complexity and the massive contrasts'. I can hear myself formulate this pretentious sentence at a presentation somewhere in Denmark where I have to pass on the idea that I know exactly what's going on between me and Tanzania. Being honest - I am not perfect - this is also the kind of relationship which on occasion makes me so kali that I long for the Danes' obsession with organising things and sticking to plans; their telling the plain truth and not fearing consequences; and with their 'we're all equal and all entitled'."


What I like most about these is that they are outsider/insider perspectives of Tanzania that manage to expose something about the core of our society. This place isn't just complex- it is complicated too. The minute you convince yourself that you know exactly what is going on, and you have mastered the country, Tanzania is likely to buck you like spastic ostrich. Even if you are the President. She's wonderfully egalitarian that way. Its nice to read folks who get that about her.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

The Zanzibar Ferry Accident.

One of my biggest challenges in media work is nurturing an ability to filter noise and information, and sift down to nuggets of truth... or at least truthiness. Information overload is not a new notion, people have been talking for a few years now about how technology affects our lives.

But an analysts' job is to whittle things down to the marrow, scrape away the make-up from the face of the story, massage deep into the tissues of a situation. And timing is everything. I haven't been able to distill much that I am confident about with the Zanzibar boat capsize from social media, so I maintained radio silence. However, this week in The East African I do want to state categorically that somehow, we are all involved in this.
"There are a hundred choices to be made in a day and living in a developing country means embracing the fact that creative “solutions” to everyday problems are necessary. And we have to admit that we are allergic to regulation for all kinds of reasons, most of them good. There isn't a regulatory authority in Tanzania that has managed to impress us with its strength of character, nor its diligence, and we are well aware that greasing the right palms makes regulation more of an ideal than a reality in our society. So we conduct business our own way, taking chances."
While I don't doubt that there are people who are directly accountable, I have said before and will say again that crucifying one or two officials is not particularly helpful in the long run. It is part of our performance politics. What is far more important to me is: what have we learned here that will cause us to behave better next time. I worry that the answer might be: nothing.

And while it is well and good to shrug fatalistically and argue that we don't have much control over our lives simply because we are "poor," I simply can't do it. Tanzanian lives should be valued. And they should be valued by us. We need to stop with the chakachua kila kitu business model.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Reality Check on the EA Political Federation

...Speaking of our regional rag, the East African, I never expected to see an article like this appear. I am glad that at least the bureaucrats in Arusha, and the pundits, are not completely impervious to the will of the people. Maybe the nextgen of EA residents will have it together long enough to federate, but in truth a reading of post-colonial African history does show that we've got a ways to go before this makes any kind of sense.

Weekly Sneak: Young at Heart

Ah, youth. So much to say. But if we keep it on the political level, I have to admit to a deep suspicion about any initiatives that target youth, especially in Tanzania. So in order to check my thoughts, I asked one of my colleagues about this whole youth-focus thing that politicians, the government and civil society are selling lately. We discussed why buy-in has been low: youth, like anybody else, know when they are being used for purposes outside of their own interests. So how do youth organize, what do they do? Tons of stuff, actually. And some institutions do get their youth-engagement right. They tend to be the ones that are, surprise surprise, founded and run by... youths.

Which might explain why most of them are in the entertainment or ICT sectors and not so much in, say, accounting ;) Anyways, having confirmed my suspicions by consulting all of one "youth" this week's article in The East African is centered around a suggestion. What would happen if we respected "youth" as regular, capable people and got out of their way. What if we stop telling them what their interest is and respect their choices so long as they are legal. What if we just get out of the way. That's it.

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Wikileaks Tanzania Files: We're Just Not That Into You.

The Wikileaks files on Tanzania were released a couple of weeks ago. I am a newcomer to the Wikileaks phenomenon because when the organization emerged as a contender in the media world, I think I was distracted by something else. So this is the first time I have actually read Wikileaks products. I have to admit that the Tanzanian files weren't as... confidential... as I was hoping. I thought we'd be swimming in dusty documents that had been finangled from seriously deep storage, but what we got was a parcel of internal communications between the American Embassy in Dar es Salaam and Washington as well as other American missions in various countries. The reaction in the media etc. has been relaxed because the cables aren't Tanzanian documents. So, you know, whatever.

Daraja and Swahili Street posted the two commentaries that I have enjoyed most, thanks to the light-handed analysis. I don't think it is possible to read too deeply and conclusively into the leaked cables, but they are invaluable in two important ways. The first is new information about what the GoT gets up to. It isn't all exciting, there is plenty of incredibly boring administrative twaddle in there. But every so often a gem emerges that gives some insight into what taxpayer money is being used for in our diplomatic missions, who has been where and why and the myriad little rituals of international relations. That's entertainment.

The second is finding out what America is up to with regards to Tanzania. I can't even tell you how fascinating I find this aspect of the cables. The selection of topics, the routine intelligence work, the relationship with Washington and other Embassies. The interpretations that the Embassy has of Tanzanian behaviors, its successes and failures in coercing the GoT to do its bidding. Even something so simple as keeping track of who was writing the cables, their tone and thoughts, the concern with image management. Imagine what it is like being the minion chained to a desk in the basement, reading the Tanzanian soul for the American people. Yes, I might have read too much Tom Clancy.

I know I shouldn't get too excited because: how did the cables leak? They might have been unimportant enough that they were leaked defensively to provide a distraction. They might, in fact, be worthless. No point in avoiding that suspicion (hey, everything I know about espionage I learned from a bestselling novel, and I know that goes for you too). However, if this is truly how America is operating in TZ... interesting. Now. If we could get the Chinese communications from their mission(s) in TZ, that would ice the cake

Thursday, September 1, 2011

The Weekly Sneak: Lean, Green and Mean

I have had bicycles on my mind lately. I like bicycles. As inventions go, this one was a good one. They are fun. They make sense. And they are useful. And there's been a lot of depressing news lately flowing around locally (Jairo!) and internationally (Ghaddafi!) none of which is conclusive or comforting in the least. Time for something uplifting, like bicycles. In the East African:

"A reader asked recently why the fuel crisis did not result in a search for viable alternatives. Maybe we just didn’t look at the right t-shirt slogans."

And that's it. See you in the comments section sometime next week, I hope.

The Passions of Old Soldiers

So with the fall of Ghaddafi, my interest in the peculiarities of African despots has been reignited. One of the duties of an accomplished African despot is to develop a quirk that is well, that it leaves observers speechless. It is hard to outdo the ones who have gone before, between Mobutu and Bokassa the standard has been set extremely high. But this is a vast continent with many countries and there are plenty of interesting behaviors to be observed. Obvious things like gold fixtures in the palace bathrooms are de rigueur and cannot win you points- one must aim for originality where possible.

Not all artistic yearnings must be vulgar either: I just found out today by eavesdropping on some folks' Twitter conversation that Museveni apparently sings to his cattle*. And that he does so slightly ineptly. The thing about despots is that you have to resist the urge to humanize them because then you start rolling down the slippery slope of empathy... but this is a rather appealing hobby to have. Not to mention stylish: it takes a certain cultural refinement to embrace difficult and dying old artforms. Sigh.

Ghaddafi, on the other hand. What a disappointment. It's like we've seen this movie before: the tasteless palace, the defiant son, the delusions of grandeur, the parting of company with reality. For a guy who has literally pitched his tent everywhere to the delight of people who appreciate small acts of defiance, I was expecting something really rather interesting. But not this interesting. Ghaddafi's crush on Condoleeza Rice was... is... wow. And here I thought the Jheri Curl was the worst of it.

A man's image cannot survive certain revelations about his character.

*Cattle singing is a gorgeous old practice with a whole history behind it and I have always wanted to know more. Anyone know of resources out there?

A little birdie told me...

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