Sunday, July 27, 2008

Amen, etc.

I came across this on a Sunday. After all, Our Heavenly Father did put together conditions for lemurs and baobab trees to evolve and thus cannot be entirely devoid of humor. Enjoy:

Tuesday, July 22, 2008


A ten-day silence qualifies as 'mild neglect' so I thought to reassure that the blog hasn't been orphaned. Just...well, mildly neglected, wandering the interwebs in a soggy nappy that should have been changed days ago, dangling an empty milk bottle. But life has been going on, and here are a few recent things to share. I should write one entry per but it is just not that kind of week.

The good life: Watched Judith Sephuma live at the Kempinski on Saturday night. It was lovely to be only 50 meters (and at times 50 cm) away from the performers. The sound mix drowned out her voice a little in favor of the instruments but other than that the music was quite delicious. The usual dry reception Paradisans gave her meant that the crowd of miscreants with whom I was hanging out had to get the party started, but when they did the dancefloor got crowded and a good time was had by all. I have to gripe, however, about the venue/event management: It could have been better. Waaay better. All I am saying is, if anyone wants to fund an outdoor performance area I have some ideas. Lets talk.

Also: found a new bookstore. Actually, it is more like a readership enhancement project ,and may I bow in awe to the folks who managed to get donor funding to run a bookshop. How didja do it? SOMA is in Regent, Mlingotini close and has a few things to offer which make it a must visit: outdoor vibandas with lighting, wireless internet and powerpoints, a bar/cafe, beautiful and quiet environs and a selection of books written by local authors and foreign authors about Paradise and her hinterlands. Also, their prices are pleasantly sane.

Snarking politics: Nothing is going on of particular interest to yours truly other than the dis-Union question. Ever since the Zenj is Baris got their panties in a knot about whether their island nation is a sovereign state or not some weeks ago, I have been tempted to kick the whole sorry mess out into the ocean. I have no idea how the Union is beneficial to Tanganyika in this day and age. Yeah, I went there! Anyways, until such a time as someone can prove to me that there is value to this cohabitation, I am quite in agreement with the isles secessionists.

Food the glorious: A sort-of-review. Went with La Dee to the Happy Dragon Restaurant (Kawe Road, just after the bridge/army offices). It was definitely some Chinese middle-cuisine. The decor included a large red velvet panel with chinese writing on one wall (maybe it said Happy Dragon?) and La Dee's favorite touch: plastic tulips on every table. Ambiance: a cross between a train station canteen, a school cafeteria and a low-end if well-lit banqueting hall, it came complete with a suspicious group of gangster/gemdealer looking guys in a corner table and shouted conversation all around.

The portions were generous, the food freshly cooked and decent (the pork chow mein was fantastic though, not too greasy and full of little pork bits). The sauce on the lemon chicken however tasted about as organic as michael jackson's nose, which was a bit of a let-down. Oh, and there was a gently poached fly in my soup but I can testify that it did not hinder the flavor one bit since i am not averse to insect proteins. Based on their performance, I can see myself going back for some take-away, especially them noodles. Otherwise, don't bother getting excited- this place is not exactly a Dining Experience.

Final score: Two-and-a-half garlicky burps.

Friday, July 11, 2008

Press Reliese

Yes, that title contains a typo, but not one of mine this time. During an idle moment of multi-media-multi-tasking yesterday, I decided to check out the news bulletin on the state broadcaster. I usually watch That Other Channel like everyone else but lately their news service has been pretty craptastic, barring the very cool journalist-on-the-hoof reports by Jerry Muro. Big up Jerry! Anywho, turns out the TeeBeeCee is not bad for an instrument of the state.

What, the point, you ask? Well, you know how Andrew Chenge aka Mr. Vijisenti was 'apparently' caught ju-ju-ing his fellow MPs on tape about a month back? The Police and the Chief Chemist been investigating the incident all this time. Yesterday by chance I caught someone on the TeeBeeCee interviewing whichever hapless police chief had been ordered to aanounce the results of the investigation. Part of the clip showed the 'Press Reliese' issued by the police. Hapless Mouthpiece told us that:

1. No cameras had been turned off since 2006 (who asked?)
2. No-one was caught on tape inside the Parliament building therefore no one was in there
3. The dust that was collected for investigation contained no poison, therefore
4. There was no witchcraft. no juju. no nothing. nada. zip. yeah. I am not sure just how stupid these people think Paradisans are, offering up such a dismal disclaimer. It reflects poorly on the liars that they are not able to finesse a more credible lie, and this has been a longtime concern of mine. It seems that our politicos have gotten so complacent about fibbing that they are phoning it in now. They are not taking the appropriate time to respect our intellects by weaving a web of deception that would provide us with hours of entertainment in the unravelling. Where's the subtlety, the ambiguity, the false trails, the spin doctors? What a sad state of affairs.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


Hot doggy, it is a three-post day! Finally got around to putting up some the link-love on the blog, somehow the list seemed a lot longer when I was writing it down on my notepad...hmmm. More, better, bigger stuff to come in the visual department. Just, not today: this stuff is never as easy to do as I expect it to be. Silent readership, I think you might actually have to go to the blog to see the link list. Mwahahahahahaha!

Making the funny

You know how Bongolanders will make fun of anything at all, appropriate or not (and there are some really inappropriate jokes out there)? Well, for some reason we don't do satire too good. Ze Comedy crew were doing well, and then got derailed when Channel Five lost them to TeeBeeCee one. People, there is something ill going on in a country where the state broadcaster can steal the hottest show on air from the hippest, youngest urban station.

This morning as I was recovering from some serious brain leakage caused by reading too many newspapers for a client report I realized something: We just don't make the funny enough. This post cropped up on JamiiForums (that heaving nest of political intrigue) this morning:

Good, eh? It was followed by a couple of terribly earnest and completely misguided passionate defenses of our President, our Country, our Sovereignty, our Dignity against the Evil Western World. The joke blew past them at the speed of light. What sad state of affairs is this? The most successful and popular comedic people we have all do satire: in cartoons, on TV, radio. But in print things get very wobbly.

The hazards of my nine-to-five include an acute loss of sense of humor, a penchant for conspiracy theory and gradual break-down in grammatical skills not to mention aformentioned brain-melt. Our papers take themselves so seriously it is all I can do on a post-deadline day not to run for office and save the country/start drinking scotch in the mid-morning. There is a columnist in particular whom I had to stop reading because I couldn't tell if his political analysis was brilliant or fuelled by crack even after months of careful study.

For solace I have to turn to Adam Lusekelo's writings- irreverent, occasionally rude, always niggly-giggly. Thing is, he gets published both in the state paper and in their fiercest enemy, This Day. Ze Comedians, you could learn something here...

Food? Not so much. Review? Why, yes.

Food, the neglected topic. Every good intention I had of bringing in the camera to download a bunch of pictures and compose odes to cooking went out the window when I left the damn thing at home. Instead, may I offer a restaurant review? Actually, I have been dying to do restaurant reviews for a while now. There used to be this dude who would do this thing with this nameless date he called Lady in White in one of the monthly magazines and it was part romantic suspense part restaurant review column but I haven't seen it in a while. Also, it was certainly light on the 'review' side of things since every restaurant got a thumbs up. Still, it was fun to read while it lasted.

On to the Review: Addis In Dar, Regent Estate/Mikocheni
The premier Ethiopian restaurant in Paradise, this family business has been open since sometime in the late nineties/early ohs. It is staffed by folks who know the menu in and out and don't do that nasty thing that waiters do in non-tz restaurants: talk down at the guest about the menu as though you are too timid to order anything other than chipsi-kuku. A while back someone else tried to open another Ethiopian restaurant but it died in its infancy...usilete compe! Addis in Dar is a local favorite whose clientele is mixed up- always a good thing when you can eavesdrop on expat development workers with your right ear while catching up on the latest BongeFlava gossip with your left ear.

Using local ingredients, the chefs reproduce as best they can the incredibly addictive tastes of Ethipian food. They obviously care about quality- the chickens they use in their doro wat are those organic road-runner types that yield rich flavour without the icky grease, and the food is fresh fresh fresh. The injera is not made from teff as far as I can tell, but it is still quite tasty. The atmosphere is warm with candle-light and low furniture...wait, this is a review so I should probably try to come up with one or two problems to seem credible? To be frank, I am still too stupefied by the food to pretend I don't love the place. Wait, I can think of one thing: the Tej is not consistently good. There.

Final Score: A firm Five Garlicky Burps.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

One Cold Cabinet

The masses have spoken with the voice of one person (literally) and the message is: No one in the cabinet is vaguely attractive, JADIP needs to get a life. To the lone voter, asante kwa mchango wako. It will certainly make things interesting in trying to formulate the poll for the female public figures. By the way, His Radiant Beauteousness the President released an updated official portrait last week. I think the color of the tie changed. Don't all stampede to Maelezo at once, kids.

In effect, the results suggest that there is no causal relationship between a politician's attractiveness (charisma) and their perceived performance (success). Yeah, right. While this is a worthy thought- as in we should actually be swayed far more by a person's other qualities like integrity, or treatment of children and small furry creatures or ability to formulate sane policies- charisma and leadership have gone together like beans and rice since time immemorial. Get both and you have the Complete Leadership Package.

For the female poll there is an underlying dilemma: would it be disrespectful to sexualize their charisma as was done in the male poll, however tongue-in-cheek? Margaret Thatcher, Angela Merkel, Condoleeza Rice, Benazir Bhutto, Joan of Arc, Shaka Zulu's mother...the power-charisma question with regards to women is certainly loaded.

Democratic cyberspace

Found a pleasant surprise when I was doing my morning website trolling: a prominent opposition politician of the older generation had joined JamiiForums (that heaving nest of political intrigue). As I read the enthusiastic-and mildly threatening- welcome messages, it emerged that there may be more than one professional politician on there. I know for sure that Kabwe regularly leaves documents on there, though he wisely refrains from discussion.

I wonder if this Honorable knows what he has gotten himself into. In real life one can expect even one's bitter enemies to treat you with a bit of dignity but once online we Bongolanders take the gloves off and put on brass knuckles. The political pages of JamiiForums are not for the fainthearted. Intelligent discussions are constantly breaking down into mud-slinging matches. The reverse happens too, but only occasionally. If you get on a soapbox there you can expect to be called out, heckled, supported, derided, name it. Parliament is to JamiiForums as a Sunday afternoon drive is to mid-week evening rush hour during the rainy season.

I must admit I am impressed. While it is only natural that the media and some of the savvier young politicians have taken to the web like ducks to water, our leaders are mostly of the generation where ponderous declarations issued by Maelezo are the preferred method of communication. I am certain that the Powers That Be are keeping a keen eye on developments but none would be so foolish as to admit their identities in public. For an old dude to throw himself into this brave new tech world where the members might just eat his cyberliver for breakfast every single day is very gutsy.

Mzee, at the very least, no one can ever accuse you of not putting your money where your mouth is. You said you believe in democratic dialogue, you are about to get more of it that you could possibly have dreamed. Karibu. Invite some of your fellow elders. Let the games begin.

A little birdie told me...

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