(I've changed the name from "Rants" given that I can't really rant about many things that frustrate me here, at least not without getting into some sort of trouble. As such, you'll have to wait for the book.)

Saturday, September 24, 2016

Harare



It’s been a while since I’ve had time to sit down and write – about anything. Closest I’ve come has been jotting down meeting notes.
I was looking back to see what the last blog post was and I was stunned to see that it was to discuss events so long ago and a world away. So much has happened since then.
After returning to Burundi, I was in Burundi for a couple weeks before heading off to Zimbabwe for meetings. I realized this afternoon that the blog entry that I wrote while I was there never was posted. So here it is:

8 September
I’m in Harare, Zimbabwe, as I type this. I’m here for meetings this week. I’m my first time here and, in spite of its troubles, I must say that I think it’s pretty nice. I’d heard good things about the country/people/climate and it didn’t let me down. Obviously the country has struggled over the past few years. It’s suffering economic collapse, a cash crisis, poor production (land reform), stagnated foreign investment and of course political turmoil. You would think that the place would look like hell but it doesn’t. You can tell by looking around Harare that at its high point things were probably quite good. It feels like a proper city that has let itself go, sort of like Marlin Brando in his later years. It’s a shame, actually, and most Zimbabweans will tell you that it didn’t have to be this way. It could have been the shining start of Africa.

my hotel, pretty sweet place actually
Most are aware of the general reasons behind why things are the way they are. If not, I urge you to look it up.  It’s a fascinating and rather sad tale of abusive colonization, economic progress, wacky retribution by the cliché African Big Man leader. The now aged president, after steering the country into an economic abyss, is nearing the end of his days. 


Lately there have been demonstrations. The govt. has a habit of cracking down hard on such things. We were told that the protests were banned for a couple of weeks covering the time that I was in the country. But then the Supreme Court overturned the decision stating that banning demonstrations is illegal. So the path ahead will invariably be rocky as president-for-life reaches the end of the “life” part and there is no clear way forward. The question is what will happen afterwards since the power vacuum will likely be an opportunity for the piranhas to fight over who’s next. 

As I said, it’s sad. Many African leaders just don’t have the integrity to walk away when their time is done. It’s all the more damaging given that those very Big Men have made messes that will require decades to clean up, even if their successors have integrity.
cool view of Kilimanjaro while heading through Nairobi

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