Who am I?Where am I?

31 May 2009


Here are some updates on my previous blogs.

Delara Darabi was executed in what was a complete travesty of justice. http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/middle_east/8030437.stm

My colleague is back here at work. It is such a tragedy that he lost his wife.

Jacob Zuma is still President of South Africa and the world has not ended! So relax South Africans, you will be ok. Plus the Bulls just won the Super 14!

That's the last of the updates


The Mick and Limey Show Part 1

In 1999, when I was at Howard University, Alex, one of my best friends, and I decided to host our own radio show. It was on the AM Howard University student radio station. For several months we did a morning show. We called it the Mick and Limey show since I have Irish ancestry and he has English roots. It was a hilarious exercise that ended when we became sick of waking up before 6am each morning.

Well, the Mick and Limey show is back on air, except this time we are on-line. Alex and I exchange e-mails all the time. I've decided to post some of those exchanges! Here is our latest. Enjoy

From Limey to Mick:

Are we beginning to see the sun setting on the US empire or am I missing something? Gone seem to be the days when the US said something and people would fall into line or powers would fall eg. Chile. Today, even the banana republics are beginning to talk smack without much fear. Piracy is rampant on the high seas, Isreal will not listen, North Korea, Burma and Zim are like whatever. My question would be what happened to weight of the US? Where did it go and when did it leave?

Was it after Vietnam with Panama and Grenada simple sideshows to fool us into thinking the US still had real power. Shoot, the UK fought and won the falklands war but no one with any real sense would consider us to have any power but there are still some crackpots. Sadly we call them the media.

Yes we all know the US has the largest most powerful army but what good is it if you can't use due to the political and economic ramifications? Don't get me wrong, I'm not saying your 15 mins is about up just yet and I'm no neo-con...shoot I'm not even an American all I'm saying is these are interesting times which we live.



From Mick to Limey:


I think you are spot on on many points. Let's hope the sun is setting to some degree. (Though I'd still rather see the USA in the lead than China or Russia.) Absolute power corrupts absolutely. The US financial meltdown is evidence of that. How a few bankers managed to rip off the world and screw up the entire financial sector...eish. That's another story.

Here's the problem. The US is the world's largest debtor. It owes the world in its own currency. So if the $ falls to precipitously, it makes that debt owed worthless. The US just prints more money, and voila...it's out of debt, it's economy has taken a hit, but not a non-recoverable one. What's crazy is that despite all the anti-Americanism, frustration with foreign policy, etc., nobody wants to see the US economy fall because with it, then so too goes the world economy.

Politically, Bush messed it up. Full stop. I said this in 2004. On September 12, 2001, George W. Bush woke up as the most powerful man in world history. He was the leader of the most powerful empire and he had the entire world's sympathy. Imagine that..the whole world felt sorry for the big guy. How often has that happened? Over the next seven plus years, he managed to successfully erode that sympathy to the point where it had switched to loathing. Nice job there Bubba.

We are not safer. We are far poorer (from a balanced budget Clinton to the world's biggest debtor in 8 years). And US prestige has been eroded, perhaps beyond repair. Translation: Osama accomplished his goal of bringing down the US empire!

It's been frustrating to watch if you believe in America. If you believe the US had too much power, it's been a thing of beauty. I do think little countries such as Chile, etc., won't get too carried away because they need the US. But you are 100% correct that the days of Uncle Sam saying something and the rest of the world kowtowing are gone.




10 May 2009

My Friend

Last night at 00h59, I was awakened by my telephone. I normally sleep through phone calls as my phone is on silent. However, this one awakened me.

I looked at the phone. It was one of the teachers from my school, who is a dear colleague, and very good friend, Lutfi. Mr. Lutfi is a coruscating educator who has really excelled this year. He proceeded to inform me that he was at the airport about to leave the country. His wife had just died a few hours before in Sudan. He was flying home since, because he is a devout Muslim, the funeral will be today. He has seven kids and the youngest was born only recently. Stunned, in shock, somnolent, and half asleep, I offered my condolences. I then woke up and tried to phone him back but could not reach him on his mobile.

When I awoke this morning to go running, I thought I had had a nightmare. I had to double check my phone to see if the calls had really happened. Unfortunately, these calls were all too real.

My friend Lutfi is a man's man. He is gentle soul whom I count as one of my closest friends, though we have only known each other for nine months. This is just a tragedy. It serves to remind me how short and precarious this life is. I am taking this as a lesson to try to let those close to me know as often as I can how special each of my friends and family members are to me. We are each in a state of senescence and only on this planet for a finite amount of time. There is a saying in SePedi: Motho ke motho ka batho. (Loosely translated, it means a person is a person because of other people.) So to all my family and friends, just know that at this moment, you are in my thoughts. You are valued, treasured, and loved.

P.S. This picture is of Lutfi doing extra work with two students and teaching them to use a dictionary. It was taken on Thursday.


09 May 2009

The Inauguration of Jacob Zuma

I am sitting here at the moment watching Al-Jazeera. Unlike BBC and CNN, Al-Jazeera is covering the inauguration of Jacob Zuma as the fourth President of South Africa (third elected) of post-apartheid South Africa.

While I am sure my good friend Hlengani is not a man of his word, since he has not emigrated from South Africa as he promised to do if Zuma was ever elected, I am sure he, like many, are bemoaning the fact that Zuma is now leading the most influential country on the continent. While Jacob Zuma clearly does not have the pulchritude of Nelson Mandela and Thabo Mbeki, as I have watched events unfold from afar over the past few months, I have become more and more convinced that the emergence and election of Jacob Zuma is a good thing

Before you throw a shoe at your computer screen hear me out on this. There are four reasons I feel this way. First, personally, as an American who lived in South Africa from 2002-2008, I had to endure nearly seven years of listening to South Africans denigrate Americans for electing such an incompetent nitwit as President. To be honest, I had no answer. I detested and still detest George W. Bush as a human. It will be up to history to judge him but I digress. However, as of today, I can now proudly smile at all of the South Africans who over the years derided Americans for our voting record. We have Barack Obama. You have JZ, and I do not mean the rapper! Enjoy the next five years of my derision.

My belief that Zuma's election is a good thing extend beyond my own personal relationships though. The second reason I believe Zuma's election is a good thing is that he has weakened the ANC. Although I am not a South African, it should be obvious to everyone that the country needs a legitimate opposition party that is not merely a metamorphosis of an apartheid era party. This has not happened.After the 2004 election, the African National Congress received enough of the vote that it could have legitimately Though this has not occurred, the fact that during this election the ANC received less than 67% of the vote and can not change the Constitution on its own represents real progress. There is hope that legitimate multiracial opposition can emerge over the next five to ten years.

The third reason I am in favor of Zuma's election is that believe it or not, I feel that Zuma's election shows the vibrancy of the young South African democracy. Thabo Mbeki sought a third term, which though technically not in violation of the Constitution, effectively tried to undermine the Constitutional stipulation that a President only serve two terms. The fact that Zuma was elected at the ANC conference in Polokwane shows that many South Africans within the ANC do understand the issues that are affecting the nation.

Zuma ran as the anti-Mbeki. While I supported Mbeki and feel that he is a visionary and has a fantastic Pan-Africanist view, Mbeki missed the boat on four critical issues: Aids, Zimbabwe, crime, and corruption. Mbeki's policies on each of these issues left a lot to be desired. His failures to effectively implement a nationwide AIDS policy to combat AIDS, statements that crime was the figment of white South Africans' minds, lack of ability to pressure Robert Mugabe into real reform, and the rampant corruption within the ANC during his term all contributed to his political demise. Zuma has portended that he plans to change these policies by tackling crime, formulating an AIDS policy, fixing government corruption, and facilitating Mugabe's removal from power. If he can achieve any of these changes, he will have achieved a great feat.

I personally doubt whether Jacob Zuma will be able to deliver on his promises. It would take a tremendous amount of thaumaturgy for Zuma to accomplish this goals and deliver on his promises. Yet I am willing to give him a try, since his presidency is the will of the people. I also believe that the ANC is in fact the best party to rule the country. (Though I would have voted for another party for the sake of trying to reduce the ANC to below 66%). In the meantime, Zuma will have to be re-elected in five years and if the South African public is not happy with what he achieves, he can be replaced. Despite what many say, this election proves that democracy is alive and well in South Africa. So let's all enjoy the moment of frisson when the South African national anthem is played momentarily. Nkosi sikilel' iAfrika!