Stopping over at the Lion and Elephant

Parked in front of the Lion and Elephant Hotel, Zimbabwe It is part of bush tradition, no, it is bush religion to stop over at The Lion and Elephant on the banks of the Bubi if the route north leads through Zimbabwe. It is unassuming, inexpensive and just worn enough at the seams so that it feels comfortable, like an old shirt. It has become a sort of a tradition for me to overnight there if the route north leads through Zimbabwe. Here is an extract from my book, The Wanderers: “It was around two in the afternoon. The...

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Peculiarities along the way to the hinterlands

  The happy chaos of an African “shopping mall” deep in rural Mozambique. Note the bustling atmosphere, the flimsy shop cubicles, the the wares spilling out onto the road surface in places. Expeditions into remote Africa inevitably have to traverse vast distances through various shades of civilisation (in the Western frame of reference), along roads that severely tax the vehicle, the patience and resistance to reckless abuse of alcohol. Nevertheless, it is often richly spiced with charm, surprises and, of course, challenges that combine to make for a fascinating experience in itself. To illustrate, I quote a few paragraphs...

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Closer…

Now that The Time has drawn close there is, wedged between the not-so-routine-routine of farm life, those special-flavoured stretches, when I pull the old bush truck over the pit in the workshop to check for play on bushes and bearings, or something that had come lose, or tell-tale signs of oil or fuel or water seeps, or troubling sounds, and to carefully repair or replace, and to service. I allow myself a some indulgence, to fiddle unhurriedly; to make that special bush tool, just for the sake of its elegance, or to tinker with something that is  already working,...

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The progeny of greed

Johnathan slapped his paper closed and got up to join them at the dinner table. “Yep . The economy is looking strong. Unemployment is down, again, and we haven’t even seen the full effects of the tax cuts yet,” he half-grunted from a luxurious stretch that said “of course, that’s what I have been saying all along will happen.” Neither of them responded. Antoinette felt uncomfortable with the self-satisfied finality with which he had said it. Justine just seemed too exhausted to bother. Johnathan took his seat and gave Justine a “come on, admit it”-look. Antoinette saw the lines...

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Thoughts on a visit to China

The company was paying, so I could simply have flown into Guangzhou, stayed in a nice hotel, attended the flower show they were sending me to and flown back. But I decided I wanted to get a feel for the country – at least that part of it. So I flew into Hong Kong and took the bus from the airport to Guangzhou. I thought I’d see some countryside, farmers working their (even small) fields, perhaps farm animals grazing. What I got was a taste of lower middle class travelling in China, and five hours of industrial scenery –...

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Manipulation of perceptions at warp-speed

Plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose – the more things change, the more they stay the same.  Said to be an old French proverb, but also attributed to Jean-Baptiste Alphonse Karr  (1808 – 1890), French novelist, journalist and one-time editor of Le Figaro. In the St James translation of The Bible, Solomon is said to pronounce in Ecclesiastes: “The thing that hath been, it is that which shall be; and that which is done is that which shall be done: and there is no new thing under the sun.”  Every generation, as we older people know, confidently pronounces the most damning prognosis on the...

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A two-pence on Brexit (and democratic system failure)

Hmm… What a noise. Even the normally apathetic or delightfully uniformed are having their voices heard, and quite adamantly.  In all (but a few of) the pieces I have read over the past two days, delivered from across the spectrum of august analysts to plumbers down the street, the message has been overwhelmingly negative; pointing to the most dire consequences. However, in one (satirically dark) piece I thought the last sentence cuts through all the lamenting and cheap blaming and finger pointing and character assassination and misrepresentation of actual events and blatant lying (in it and in others of its ilk): “Tomorrow – well. Tomorrow, we get...

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The future of Europe and global power shift

There is such a raging debate going on about the future of Europe that I thought I might as well join in from here, the southern tip of Africa – the long-forgotten wastelands of European rivalry. Down here affinity to Europe have more or less faded to almost nothing in the case of the average white person, to academic in the case of the few intellectuals, to a lingering nostalgia for their roots in the case of a smattering of older people.  I guess I fall into the latter two categories with my interest in international politics and a...

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