Inter|national Section writer
A somewhat experienced and slightly jaded development practitioner taking some time out to study Social and Political Thought at Warwick University. Keen interest in politics and international affairs as well as rock climbing and cheese.
(06.08.18) – A Dam Shame
For the best part of the tail end of the twentieth century, rich countries in various guises have lent considerable sums to leaders of African countries, elected or otherwise, in order that they ‘develop their infrastructure’. Over the years numerous heads of state have accepted these tempting offers, skimming a little off the top for themselves and their cronies, leaving the rest to fulfil some grand construction touted by politicians as intrinsic to ensuring the economic success and prosperity of their beloved country.
Home to the source of the river Nile, Uganda has had its fair share of such development projects, most commonly in the form of hydroelectric dams. Since construction of the Owen Falls dam, the first to harness the power of the mighty river built under colonial rule in 1954, numerous other power stations have been constructed with help from international lenders such as The World Bank, alongside numerous import-export banks of countries set to profit from the dam’s construction.
(09.07.18) – Back from the Brink?
Cooped up in an office in Uganda, inputting into what seemed like never-ending columns of cells in Excel spreadsheets, I would often ruminate about other jobs I could be doing which at that moment would be relatively more fulfilling and life affirming. One of the jobs I kept ending back at was as a member of one of the security teams responsible for the protection of the last northern white rhinoceroses: Sudan, Najin and her daughter Fatu. While in reality I knew my poor grasp of Swahili and lack of weapons training made it unlikely I’d ever work with the rangers responsible for the security of these magnificent animals residing within Ol Pejeta Conservancy in Kenya, I became interested in their plight, following their turbulent existence ever since.
(25.06.18) – The 100ft Tall Canary
Back in the day, before Maggie had her way, there used to be a thriving northern powerhouse built on the foundations of a mining industry that provided thousands of jobs to people across a vast expanse of our fair isles. It was a dangerous job with the risks of explosions, cave-ins, and noxious fumes overpowering the brave men and women that dared descend into dark depths. One of the tools the miners had to protect themselves from some of the dangers of this perilous job was a tiny little yellow bird in a cage: a canary. When levels of noxious gases began to amass, this small bird would croak it, indicating to the miners it was time to get out. While hardly the most humane method of protecting themselves, it served its purpose and saved countless lives. The mines have now closed and canaries no longer employed to keep the miners safe, the metaphor however lives on, albeit in a somewhat larger capacity.
(28.05.18) – To You, Itai
Occupy. Regardless of what you think about the movement’s longevity, potency or efficacy, it was hailed as the start of a new wave of activism that was so desperately needed, protest that would reinvigorate the oppressed and make the elite ruling class of Western democracies pay attention and take heed. Occupy Wall Street was of course where it all began, and it soon spread to over 20 countries worldwide.
There was one country though that found itself besiege to an Occupy movement, news of which barely made it to the international media stage. Furthermore, this relatively modest movement wasn’t aimed at the 1% – the metaphoric representation of a ruling class defined by financial capital – this movement instead took aim at one of Africa’s most destructive democratically elected dictators: Mr Robert Mugabe.
(30.04.18) – Passing the Female Test
Professional sport is possibly one of the most challenging and competitive ways to earn a living these days. With national fame and glory as rewards, many dream of representing their country on the international stage and bringing home a medal, earning their place in their country’s sporting history. Imagine then that you were one of the lucky few that made it to the top, that had that chance to take gold and did so, multiple times, earning a revered reputation in the field as the one to beat, then imagine you were told it could all be taken away because you were too much like the opposite sex. Where would you start?!
(16.04.18) – On Immigration 5. Banking on the Future
In my previous piece I outlined a theory that compared the woes of our current modern condition to a biological model of a disease increasing its prevalence across the planet, particularly in the Western world. Although slightly macabre, I feel it was necessary to characterise the systemic issue of unbridled growth in such a dramatic and sensational fashion – after all it is the fate of humankind, and well… the planet, we are talking about here.
I finished with a simple analogy calling for global treatment of this cancer that has befallen us since the mantra of growth has been so fanatically professed by economists, politicians, and industrialists alike. How though may we undertake such a gargantuan task that requires the remodelling of all aspects of our societies, from our education systems to popular culture to our entire global trade system?
(02.04.18) – On Immigration 4. Time to Treat the Disease
Humans move, we always have done and always will do. Our movement has evolved through the existence of our species from necessity – following the seasonal availability of food – to luxury, such as holidays and recreational travelling. While part of our species has been afforded the opportunity to travel around the planet in our spare time, absorbing the multitude of cultures and landscapes it has to offer, there continues to exist a drive to move to find something better, not for food, as in pre-modern times, but economic and/or environmental security. Economic, climate and conflict migrant populations are increasing year on year, and are so for one very good reason: a global disease.
(19.03.18) – On Immigration 3. The Need to Fully Globalise War
Reasons for migration come in many forms.The now globalised and fully interconnected 21st century world allows people the capacity to travel great distances in search of work or a better standard of living for themselves. Increasingly though, more and more individuals, mainly from the developing world, are forced into the migrant sphere through no fault of their own. I have already touched on two types of migrant; those coerced by economic situations to move to foreign countries, as well as those unable to sustain themselves in their native environments as a consequence of various forms of climate effects. There is of course another migrant population that find themselves forced to leave everything they held dear behind as a result of more pervasive and damaging spectre: conflict.
(05.03.18) – On Immigration 2. Carbon Causes Footprints
Immigration is a complex concept., Sophisticated issues such as this are often reduced to simplistic and narrow trails of thought that exclude some of the intricacies vital in understanding the true scope of the issue. In my previous article, I attempted a brief, but lengthy, outline of aspects of economic history that I believe laid a foundation for the increase in migrants choosing to leave their home behind in search of a life they perceive could potentially produce prosperity. Intrinsically entwined into this history is a mechanism of production that, since the ‘great acceleration’, significantly contributes to environmental changes within our global habitat.
It is through this lens that I wish to proceed with this second piece on immigration, as I touch on a demographic within migrant populations forced from their homes by climate change.
(19.02.18) – On Immigration 1: Let’s Start at the Beginning
Last time we met I penned a reflective piece that acknowledged not only my privilege but also the de factosituation of millions of people across the planet, not least in Africa, forced to make the difficult decision to leave all they know behind, hoping for a better life in alien and often hostile lands many thousand of miles away. I’d like now to rewind to the very beginning of that process to try and suggest why it is so many end up making such a choice.
(05.02.18) – I Am Lucky
This week I’d like to offer something a little different. Rather than an article gunning for the Western neoliberal establishment and its detrimental effects on a particular aspect of African society, I would like to take a more pensive stance on an issue that many of us, to me at least, seem to have assimilated and normalised into our daily lives. I hope this article provokes a thought towards those in ever more increasing numbers that lose their lives in a desperate attempt to achieve something more than the lot they’ve been given.
(22.01.18) – The Smoking Gun of Free Trade
Following the abhorrent remarks recently made by America’s comb-over-in-chief, I was impelled to pen an article outlining the plethora of innovative, iconic, and exemplary movements and people to emerge from Africa, contrasted with the shameful, embarrassing and downright inexcusable socioeconomic destitution rife across the ‘wealthiest country in the world’. However, after further consideration I imagined the brief expression of dismissive ridicule that my good friend Siraj, a native Ugandan, would have offered in hearing such an immature and ignorant statement about his fair land, and so have decided to give as little attention to it as he.
Instead my article concerns a far more serious problem endemic across the continent, one that has been allowed to become so widespread through international free trade mechanisms, that it threatens to circumvent democracy, subverting whole nations into passive submission. We shall now consider the tobacco industry’s fervent assault on Africa.
(08.01.18) – The Unspoken Occupation
With all the madness that has been taking place across the pond on a near daily basis since the 2016 inauguration of the comb-over-in-chief, it is all too easy to overlook many of the less sensational affairs carried out by the United States. While we are familiar with the war on terror, defined by US military occupation of significant areas of the Middle East for almost all of the 21st Century, there are areas of the world in which the US remain equally as active in this same regard, despite much less public awareness.
In October of last year, the Islamic State in the Greater Sahara attacked a small group of Nigerien and US soldiers in the Tonga Tonga region of Niger, killing three Americans and five Nigeriens. Although the incident was indeed broadcast by the mainstream media, the event represents a far greater issue developed on the continent: the increasing military presence of the US in Africa.
(25.12.17) – Food (Not So) Glorious Food. Part 3: Wired to Excess
As I mill around town needlessly purchasing disposable junk to wrap in trees so I may conform to the widespread Western orgy of consumption that is Christmas (sorry), I can’t help but notice that they’re everywhere. Costa, Nero, Starbucks, Coffee #1, it seems you can’t walk more than 100 metres before passing one of the acceptable narcotic dispensaries so many of us rely on to get through the day. It’s time to close this short series of food, and now drink, related pieces with a quick overview of coffee and its long and eventful relationship with Africa.
In the first article concerning the less palatable aspects of food within a global context, the paradox of abundance and dearth in both Ghana and the West were contextualised within an apparent food dystopia. On that journey, a foodstuff was briefly mentioned that has become almost omnipresent in weird people’s lives, and will be the focus of the next in this series of pieces illuminating the realities and practices relating to food and the international community. So without further ado, let us delve straight into the sickly-sweet world of sugar.
(27.11.17) – One Down, Two to Go.
After having his position as goodwill ambassador for the World Health Organisation revoked last month, more bad news plagued Robert Mugabe this week as he was finally ousted from his longstanding position as President of Zimbabwe. After more than 35 years in office and at the grand old age of 93, the now former head of state stepped down, eliciting much jubilation and celebration across the country. It wasn’t easy, mind…
(13.11.17) – Food (Not So) Glorious Food. Part 1: Food Dystopia.
Food. We all need it and each every one of us has a unique and complex relationship with it. From production to acquisition to preparation and finally consumption, the constituent parts of this process vary widely across the planet. The unfortunate reality for most of the global community, however, is that this personal and multifaceted relationship is fraught with difficulty and dilemma. In fact, as we further examine the inner mechanisms and processes of the human-food relationship, we can find ourselves exposed to a somewhat dystopian state of affairs.
(30.10.17) – Business as Usual at the WHO
What with the circulation of fake news becoming increasingly more prevalent, sometimes you read an article and feel the need to double check its authenticity. But this one came from the BBC, and The New York Post were running it too. The Independent. Newsweek. CNN. So it must be true. I am of course talking about the news that Robert Mugabe, the authoritarian nonagenarian head of state of Zimbabwe, had recently been appointed goodwill ambassador for the World Health Organisation (WHO). Mugabe, really?