Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Value of Life in Africa

Last week I came across an interesting post on my favourite South Africa news blog - specifically it was about the value of life in South Africa. The analysis was quite an interesting one and the argument counter-intuitive (not that the conclusion of the article was!)

Basically the observation was that if something were to happen to a foreigner in South Africa (and I would vouch to extend this to anywhere in the third world, let alone just Africa), the amount of media coverage that mugging or murder would get would be quite literally a thousand times the amount the same event would attract were the victim a local. Wonkie made the point that in the township Anni Dewani was murdered in, there were about 700 murders since 2005 - none of those had any coverage whatsoever, let alone the police chief making public statements about how very sorry he was about the incident.

Of course, I believe the Wonkie article omits mentioning the obvious fact that the murder of a tourist has far reaching implications internationally and so media coverage of what was being done in support of the investigation is extra important. The point about the value of life of local people in the third world - and in Africa particularly the poor and the black is sadly incredibly low.

What aggravates the situation is the poor reporting of actual crime statistics in the poorer areas - this is equally true in Uganda where I am based. In neighbouring countries, the reports of rapes and violent crime is far more stifled due to fear in those areas and there is certainly an unfortunately direct correlation between poverty and perceived importance by the media. Life is tough in Africa in more ways than one :(

Monday, September 6, 2010

Swaying the American Public

The saga about the mosque being built a couple of blocks away from the ground zero site in New York arrives at an interesting time. The American public is so easily swayed and it is quite sad that they never take the time to think the choices through.

It's an interesting time because the decision is being flung about to achieve political ends as election time approaches rapidly. Emotions are being rallied across the board with more nationalistic stances stating that building the mosque is an unprecedented insult to the American lives lost during 9/11. But the facts, if anybody had cared to examine them are as follows:

1. The mosque is not being built by the US government on the 9/11 site as many seem to believe.

2. The land is privately owned and planning permission was requested as per due process in USA. The decision arrived at the White House for obvious reasons.

3. Barack Obama had no choice but to approve the mosque - opposing it would have fundamentally affected the constitutional rights of one group of citizens. His primary job is to protect those rights.

4. The decision to build the mosque there may not be a particularly sensitive or prudent one from the muslim community but that does not take away from their right to build it there.

5. People opposing the building of the mosque are doing so to gain political brownie points with a mostly ignorant public. If asked what they would decide if they were in Obama's position, they know full well they would not be able to decide otherwise.

Be sure to check out the Obama mosque cartoon on Wonkie - the editorial there neatly summarises Obama's choices and shows why he could not have made any other possible decision.

As for the easily swayed American public - one can only suggest they get themselves some serious professional life coaching to help them work through how they may be better able to evaluate when they're being played by politicians. Sadly I don't think even an uber-coach would be able to support them at this point.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Voter apathy in the UK

It's been interesting tracking the news with the upcoming UK elections. It seems the only real effort to advance campaigning using social networking anything close to what Barack Obama did in the US is with Nick Clegg of the Liberal Democrats. Unfortunately all I can recall of the party is the ridiculous stance they took when a man shot a burglar robbing him in his home just before the last election.

Apparently voter apathy is at an all time high in the UK which is a bit concerning given the current challenges the UK is facing. Besides recession and much fiscal uncertainty because the level of national debt, the collapse of the housing market and a social system in tatters should be driving UK voters headlong into the polls.

Instead, the lack of decent candidates in any of the major parties has created a Why bother? attitude rather than the much needed Yes, we can! one. Judging by the public reaction to the prime minister debates though, it looks like Lib Dems' Nick Clegg has really taken his party forward into positive territory. If you'd like more details on the public sentiment analysis be sure to check out Rory Cellan-Jones's BBC blog for some interesting facts and figures.

BBC 2's interview with Nick Griffon this afternoon was interesting. It's scary that people still hold such narrow-minded opinions. It's even scarier that these people are considered leaders in a not inconsequential chunk of the British population.

It feels as though most people in Britain are prepared for a hung parliament. That will certainly not bode well for the financial markets if that hasn't been factored into the weak pound already. I'm certainly glad I'm not long sterling right now - if I were, as things stand I would much rather take my chances with a dodgy online casino south africa than keep tabs on BBC's Robert Peston's latest blog updates! LOL

I'm certainly looking forward to my trip to the UK later next month. Hopefully the mood will not be as dire as it was when I was there last year. At least the 3 laid-off banker friends I know there have finally managed to secure something, albeit not ideal positions given their experience. I wonder now if even they are going to bother to vote this election!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Iceland volcano humour

Thought I'd put up some Friday fun today - it's been a slow week in Uganda and I'm glad to be back from the United States... thanks to the wonderful travel adventure chaos caused by that steaming hole in the ground in Iceland.

At least my delays were nowhere near as bad as some of my friends who were flying around in Europe at the time - one literally spent 5 days in the airport because she couldn't get accommodation.

Came across this link which was pretty good fun: UK Telegraph's top 10 best and worst Iceland Volcano Jokes - some of them even raised a chuckle for me!

Enjoy the weekend and will update the blog with my thoughts on the UK election news over the weekend.

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Racism rears its ugly head

With the recent murder of AWB leader Eugene Terre'blanche in South Africa its no wonder that racial tensions are on the up in the country. Central to the controversy is Julius Malema once again. Many Afrikaaners in South Africa are claiming that his singing of the struggle song "Shoot the Boer" has sparked off additional killing of white farmers. Not a far stretch considering the song was recently declared hate speech by the Human Rights Commission.

Jacob Zuma has lashed out at Malema who in return is claiming that he has done nothing wrong. All this tension arrives at a stime when South Africa really does not need it. It's less than sixty days for the FIFA 2010 world cup to be held in South Africa and the negative publicity abroad is raising widespread concerns for potential visitors to the country. Still, Malemamania seems to be in full force and the man appears to be making headlines daily.

Wonkie's recent cartoon is one of its most controversial as yet but it certainly gets the point home about the double standards that are in place in South Africa. Over 500 people have voted on its poll about the song - you should add your voice too if you haven't already!

If you haven't viewed the hilarious cartoon with the Easter Bunny be sure to check out the link below:

Malema cartoon thumbnail
Shoot the Boer

One can only hope Wonkie plans on recovering from the bloodbath in the comments section with a supremely positive post this week - South Africa certainly needs some optimism!

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Kangaroos in Kampala

I have to say that sometimes in life I feel so out of place in the society I live in. There is a fairly large expat community in Uganda but despite being from a variety of different countries, the community is homogenous. It seems everyone thinks the same, acts the same, behaves the same, decides the same - it's all quite scary.

Sometimes I wonder if I would fit in anywhere at all, particularly given that I have travelled and lived in a number of countries around east Africa and still feel so out of place. Perhaps I should try another continent - Europe perhaps.

Things are plodding along at work and at home - nothing major to report except for this sense of boredom with the overly familiar here in Kampala. Hopefully my trip to Italy later this month will bring some much-needed energy back into the equation.

Anyway, back to complete my macroeconomics assignment now - will update the blog again soon!

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Who cares about privacy?

I saw this cartoon on Wonkie today and absolutely loved it - it's definitely the cartoon of the year on the site for me! Check it out on:

Jacob Zuma sex drive cartoon thumbnail
Jacob Zuma: I have a dream, a big wet dream - Wonkie CartOOn!

South Africans have way bigger issue with their Mr LovePants president than worrying about whether his right to privacy is being invaded!

Monday, February 1, 2010

Laughs, smiles and money

Today I sat down and worked out my financial plan as part of my coaching exercises I need to complete before my next meeting with za guru. It's interesting only in that I don't really value being a millionairre or anything of the sort as much as what they money would enable me to do. Anybody that says that it isn't important is surely smoking something - money gives you freedom. Well, at least on 1 plane it does.

I am fortunate that I actually don't have many financial constraints - my house has been paid for and my expenses are actually quite minimal in Uganda - food is cheap and travel is too. It's only if and when I want to start travelling that things become rather tricky - take my trip to Rwanda some time back to see the gorillas (Go go go if you haven't already - it was amazing!)

So I'm splitting my plan in two levels - one that is focused more on a steady stream of annuity income to support my day to day expenses, and another bucket for rainy day type expenses or lump sum needs - like for travel, a new gadget etc. While some of the freelance stuff I've been doing does keep things ticking along, I definitely need something a lot more stable and regular. Well either that or I need to win the lottery soon - very soon!

I came across some interesting options reading my favourite Wonkie cartoon blog that got me thinking. I'm not sure what the gambling market is in east Africa but it seems to be booming in South Africa - considering a political cartoon blog now has a page pretty much exclusively dedicated to Online casinos in South Africa, I guess it must be a lucrative market! I think I may well use one of the affiliate programs advertised on Make money from websites and blogging - just to see what kind of return I can obtain. Somehow I'm not overly optimistic though - I'll still continue to buy my weekly lottery ticket, just in case LOL

In any case, I do hope the recessionary environment lightens soon - it's making it harder to get freelance writing work and if it continues for much longer I really will need to try something outside Uganda.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Happy New Year!

Welcome 2010! I am full of optimism for this year. Unlike the start of last year where I was pessimistic I feel a lot more upbeat this year about the prospects for better world. Lots of things have changed since last year. Barack Obama is now the president of the United States of America, South Africa hasn't collapsed with the coming of Pres Jacob Zuma (Will miracles never cease), swine flu appears to be under control, to just mention a few of the things that worried me about last year.

One of the causes of my depression was that I was constantly evaluating myself against a definition of success that I didn't quite have a handle on. On the advice of my dear friend and political cartoonist Pratish Mistry I consulted him as a life coach of sorts that made quite a significant impact.

At first I was rather sceptical about using such a person but after a few discussions I was quite convinced about the value I was receiving from the meetings.I had heard some horror stories about other friends that have visited life coaches and found that those therapists rejected many of their own fears and insecurities onto their patients, or rather clients. I would suggest you visit only a coach that has been strongly recommended by someone that you know closely. They are far too many charlatans out there and damaged that they might be doing could be quite high.

With Pratish, I managed to outline my goals for 2010 quite clearly and succinctly. He approached my life almost as though it were a business that needed to be run profitably. And profitably in this instance meant that I was maximising the return on my time. He acted more as a facilitator rather than an adviser. And I think this is what made all the difference. I felt as though my ideas were really my own -- not some psychobabble by some new age guru that was all great in theory it could not be put to practice.

Anyway, enough for now I will hopefully be more regular this year with my blogging to share my experiences and let you know all my life plan is going! All the very best of 2010!