Friday, November 25, 2005

Oranges are BANANAS

If you’re peculiar, you may know that Africa is a continent, not a country. If you’re exceedingly strange you’ll know that there’s more going on in Africa than war, famine, disease, corruption. And if you’re positively irredeemable you may know that a referendum on the proposed Kenyan constitution was held earlier this week.
The draft constitution was years in the making but in the end it proved too contentious to be approved by parliament, so it was put to a national vote. The government threw its weight behind the campaign for its adoption while a few rebel cabinet ministers joined hands with the official opposition KANU in opposing it. The government staked much political capital on the outcome of the referendum. And as often happens when so much is at stake, the campaigns quickly took an acrimonious turn. But the referendum was carried out without incident. The draft constitution was rejected by 58.3% of those who voted. It might well be said that the government lost because it was arrogant and out of touch. One pundit, Macharia, says that draft constitution was rejected, because it was in effect a referendum on the government’s performance. A government that was perceived to be intent on producing a document that catered for its interests, to wink at corruption in its ranks, to have reneged on its pre-election agreement with coalition partners, blah, blah, blah. It’s all well and good but rather superficial. I know better; the government lost for two reasons: poor choice or emblem, and the failure to learn from the experience of neighbours.
The government choose the banana as the emblem for its campaign. A more ill advised preference would be hard to find: Had the yes campaign prevailed; Kenya would have been the butt of many banana republic jokes. Kenyans prize their country’s reputation for peace and stability far too highly to risk its being made fun of. Having sacrificed liberty, dignity, prosperity . .…. they cannot suffer their country being called a banana republic even in jest. At the end of the day the referendum was a not so much about the draft constitution as it was a choice between the orange, the no campaign’s symbol, and the banana as the national logo. In choosing the orange, the people also embraced the colour orange, the no campaign’s official colour, which is curious because Kenyan oranges are green in color.
That hurdle, however, could have been surmounted had the Kenyan government sought the advise of President Museveni of neighbouring Uganda, the man with the enviable record of never having lost an election or referendum; unconstitutional or otherwise. Had the Kenyan leaders picked the Ugandan president’s brain, they might have found out that one must make sure of the desired result before and after the election. Not by campaigning exhaustively and ensuring free and fair elections, dah! But by intimidating the wits out of your opponents and their supporters – inventing charges against them, throwing them in jail, whatever it takes – during the period leading up to elections, and on Election Day. And by stuffing ballot boxes, revising figures on Election day.

On how life is

Life sucks: the things we agonize about come to pass, and those that we don’t anticipate knock us over sideways.
Tomorrow’s my cousin Armstrong’s execution , rather, wedding. Unless am desirous of reinforcing my, unmerited reputation for snobbery, and am not, I will attend it. I wasn’t disposed to attending it but my new dress went some way towards reconciling me to the idea. Unhappily, it was a size too big so I had to take it to a tailor for alteration. I was assured that it’d be ready today; it isn’t.
As if it’s not enough that I’ll have to put up with snide remarks about my weight, and my single status; now I’ll have to do it without the armour of my lovely dress. That’s right, sometimes a dress isn’t just a dress. But why, in the 21st century a woman must account for her choices and genes is rather beyond me. Am almost certain that some of my aunties question my sexual orientation but are too prudish to articulate their sentiments. Ah, sweet prudery! How virtuous she makes us feel! Some may have 6% unemployment, space programs, pristine infrastructure, blah, blah, blah; but we have virtue. HIV may be endemic but those damned mosquitos must spread it! But I digress. I’ll probably to the wedding if only because of my insatiable appetite for punishment.
Shabbat Shalom.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

Ooh, ooh, Joy's been thinking again

I just watched (hushed tone) the movie Princess Diaries II and it recalled to mind something D.H Lawrence said, “And what's romance? Usually, a nice little tale where you have everything As You Like It, where rain never wets your jacket and gnats never bite your nose and it's always daisy-time.”. The most symbolic part of the movie was when the princess confessed to her betrothed, at the altar that she didn’t love him enough to go through with the wedding, and he, in turn, expressed relief and gratitude at the release from a duty he was not keen on. If only reality were as pure and uncomplicated; sadly, somebody always gets hurt. Also regrettable is the simpleminded focus on the victors in the game of love, the steadfastness with which the feelings of the losers are swept under the carpet. Society is so desperate for romance, in the sense describe by Mr. Lawrence, that it wills it into existence by collapsing ambiguity, reducing contradiction, and resolutely ignores contradictory evidence. I recall that while, as a child, I was glad that the heroines of my favourite fairytales invariably got together with handsome princes, I was concerned for the feelings of their respective spurned lovers, or admirers. Society simply does not know how to deal with the unpleasant issue that is genuine grievance so it makes up delightful scenarios into which the spurned agreeably fit - as secondary victors or as villains- or merely conveniently ignores any unpleasant possibilities. But nothing’s left to chance: the aggrieved are muffled and compelled to go along with the little delusion by the threat of castigation and ostracism. And if in spite of that they’re uncooperative, they’re discounted as maladjusted.
Love, it said, is the subtlest form of selfishness. But if that’s the case, then does it have any room for decency? But allow me to back track a little; what is love? Is it heat and passion, or affection, and admiration? While advocates of the each view disrespect the opposing standpoint, the space between them is really only a question of difference of emphasis not essence. With regard to the question of love and decency, the former doesn’t, of course, preclude the latter. The two however are contrasting in kind: Love is instinctive, where decency is cultivated. But how is decency to be developed in a social order that shrinks from the disagreeable? The combination of a selfish drive and the lack of socialization for unpleasant situations is absolutely grave; it’s no wonder that “It is human nature to hate him whom you have injured.” Surely, we must realise how preposterous, and absurd that is; or we would if we could so much as think it. But in the pursuit of the pretty picture, there’s no time for such ambiguous thoughts, all unpleasantness is under rags swept (hat tip to Alanis).

Monday, November 21, 2005

Am back, quick, pretend you missed me

Hey y’all, it’s been a while; I’d taken time off to recover from the trauma of Chelsea’s loss to Man-Utd. The mere mention of the incident is sufficient to return me to the brink of the abyss but I’ll not succumb to such disheartening impulses: Having re-watched and re-examination the match am now quite convinced that it was simply a case of ill fortune. And yesterday’s win over Newcastle has greatly bolstered my recovery. In the intervening time, the cock still crowed, markets opened and closed, money was made and lost, and African leaders continued to loose their militia onto citizens- Meles Zanawe and Yoweri Museveni, don’t look away. Damn time, damn life, it just carries on without you!! If only, it just laboured on, that would be bad enough but it positively springs along as though nothing changed! But y’all have missed me, right? Right? Ah (sigh of relief), just as I thought. Some pretty remarkable reports have emerged in the meantime.
A CIA report released last week revealed that Fidel Castro is ailing from Parkinson’s and will soon be to encumbered with it to maintain his grip on Cuba.
Concerns about the reliability of the report and the implications of it aside, it’s really heart-warming to witness the CIA’s latest transformation into. It sure has come a long way from the days when it plotted against and assassinated socialist leaders (The DRC owes it a huge debt of gratitude, that Patrice Lumumba was a threat not just to the Country but to the world as a whole. Thanks to the CIA, the Congolese people have enjoyed unprecedented prosperity).
The CIA is probably taking its cue from America’s oh so compassionate commander in chief. Speaking of whom, the leader of the free world has once again outdone him-self. The latest CNN/USA Today/Gallup poll revealed that the ever so moral president has managed to get himself less trusted than the immoral, deceitful and altogether despicable former president Clinton; proving once again that with heaps of talent and a little help from one’s friends nothing’s unattainable.
Got to go, will post again soon.


Two weeks ago, I had a discussion with my girl about what I perceive to be an anti-Israeli bias in the international community and media. I was exasperated by indifference to Israeli suffering under terrorism, a concern that was underscored last week following the attacks in Jordan. Before I proceed, let me state for the record, lest I be accused of undue subjectivity, that my solidarity is with all human beings, regardless of colour, race, and creed: The life of an Iraqi lost at the hands of insurgents is as important as that of a Jordanian, Israeli, American, Briton, or Pakistani lost to terrorism. Which is why it is distressing that there are degrees of condemnation of acts of terror; degrees of outrage. Why is it that a terror attack on Jordan is met with swift, widespread, unanimous, and unqualified condemnation; and prolonged international media coverage, while similar attacks in Israel draw, from the international community, dilatory responses so restrained and qualified that they succeed only in justifying the perpetrators and injuring the victims even further. The international media fares no better: each organisation reflects it’s nation’s policy, which in turn is reflective of national attitudes: the attitude of the BBC, for instance is the same as that of the Blair government – the two disagree often enough but on Israel they’re in agreement; so much for independent media! It’s remarkable how quickly a story about a terror attack in Israel disappears from the news; blink and you’ll miss it. It’s as if regularity of terror attacks in Israel makes them less appalling. It’s as if we say to Israelis, “Acts of terror in your country are so regular that you should be inured to them. We have sympathy fatigue so please don’t wear our collective compassion and attention span: There’s only enough for short conflicts.” I especially love fatigue excuse, so convenient it can be applied to any situation: the international community can sit back as children in Niger or the Sudan die of hunger and justify their inaction with that simple argument. But I digress. They’re those who argue that the contentious nature of the Israeli, Palestinian situation makes unqualified condemnation difficult; “One man’s terrorist is another’s freedom fighter,” they say. What’s difficult about stating that the targeting of civilians, Israeli, Palestinian, Iraqi, Jordanian, British, or Indian, is unacceptable is beyond me. Sympathy for the Palestinian cause doesn’t preclude compassion for the suffering of Israelis, does it? Surely there’s enough compassion for all who suffer!
There are those who condemn terror attacks but maintain that they’re inevitable, “the Palestinians were, after all robbed of their land, why shouldn’t they fight back?” they say. The long and short of that argument being that the Israelis had usurped the land that is their state. My contention is that both parties have a just claim to the land. While nobody questions the Palestinian claim, many challenge the Israeli right that is based on a 2500yr title. Which raises the question, does the passage of time erode title? I have always maintained that it doesn’t; ownership can only be terminated by renunciation, or a break in succession. But for some that attitude is impractical, hypothetical, and most of all, without precedent: civilisations grow, flourish, decline and disappear; they do not re-emerge. Taken to its logical conclusion, the argument would be is that Israel doesn’t have a claim to its land because the existing model of the lifecycle of civilisations doesn’t accommodate the anomalous resilience of its people. There you have it ladies and gentlemen, if reality doesn’t fit a model, then reality must be wrong; if something’s unprecedented, then by all means disallow it.
Questions of title aside, there’s the issue of extenuation of terror. We must be categorical about the fact that nothing can extenuate terrorism. Terrorists cannot be judged on the reasonable man standard, any excuse will serve them. The Palestinian issue has been used to explain attacks on London, and New York; what’s to stop terrorists from using the same excuse to justify attacks on Israel’s trading partners, and any nation that has diplomatic relations with the Israelis? It’s a slippery slope down which we don’t want to go.

Saturday, November 05, 2005


Are you straining under the burden of living upto some ideal that's completely at odds with instinct? Does dread,of disapproval, underlie your relationships with authority figures? Are unexamined ideas your way of life? Do you go about on tiptoe scarcely daring to breath for fear of infringing on the afore mentioned ideas?Have you just about suppressed all natural instinct save for impulses that get your blood racing,against your best efforts? Are you struggling to quash curiosity for the things that get your blood racing? Have you not the conviction of your impulses?
Well, meinc has for you. With 24 years experience in challenging authority,10 years experience in examining ideas, meinc has developed liberal convictions about those pesky impulses,and a courage to surrender to them; the sort of courage that it'll readily transmit to any willing participants. But, that courage will last for a limited period only; until tranquil contemplation at a safe distance from it will open the way for the return of former inhibitions.
But wait, there's more; the transmission of courage and conviction will be done in such a way that all blame will be squarely on meinc's shoulders. So there'll be no questions of guilt or responsibility.
Offer lasts will sevice stocks last. Call 000254722911000 for the once in the lifetime opportunity to experience abandon.