Monday, December 11, 2006

A Carrot With A Penis And Far More Important Things As Well

I spent the weekend working in the garden. Apparently the area I made two weeks ago was just a seedbed and I needed somewhere five or six times that big to transplant all the stuff to. That is, until my premature-fertilization-while-it-was-way-too-hot-and-dry kicked in and killed a ton of stuff. Oh well. I got a bunch more seeds, so if the rains keep going for another month like people think they will, I should be OK. Of course I'm not going to still be here to enjoy the vegetables of my labor, but that's OK.

I finished Martin Meredith's "The Fate of Africa: A History of Fifty Years of Independence" on Sunday. Perhaps I should describe what it's about in more detail, but I think we'll be OK if you just go back and read the title again.

I think it accomplishes its goal of being readable (it's 688 pages long and I read it in a week and a half) but I'm not sure what I really think of it. At times I questioned the author's bias. Footnotes or more specific references would have helped that. Other than when describing the French support of the Hutus in Rwanda or the US support of Mobutu Sese Seko Kuku Ngbendu Wa Za Banga (The warrior who knows no defeat because of his endurance and inflexible will and is all powerful, leaving fire in his wake as he goes from conquest to conquest, sometimes translated as simply 'Invincible warrior; cock who leaves no chick intact') in Zaire, it pretty adamantly argues that Africa's problems are due to its own bad leadership. I don't know how I feel about that. For some reason it would make be happier to believe the "Poisonwood BIble" version of events in the DRC: Patrice Lumumba was a brilliant, engaging, democratically elected leader that the CIA assassinated and replaced with the kleptocrat Mobutu because the CIA was paranoid Lumumba was too friendly with the Russians. Meredith's version of events: Lumumba was irrational, psychotic, gripped with a Messianic fervor, and would one day threaten to expel UN troops with Soviet help and the next day ask the UN troops for help kicking out the Belgians, and really, the Belgians killed him, not the CIA. Perhaps I prefer Kingsolver's version of events because it gives me (false) hope that there's actually something I can do (vote Democrat) to solve the problem.

In summary, "When Abdou Diouf of Senegal accepted defeat in an election in March 2000, he was only the fourth African president to do so in four decades."

Oh, and did I mention the book is kind of pessimistic? "In reality, fifty years after the beginning of the independence era, Africa's prospects are bleaker than ever before."

I don't know what to think about that. Yes, this continent has serious problems, but the people here are usually pretty dang happy, and you might go crazy if you were that pessimistic all the time. So I will now say something completely asinine. This carrot looks like it has a penis.

This lizard is cute and tiny.

Have a wonderful day.