Bryan Mukandi

Libya and the gods

Where to begin on the mess that is unfolding in Libya? In the words of my friend from the East End of London, “Will the West never learn?” The shortsightedness — no, the self-righteous blindness — the arrogance, and the goldfish-like forgetfulness of lessons from the recent past are staggering. It all boils down to…

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Some perspective on race and crime

There are a lot of ways to respond to something like Annelie Botes’ stated aversion to black people. My initial one didn’t rise to anything worthy of reproduction. However, the reality is that her views are shared by a significant portion of the population. Except in the case that those people’s fears are realised, and…

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Why Liu Xiaobo shouldn’t have been awarded the Nobel

Last week in an op-ed piece in The New York Times, Thorbjorn Jagland, chair of the Norwegian Nobel Committee, defended the awarding of the Peace Prize to Chinese dissident Liu Xiaobo. Asserting that “international human-rights law and standards are above the nation-state”, that “ideas of sovereignty have changed over time” and that “the world” has…

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Is Obama creating a wilderness and calling it peace?

The historian Publius Cornelius Tacitus is credited with the quotation, “They make a wilderness, and call it peace”. Assuming that I’m not taking it out of context or using it incorrectly, that quotation often comes to mind when I think of US President Barack Obama’s foreign policy. I really like Obama. I don’t think he…

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Finding our inner Jonathan Moyo

One of the big mysteries of Zimbabwean politics is the metamorphosis of Prof Jonathan Moyo. A former critic of Robert Mugabe and his party, Moyo suddenly switched allegiances and helped keep Mugabe and Zanu-PF in power. Although there has been plenty of speculation on the subject, why Moyo made the switch is still not known…

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Africa’s deficit of original thought

In a 1949 essay titled “The Economic Development of Latin America and its Principle Problems”, Argentinean economist Raúl Prebisch challenged the current economic orthodoxy. His contention was that “mainstream” economic thought, promoted by countries that were benefiting at Latin America’s expense, would not lead to that region’s development. Prebisch then went on to develop an…

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Proof of life, that’s what Tsvangirai needs

Recent events in Zimbabwe have reminded me of the 2000 Taylor Hackford film Proof of Life. The basic plot has a contractor kidnapped by rebels in a fictional Latin American setting. A negotiator is tasked with ensuring the contractor’s release. During the protracted negotiations, one of the things that the negotiator demands, before any payment…

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Mandela: Commodity or icon?

I remember, as a poor varsity student, begging and borrowing money to visit Cape Town. A former schoolmate who had relocated to that beautiful city invited me to spend the week with him there. After some financial gymnastics, I eventually scraped enough money together to make the trip. In Cape Town, I decided to make…

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Just Not Serious

Reality television seems to have really caught on. If you look hard enough, you will find a show where someone’s doing something you’re into and is being followed around by a production crew. I’m surprised no-one has come up with a show that gets a dysfunctional family to represent the African continent. The show could…

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The house of hunger

If Princeton economist and New York Times columnist Paul Krugman is to be believed, 2009 could be a very tricky year. Forget tricky; it has the potential to be an outright disaster. The sad thing is that this financial mess will probably affect weaker economies disproportionately, even though they had the least to do with…

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