Thursday, 24 January 2013


Last week world wide media reports focussed on the sinister slaughter of twelve elephants inside a Kenyan game reserve. On Monday, the Kenyan government announced that the anti-poaching lobby is now a matter of national security. These events and killings, a Kenyan spokesman was quoted telling CNN, are not restricted to animals.  Rangers are being murdered too. Ruthless poachers are keen “to fuel appetites of Asian clients especially in Thailand and China.”
Most East African readers have certainly heard about this. What matters, however, are reactions and what should be done.

Is there any need for the average African living in this so- called wild continent to be concerned that animals are being for pesa? Aren’t we supposed to love meat? Wild meat is especially more delicious than domesticated cows, goats, chicken etc. One guinea fowl (“Kanga” in Swahili)-which I find tastier than chicken or duck- costs around 10,000 T-shillings in a London supermarket, for example.
I am being sarcastic of course.
Slaughtered elephants, pic by Michael Nichols courtsey of Advocate Habitat Blog...

There are two strands here.

Wednesday, 16 January 2013


So... what is Michelin?
 Michelin is one of the most known tyre brands launched in France towards the end of the 19th century. According to Wikipedia, Michelin’s revenue was worth 17.89 billion Euros three years ago. Alongside Bridgestone (created in Japan in 1931) the two are the biggest manufacturers of this commodity in the world.

I have always found the image of Michelin funny. A tough smiling guy with rubbery valleys of muscles.  For the business and advertising student a remarkable lesson to humorous branding. No wonder Michelin tyres have been around since 1888. 
So... I was in the Gym and saw this chap who reminds me of Mr Michelin. There are all sorts of body builders. Some aim to be like legendary Arnold Schwarzenegger (pictured), winner of numerous international trophies including Mr Olympia in the 1970’s.

 By the way it is not true he was just muscles and no brains. Otherwise how would Mr Schwarzenegger become such a highly paid Hollywood actor and eventual Governor of California? And how would he win votes with a foreign accent (Austrian- German) in the USA? You tell me.
 Lifting weights and taking whatever stuff that accentuates and builds muscles, is therefore, just one side of the coin. Majority bodybuilders want to feel and look good. Looking good means thinking clever, as we shall see.  Let us agree to call him Josephat.

Monday, 7 January 2013


The food is excellent; everyone is praising the cook. Our Cameroon hostess is hoping to live in East Africa one day; she has a Kenyan boyfriend.
“Your rice tasted very good,” someone shrills, “what were the ingredients?”
Beaming. “I learnt that from my Swahili teacher.”
“It is Basmati rice, right?”

“What ingredients did you use?”
“Coconut and salt.”
At the mention of salt, follows a long discussion regarding dangers of sodium. Actually everything this excellent chef made has excessive salt. The chicken and duck are not only immersed and seasoned with curry, turmeric and garam masala (those great Asiatic spices) but tons of salt.
The beef and lamb are soaking and swimming in a spicy, salty stew.  The salad (meshed in egg mayonnaise, steamed carrots, tomatoes, onions, garlic and cucumber) is God forbid- embroidered if not dripping in salt. Salt is the super star here!  Salt decides piquancy, savour, feel, quality.  Then there is chilli pepper. Pilipili. Or as they say in Spanish: picante, pimiento.
 To damp the extremities of these hot flavours almost everyone across this munching table drinks some kind of liquid: fruit juice, beer, wine, water, tea. This habit of downing spicy and salty food with liquids is so common to most people –that we have come to accept it as “normal.”
 Salt attracts water and liquids- the more you take it the more grief, risk and perils to your blood. 

Thursday, 3 January 2013


More than twenty years ago I was part of a live band playing music at a club somewhere in South America when a chap sneaked on stage and withdrew a gun.
When I saw a weapon waving at me and at such a close range, I stammered mid sentence which made everyone alarmed. Why has the singer suddenly stopped?
By now it was roughly ten seconds since the chap had found his way to the stage; and no sooner had he exposed his gun and made his presence felt than he grabbed the microphone.

Author in action in1988...pic by legendary photographer, Clori Ferreira

Meantime, three of his mates quickly materialised, armed and equally menacing.
“Everyone get down, or I will shoot Jimmy Cliff here.”
 (Despite the serious danger I found that funny; thieves with humour and bullets at their finger tips...)
Everyone went down, ladies were robbed off their jewellery, men let go their pouches, fear loomed. But mid way, the hotel’s security guards managed to call the police and what followed was a shooting spree. No-one died, a few people were injured, yet unfortunately, the crooks escaped.
Few years later.
Beginning of 1993 I was going to a huge concert in Salvador Bahia, north eastern Brazil. Two well known and respected musicians headlined an outdoor gig. One of them, Gilberto Gill( pictured during the Montreal Jazz Festival of 2008), would later become Minister of Culture.

So we are in a large fully packed bus around four in the afternoon. Passengers of various nationalities including local Brazilians are chatting and happy. We have just driven past the splendid seaside area of Rio Vermelho (Red River) when I notice a group of four suspicious looking young males. Unlike the rest of us none has a female partner. They are closely studying and surveying us. As soon as the bus gains speed, one walks down to the end, he does not sit but  maintains a vigilant  position while his mate stays mid way; the other two take strategic areas-  near the door, and next to the driver.