Zimbabwean Home Affairs, food security
The Ministry of Home Affairs, Zimbabwe is position in the Zimbabwean government is currently subject to a tussle of control between Zanu-PF and MDC. However it is overshadowed by the Provincial administration in the communal areas, which largely controls food distribution.
The Ministry of Home Affairs controls, among others, :-
Zimbabwe Republic Police (responsible for internal security) Registrar General (Electoral roll) Immigration Board of Censors (Newspapers, TV, Radio) Lotteries and Gaming Board (Income in tourist areas) Especially because it controls the Police Force, it is a powerful ministry.
Splitting South Africa's ANC party
The African National Congress has led South Africa since 1994 - the start of majority rule. Disaffection with Jacob Zuma’s recall of Thabo Mbeki has set an unwanted ball in motion - a potential split of the party before the next election.
I have written about the ANC before - about Leadership in Africa, the election process, the rise of Zuma, and the election at Polokwane,
While it is not a one-party state, the ANC dominates the political landscape, with over the 2/3rds majority needed to change the constitution.
Annual Sangoma ceremony in Zululand
Every year, Sangomas outside Eshowe hold a ceremony to honour their ancestors and strengthen bonds between those of like professions.
I have written about Sangomas before - Khekhekhe’s First Fruits ceremony. I was in Zululand again for two weeks, to attend the Umgido Umkhulu - a ceremony co-hosted by Mama Cebekhulu, who is a teacher of a friend of mine Karen.
Karen is doing another stage of her Sangoma apprenticeship- as a Twasa (student) of Mama Cebekulu.
Dark Matter in the Universe
What is exciting about Cosmology today is how much we do not know. The observable universe - baryonic matter we are fairly sure comprises only a few percent of the total mass of the universe. The rest is a mystery, but mainstream theories split it between Dark Matter and Dark Energy.
I work at the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences (AIMS), and we are blessed with some great visiting lecturers, and I have followed the courses on Cosmology and Quantum Mechanics with interest.
Xenophobia in South Africa
At the end of May in South Africa, a lot of violence erupted, apparently targeted against other black africans by fellow black South Africans. Meeting other Nigerians, almost all of them, given a little time, bring up the subject. I found myself having to apologise for the violence, and make some explanation of it.
I had left for Nigeria the week before, to install the computer network at the african University for Science and Technology.
OLPC and Intel Classmate PC in Nigeria
Today, I visited two schools in Abuja, Nigeria, both of which were pilot schools for the new low cost laptops targeted at schools in the third world. One Laptop per Child started in Galadima Junior school, in Abuja Model Village, and Intel launched ‘One laptop per teacher and child’ at Jabi Junior Secondary school, in Jabi district, Abuja.
Nigeria seems to be a testing ground for low cost laptops - pioneered by Nicholas Negroponte’s OLPC, but being ambushed these days by other offerings, like the ASUS EEE PC and the Intel Classmate.
Abuja, Nigeria, the capital city, suffers from lack of infrastructure. Potholes, no landlines, power cuts every day.
Nigeria as a tourist In 1992 as a tourist on an overland truck, I travelled through Nigeria from the Cameroon border in the north, down through the city of Kano and its magnificent central market, to the bustling and wild city of Lagos. In Nigeria “Benin” is a western province - the sleepy francophone country to the west is pronounced differently and must be identified as the republic of benin.
Launch of AIMS Research Centre, Muizenberg
On May 11, the African Institute for Mathematical Sciences opened its Research Centre. Present were a host of dignitaries, led by Stephen Hawking, Michael Griffin, the current administrator of NASA, and Nobel prize-winners David Gross and George Smoot. A lineup indeed.
I have posted about AIMS before. The bread-and-butter of AIMS is a post-graduate diploma course for African Mathematicians. This broadens the role of the institute to include research. AIMS is set by the sea in a lovely location in Muizenberg, and is the brainchild of Neil Turok, who last year won a TED prize for this and his work on cosmology.
Zimbabwe - Thabo Mbeki and Aziz Pahad
Since the election itself, we have watched, in slow motion, the frantic backpedalling of ZanuPF to steal the elections after the fact.
We have all watched Zimbabwe’s slide from prosperous neighbour to failed state in the past 8 years. There was much wringing of hands by western countries - watching another African basket case grow from what was a functioning economy with educated populous.
Granted - there was a lot of unfinished business from independence -particularly about transfer of ownership of land to black Zimbabweans.
Rock, Paper, Scissors
Zimbabwe went to elections last weekend. The Movement for Democratic Change use the open hand as a symbol, ZanuPF the cockerel. ZanuPF were so bereft ofideas that their slogan was “Get behind the fist” - a clear counterpoint to MDC’s open hand. That makes international opinion the Scissors - unable to conquer the Rock.
I have watched, aghast, Zimbabwe’s economic slide for 6 years. My first visit to Southern Africa was in 1999 - and I decided against visiting Zimbabwe then because my trip would have been too short.