Monday, February 20, 2006

More Africa: The Bad, the Good, the Ugly and the Insane

As usual, the news from Africa is more grim than good, but there are glimmers of hope amidst the maelstrom. I'm proud that one of my students (we'll call her Karen M. because, well, her first name and last initial are "Karen" and "M," respectively) is taking an active role in pushing awareness of the nightmare in Sudan (which is experiencing what the scholar Gerald Prunier has called the "ambiguous genocide") and she asked me for help in publicizing the ongoing efforts. Hers is a good and important task, and so I would encourage all of you to go to the Committee on Conscience of the United States Holocaust Museum, which sees nothing ambiguous about what they have declared to be a genocide.

Meanwhile there is bad news from the Horn of Africa, where a drought imperils the lives of millions in Somalia, Kenya, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Eritrea. John Donnolly of the Boston Globe has the story here.

Also in the Globe, Ann Yao has a piece titled "After Genocide, A Ray of Hope" about Rwanda. What was unquestionably one of the most horrid stories from Africa in recent decades might also turn into one of the great lessons in reconciliation. We should never forget the former, but let's hold out hope for the latter.

Finally, I am not a psychologist. I don't even play one on tv. But is there any question that Robert Mugabe is more than a little mad? But at least he feels healthy. In a recent interview Mugabe declared that he has the bones of "someone of 30." Such is the state of affairs in Zimbabwe that upon reading the headline, I just assumed that he had the skeleton of a 30 year old somewhere in his antechamber. I'm not convinced that this is not what he actually means.

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