The Concoction

An Ethiopian woman's musings on Africa, the world and everything in between

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        Monday, February 27, 2006
        Easy times ahead for the corrupt in Africa
        This post falls under the category of government culture – in case you’re wondering.

        What prompted it is my kids giving me instructions on how to drive. Whenever we pass a car in which their school friend is riding (while we driving to the same school, I would like to stress), I get these very excited, contradictory and urgent orders. The sudden screams are going to cause a traffic accident one of these days. The instructions are: slow down, Mommy. It's so-and-so behind us, go to the other lane, go back. Keep on stopping after the traffic light turns green, they are almost catching up with us.... Today, I put my foot down and said enough is enough. I explained that they are all going to sit in the same class for 7 hours, and play in the same play ground, eat lunch together... So my wise advice was give up waving at them from the car now because you'll have all the time with them when we get to school.

        It must have been some news item which was on the radio that triggered this chain of thoughts (I can't be sure because remember kids were screaming at me), but the car episode made me think of corruption in Africa and the US. I really believe that if African government officials learn to contain themselves now and help Africa develop economically, they can have an easier time being corrupt later. The recent corruption scandals in Kenya have ignited demonstrations, arrests and general fear in the government. If Kenya were as developed as the US for example, government officials would not have struggled to save their reputation. In the US, you don't see much drama after a major corruption story breaks out. Actually, in most cases, such news serves as free PR for the accused. Therefore, I have come to this sociologically significant conclusion that postponing corruption until Africa develops will have a multiplied effect in favor of government officials.

        Again in Kenya there was a recent chaos because government officials are wasting money driving Mercedes while the majority of people are poor. So a valuable lesson from the US is that it is OK to be a government official and ride a bicycle or a motorcycle, and you don't need a license if you are that important. Just be careful.

        In all seriousness though, I think it is becoming very clear that before a presidential candidate and his staff take the Oval Office, a thorough test should be conducted to determine whether the individuals’ motor and sensorial skills are well developed. I used to be convinced that the group needs a crash course on culture for both domestic and foreign policies, a permanent staff of shrinks to interpret some complicated human issues and a geek who would compile important comments and suggestions from blog sites and turn them into policy materials…. I used to also think that strict rules should apply to corruption and a feeling of being above the law (not having proper license/permit,) which are connected with most of these clumsy accidents. But, now I see that a much more basic skill is in question – motor skills (trust me on this one, I’m a Montessori mom). You give them bicycles for leisure ride and they run people over. You take them hunting and they blast their friend’s face. You give them a motor bike and they bust their lips making their speech even funnier… What is going on, people? It's really becoming a habit.

        See for yourself

        Bush crashed into a police officer
        Bush falls off his bike again
        At least he fell here trying to see if saving fuel is good for the environment
        Should have listend to Mum's advise about eating properly!
        To shoot, or not shoot?
        It's rubbing off on governors
        posted by Fikirte @ 2:29 PM   1 comments Digg!
        Sunday, February 26, 2006
        Follow up on Kalashnikov, fish and sex

        Remember my post on Kalashnikof for Fish...? The irony of the Nile Perch import from The Great Lakes is that there are thousands of people in the region who are living in abject poverty. Democratic Republic of Congo is one example. I know, democratic republic is a contradiction in America, but Africa is full of countries which are both. A simple explanation for this is that the term is a politically correct synonim for dictatorship.

        There is a UN mission that is traveling central Africa to bring the situation to the attention of the international community (the majority of which doesn't give a damn or is busy fighting its own battles), and to raise funds for their respective organizations so that they will be able to continue helping people bla, bla, bla.... I'm (just) thinking here (and it's Sunday afternoon for such strenuous activity), but how about ensuring that the people of Congo benefit from the fish import? How about enforcing a rule that the Russians cannot pay with Kalashinkovs any longer. Only cash and food aid, please. And, tax them big time while making the importers sponsor humaniterian volunteers to build the contries of the region, especially DR(D) Congo.... Politics willing, this can be done, and don't you think it will help a little?

        You know how I know that it can be done if the will is there? Because I read about this incredible untouchable woman in India, who single handedly started a campaign against alcoholism in her village and now she is scheduled to address a UN convention not just about alcoholism, but about women’s issues. She’s leading a group of pissed off women who don’t take any nonsense from men. No "Ask your doctor for the Purple Pill", no fancy rehab center or “Call 1 800 booze - it’s free and your anonymity is safe with us…”. Just “shave [the men’s] heads, garland them with shoes and parade them around the village to shame them into kicking the bottle.” Don’t forget she’s achieving all these despite the fact that she is poor, a woman and an “untouchable”, which is an ironic title in this context. So if Ms. Girija Devi can do it, so can the UN.
        posted by Fikirte @ 4:27 PM   2 comments Digg!
        Friday, February 24, 2006
        Riddle of the month...
        What do hungry Eastern Africans, politically troubled Nigerians, government officials in Florida and the US media have in common? Oil. Huh? This is how.

        Nigeria is pretty messed up right now while sitting on the highest quality crude oil. In the north, riots following the cartoons about Muhammad are causing chaos and the whole country is turned up side down because of elections and constitution tweaking. To make things worse, the north and south haven't really decided how to equally benefit from the oil.

        Orlando. Government officials in Orlando are in the spotlight because they are driving around in SUVs, which are notoriously fuel inefficient. And, a rumbling of sorts has begun about tax payers’ money being wasted.

        East Africa. It is hungry. Again. Experts (of development, agriculture, economy, politics and Lord knows who else) have been saying for decades that the food crisis in sub-Sahara Africa is due to primitive farming methods, absence of infrastructure, population explosion, HIV/AIDS, rural-urban gap, illiteracy, bad governance, civil unrest/wars, food aid addiction.... We've heard it all. I really wonder how many of these factors are being seriously tackled. Or is there somebody who is benefiting from all these problems therefore doesn't really want them to be solved? I'm not usually one to fall for a conspiracy theory, but ever since I saw a play about the American prison system - the privately owned ones lobbying politicians to help them expand their clientele base i.e. criminals, the backbone of the prison industry - I've become a bit paranoid about development, too.

        The US media. Normally, African disaster gets, at best, a three second mention after news about a certain celebrity's latest plastic surgery as if the whole country is not about to float from all the silicon being implanted in people. And, as if bodily fat is not being manually rearranged on daily basis. My mom would definitely have a Biblical explanation to the obsession like 'the last will be first...' except in this case it is "the bottom will be top". NPR had an interesting program last year about, basically, the rush through serious news items and lack of analysis, and one of the interviewees from another company baldly said that they give their audience what they want. Nigeria, however, is getting a special treatment now.

        So oil connects all of them. Social cohesion in Nigeria depends largely on oil. The mess in Nigeria affects the price of oil in Florida. Florida government officials are accused of wasting tax payers’ money, and may be forced to give up one of their American dreams, driving a big car, because of high prices of oil. The media is paying attention to Nigeria because it is a sensational story (oil prices are up again, and it is Nigeria's fault type of hype). Or may be, they are afraid that they will soon be forced to stop using their helicopters to bring us breaking news. East Africa needs something valuable like oil so that if - knock on wood - the next Darfur happens, America won't be left in the dark. Am I protected under the freedom of stretched imagination act here? Now, read these poems for more reflection...
        posted by Fikirte @ 11:23 PM   2 comments Digg!
        Go ahead. Stereotype me!
        So what I listen to country music? I don't listen to any cheesy country music (not anymore, at least). I listen to Keith Urban, and I went to his concert the other night. He was hot, and he rocked the house (and he's engaged to Nicole Kidman - nice catch Ms. Kidman, and eat your heart out Tom "I'm so happy with my new girl that I jump on Oprah's couch" Cruise. I told you there is a bit of gossip in this site although this one has no purpose). While Keith was performing, I was this close to fanning my face with my hands, screaming "O...h, m...y" like American girls on TV do. Just to see Keith Urban, I had to miss a school year book committee dinner/meeting, which I was supposed to host. The meeting went on in my house without me, and my husband scored big time with the school moms for covering for me while I was screaming my lungs off at a cutie country singer.

        People's reactions to my going to a country music concert is the reason for writing this. The repeated "You like country music?" question with an obvious tone of surprise made me real defensive. I felt that I had to justify my taste for Keith's music by explaining that I grew up (OK this is going to be slightly embarrassing)listening to Kenny Rogers, Don Williams, o..h m..y even Dolly Parton, Garth Brook, Mr. Willie Nelson himself and Ronnie Milsap (I am not even sure whether he's a country singer). I have got to mention government controlled TV in Ethiopia here. I also grew up on an unhealthy dose of old Russian romantic movies, which suspiciously had a common plot - the hard, and at times deadly, choice between romance and The Revolution. The Revolution always won. ALWAYS. Amharic dubbed Russian documentaries were also in when I was a child. I still remember "Natasha enjoys a bowl of soup after work. Natasha loves to work hard. Natasha loves the revolution". Third person nouns don't exist in Russian? In Amharic it is even more hilarious. At school, reciting such lines from documentary films gave us maximum entertainment. In retrospect, it is funny how the propaganda was totally wasted on us. Don't poor-you me, now. I'd prefer Natasha's revolutionary life story than watching Wife Swap or Beauty and The Geek to see pretty girls thinking hard to come up with an answer that the first American president was George Bush.

        Back to Keith. I think people's surprise that I like Keith has nothing to do with my being an Ethiopian. I think it's a race question. I'm not taking it negatively here, just making an observation. I know it's a race issue because when my 65 Spanish words/second spitting Porto Rican friend said that she was going to the concert with me, nobody said 'you guys like country music?' That's my scientific proof right there. Music in the US is one of those things where it is supposed to be either black or white - with few exceptions to this rule. I'm sure that it is also arranged on class basis. In Holland it is the other way round. Hip Hop is very popular amongst white Dutch. I went to a Hip Hop concert in Amsterdam two years ago, and Paradiso was packed with white Dutch who were rapping away with the American performers. They didn't even blink when they said the N word - the black singers were saying it, so the Dutch just joined in. One of the singers noticed this and even made a comment about it.

        I guess I'll be considered either culturally confused or suffering from identity crisis because my music profile on Yahoo music contains the strangest combination of Brian McKnight, Chiara Civello, David Gray, Eros, The Fugees, Ismael Lo, James Blunt, Keith Urban, Luther Vandross, Melissa Etheridge, Powder Finger, Rachael Yamataga, Ray Lamontagne, Ted Hawkins, Uncle Cracker.... So what does that make me?
        posted by Fikirte @ 6:39 AM   2 comments Digg!
        Wednesday, February 22, 2006
        Kalashnikovs for fish, and oh, some sex too
        Recently, I received a forwarded e-mail with a joke about globalization. In the joke, the answer to the question "What is the truest definition of globalization?" is Princess Diana’s death. And the explanation goes like this:

        An English princess with an Egyptian boyfriend
        crashes in a French tunnel, driving a German car with
        a Dutch engine, driven by a Belgian who was drunk on
        Scottish whisky (check the bottle before you change
        the spelling), followed closely by Italian Paparazzi,
        on Japanese motorcycles, treated by an American
        doctor, using Brazilian medicines.

        This is sent to you by an African, using Bill Gates's
        (an American) technology, and you're probably reading
        this on your computer, that uses Taiwanese chips, and a
        Korean monitor, assembled by Bangladeshi workers in a
        Singapore plant, transported by Indian lorry-drivers,
        hijacked by Indonesians, unloaded by Pakistani men,
        and trucked to you by Mexicans....and now being read
        by a person sitting in SOUTH AFRICA who should be
        working instead of wasting time like this!
        That, my friend, is Globalization.

        Hubert Sauper’s academy award nominated documentary, Darwin's Nightmare, shows the darker side of our interlinked-ness (this word doesn’t exist, but you know what I mean). Just like the above joke, the film shows who wins, who loses and who gets messed up due to greed, luck of ethics and powerlessness. It also spells out – like in the joke – exactly who’s responsible for what.

        The film is not intended to be your typical jaw dropping and tear jerking account of poverty in Africa, which even Africans are tired of hearing. It is powerful stuff like well documented evidence presented in a court room against big criminals. The evidence (in the film) is against governments, international institutions and business. It’s about the seemingly unlikely relationship between the scientific meddling to see what would happen if a bunch of Nile Perch is dropped in the Victoria Lake in Africa, how that fish drove other types of fish to extinction, now as fate would have it, the Nile Perch is hotly pursued by people for its white fillet, the Russians paying for the fish in Kalashnikovs and $10 for a quickie with an African woman who sings for her clients (I'm not sure whether it's before, after or during sex - I heard the report on the radio) and what all this is doing to the poor in the heart of Africa. Some really twisted stuff.

        Hopefully, somebody somewhere is going to follow up on that and really put all who are responsible on trial. Then may be, just may be, before any of those meaningless international conferences (the G8 summit, the world economic forum…) are ever held again, it would be mandatory to watch the movie. And, have an explanatory session for those who cannot follow complicated concepts (I’m not naming names).

        Shouldn't the World Trade Organization be responsible for all this mess?

        What Hubert is saying…

        “This booming multinational industry of fish and weapons has created an ungodly globalized alliance on the shores of the world’s biggest tropical lake: an army of local fishermen, World Bank agents, homeless children, African ministers, EU-commissioners, Tanzanian prostitutes and Russian pilots.”

        "I could make the same kind of movie in Sierra Leone, only the fish would be diamonds,in Honduras, bananas, and in Libya, Nigeria or Angola, crude oil."

        “It is, for example, incredible that wherever prime raw material is discovered, the locals die in misery, their sons become soldiers, and their daughters are turned into servants and whores.”

        “In the Eastern Congo alone, the casualties of war on each single day equal the number of deaths of September 11th in New York.”
        posted by Fikirte @ 11:48 AM   0 comments Digg!
        Oscar for good work
        I am taking issue with the way movies are selected for awards. I am sure any sensible person would do so when Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were Rabbit beat The Constant Gardener in the Best British film category. And film critics say that it was because this year the competition was fierce. Come on! If the gay cowboys’ film and The C. Gardener were up against each other, I would have bought that argument. Both are about current controversial issues, both make strong statements, both were politically ambitious, both introduce new perspectives on old issues, etc… But, Wallace and Gromit. Come on!

        Watch the bonus stuff on The Gardener’s DVD. To me that movie is a pioneer on several grounds – daring in selection of location (the slums in the outskirt of Nairobi), daring in moving away from the glamour of Hollywood and use Kenyans from the slums throughout the movie, ethical in respecting locals however poor they are and socially responsible in planning to leave much needed infrastructure behind…. I think the criteria for awards should be turned up side down and in side out. It’s time that social responsibility is added in the ingredient. Yeah, I’m a sore looser too!

        Until such time comes where movies are also judged by their positive social contributions, I’ll take comfort in Fast Company magazine’s annual Social Capitalist Awards. Every year, the magazine acknowledges entrepreneurs “who are changing the world”. 25 good companies were the winners this year out of 278 nominations, 119 applicants and 53 finalists. TRANSFAIR USA is amongst the winners. They are the fair trade gurus who cut out the greedy middleman and link poor farmers in developing countries directly to US distributors.

        By the way, Michael Moore is cooking up a ‘let’s bash pharmaceutical companies’ (or is it insurance companies?) documentary. He is gathering real life drama from the average Joe and Suzie. If you have a story to tell, go to his web site and see how you can participate.

        Interesting links
        Fast Company’s social section
        Corporate Social Responsibility
        Trans Fair USA
        Fair Trade related issues
        The Constant Gardener
        posted by Fikirte @ 10:07 AM   0 comments Digg!
        Sunday, February 19, 2006
        Science found the solution for all our social problems
        A recent scientific research revealed that we developed as a result of cooperation to survive, not because our hairy, stooped, club clinching, spooky ancestors outsmarted all other creatures in hunting and gathering.

        This is news. This is big news! Read between the lines and you will find the answer to modern time problems. Gender and all other forms of discrimination, ethnic tension and clashes, wars and poverty can be solved with this new information that scientists have given us.

        I’m repeating myself for some effect here - there is scientific evidence that we develop when we cooperate. Chimps remain chimps because they don’t have the capacity to help one another.

        It’s really hard to think that we have developed much more than our ancestors when we see what is going on in the world today. Our weapons are definitely more sophisticated and we are more aware of the larger picture. But, we still get stuck and at times regress in our behaviors thus acting really barbaric. If we just remember that cooperation will see us through, we can get past that impasse and perhaps have a good laugh about it later.

        In its Feb. 23rd issue, Time magazine was arguing that the decline of science in the US can be attributed, amongst other things, to the end of Cold War competition. Undeniably, that nasty competition has led to some great inventions. But this cooperation stuff is going to be larger than that. Much larger.

        The research found out that our ancestors needed a common enemy – the predator – to come together and transform themselves and their world to the extent that they did. Therefore, it’s not hard to assume that we modern human beings need a common enemy to gang up against to further develop. I have a few suggestions (my site, so I go first). Poverty, environmental degradation, ethnic clashes, wars, discrimination, perhaps aliens if they are really out there, bird flu, HIV/AIDS, TB, river blindness, cancer… even loneliness will do. We have an endless list.

        I want to mention gender inequality by itself because women and feminists are the major beneficiaries of this new finding. Have you ever participated in gender inequality discussions/rows? Where does the discussion/row usually end? With men going back to how their ancestors were hunters/gatherers while women are the care givers… This is often said in a very snobbish way to degrade women’s contribution. Now we know that human beings developed due to cooperation. Our male ancestors didn’t get us here by themselves or bravely going out there in harms way to hunt for us women. We cooperated in an equal partnership. 50-50 partnership. To all desperate housewives out there - next time any body tries to ridicule your job of staying at home raising children, throw this cooperation stuff in their face. You have a scientific theory to back you up! No scoffing here because it’s only a theory. The scientist did brain imaging and other clever studies.
        posted by Fikirte @ 6:15 PM   0 comments Digg!
        Saturday, February 18, 2006
        Do we just grow up or do we also develop?
        These days I am wondering about human development (behavioral development, that is) when I read about the cartoon clash that is going on. I spend quite a lot of time and energy arbitrating children’s fights. There are endless reasons for the fights; she pushed me hard, but she was mean to me first, she wouldn’t share, she always tells me what to do… However, I am learning that the real causes are to do with being accepted, respected and finding one’s place – being an equal partner. I do not have a scientific proof for this claim because I am not qualified, but I am sure every parent out there would agree with me.

        Fast forward children’s bickering to grown up issues, and the core reasons remain pretty the same. People who are facing marital problems, for example, complain about being disrespected, misunderstood and not having equal say in the relationship. Magnify that to societal issues, and still the same reasons prevail for clashes and even wars. Take the current West-Islam clash caused by the Muhammad cartoons. It has nothing to do with free speech although most articles dwell just on that argument including The Economist (February 11-17, 2006 issue). Of course, the cartoons were printed and re-printed because the countries in which they were published have laws protecting free speech (and the editors huge lack of common-sense). Still, there are certain restrictions to the free speech law against defamation, blasphemy, denying the Holocaust… The cartoons were legal in all the countries that they were published. So, I wonder, isn’t the clash caused by the flaw in the free speech laws? How come “defamation” does not include Islam? Isn’t the clash also due to deeper issues between the West and the Muslim world? Aamer Ahmed Khan’s article comes closer to shrinking both sides arguing that the cartoon clash is just a symptom of much larger issues. These issues include (he used more fancy words) being the underdog, a minority, dominated, disrespected… In couples’ terms, being micro-managed, on a short-leash, a door mat, unappreciated… In kids’ terms, being mean, rude, a liar, a bully …

        This is why I really think that our behaviors barely change, but our issues become much bigger and more complicated. One solution for the societal problems would be to have shrinks and sociologists working as special advisors on foreign policies. Or teach psychology starting in elementary schools and make Dr. Phil redundant in the process. What would resolve the West-Islam clash is some serious shrink intervention to sit them down face to face and make them see that it is OK to be different as long as they respect each other and that they can communicate without nasty cartoons and tempter tantrum such as torching buildings. And, no killing please.

        Death toll to date (to my knowledge)
        Nigeria - 16
        Afghanistan - 12
        Libya - 10
        Pakistan - 2
        Somalia - 1
        posted by Fikirte @ 9:34 AM   2 comments Digg!
        Thursday, February 16, 2006
        A bit more on race and sports...
        Found a Bangladeshi blogger who was musing about race and the Winter Olympics, too.
        posted by Fikirte @ 5:51 AM   0 comments Digg!
        Wednesday, February 15, 2006
        Cultural myth about sports
        White men can't jump, black people can't swim.... Such myths are very strong. I once heard a sort of scientific explanation about the muscle composition of black men that would deter them to be successful in competitive swimming. But, how about sports like skiing, wake boarding and kite surfing? Is there any scientific explanation why for example these sports are white-dominated?

        I really don't think so. Robel Teklemariam, the first Ethiopian skier to participate in the winter Olympics, is the proof of that. If one get past the "you're trying to be like a ferenj (a white person" comment, a member of any race could do what they want.

        Another, not so successful and famous(yet), example is my brave friend Habtamu - also from Ethiopia. You should see him tackling the waves at Florida beaches on his kite board. Ok, he's mostly either lying on his back trying to figure out what his gigantic kite is doing or flying off his wake board taking a not very elegant dive in the lake, but he's doing great. People approach him for all sorts of questions, and you can see in their eyes that they just don't know how to ask him for an autograph. So find any another excuse but culture for not doing crazy sports. Anything off the trade mill is the definition of 'crazy sport' here.
        posted by Fikirte @ 10:01 AM   0 comments Digg!
        Monday, February 13, 2006
        Books on culture
        I am looking forward to reading Dr. Kwame Anthony Appiah’s latest book Cosmopolitanism: Ethics in the World of Strangers. I watched his interview with Tavis Smiley on PBS (my self-appointed critique of my blog site, my sister, has told me to spell things out – so, PBS = Public Broadcast Service of the United States of America), and it was very interesting to hear Dr. Appiah describe the gap between societal and governmental cosmopolitanism. Governments have to do a lot of catching up with ever cosmopolitanizing world. Look where blogging has got while the US government is still fussing about wardrobe malfunction.

        I hope that Dr. Appiah has the time to turn his book into simple guide for the US administration – for those who don’t have much time to read (like Mr. Cheney who’s going to be busy taking shooting classes before the next quail hunting season. You didn’t hear? He accidentally shot and injured a man while hunting quails.)

        I also think that Dr. Appiah's work should be used as a text book for schools and collages across the US. If not (mainly because the government would rather spend money on something else than education), they should have at least his Dictionary of Global Culture in each school. Check out his bio and see for yourself. Enjoy learning about “the other” – after all we’re not that different from each other!

        Interesting links

        Dr. Appiah’s bio
        PBS online
        Hunting related - animal abuse stuff
        posted by Fikirte @ 12:36 PM   1 comments Digg!
        Sunday, February 12, 2006
        Weapon of self-protection
        It is surprising how self-protection is a culturally embedded phenomenon. What is perfectly accepted in one culture is a grotesque crime in the other. A perfect example is the Haitian woman who was arrested at Fort Lauderdale airport in Florida for possession of a curious self-defense weapon in her luggage. A human head! Not a skull, but a head. And according to BBC online, with some hair, skin and “quite a lot of dirt.” The reason – some sort of voodoo protection for the woman whose name is Ms. Severe. That made me realize why people in Ethiopia go to great length to give their children names with positive meanings such as Achamyelesh (you have no equal) and Mandefro (who would dare look down on you) because we believe that people live up to their given names.

        The fascinating fact about Ms. Severe's case is that she is a US resident. I am aware that some nationalities live a very secluded life in their host country within their own communities, speaking their own languages, going to grocery stores which specifically cater to their culture and even TV programs in their own languages. What I didn’t realize was the extent of seclusion to a point where one would attempt to bring a human head in the US. The other puzzling fact is how did Severe manage to pull this off on the side of the Haitian immigration? Or was it a case of…

        Immigration officer: Ms. Severe, have you packed your suitcase yourself?

        Severe: Yes, sir.

        IO: Have you accepted any items from somebody else?

        Severe: Yes, a human head.

        IO: What is the purpose of this item?

        Severe: It’s a weapon of self-protection.

        IO: Alright then, have a pleasant flight, Ms. Severe.

        That is very well possible since Voodoo has been recognized as a religion in Haiti since 2003. I think a simple brochure from the Haitian Ministry of Culture/Tourism with a list of items not recommended on flights outside the country would solve this type of problem. Just the title DO NOT TAKE and then the list - human head, live or dead farm animals, kidnapped children.... Simple!

        This case is a reminder of the scary question - how can the US protect its borders? Is it enough for the US to focus on just protecting its borders to guarantee safety to its citizens or should it spend more money to train foreign immigration officers, particularly from poor nations and supply their airports with fancy gadgets? Would it be killing two birds with one stone to invest in foreign development – alleviate poverty somewhere else and guarantee national security?

        I am curious to hear the defending arguments of Ms. Severe’s lawyers. Are they going to say in those fancy legal terms, “Your Honor, the owner of the head was dead anyway and Ms. Severe is a victim of the clash of an ancient tradition and modern norms”? Perhaps this would give the Dutch a perspective in which to continue the rediculous headscarf debate. It could be worse than covering ones head in public – think in terms of a head in a suitcase.
        posted by Fikirte @ 12:03 AM   0 comments Digg!
        Saturday, February 11, 2006
        What's in a name?
        Do a thesaurus search for mélange and you get this fancy sounding synonym for mish mash – concoction. Et voila – a name for this blog site.
        posted by Fikirte @ 7:50 PM   0 comments Digg!
        I have arrived...
        I couldn’t get around blogging until now, but there are several news items floating around that I could not resist the temptation any longer. Besides, a friend of mine has been encouraging me to start blogging for some time now – perhaps to decrease the e-mail load he was getting from me. I guess it is my time now.

        The area of interest for me is mélange of cultures - borrowing, adopting and modifying norms, beliefs and social behavior. This will give me something to blog about ranging from globalization to comparison of corruption in Africa and the US…. If, in the process, I somehow inform somebody of something important or made the other think about an issue and take action, it would be an awesome achievement.
        posted by Fikirte @ 7:48 PM   0 comments Digg!
        The face of VAW

        Kamilat - victim of acid burning The face of VAW - violence against women. It should and can be stopped with enough commitment. Helping one woman at a time is a start.
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