Thursday, February 05, 2004
This is pretty cool. A Peace Corps volunteer writes about his first experiences in Togo...and he's even speaking Ewe:
[I]t was a sunny room and most of the patients were talking and smiling. Some looked sickly, some looked to be in pain, some seemed perfectly fine.

Somehow I managed to produce more words in Ewe: "Ndi na mi lo. E foin? Devio de?" (Good morning. How are you? How are the children?)

And, almost in unison, everyone in the ward started to laugh because I spoke the local language. I felt myself laughing along with them. Well, I thought, that's one way to bring joy to a place of pain: Have a kid from Brooklyn try to speak Ewe in an intensive care ward.

When I was in Ghana in the summer of 2001, I was only about a 20-minute drive from the Togo border. Most people in that part of Ghana are also Ewe and I had a lot of friends who even had family across the border in Togo. Nevertheless, there were still some interesting attitudes and stereotypes about what things were like "over there."

One stereotype was that Togo was the source of smugglers, prostitutes, and sexually transmitted diseases. You'd get that impression if you visited Afflao; it's the grimy, gritty, and utterly crowded town on the Ghanaian side of the border. I'm sure it's unfair to judge all of Togo based on Aflao (especially since Aflao is in Ghana).

Usually when Ghanaians talked about Togo, they'd shake their heads and click their tongues and say that Togo is a dictatorship and a police state. They were particularly miffed by the fact that "President" Eyadema has ruled Togo for 30 years: simply more evidence of his thuggish nature. That's an assessment that I can't argue with.

All the Ghanaians I knew were very proud (rightly so) of the fact that Ghana was free and democratic. I think they were disgusted to have such an unsavory neighbor.

And that's all I know about Togo.

It hardly needs to be reiterated, but the situation in Zimbabwe is getting worse. Here's a bit of an ironic twist, though:
Despite President Robert G. Mugabe's withering attacks on what he calls the racist West, [the Zimbabwean health care system] also depends even more on the kindness of Western strangers — many of them relentless critics of his authoritarian government.

Foreign aid, largely from global charities and the United States, Britain and Europe, has saved Zimbabwe from running entirely out of drugs and medical supplies. Days ago, the European Union pledged $30 million in aid to buy medicine and equipment for clinics.

Then again, I'm sure that the ZANU-spinmeisters and their enablers just see this as additional evidence of a Western conspiracy to keep African nations dependent on foreign aid. In fact, it's probably because of Comrade Mugabe's brave defiance of the West that Zimbabwe has been especially targeted by the neocolonialist pigs.

Of course, I guess Hitler thought he was the victim of a conspiracy, too.

If you haven't done so, be sure to check out Southern Cross, a blog authored by two South African Rhodes scholars focusing, not surprisingly, on news in southern Africa. (I've also added a link at the top.)

Also if you haven't done so, stop by BlogAfrica for a plentiful buffet of Afrophilic bloggage. I haven't come close to visiting all the ones on the list, but I'm sure there's something there to suit everyone's taste.

Ok, I admit that that was an inexcusably long break, but I think I'm back now...

In case you've missed anything in the past month or so, you can go here to catch up on some things that I thought were interesting.

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