|Thursday 26th of September 2019
The specialist is monitoring data on his mission console when a voice breaks in
The specialist is monitoring data on his mission console when a voice
breaks in, “a voice that carried with it a strange and unspecifiable
He checks in with his flight-dynamics and conceptual- paradigm
officers at Colorado Command:
“We have a deviate, Tomahawk.”
“We copy. There’s a voice.”
“We have gross oscillation here.”
“There’s some interference. I have gone redundant but I’m not sure
“We are clearing an outframe to locate source.”
“Thank you, Colorado.”
“It is probably just selective noise. You are negative red on the
“It was a voice,” I told them.
“We have just received an affirm on selective noise... We will
correct, Tomahawk. In the meantime, advise you to stay redundant.”
The voice, in contrast to Colorado’s metallic pidgin, is a melange of
repartee, laughter, and song, with a “quality of purest, sweetest
“Somehow we are picking up signals from radio programmes of 40, 50, 60
05-AUG-2019 :: "What's your road, man?"
’ What’s your road, man? - holy- boy road, madman road, rainbow road,
guppy road, any road. It’s an anywhere road for anybody anyhow. Where
body how?” -
The Key question is this. Can Prime Minister Johnson self-eject
Britain? Can he be stopped? This is a political calculation.
As I watched the Pound fall like a stone, I could not help wondering
if this Sterling moment is precisely like it was in 1992, a no
The Tyger WILLIAM BLAKE
Tyger Tyger, burning bright,
In the forests of the night;
What immortal hand or eye,
Could frame thy fearful symmetry?
In what distant deeps or skies.
Burnt the fire of thine eyes?
On what wings dare he aspire?
What the hand, dare seize the fire?
And what shoulder, & what art,
Could twist the sinews of thy heart?
And when thy heart began to beat,
What dread hand? & what dread feet?
What the hammer? what the chain,
In what furnace was thy brain?
What the anvil? what dread grasp,
Dare its deadly terrors clasp!
When the stars threw down their spears
And water'd heaven with their tears:
Did he smile his work to see?
Did he who made the Lamb make thee?
Tyger Tyger burning bright,
In the forests of the night:
What immortal hand or eye,
Dare frame thy fearful symmetry?
The Serena @SerenaHotels
MY memories of the Serena start in Mombasa years back when the
managing director Mahmoud Jan Mohamed was the manager. I was then a
teenager and remember losing my heart to a girl, who would beat me at
table tennis, in a bikini. That table tennis Table is still there. The
Serena brand has always been sprinkled with a fairy dust and reminds
me of happy joyful carefree halcyon days of youth.
30 JUL 12 :: The Polana The Jewel in the @SerenaHotels Crown
I hail from Mombasa and the Indian Ocean has always held an endless
fascination for me. I recall dimly lit dhows in Tudor Creek in
Later I read Felipe Fernández-Armesto who said “The precocity of the
Indian Ocean as a zone of long-range navigation and cultural exchange
is one of the glaring facts of history” made possible by the
“reversible escalator” of the monsoons.
The ‘reversible escalator’ of the monsoons allowed this cultural
exchange from Goa to Maputo, from Oman to Zanzibar. In fact, my
received history includes the narrative of a grandfather coming to
East Africa as a stowaway on a dhow, more than a century ago.
And a few weeks before, I had met Mahmud Jan Mohamed and he told me,
“You should try the Polana and Maputo.”
I kept thinking to myself that Maputo was the furthest reach of the
reversible escalator. The land of the most flavoursome tiger prawns.
Whats with this very J. Alfred Prufrock @Potus @Realdonaldtrump
Law & Politics
Let us go then, you and I,
When the evening is spread out against the sky
Like a patient etherized upon a table;
Let us go, through certain half-deserted streets,
The muttering retreats
Of restless nights in one-night cheap hotels
And sawdust restaurants with oyster-shells:
Streets that follow like a tedious argument
Of insidious intent
To lead you to an overwhelming question ...
Oh, do not ask, “What is it?”
Let us go and make our visit.
Iran's president @HassanRouhani has accused the United States of "merciless economic terrorism" and of engaging in "international piracy" #UNGA @SkyNews
Law & Politics
After paying "homage to the freedom seekers" of the Middle East (read
the Houthis, Hezbollah, Assad regime), he then turned his ire on the
"most merciless economic terrorism" imposed on Iran by Washington.
It was "international privacy", he said and his country would "never
negotiate under sanctions".
Iran's behaviour this past summer has been brazen but gone unpunished.
Tehran has boxed Washington, Riyadh and arguably London, into a
corner. They don't know whether to hit back with a slap across the
wrists, or do nothing for fear of war. Iran is emboldened.
Mr Rouhani spoke of "peace" and "hope" - even the most dispassionate
observer cannot expect either those when Iran is willing to mine
ships, impound tankers, imprison innocents and launch airstrikes on
"Our region is on the verge of collapse. A single blunder can cause a
big fire," said Mr Rouhani.
The President then turns to all of us and says "Well that means I will be gone in a week" and he was.
Law & Politics
we did some business there with the ''Bakrie'' Brothers who were quite
a colourful pair and deserving of a column of their own. Well in that
period 1997-1998, East Asia was gripped by a financial crisis which
started with the collapse of the Thai Baht. The Indonesian Rupiah
One morning Konishi-san called me into his Office. The Government of
Indonesia is requesting a $500m Facility. Can we do it, he asked? They
are requesting we visit Jakarta immediately. The next day, we were in
Jakarta and in the evening we were in State House with President
Suharto, His Minister of Finance and the Governor of the Central Bank,
Konishi-san and myself. I engaged with the Governor and we established
he could cobble together enough collateral and I turned to Konishi-san
and said, Yes we can. We were of course going to be rewarded very
handsomely and I had persuaded Konishi-san that not only would we make
a lot of money but they would never forget that we had pulled through
when everyone was hitting the eject Button. Konishi-san sat on the
Board of the Bank in Tokyo and started to call other Board members to
get their agreement. We were front-running a request to the IMF by the
And at that moment, The Phone rings and the Minister picks it up and
then he turns to his President and announces We have got the IMF
Package but one of the conditions is we remove all the Food subsidies.
The President then turns to all of us and says ''Well that means I
will be gone in a week'' and he was.
24 JUN 19 :: Wizard of Oz World.
This is ‘’Voodoo Economics’’ and just because we have not reached the
point when the curtain was lifted in the Wizard of Oz and the Wizard
revealed to be ‘’an ordinary conman from Omaha who has been using
elaborate magic tricks and props to make himself seem “great and
power- ful”’’ should not lull us into a false sense of security.
27-NOV-2017 :: Bitcoin "Wow! What a Ride!"
This, you will agree, is mind-boggling inflation. In my experience,
when I have found myself riding a tiger by its tail, the key issue is
the getting off
Or as T.S Eliot said in The Hollow Men
Between the idea
And the reality
Between the motion
And the act
Falls the Shadow
For Thine is the Kingdom.
23-SEP-2019 :: Streaming Dreams Non-Linearity Crude Oil; Netflix
I stuck ''non-linearity'' in my headline for good reason and You will
need to indulge me. My Mind kept to an Article I read in 2012
''Annals of Technology Streaming Dreams'' by John Seabrook January 16,
“This world of online video is the future, and for an artist you want
to be first in, to be a pioneer. With YouTube I will have a very small
crew, and we are trying to keep focussed on a single voice. There
aren’t any rules. There’s just the artist, the content, and the
“People went from broad to narrow,” he said, “and we think they will
continue to go that way—spend more and more time in the niches—because
now the distribution landscape allows for more narrowness.”
And this brought me to Netflix. Netflix spearheaded a streaming
revolution that changed the way we watch TV and films. As cable TV
lost subscribers, Netflix gained them, putting it in a category with
Facebook, Amazon and Google as one of the adored US tech stocks that
led a historic bull market [FT] Today Netflix faces an onslaught of
competition in the market it invented. After years of false starts,
Apple is planning to launch a streaming service in November, as is
Disney — with AT&T’s WarnerMedia and Comcast’s NBCUniversal to follow
early next year. Netflix has corrected brutally and lots of Folks are
bailing big time especially after Netflix lost US subscribers in the
last quarter. Even after the loss of subscribers in the second
quarter, Ben Swinburne, head of media research at Morgan Stanley, says
Netflix is still on course for a record year of subscriber
additions.Optimists point to the group’s global reach. It is betting
its future on an expansion outside the US, where it has already
attracted 60m subscribers. And this is an inflexion point just like
the one I am signalling in the Oil markets. Netflix is not a US
business, it is a global business. The Majority of Analysts are in the
US and in my opinion these same Analysts have an international ''blind
spot'' Once Investors appreciate that the Story is an international
one and not a US one anymore, we will see the price ramp to fresh all
time highs. I, therefore, am putting out a ''conviction'' Buy on
Netflix at Fridays closing price of $270.75.
Countries at all levels of development risk becoming mere providers of
raw data to those digital platforms while having to pay for the
digital intelligence produced with those data by the platform owners.
US demands African countries avoid buying Russian weapons, says Foreign Ministry @tassagency_en
"We have seen attempts by a number of Western countries, in the first
place, the United States, to enhance their presence in Africa. In
particular, they have been exerting major and persistent efforts with
the aim to persuade some African countries, which are our
long-standing allies, to give up purchases of Russian products, in the
first place, military hardware," the Foreign Ministry said.
Quite often the United States goes much further than persuasion to
threaten African countries with sanctions. "Our African partners
firmly resist this crude blackmail. They state quite fairly that the
supplies of Russian military equipment are a prerequisite for
maintaining their national security and sovereignty, so they have no
intention to give up cooperation with us in this field," the Foreign
Burundi, the Forgotten Crisis, Still Burns @AfricaACSS @PNantulya
Mass atrocities and crimes against humanity committed primarily by
state agents and their allies continue to take place in Burundi,
according to the September 2019 report of the UN Commission of Inquiry
The Commission, moreover, found that President Pierre Nkurunziza and
many in his inner circle are personally responsible for some of the
most serious of these crimes.
They include “summary executions, arbitrary arrests and detentions,
acts of torture and other cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment,
sexual violence, and forced disappearances.”
The Commission has been investigating the Burundi crisis since 2016.
Its findings mirror those of the International Criminal Court, which
opened a separate investigation in 2017 based on “a reasonable basis
to believe that state agents and groups implementing state policies …
launched a widespread and systematic attack against the Burundian
The persistence of such atrocities echoes Burundi’s 1972 and 1993
genocides and the brutal civil war that ended in 2005.
The adoption of the Arusha Peace and Reconciliation Agreement in 2000
created a comprehensive peacebuilding framework that, through an
inclusive power-sharing formula, addressed the root causes of
Burundi’s violent past.
The framework ushered in a period of stability and hope, marked by two
leadership transitions from President Pierre Buyoya to President
Domitien Ndayizeye, each of whom ruled for 18 months before the
transition to Nkurunziza in 2005.
By this time, Burundi’s traditional political parties were functioning
as multiethnic coalitions, marking a break from the divisive politics
of the past.
Nkurunziza’s unwillingness to step down following his second term in
office in 2015, as stipulated in the Arusha Accords and the 2005
Constitution, reversed this hopeful path and set off the current
His decision to pursue a third term coupled with the resurfacing of
the Hutu nationalist agenda of his ruling CNDD-FDD party triggered
months of protests and a failed coup attempt in May 2015.
It also set off a wave of defections and tit-for-tat violence in the
military, targeted killings of civilians—often with ethnic
undertones—and the launching of armed rebellions by three separate
It is estimated that around 1,700 people have been killed since 2015.
The September 2017 Final Report of the UN Independent Investigation on
Burundi, however, cautions that “no one can quantify exactly all the
violations that have taken place and continue to take place in a
situation as closed and repressive as Burundi.”
Despite the information shortage, ample evidence points to a worsening
situation under the veneer of calm that the authorities have tried to
The number of Burundian refugees has exceeded 400,000 (out of a total
population of 10 million), making Burundi a “forgotten refugee
crisis,” according to Filippo Grandi, the UN High Commissioner for
At the same time, the state-sponsored militia, the Imbonerakure
(“those who see far”), has been implicated in mass atrocities along
with the police, intelligence, and elements of the military.
Imbonerakure deployments follow a four-tier structure from the colline
to the commune, province, and national level, mirroring Burundi’s
Its members are a major contributing factor of the continuing human
displacement, especially in the northern, eastern, and southern
provinces, where their presence is particularly entrenched.
The patterns of violence have shifted from overt abuses in 2015 and
2016 to more covert tactics that began at the end of 2016. Firsthand
accounts captured in the 2017 UN Commission of Inquiry on Burundi
report indicate that atrocities since then have been committed in
Some involve killing victims in one location and dumping their bodies
elsewhere, including in neighboring countries, to avoid detection.
The 2019 UN report also confirmed numerous secret locations—including
residences owned by senior officials—where torture, rape, mutilation,
other forms of abuse, and killings occur on a regular basis.
These reports have been corroborated by media stories, local human
rights monitors, and the testimony of Imbonerakure defectors.
The 2018 Report of the UN Commission of Inquiry on Burundi confirmed
the existence of mass graves in the Kanyosha and Mpanda collines of
Bujumbura and in Bubanza and other areas.
It also corroborated previous findings of lists of civilians and
military members marked for execution.
Burundi has also witnessed a surge in disappearances. Since 2015, the
United Nations has consistently received reports of forced
disappearances in Burundi. Hundreds of cases are investigated and
brought to the attention of the Burundi government each quarter.
The Ndondeza (“help me find them”) campaign has disseminated more than
400 photos of missing persons since 2015.
“Despite the information shortage, ample evidence points to a
Atrocities by state agents are not confined within Burundi’s borders.
In 2018, the International Refugee Rights Initiative (IRRI) documented
attacks, killings, and disappearances of Burundian refugees at
Uganda’s Nakivale refugee camp.
Burundi’s self-inflicted political instability has directly impacted
living conditions. Its economic growth shrank from 4.2 percent in 2015
to 0.4 percent in 2019 under the weight of high-level corruption and
Since 2017, the government has been unable to pay civil servants on
time, a source of public acrimony given that the state employs 80
percent of Burundi’s salaried workers.
Since 2017, the ruling CNDD-FDD has made “contributions” to the
Treasury mandatory for every family—a widely unpopular move given the
high levels of youth unemployment.
Contributing to the economic downturn is a new policy introduced in
2018 that requires foreign aid groups and charities to provide the
government with staff lists that identify their employees by
ethnicity. Most groups chose to depart rather than comply, further
disrupting service delivery.
Burundi’s health sector has been hit particularly hard by the
political crisis. Only 500 doctors were still working in Burundi in
2017, according to the UN Children’s Fund.
This is roughly half the total present in 2010. The effects are dire:
5.7 million cases of malaria—including 1,801 deaths—were reported in
2019. Those numbers dwarf the 1.8 million infections and 700 deaths
reported in 2017, illustrating the progressive deterioration of
Burundi’s healthcare system.
The East African Community (EAC) is mandated to mediate the Burundi
crisis, but persistent frictions among its members have rendered it
ineffective and prolonged the conflict.
Of particular concern is the escalating tension between Uganda, the
chair of the Burundi Peace Talks, and Rwanda, the EAC chair.
A December 2018 UN report found that Burundi, the DRC, and Uganda are
now arming and training Rwandan rebels, adding another layer of strain
to the already frayed relations between Rwanda and Burundi. A flare-up
could have devastating regional consequences.
The AU has been equally ineffective. After abandoning its December
2015 decision to deploy a 5,000-strong protection force, again due to
bickering by its members and a threat by the Nkurunziza government to
shoot any AU troops entering the country, the AU sent 200 human rights
However, they operate under tight restrictions imposed by the
government, which largely confine the monitors to Bujumbura.
Tellingly, they have never made their reports public due to fears that
the Burundi government would expel them.
Still, they are the only external monitors in Burundi since the
expulsion of the UN Human Rights Commission. The BBC, Voice of
America, and virtually all civil society and media organizations have
also been forced out.
Six EAC summits failed to persuade the CNDD-FDD to attend talks
chaired by Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and mediated by former
Tanzanian President Benjamin Mkapa. Five negotiations were held
between 2015 and 2018, but none of the talks were face-to-face.
The CNDD-FDD instead initiated efforts to revise the 2005 Constitution
in ways that dismantled key provisions of the Arusha Peace and
This was a major blow to the negotiations, given that their core
objective was to use the Accords as the basis for resolving the issues
that triggered the crisis, stabilizing the country, and preparing it
for democratic elections in 2020.
In May 2017, Mkapa presented a fresh road map at the EAC Summit and
issued a dire warning: “There is an impasse because the government of
Burundi is reluctant to talk to its opponents. Currently, it is
picking friendly stakeholders to talk to while ignoring the others.”
He also reminded the EAC presidents of the “imperative need” for their
“personal engagement” in getting the Burundi government to commit to a
serious dialogue without preconditions. Mkapa, moreover, alerted the
EAC presidents to the consequences of the CNDD-FDD’s constitutional
“Whither the EAC-led mediation whose dialogue I am facilitating? For I
fear the region will find itself before a fait accompli.” The Summit
adopted the report but failed to convince the Burundi authorities to
Passed without a viable opposition in May 2018, Burundi’s new
constitution confirms Mkapa’s worst fears. It dismantles two-thirds of
the provisions of the Arusha Accords, including the carefully crafted
power sharing structure.
The president’s office now has the power to overrule Parliament.
Moreover, the delicate checks, balances, and quotas that regulated
other government branches have been nullified.
However, since 2015, the CNDD-FDD has pursued an extensive purge of
ex-FAB officers, with numerous being killed or abducted. A law
introduced in 2017 bestows “reserve force status” on the Imbonerakure
and places it within the military, describing it as “citizens
militarily trained for this purpose by the Burundi army and veterans.”
“As the CNDD-FDD gears up for the 2020 polls, intimidation,
disappearances, killings, and ethnic rhetoric are all on the rise.”
Mkapa saw the rollback of the Arusha Agreement as an affront because
he, alongside former Tanzanian President Julius Nyerere and former
South African President Nelson Mandela, were central in crafting the
In February 2019, he presented a report at the EAC Summit calling for
a review Burundi’s new constitution to keep the Arusha provisions
intact. The Summit adopted the report, but it was indeed a fait
accompli because the EAC cannot overrule member state’s constitutions.
In the face of EAC inaction, Mkapa resigned shortly after the Summit.
As the CNDD-FDD gears up for the 2020 polls, intimidation,
disappearances, killings, and ethnic rhetoric are all on the rise.
Lost in the Burundi tragedy is the irony that the trigger for the
crisis was Nkurunziza’s pursuit of a third term in 2015.
While not yet announced, Nkurunziza is expected to run for a fourth
term (extended to seven years under the new constitution) and is
entitled to run for a fifth term in 2027.
Reflective of the personality-based political structure he has
cultivated, Nkurunziza was officially named by his party as “Supreme
Eternal Guide” in March 2019.
The fact that the Burundi crisis is self-inflicted also means that it
can be resolved. Moreover, a roadmap for this resolution, the Arusha
Accords, has already been devised. The challenge for external actors
is to get the Burundian parties back on that road.
4 MAY 15 ::Eyes on Burundi
President Pierre Nkurunziza, a pentecostal former aerobics instructor
and rebel leader with his own presidential soccer team, is now in the
crosshairs. On Tuesday last week Nkurinziza’s government blocked
access to the most popular social media services, including Facebook,
Twitter and WhatsApp, which had been used to share photos, video and
news as well as organise protest movements.
“All we expect from our leaders is the understanding that whatever was
accepted 10, 20 years ago no longer goes,” Assane Dioma Ndiaye, a
human rights lawyer in Dakar told Reuters.
“What happened in Senegal and Burkina will happen... elsewhere if
leaders maintain their efforts to stay in power.”
“There is an internationalisation of African youth who are dreaming
and thinking in the same way,” said Barro to Reuters, wearing his
trademark scarf and woolly hat, back in Senegal after spending three
days in detention in Kinshasa.
Barro: “But they cannot imprison hope. They will fail. Youth will
continue to mobilise.”
My wife started a gun course this week. Buying a Glock 48 for her. I
never never never in my life thought it will come to this
For the women the rape culture is the worse. 120 reported rape cases
per day (many doesn't report). 55 murders a day.
"The caps are going to remain," Jude Njomo, who first pushed for changes in the banking laws in 2016 to introduce the caps, told @ReutersAfrica by phone
Kenya’s parliament on Wednesday rejected a Finance Ministry request to
scrap commercial lending rate caps that critics say have led to a
credit squeeze, a lawmaker who was present during a vote on the
2019/20 (July-June) fiscal budget said.
“The caps are going to remain,” Jude Njomo, who first pushed for
changes in the banking laws in 2016 to introduce the caps, told
Reuters by phone.
In 2016, the government limited rates banks can charge customers at
four percentage points above the central bank’s benchmark - currently
9% - saying they were concerned about high rates.
Lawmakers voted by acclamation to reject the Finance Ministry’s
request on the caps contained in the 2019/20 budget, although they
also backed a measure passed by parliament’s finance committee making
the language on the caps limit clearer.
The finance ministry had sought to repeal the rate cap, arguing that
it has cut private-sector credit growth as banks shunned lending to
customers deemed risky, including small and medium-sized businesses.
The central bank, which has also opposed the caps, said that they had
probably cut 0.4% from 2017 economic growth.
In March this year, the High Court ruled that the section of the law
capping rates was unconstitutional and gave parliament a year to amend
The ruling was issued in a case brought by a private citizen
challenging the caps. An appeal against the ruling by a consumer group
is pending before a higher court.
Lawmakers have started a separate amendment to banking laws to comply
with the court’s ruling.
“We are making certain amendments to make it compliant with the law,”
lawmaker Chris Wamalwa said ahead of the section on rate caps being
put to a vote by acclamation.
It is the second time the finance ministry’s request to have the caps
removed has failed, after a similar move last year was rejected.
The next step after the parliament completes voting on the cap and
other amendments to the budget is for them to be sent to the
president, who will then approve or send them back to parliament,
outlining any reservations he has.