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Satchu's Rich Wrap-Up
Friday 02nd of October 2020

Afterlives by Abdulrazak Gurnah review – living through colonialism @guardian @MaazaMengiste

Unfolding in what was then Tanganyika, now mainland Tanzania, it opens with a gentle and unassuming sentence: “Khalifa was twenty-six years old when he met the merchant Amur Biashara.”

Khalifa marries Biashara’s niece, Asha, in 1907, as the Maji Maji uprising is “in the final throes of its brutalities”. Gurnah recounts the horrifying consequences of resistance to German rule but then pivots back to the lives of the young married couple. By the time confident, affable, German-speaking Ilyas arrives at the unnamed coastal town where Khalifa and Asha live, the uprisings and colonial reprisals have faded from the story. Instead, Gurnah pushes aside the larger sweeps of colonial history to focus on those who have managed to carve out a relatively calm existence. But though their lives may be quiet, this does not mean they have escaped the physical and emotional ravages of colonialism. One character remarks wearily that “the Germans have killed so many people that the country is littered with skulls and bones and the earth is soggy with blood”. When Ilyas, who was sent to a mission school by the same Germans who owned the coffee farm where he worked since childhood, speaks up in defence of the colonisers, “His listeners were silent in the face of such vehemence. ‘My friend, they have eaten you,’” someone eventually replies.

 What can be salvaged when one of the consequences of colonialism is the deliberate exclusion of an African perspective?

As the Germans prepare for what will become the first world war, Ilyas eagerly joins the feared Schutztruppe Askaris, native soldiers with a reputation for inflicting unspeakable cruelties on their fellow Africans in the name of the German empire. In his absence, his younger sister Afiya’s story unfolds. Placed in the care of a strict family, she is beaten so badly for her ability to read and write that she seeks help from Ilyas’s friend, Khalifa. She is soon living with the married couple. Meanwhile, we meet gentle Hamza, an Askari volunteer who quickly realises his mistake. Hamza’s story is the most compelling and disturbing in the novel, laying bare the abusive and complex desires that shape the intimate relationship between oppressor and oppressed. When he is assigned to be the Oberleutnant’s personal servant, another Askari warns Hamza, “These Germans, they like playing with pretty young men.” The officer is determined to teach Hamza German so he can appreciate Schiller, but also tells him he is “dealing with backward and savage people and the only way to rule them is to strike terror into them”. Their relationship grows increasingly claustrophobic and Gurnah does not shy away from the psychologically complicated encounters. He exhibits the same patience and care that he shows to all his characters as he follows Hamza through the war, guiding us expertly into deeper contemplations of Christianity’s role in the drive to build and maintain a colonial empire. And through Hamza and Afiya, he provides a window on to the restorative potential of trust and love.

Shortlisted for the 1994 Booker prize for his novel Paradise, Gurnah is known for decentring European history: a structural decision that is also politically potent. In Afterlives, he considers the generational effects of colonialism and war, and asks us to consider what remains in the aftermath of so much devastation. What can be salvaged when one of the consequences of colonialism is the deliberate exclusion of an African perspective from the archives? How do we remember, if we do not know what has been erased? In a world that uses the destructive eruptions of warfare as markers of history, Gurnah shows us a global conflict from the point of view of those who decided to look towards each other, and live. This is why, perhaps, the end feels abrupt. Building to a riveting and heartbreaking climax, the last chapters holds us enthralled, as Gurnah’s defiant act of reclamation reaches its poignant conclusion. But it is too sudden. It is hard not to wish that the story could slow down and allow us an intimate portrait of Ilyas’s later years – that we could linger here as we do with the other characters. Despite that, Afterlives is a compelling novel, one that gathers close all those who were meant to be forgotten, and refuses their erasure.

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“There was a saying in Umuofia that as a man danced so the drums were beaten for him.” ― Chinua Achebe, Things Fall Apart

“I believe in the complexity of the human story and that there’s no way you can tell that story in one way and say, This is it. Always there will be someone who can tell it differently depending on where they are standing; the same person telling the story will tell it differently. I think of that masquerade in Igbo festivals that dances in the public arena. The Igbo people say, If you want to see it well, you must not stand in one place. The masquerade is moving through this big arena. Dancing. If you’re rooted to a spot, you miss a lot of the grace. So you keep moving, and this is the way I think the world’s stories should be told—from many different perspectives.” 

― Chinua Achebe

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06-APR-2020 :: The Way We Live Now
Law & Politics

One feels one must tread more carefully now, with a lot of circumspection, that not just my purchase but all of ours is a lot more precarious now and that there is something Karmic in this #COVID19.

The COVID19 is invisible but it has already defeated the most expensive Aircraft carriers, it lurks everywhere and in silence and has shut down Mecca, St. Peters Square and the Vatican, Qom and everywhere else that we congregate and ask for succour.

It is not to be trifled with. Boris dismissed it and now speaks to the Nation like a disembodied voice from a Bunker. [I wrote this before the news about Boris Johnson's hospitalisation I wish him a speedy recovery]

Trump too thinks its another Trade and his luck which took him all the way to the Presidency will hold out and watching his always surreal White House Briefing has an added frisson of the waiting for him to turn yellow.

Don DeLillo wrote "Everything is barely weeks. Everything is days. We have minutes to live."

And it certainly feels like we are pirouetting at the precipice and our Leaders are saying Don't Panic and I want to say ''look Chum You are not Merkel and just a few days ago You were telling me its all cool its just the Flu. Others might take you seriously on what basis I know not but I don't.''

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Last Reuters pictures of U.S. President Donald Trump: Trump walks from Marine One as he returns from Bedminster, New Jersey, on October 1, 2020. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts @GuyReuters
Law & Politics

Last Reuters pictures of U.S. President Donald Trump: Trump walks from Marine One as he returns from Bedminster, New Jersey, on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, U.S., October 1, 2020. REUTERS/Joshua Roberts

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In Appalachia, people watch COVID-19, race issues from afar @AP
Law & Politics

It’s a common view in the little towns that speckle the Appalachian foothills of southeast Ohio, where the pandemic has barely been felt. Coronavirus deaths and protests for racial justice — events that have defined 2020 nationwide — are mostly just images on TV from a distant America.

For many here, it’s an increasingly foreign America that they explain with suspicion, anger and occasionally conspiracy theories. The result: At a time when the country is bitterly torn and crises are piling up faster than ever, the feeling of isolation in this corner of Ohio is more profound than ever.

Many of Nogrady’s neighbors think the pandemic is being used by Democrats to weaken President Donald Trump ahead of the election. Some share darker theories: Face mask rules are paving the way for population control, they say, and a vaccine could be used as a tool of government control.

“I think they want to take our freedoms,” Nogrady says, a baseball hat turned backward on her head. “I believe the government wants to get us all microchipped.”

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Taiwan scrambles fighter jets after PLA spy plane enters air defence zone @SCMPNews
Law & Politics


If Xi is going to roll the dice on Taiwan then the time is now

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Human was the highest for CoV2. Bats don’t bind. Interestingly, the second highest binding ACE2 was the pig(!!!!!!) @flavinkins

Human was the highest for CoV2. (The PP transduction again went over the measuring range). shift to the right mean binding. The more shift the more binding. Bats don’t bind. Interestingly, the second highest binding ACE2 was the pig(!!!!!!)

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Currency Markets at a Glance WSJ
World Currencies

Euro 1.17135

Dollar Index 93.788

Japan Yen 105.1900

Swiss Franc 0.92130

Pound 1.294575

Aussie  0.715040

India Rupee 73.41005

South Korea Won 1163.840

Brazil Real 5.6442000

Egypt Pound 15.749700

South Africa Rand 16.683850

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@Total Warns of Islamic State Instability Risk in Mozambique @business

Total SE Chief Executive Officer Patrick Pouyanne called on European nations to help Mozambique fight an insurgency, backed by Islamic State, in part of the East African nation where the energy company is developing a natural gas project.

For more than a month, militants have occupied a town about 60 kilometers (37 miles) south of where a group led by Total plan to spend $20 billion to extract gas from below the ocean and export it to European and Asian customers. The violence, including alleged human rights violations by security forces, is now creeping toward Total’s Mozambique LNG project in the far northeast of the company.

“Western powers are realizing that a Daesh enclave is settling within Mozambique,” which is “a major problem” for East Africa’s stability, Pouyanne said Thursday during a press conference near Paris. 

“It would be good if the situation is brought back under control, not just for Total’s project, but for the stability of the region.”

Pouyanne, who met Mozambican President Filipe Nyusi to discuss the situation last month, said he can help by bringing the attention of European nations to the issue. 

France has a vested interest in the region because it owns Mayotte, an island located between Mozambique and Madagascar, he said.

Earthworks at Mozambique LNG have progressed, and a landing strip as well as jetties for boats have been built, Pouyanne said.

Mozambique LNG, the biggest private investment in Africa, is due to be completed in 2024. Total bought a 26.5% stake in the project for $3.9 billion in 2019.

It’s one of Total’s biggest projects to boost its production of liquefied natural gas in the second part of the decade, alongside operations in the U.S., Russia and Papua New Guinea.

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31 OCT 16 :: Mozambique from Boom to Bust - A Cautionary Tale

Mozambique popped onto the global radar in 2011 when huge gas reserves were discovered off-shore. We visited in 2012 and I recall the wife being seriously astonished when we jumped in a taxi and the driver turned out to be Portuguese.

I said ‘’Mozambique could be the next Qatar.’’ as we stuffed ourselves with wonderfully flavoursome tiger prawns.

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3 JUN 14 :: Mozambique: #Africarising - Mozambique Could Be the Next Qatar

Maputo sits at the end of the ancient Indian Ocean maritime route.

“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 monsoon.” [Professor Felipe Fernández-Armesto].

Today, it is self-evident that Mozambique sits on gas reserves which will [if the execution is optimal – and optimal execution around our natural resources is a sine qua non of the #Africarising narrative] in my opinion transform Mozambique into the next Qatar.

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As lockdown eases, Kenyan doctors warn Covid still lurking @AFP

Kenya is reporting a decline in coronavirus cases, and hospital admissions for Covid-19 have fallen sharply, but some frontline health workers say infections are going undetected and could even be rising.

For several weeks, the health ministry has been recording between about 50 and 250 new infections every day, a sudden and considerable slump from highs approaching 900 in just late July.

The government has responded by easing some of the strictest measures imposed to contain the pandemic. 

This week, President Uhuru Kenyatta announced the reopening of bars, increased capacity for weddings, funerals and religious services, and relaxed an evening curfew in force since March.

In Nairobi, which has recorded more than half of Kenya's nearly 39,000 official cases, intensive care units bracing for the worst just weeks ago are operating below capacity.

Elijah Ongeri, director of nursing at the private Metropolitan Hospital, said the isolation unit was "almost closed" and the ICU had just two patients.

"From the first week of August, it went down sharply. Everyone experienced the same (thing), it was so sudden. July was so sharp, and suddenly people were not showing up," he told AFP.

Demand for tests has also plunged, said Ahmed Kalebi, director of one of Nairobi's main private laboratories, Lancet.

"At the peak, at the beginning of July, we had 1,700 requests per day. Today it's between 200 and 400," he said.

Doctors and frontline health workers interviewed by AFP said the rate of transmission could very well be slowing, reflected in less cases and hospital admissions -- but warned that other factors could be at play.

The government no longer requires positive patients to be hospitalised but instead encourages them to stay at home. It also stopped covering treatment costs for lower-income families, discouraging many from going to hospital. 

A pervasive stigma, too, around Covid-19 dissuades many from getting tested or requesting medical assistance, health professionals say.

"People have realised you don't die, so are not coming out if (they have) symptoms. They prefer to stay home until it's a severe case," says Jeremy Gitau, who coordinates the response team at Covid-19 at Kenyatta Hospital. 

"(The) number of infections are high, but people requiring admission? No."

Kenya has recorded about 700 deaths from Covid-19, and only a small number of positive cases have evolved into a severe form of the disease.

The overwhelming majority of cases in Kenya -- 93 percent, according to the health ministry in August -- are asymptomatic. 

The 50-million strong population is also young: just 2.4 percent of Kenyans are aged above 65, according to World Bank data from 2019.

The total number of tests has also plummeted from around 8,000 per day in July to around 3,000 today. 

Joanne Hassan, a microbiologist from the state-run Kenya Medical Research Institute (KEMRI), said they tested as few as 200 per day now compared to highs of 3000 in July-August.

The government has also abandoned mass testing, focusing instead on symptomatic people and their contacts, and screening vulnerable workers like health service providers and truck drivers.

The decision was made in the middle of August as the country ran low on testing supplies, particularly in the public sector. 

Kenya's public hospitals are equipped with GeneXpert machines, which also screen for tuberculosis, and the reagents needed for this, testing devices are in short supply on the world market. 

"They have the money, they have the staff, but they don't have the reagents," said one NGO worker speaking on condition of anonymity.

- Second wave - 

Kalebi, from Lancet, said the official figures do not fully reflect the extent of the pandemic in Kenya. 

But it's not all bad news.

"The good thing is those that are at higher risk are tested, so we can extrapolate, and other people are even less likely to have it," he told AFP.

The positivity rate -- the number returning a positive test from all samples -- has declined from a high of 13 percent at the end of July to about 5 percent in recent weeks.

But the threat of the virus resurging remains a real concern. Kenyatta said Monday the country was at its "most vulnerable and fragile at the moment where we think we have won".

Hassan, from KEMRI, expressed concern about the capacity of ill-equipped smaller hospitals outside major cities, particularly those lacking testing facilities, while others worried a second wave could go undetected.

"The country may never actually know that it is experiencing a second wave until 2-4 weeks into the second wave, by which time the infection would have extensively spread," Kalebi, of Lancet, said. 

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by Aly Khan Satchu (www.rich.co.ke)
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October 2020

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