Another sad story about the Masai in the BBC. Apparently in a bid to get more rich tourists the Masai are being driven off land promised to them by treaty. This will be no small lose, this is about 40% of their grazing land, which for the cattle focused Masai is a horrific blow. One of the sad problems with maintaining a traditional life style in Africa is that you are pushed to the margins of political power, and this case shows how damaging that can be.
Every time I start to get optimistic about the future of Africa I trip across a story like this one. Africa has so much potential, it is a shame to see horrific examples of cultural madness that are trying to hold the progress back.
Henry Stanley was a hero in his time. “Dr. Livingston I presume” made him famous and a short hand figure for the adventurous hero. More recently he has been branded a pariah, his association with the Belgian Congo, his harsh treatment of everyone he ran into have made him into a modern symbol of all that was wrong with the European exploration of Africa. Now the pendulum is swinging another way and his hometown is honoring him with a statue. The author of the article is publishing a new biography of Stanley this fall that sounds it will be much more friendly to Stanley than the last few have been. I think Stanley has become a hitching post for people to hang their ideas on, that said I will read the new book when it comes out.
Apparently gamblers in Africa have come to believe that if you smoke a vulture brain you will get a glimpse at the future. The result of this superstition is the likely extinction of vultures in Africa. What a lovely world. What would be nice is if people thought you could see the future from smoking the brains of dictators or gangsters, but I guess that is too much to ask.