Tag Archives: africa

A Ghost from the Ivory Coast

A ghost
From the Ivory Coast,
She paces,
Her body bare
To England’s air.
She has been to places
That he
Would not wish to see.

Would it be rude
To intrude
On her thought?
Perhaps he ought
Not. Yet she is nude,
And here for him
And his sin
Is she not?

Enough To Make A Cat Laugh

Mugabe goes to Singapore
For his medication
While the poor
Of Zimbabwe’s nation
Must seek treatment in their own country.
I ask you who can disagree
With the decision
Of the World Health Organisation
To appoint Mugabe as an ambassador? So feline
Cease your derision,
But perhaps you may be allowed one final smile
As there can be no denial
That all flesh is dust.


My friend Shanelle is volunteering in Zimbabwe to educate young people about HIV/AIDS

I have received the below email from my friend, Shanelle who will be volunteering in Zimbabwe, in July to help educate young people about HIV/AIDS. Any help anyone can give would be much appreciated.

Many thanks,


“I have
until the 20th
June to raise just under £300 so I can volunteer for 10 weeks in Zimbabwe. I will be working in Bulawayo with other British volunteers for a charity called
Progressio, delivering workshops that will empower young people and educate them on HIV and AIDS awareness.
I would really appreciate it if you took the time to donate to my justgiving page, or shared the link to your Facebook wall/social media pages and let
your family and friends know. Thank you!


Shanelle Webb”.

Guide Foxes For The Blind

I was interested to read about a new organisation, Foxes for the Blind which has recently launched. As those of you who have knowledge of the world of canines will be aware, foxes fall under that classification. They are, in effect a dog albeit of the wild variety.

My first instinct on reading of this new charitable venture was a certain amount of scepticism. How could what is, essentially a wild beast be trained so as to furnish much needed assistance to visually impaired persons. However, as pointed out above, foxes are classified as canines and, if socialised from very young cubs behave rather like our four-legged friends.

The inspiration for this venture came from a group of farmers in Cornwall who (as with most farmers) became fed up with foxes attacking their livestock so, rather than culling Mr fox they determined to take fox cubs and train this most wiley of creatures to provide assistance to those with a visual impairment.

Farmer Michael Giles comments as follows,

“One day I came into my farmyard to find a fox attempting to gain entrance into my hen coop. My instinct was to reach for my trusty shot gun. However I hesitated. It was a young fox and had, potentially many years before it. It struck me how there exist a potentially huge source of cheap animals to provide guides for those with little sight. I know that breeding guide dogs can be expensive so, I thought why not start training this plentiful source of fox recruits.

Things are going well, however some blind fox owners complain of a highly pungent scent eminating from their fox. I recommend they spray the animal with aftershave or some other variety of perfume. However, for some unaccountable reason the foxes object to such treatment and have been known to escape back into the wild.

There is also an issue with dogs setting off in hot pursuit of the guide foxes but, in general everything is progressing well. In fact I am talking to a farmer in Africa with plans to train guide lions. The plan is at an early stage. There is, however no reason in principle why guide lions for the blind should not prove to be equally viable. Tomorrow guide lions, next week, who knows, wolves for the blind? Well dogs are descended from wolves which are, as with foxes part of the canine family”.

I will dig out a link for the story later today when I have more time to devote to researching this fascinating topic.

May I close by wishing you all a very happy All Fools or April Fools day.


An Offer I Simply Can Not Afford To Turn Down

Below is an e-mail from a most noble and worthy gentleman together with my response. The e-mil was, for some inexplicable reason relegated by Google to my spam folder. Riches await me …!


Email From Dr Menah


“My dear good frend

Compliment of the season, how are you and your family? Hope All is well. I am Dr. Igho Menah, the accountant general in the accounts unit Bank of Africa (BOA-BF) Ouagadougou Burkina Faso. I got your contact from the Burkina Faso chambers of commerce have some fund to claim in my bank Which will be of benefit to both of us.


I want you to be an inheritor of the fund, the fund is in a Doormat account and with your bank information and my Documentation certifies you as the inheritor/beneficiary Since I am an insider and working in the same bank, the Transfer will be processed legally and successfully and I will Be coming down to your country for disbursement.


The amount of money involved is ($5.6million) which I want you to Claim for further transfer out of the country to your bank Account, all to our financial benefit. This is very great opportunity as it will take a maximum of 7 banking Working days to be concluded.


I as an insider will do my duties perfectly well concerning this transaction for security reasons. This is confidential for successful conclusion and hitch-free transaction. Contact me immediately for further details and mutual Relationship and we will decide together on how to disburse The funds and percentage as well, my private email Address :(address deleted by me)


I will be waiting to hear from you.


Yours truly.
Dr. Igho Menah.”




My Response

“Dear Dr Menah,

thank yu for your kind communication and good wishes in respect of myself and those dear to me. I am touched that a gentleman of such exhaulted position (I refer, of course to your noble personage) should take time away from his busy schedule to contact me, a mere author. I trust that my response kindles in what, I feel sure must be a heart full of the milk of human kindness,feelings of the upmost exhaultation.

I was most interested to read your kind invitation to participate in your scheme for relieving your country’s bank of a significant sum of money. I feel certain that an upright gentleman, a man of probity and, no doubt deeply religious beliefs would not be a party to (or expect me, a humble author) to participate in what some uncharitable individuals, (not myself I hasten to add) might construe as constituting fraudulent conduct. I was, incidentally most interested to read about the “Doormat account”. I have not heard of any such banking instrument and would be most grateful if you could find time in your busy schedule to enlighten me regarding what a “doormat account” consists of?

I will give your offer the consideration which it so richly deserves. You may expect to hear from me, via a message placed in a beer bottle which I shall drop in the great Atlantic in the hope and expectation that my bank account details will reach your good self in a timely fashon.

Are you, by the way a lover of literature.? I feel sure that a man of your stature must be very learned. May I take the liberty of suggesting that you may wish to visit my Amazon author page. You will, I am confident find material to entertain and delight you contained therein.


Yours most insincerely

A Humble Author


(Note; I did not, in fact respond to Dr Menah’s most generous invitation but, had I done so the above is what I would have penned in response).

I had an adventure nun-the-less.

I had an adventure nun-the-less

Many thanks to Cupitonians for the following excellent post about her experiences in Tanzania. Like Cupitonians, I also attended a religious school, but that is, as they say, another story.


So I landed in Tanzania, not knowing a soul. I was in touch with a contact of a contact. They had never met each other before but you know what they say about leaps of faith and trust. The only thing I did know was that I was meant to meet a nun from the Ursuline congregation. My dad, being the resourceful guy that he is, googled the habit(uniform) of the nun so that I wouldn’t be confused by the hordes of religious people that would haunt the airport. He had a point, any third world country is jam packed with missionaries (read priests and nuns) who are there to alleviate poverty and other religious phrases I’m too lazy to google.

I landed in a bathroom sized airport, grinned from ear to ear because I was finally in a country I had dreamed of being in since I was 7. I was apprehensive. What if my contact wouldn’t be there? I knew no one, knew nothing, had heard horror stories of tourists being taken for a ride and left for near dead. Dread started to fill me but I put my brave face on as I walked out the airport doors, backpack in tow. My fear quickly faded as I spotted the habit of the contact and I quickly walked to her. She hugged me and I was relieved to hear her speak English to me. Contrary to popular belief, English is NOT the first or official language of Tanzania. It’s Swahili.

Stella, that was her name, had lived in Canada for a while and so knew English and was confident and full of stories and questions that kept my mind off the fact that a few minutes after my arrival, I was shoved into a bus with too small seats and a goat under me that kept nipping at my feet. 4 hours later, we reached a beautiful area with a mountain right outside the window of the room they gave me. I watched the palm and banana trees and the sun set brilliantly behind that mountain and I smiled. I didn’t realize Africa could be so green. I already knew it would blow me away.

My dinner was a plate of spaghetti, another thing that took me by surprise. I had no idea that Tanzanians were into pasta. Later on in my trip though, I found out that the Ursuline congregation is an Italian one and no matter the poverty around, the nuns and priests of any congregation always ate well. This was further proved by my breakfast feast of fresh bread and butter and the most amazing cup of black coffee that was ever brewed.

The next day, Stella and her sister bought me a pair of Tanzanian styled clothes that were commonly worn in that area and we set off on another bus journey, this time a 12 hour one through all sorts of sceneries. We finally reached a deserted place that finally looked like the Africa you would see in documentaries. The land was parched and dry, little malnourished kids roamed the streets, caked in mud but in the middle of this, the nuns had created an oasis. Flowers were blooming and well watered, there were beautiful buildings with stained glass dotting the perimeter. The stained glass shadows on the dry earth made it look like we were walking on rainbow streets.

The nuns were all at the road and welcomed me with a song and dance number. This is one of the most shocking things I found in Tanzania. I studied in a convent school and so my idea of nuns was that they were poker faced and strict and that the idea of “fun” was indoctrinated out of them and yet in front of me, their voices came out together in harmony and they moved like their body was moulded to dance.

I spent a 4 -5 months with different religious communities across Tanzania and learnt a lot of things about the religious life.

  1. There are so many youngsters who join the church because the alternative is rape, hunger and poverty. The church provides you shelter, healthy meals, a job and respect.
  2. On account of them joining such closed communities, the maturity levels of most of the nuns remain the same as when they joined. Because they are sheltered and they grow up with just girls their age, I found that the nuns, no matter their age, acted more like shy preteen girls than anything else.
  3. The priests, on the other hand, get more opportunities to travel, see the world, interact with more people and enjoy more power in the society. Therefore, they have cars, big houses, even better food and a chance to be treated as royalty by the community. They enjoy rich and generous gifts.
  4. On account of this, priests believe they are God’s gift to women kind and so think it their duty to hit on any nun or any foreigner they see. I have been approached by more priests than I can count.
  5. Sex is such a natural instinct among Tanzanians that people struggle to come to terms with the restrictions religion has placed on them. I remember one nun saying in a matter of fact way that the church allows you to have one wife but you can also have one mistress. I’ve also heard many stories of women having hysterectomies so they don’t have to deal with pregnancies.
  6. The nuns are truly charitable. I have seen development and schools where you could never imagine there would be one. They have done more for the nation than the government has.
  7. That being said, they are still very orthodox in their ways of thinking. I was once part of a very interesting debate between a very well educated priest and nun when the nun said that she was the wife of Christ
  8. They are essentially good people,
  9. They care so much about the way they look. I have been on shopping trips across mountains where the nuns buy stockings and black stylish shoes. They are so stylish and well-kept that I often felt out of place during pass and other public events
  10. They pray 5 times a day and since I was lived for free with them, I was obliged to attend all five. Suffice to say, I haven’t seen the inside of a church since 2012.

A visit to Africa

Many thanks to Cupitonians: http://cupitonians.wordpress.com/  for allowing me to bully her into writing another excellent guest post!

Thank you A.!

‘For Africa to me… is more than a glamorous fact. It is a historical truth. No man can know where he is going unless he knows exactly where he has been and exactly how he arrived at his present place 

Maya Angelou

I went to Africa on a whim. I woke up one day and realised that I just needed to be somewhere raw and real, doing some hands on work. I was tired of writing, tired of the city and just plain jaded. A twenty something year old should never be that way. In that state of despair, I suddenly remembered an old friend from when I had lived in France and got in touch with her. She had promised that whenever I gathered the guts to go to Africa, I should write to her and she would make it happen. She put me in touch with a nun who worked on several projects in the interiors of Tanzania. I didn’t know anyone. I didn’t know what I would do, where I would go and how long I would be there for but I just knew I had to go.

My trip was planned in less than 2 weeks – the tickets were booked, the injections taken and my mum loaded me with herbal anti malaria balls. I am a control freak and had decided that since I was taking this leap of faith, I might as well go all out and do no research. Instead, I decided to embrace whatever came my way, just as it was. Before I knew it, I was packed and suddenly found myself in a small bedroom sized airport that had a dilapidated old sign that read “Dar es Salaam”.

I was grinning from ear to ear, which made the visa officials really suspicious till they realised I was just plain crazy. I was shuffling about in a room packed with tourists. 50 dollars later, I had my passport stamped and I was free to wander about the great wilderness. I went out of the airport-room to find myself surrounded by highrise buildings, beautifully tarred wide roads, Mercedes Benz’s just cruising about like they just didn’t care.


I had just taken off from one city to another. In fact, this city had a 3G phone connection, something even good old Bangalore, IT Capital of India, didn’t have. I was very dissappointed. The nun met me at the airport. I didn’t really know if anyone would come pick me up but I was glad she was there. We took a very luxurious taxi while I stewed inside myself. And then I suddenly found myself in a busy bus station, people everywhere trying to haul bags off you and load them into local buses. I managed to escape most of the crowd, dodged little kids pointing at me, saying “Mzungu, Mzungu!” (which is the Kiswahili word for “white person”) and got into the smallest bus in the history of the world.

I don’t mean small literally, it was a big enough bus on the outside. But when you got in, the seats were so cramped together that even a short person like me had to sit with her legs up on the seat so I don’t hurt my knees. I was stirred out of my thoughts by the nun putting her hands on my shoulder and saying “Are you okay?”. Apparently I was smiling too widely for a first time visitor. Shouldn’t I freak out?

“No, this is my childhood dream come true! Why would I be anything but ecstatic?”, I wanted to say. Instead, I tempered my reactions and was lulled into sleep by the moving motion of the bus.

I went to Tanzania, assuming I’d be there a month. I stayed a whole year. And in that time, I lived with the Maasai Tribe, lived on the foothills of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Worked at pre-schools, clincs, and orphanages that spanned the country. And while my experiences make for exciting stories to be told over a drink or to be written in a Lord of the Rings Saga, it is something I will never have words enough to explain.

I was lucky because I didn’t do the touristy things. I moved from project to project, living with real people, experiencing life as a local and instead of waxing ad nauseum, here are a few photos that will paint a better picture.’


No filter sunrise


Monduli Mountains and the Savannah


Maasai Woman


Local women campaigning for their local leaders


Local Market


An old forgotten Cave


A typical Maasai House




The View From my room at Kili


The Sugar Mills at Kilombero


The Stoves


The Lion King


The First Humanoid Excavated


The Egyptian Cobra


The Black Mamba


Sunrise at Tanga


Pink Lake – Ngorongoro Crater