June 11, 2005

Big hand for the Ministry of Information

Ok, something positive. In some African countries it takes a 2-daytour through all the ministries to arrange a accreditation, in Mozambique it is quite easy: only one Ministry (of Information) and a very friendly guy who issued my accreditation within less than half an hour. For free. Life can be easy and comfortable and the word service has a meaning. When I told the civil servant I was thankfull, he said (just as if it was the most normal thing in the world) ‘Ok sir, I am doing nothing more than my job.’ For the rest Maputo is quite ok. They have good coffee. They serve it in the Espresso Bars that you can find everywhere. The people are very warm and friendly, service minded (at least that is the inpression that I have, I don’t speak Portuguese and most
June 10, 2005

Africa is beautifull

Sometimes I get reactions. Why are you so negative about Africa if you say you love this continent? Ok, if you just take the observations in this (very young) Blog, you would agree: this guy is very frustrated and negative. Unfortunately people who think this, are wrong. The things I am writing here, are daily life events. By telling these stories, I hope people wherever in the world, would get a better understanding of how life is in other places in the world. What people have to deal with. The critics are right if they say that sometimes I am a bit negative. Ok, journalism is about the choice what to write down, I agree, so I could write down positive stories. About solidarity of the average African people for example, their art to survive and keep smiling in any
June 9, 2005

Maputo police is so friendly! (but sometimes not)

Yess.. after a short delay. Arrived in Maputo. The train from Jo’burg arrived at 6.38 in Komatipoort. From there a minibus to Maputo. Arriving in Maputo, arrested by the police. They wanted me to unpack my back in the streets. No way! (of course they were after bribes, my visa was ok). I didn’t want that, so i suggested to go to the police station. After spending too much energy in talking (seven officers in the backyard thought that it was very interesting what I had in my bag. They wanted to make me clear that I was in big trouble and I had to leave my laptop behind. Fifth time in Mozambique, never happened before, by the way). I did not leave my laptop. Now I am free again. Going to the Ministry of Tourism now. Working on stories
June 7, 2005

Shock in Jo'burg

Always the shock of landing in a ‘Western’ country. Last night I arrived in bright lights-smoothly-paved-Johannesburg with the late KQ-flight. Advertising everywhere, extreme good coffee and a smile when they quickly serve it within seconds after ordering. What I also noticed this morning, although I have been here several times: people hardly look at each other in the streets. This is a city like other Western cities, with contrasts you will find in a lot of places on this planet. City of fortune seekers, immigrants from all over the continent. Johannesburg is a kind of New York for the African continent, at least it is the richest city. Tomorrow I will leave this city built on ‘gold wealth’, by train to Maputo. The capital of Mozambique, one of the poorest countries on this beautifull continent. Miners from Mozambique used to
June 6, 2005

A few hours…

… to take off for Jo’burg. I always feel like a little child when I am travelling. The multiple entry visa for Mozambique is in my passport. Nairobi-news today is about the striking civil servants: the 9000 who went on strike for a 600% payrise recently, will be sacked. For the 400 nurses that went on strike: same story. Imagine! You ask something very reasonable in my eyes (some people here earn around 4000-5000 shilling (50 euro) or less in a month. Per day a lot of people spend 40/50 shilling for their transport home, which means that around 3500 shilling is left over for food, school fees for the children… The price of one litre of milk in the shop is about 50 shilling.) These people safe lives, and now they will sacked. Meanwhile members of Kenyan parliament here
June 3, 2005

Proud to be Dutch?

Normally I buy my vegetables with the stalls along the road, but the stalls disappeared, so I went to the supermarket today. The guy who priced my vegetables asked me in swahili ‘Where are you from?’ I answered that I am from The Netherlands. ‘Oh, that is the country where they stabbed somebody to death in the midde of a city, i saw it in the news.’ I nodded. ‘So even in your country, there is still a lot of insecurity’, the guy said. I had to agree. ‘But’, I said, ‘…in Nairobi the police is killing 21 people in a week, that is only the police and not even alll the killings.’ He was laughing. I had the impression that this guy felt releaved that Kenyans are not the only people that have to deal with insecurity and people
June 1, 2005

Matatu system for transport works well

The Kenyans celebrate Madaraka day, ‘Self-Governance Day’, today. This means: no traffic jams and parking wherever you want. This morning I took an early matatu (‘mini bus’) to town. I hardly had to wait and I realised that the matatu-system of transport is not that bad. You never have to wait. Unless it is rush hour, ok 🙂 (what I remember from The Netherlands is long waiting on a cold train station, buses going every half hour and at some places not at all on Sundays) In Kenya, you just stop a minibus. They bring you where you want. I was wondering why we don’t have such a system in The Netherlands. Could work quite well. Especially for elderly people it would work quite well. Apart from that working on proposals for reports on Southern Africa. James Morris, the UN
May 31, 2005

On the way to Southern Africa

Last preparations for my trip to Southern Africa (Mozambique). Had contact with friends in Maputo and one of the people who are involved in the Limpopo Trans Frontier Parc. A village of 20.000 people has to be relocated because the project has to proceed. They do not have an alternative.
May 31, 2005

Businessman shot at roadblock

The sun is back in Nairobi today. Papers, strong black morning coffee and the newspapers. Clashes yesterday in Uhuru Kenyatta’s home town Gatundu. A businessman was shot at a roadblock. The man was innocent, they say. This murder was not an incident. Kenyans are used to this kind of news headlines. ‘If your competitor or business rival becomes too strong, you hire thugs or pay the police to shoot the guy’, says a Kenyan friend. Recently I had an experience of police that came into a bar around 1.30 at night. They grabbed a crate of beer, put it in their car and started arresting the staff, without any reason. ‘Business rivalry’, somebody said. My respect for the average Kenyan is growing. They keep smiling in a society where sometimes there seems no difference between citizens and law offenders.