Showing posts from November, 2008

Celebration in Mali

Dancers celebrate as the President of Mali, Amadou Toumani Toure opens proceedings on the first day of the Global Ministerial Forum on Research for Health. For more information, go to

This gorgeous picture of one of the President's guards was taken by Elizabeth Kemf

The good news is that there is coffee available in Mali, but somehow it all tastes like the coffee they used to serve on South African Railways in the 1960s.

This is the view from our hotel window. The hotel is very basic but spotlessly clean, the food is good and the people are very friendly. Our room was upgraded to the "presidential suite" after the manager saw me on TV chairing a press conference and decided that we were "the boss of the conference".

We saw this goat when we were on our way to change money. It was one of those Monty Python moments, where Greg insisted that the goat was just resting. Having a little snooze.

I still believe it was dead.

Food, glorious food

We're in Mali managing the media room for the Global Ministerial Forum on Research for Health, and I'm too busy to blog, so today's posting is by Christina Scott, a member of my team but also the Africa Editor of

BAMAKO, Mali: Delegates attending the Global Ministerial Forum on Research for Health, underway until Thursday in Mali, were reminded today (Monday) that amidst the focus on faster,cheaper medical drugs and more active government policies, there was a risk of overlooking a rather important component of good health.
It's called food.
At a session on 'food for health' chaired by Ruth Oniang'o, founder of Kenya's Rural Outreach programme and co-author of 'The CompleteKenyan Cookbook', renowned researchers and high-level politicians were brought back to the basics: hungry people are never healthy people.
''Food is the most cost-effective intervention,'' declared Menno Mulder-Sibanda, a senior nutritionist specialist a…

Socialism and self sufficiency

Regular readers of Wheatlands News would have seen my posting on the Peninsula School Feeding Association here.

Today, in response to that post, guest writer Skoorby offers his perspective:

You may have noticed that in the recent U.S. election campaign, John McCain cast about wildly for something, anything, that would frame Barack Obama in a poor light, and would resonate with the American electorate. In the last week or two of the campaign, he finally came up with what became his final campaign theme: “Obama is a Socialist!” And it seemed to work. At least, Obama’s rise in the polls stopped and even pulled back from that point on. Why it was effective has something to say about the Peninsula School Feeding Association’s work.

A few days after the “Socialist!” meme emerged, I was sitting in a restaurant in suburban Philadelphia having lunch when I overheard a conversation between two fairly well-to-do middle aged white men – obviously Republicans and conservatives. They expressed disgust…

of being outspoken

I'm trying to catch up with my work and all the other things I need to do before we leave for Mali on Tuesday.

One of the things on my list was to buy Christmas presents for my brother and his family, so I went to Heather Moore's studio. I can't tell you what exactly I bought because my brother reads my blog!

But do yourself a favour and visit her Etsy shop (not you, Geoff. Or Maria). An extra incentive is that she is donating a portion of the profit from her Borrowed Spoons design to Peninsula School Feeding.

Last night was the last Isandla Development Dialogue of the year, with the title "Speaking truth to power". (I'll post Adrian's report that reflects all four of the speakers on Monday.) One of the speakers was the wonderfully forthright and outspoken Rhoda Kadalie (see pic). I'll leave you with some sound-bites:

"I am irritated by people who do not serve their country well because of political patronage. South Africa has become a haven for poo…

feeding the hungry

I found this video on Alex Matthews' Afrodissident blog.

Its well worth watching as a reminder of what happens when a government is headed by a madman with no regard for the people he is supposed to serve. What a contrast with Obama's speech this morning with its emphasis on working together for a new future and a government that is for, by and with the people.

And it is not just in Zimbabwe that children are starving. In Cape Town, the Peninsula School Feeding Association (PSFA) has the dubious honour of celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. I say dubious, because the fact that it exists at all is a sad indictment on our society. As a country we are still failing the most needy among us.

The PSFA feeds 160 000 children daily. That's a lot of children who are relying on the single meal they get at school to stay alive. That's a lot of children trying to learn on an empty stomach.

And the economic crisis isn't helping. The facts speak for themselves. In the space…

If I could vote in the US today...

Whenever I had a break yesterday, I watched a snippet of Barack Obama's campaign advert. It's 30 minutes long and I just didn't have a 30 minute chunk of time in my day. But I did have time for five minute snippets.
And I'm so glad I did.

What really impressed me was that he appeared to have a real understanding about what ordinary people are experiencing, and he seems to be coming up with measured, logical solutions to the problems rather that a whole lot of mud slinging and rhetoric.

If I were dictator of this country, I'd make all our politicians watch this just so they could see what a real statesman sounds like.

Time will tell if he lives up to his promise and his promises, and after today we'll know if he'll be given the chance.

One thing I did pick up on was that he only spent time with his Kenyan father once, for a month. I wonder if that will make him as inclined to be pro-African as so many people on this continent are hoping. When I was in Uganda a co…

raising the bar

On the same weekend that the ANC breakaway group held its convention in Sandton in front of about 5000 people, Jacob Zuma had a rally in Soweto's Jabulani Stadium. About 20 000 people turned up to sing his praises.

I love the fact that our democracy is reflecting more voices. I love the fact that (on the whole) South Africans are free to voice their dissatisfaction with the government.

I'm not sure that any of the voices are entirely free of corruption and self interest, but that's beside the point.

What I don't love is that Jacob Zuma saw fit to include a whole posse of preachers on his platform. If all he was doing was signalling his broad based support it would be ok. But, according to the Star, what actually happened is:

Later, one of the many preachers stood up for devotions to signal the start of the rally, which was aimed at encouraging voter registration for the 2009 elections.

"(Zuma) has not been selected by the people only," the man told the huge crowd…