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Android™ 2.3


EDITOR’S LETTER

A

frica is a continent that has always been a source of fascination. This has often manifested itself in oppression and greed, and Africa has often been misrepresented — ironic, given it’s quite possibly the most diverse continent on Earth. My own travels have taken me from the stunning rockhewn churches of northern Ethiopia, to the whitewashed medinas of Morocco; from deserted islands off the coast of Djibouti to Khartoum’s raucous central market. And here, where I sit writing this letter, on the western-most tip of the continent, in Dakar, Senegal, where the atmosphere is almost Latin; the streets buzzing with people, music and smells. Our cover shows the outline of

Africa; it’s there, if you look hard enough. We wanted to illustrate that Africa needs a second glance; that to dismiss it as no more than a place to go on safari does it a disservice. Redux means to restore, or to bring back. While Africa, and its treasures, has always been there, the perception of it has often been wrong.

We will show you a different side of the continent; some of the places we have been to, some of the places we will never forget. From Asmara’s Art Deco architecture to the continent’s most fascinating leader, from Namibia’s Skeleton Coast to the chaos of urban Nigeria. We bring you the late Ryszard KapuĹ›ciĹ„ski, whose piece captures Africa’s complexities. His brand of ‘literary journalism’ is often misunderstood, but always compelling, much like Africa itself. CONOR@OPENSKIESMAGAZINE.COM

Emirates takes care to ensure that all facts published herein are correct. In the event of any inaccuracy please contact The Editor. Any opinion expressed is the honest belief of the author based on all available facts. Comments and facts should not be relied upon by the reader in taking commercial, legal, ďŹ nancial or other decisions. Articles are by their nature general and specialist advice should always be consulted before any actions are taken. PO Box 2331, Dubai, UAE Telephone: (+971 4) 282 4060 Fax:(+971 4) 282 4436 Email: emirates@motivate.ae

84,649 COPIES Printed by Emirates Printing Press, Dubai, UAE

12

EDITOR-IN-CHIEF Obaid Humaid Al Tayer GROUP EDITOR & MANAGING PARTNER Ian Fairservice GROUP SENIOR EDITOR (JOB+PIOTPOĹ&#x;HJOB!NPUJWBUFBF SENIOR EDITOR .BSL&WBOTĹ&#x;NBSLF!NPUJWBUFBF EDITOR$POPS1VSDFMMĹ&#x;DPOPS! motivate.ae ART DIRECTOR5JB4FJGFSUĹ&#x;UJB!NPUJWBUFBF JUNIOR DESIGNER Roui Francisco CHIEF SUB EDITOR Iain 4NJUIĹ&#x;JBJOT!NPUJWBUFBF GENERAL MANAGER PRODUCTION & CIRCULATION S Sasidharan PRODUCTION MANAGER C Sudhakar GENERAL MANAGER, GROUP SALES "OUIPOZ .JMOF Ĺ&#x; BOUIPOZ!NPUJWBUFBF BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT MANAGER/JDPMB)VETPOĹ&#x;OJDPMB!NPUJWBUFBF SENIOR ADVERTISEMENT MANAGER+BZB#BMBLSJTIOBOKBZB!NPUJWBUF ae; DEPUTY ADVERTISEMENT MANAGER Murali Narayanan ADVERTISEMENT MANAGER Shruti Srivastava EDITORIAL CONSULTANTS FOR EMIRATES: Editor: Siobhan Bardet Arabic Editor: Hatem Omar Deputy Editor: Stephanie Byrne Website Ĺ&#x; emirates.com. CONTRIBUTORS: Simon Page, Clar Ni Chonghaile, Kovas Boguta, Gaby Stadler, Keith Bain, Seun Kuti, Wael Al Sayegh, Gemma Correll, Phil Oh, Eric Lafforgue, Nick Rowlands, Adham Bakry, Michela Wrong, Fran Sandham, Howard W. French, Luis De La Salas, Eve Edelson, Ryszard KapuĹ›ciĹ„ski, Jakob Wagner, Axis Maps, COVER ILLUSTRATION by Simon Page MASTHEAD DESIGNCZ2VJOUĹ&#x;XXXRVJOUEVCBJDPN INTERNATIONAL MEDIA REPRESENTATIVES AUSTRALIA/NEW ZEALAND Okeeffe Media; Tel + 61 89 447 2734, okeeffekev@bigpond.com.au BENELUX M.P.S. Benelux; Tel +322 720 9799, Fax +322 725 1522, francesco. sutton@mps-adv.com CHINA Publicitas Advertising; Tel +86 10 5879 5885 FRANCE Intermedia Europe Ltd; Tel +33 15 534 9550, Fax +33 15 534 9549, administration@ intermedia.europe.com GERMANY IMV International Media Service GmbH; Tel +49 89 54 590 738, Fax +49 89 54 590 769, wolfgang.jager@iqm.de INDIA Media Star; Tel +91 22 281 5538, Fax +91 22 283 9619, ravi@mediastar.co.in ITALY IMM Italia; Tel +39 023 653 4433, Fax +39 029 998 1376, lucia.colucci@fastwebnet.it JAPAN Skynet Media, Inc.; Tel/Fax +81 43 278 6977 skynetmedia@y2.dion.ne.jp NETHERLANDS GIO Media; Tel +31 6223 8420, giovanni@gio-media.nl HONGKONG/MALAYSIA/ THAILAND Sonney Media Networks; Tel +852 27 230 373, Fax +852 27 391 815, hemant@sonneymedia.com SOUTH AFRICA International Media Representatives; Tel +27 11 234 9875, gisela@imrsa.co.za SPAIN IMM International; Tel +331 40 1300 30, n.devos@imm-international.com UK Spafax Inflight Media; Tel +44 207 906 2001, Fax +44 207 906 2022, nhopkins@spafax.com USA Totem Brand Stories; Tel +212 896 3846, Fax +212 896 3848, brigitte.baron@totembrandstories.com


CONTENTS

MAY ���� WE FIND OUT WHY NAIROBI IS QUICKLY BECOMING EAST AFRICA’S TECH HUB (P21)… EGYPT’S DIGITAL SPHERE OF INFLUENCE IS EXPLAINED (P22)…

AFRICA’S TOP SAFARI COMPANIES GIVE US THEIR TWITTER PITCHES (P25)… NIGERIA’S GREATEST WRITER, CHINUA ACHEBE, GETS THE ONCE OVER (P27)… WE GET THE LOW DOWN ON JOHANNESBURG (P28)… AND TAKE A LOOK AT THE RISE OF AFRICAN CINEMA (P32)… SENA KUTI GIVES US HIS SKYPOD PLAYLIST (P34)… BLOOD DIAMOND STAR DJIMON HOUNSOU TALKS FAME, BENIN AND HIS NIGHTS SPENT HOMELESS (P41)… WE DISCOVER CLASSIC ART DECO ARCHITECTURE IN ERITREA (P44)… AND REVEAL ONE OF CAIRO’S OLDEST �AND MOST INTERESTING� SHOPS (P46)… MICHELA WRONG LOOKS AT THE LEGACY OF ETHIOPIA’S ‘KING OF KINGS’,

HAILE SELASSIE (P54)… FRAN SANDHAM TAKES A LONG WALK FROM NAMIBIA TO KENYA (P62)… WHILE WE EXAMINE CHINA’S NEW AFRICAN EMPIRE (P70)…NIGERIA’S ‘���’ SCAM HAS BECOME INFAMOUS AROUND THE WORLD.WE INVESTIGATE (P78)…LEGENDARY JOURNALIST AND WRITER

RYSZARD KAPUŚCIŃSKI TAKES A BUS JOURNEY IN GHANA (P86)… WE TAKE A STUNNING AERIAL VIEW OF CAPE TOWN AND BEYOND (P96)… 14


www.citizen-me.com LEBANON, H.G. Yessayan & Co.: +961 1 335554 / 335559 / 240960 / 240961 MAURITIUS, J. Kalachand & Co Ltd.: +230 2060690 / 2128410 EGYPT, General Commerce Co. Ltd.: +202 24026782 / 22617044 SAUDI ARABIA, Ali Zaid Al Quraishi & Bros, Jeddah: +966 2 6454444, Riyadh: +966 1 2871354, Dammam: +966 3 8283730, Madina: +966 4 8380272 / 8380292, Khamis Mushayt: +966 7 2358282, Makkah: +966 2 5611303, Buraydah: +966 6 3245110 QATAR, Blue Saloon: +974 44466111 BAHRAIN, Yaquby Stores WLL: +973 17210959 / 17210956 UNITED ARAB EMIRATES, Juma Al Majid Establishment, Dubai: +971 4 2281617 / 2231052, Abu Dhabi: +971 2 6444689, Sharjah: +971 6 5680959 MALDIVES, Reefside Co. Pvt. Ltd.: +960 3323545 JORDAN, Time Center: +962 6 5817575 SYRIA, Dummar and Fattal: +963 11 3331619 OMAN, Sarco LLC: +968 24709171 / 73 / 74 KUWAIT, Easa Husain Al Yousifi & Sons Co.: +965 24810246


CONTRIBUTORS

8[d_d My home in Africa

;]ofj

The addictive chaos of Cairo

M>7J?IOEKH <7LEKH?J; FB79;?D7<H?975

A[doW

Where the Nairobi-Naivasha Road reaches its peak

DWc_X_W

Skeleton Coast; harsh but beautiful

Iekj^7\h_YW Table Mountain in Cape Town

DJIMON HOUNSOU: A two-time Academy Award nominee, Djimon grew up in Benin before moving to Paris at the age of 13. After

success as a model, he moved to the US and established himself as a leading actor in such ďŹ lms as Amistad, Blood Diamond and Constantine.

NICK ROWLANDS: Nick has lived in Egypt since 2006, and worked as a tour leader, EFL teacher, city guide editor and online guidebook writer. He is currently co-editor of Matador Life and contributing editor to the recently launched BETA travel magazine. He also produces video news packages for Reuters. CLAR NI CHONGHAILE: Clar grew up in the west of Ireland, leaving in 1992 to work in London. She has also lived in Madrid, Paris, Abidjan and Dakar, working for Reuters and The Associated Press. She moved to Nairobi in 2008 with her husband and two daughters. JAKOB WAGNER: Jakob lives in Dusseldorf, where he works as a freelance photographer and image editor. When he is not working for other photographers, he devotes his time to his own projects, such as his series on South Africa. FRAN SANDHAM: An editor at Rough Guides for several years, Fran has written for many newspapers, magazines and travel publications. He has travelled to more than 50 countries and lives in England, dividing his time between writing, public speaking and travel. 16


SPRING/SUMMER 2011


INTRO  ×Öº   

P. 27 º chinua achebe

P. ×ݺ johannesburg mapped

P. Ùݺ dakar booty

A NTIQUES

HE WE GO ON T O AND FIND IR A C IN TRAIL ITY’S MOST ONE THE C G SHOPS INTERESTIN

P46

19


OUR MAN IN

NAIROBI THE KENYAN CAPITAL IS FINDING A NICHE FOR ITSELF AS THE TECHNOLOGY HUB OF EAST AFRICA

I

n a bright, airy room above the red roofs of Nairobi, dozens of young people are sitting at laptops, tapping and clicking and dreaming up the next big thing. This is the iHub, an open space for innovators, investors, and anyone interested in IT. If Nairobi is East Africa’s technology hub, this room off Ngong Road is its bleeping heart. Erik Hersman, who co-founded iHub, describes it as a neutral nexus. “Every investor who is interested in tech comes through here… We connect people.” Opened last year, the iHub has more than 3,000 members already. To cope with demand, an advisory board vets potential members who can use the space for free. Hersman, who grew up in Sudan and Kenya, is something of a tech guru in Nairobi, where young people are increasingly blogging and tweeting, creating a kind of parallel, virtual country. Over the past year the number of internet users has more than doubled from three million to 7.5 million — and more people are using their mobiles to get online. Hersman says this is the next frontier. “Mobile web is a massive, massive thing that’s coming,” he

said. “We’re about a year out from real penetration of mobile web dataenabled stuff and about two years out from mass penetration with the public looking to take advantage.” This could be a potential goldmine for the men and women hunched over their computers at the iHub. Mobile web means mobile apps and mobile ads, and the right one could go global. There does seem to be something special about the talent in Nairobi — something that has turned this brash, confident city into a byword for tech innovation, not just in the region, but Africa-wide. “I think it’s the psyche, the mindset,” said David Owino, co-founder of HumanIPO, which connects small investors with entrepreneurs via its social media platform. “We have a lot of young people who want to take on the world, and they believe they can do it… You don’t get that attitude in a lot of places.” Part of this comes from Nairobi’s standing as a regional hub; the Kenyan middle classes are wealthy by regional standards and there is an unmistakeable confidence about the Kenyan capital. Hersman says education and training also count:

there are good universities but also big corporations who have trained their staff in IT. Many of the global behemoths — Microsoft, Google, Nokia, IBM — have offices in the city. “To have those international tech companies here is a real advantage. You don’t have that in Dar es Salaam. You don’t have that in Kampala,” Hersman says. Another plus is increased and cheaper bandwidth (1GB costs around $30 a month) since the arrival of three undersea, fibre-optic cables in 2009. Kenya has also been relatively stable over the past 40 years. And Hersman says monopolies and innovationstunting regulation is being curbed. What is lacking is enough seed capital — the iHub is trying to lure foreign investors, who are generally more willing to take risks, and hopes this will force local investors to step up to the plate. “There is a lot of foreign interest from small investors,” says Owino. “[But} we have more investors than businesses. There are very few people on the business side. We need to put a lot of effort into that.” Given the ‘can-do’ Kenyan attitude, few would bet against it.

Clar Ni Chonghaile is a writer based in Nairobi. You can follow her at http://twitter.com/clarnic 21


graph information elegance

The Egyptian twitter influence network Twitter users influence each other if they follow each other, shown here with blue lines. Users are placed near the other users they influence the most. User size represents their influence across the entire Twitter network. English users are in Blue and Arabic users in Red.

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23


JUMEIR AH HIMALAYAS HOTEL, SHANGHAI. NOW OPEN

YOU AR E THE INSPIR ATION You are different. That’s why Jumeirah Hotels & Resorts are opening new hotels around the world, inspired by your individuality.

Maldives Summer 2011

Frankfurt Fall 2011

Abu Dhabi Fall 2011

STAY DIFFERENT™ AT JUMEIR AH HOTELS & RESORTS FOR RESERVATIONS, PLEASE CONTACT YOUR TR AVEL PROFESSIONAL OR VISIT JUMEIR AH.COM

Dubai / London / New York / Shanghai & Opening Soon: Abu Dhabi / Azerbaijan / Dubai / Frankfurt / Kuwait / Maldives


TWITTER PITCH

AFRICAN

SAFARIS Every month we profile a number of venues in a different city. The catch? The companies must be on Twitter and must tell us in their own words what makes them so special. This month we feature Africa’s best safaris. If you want to get involved, follow us at: www.twitter.com/openskiesmag

habitat

desert delta

afrika safaris

Experience flora & fauna, desert

Africa’s specialised safari operator for

& delta at 7 luxury safari lodges in

game-drives, canoeing, rafting, Zambezi

Botswana; get up close & personal

cruises, lion encounters, elephant rides

with nature’s biggest personalities.

& Victoria Falls tours.

www.twitter.com/DesertDelta

www.twitter.com/HASafaris

elephant safaris

Heritage

safaris

ker & downey

Revel in the natural beauty of the

Offers you an authentic African

The continent’s original safari

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BOOKED

CHINUA ACHEBE — A MAN OF THE PEOPLE

C

THE DIRKIE SANCHEZ

suite

THE DADDY LONG LEGS CAPE TOWN

INTERNET SPEED: None in room,

100Kbps in common area PILLOWS: Eight ENGLISH TV CHANNELS: No TV in room,

94 channels in common area IPOD DOCK: No ROOM SERVICE: No, rate includes

continental breakfast in restaurant COMPLIMENTARY SNACKS: Tea, instant

coffee, milk, sugar TOILETRY BRAND: Moya DAILY NEWSPAPER: None EXTRAS: Mini-bar, iron and board,

babysitting services BUSINESS CENTRE: No VIEW: 3.5/5 RATE: $98 per night WWW.DADDYLONGLEGS.CO.ZA

WORDS: GABY STADLER

hinua Achebe is one of the greats of African literature, and this is one of his finest moments. Set in an unnamed, newly independent African country, A Man Of The People tells the tale of a village teacher (Odili) who takes on a corrupt Culture Minister (Chief Nanga). Published in 1966, it was eerily prescient of events in Achebe’s Nigeria, yet it’s the characters he creates that are compelling. In Chief Nanga, Achebe projects the ultimate African Strong Man, a blustering, corrupt politician who does not hesitate to use violence to tackle Odili’s attempts to usurp him . Achebe uses humour to tackle what is a tragic subject: the inability of postcolonial African countries to govern themselves. Odili is the educated youth who believes in ideals, until he needs to get even with Chief Nanga. The message here is bleak, and although not set in Nigeria, the coup that saw that country’s ruler ousted took place only a few months after A Man Of The People was released. Achebe took no pleasure in this, and, ultimately, there are no heroes in this book, but products of an environment tainted by deceit. Rich and vibrant, Achebe paints a compelling, if tragic, picture of an Africa coming to terms with its independence. Penguin, 1966

Ninety minutes from Cape Town’s city centre, the Old Mac Daddy Luxury Trailer Park is a piece of finelytuned kitsch. Situated on the edge of a working apple farm, the ‘hotel’ consists of 12 vintage Airstream trailers, each with its own tongue-in-cheek designer interior. We stayed in The Dirkie Sanchez Suite, a wrestling-inspired room complete with dress-up outfits, and The Private Life of Plants, a botany-themed haven for calm reflection decorated with eco-friendly paints and natural fabrics. If you get tired of the view from your hideaway, you can stroll down to the lake, take a dip in the pool or rent a mountain bike. The Elgin area also offers hiking trails and quad-biking. While the hipper-than-thou suites and the rural setting might seem a bit bizarre, Daddy Long Legs pulls it off — just. 27


MAPPED JOHANNESBURG

Full to bursting with the spirit of Afropolitanism, Jozi, as it’s know locally, is an electric, multicultural hodgepodge. It once had the dubious distinction of being one of the world’s most dangerous places, but today Africa’s wealthiest city is transforming rapidly, shedding its hostile skin and setting the tone for upward mobility in a country that’s growing up fast. Here you’re always aware of the paradoxes and contrasts: Victorian and Edwardian mansions in gentrified old money suburbs; shantytowns and new wealth in sprawling Soweto; slick glass and chrome high-rises in Sandton’s economic powerhouse; and in the city centre, large-scale reinvestment is steering the process of urban rebirth after years of neglect. Hg2’s Keith Bain picks a handful of old, new and buzzworthy places to sample the effervescent energy of South Africa’s financial epicentre.

WWW.HG2.COM

28

HOTELS 1. Ilali Guesthouse

2. The Peech

3. The Winston

RESTAURANTS �. DW Eleven-13

6. Gramdoelas

7. Il Giardino Degli Ulivi 8. Thomas Maxwell Kitchen

4. The Westcliff


BARS / CLUBS 9. The Circle Bar

10. Randloards

11. Tokyo Star

12. Taboo

GALLERIES 13. Arts on Main

14. Goodman Gallery

15. Everard Read Gallery

16. Johannesburg Art Gallery

29


MAPPED JOHANNESBURG

HOTELS 1 ILALI GUESTHOUSE

Hidden behind an anonymous wall, this 1940s suburban home has been painstakingly reinvented as a fivebedroom guesthouse showcasing the best of South African design.

2 THE PEECH

3

THE WINSTON Heralding a new generation of eye-catching and imaginatively-outfitted business lodgings. The themed suites are decked out in nostalgic visual allusions to South Africa’s chequered past.

4

THE WESTCLIFF Iconic, old school, and handsome, Jo’burg’s elegant grande dame clings to a steep hillside in upmarket Westcliff. The postcolonial savoir faire extends into the plush, expansive suites.

7

IL GIARDINO DEGLI ULIVI Wood-burning ovens churn out ultra-thin, handmade pizzas and pasta for laid-back locals in a courtyard full of olive trees. This is amongst Jo’burg’s most charming dining experiences.

8

THOMAS MAXWELL BISTRO Exposed brick walls and vintage furniture create an unassuming atmosphere at this bistro, bursting with French-inspired culinary excellence. The owner-chef has a loyal fan base and will win you over, too.

Urbane, hip and edgy, with a seamless blend of Afrocentric design influence and contemporary smarts. The Peech’s location in leafy, upmarket Melrose brings a certain respite from the city’s madness.

RESTAURANTS 5 DW ELEVEN-13

Mercifully sheltered from the dreary parking lot outside, this upmarket bistro excels at tastecentric dining. Snappy, on-the-ball service and a robust clientele create a buzzing atmosphere.

6 GRAMADOELAS

Set in the Newtown cultural precinct, Gramadoelas offers a chance to sample some of the more exotic tastes of South Africa, including crocodile steaks and mopani worms.

BARS/CLUBS 9 THE CIRCLE BAR

Spilling off the vast lobby of The Rosebank Crowne Plaza, the circles in question are lounging pods with wraparound ‘walls’ fashioned from glass beads. Cocktails are extravagant and edgy.

10 RANDLORDS

This fashionable rooftop bar in Braamfontein is ultra-exclusive. The tapas and cocktails are almost as sublime as the setting. A dedicated elevator takes you from street level to this high-altitude refuge.

11 TOKYO STAR

All grown up, but still proffering the same sense of abandon it cultivated in its old Melville location, Tokyo Star harbours a slick crowd amidst décor (not surprisingly) inspired by Japanese culture.

12 TABOO

The sinful side of hedonism is on tap at this upmarket multilevel venue. The laws of conspicuous consumption (and merciless bouncers) demand you dress for success to party here.

GALLERIES 13 ARTS ON MAIN

A mix of galleries and design spaces occupying a converted industrial precinct. World-renowned artist-showman William Kentridge has studios here, and the eatery is haunted by creative types.

30

14 GOODMAN GALLERY

Here you’re privy to a dynamic line-up of works by significant contemporary artists. A veritable who’s who of South African creative talent, matched by mindboggling price tags.

15 EVERARD READ GALLERY

A real institution, dating back almost a century, it’s probably the most established (and biggest) commercial gallery in the country, showing great sculptures and canvases at astronomical prices.

16 JOHANNESBURG ART GALLERY

A national monument designed by Sir Edwin Luytens, this was Johannesburg’s first gallery and it still manages to impress. Iconic works rub shoulders with international exhibitions of significance.


FLICK CELLULOID DISSECTED

D

ense jungles, man-eating animals, spear-waving natives — if all you knew about Africa was what you’d seen in Hollywood films, you’d think the place was as inhospitable as it was interesting. The home of Tarzan and his apes, the ‘Dark Continent’ seems a place best enjoyed while clutching a box of popcorn from the comfort of seat 2K. Of course, the hardships of African life meant that many an old American movie made do with the studio back lot and stock footage. And on the rare occasions productions did venture overseas, the experiences of the lily-livered cast and crew members simply confirmed what Hollywood’s movies had long suggested about the dangers of Africa. Take Katharine Hepburn, who like 32

o r i a C From to n w o T e Cap

virtually everyone else involved in making The African Queen, went down with dysentery when she ignored warnings about the local water. If only she’d followed costar Humphrey Bogart’s example and drunk nothing but whiskey throughout the shoot. Come the 21st century, and American studios were a bit braver about shooting on African soil. Take Edward Zwick’s Blood Diamond — a thriller about a frighteningly real problem, this Leonardo DiCaprio vehicle was filmed almost entirely in South Africa and Mozambique. For the most part, though, Africa remains a no-go zone for major Hollywood productions. Which is no bad thing, for in the absence of American investment, an African film industry has sprung up that is as vibrant as it is diverse.

From Cairo to Cape Town, Africa’s film industry encompasses the entire continent. Of course, some nations are more prolific than others, what with the need to make ends meet often eclipsing the desire for entertainment. However, it would be wrong to think that African cinema is solely the province of ‘Westernised’ nations such as South Africa. Djibril Diop Mambéty’s sublime

Hyènes came out of Senegal. A charming comedy-drama about a wealthy woman who returns to her impoverished hometown, Hyènes accomplishes the amazing feat of being authentically African while tapping the spirit of some classic British comedies. But how does a continent that can have trouble feeding itself find the money to make movies? In the case


E FF TH O G WIN ORY THRO OD HIST S I O I N E M AS H O L L Y W C N A CK AFRIC OF IT WHY HACKLES ICHARD LU S BY R

of Egypt, long a dominant force in African cinema, it was a Hollywoodstyle mogul who gave the film industry its impetus. Talaat Harb was the closest Africa ever came to a David O Selznick. The founder of the Bank Of Egypt, Harb’s love of film led him to dedicate time and, more importantly, funds to the creation of an Egyptian studio system. The upshot of this generosity was a golden age that spanned the 1940s and 1950s and produced such classics as Ana Horra , a picture still celebrated in world cinema circles for its daring feminist standpoint. Since the highs of the postwar period, Egypt’s cinema has undergone many changes. At one point in the hands of the state (the Nasser regime took control of the industry after it embraced socialism), Egyptian films now

tend to be produced by private individuals. Eras of government control and entrepreneurial investment also account for the ways in which films are financed in most other parts of the continent. So if it seems a certain nation’s turned its back on cinema, it might have as much to do with dictatorial whims as access to adequate funding. A shortage of money certainly isn’t a problem in modern-day South Africa. Having produced the most internationally successful African movie of the last century, race ‘comedy’ The Gods Must Be Crazy, today’s new attitudes, together with the emergence of fresh talent, has made the country a small but significant cinematic power. It says everything for the state of South African film that any list of great modern crime and sci-fi movies

would be incomplete without mention of Bronwen Hughes’ Stander and Neill Blomkamp’s District 9. And as for modern social dramas, few have eclipsed Gavin Hood’s Tsotsi , a film about Soweto slum life that won the 2006 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film. That the success of Hood and co hasn’t gone unnoticed by Hollywood could, alas, spell trouble for African film. For having already mined the continent for its exotic reputation, the American studio behemoth is now busy capturing its most vibrant talent. But as it has with most everything else, Africa has always found a way to make films. And if its best and brightest are lured overseas, who’s to say the continent mightn’t produce a new generation of film-makers to beguile us all over again. 33


SKYPOD SEUN KUTI, SON OF THE LEGENDARY FELA KUTI, GIVES US HIS PLAYLIST

WWW.MYSPACE.COM/SEUNKUTI

FELA KUTI – LOOK & LAUGH Every time I hear this I quit music for two weeks – it’s that good.

50 CENT – IN DA CLUB When I was studying in Liverpool, I used to hear this everywhere.

ALBOROSIE – RODIGA I listened to this tune on my flight to Australia, which was also my first Emirates flight and my first time on the Airbus A380.

34

2PAC – ALL EYEZ ON ME That’s how I am feeling right now.


SEUN KUTI – YOU CAN RUN The best horn arrangement of the past 20 years.

STEVIE WONDER – SUPERSTITION This song typifies the African mindset.

THE SUPREMES — BABY LOVE For me, this song is all about two lovers re-uniting.

RANDY NEWMAN – IT’S A JUNGLE OUT THERE This is the theme from The Monk TV show. It’s also how I really feel about the West.

PETER TOSH – LEGALISE IT A reggae beat that really chills me out.

35


LOCAL VOICES

ARABIA HAS LONG LOOKED FOR INSIGHT

OUT OF AFRICA

THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN AFRICA AND THE GULF IS DEEP AND ENDURING SAYS WAEL AL SAYEGH

ILLUSTRATION BY VESNA PESIC

W

ith a massive 64 per cent of the world’s total Arab population and 45 per cent of the Arab League housed on the African continent, it’s no surprise how deep the relationship between my ancestral homeland and Africa runs. The traditional dhows of the Persian Gulf, their white curved sails contrasting with the light, bright blue of the Arabian sea, carried sailors, pearl divers and fishermen and were mostly manned by African crews. In fact, much of the music and folk dances of the Arab world can be traced back to Africa. In the Maghreb region, Stambali and Gnawa music clearly display West African influences. The Liwa performed in the UAE, the Mizmar in Saudi Arabia, the Fann Al Tanbbura heard in Bahrain, Kuwait and Oman — these are all

East African contributions to the heritage of the Persian Gulf. Africa has — as far back as pre-Islamic times — provided us with many of our pioneering heroes. Long before the world was introduced to Shakespeare’s Othello there was the great sage Antar Ibn Shaddad, the son of an African mother, who climbed the tribal ladder of society through his brilliance as a fearsome warrior on the battlefield, and off it as a legendary poet. Antar was the first person in the Arab world to render the colour of one’s skin irrelevant. Bilal Bin Rabah was the first black African slave to convert to Islam. His bravery in embracing what was then a dangerous and revolutionary concept made him an easy target for his master, who wished to make an example of him. Abu Baker Al Sidiq, one of the companions of the Prophet 37


Mohammed (PBUH), financed his purchase from this cruel owner and liberated him to become not only Islam’s first free black African Muslim, but also Islam’s first ever Muathin. A l Jahith, a medieval Islamic Afro-Arab scholar, described by the Middle East scholar and historian Bernard Lewis as “one of the greatest prose writers of classic literature”, is another example. It is said he wrote more than 350 books in his lifetime.

covering topics as diverse as zoology, biology, philosophy, Islamic psychology and literature. Islamic historians often cite Al Jahith as an example of how Islam has contributed to the intellectual development of mankind. Perhaps the greatest gift Africa ever gave Arabia was the provision of much-needed refuge and shelter to the most important asset to emerge from the Arab world. When the Prophet Mohammed first started spreading his message

to worship only one God, the God of Moses, Abraham and Jesus, the Quarshi tribes of Mecca, who were staunchly pagan at the time, aggressively fought against him and anyone who associated or even sympathised with his cause. They made life for the early Muslims so unbearable that the Prophet Mohammed felt it necessary to send a delegation, led by his cousin, Jaffar Al Tayyer, out of the country. It was in Ethiopia (then Abyssinia), led by

A BRIEF HISTORY OF AFRICAN ICONS

38

2655BC

1918

1921

1934

A man of many talents, Imhotep is considered to be the first architect, engineer and doctor in early history. Which made him quite intelligent, we reckon. Sort of like an ancient Egyptian version of Bill Gates, Frank Gehry and Dr Phil. OK, well the first two at least.

An easy inclusion, but we make no apologies. A former freedom fighter, Nelson Mandela has matured into one of the world’s great statesmen. He also has to put up with frequent visits from Bono; and for that alone he deserves all our praise. History will judge him well.

Botswana’s first president, Seretse Khama showed it was possible for an African leader to be competent, honest and progressive. Under his tutelage, Botswana emerged as a model post-colonial African state and a beacon of hope to Africans across the continent.

A writer, poet and playwright, Wole Soyinka won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1986. The Nigerian’s work oozed compassion, wit and intelligence, and paved the way for a generation of writers. He has left a lasting literary legacy. Search out his work and discover a true great.


LOCAL VOICES

its Christian king, Negus Ashama Ibn Abjar, that Islam first received a dignified space to be practised freely without persecution. I find the failure of most of today’s extreme-minded religious groups to mention this fact in any of their sermons rather interesting. One need not look only at early history to see the Afro-Arab connection. At the gala evening event of the recently concluded Emirates Airline International Festival of Literature, the Nigerian

poet, playwright and author Wole Soyinka — the first ever black African to win the Nobel Prize for Literature — described the current unrest spread across the Arab World as “irreversible change”, and went on to compare the Arab people’s struggle for freedom with what many post-colonial Africans had to go through. It seems that whatever time in history we study, Africa and Arabia seem to understand one another at a level that goes beyond the superficial.

Finally, there is my very own connection to Africa. At a time when my life was at a crossroads between acceptance of a traditional role in society or the choice of an exciting yet arduous path, the blood-red sands of South Africa granted me one of its daughters as a partner. That scion of Africa has borne three children, whose dark eyes display the soul of Arabia and whose hearts beat with the song of strength that will always be Africa.

193 8

1946

1973

198 0

A musical pioneer (he invented the Afro-Beat genre), a maverick and a committed activist, if anyone embodied the confidence of 1970s Africa it was Fela Kuti. Charismatic, vain, troubled and brilliant, Kuti is up there with legends such as Marvin Gaye and Bob Marley.

An anti-Apartheid activist who died in police custody in 1977, Stephen Biko’s activism and writing inspires millions around the world to this day. His efforts to empower a generation of black Africans largely worked. An uplifting, yet tragic life; a profound legacy.

King of the Road, Haile Gebrselassie is regarded the greatest distance runner in history. As a boy, he ran a daily 20km roundtrip to school, which explains his running posture: he looks as if he is holding an invisible stack of books. A sporting icon and a nice guy to boot.

Seyi Oyesola is the least famous of our icons, but millions may be saved by his invention. This Nigerian doctor invented the ‘Hospital Box’, which runs off solar energy and is completely mobile. The face of modern Africa: inventive, smart, brave and compassionate.

39


INTERVIEW

MY TRAVELLED LIFE DJIMON HOUNSOU, 47, ACTOR

ON NEW PLACES

ON BEING AFRICAN

though. My dream is to bring to the world’s

I’m always on the move — that seems to

I spend less and less time in Benin, but my

attention the great Africans who have made

have been the case ever since I left Benin at

memories of the place grow more and more

the continent what it is today and what it

13. I've seen a lot of the world, first as a model

intense. A friend of mine once said that

might become in the future.

then later as an actor. Whenever I arrive some-

Africa is a state of mind you always carry

where I haven't been before I usually visit a

with you, which I think is true. But the conti-

café near the hotel, where the locals hangout,

nent retains an extraordinary pull over those

ON PREPARATION

and ask them what I should see and where I

who are born there, so however long I might

I never prepare the same way twice. With

should go. It’s the best way of familiarising

be away, I know I'll always return to Benin.

The Tempest, where I play Caliban, it was all about becoming familiar with the text and

yourself with a new place.

intense rehearsal. But with Gladiator, hitting

ON HOLLYWOOD

the gym and getting to know Russell Crowe

ON BENIN

Hollywood’s perspective of Africa is

were the keys to the part. We became very

Being an American citizen makes life so

dominated by bare-chested women, men

good friends, Russell and I. He used to call

much easier, especially when you spend so

in loin cloths, man-eating lions — all that’s

me the ‘Chocolate Prince’, which always

much time travelling. But it’s also something

missing is Tarzan. Things are changing,

made me laugh.

I’m very proud of — I love the country and the life it’s allowed me to live. But I would never turn my back on Benin. I’m very proud of being African and have no intention of giving up my citizenship.

ON EMIGRATING Moving to Paris when I was 13 was like visiting another planet. There I was, in this stunningly beautiful city, but I was sleeping on benches or under bridges. As for moving to America, Western cities are alike, or, at least, that’s how it seems to me, so by the time I felt at home in Paris, I felt I could take the US in my stride. 40


STREET PEEP â&#x20AC;˘ ER MILAN ÂŤWWW.STREETPEEPER.COM ÂŤ       Â&#x17E;   

   

VALENTINA

WRITER

ILARDI-MARTIN TV PRESENTER

Christian Dior coat Prada dress

Isabel Marant boots

Azzedine AlaĂŻa boots

Jil Sander bag

ELENA SANTARELLI TV PRESENTER

Missoni dress

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Chanel bag

 

Casadei boots

PHOTOGRAPHER


ELISA NALIN JEWELLERY DESIGNER

   

AND CONSULTANT

BLOGGER, THE BLONDE SALAD

Rue du Mail jacket Vintage blouse

Chanel sunglasses

Dries Van Noten trousers

Furla bag

Pierry Hardy shoes

American Apparel skirt

Vintage bag

Jeffrey Campbell shoes

  FASHION EDITOR VOGUE NIPPON

Jil Sander suit Jil Sander trousers

 

Prada shoes

UNKNOWN

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PLACE A RC H I T E C T U R E MAPPED

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FIAT TAGLIERO SERVICE STATION «Ž    « ÇÏÉÎ


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IMAGE: ERIC LAFFORGUE WWW.ERICLAFORGUE.COM

IMAGE: ERIC LAFFORGUE WWW.ERICLAFORGUE.COM


STORE U R B AUNR BCA AN RTO CAGRTO RA PGHRA Y «L’ORIENTALISTE«CAIRO P H Y «L’ORIENTALISTE«CAIRO «ANTIQUES «ANTIQUES

W

alking into L’Orientaliste antique bookshop in downtown Cairo feels like stepping into the pages of an Egyptian Harry Potter novel. Spread out over three cramped floors, the shelves are stuffed with colourful, leather-bound tomes with such intriguing titles as Arabian Time Machine, The Nile Quest, and La Creation de L’Homme. Old drawings of scenes from Egypt are strewn around the walls, and 500-year-old maps chart territories as far afield as Nubia, Mesopotamia and Spain. The shop was established in 1936 by Mr Feldman, an Egyptian Jew famous as a connoisseur of antique books. It passed to his partner, Charles Bahari, when Feldman was forced to leave the country in 1956. The current owner is Frencheducated Egyptian Nagwa Kamy, whose husband was close friends with Charles. “Charles wanted to sell, and every day my husband came home and told me, ‘I’m going to buy the shop and you will run it,’” explains Nagwa. In March 1989, he made good on this promise. Specialising in antique books about the Orient, L’Orientaliste is the sort of treasure trove you can rummage around in for hours. Some books date back to the 16th century and are worth tens of thousands of Egyptian pounds. Topics include Egyptology, history, travel, religion, language, and science. As well as original lithographs, paintings, and maps, L’Orientaliste stocks more affordable reprints, and a fine selection of postcards dating back WORDS: NICK ROWLANDS / IMAGES: ADHAM BAKRY

46


to the 1920s. When asked how many books she has in total, Nagwa shrugs. “Thousands,” she replies, “What you see here is not even a quarter of a quarter of what we have in storage.” She takes down a 1925 copy of Le Roi Peste (King Pest) by Edgar Allan Poe. The book is housed in a patterned box, with a brown leather cover and a stylised picture of a skull picked out in gilt. “These are not so much books to read as books to admire,” she whispers. The shop’s patrons are varied. “Egyptologists, collectors, book lovers, art lovers, students, professors, expats who are leaving the country and want to take home something of value as a souvenir,” Nagwa explains. As well as clients such as the J. Paul Getty Museum in California and the Egyptian Museum in Barcelona, Kamy has sold to ministers from Italy and celebrities like Jean Paul Gaultier. “Someone came once, so important the street was closed. I didn’t know who it was because he wasn’t a public figure. He gave me his card — it was the head of the CIA!” He bought an original David Roberts painting and an antique map. In these turbulent times, it’s fitting that a shop dedicated to maintaining the cultural heritage of the region should be located in Cairo, Umm al-Dunya, the “Mother of the World”. L’Orientaliste, 15 Kasr El Nil Street, Downtown Cairo, 0225753418 – 0225765451, www.orientalecairo.com

47


1

BOOTY D AKAR

WE ROUGH IT IN DAKAR TO BRING YOU SOME QUIRKY LOCAL FLAVOUR.

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2

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2

Bus Painting, $8. The classic mode of transport in Dakar gets a quirky render.

Native Painting, $8. An elaborate slice of Senegal life: a woman in national dress.

Cocktail du Sénégal,

Cocktail du Sénégal,

108 Rue Moussé, Dakar

108 Rue Moussé, Dakar


3

4

5

Hippo Statue, $16. A polished metal ornament that pays homage to the humble Senegalese hippo.

Coconut Candle, $5. Form and function combine with this cute hollowed-out coconut candle.

Ashtray, $10. Brushed metal ashtray with a quirky Senegalese face at the bottom.

Cocktail du Sénégal,

Cocktail du Sénégal, 108

Cocktail du Sénégal, 108

108 Rue Moussé, Dakar

Rue Moussé, Dakar

Rue Moussé, Dakar

4

3

5 49


P.O. Box.17684, W/H: FZS1/AJ02 , Jebel Ali Free Zone, Dubai - UAE Tel: + 971 4 886 0715, Fax: +971 4 886 0716 E-mail: cathy@sourcerite.ae

Available at : BAHRAIN : Debenhams, Sun & Sand Sports, The Athletes Foot, Heels Boutique, Shoe City, Al Boom Marine, Duty Free || KUWAIT : Debenhams, Shoe Mart, The Athletes Foot, Intersport || LEBANON Dbayeh || OMAN : Shoe City || QATAR : Courir Go Sports, Debenhams, Galaxy Sports, Shoe Mart, The Athletes Foot, Blue Salon, Shoe City, Ozone || UAE : Dubai Duty Free, Go Sports, Harvey Nichols, Impressions, Intersport, Shoe City, Jumeirah Sports House, K Corner, Picnico, Shoe Mart, Sun & Sand Sports, Beyond The Beach, Shoes 4 Us, Rip Curl Stores, The Athletes Foot, Debenhams || SAUDI ARABIA : Shoe Mart, Zahid Trec, Sun & Sand Sports, Intersport, Shoe City, Go Sports Debenhams,


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M on

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SHARJAH BIENNIAL

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Catch the last few days of this eclectic art festival. www.sharjahart.org

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SNOOP DOGG

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The laid-back Californian hip hop legend will be bringing his beats to Yas Island in Abu Dhabi. www.thinkflash.ae

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FA CUP FINAL The biggest day in the English football calendar takes place at Wembley. www.thefa.com/thefacup

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MODERN DESIGN Stunning highlights from the Modern Design Collection at New York’s MET. www.metmuseum.org

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FESTIVAL MAWAZINE This festival of world and Arabic music is held in Rabat each year. www.festivalmawazine.ma

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MAIN  ÚÙº     

P. 62 º Across africa on foot

P. ÜÕº The new empire

P. ÝÛº the shadow of the sun

 

   N U NING

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BY MICHELA WRONG

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KING OF KINGS

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t’s hard to find a photograph of Haile Selassie smiling, or looking anything other than gravely self-possessed. Even one of the earliest, taken when he was only eight, shows him gazing into the distance with tangible wariness, the sombre poise one would normally expect to see on the face of an adult. But then, the boy who would become the Emperor of Ethiopia, King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Conquering Lion of the Tribe of Judah, Elect of God; hailed in his own country as the 225th descendant of the Queen of Sheba and King Solomon and worshipped in Jamaica

as a deity, already knew he had been born into a violent and conspiratorial world in which the odds were stacked against a quiet life. The fact that he lived to the age of 83, surviving court plots, foreign invasion, exile and coup attempts, is a tribute to the cunning and foresight of a sovereign who refused to let his guard down until senility finally descended, robbing him of both his famous aura and his wits. “Do not underestimate the power of Tafari,” an Ethiopian warlord once remarked. “He creeps like a mouse but has jaws like a lion.” Those hungry for personal traces of the imperial life will find precious

little on public display in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital. The former royal palace is now a museum located inside the university campus. The Emperor’s neat bedroom and blue bathroom, surprisingly modest to contemporary eyes, are open to tourists. Visitors can also pay homage to the Emperor’s remains, recovered from under the latrine where army putschistes buried him, which finally lie next to those of his former Empress in Trinity Cathedral. It’s a decidedly modest showing, given the extraordinary romantic hold His Imperial Majesty, or HIM, held on the world’s imagination, a spell that can in part be traced back to the

SELASSIE WITH ONE OF HIS LIONS AT HIS PALACE IN THE ETHIOPIAN CAPITAL

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five-century old European legend of Prestor John, the story of a Christian king ruling over a magnificent kingdom somewhere in pagan Africa. But former Marxist rebel movements are rarely at ease with royal legacies, and today’s Ethiopian government is no exception. Tafari Makonnen was born in 1892, the son of Ras – the equivalent of Duke – Makonnen, governor of Harar, a general who had fought with valour in the famous Battle of Adwa against the Italians. Short, hawk-profiled and physically unimpressive, he used his seeming weakness to exploit the power struggles convulsing the nation, convincing jousting regional warlords they could easily control such a seemingly mild-mannered man. By 1916, he himself had been designated Ras and plenipotentiary heir to the throne, although nominal power rested with Empress Zewditu, daughter of Emperor Menelik ll. When she died in 1930, the mantle passed to him and with it a new name: Haile Selassie, or “Power of the Trinity”. Evelyn Waugh’s account of the inauguration in his book Scoop, captures how surreal the Abyssinia of the day — in which squalid poverty jostled alongside gold-brocaded aristocracy — appeared to a sceptical visitor’s eyes. “It is to Alice in Wonderland that my thoughts recur in seeking some historical parallel for life in Addis Ababa. There are others: Israel in the time of Saul, the Scotland of Shakespeare’s Macbeth, the Sublime Porte... But it is in Alice only that one finds the peculiar flavour of galvanised and translated reality, where animals carry watches in their waistcoat pockets, royalty paces the croquet lawn beside the chief

executioner, and litigations ends in a flutter of playing cards.” The incoming Emperor’s agenda, launched even before he assumed supreme power, was reform. He had travelled widely in Europe and knew how far Abyssinia, marooned behind its mountain ranges, lagged the West in terms of development. Slavery was still legal, public hangings had been viewed until recently as entertainment, the life of the average peasant resembled that of a medieval serf. Haile Selassie was determined to set in place the building blocks of modernity: a new constitution, a two-house parliament, a printing press, schools, hospitals, roads,

electricity and telephone lines. The drive for change was rooted more in pragmatism than enthusiasm for changing the status quo. “We need European progress only because we are surrounded by it. That is at once a benefit and a misfortune,” he commented. As historian Bahru Zewde writes: The new emperor cast himself in the role of an anti-feudal crusader. In fact, he was reconstructing feudalism on an advanced basis, enhancing the power of the monarchy and guaranteeing the economic privilege of the nobility.” He would have remained a figure of only sporadic international

Animals carry watches in their waistcoast pockets and the chief executioner paces the croquet lawn

ON A STATE VISIT TO THE UNITED STATES, ALONGSIDE JFK

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interest had it not been for Benito Mussolini. Itching to prove his militaristic credentials and bent on avenging the Battle of Adwa, Italy’s dictator sent troops into Abyssinia in 1935. In the eyes of his subjects, this was not to be Haile Selassie’s finest hour. Abyssinian leaders were meant to stand and fight to the death. When the Emperor realised that his antiquated forces stood no chance against a modern military force which sprayed chemical weapons over warriors on horseback, he took a train to Djibouti and went into exile. But the reaction abroad was different. In a famous speech before the League of Nations in Geneva, as Italian journalists jeered from the gallery, Haile Selassie presciently warned delegates of the dangers of appeasement. International morality itself was at stake, the principle of collective security — intended to prevent a repeat of the First World

War — had been brazenly violated with only minimal consequences for the aggressor. Anti-Fascist campaigners like Sylvia Pankhurst hailed him as a victim of European hypocrisy and Time nominated him as its ‘Man of the Year’. A huge wave of public sympathy accompanied the Emperor as he moved with his family to the English town of Bath. Word of his plight reached as far as Jamaica, where he was hailed as Jah, or the living God; the beleaguered head of a proud African country never until then subjected to the humiliation of colonisation. In 1941, with the Second World War underway, Haile Selassie was back in Ethiopia, reinstated by British forces as they dismantled Africa Orientale, the empire Mussolini had briefly established in the Horn. Ever the realist, he immediately registered the new global configuration, in which exhausted European

SELASSIE WITH FRENCH PRESIDENT GEORGES POMPIDOU, 1973

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powers were being elbowed aside by the United States and the Soviet Union. As the Cold War loomed, he chose his side, offering to become Washington’s trusted ally in return for the US agreeing to complete the task of modernisation the Italians had interrupted. American input in what had now been baptised Ethiopia would stretch from agricultural research to the establishment of Ethiopian Airlines. Crucially, a growing share of US aid would go on training and equipping the standing army the Emperor was determined should replace the roaming guerrilla bands of the past. What Haile Selassie offered in return, in a region always seen as vulnerable to both Communism and Islamic extremism, was steady leadership and stability. When fellow heads of state agreed in 1963 to establish the Organisation of African Unity, precursor of today’s African Union, Haile Selassie ensured its headquarters were built in Addis Ababa. The organisation swiftly passed a resolution recognising the sanctity of Africa’s colonial borders, calming Western fears of pan-Africanism. With the passage of the years, that achievement has come to seem more questionable, with the foundation of modern Eritrea — once claimed as Ethiopia’s 14th province — and the de facto independence of Somaliland, Puntland and a prospective South Sudan raising questions about the validity of the doctrine of ‘uti

possedetis’, as it was called. But in the eyes of Haile Selassie’s Western admirers, a visionary leader had secured dangerously fluid boundaries. As the years passed, such admiration was shared by fewer


and fewer Ethiopians. In 1960, Haile Selassie narrowly survived a coup attempt by his trusted Imperial Guard. It was a sign of what was to come. By the 1970s, the very social class that had benefited most from his reforms was chafing at the country’s backwardness and outraged by the royal court’s

The King of Kings was driven away from his palace for the last time in a Volkswagen Beetle

sangfroid at Ethiopia’s repeated outbreaks of famine. Student demonstrations, teachers’ strikes, peasant protests and military discontent became commonplace. Said to have secreted billions of dollars away in Swiss bank accounts — rumours which were never substantiated — the increasingly distant Emperor now preferred foreign travel to time at home. Critics of Ryszard Kapuscinski accuse the Polish writer of taking sweeping liberties with the facts in his book The Emperor, producing an account of Haile Selassie’s waning years that was more an allegory for despotism in decline than an accurate portrait. But Kapuscinski’s account finds strong echoes in the memoirs of former aides, who recall a manipulative autocrat, adept at playing off one genuflecting minister against another, nourished by briefings from a vast spy network as he grasped

the reins of power tightly to his chest. “Able to recall in detail longforgotten errors, indiscretions, or admissions, Selassie would coldly hang before the protesting dignitary the intricate tapestry of that official’s past life from which the latter could only avert his embarrassed gaze,” recalled John Spencer, an American adviser. In a system of personalised command, everything depends on the mental faculties of the individual. As he entered his 80s, the Emperor’s extraordinary grasp of detail was being diluted by Alzheimer’s and he struggled to remember briefings or recognise visiting heads of state. “I had the sensations, that in leaving the private office, I was leaving the cockpit of a 747 after finding both the captain and the co-pilot unconscious,” said Spencer after a last meeting. “How was it to keep flying?” It did not. Within a day of that encounter, the army mutinied. Demonstrating the same coldblooded instinct for self-preservation he had shown in 1935, the Emperor tried to buy time by agreeing to the arrest of his cabinet ministers, most of whom were

executed. The Derg, a group of army officers, brought his 44-year reign to an end on September 12, 1974, rolling tanks into position around the palace. The leader, before whom ordinary Ethiopians prostrated themselves, was driven away in a Volkswagen Beetle as a claque shouted “Thief!” and “Hang the Emperor!”.

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The following year, his death was announced. It was attributed to natural causes, but as an Addis Ababa courtroom was to hear more than two decades later, Ethiopia’s last emperor was almost certainly strangled while under anaesthetic, a victim of the very forces of modernisation he had unleashed. In many ways, the modern nation state of Ethiopia stands as the man’s most fitting testimony. The giant at the heart of the Horn of Africa still regularly trembles on the brink of famine. The ruling party established by the rebel movement which trounced Haile Selassie’s military executioners in 1991 pays only lip service to democracy, claiming 99.6 per cent in the last elections. But Ethiopia is also a magnet for excited business investors, a trusted strategic ally for the West and acts as a respected spokesman for both Africa and the developing world at international conferences and in global negotiations. Much of the credit for that must go to the charismatic monarch who was determined to pull his country out of the medieval age and push it into the 20th century. “The second, post Second World War generation of Ethiopians was ungrateful,” says Teshome Gabre Mariam Bokan, who once served as the Emperor’s attorney general. “It thought life without Haile Selassie would be a bed of roses. But now people find themselves re-evaluating his legacy, and they deeply regret his passing.”

Michela Wrong is the author of I Didn’t Do it For You: How the World Used And Abused A Small African Nation, by Harper Collins. 60

SELASSIE AT THE UNITED NATIONS IN 1963


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TRAVERSA AFRICA

N WAS YEAR’S EVE RESOLUTIO FRAN SANDHAM’S NEW FO OT ON A TO TR AV ER SE AF RIC A LIT TL E DIF FE RE NT:

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o many adventures, if one is to believe those who write about them, begin with some wonderful moment of realisation, even epiphany. But I’m not totally proud of where the idea of walking across Africa first came to me — at a dreadful New Year’s Eve party in London. Looking forward, the year ahead seemed dreary and totally predictable, so as a new year’s resolution, I decided to change my life by going on a big adventure: I’d walk across

Africa solo by a route that, as far as I knew, nobody had ever taken before. I’d had little experience of such expeditions, and the idea of walking across Africa alone seemed almost synonymous with some exceptionally difficult feat — perfect in its simplicity, with no backup team or camera crew, no cheering crowds, and no strings attached. Certainly there would be risks, hardships and dangers, but surely there would be adventure and freedom, too.

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After making the decision to go, unfortunately it wasn’t a case of jumping on the next flight to Africa, as I was flat broke at the time. So it took more than a year of the most undignified scrimping and saving to scrape together enough money to get to Africa. But in all that year I never lost the idea of this adventure — I saw Africa as the light at the end of the tunnel, the complete opposite of the life I’d been leading in London. I’ve never been so certain about anything before or since. So why Africa? I’d been fascinated by the so-called ‘Dark Continent’ since I was a small child, when I read a Tarzan comic as a six-yearold in hospital. From that moment,

Africa had always seemed to me the most exciting, adventurous place in the world. As I grew up I realised that Tarzan was a load of rubbish, and Africa, in reality, was nothing like anything portrayed in a comic. Instead, I became fascinated by the Victorian explorers, men like Dr David Livingstone and Henry Morton Stanley, both of whom crossed Africa from coast to coast. In general, the Victorian explorers were a questionable bunch — but I was never so much interested in them from the perspective of colonial history. Instead, I was intrigued by them as highly unusual individuals travelling in what, for them, was an alien environment — why did they put

themselves through all the dangers and hardships they faced, what was driving them to risk their lives and health in this way? I started my own journey on Namibia’s Skeleton Coast, which sounded like the most exotic place in the world. Not, admittedly, the easiest place from which to start a walk across Africa — there’s no water and very few people there, and the surface temperature of the sand can reach 75°C at midday. The first Europeans to arrive here, Portuguese explorers in the 15th century, called it As Areias do Inferno (‘The Sands of Hell’). But even with a name like the ‘Skeleton Coast’, I simply had to start the journey from there.

FRAN’S ROUTE TOOK HIM TO BOTH COASTS

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TRAVERSA AFRICA

Similarly, Zanzibar was somewhere I’d wanted to visit for many years, with all its rich history, spices and Arab legends. Many of the great explorers started, or ended, their safaris there, and in the time of the slave trade this was where slaves bound east would leave Africa forever. Bagamoyo (the nearest mainland town to Zanzibar) in Swahili means ‘Lay down your heart’. I thought this would a poignant place to end the journey — if I ever got that far. For journeys like this it’s important to do some serious fitness training before setting out, but in fact I didn’t do any. I’d spent the last year working in bookshops in London, humping big heavy boxes around all day, so although I didn’t do any specific training, I arrived in Africa the fittest I’d ever been. I began the journey weighing around 79kg, and lost nearly 25kg on the journey, eventually reaching the east coast so thin that my trousers literally kept falling down. One of the biggest problems of the journey was always the weight I was carrying. I’ve always been hopeless at travelling light, and I arrived in Africa carrying just about everything short of the kitchen sink, my rucksack weighing nearly 45kg. Admittedly a lot of this weight was water — this was to prove thirsty work, and I’d often get through 15 pints a day, especially in the desert. Walking across a continent will always involve some degree of hardship. So many travel writers and TV presenters talk endlessly about the trials and tribulations of their journeys, but in Africa I was always aware that I was where I wanted to be, doing what I wanted to do. After all, no one was forcing me to do this, and I could have 66

quit any time I wanted. And you can’t walk across a continent with a heavy pack without getting your share of blisters. One hardship I didn’t anticipate was the cold — it’s easy to imagine everywhere in Africa as being really hot all the time, which of course it isn’t. After some bitterly cold nights in the desert, further inland across Namibia it was wintertime, sometimes with frost on the grass in the early mornings. The one thing I hadn’t thought of packing was a pair of woolly mittens. Hardships aside, journeys like this will always bring their share of dangers. But in many people’s minds the dangers of travelling in Africa are somewhat exaggerated. Most seemed worried about snakes (although mosquitoes were the bigger danger). I saw a lot of snakes, but in many ways I rather grew to like them. In general, snakes are beautiful, graceful and timid creatures that want to get out of a human’s way as quickly as possible.

certainly be robbed, or worse. Yet my overwhelming impression from the local people right across Africa was one of hospitality and kindness, people wanting to help me rather than rob me or cut my throat. Travelling in this way, of course, the danger that has all the glamour is that of lions. One of the few occasions where lions really did cause me sleepless nights was in northeast Namibia; I walked across a 120-mile stretch of game reserve where a number of people had recently been eaten by lions. Unfortunately I got sick halfway from drinking bad water and had to rest up at the exact place where the lion attacks had taken place. At night, with the sound of lions nearby, the walls of my tent had never seemed so thin and flimsy before, and I was relieved to reach the far side of the reserve in one piece. A much more real danger on this kind of African journey — admittedly without the prestige of snakes,

I bought a donkey to carry my gear across the Namib Desert, but the journey quickly spiralled into a fiasco. In two and a half months together we managed to cover less than one mile

That said, there were occasional runins. Once I nearly trod on a puff adder, which kill more people than any other snake in Africa – unlike other snakes they’re so fat and lazy they don’t bother getting out of your way. On this kind of journey it’s well worth heeding local warnings. In Zambia I received constant warnings about bandits, people insisting that if I travelled on foot and alone I would

bandits and lions — is malaria, which kills more than a million Africans every year. I thought if I caught malaria it would be one of the few things that would stop me in my tracks; but I was comparatively lucky, and didn’t catch it until the day after I finished the walk. Another real danger was drunk drivers, who kill more people in Africa than all the snakes and lions


put together. They tend to be more of a problem at weekends, especially towards the end of a month – guys get their wage packets, go out drinking then get behind the wheel of a vehicle and all hell breaks loose. But from one side of Africa to the other I had only one single experience of ‘road rage’. This was in Tanzania, only about a week before the end of the journey, I’d stopped beside a road and was bending over my rucksack, looking for my notebook. A bus hurtled past at top speed without stopping, and as it passed me a guy leaned out of the door with a stick and whacked my backside. I will never forget that man’s laugh as the bus sped away. This sort of thing, of course, was far from typical African behaviour, where courtesy and consideration was the norm. All the hardships, dangers and difficulties were offset by the sheer level of hospitality I experienced. I’d thought before the journey that a lot of Africans would be friendly and welcoming towards a Westerner travelling in this way; but the extent to which they were was quite mind-blowing. The men imagined I was some kind of tough guy, whereas the women wanted to mother me when they saw how thin I was getting. Time and time again it struck me that the people with the least to give are often the most willing to give it. The hospitality from locals was even more surprising considering my appearance was very odd — a white guy with a huge rucksack, with trekking poles and bandanna wrapped around my head like one of the pirates of the Caribbean. And towards the end of the journey, when the rainy season set in, over my rucksack I had a black

WALKING THROUGH A TROPICAL STORM IN MALAWI (ABOVE) AND FRIENDLY NAMIBIAN LOCALS (BELOW)

nylon rain cover which, in uncertain light, made me look as if I was wearing a cape like Batman looming out of the mist. But the occasions where local people literally ran off in terror at my appearance were very rare. In Malawi, the third country I crossed, the kids in the villages often mistook me for a ninja. Personally, I thought I looked more like a tramp than a ninja, but there are few TVs in rural Malawi and so their mistake was understandable.

The children in African villages proved possibly the most enduring memory of the whole journey. From one side of the continent to the other, I was treated to almost constant attention, with kids screeching at me and following me from village to village. But so often, at the end of a typical day, having walked 25 or 30 miles with a heavy pack and feeling exhausted and far from sociable, the kids were so funny, cheeky, and charming that they wiped the snarl 67


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off my face. Anyone who can remain unsmiling in the face of a huge swarm of children is made of sterner stuff than me. There was only occasion on the where I almost gave up. Setting off inland from the Skeleton Coast, I got halfway across the Namib Desert and decided that carrying a 45kg pack in rocketing temperatures was going to kill me. My solution proved a disaster. I bought a donkey to carry my gear, and the entire journey then spiralled into a fiasco: in two and a half months with the donkey we covered less than one mile together. The donkey’s name was ‘Tsondab’, which in the local Nama language translates as ‘Where You Get Stuck’, and no donkey was ever more aptly named. Since the donkey was clearly not up to the job, I upgraded to a mule. Unfortunately, the mule I acquired was completely untamed – on the very first day she kicked a farmer’s pickup truck to pieces. After nearly three months of this foolishness I set off again, minus the pack animals, a sadder and wiser man, but the relief was phenomenal. I’d been trying to make my life easier, to bend the rules without actually cheating, but clearly there could be no shortcuts on this journey across Africa. One of the real highlights had to be Victoria Falls, on the border of Zambia and Zimbabwe. The sheer size and spectacle of the falls – one of the seven natural wonders of the world, over a mile wide and twice the size of Niagara – was such that it didn’t bother me that hordes of Western visitors were bungee jumping off a bridge and doing all these adrenaline sports in which I 68

had no interest. Its local name, Mosioa-Tunya, translates as ‘The Smoke That Thunders’ – so named because of the gigantic pillar of mist rising above the falls, and they’re clearly audible from miles away. Dr Livingstone, wrote famously: ‘Scenes so lovely must have been gazed upon by angels in their flight.’ As weeks on the road turned into months, the rhythm of the journey itself gradually took over, sometimes to an almost spiritual extent. I’m not a religious man, but I could understand for the first time how the idea of a pilgrimage – a long and difficult linear journey with a clear goal in mind – has played such a significant role in many faiths. While it’s difficult to choose the most memorable moment from the entire journey, I’d have to pick the very first evening, on the desolate Skeleton Coast with no one for miles around. I remember looking out into

the Atlantic while the cold Benguela current swept inland like molten silver – at that point the sense of sheer freedom and being on the eve of a big adventure was almost intoxicating. But the end of journey took me by surprise. For many travellers and adventurers it seems almost mandatory to end a long difficult journey in a mood of euphoria, running along the beach cheering and hollering. I felt very differently – the end was much more private and reflective, almost melancholic. Despite all the hardships, I didn’t want the journey to end, and I knew life wouldn’t be as simple back in England. One thing you can say about walking 25 or 30 miles a day with a heavy pack: you can sleep very soundly at night, and I knew I’d never be able to sleep so soundly back in England. After walking across Africa, life back at home would never feel quite the same again.

Fran Sandham is the author of Traversa: A Solo Walk Across Africa, which is published by Duckworth.You can read more at www.traversa.co.uk

EXHAUSTED AFTER CROSSING THE WEST CAPRIVI RESERVE


CHINA RISING

ALL ACROSS AFRICA, CHINA IS DIGGING MINES, LAYING ROADS AND BUILDING AIRPORTS. WILL THIS TRANSFORM OR TRAUMATISE A STAR�CROSSED CONTINENT? BY HOWARD. W FRENCH 70


PHOTO BY LUIS DE LAS ALAS

TWO FARMERS, ONE SUDANESE AND ONE CHINESE, POSE ON A CHINESEOWNED FARM IN SUDAN


THE NEW EMPIRE

T

he porter helped me with my bags as I made my way, sweating, into the train station in Dar es Salaam. I was about to embark on one of the world’s great train rides, a journey from this muggy Indian Ocean port city, the commercial capital of Tanzania, to the edge of the Zambian Copper Belt, deep in the heart of southern Africa. The railroad — known as the Tazara line — was built by China in the early 1970s, at a cost of nearly $500 million, an extraordinary expenditure in the thick of the Cultural Revolution, and a symbol of Beijing’s determination to hold its own with Washington and Moscow in an era when Cold War competition over Africa raged fierce. At the time of its construction, it was the third-largest infrastructure project ever undertaken in Africa, after the Aswan Dam in Egypt and the Volta Dam in Ghana. Today the Tazara is a talisman of faded hopes and failed economic schemes, an old and unreliable railway with too few working locomotives. Only briefly a thriving commercial artery, it has been diminished by its own decay and by the roads and air routes that have sprung up around it. Maintenance costs have saddled Tanzania and Zambia with debts reportedly as high as $700 million, and the line now has only about 300 of the 2,000 wagons it needs to function normally. Yet the railway traces a path through a region where hopes have risen again, rekindled by a new sort of development, also driven by China — and on an unprecedented scale. All across the continent, Chinese 72

companies are signing deals that dwarf the old railroad project. The most heavily reported involve oil production; since the turn of the millennium, Chinese companies have muscled in on lucrative oil markets in Angola, Nigeria, Algeria, and Sudan. But oil is neither the largest nor the fastest-growing part of the story. Chinese firms are striking giant mining deals in places like Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo, and building what is being touted as the world’s largest iron mine in Gabon. They are prospecting for land on which to build huge agribusinesses. And to get these minerals and crops to market, they are building major new ports and thousands of miles of highway. In most of Africa’s capital cities and commercial centres, it’s hard to miss China’s new presence and influence. In Dar, one morning before my train trip, I made my way to the roof of my hotel for a bird’s-eye view of the city below. A British construction foreman, there to oversee the hotel’s expansion, pointed out the V-shaped port that the British navy had seized after a brief battle with the Germans early in the First World War. From there, the British-built portion of the city extended primly inland, along a handful of long avenues. For the most part, downtown Dar was built long ago, and its low-slung concrete buildings, long exposed to the moisture of the tropics, have taken on a musty shade of gray. “Do you see all the tall buildings coming up over there?” the foreman asked, a hint of envy in his voice as his arm described an arc along the waterfront that shimmered in the distance. “That’s the new Dar

es Salaam, and most of it is Chinese-built.” I counted nearly a dozen large cranes looming over construction sites along the beachfront Msasani Peninsula, a sprawl of resorts and restaurants catering mostly to Western tourists. In the foreground, to the northwest, sits Kariakoo, a crowded slum where Chinese merchants flog refrigerators, air conditioners, mobile phones, and other cheap gadgets from narrow storefronts. To the south lies Tanzania’s new, state-ofthe-art, 60,000-seat national sports stadium, funded by China and opened in February 2009 by President Hu Jintao. “Statistics are hard to come by, but China is probably the biggest single investor in Africa,” says Martyn Davies, the director of the China Africa Network at the University of Pretoria. “They are the biggest builders of infrastructure. They are the biggest lenders to Africa, and China-Africa trade has just pushed past $100 billion annually.” Davies calls the Chinese boom “a phenomenal success story for Africa,” and sees it continuing indefinitely. “Africa is the source of at least onethird of the world’s commodities”— commodities China will need, as its manufacturing economy continues to grow — “and once you’ve understood that, you understand China’s determination to build roads, ports, and railroads all over Africa.” Davies is not alone in his enthusiasm. “No country has made as big an impact on the political, economic and social fabric of Africa as China has since the turn of the millennium”, writes Dambisa Moyo,


a London-based economist, in her influential book, Dead Aid: Why Aid Is Not Working And How There Is A Better Way For Africa. Moyo, a 40-year-old Zambian who has worked as an investment banker for Goldman Sachs, believes that foreign aid has crippled and corrupted Africa — and that China offers a way out of the mess the West has made. “Between 1970 and 1998,” she writes, “when aid flows to Africa were at their peak, poverty in Africa rose from 11 per cent to a staggering 66 per cent.” Subsidised lending, she says, encourages African governments to make sloppy, wasteful decisions. It breeds corruption, by allowing politicians to siphon off poorly monitored funds. And it forestalls national development, which she says begins with the building of a taxation system and the attraction of foreign commercial capital. In Moyo’s view, even the West’s “obsession with democracy” has been harmful. In poor countries, she writes, “democratic regimes find it difficult to push through economically beneficial legislation amid rival parties and jockeying interests.” Sustainable democracy, she feels, is possible only after a strong middle class has emerged. In its recent approach to Africa, China could not be more different from the West. It has focused on commercially justified investment, rather than aid. It has declined to tell African governments how they should run their countries. And it has moved quickly, especially in comparison to many Western aid establishments. Even taking the recent global downturn into account, this has

been a hopeful time for a historically downtrodden continent. Per capita income for sub-Saharan Africa nearly doubled between 1997 and 2008, driven up by a boom in commodities, a decrease in the prevalence of war, and by improvements in governance. And while the downturn has brought commodity prices low for the time being, there is a growing sense that the world’s poorest continent has become a likely stage for globalisation’s next act. To many, China — cash-rich, resource-hungry, and unfickle in its ardor — now seems the most likely agent for this change. But of course, Africa has had hopeful moments before, notably in the early 1960s, at the start of the independence era, when many governments opted for large, stateowned economic schemes that quickly floundered, and again in the 1970s, another era of booming commodity prices, when rampant corruption, heavy debt, and armed conflict doomed any hopes of economic take-off.

latest in a series of colonial powers in Africa, destined, like the others, to leave its own legacy of bitterness and disappointment? I was heading south on the Tazara — through the past and into the future, to the sites of some of China’s most ambitious efforts on the continent — to try to get some early sense of how the whole grand project was proceeding. Chinese farmers have been trickling into Africa for years, buying small plots and working them using Chinese techniques. But China began to prioritise large-scale agricultural investment in Africa around the time of the lavish 2006 China-Africa summit in Beijing, a milestone in China’s courtship of the continent. At the time, China promised to establish 10 agricultural demonstration centres promoting Chinese farming methods, and to send experts far and wide. The Economic Observer, an independent Chinese newspaper, has reported that China, “faced with pressure on food security,” was “planning to rent and buy land abroad to expand domestic food supply.” Beijing had set aside $5

Africa is the source of one third of the world’s commodities, which China will need as its economy continues to grow. That is why it is building roads, ports and railroads all over Africa

China’s burgeoning partnership with Africa raises several momentous questions: Is a hands-off approach to governmental affairs the right one? Can Chinese money and ambition succeed where Western engagement has failed? Or will China become the

billion for agricultural projects in Africa in 2008 alone. Officials in Chongqing province— home to roughly 12 million farmers whose land either has already been lost in the flooding that accompanied the construction of the Three Gorges 73


THE NEW EMPIRE

Dam — have publicly encouraged mass emigration to Africa. In September 2007, Li Ruogu, the head of China’s Export-Import Bank, told the South China Morning Post, “In Africa there is plenty of land but food production is unsatisfactory… Chongqing’s labour exports have just started, but they will take off once we convince the farmers to become landlords abroad.” “China’s interest in agricultural investment — in land — is a hot-button issue,” wrote Deborah Bräutigam, a professor at American University and a leading expert on China’s economic relations with Africa, in a recent paper. “For many, land is at the heart of a nation’s identity, and it is especially easy to raise emotions about outsiders when land is involved.” Congo is the stage for China’s grandest experiment — and biggest bet — on the continent. I was heading to Lubumbashi, a Congolese mining city of 1.2 million people, where billions of dollars of Chinese investment are, for good or ill, just beginning to be felt. One of the largest countries in Africa, the Democratic Republic of Congo is also perhaps the most star-crossed. It gained independence from Belgium in 1960 and promptly became the site of Africa’s first coup

d’état. It then suffered for 32 years under the dominion of the Mobutu Sese Seko, Africa’s most corrupt despot. Over the past 10 years, it’s been the scene of the world’s deadliest conflict since the Second World War. In spring 2008, Congo’s government unveiled a package of Chinese investments totaling $9.3 billion, a figure later reduced to $6 billion — still roughly half of Congo’s 74

GDP. China will build massive new copper and cobalt mines; 1,800 miles of railways; 2,000 miles of roads; hundreds of clinics, hospitals, and schools; and two new universities. Speaking before the parliament, Pierre Lumbi, the country’s infrastructure minister, compared the package to the Marshall Plan, and

Many of the Chinese who came to the Congo had no experience. It was like children running around

called it “the foundation on which our economy is going to be built”. In exchange, China will get almost 11 million tonnes of copper and 620,000 tonnes of cobalt, which it will extract over the next 25 years — a “resource for infrastructure” swap that China first pioneered, on a smaller scale, in Angola in 2004. Congo will choose from a menu of Chinese construction companies which typically begin (and end) their work quickly, dispatching hundreds or thousands of workers to do the job. Much of the Chinese mining activity will centre around Lubumbashi, founded by Belgium in 1910 and built up with forced labour in the 1930s. Well before the new orefor-development deal was signed, the city and its surroundings had become a sort of new Promised Land for Chinese fortune seekers. As copper prices rose fourfold between August 2003 and August 2008, thousands of migrants descended on

the region. They were drawn by the mineral riches and the ease of doing business here. Congolese officials were reputedly easy to bribe. Visas could be cheaply bought, and so could mining permits. I made my way to a vast, Chinesedominated industrial zone at the city’s northern edge, where coppersmelting operations sat behind high walls. I met Li Yan, a 30-ish man who manages a medium-size coppermining company. He shook his head in disgust as he spoke to me about the copper rush. “There’s a belief among Chinese people that they can realise anything,” he told me. “But the people who came here had no experience and no preparation. It was like children running around.” Many Chinese fortune seekers had hired African work gangs to dig for copper, sometimes even in Lubumbashi’s red-clay streets. “They were profiteers and speculators,” said one local businessman. “Congo got nothing from them.” Most of them dug “no more than 20 feet deep, which requires no investment at all.” The government belatedly tried to reassert control, requiring all those who mined copper to smelt it as well, and to make more-substantial investments in equipment, In response, small operators scrambled to build small, inefficient furnaces. In 2008, as prices fell from $9,000 a tonne to a low of $3,500, the makeshift smelters closed down and the Chinese owners fled, leaving their Congolese workers unpaid and the landscape ruined. Beijing’s giant construction package, of course, is on an entirely different scale. But the conditions under which the deal was signed


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A CHINESE FARMER AND ONE OF HIS WORKERS AT A WAREHOUSE IN CONGO

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were in many ways similar to those under which many Chinese fortune seekers had obtained their permits. Negotiations, conducted in secret, were entrusted to one of President Joseph Kabila’s close personal confidants, a man without a government portfolio. Since then, questions about whose interests are being served by the deal — those of everyday Congolese, or merely those of Kabila’s cronies — have multiplied. There was also the question of where the new roads would actually go. Word on the street has it that the first 275-mile section in the long, arching route chosen for the gigantic highway project will lead from Lubumbashi to Pweto, a onegas-station town of 20,000 people that has no industry. Pweto is the hometown of Augustin Katumba Mwanke, the man who negotiated the deal, and he has reportedly built a palatial residence there; with the highway in place, he’ll be able to get to it from Lubumbashi in a few hours rather than two days. A prominent Congolese lawyer who is part of a loose citizens’ network that is investigating the Chinese package said the deal will leave Congo in the same position it was in after decades of exploitation by Belgium. “We could have said, ‘You can have our copper, but we want some of it transformed here.’ We’ve negotiated for billions of dollars without determining if those investments are productive, without thinking about the creation of a metallurgy industry. We have cheap labour and abundant electricity, so refining would make economic sense. But we negotiated without experts and without analysis.”

Would the huge building programme produce dividends? He shook his head grimly. “Six billion dollars in infrastructure is not development. Schools with desks are not going to educate our population. A road is not going to develop this country… Schools require a school system, and they need teachers. In this climate, roads last only 10 years without maintenance, and the Congo has no capacity in this regard.” “The idea that big influxes of wealth will help Africa has never really panned out,” Patrick Keenan, an Africa specialist at the University of Illinois, told me. “When the path to wealth goes

A road is not going to develop the Congo. Roads only last 10 years without maintenance in this climate

through the presidential palace, there are enormous incentives to obtain power and to hold on to it. This wealth incites politicians to create wasteful projects, and relieves them of the need to make difficult choices, like broadening the tax base.” Indeed, the same objections raised by the Zambian aid critic Dambisa Moyo — that foreign aid breeds corrupt, lazy, and ineffective government — can be applied toward any foreign investments that focus on mineral extraction, especially ones that deliver cash and services directly to governments with no conditions attached. All things considered, resource-based or infrastructuredriven development — even

development as big as the Chinese wave — appear unlikely to lead to a meaningful African renaissance. Africans’ attitudes toward China’s recent initiatives on their continent are riddled with ambivalence. Many Africans bridle at Western criticism of China. The West, they say, has long patronised their continent, and since the end of the Cold War, has subjected it to outright neglect. And all of that is true. But the question remains: How does their continent overcome a pattern of extractive foreign engagement — beginning with its first contact with Europe, when gold or slaves were acquired in exchange for cloth and trinkets — that is still discernible today? This question, which one hears almost everywhere, was addressed most powerfully by the Congolese lawyer I met in Lubumbashi. He received me in his office in his home, where he bathes in water collected from an old satellite dish. I asked him if the arrival of the Chinese was a new and great opportunity for the continent, as some have said. “The problem is not who is the latest buyer of our commodities,” he replied. “The problem is to determine what is Africa’s place in the future of the global economy. China is taking the place of the West: they take our raw materials and they sell finished goods to the world. What Africans are getting in exchange, whether it is roads or schools or finished goods, doesn’t really matter. “We remain under the same old schema: our cobalt goes off to China in the form of dusty ore and returns here in the form of expensive batteries.” 77


SCAMORAMA

Earthquake $25,000,000

Dead Dictator $12,000,000

Dying Widow $6,000,000

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LAST EXIT TO LAGOS THE 419 SCAM IS A VERY NIGERIAN CON, TARGETING MILLIONS EVERY DAY. SO WHY NIGERIA? AND HOW ARE THE SCAMMERS BEING BEATEN AT THEIR OWN GAME? BY EVE EDELSON

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SCAMORAMA

T

hey have existed as long as email itself, and there is almost certainly no one reading this who has not received an message with some variation on the following:

Good Day, I am the manager of a bank in Monrovia. I wish to know if we can work together with one spirit. I would like you to stand as the beneficiary to my $90,000,000 with my bank. He died without next of kin… That is a Dead Bank Customer email, more generically a ‘419’ scam. ‘419’ is advance fee fraud, in which the victim pays up front for something non-existent. It’s named after a section of the criminal code of Nigeria, the scam’s current epicentre, though by no means its origin or sole source. Dead Bank Customers seldom die a natural death. Any tragedy will do — pipeline explosions in the Niger Delta, bombings in London, September 11th — a Japan tsunami version is already in circulation. There are many other 419 ‘formats’ — dictator’s widow down to her last $50 million trying to escape abroad, refugee trying to reclaim inheritance, dying magnate wanting to endow orphanages... So what’s the trick? Your help is needed to move a large sum of money. [There will be a handsome commission.] Then expenses arise — ‘legal fees’, ‘demurrage’ charges on imaginary treasure. You must handle these expenses, for which you will be reimbursed. Except you won’t. There is no money to move, except yours. A money order will do nicely. That is the scam. 80

Or perhaps you are selling your car. The scammer will send a bogus cheque for too high an amount, then press you to send back a money order for the difference before your bank spots the fake. 419ers prepay hotel reservations with bogus cheques, then cancel and request a refund. They use online services such as Craigslist or Gumtree to rent out property that isn’t theirs. They happily accept escrow payments from hopeful bidders on non-existent contracts. All the same scam. Victims have borrowed (sometimes stolen) from family, their company or their church to pay the “fees”. Many have been ruined. Some victims have been kidnapped, and some have even been murdered.

Some victims are rich, others are poor and desperate and don’t realise you can’t win a lottery you did not enter

It is claimed that victims are greedy and deserve what they get. While some formats are obvious appeals to larceny, others play on a victim’s naiveté, chivalry, or romantic hopes. Some victims are rich; others are financially desperate and unsophisticated and don’t realise that you can’t win a lottery you didn’t enter, or that the job of ‘collecting payments’ is money laundering. All share an apparent unwillingness to question why the orphan in a refugee camp has

access to the internet, the Prince can’t spell his name the same way twice or the banker copies a ‘secret’ email to hundreds of people. It’s hard to parse out the losses from 419. The individually tailored fraud that has captured popular attention feeds into a much larger portfolio of wire, insurance, postal, visa and credit card fraud, identity theft, fencing of stolen goods and money laundering, much of it carried out by Nigerians abroad. Cumulatively, there have been many thousands of victims, with losses – probably underreported – in the billions of dollars. The loot is banked abroad, or goes into real estate, luxury items, industrial equipment, or drug dealing. This scam has damaged Nigeria’s reputation and discouraged investment. Many foreign vendors will not ship goods there or accept credit. Corruption exists everywhere. Why focus on 419ers? First, and most simply, they write in English – sometimes shaky, usually florid – so we notice them. You can be scammed in other languages, if you prefer. Francophone West Africa produces similar stuff, known under the umbrella term ‘feymania’. They send an awful lot of mails. The scope of 419 exceeds anything of which 19th century con artists could have dreamed. Embracing technology, virtual companies, globalisation, repurposed content – 419ers took the “new economy” pep talk and ran with it, making 419 so pervasive as to inspire parodies. 419 looks a lot like satire. The scammers impersonate Nigerian senators; widows of Abacha, Savimbi,


SCAMORAMA

Marcos, Milosevic, Arafat, Rafik Hariri; sons of executed activist Ken Saro Wiwa; political opponents of Mugabe; aides to Khodorkovsky; Iraqi oil ministers; the head of the FBI; Ban Ki Moon; the Sultan of Brunei; Nuhu Ribadu, former head of the Nigerian Economic and Financial Crimes Commission; and now the sons of Mubarak. 419 is theatre. Americans running the casino chip trick, Russian ‘brides’, Mexicans promising green cards, Indian charity appeals – none show the flair of Nigerian 419ers. They engage, sometimes clumsily but enthusiastically, with other cultures to close a deal, often making first contact in languages they don’t understand – Japanese, Magyar. This is not automated phishing. 419ers are a cast waiting to exercise theatrical skills on the victim (who they refer to as mugu, or fool). Pranksters, for whom the contempt is mutual, write back just to wind them up. This is the sport of ‘scam-baiting’. Son of Abacha, meet Harry Potter, Lord Imhotep, Joseph Stalin. And many 419ers will go on corresponding, sometimes for years. According to Ribadu, up to 100,000 Nigerians are involved in 419. A former police official felt the number is “less than one per cent of Nigerians,” which would mean more than one million people. There is no one person in charge. 419ers range from hobbyists in cyber cafés, to gangs with their own facilities, many operating abroad; in Dubai, London, Mumbai, Amsterdam. In 2005, Spanish police busted a 300member Nigerian-run gang pulling in $120 million yearly. Scammers get email addresses from directories, extractor 82

programs, and classified ads. A post on a bulletin board such as “Mugu guyman keep off” means a scammer has staked out the board and warned other scammers away. ‘Guymen’ or ‘catchers’ send out boilerplate emails in bulk. If a prospect responds, a team assembles. Often the catcher is in Nigeria and the deal-closer is abroad. Specialists may be brought in to mock up IDs or play other parts in the drama. If face-to-face contact is necessary, the victim may be shown ‘defaced’ (fake) currency, which needs cleaning with surprisingly expensive chemicals. This is the old ‘wash-wash’, known in other countries as ‘black money’. The victim pays, is hustled off, and waits for the fortune, which never appears.

The Nigerian scam took off in the 1980s as the oil market tanked and poverty rose

A SCAMMER GETS SCAMMED

419 is often compared to the ‘Spanish prisoner’, a scam supposedly dating back to the Renaissance. It’s been described alternately as targeting the British – an appeal to help someone imprisoned in Spain, or vice-versa, targeting Spaniards. In the 1920s it was claiming victims in the USA, with the ‘prisoner’ now being held in Cuba. It’s been claimed the scam arrived in Nigeria via the British, but certain 419 formats bear a striking resemblance to the lettre de Jérusalem of post-revolutionary France – an appeal from the ‘servant’ of a dead aristocrat for help to retrieve his master’s treasure. [Francophone adaptations of this letter are still coming out of Ivory Coast and elsewhere, but some are obvious machine translations from English – with certain words simply left un-translated. There is linguistic cross-pollination at work.] The Nigerian incarnation took off internationally in the 1980s, as the oil market tanked, the naira was devalued, and the local populace and nearby countries became overfished. Nigerians themselves are such frequent targets of fraud that 419 is slang for any sort of con. Postal mail (with counterfeit stamps), fax, and then email gave 419ers an ever-cheaper way to reach the world. Then scammers began to set up increasingly sophisticated copies of bank websites. These are often meant merely to enhance the illusion around the scam, although any information thus gleaned can be exploited for identity theft. In 2002, South African police arrested 22 Nigerians for running


such sites. Victims were shown ‘balances’ of the rewards soon to be theirs, and paid ‘processing fees’. The loot was banked in Taiwan and Monaco. All this is illegal in Nigeria, and the government issues warnings about it. Nigeria’s Economic and Financial Crimes Commission (EFCC) has convicted some bigtime 419ers, and recovered billions of dollars in assets. Generally, however, the EFCC has gone after fraud in government, pursuing high-level politicians and bureaucrats for embezzlement. The EFCC has run into heavy resistance, and been accused of choosing targets politically, but its achievements are significant, given the prevailing atmosphere of politically sanctioned violence. Nuhu Ribadu, former EFCC head, spent some time in exile after being shot at. He has since returned to Nigeria to run for president in the April 2011 elections. 419 must be seen against a background of pervasive corruption, which has been documented by a vigorous and eloquent Nigerian press and groups such as Human Rights Watch. Officials have treated the treasury as a personal kitty, and government employment as a nepotistic gravy train. At his death in 1998, President Abacha’s wealth was estimated at $10 billion. Meanwhile, there is widespread poverty, crumbling infrastructure, commonplace police brutality, and huge debt in an oil-producing country that should be rich. Such a situation would corrode civic feeling anywhere, and Nigerians often describe their

SCAM BAITERS HAVE TURNED THE TABLES ON THE SCAMMERS, IN THIS CASE MAKING HIM HOLD UP A NONSENSICAL SLOGAN

nation as a colonial construct. It is only 40 years since a civil war claimed millions of lives. So a 419 letter looks like a bitter joke. Abacha got his, and the scammers want theirs. Internationally, 419ers are frequently prosecuted for an array of crimes, in ongoing ‘small’ cases, and following a number of mass arrests. In one of the more

spectacular takedowns, police arrested 52 419ers in a boiler room in Amsterdam in 2005. Dutch police work seems to have prompted many 419ers to relocate to the Costa del Sol. That year, Go Daddy, a domain name registrar, briefly blocked traffic from Nigeria. However, police usually don’t pursue these cases unless the loss is large, and even then, only if the 83


SCAMORAMA

scammer is in-country or can be got at through international cooperation, which is not always forthcoming. 419ers rationalise their deeds depending on who you are (or who they think you are). Tell your fellow whites that the reparation due to Africa for 300 years of rape and violation will be paid in full either by hook or by crook. This is the ideology of the scammers. Africans simply receive insults, like this one sent to a Kenyan who politely declined to be scammed: Mugu, You should thank your God that you latter discovered, if not maybe now your small earned salary would have been in my bank account…

Meanwhile, pranksters across the world have been writing back out

of sheer mischief, at least since the dawn of email. Early practitioners sporting such ‘noms de scam’ as J Cosmo Newbery and Rich Dot Com put their correspondence on web sites, inspiring many others to do the same. A scambaiter invents or borrows a persona, gets that persona an email account, answers a scammer, and drags the exchange out as long as possible. My own website, Scamorama, is an ongoing compilation of others’ scambaits, treated as a literary genre. Online forums have sprung up to share techniques and scammer email addresses. The largest such community is 419eater.com, with 20,000 members vying to collect trophies for the Hall Of Shame gallery. Scammers have been talked into waiting in front of web cams for

Some people go further, breaking into scammers’ email accounts and warning off everyone in the inbox. Artists Against 419 have organised flash mobs to shut down fake bank web sites by exhausting their bandwidth. However, 419s show no sign of slowing, especially with the growth in mobile, e-payments and overall internet use. Formats merely evolve to suit current events: “My name is Mr.Islam El-sayed LL.B, Legal Consultant to Embattled Libyan President Gaddafi... There is this Security Vault I assisted the Gadaffi family to Deposit fund with... I need your assistance to transfer this funds.” Stay safe out there.

mugus who never come, swearing oaths, joining imaginary cults.

and is the author of Scamorama: Turning the

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Eve Edelson runs the Scamorama.com website Tables on Email Scammers


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THE SHADOW OF THE SUN

ILLUSTRATION: TIA SEIFERT

THE ROAD TO KUMASI BY RYSZARD KAPUSCINSKI

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THE SHADOW OF THE SUN

W

hat does a bus station in Accra most resesmble? The caravan of a huge circus that has come to a brief stop. It is colourful, and there is music. The buses are more like circus wagons than the luxurious vehicles that roll along the highways of Europe and North America. A bus in Africa has a wooden body, its roof resting on four posts. Because there are open walls, a pleasant breeze cools the ride. In this climate, the value of a breeze is never to be taken for granted. In the Sahara, the palaces of rulers have the most ingenious constructions — full of chinks, crannies, winding passageways, and corridors so conceived and constructed as to maximise crossventilation. In the afternoon heat, the ruler reclines on a mat optimally positioned to catch this refreshing current, which he breathes with delight. A breeze is a financially measureable commodity: the most

expensive houses are built where the breeze is best. Still air has no value; it is only to move, however, and then immediately acquires a price. The buses are brightly ornamented, colourfully painted. On the cabs and along the sides, crocodiles bare their sharp teeth, snakes stretch ready to attack, and flocks of peacocks frolic in trees, while antelope race through the savannah pursued by a lion. Birds are everywhere, as well as garlands, bouquets of flowers. It’s kitsch, but full of imagination and life. The inscriptions are the most important of all. The words, adorned with flowers, are large and legible from afar, meant to offer important encouragements or warnings. They have to do with God, mankind, guilt, taboos. The spiritual world of the ‘Africa’ (if one may use the term despite its gross simplification) is rich and complex, and his inner life is permeated by a profound religiosity. He believes in the coexistence of three different, yet related worlds. The first is the one that surrounds us, the palpable and visible reality

of people composed of living people, animals, and plants, as well as inanimate objects: stones, water, air. The second is the world of the ancestors, those who died before us, but who died, as it were, not completely, not finally, not absolutely. Indeed, in a metaphysical sense, they continue to exist, and are even capable of participating in our life, of influencing it, shaping it. That is why maintaining good relations with one’s ancestors is a precondition of a successful life, and sometimes even life itself. The third world is the rich kingdom of spirits — spirits that exist independently, yet at the same time are present in every being, in every object, in everything and everywhere. We only have to show up at the square, which teems with dozens of buses, before a group of shouting children surrounds us — where are we going? To Kumasi? To Takoradi? Or to Tamale? “To Kumasi.” Those who are hunting for passengers to Kumasi shake our hands and, bouncing with glee, lead

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THE SHADOW OF THE SUN

us to the appropriate bus. They are happy, because, having found him a passenger, the bus driver will reward them with a banana or orange. We climb onto the bus and sit down. At this point there is a risk of culture clash, of collision and conflict. It will undoubtedly occur if the passenger is a foreigner who doesn’t know Africa. Someone like that will start looking around, squirming, inquiring, “When will the bus leave?” “What do you mean, when?” the astonished driver will reply. “It will leave when we find enough people to fill it up.” The European and the African have an entirely different concept of time. In the European worldview, time exists outside man, exists objectively, and has measurable and linear characteristics. The European feels himself to be time’s slave, dependent on it, subject to it. To exist and function, he must observe its ironclad, inviolate laws, its inflexible principles and rules. He must heed deadlines, dates, days and hours. He moves within the rigours of time and cannot exist

outside them. They impose upon him their requirements and quotas. An unresolvable conflict exists between man and time, one that always ends with man’s defeat — time annihilates him. Africans apprehend time differently. For them it is a much looser concept, more open, elastic, subjective. It is man who influences time, its shape, course and rhythm (man acting, of course, with the consent of gods and ancestors). Time is even something that man can create outright, for time is made manifest through events, and whether an event takes place or not depends, after all, on man alone. In practical terms, this means if you go to a village where a meeting is scheduled for the afternoon but find no one at the appointed spot, asking “When will the meeting take place?” makes no sense. You know the answer: “It will take place when people come.” Therefore the African who boards a bus sits down in a vacant seat, and immediately falls into a state in which he spends a great portion of his life: a benumbed waiting. “These people have a fantastic talent for waiting!”

The African sees time as a loose, elastic concept. It is man who influences time rather than the other way around

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an Englishman who has lived here for years tells me. “Talent, stamina, some peculiar kind of instinct.” What does this dull waiting consist of ? People know what to expect; therefore, they try to settle themselves as comfortably as possible, in the best possible place. Sometimes they lie down, sometimes they sit on the ground, or on a stone, or squat. They stop talking. A waiting group is mute. It emits no sound. The body goes limp, droops, shrinks. The muscles relax. The neck stiffens, the head ceases to move. The person does not look around, does not observe anything, is not curious. Sometimes his eyes are closed — but not always. More frequently, they are open but appear unseeing, with no spark of life in them. I have observed for hours on end crowds of people in this state of inanimate waiting, a kind of profound physiological sleep: They do not eat, they do not drink, they do not urinate; they react neither to the mercilessly scorching sun, nor to the aggressive, voracious flies that cover their eyelids and lips. What, in the meantime, is


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going on inside their heads? I do not know. Are they thinking? Dreaming? Reminiscing? Making plans? Meditating? Traveling in the world beyond? It is difficult to say. Finally after two hours of waiting, the bus, now packed full, leaves the station. On the rough potholed road, shaken this way and that, the passengers come to life. Someone reaches for a biscuit, someone else peels a banana. People look around, wipe sweaty faces, neatly fold wet handkerchiefs. The driver is talking nonstop, holding the steering wheel with one hand, gesticulating with the other. Everyone keeps bursting out in laughter, the driver the loudest, the others more softly; perhaps they’re just doing it out of politeness, because they feel they should. We’re on our way. My fellow passengers are only the second, perhaps even the first generation of Africans fortunate enough to be conveyed to their destinations. For thousands and thousands of years, Africa walked. People here did not have a concept of the wheel, and

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were unable to adopt it. They walked, they wandered, and whatever had to be transported they carried — on their backs, on their shoulders, and, most often on their heads. How is it that during the 19th century there were ships on lakes deep in the interior of the continent? They were first disassembled at oceanic ports, then carried piecemeal on people’s heads and put back together again on the shores of the lakes. Cities, factories, mining equipment, electrical plants, hospitals, all were carried in sections deep into Africa. All the products of nineteenth-century technology were transported into Africa’s interior on the heads of its inhabitants. The people of northern Africa, even of the Sahara, were more fortunate in this respect: they could use a beast of burden, the camel. But neither the camel nor the horse was able to adapt to regions south of the Sahara — they perished, decimated by the encephalitis borne by the tsetse fly, as well as by other fatal diseases of the tropics.


The problem of Africa is the dissonance between the environment and the human being, between the immensity of African space (more than 30 million square kilometres!) and the defenceless, barefoot, wretched man who inhabits it. Whichever direction he turns, there is distance, emptiness, wilderness, boundlessness. Often one had to walk for hundreds, thousands of miles to encounter another other people (to say “another human being” would be inappropriate, for a lone individual could not survive in these conditions). For the most part information, knowledge, technological innovation, goods, commodities and the experience of others did not penetrate here, could not find a way in. Exchange as a means of participating in world culture did not exist. If it appeared, it did so only accidentally, as an exception. And without exchange there is no progress. Most frequently, people lived in small groups, clans, tribes isolated and scattered over vast, hostile territories, in mortal peril from

malaria, drought, heat, hunger. Living and moving about in small groups allowed them to flee danger more easily and therefore survive. These peoples applied the same tactic once practiced by light cavalry on the European field of battle: the keys were mobility, the avoidance of head-on confrontation, the skirting and outsmarting of peril. As a consequence, the African was a man on the move. Even if he led a sedentary life in a village, he was also on the move, for periodically, the entire village would set of: either the water had run out, or the soil had ceased to bear crops, or an epidemic had broken out, and off they would go, in search of succor, in the hope of finding something better. Only city life brought them stability. The population of Africa was a giant, matted, crisscrossing web, spanning the entire continent and in constant motion, endlessly undulating, bunching up in one place and spreading out in another, a rich fabric, a colourful arras. This compulsory mobility of the population resulted in

THE AFRICAN WALKING, A COMMON SIGHT

Africa’s interior having no old cities, at least none comparable in age to those that still exist in Europe, the Middle East, or Asia. Similarly — again in contrast to those other regions — many African societies (some claim all of them) today occupy terrain that they did not previously inhabit.

The population of Africa was a giant, matted, criscrossing web, spanning the entire continent and in constant motion, endlessly bunching and spreading out

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THE SHADOW OF THE SUN

All are arrivals from elsewhere, all are immigrants. Africa is their common world, but within its boundaries, they wandered and shifted about for centuries, a process that continues in certain parts of the continent to this day. Hence the striking physical characteristic of civilization is its temporariness, its provincial character, its material discontinuity. A hut put up only yesterday has already vanished. A field still cultivated three months ago is today lying fallow. The continuity that lives and breathes here, and that creates the threads of the social fabric, is the continuity of family tradition and ritual, and the pervasive and far-reaching cult of the ancestor. Rather than a material or territorial community, it is a spiritual community that binds the African to those closest to him. The bus is going deeper and deeper into the thick, tall, tropical forest. Biology in the temperate zones exhibits discipline and order: there is a little strand of pines here, some oaks over

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there and birch trees somewhere else. Even in mixed forests a certain clarity and propriety prevail. In the tropics, however, the flora exists in a state of frenzy, in an ecstasy of the most untrammeled procreation. One is struck immediately by a cocky, pushy abundance, an endless eruption of an exuberant, panting mass of vegetation, all the elements of which â&#x20AC;&#x201D; tree, bush, liana, vine, growing, pressing, stimulating, inciting on another â&#x20AC;&#x201D; have already become so interlocked, knotted and clenched that only sharpened steel, wielded with a horrendous amount of physical force, can cut through it a passage, path or tunnel. Because in the past there was no wheeled transport on this enormous continent; there were also no roads. When the first cars were brought here, early in the twentieth century, they didnâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t really have anywhere to go. A paved road is something new in Africa, at most several decades old. And in certain areas it still remains a rarity. Instead of roads, there were trails, usually shared by people and cattle alike. This age-old system of paths


PETROL PUMP, KUMASI, 1965

explains why people here are still in the habit of walking single file, even if they’re travelling along one of today’s wide roads. It explains, too, why a walking group is silent — it is difficult to conduct a conversation single file. One can’t afford to be less than a great expert on the geography of these paths. Whoever knows them less then well will lose his way, and if forced to wander too long without water and food will of course perish. Various clans, tribes, and villages have their own paths, which cross one another, and someone unfamiliar with their points of intersection can walk along one assuming it is taking him in the right direction, while it may in fact be leading him astray, even toward death. The most perplexing and dangerous are jungle paths. You are constantly caught on thorns and branches, reaching a destination all scratched and swollen. It is a good idea to carry a stick, for if a snake is lying across the path (as happens often), you must scare it off, and this is best accomplished with a stick. Talismans present further dilemmas. Inhabitants

of the tropical forest, living in an impenetrable wilderness, are by nature wary and superstitious. To scare of evil spirits, they hang all kinds of talismans along the pathways. What should you do when you come across a lizard’s skin left hanging, a bird’s head, a bunch of grass, or a crocodile’s tooth? Should you risk continuing, or, rather, turn back, knowing that beyond this warning sign something truly evil might be lurking? Every now and then our bus stops alongside the side of the road. Someone wants to get off. It’s a young woman with a child or two (a young woman without a child is a rare sight), there unfolds a scene of extraordinary agility and grace. First, the woman will secure the child to her body with a calico scarf (her small charge sleeping the entire time, not reacting). Next, she will squat down and place the bowl from which she is never separated, full of food and goods of all kinds, on her head. Then, straightening up, she will execute that maneuver of a tightrope walker taking his first steps

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THE SHADOW OF THE SUN

above the abyss: carefully, she finds her equilibrium. With her left hand she now clutches a woven sleeping mat, and with her right the hand of a second child. And this way — stepping at once with a very smooth, even gait — they enter a forest path leading to a world I do not know and perhaps will never understand. My neighbour on the bus. A young man. An accountant from a firm in Kumasi. “Ghana is independent!” he says ecstatically. “Tomorrow, Africa will be independent!” he assures me. “We are free!” And he shakes my hand in a way meant to signify that now a black man can offer a white man his hand without self-consciousness. “Did you see Nkrumah?” he asks, interested. “Yes? Then you are a lucky man! Do you know what we’ll do with the enemies of Africa?” He laughs, ha-ha, but doesn’t say exactly what will be done. “Now the most important thing is education. Education, schooling, the acquiring of knowledge. We are so backward! I think that the whole world will

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come to our aid. We must be equals of the developed countries. Not only free — but also equal. But for now, we are breathing freedom. And this is paradise. This is wonderful!” This enthusiasm of his is universal. Enthusiasm, and pride that Ghana stands at the head of the independence movement, sets an example, leads all of Africa. My other neighbour, sitting to my left is different. Withdrawn, taciturn, unengaged. He immediately draws attention to himself, for people here are generally open, eager to converse, quick to tell stories and deliver various opinions. Thus far he has told me only that he is working and that he is having some trouble at work. What sorts of troubles, he is not saying. Finally, however, as the great forest starts to shrink and grow thinner, signalling that we are slowly approaching Kumasi, he decides to confess something to me. So — he has problems. He is sick. He is not sick always, not continuously, but intermittently, periodically. He has already been to see various native

specialists, but none of them has been able to help him. The thing is that he has animals in his head, under his skull. It’s not that he sees these animals, that he thinks about them or is afraid of them. No. It’s nothing like that. The animals are literally in his head; they live there, run around, graze, hunt, or just sleep. If they happen to be gentle animals like antelopes, zebras, or giraffes, he tolerates them well; it is even quite pleasant then. But sometimes a hungry lion arrives. He is hungry, he is furious — so he roars. And then this roar makes his head explode.

The Shadow Of The Sun, by Ryszard Kapuscinski is out on Penguin.


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SOUTH AFRICA

SOUTH BY

SOUTHWEST

SOUTH AFRICA FROM ABOVE BY JAKOB WAGNER

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SOUTH AFRICA

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SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST

THE PHOTOS ON THESE PAGES WERE SHOT ABOUT A FLYING HOUR NORTH OF CAPE TOWN, FROM A NORMAL PASSENGER AIRLINE ON THE FLIGHT FROM CAPETOWN TO DUSSELDORF. BY EXTENSIVE PICTURE EDITING IN PHOTOSHOP, I REMOVED THE LAYER OF DUST AND SO WORKED OUT THE UNIQUE STRUCTURE OF THE SOUTH AFRICAN LANDSCAPE.

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THESE PICTURES WERE TAKEN IN HOUT BAY ON THE VICTORIA ROAD, FACING SOUTHEAST. BEHIND THE TREES IN THE FOREGROUND, THE LIGHTS OF HOUT BAY SHINE. FURTHER AFIELD LIES THE SKOORSTEENBERG; ABOVE IT THE MILKY WAY IS CLEARLY VISIBLE. THE PICTURE ON THE NEXT PAGE WAS EXPOSED FOR 10 MINUTES; THE EARTH’S ROTATIONS GIVING THE STARS TRAILS OF LIGHT.

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SOUTH BY SOUTHWEST

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THE PICTURE ON THE PREVIOUS PAGE WAS TAKEN ABOUT AN HOUR AFTER SUNSET FROM THE TOP OF TABLE MOUNTAIN FACING EAST. THE FOG HAS STARTED TO ROLL IN FROM THE SEA BEFORE DISPERSING WHEN IT REACHES THE LIGHTS OF CAPE TOWN. THE PICTURE ABOVE IS FACING NORTHEAST. YOU CAN SEE THE DENSE FOG ABOUT TO ENVELOP CAPE TOWN.

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FEATURE STORY

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THE NIGHT SKY ABOVE THE SKOORSTEENBERG. THE CLOUD LAYERS ARE VISIBLE WITH THE STARS MILLIONS OF MILES BEYOND THEM.

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TWO MALIAN WOMEN PHOTOGRAPHED IN 1958

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EMIRATES NEWS

SKY HIGH OPPORTUNITIES AT ANY GIVEN TIME, EMIRATES HAS talent scouts in up to five different countries scouring the globe for the best and brightest pilots and cabin crew. In the past two months, Emirates cabin crew recruiter Andrea Buzkova has been to Uruguay, the US, the Czech Republic, Iceland, Spain, and Mauritius looking for staff. As Emirates prepares for new planes destined for new routes, the airline aims to recruit 4,000 new cabin crew and 500 pilots over the next year. There is room for growth in other areas of the Emirates Group, from staff at the check-in counters and at the contact centres to nonaviation roles such as doctors and dentists and in departments such as IT, Finance, HR and Engineering. “We may have to go to more places to recruit, we may have to increase the number of campaigns we do at the moment,” says Buzkova. The team currently meets the challenge of co-ordinating 35 recruitment campaigns across the world each month. The opportunity to travel the globe is an attraction to the role for the recruiters and, in return, the team offer their flexibility and commitment to seek out service professionals from a diverse range of backgrounds. Working for one of the world’s leading brands is an attractive proposition for potential new recruits. Also appealing is the tax-free salary and benefits such as accommodation, insurance and

transport, as well as the chance to live in Dubai and travel the world, exploring Emirates’ network of 111 destinations across six continents. Aneta Dobreva, a Pilot Recruitment Specialist in the Flight Operations department, says Emirates will be launching two road shows every month. Destinations include Western and Central Europe, South Africa, the US, South America, Australia and Far East Asia. The team is also planning to conduct overseas pre-selection programmes, starting in the UK this summer. In the past 12 months, Emirates interviewed 1,300 potential candidates worldwide and hired 425 pilots. “Our target for the next financial year is the highest we’ve had so far,” says Dobreva. Since joining Emirates, she has completed the IATA Diploma in Airline Studies and the Emirates Management Programme as well as a master’s degree in Human Resource Management with financial support

from the company. She believes that the opportunities given to employees will continue to draw in top talent. Pilots are encouraged to seek new opportunities soon after joining the Emirates team. “They can apply for training positions after one year, which, from the feedback I’ve received, is not the case with many airlines,” she says. “A wide variety of courses are available to people who want to develop in management or get exposed to other areas of the business,” she says. For more information, go to: WWW.EKPILOT.COM WWW.EMIRATESGROUPCAREERS.COM

With new planes and routes on the way, Emirates aims to recruit 4,000 cabin crew and 500 pilots in 12 months

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EMIRATES NEWS

A CULINARY ODYSSEY IN THE COURSE OF A SINGLE YEAR, Emirates serves more than one million litres of orange juice and is one of the largest buyers of Dom Pérignon champagne in the world. Do not let the compact cuisine containers in economy class fool you — the airline is essentially running one of the largest restaurant operations on the planet. “This year alone, we have produced some 35 million meals in about 70 different locations, as far away as Auckland in the southeast of the world and San Francisco in the far northwest, and everything in between,” says Robin Padgett, Vice-President of Aircraft Catering for Emirates. “The numbers add up pretty dramatically.” Running a restaurant of this scale is obviously no simple task. The airline sources its high quality ingredients from 70 specialist caterers all over the world. At the airlines home in Dubai, gourmet cuisine is provided by Emirates Flight Catering. At this facility in Dubai, more than 5,500 people work around the clock to produce about 90,000 meals daily destined for flights out of the UAE. The airline also serves roughly another 70,000 meals on flights heading back to Dubai, made to Emirates’ exact specifications at caterers based in destination countries such as Thailand and the United States. The airline offers a complex menu, with 6,000 variations, designed to

DINING IN STYLE

This year we have produced 35 million meals in about 70 different locations, from as far south as Auckland to as far north as San Francisco and everywhere in between

incorporate the flavours and cuisine of their destinations, says Padgett. To create an authentic taste, Emirates has enlisted five highly trained chefs who develop their menus, says Padgett. “We’ve calculated their time in the industry, and between all five of them, they’ve got more than 100 years of experience,” he says. Emirates is now pushing to include healthier meal options on board. In the last year it has launched carefully designed meals in business and first class cabins, to cater to a growing health consciousness among its passengers.

But creating meals for passengers at high altitudes takes both an artistic flair and a scientific approach. Once in the air, people lose about one third of their overall taste palette, particularly sweet, sour and salty flavours, Padgett says. “It’s a physiological reaction to the reduction of oxygen at altitude, he says. “It’s quite marked, but it’s funny how few people notice. So we deliberately enhance spice and seasoning in our meals to compensate.”

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TO CONSERVE AND PROTECT

DUBAI’S DESERT RECOGNISING THE IMPORTANCE OF wildlife conservation, the Emirates Group has been instrumental in the establishment, management and ongoing sponsorship of the Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve since its inauguration as a national park in 2003. The reserve was established for the protection of endangered species and the conservation of desert habitat and traditional heritage. Covering 225 square kilometres, the reserve is a centre for scientific research and the home of a range of critical conservation programmes. The Arabian Oryx is just one of the reserve’s success stories. Fifty years ago the Arabian Oryx was extinct from the wild in the United Arab Emirates but in

6%

EMIRATES NEWS

NT OF THE AMOU ND AREA DUBAI’S LA BY COVERED THE DDCR

1999 the reserve reintroduced 70 Arabian Oryx back into their native habitat. Now, through careful management, the reserve has more than 400 Oryx and is working with other conservation organisations across the region to protect this species in the wild. As well as the Oryx, the reserve is home to a rich

ecosystem of 43 mammals and reptiles, more than 120 species of birds and 57 species of plant. Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve is the focus of a number of research projects studying the desert flora and fauna. The reserve is also home to Al Maha, the award winning ecotourism resort, founded in 1999 by Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman & Chief Executive of the Emirates Group. It was Al Maha that inspired the creation of the surrounding Dubai Desert Conservation Reserve. The Emirates Group supported the establishment of the Reserve with a contribution of Dhs15million for the first five years, and they continue to provide assistance of Dhs2million per year.

LIQUID ASSET WATER IS A PRECIOUS COMMODITY, AND MOST PEOPLE acknowledge the importance of preserving this vital resource. Day to day, however, the average person pays little attention to how many litres of H20 are used in a daily ritual: the shower. But now a London-based company has developed a tiny gadget which hopes to put a stop to that. The Waterpebble, a small gadget with three lights, monitors the amount of water going down the drain and can teach consumers when to turn off the tap. Before a shower, the device should be placed beside the drain. The traffic-light style indicator will flash green when the shower begins, amber when the

shower time is halfway through, and red when it’s time to stop. The Waterpebble also adapts to each person — when it is used the first time, the device memorises the water usage and uses it as a benchmark for all other showers. The Waterpebble, invented by Paul Priestman, is a small device with the potential for big impact. The average 10-minute shower uses nearly 95 litres of water, according to the United States Geological Survey. Over the course of a year, and multiplied across the 5 million residents in the UAE, this can add up to 173 billion litres. The Waterpebble is available on Amazon.co.uk for £7.99 (Dhs48).

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EMIRATES NEWS

BEFORE YOUR JOURNEY CONSULT YOUR DOCTOR BEFORE TRAVELLING IF YOU HAVE ANY MEDICAL CONCERNS ABOUT MAKING A LONG JOURNEY, OR IF YOU SUFFER FROM A RESPIRATORY OR

IN THE AIR

CARDIOVASCULAR CONDITION. PLAN FOR THE DESTINATION � WILL

TO HELP YOU ARRIVE AT YOUR destination feeling relaxed and refreshed, Emirates has developed this collection of helpful travel tips. Regardless of whether you need to

rejuvenate for your holiday or be effective at achieving your goals on a business trip, these simple tips will help you to enjoy your journey and time on board with Emirates today.

SMART TRAVELLER

YOU NEED ANY VACCINATIONS OR SPECIAL MEDICATIONS? GET A GOOD NIGHT’S REST BEFORE THE FLIGHT. EAT LIGHTLY AND SENSIBLY.

AT THE AIRPORT ALLOW YOURSELF PLENTY OF TIME FOR CHECK�IN.

DRINK PLENTY OF WATER

TRAVEL LIGHTLY

AVOID CARRYING HEAVY BAGS THROUGH THE AIRPORT AND ONTO THE FLIGHT AS THIS CAN PLACE THE BODY UNDER CONSIDERABLE STRESS. ONCE THROUGH TO DEPARTURES TRY AND RELAX AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE.

REHYDRATE WITH WATER OR JUICES FREQUENTLY.

CARRY ONLY THE ESSENTIAL ITEMS THAT

DRINK TEA AND COFFEE IN MODERATION.

YOU WILL NEED DURING YOUR FLIGHT.

DURING THE FLIGHT SUCKING AND SWALLOWING WILL

MAKE YOURSELF COMFORTABLE

HELP EQUALISE YOUR EAR PRESSURE

KEEP MOVING

DURING ASCENT AND DESCENT. BABIES AND YOUNG PASSENGERS MAY SUFFER MORE ACUTELY WITH POPPING EARS, THEREFORE CONSIDER PROVIDING A DUMMY.

LOOSEN CLOTHING, REMOVE JACKET AND

EXERCISE YOUR LOWER LEGS AND CALF

AVOID ANYTHING PRESSING AGAINST YOUR BODY.

MUSCLES. THIS ENCOURAGES BLOOD FLOW.

GET AS COMFORTABLE AS POSSIBLE WHEN RESTING AND TURN FREQUENTLY.

WEAR GLASSES

USE SKIN MOISTURISER

AVOID SLEEPING FOR LONG PERIODS IN THE SAME POSITION.

WHEN YOU ARRIVE TRY SOME LIGHT EXERCISE OR READ IF YOU CAN’T SLEEP AFTER ARRIVAL.

CABIN AIR IS DRIER THAN NORMAL THEREFORE

APPLY A GOOD QUALITY MOISTURISER TO

SWAP YOUR CONTACT LENSES FOR GLASSES.

ENSURE YOUR SKIN DOESN’T DRY OUT.

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CABIN L BE CREW WIL ELP H HAPPY TO ED IF YOU NE

EMIRATES NEWS

E C N A T S I S S A PLETING COM THE FORMS

TO US CUSTOMS & IMMIGRATION FORMS WHETHER YOU’RE TRAVELLING TO, OR THROUGH, THE UNITED STATES TODAY,

this simple guide to completing the US customs and immigration forms will help to ensure that your journey is

as hassle free as possible. The Cabin Crew will offer you two forms when you are nearing your destination. We provide .guidelines below, so you can correctly complete the forms

CUSTOMS DECLARATION FORM

IMMIGRATION FORM

All passengers arriving into the US need to complete a CUSTOMS DECLARATION FORM . If you are travelling as a family this should be completed by one member only. The form must be completed in English, in capital letters, .and must be signed where indicated

The IMMIGRATION FORM I-94 (Arrival / Departure Record) should be completed if you are a non-US citizen in possession of a valid US visa and your final destination is the US or if you are in transit to a country outside the US. A separate form must be completed for each person, including children travelling on their parents’ passport. The form includes a Departure Record which must be kept safe and given to your .airline when you leave the US If you hold a US or Canadian passport, US Alien Resident Visa (Green Card), US Immigrant Visa or a valid ESTA (right), you are not required .to complete an immigration form

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ELECTRONIC SYSTEM FOR

YOUR PASSPORT.

TRAVEL AUTHORISATION (ESTA)

APPLY ONLINE AT WWW.CBP.GOV/ESTA

IF YOU ARE AN INTERNATIONAL TRAVELLER WISHING TO ENTER

NATIONALITIES ELIGIBLE FOR

THE UNITED STATES UNDER THE

THE VISA WAIVER*:

VISA WAIVER PROGRAMME, YOU

ANDORRA, AUSTRALIA,

MUST APPLY FOR ELECTRONIC

AUSTRIA, BELGIUM, BRUNEI,

AUTHORISATION �ESTA� UP

CZECH REPUBLIC, DENMARK,

TO �� HOURS PRIOR TO YOUR

ESTONIA, FINLAND, FRANCE,

DEPARTURE.

GERMANY, HUNGARY, ICELAND,

ESTA FACTS:

LIECHTENSTEIN, LITHUANIA,

IRELAND, ITALY, JAPAN, LATVIA,

CHILDREN AND

LUXEMBURG, MALTA, MONACO,

INFANTS REQUIRE AN

THE NETHERLANDS, NEW

INDIVIDUAL ESTA.

ZEALAND, NORWAY, PORTUGAL,

THE ONLINE ESTA SYSTEM

SAN MARINO, SINGAPORE,

WILL INFORM YOU WHETHER

SLOVAKIA, SLOVENIA, SOUTH

YOUR APPLICATION

KOREA, SPAIN, SWEDEN,

HAS BEEN AUTHORISED,

SWITZERLAND AND THE

NOT AUTHORISED OR IF

UNITED KINGDOM**.

AUTHORISATION

* SUBJECT TO CHANGE

IS PENDING.

** ONLY BRITISH CITIZENS QUALIFY UNDER

A SUCCESSFUL ESTA

THE VISA WAIVER PROGRAMME.

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74 mm wide x 224 mm high

APPLICATION IS VALID FOR TWO YEARS, HOWEVER THIS MAY BE REVOKED OR WILL EXPIRE ALONG WITH

THE SIZE IN ACRES OF THE EMIRATES ENGINEERING CENTRE SITE. THE ���� MILLION FACILITY IS LOCATED ON THE NORTH SIDE OF DUBAI INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT.

136 23

THE NUMBER OF VARIATIONS OF SPECIAL MEALS THAT CAN BE ORDERED ONBOARD TO MEET RELIGIOUS AND DIETARY NEEDS:

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THE FLEET

For more information: www.emirates.com/ourf leet

125


FLEET GUIDE

Boeing 777-300ER Number of Aircraft: 53 Capacity: 354-442 Range: 14,594km Length: 73.9m Wingspan: 64.8m

Boeing 777-300 Number of Aircraft: 12 Capacity: 364 Range: 11,029km Length: 73.9m Wingspan: 60.9m

Boeing 777-200LR Number of Aircraft: 10 Capacity: 266 Range: 17,446km Length: 63.7m Wingspan: 64.8m Boeing 777F Number of Aircraft: 2 Range 9,260km Length: 63.7m Wingspan: 64.8m

Boeing 777-200 Number of Aircraft: 9 Capacity: 274-346 Range: 9,649km Length: 63.7m Wingspan: 60.9m

Boeing 747-400F/747-ERF Number of Aircraft: 3/2 Range 8,232km/9,204km Length: 70.6m Wingspan: 64.4m 126


Airbus A380-800 Number of Aircraft: 15 Capacity: 489-517 Range: 15,000km Length: 72.7m Wingspan: 79.8m

Airbus A340-500 Number of Aircraft: 10 Capacity: 258 Range: 16,050km Length: 67.9m Wingspan: 63.4m

Airbus A340-300 Number of Aircraft: 8 Capacity: 267 Range: 13,350km Length: 63.6m Wingspan: 60.3m

Airbus A330-200 Number of Aircraft: 27 Capacity: 237-278 Range: 12,200km Length: 58.8m Wingspan: 60.3m 127


NEXT MONTH… N

ext month Open Skies will be examining the world of art; from the legacy of one of the greatest — and most controversial painters of the 20th century, to a look at the greatest art heist in history. We also take a stroll around one of Dubai’s least known districts: Al Quoz. This industrial zone is home to a growing art scene, with galleries, studios and artists creating a truly organic neighbourhood. One of the art world’s most respected writers delves into art finance and explains why a painting just might be a recession-proof investment. Elsewhere, we will be our usual witty and engaging selves, with all the usual favourites curated (see what we did there?) from around the globe.

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Open Skies May 2011  

Open Skies magazine, May 2011

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