Saturday, August 20, 2016

Does Foreigners' Fixation with Efficiency Weaken Legal Institutions in Developing Countries?

The author's friend sent him a package across the world that happened to arrive at the Iringa post office today.  The post office staff was kind enough to send the author a text message to notify him of the arrival.  But when the author showed up to the post office this morning to pick up the parcel, he was shown the box (which appears to have arrived in one piece and without much external visual damage) but was told that he cannot take the box home just yet.  "Please come back maybe sometime between next Monday and Friday.  We need to send the package over to the Revenue Authority for examination first," the postal staff said.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

An Olympics of Greater Equality?

On the previous post, the author already mentioned that the Olympics is fundamentally a game for richer countries.  Smaller countries with little resources to provide right training facilities cannot expect to win at the international level no matter how much raw talents are found in their citizenry.  On this note, this year's Rio Olympics so far does not look too different from others, with the usual major sporting powers (US, China, Japan, Australia, Russia) gobbling up a significant portion of medals on offer so far.  The individual athletes of individual events remain dominant due to availability of systematic training to succeed.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

What Does the Olympics Mean for Rural Africa?

On his brief tour of Isimila Stone Age Site outside Iringa town, the author got in a brief conversation with his mandatory tour guide on the Olympics.  "So, have you watched the Olympics, it just started today," the author casually quipped.  The nonchalant question quickly brought excitement to the otherwise professional guide who, before this, had kept the conversation strictly focused on the history of the area, reputedly one of the earliest residences of modern man's direct ancestor, homo erectus.  "Yes, yes, I am going to watch the opening ceremony after work today!"  The guide cannot hide his enthusiasm.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

What Sets a Non-Western Expat's Relationship with Africans Apart from That of the Western Expat?

The reaction of the customers sitting around sipping their beers could not have been any different.  Just moments before, when the author entered the little roadside cafe on his way back from the local museum visit, the six half-drunken old men could not contain their excitement upon seeing a Chinese guy walking into their usual hangout spot.  But now, after asking where the author is from and receiving "America" as the answer, the crowd quickly grew tame and quiet.  The enthusiasm to strike up further conversation dissipated, and they left the author mostly to wait for his meal in silence.

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Is a Museum Meaningful if All It Contains is Political Correctness?

"This is a place of stories...tales of how the town came about through different influences..." the introduction to the newly opened Regional Museum at Iringa cheerfully outlines what the visitor should expect from its collections.  Housed in the Boma, a distinctive architecture of Swahili and European influence constructed during the German colonial era, the museum certainly provides a promising cultural venue, something that had been distinctly lacking in a town that is more marked by cultural isolation than anything else.  Unfortunately though, the rather small collection brought more boredom than fulfillment of that promise.

Thursday, July 14, 2016

When the Border between Physical and Virtual Ceases to Exist

The author, despite continued ridicule from friends and suffering ofttimes hardships in the most inconvenient times, have for the past years resisted purchasing a smartphone despite the device being more and more commonplace across even the poorer parts of the world.  The desire to remain disconnected from barrage of messages that always seem to require immediate response may be the most compelling reason he can put up to what is increasingly perceived an irrational, eccentric behavior.  But perhaps, in the recent days, there is one more powerful reason to resist smartphone adoption.