There is a horrendous stench as I approach a section of the complex. Huge piles of cotton waste and seed have been burning for days in an attempt to clean up the grounds. Everyone has been running around sorting the place out because the very big OLAM bosses are arriving for a few days. They hail from Beira and Maputo.
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One of the flood of Zimbabweans to have fled the chaos of his homeland, author Peter Godwin tries to find some hope in the wreckage. Original article here.
So, I’m on the train from Perth to Fremantle, trying to stay awake after a 30-hour flight from New York, where I now live, via Stockholm and Kuala Lumpur, when I hear the two young black guys in the seat behind me speaking in Shona, one of Zimbabwe’s home tongues. I greet them in my rusty Shona, and soon we are chatting about home and how bad things have become there. And then the train pulls in at a suburban station and a middle-aged black lady in a nurse’s uniform gets on and sits down next to me. As soon as she picks up that we are Zimbabweans, she joins in – she’s from Harare, it turns out.
“Did you know that Zimbabweans have the highest IQ in the world?” she says. Hmm, that seems a little over-patriotic. “Yes,” she continues, “I queue for sugar, I queue for salt, I queue for fuel, I queue for cooking oil.” And she bursts into peals of laughter at her joke.
A friend of hers, she continues, saw a queue and joined it, as one does in Zimbabwe, even without knowing what it’s for, as it’s bound to be for something in short supply. Usually queues are remarkably good-natured affairs, with people chatting and bonding in the shared absurdity of their misfortune, but this one seemed a little subdued. When he gets to the head of the line, he realises why. There on a table is a coffin with a corpse laid out in it. He had inadvertently been queuing for a body viewing, and these were mourners. She hoots again, and gets off at the next station.
Back in Perth, I am interviewed by the enormously capable artistic director of the Perth International Arts Festival, Shelagh Magadza, who is, you guessed it, yet another Zimbabwean.
Welcome to the Zimbabwean diaspora: energetic, educated, talented and absent.
This is what we’ve come to – a nation wandering the Earth, exchanging mordant jokes on Australian trains, ruing our fate at literary festivals. It’s estimated that nearly 75 per cent of Zimbabweans between the ages of 18 and 65 have now left the country. That’s getting up to Irish Potato Famine ratios. It’s a veritable exodus. Imagine any city – imagine Adelaide – suddenly losing that proportion of its population. That’s how bad things have become in my homeland.
When a Crocodile Eats the Sun, my family memoir set in the collapsing Zimbabwe, ends in about 2004, when my father died. At the time, I remember thinking “the country couldn’t get much worse”.
Boy, was I wrong.
Then, inflation was a few thousand per cent, now it’s up to about 120,000 per cent – way higher than in the Weimar Republic, when Germans loaded up wheelbarrows with money to go grocery shopping. How can one even imagine what 120,000 per cent inflation means? Here’s one flippant example of the effect of the economic calumny that has beggared Africa’s most promising nation: Players teeing off at the Harare golf course usually order a round of drinks before the game so that the barman can line up their frosties on the counter as they come down the final fairway. Members used to pay after they’d finished their beers. Now they pay when they order them. Because, by the time they play a round of golf, the price of the beers has gone up.
There is a harvest of superlatives provided by Zimbabwe’s spin down the vortex of failed statehood. It is the world’s fastest shrinking (peacetime) economy, halving in size since 2000. It has one of the lowest life expectancies – about 35; more orphans per capita than anywhere on the planet; and half its population is malnourished.
Meanwhile, Robert Mugabe, who just celebrated his 84th birthday, recently moved into a $26 million palace, with 25 bedroom suites. And the question, “Why do Zimbabweans stand for it?” has already been answered: they don’t, they leave.
With snap elections due on March 29, there is a new flurry of hope that those who remain will eject him after 28 years in power. Mugabophobes now have two alternative presidential candidates, Morgan Tsvangirai, leader of the opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC) and now the newly declared Simba Makoni, one-time finance minister and technocrat, recently expelled from the ruling ZANU PF party for daring to challenge the Sun King. He is supposed to have the backing of various other ZANU PF heavyweights (and the smaller of the two MDC factions).
But don’t get your hopes up. The chances of a free election are minimal. Quite apart from the fact that the last three have been blatantly rigged, and that the opposition finds it hard to campaign, gets little access to the state-controlled media, and has its canvassers harassed and arrested, the electoral commission that handles the nuts and bolts of the poll says it cannot possibly conduct elections so soon. They don’t have enough ballot boxes, election officers, transport, fuel, money, they say. The basic logistics are impossible.
“What should we do?” I hear you ask. The more we hector and berate Mugabe, the more it enables him to pose as an anti-colonial hero. South African president Thabo Mbeki hasn’t been much help. On the very day that the South African-brokered negotiations broke down, he declared them a success!
In so far as African politics, in particular, is about patronage, I think we need to dial reality past Mugabe, to signal that he is fast becoming an irrelevance, and that the world will turn and he will soon be gone, one way or another. (As someone said on hearing that Mugabe had been ill, “nothing minor I hope”.) The most effective way to do this, I think, would be to pull together a multi-lateral donor conference, in which not just countries, but institutions like the World Bank, IMF and major private philanthropists, pledge amounts that they will start spending, the day after democratic normalisation.
This is a way to unlock our imagination on how reconstruction could start. The amounts pledged would help harness greed to good effect, signalling to the local Zimbabwean elite (who are wondering when to dismount the current horse) how well everyone can do under a new dispensation.
Such a conference, with its resultant document, can also begin the debate on how to fund specific reconstruction areas: agriculture (and different models of resuscitating commercial agriculture), education, health, currency stabilisation, energy, infrastructure, and so on. It also gets us away from a hectoring, negative binary on Zimbabwe to one where we lay out upon a heaving table the glittering goodies that will be available as soon as the venal autocrat is gone.
I think that this would help establish a profound paradigm shift, and change our attitude from one that is purely reactive to Mugabe’s latest felonies, to one that sees beyond him, by writing the tyrant out of the script for Zimbabwe’s future.
Peter Godwin’s latest book is “When the Crocodile Meets the Sun” (Picador, $24.95).
“What can a dentist teach you about business, life and success?”
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Dr. Joe Capista
Speaker, Author, Dentist
What can a dentist teach you about business, life and success?
· ISBN-10: 0965815951
Where you are from and where are you now?
I reside in Media, Pennsylvania with my wife of 34 years. I have a dental practice in Broomall. I have lived in this area all my life. My roots are here, my family is here, and my community is here. I’m a Pennsylvanian through and through.
How did you get started writing?
Not counting all the goals I have written over the years and the business plans, I officially began writing with my newly released book called What Can a Dentist Teach You about Business, Life and Success? Discover Secrets to Achieving Total Success!
I have owned and operated my dental practice for over 30 years. I grew my practice from a 1-chair struggling practice to a multi-million dollar business with nearly 50 team members.
For years I have mentored business professionals and done training courses on how to build a business. I found I had a knack and passion for sharing my information. Initially, my work was with other dentists, but it grew into working with a variety of business types.
Over the last few years I have also done presentations to business groups. My writing was a natural evolution from my business success and working with others. The more I worked with others and did presentations the question came up frequently as to when I was going to write a book.
I had entertained the thought for some time, but about a year ago I decided that I would write a book. The book is a culmination of my business philosophy as well as overall success in all areas of one’s life.
What people will read in the book is not your typical business book. I combine a very pragmatic and spiritual approach to what I call Total Success.
What do you do when you are not writing?
When not writing I can be found doing a number of different things. One being, I still practice dentistry. I love dentistry. Always have and probably always will. I can also be found giving speeches, running, spending time with my family, traveling and overall, enjoying life.
What would readers like to know about you?
I think readers would like to know that I am very passionate about what I do in all areas of my life. I believe we create our own happiness by our thoughts, beliefs and actions.
Although I am blessed with an extremely successful life, it wasn’t always like that. I grew up in an average blue-collar neighborhood and struggled in school as a kid. And yet, from as far back as I can remember I wanted to be a dentist. I can remember digging in the dirt and filling up the holes pretending I was filling a cavity. That was at the age of 10.
Early on I didn’t get a lot of support for my dream. My high school guidance counselor, Father Melton told me I should pick a different goal rather than trying to become a dentist.
It was at that point I formed the belief that we can either believe what another person thinks is best for our life or follow our own dream. I will forever be grateful I followed my dream. Because of it I have had an incredible life.
I think what your readers would also be interested in know is that along with my dream came a lot of hard work. It didn’t just happen. I had to work for what I wanted.
What inspired your first book?
The desire to document the very systems that have allowed me to create the life I have. These systems don’t just apply to building a successful dental practice. They can apply to virtually any type of business.
How many books have you written?
This is my first. I do have plans for more books though.
What are the titles of your books and what genres are they?
What Can a Dentist Teach You about Business, Life and Success? Discover Secrets to Creating Total Success!
How do you decide on that topic or genre?
I follow my instinct. That is how I have done many things in my life.
How do you manage to keep yourself focused and on track?
Actually, there is a whole chapter in my book about how to stay focused and on track. I am very clear on the fact that having a laser beam approach to what I want to accomplish makes all the difference as to whether I achieve something or not.
Do you write to make money or for the love of writing?
For the love of writing and yet, because I do know how to make money from various ventures I have been involved in, it is very likely I will make great money from my writing. I think an advantage I have in writing about business is the opportunities that have opened up with my speaking and mentoring. The book was released in late December and already I have had some incredible things happen as a result. One is, with one speaking engagement I did, a gentleman who heard me nominated me for the Small Business Owner of the Year Award for a very large Chamber of Commerce in my area.
The recognition this will give me, my book and my business may not be able to be measure in exact return and yet I do know it will open up other opportunities.
Something I believe in is that nothing is an end in and of itself. Everything we do either moves us closer to our goals or further away. When I wrote the book I didn’t write it to make money. And yet, because of the marketing we are doing with the book, money will be a natural outcome of my writing.
What are some traditional methods of marketing you have used?
I have a marketing firm on the West Coast who is handling a lot of my marketing. I know that we have had a lot of media releases sent to the press that have given the book visibility. I have done dozens of presentations to local associations that has also gained some nice visibility. I have a very nice media kit with a beautiful sell sheet. One thing we have made sure of is to create an identity for the book.
What are some unique methods of marketing you have used?
We have been using the Internet a great deal. Lots of blogging about the book as well as an Amazon.com campaign where dozens of Joint Venture Partners are helping to get the word out about my book. I have done lots of web radio interviews as well as article writing and distribution online. I am launching a series of teleseminars that will all be in some way connected to an aspect of the book.
Do you sell through a website? If so, what’s the address? If not, why not?
Most definitely. http://www.joecapista.com/amazon.htm
Where can people order your books?
They can order it directly from my site and they can order from http://www.joecapista.com/amazon.htm
What format are your books – e-book, print, audio etc?
At this point the book is only available as hardcopy. I do have an eBook available on my site on how to build a multi-million dollar business.
Will you write more books?
What do you have in the works now?
Right now I am continuing to build my speaking business. I am in conversations with some business associates about starting a full-fledged training company. That is another area I will be putting some time and energy into.
What does the future hold for you and your books?
Lots of fun. I just love what writing a book has done for me. It’s incredible. Although I would like to think I could have done this sooner, I think the timing in my life has been perfect.
What was the most successful thing you did to promote your books?
We are doing it right now. An Amazon.com campaign along with a blog tour. The visibility is incredible.
What was the least successful thing you did to promote your books?
That’s a difficult question to answer because so far everything has been working.
This book is a great resource for anyone looking for both a pragmatic and spiritual approach to building a life of Total Success. Order you own copy of What Can a Dentist Teach You about Business, Life and Success? within the next 24 hours and receive over $2,551 in bonus gifts from experts around the globe.
YouTube Book Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NvqiYWp4CFY
Jahme Art Newsletter. January, 2008
Art Gallery & Studio
Tel: +27-28-4357743 – P.O. Box 58 – L’Agulhas – 7287 – Western Cape – Republic of South Africa
First of all we wish you the very best for 2008.
Renovations of our place here at the southern most tip of Africa are almost complete. We moved into the new gallery wing early in December last year & are happy to say that our paintings are on full display to the public. Sales have been great and we have made good friends with people from all over the world who have purchased our work.
Our personal website should be up and running in the near future, but until then, if you want to look at what Graham has been up to lately, go to his site at Artists for Conservation: http://www.natureartists.com/graham_jahme.asp
I am busy originating illustrations for my latest children’s book about elephants & having great fun painting bright, bold abstracts. You can purchase & see previews of my book of poetry “African Dust on the Soles of My Feet” and my children’s illustrated book “Africa’s Amazing ABC” at: http://www.lulu.com/susancookjahme
Here are images of a few paintings we have in our Studio Gallery:
Lion Study – Graham Jahme
Sunshine Girl – Sukie, (Susan Cook-Jahme)
Figs for Dinner – Sukie, (Susan Cook-Jahme)
In Full Flight – Graham Jahme
Below two out of fifteen of our paintings purchased this month:
Chipmbere & Calf – Graham Jahme
Isaak at Sunset – Sukie, (Susan Cook-Jahme)
If you have an artwork from either of us, we trust you are getting as much pleasure out of it as we did creating it. There are days we wake up and feel like pinching ourselves to see if it’s true…you see, we live our dream as full time artists, – and meeting people like you who share our lives by having a part of our essence in your painting or photograph purchased from us means a great deal to us.
Until next time,
Hamba Kahli – go in peace –
Graham & Susan
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