28 March 2009


The ruins of the ancient city of Gedi lie a short distance south of Malindi, Kenya.

Based upon the mosque and Islamic architecture, Gedi was an arab town dating from the 15th century. Some date the habitation of the town as early as the 12th-13th centuries. Archaeological evidence indicates trade with China although it was not an important enough center to be included in accounts of Arab, Swahili or Portuguese historians of the time.

Gedi was abandoned in the 16th century. It is uncertain as to the cause of this abandonment. The Galla, a fierce tribe that moved south from Somalia, occupied the site for a time in the 16th century and they, too, abandoned it.

In 1948 Gedi was made a national park. James Kirkman excavated the site in the 1960's and is one of the foremost authorities on the site.

Malindi Postscript

Most tourists visiting Malindi concentrate on the beaches or the monument Vasco da Gama built to commemorate his visit to Malindi in 1498. However, the pillar tomb near the Juma Mosque is a mystery that lives on today. It dates from the 15th century and is unlike anything found in other Muslim cemeteries. Some believe that it was built for deceased Portuguese. The significance of the pillar is unknown.

24 March 2009

Bohm's Bee-eater

Africa has wonderful bird life.

Bohm's Bee-eater: taken at Mvuu Camp in Liwonde Game Park, Liwonde, Malawi.

23 March 2009

Robert Mugabe is #1

"This year, Zimbabwe's Robert Mugabe takes the top spot on PARADE's annual World's Worst Dictators list, replacing Im Jong-Il of North Korea. . . . Rankings are based on dictators' human-rights violations, the suffering their leadership has caused, and the amount of absolute power they wield. Sources include the U.S. State Department, Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, and Reporters Without Borders." -- PARADE Magazine, 22 March 2009

Last year Mugabe ranked 6th. To read more about what lifted Mugabe to the top, visit The World's Worst Dictators. Also read the article 'Stop the Rape and Terror' from the same issue of PARADE.

22 March 2009

Another Look at Victoria Falls

Looking down on Victoria Falls

The bottom of the falls

Going over the falls

The wall of Devil's Cataract

Main Falls Framed

21 March 2009

African Signs

One often encounters interesting signs in Africa. Below is one I saw in Voi, Kenya in the early 1970's. The shopkeeper couldn't understand why the wazungu were taking pictures.

For more funny signs check out Getaway Magazine's collection.

20 March 2009

Pink elephant is caught on camera

We used to see "pink" elephants beside the Nairobi-Mombasa highway when passing through the Tsavo area. That was because the elephants dusted themselves with red dirt regularly. This appears to be the real thing.

Pink elephant is caught on camera

17 March 2009

Animal Camouflage

Animals have an amazing ability to blend in with their surroundings. Many times it is only upon careful observation that nearby animals can be detected. Below is a giraffe in Hwange National Park, Zimbabwe. Can you see it? (Click on photo to see larger size.)

15 March 2009

Pemba Fishing Boat

A typical fishing boat on Pemba Bay. The town of Pemba, Moçambique is on the peninsula in the upper right of the picture.
(You need to click on the picture and view it full size to appreciate it.)

13 March 2009

Zimbabwe's Funeral Diplomacy

Zimbabwe's funeral diplomacy

We can only hope the crocodile's tears are real. Zimbabwe needs healing, not more of Mugabe's plotting. Pray for true reconciliation.

09 March 2009

Tsvangirai rules out foul play in fatal crash

Tsvangirai rules out foul play in fatal crash

This is encouraging news. Although car accidents involving Mugabe's adversaries are always suspect, early indications are that this was really and accident. Tsvangirai's willingness to say that rather than play the political card, is another big difference between him and Mugabe. Perhaps Tsvangirai will be safer now. There have been several attacks on him in the past. Mugabe seems to have been nervous enough about this incident to pay a public visit to the hospital. We hope he will be a little more honest in working for a true government of national unity and do what is best for the country and her people in the future.

07 March 2009

Accident of Assassination Attempt?

From The New York Times, 6 March

Car wreck kills Tsvangirai’s wife

Harare - The prime minister of Zimbabwe, Morgan Tsvangirai, was hurt and his wife, Susan, fatally injured on Friday in a car crash about 45 miles south of the capital, according to officials of Mr. Tsvangirai’s political party, the Movement for Democratic Change. Mr. Tsvangirai was heading to his rural home for a Saturday rally when the crash occurred Friday afternoon. From his hospital bed in Harare afterward, he told one of his aides that a large truck driving on the other side of the road had come toward his Land Cruiser, the middle vehicle in a three car convoy. "What he told me was that the truck went for his car," said Dennis Murira, director of public affairs in the prime minister’s office. "That’s how he put it." The truck driver told the police that he had fallen asleep at the wheel, Mr. Murira said.

The crash, coming less than a month after Mr. Tsvangirai was sworn in as prime minister in a tense and long-negotiated power-sharing government with his rival, President Robert Mugabe, stirred deep suspicions in his party, but most officials were careful to say not enough was known about the collision to make any accusations of foul play. Mr. Mugabe and his wife paid a condolence call to Mr. Tsvangirai at the hospital on Friday evening. Ian Makone, a secretary in the prime minister’s office, said he arrived at the crash scene about a half hour after the fact. He said one of the drivers in Mr. Tsvangirai’s convoy told him that an oncoming truck "had clipped the right rear fender of Morgan’s car." Mr. Murira said the prime minister told him the driver of Mr. Tsvangirai’s vehicle swerved to avoid the on-rushing truck, but a trailer attached to the truck hit the Land Cruiser, which rolled over three times. Mr. Makone said the vehicle was lying on its roof when he arrived.

Eddie Cross, the policy coordinator for the Movement for Democratic Change, said that when he heard about the crash he phoned Hendrick O’Neill, a party member who is from the area where it occurred. Mr. O’Neill, in turn, contacted Deon Theron, the vice president of the Commercial Farmers Union, who lives near the scene. "I was looking for someone to get to the site because I was very suspicious about the circumstances around the accident," Mr. O’Neill said in a phone interview. "Morgan has been a target for some time." Mr. Theron rushed to the scene and began to investigate, Mr. O’Neill said: "Just as he finished the police arrived and grabbed the video camera from him, started questioning him and took him into custody." Mr. O’Neill said he spoke to Mr. Theron by cell phone as he was being arrested. "He told me the left front tire had burst and the vehicle was on its roof," Mr. O’Neill said. "He climbed on the vehicle. Some of the undercarriage was loose or broken. It could have been the result of the accident. That’s what he was filming when they seized him."

Mr. Tsvangirai has been the victim of multiple assassination attempts. He fled the country after he outpolled Mr. Mugabe in March presidential elections, fearing for his life. Forces loyal to Mr. Mugabe had begun a campaign of violence, attempting to intimidate the opposition prior to a June runoff election. Mr. Tsvangirai ended up withdrawing before that second poll because of attacks on thousands of his supporters. When the international community concluded the election was neither free nor fair, protracted negotiations led to a coalition government, with Mr. Mugabe as president and Mr. Tsvangirai as prime minister. Friday night, officials with Mr. Tsvangirai’s party alternately expressed their suspicions of foul play but resisted reaching any conclusions. "This will certainly demand an independent investigation," said Mr. Cross. "We won’t accept a police report." The couple, married for more than three decades, has six children, including twins, aged 14. "They were a team; they were very effective and extremely close," Mr. Cross said of the couple. "She was very much a pillar of support, spiritually and in every other way. Morgan will feel her loss enormously. I can’t think of many couples as close as those two."

From The Times (UK), 7 March

Wife of Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai is killed in car crash

Jan Raath and Martin Fletcher

The turmoil in Zimbabwe intensified last night when Morgan Tsvangirai, the new Prime Minister, was injured in a car crash and his wife was killed. There was no immediate evidence to suggest that the crash was anything but an accident, but Robert Mugabe’s Zanu PF henchmen have staged car crashes to eliminate opponents before and Mr Tsvangirai has previously been the target of assassination attempts. "Conspiracy theories will abound," one Western diplomat said. Officials of Mr Tsvangirai’s Movement for Democratic Change said that his car was hit by the trailer of a large lorry as it swung out in front of it. His wife, Susan, 50, was on the side hit by the trailer and suffered terrible injuries. A hospital worker was told by Mr Tsvangirai’s chief security aide travelling with him in a Toyota Land Cruiser, that Mrs Tsvangirai was thrown out of the vehicle and fell a long way off. The aide and Mr Tsvangirai were trapped inside, but as soon as the aide managed to extricate himself, Mr Tsvangirai called to him: "Help my wife, help my wife!"

Mr Tsvangirai was in a stable condition in hospital, an MDC spokesman said, but the death of the woman to whom he had been married for 31 years, and with whom he has had six children, will be devastating at a time when he is struggling to establish Zimbabwe’s new coalition Government in the face of stiff resistance from Zanu PF hardliners. "I don’t imagine he will be able to give much thought to running the country or the legislative agenda for a while," the diplomat said. The accident happened about 30 miles south of Harare as the Tsvangirais were returning to their home district, Buhera, for a rally tomorrow. Mr Tsvangirai’s spokesman, James Maridade, said that the Prime Minister’s car rolled over three times. "The accident happened between 1600 hours [1400 GMT] and 1700 hours but the details are still sketchy," one party official said. "The driver of the truck appeared to be sleeping." Other reports suggested that Mr Tsvangirai’s Land Cruiser had suffered a burst front left tyre and then rolled. The MDC leader was taken by ambulance to the private Avenues Clinic in Harare, where he was later visited by Mr Mugabe and his wife, Grace. State television said that Mr Tsvangirai had injuries to his head and neck. An aide was also hurt. "Morgan is talking, and he has been sedated," said Eddie Cross, a member of the MDC’s national executive. "Last time I spoke [to hospital staff] he didn’t know about Susan’s death. He will be devastated. They were a real team."

The two-lane road leads to Beitbridge, the main border crossing into South Africa, and is notoriously dangerous. It is deeply potholed. It is used heavily by lorries bringing goods into Zimbabwe, many of them overloaded. It was unclear if the Prime Minister had a police escort, but his car and driver and two accompanying security vehicles were provided by the MDC, not the Government, which would also seem to militate against the idea that this was an assassination attempt. Mr Tsvangirai has used the MDC Land Cruiser with a two-vehicle security escort for several years, usually with four officials in each car, and a guard in the front seat next to the driver in the Land Cruiser, with Mr Tsvangirai usually in the rear seat. Since becoming Prime Minister, he has been issued with a new Sclass Mercedes-Benz, which he uses for official business. In December Elliott Manyika, a party youth wing boss, was killed in a suspicious accident and in November the air force commander Perrence Shiri was shot and injured in circumstances that have never become clear. Mr Cross said an MDC team that reached the scene before the police was subsequently detained. "When police turned up, they arrested them and confiscated the videos and pictures they had taken," Mr Cross said. Asked if foul play was suspected, he replied: "That’s the big question. We don’t like that [the arrest of the MDC team] but we have to wait and see. We will demand complete transparency and a thorough investigation."

Mr Cross also confirmed that earlier this week the new Mercedes-Benz limousine issued by the government vehicle pool to Lovemore Moyo, the Speaker of the House of Assembly and the MDC chairman, had had a blowout on the way from Harare to Bulawayo. Mr Moyo had travelled by air while his driver took the vehicle. "A brand-new vehicle with brand-new tyres. This is too much," Mr Cross said. "There is something amiss." Mr Tsvangirai has been the target of at least three assassination attempts, most spectacularly in 1997 when an eight-man assassination squad burst into his tenth-floor Harare office and tried to force him out of the window. He has also survived numerous death threats, arrests and beatings, one of which left him with a cracked skull, and a two-year treason trial that could have led to the death penalty. Yesterday’s crash came at a critical moment in Zimbabwe’s crisis. Mr Tsvangirai took a huge political risk by entering a unity government with Mr Mugabe last month, but Zimbabwe’s generals and other Zanu PF hardliners opposed to sharing power with the MDC have been conspiring to destroy it. They refused to release MDC activists who had been detained without trial, had Roy Bennett, one of Mr Tsvangirai’s ministers, arrested and organised further farm seizures. Gordon Brown sent his condolences to Mr Tsvangirai last night. The Foreign and Commonwealth Office said that it was monitoring the situation closely.

From News24 (SA), 7 March

Tsvangirai's car hit by US truck – report

Washington - The truck involved in the car crash that killed the wife of Zimbabwe Prime Minister Morgan Tsvangirai belonged to a contractor working for the US and British governments, ABC News said Friday quoting unnamed US officials. The truck, which had a USAid insignia on it, was purchased by US government funds and its driver was hired by a British development agency, the report said. USAid stands for the US Agency for International Development. While on a routine delivery route, the truck apparently swerved into ongoing traffic and sideswpied the car the Tsvangirais were driving in, causing it to overturn several times, they added. The officials said the truck has been impounded by authorities in Zimbabwe and its driver placed under arrest. Susan Tsvangirai was killed on Friday and her husband was hurt in the accident that happened as they headed to their hometown in Buhera district. The prime minister was taken to private hospital and is in a stable condition, Zimbabwe Finance Minister Tendai Biti told reporters after visiting him.

Comment from The Independent (UK), 7 March

Susan Tsvangirai - An ordinary woman with extraordinary charm

Basildon Peta

What I most admired about Susan Tsvangirai was that she knew that the success of your family was dependent on the success of your country. She never moaned about what life was like for her and her children and the risks that came from living with Robert Mugabe's nemesis. It was always about the children of Zimbabwe. It was a typical caring and motherly attitude that Zimbabwe had always wanted from its First Lady but never got. She was a total contrast to Grace Mugabe. Where Grace was known for her extravagance, her shopping sprees, her love of designer labels, Susan was an ordinary woman who wore ordinary clothes and lived an ordinary lifestyle. When Morgan Tsvangirai won the first round of the presidential elections last year, and looked poised to oust Mr Mugabe, people flocked to Susan offering to groom her for her new role, remodel her hairdo and update her wardrobe. She was actually annoyed by these overtures, these attempts to curry favour.

I visited the Tsvangirais several times before I was forced to flee from Zimbabwe. They lived in a simple three-bedroom house – a far cry from the multimillion-dollar Mugabe mansion. Whenever you were in their company, you got this sense of a perfect union. On one occasion in 1997 – after her husband had survived an attempt to throw him out of a 10th-floor window – Susan was tenderly changing his bandages. Her love and affection was very touching. She was not part of the political machine, and bar the odd appearance at party rallies, she preferred to stay out of the limelight, but their commitment to each other was never in doubt. For a woman who lived with death threats, intimidation by security forces and a string of attempts on her husband's life, she kept an impeccable sense of calm and never forgot the importance of good humour.

During the third treason case against Morgan in 2007, his wife confided: "Look, it's difficult for me, but I have no choice but to support the cause my husband is fighting for." It was the cause she believed in and she thought her husband was doing the right thing. If it was not for her support, it would have been very difficult for Morgan to remain engaged. He once said that the best decision he had made in his life was to marry Susan. Her death is going to devastate him. He's a very strong character, he has felt first-hand the worst that repression can offer, and he bears innumerable scars of his struggle against Mugabe. But this is going to crush him. I just cannot imagine the pain and hurt that he's going to feel, and it is going to make his already difficult task of being Prime Minister even harder.

It is unclear at this time if this was an accident or assassination attempt on Morgan Tsvangirai. In either case he was injured and his wife killed. For Zimbabwe this is a great loss. With a long history of political leaders dying in car "accidents," there will be much suspicion regarding this incident. I'm sure Mugabe's only grief is that Morgan Tsvangirai still lives. Mugabe regularly arranges for his opponents early deaths.

Our prayers go out for the Tsvangirai family and all of the peace loving people of Zimbabwe. Justice will prevail, eventually.