Nancy's Travelblogue

... there isn't a train I wouldn't take, no matter where it's going. -- Edna St. Vincent Millay

Location: California, United States

Friday, September 02, 2005


I picked up the current issue (September 2005) of the National Geographic this evening, a special issue on Africa. The cover caption says, "Whatever you thought, think again." Well, not quite true. I thought unspeakable misery before, and I think the same now. Nevertheless, the excellent journalism and photojournalism put a human face on corruption, poverty, HIV-AIDs, war, genocide, poaching, forest and wildlife conservation ... could there be anything else? Oh yes, cannabalism (article beginning p.82). The website offers more stories, behind the scenes comments from writers and photographers, and a bulletin board for posting and reading article-specific comments.

The magazine is worth a read, but if you can't get to it, here is a selection of the hot-lines:
  • Of 40 million people with HIV today, 26 million live in sub-Saharan Africa.
  • Of the 15 million children orphaned by AIDS, 12.3 million live in sub-Saharan Africa
  • A human rights worker says: "Cannibalism here (i.e. Congo) is both an ancient tribal practice and a modern instrument of terror." Author Paul Salopek comments after an interview with Movement of Liberation of the Congo rebel leader, Jean-Pierre Bemba: He wants to be president. And he has an image problem: his soldiers are known primarily for eating pygmies.
  • In Zambia, 60% of the population live on less than $1 per day. More than 50% of the adults are unemployed.
  • Wildlife populations have increased since the 80s, but so have their conflicts with people: In a valley in Zambia, for example, elephants destroy crops stored food, fences, and homes. On the other hand, illegal poaching continues.
Could there possible be hope in such a miasma? The answer is yes, but not a lot. Most essays are based on interviews, and wherever the human voice can make itself heard, there is hope. Even children with AIDs.


Post a Comment

<< Home