Monday, January 23, 2012

The year that passed

Time to sort of start 2012 from a blog point of view. So I will try to sum up what 2011 was from my very personal point of view.

On the world stage almost too much happened, from the "Arab spring" revolutions to the Euro come crashing down on the back of debtridden countries. In the US the lawmakers and the president could basically not agree on anything but to disagree, thereby worsening an already ailing economy. In Europe non-elected "technocrats" took over, to me a sign that politics have become too much of a "promises promises" game where uncomfortable truths gets you nowhere.

As a general comment I find it fascinating that leaders of countries do not seem to understand the basic concept "you can not spend what you do not have" - a fundamental truth for every household. Forget that and sooner or later you suffer the consequences.

If you forgot the saga about Mr. Strauss-Kahn I am sure there is one man who will never forget 2011. What actually happened in the hotel only him and the lady knows for sure but it meant the end not only of his job as IMF head but also an the end to an almost certain future term as French President. We had our discussions here about it and the general feeling is that likely some sort of paid services had already taken place when he decided to get a free "bonus". And that certainly ended up very costly for him.

Another one who will not forget 2011 for some time is Julian Assange, sort-of rockstyle (he seemt to think at least) hacker and founder of Wikileaks. Another one who chose the wrong bedfellows and paid dearly for it. In my opinion he made a 100 % wrong assumption about the whole case, he should just have gone to Sweden and had it done and over with. I can not see that he would have been found guilty but now he sure looks like it. In the meantime his reputation is just getting more and more sullied but his antics. Like Sweden and not UK would hand him over to US authorities.. yeah right...

In Zimbabwe where I reside the so-called Government of National Unity, GNU, proved time and again that unity is absolutely not what it is about. Constant infighting, unilateral decisions and a neverending public nag about elections or no elections made us all more than a little fatigued. From my point of view every Zimbabwean would like to see elections "yesterday". But not flawed and rigged like last time so the necessary framework has to be in place first. And if I say that one part in this GNU does not want that at all then I state the obvious.

Personally I hope it will happen during this year but with the almost non-moving state of the reforms actually agreed upon to be done first I am not overly optimistic.

The likely most dramatic event locally last year was the as yet unexplained death of retired general Solomon Mujuru, a most influential man in local politics. A fire broke out at his farm and he was found dead inside the building after the fire was put out. There are as many theories to what happened as there are people in Zimbabwe and at the moment a judicial enquiry is taking place to try and establish what happened. What has so far come out is that the police on guard were asleep, had no working communication equipment and did not know the layout of the house they were set to guard. Not very impressive for police being stationed for almost 5 weeks at a house of a VIP.

In other local news our PM has, like a certain Strauss-Kahn, not quite understood that you should keep the fly zipped as much as possible. Especially when the lady in question is attached to the opposition party in politics... In a very strange saga he was first said to have paid lobola (bride pay, dowry) while not himself being present (but strangely State controlled media was all over the place...) then to have paid "damages" for impregnating the lady in question. Hostile state media had an early Christmas gift and reported daily on the whole embarrassment while Mr. Tsvangirai in the end had to come out and state that basically he had been framed.

On top of it this happened during month of November that is said to be "holy" traditionally and no marriages allowed to take place. So now a local chief/headman has fined him for this - again to much glee of hostile media. Go figure.

In neighbouring Zambia elections were held and the opposition not only won but power was peacefully handed over. Go Zambia go, that's the way we like it! In Malawi the president is more and more looking like a classical "noone can do this better than me" nutcase and the economy is being hard hit by a number of bad decisions. Civil unrest claimed a number of lives, shortages of forex and fuel are now regular. Let's hope it does not get as bad as it did here 2004 - 2008.

In Southafrica reality is starting to catch up with ANC, ruling party since the first free elections. The population is increasingly getting fed up with the still glaring gap between rich and poor, corrupt politicians and underperforming Government bodies. The report of opendoor toilets still being built in poor areas was a hard blow. I mean a toilet seat right in the open area between houses with no walls, door or anything to give you privacy, if you (likely) do not understand what I am talking about. The country is simmering with anger and I just hope it does not spiral out of control. Populistic politicians do not help.

I find that I am more and more disconnected from politics in Sweden, my birth country. However I have to comment on the implosion of the Social Democrat party who have now for the second time chosen a party leader with all the wrong qualities. I have no idea where he came from, not a well known person outside the party, but he started off on the wrong foot with a number of strange statements and then never really got it right. The party is at popularity figures not seen since 1917 and clearly something is wrong as the opposition (government leader Moderats, conservative liberals) party leader is so bland a boiled egg is more exciting. And how come all the persons that the party would really like to see as leaders are all declining? Weird and something is not right for sure.

Noone in their right minds can easily forget what happened in Norway when a racist lunatic went on a killing spree. I have always stated that we should be very wary of fanatics regardless of what they are fanatic about. Breivik certainly proved that point. My utmost admiration goes to how Norway as a nation reacted to this onslaught on democracy by NOT beefing up security  and immigration laws etc. but insisting rather on more openness.

So a year of ups and downs for the world so to speak but there is hope. I will not even mention climate change etc because then I will never finish this piece.

From a more personal angle it was great to get visitors from Sweden for the first time in many years. In all honestly I have not been able to recommend people to come visit during a few years but since 2010 I feel it is once more that Zimbabwe is a good place to come visit. So when I via Facebook reconnected with old childhood friend Peter Falkenberg it was great to see him and his son Viktor on a visit. We went canoeing on Zambesi river, something I have not done since the late 90's so that was just great! See some photos here:

There are more photos on Facebook for those who are connected to us there.

We also decided to get married - having lived as married for 9 years... so in a very small and private function on 25 April we did get married. Peter took on the responsibility of being Best Man. This also happened to be the same day Mia turned 30 so we combined the 2 events. Now I have no excuse for forgetting anniversary or birthday... some photos here:

The second visit during the year took place in September when I turned 50. My brother Tony with wife Rene and their 2 young daughters came to visit for a rather intense visit. Intense as we travelled to Lake Kariba and the mountains of Nyanga and they also managed to see the Great Zimbabwe ruins. That covers 3 corners of this country in a few weeks.

On the very day I turned 50 I was awoken at 6 am by 2 very sleepy young boys who had decided that Pappa needed singing for. We then headed home from Nyanga. As we arrived in Harare I suddenly noticed that Tony's car disappeared out of sight behind me. Turned back to find they had stopped because "something fell off the car and the brakes stopped working". Fair enough. Only problem being that they had stopped near the residence of late VP Joshua Nkomo's house. And that is a "security area" no matter how dead he happens to be. After some explaining the soldiers grudgingly accepted he had valid reason to stop where he did.

Once at the house (luckily not far from the missing brakes) we found that our other car had started overheating and Mia had to drop it at the garage. Not the best way to celebrate a birthday but what to do? After some logistical challenges we all gathered later for a nice dinner with some bubbly drink to it.

And my very much wished for and longed for new CD-drive/player was delivered! I am quite serious about music and when my long time faithful drive Proceed CDD more or less stopped working due to a stuck CD I was not amused. Looking around Harare there is basically one shop that might be called "high-end" audio, otherwise it is cheap Sonix boom-boom-bass equipment all over. Checking with the owner of said shop it was quickly confirmed that repairing was pointlessly expensive and complicated and buying a replacement here very costly compared to Sweden. So after some looking around I found this on a web shopping site and started "operation persuade" on my family. Eventually Tony had to pack a well over 10 kg secondhand CD-drive/player as my 50 gift. And much appreciated it is, I still fully enjoy listening to the much improved sound. On which I think I have to write separately or this will never end.

What else? Well almost too much for one very delayed blog post. Mia "graduated" as gym Personal Trainer and is more fit than ever. I am not. Eric had a very tough year in school with lots of problems between him and his teacher. The new year already looks better and we are much relieved actually. Bradley did well and is growing at an alarming rate - as should boys his age.

The year ended with a whole bunch of friends and relatives of the Adolfo clan coming from all corners of the globe for Christmas and New Year. We had a lot of nice gatherings, spent Xmas Day here at home with a family lunch to then continue to Sunningdale for a looong night. New Year's we were so wasted we stayed at home for a quiet family evening.

And then ushered in the New Year with another gathering in Sunningdale. But that is another story as it is not about 2011.

And with that I hope I find you all in good health and that 2012 will be a good one. I promise to be more active here!