I cannot bear the Beatles anymore. I’m just back from a three-day trip to the north of Tanzania with the ambassador, whose CD collection consists of only one artist. I know the Beatles were prolific but even they can’t fill eight solid hours of driving, every day, with new material.
Apart from the soundtrack, the trip reflected some of the stereotypes I’d dreaded. The white 4×4 complete with national flag fluttering from the bonnet; the irritable, bossy diplomat berating his meek African driver for not overtaking; the overdone ceremony and repetitive, fawning speech-making of the official visits.
Perhaps an official visit does have a real value: the people receiving the funding and now responsible for the equipment they’ve got may be more likely to take that responsibility seriously; and it does get the national governments and their representatives close to the people they’re supposed to be helping. What made me a bit sad was that the ambassador was giving off about roads being blocked, cars not pulling over fast enough to let us pass, shops being closed etc. You would think after his seven years in Africa he’d have mellowed: could it be instead that the longer you’re here, the less patient you become? Continue reading