Saturday, April 19, 2008

Surely the Issue of the Day?

I could rant about Zimbabwe, recounts and arms shipments, or Chinese protests against all things French, but something more important has come to my attention. Where have Maggi Mee noodles gone? I was in Chinatown this afternoon picking up supplies, and nowhere, not in one single supermarket of the half dozen or so that exist could I find a single packet of Maggi. Now my plan was to pick up a box of Assam Laksa flavour to compliment the IndoMee Mee Goreng that is a compulsory purchase. Instead I have Mama’s Shrimp Creamy Tom Yum flavour – not quite the same thing as Assam Laksa I’m sure you’ll agree. Is there a conspiracy here? Nestle, I think we should be told!

With regard to China and the torch procession, I think people need to understand the Chinese mentality before they decide on appropriate actions with regard to Tibet. Now I’m as staunch a supporter of a free Tibet or Taiwan as you’ll find, but disrupting the torch procession is absolutely the wrong way to go about making this point to the Chinese.

The Olympics are fantastically important to China as a country, and every single Chinese person displays great pride that they are hosting the games, which are gently but surely opening China up to foreign interest. However, if the West disrupt proceedings, this will just reinforce Chinese views that they are better off isolated. So the key is to protest, to make it known that people are against the Chinese military invasion of Tibet, without actually spoiling the games. Thousands lining the torch route with a message is a step enough at this stage. Don’t burn the bridges on which freedom could eventually cross.

Zimbabwe. We missed a trick. Mugabe faltered immediately after losing the election, and that was the time that a strong message from the African Union (AU) would have possibly sealed the deal. Instead Mugabe has been given time to think and regroup, and now no doubt in addition to the recounts being rigged, we can expect retribution against any areas that voted against Zanu-PF, which is precisely what happened in the last election when Mugabe simply bulldozed vast urban areas that had dared vote against him, displaying millions of people and creating a huge humanitarian crisis.

Mugabe’s birthday is always celebrated as it’s the only time they hand out food aid

Why does the AU behave in such a limp fashion – it will clearly be counter-productive for the West to involve itself in what is an African issue, especially as Mugabe is playing the race card for all it’s worth. Thabo Mbeki has a lot to answer for in his inaction, which just supports the view that Africa can’t remove corrupt regimes without external help. Incidentally I listened to a BBC radio show yesterday about Zimbabwean white farmers who were invited to Nigeria to help kick-start commercial farming there. They were amazed to find the people and government so supportive and welcoming, and to note that the race card went away – in Nigeria they were skilled African farmers, their colour didn’t matter to the people of Nigeria. It would seem that once race becomes a dividing issue, it’s very hard to bind those divisions in society again, something we must bear in mind in the UK.

Anyway, I’m installed in a new house now, in the Little Venice or Maida Vale area of West London.

It’s a nice 1st floor flat, sharing with two other English chaps, and has a decent-sized living room and kitchen. My room is of a reasonable size, but is somewhat lacking in storage, which has been an issue for me with all of my junk. Currently my hifi sits on a waist-height pile of books!

The ceiling is high, and I have double glass doors opening on to a patio area, which will be great in summer. At one end of the street is the Warrington Hotel, a Gordon Ramsey pub, and the other is the canal, past a little row of shops and restaurants in Clifton Gardens. You’re all welcome to visit of course!

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