More on Drug Trafficking in Kenya (Complete Edition)

The scary part of all of this is that President Kibaki’s alleged mistress and daughter are implicated to have been at the center of a drug trafficking ring. The elite presidential escort group was involved in the protection of Armenian drug traffickers.

The only good thing in all of this is that KTN has been able to air the truth, despite earlier attempts by the police to intimidate the two investigative journalists.

Blogging slow to non-existent over the next couple of weeks

Dear readers, apologies for the sparse blogging over the last couple of weeks.

Being a third year PhD candidate, yours truly is in the middle of getting the dissertation prospectus approved before going to the field this summer and beyond (not to mention grading and writing end of term papers).

Regular posts will resume in early June.

In the meantime I’d like to share with you my advance summer reading list:

  1. Dambisa Moyo’s new book: Winner Take All.
  2. The history of medieval Africa.
  3. Warfare in African History.
  4. Political Topographies of the African State.
  5. Party Politics and Economic Reform in Africa’s Democracies.
  6. Sean Hanretta’s book on Yacouba Sylla and Islam and Social Change in French West Africa.

Expect a review of Boone’s Political Topographies in early June.

Why are African Presidents so Popular?

Gallup recently (April 25) released a new report showing approval ratings of African leaders. Many of them are inexplicably popular (a case of respondent preference falsification?). The polls were conducted in 2011.

Top of the list are the likes of Pierre Nkurunziza (Burundi) and Francois Bozize (CAF). Even the unapologetic, unreconstructed autocrats  Paul Biya (Cameroon) and Blaise Compraore (Burkina Faso) poll above 70%.

The whole report is here.

The least popular African leader is Eduardo dos Santos of Angola who polled at a dismal 16%. Angola is Sub-Saharan Africa’s second largest oil producer and China’s largest trade partner on the continent – China imports upwards of 43% of Angola’s oil. The likely denouement of the dos Santos succession is still unclear but one cannot rule out the possibility of turmoil when Angola gets to cross that bridge, especially in light of the fact that Angola’s appear to blame both dos Santos and the country’s leadership.

On Industrial Policy (In which I concur with Blattman 1001%)

I have made the case before here, here and here.

For more here’s Blattman, commenting on Industrial policy:

“You can’t pick winners” is the knee-jerk retort to the mention of anything that even rhymes with industrial policy. I would call it the triumph of ideology over evidence, except that even “ideology” feels like a generous term. Lazy thinking might be a more accurate description. Some have given the question a great deal of thought, but most have not.

I’m not suggesting that the paper above has the right answer (odds are, like most papers, it does not). I’m also not suggesting that governments can pick winners (probably they can’t). Nor am I forgetting that industrial policy is easily politicized and distorted (as surely it is). So what am I talking about?

More on this here.

Some Readings in Economic Anthropology

Perhaps in a subconscious attempt to distract myself from writing my dissertation prospectus I am currently taking an Economic Anthropology class [and loving it] with Jim Ferguson, author of Expectations of Modernity, among other famous works in Economic Anthropology.

The class has a fascinating reading list that includes works like Debt (by the anarchist David Graeber) and Karl Polanyi’s The Great Transformation, among other works in economic anthropology and general anthropological ethnography.

Over the past week we read Karen Ho’s Liquidated, a captivating ethnography of Wall Street, outlining how the recruitment, orientation and work experience of Wall Streeters give them both a false sense of being one in the market and a misguided belief that the real economy is just as liquid as Wall Street.

Reading the book gives one a better understanding of why Wall Street has no qualms with downsizing. Turns out they downsize a lot on the street, to the extent that it is only natural to them that the real economy ought to operate that way as well. It was one of  the most interesting ethnographies I have ever read (out of the five I have read thus far; most of them from some remote part of the world).

Watch this space for more takes on the class reading list as the quarter progresses….