Skip to main content

Things I will miss about South Africa, part I

Part of my continuing series.

1) The village.  Strange as it might sound, I think I will miss this place.  Not the people as much as the land, the overgrazed washed-out rim of the Kalahari.  It's not beautiful or spectacular like Victoria Falls, but I like its quiet unassuming presence, and interesting hidden features.  Though it is terribly inefficient, I like living out of the way in a small community; I enjoy being right on the edge of the wilderness.  I've never lived anywhere I didn't love at least a little before I left; there's something worth savoring nearly everywhere.

2) My host family.  As I've said before, these folks are a preposterously inappropriate choice to host an American for two years.  But that isn't their fault—they're not bad people, and they've tried to do right by me, in their own way.  They've taught me a bit about the Tswana way of doing things.  About the only friends I have in the village are my family, and I'll certainly miss them.

3) Living simply.  Getting back home is certainly very appealing, but there's a certain satisfaction to be had living Thoreau-style.  I've got basically every need taken care of (and then some). and there will definitely be some tradeoffs being thrust back into the hardened arteries of America.  Don't get me wrong, I'm looking forward to creature comforts, but cutting back to the basics has a way of focusing the mind that I'm going to try to remember.


Popular posts from this blog

Why Did Reality Winner Leak to the Intercept?

So Reality Winner, former NSA contractor, is in federal prison for leaking classified information — for five years and three months, the longest sentence of any whistleblower in history. She gave documents on how Russia had attempted to hack vendors of election machinery and software to The Intercept , which completely bungled basic security procedures (according to a recent New York Times piece from Ben Smith, the main fault lay with Matthew Cole and Richard Esposito ), leading to her capture within hours. Winner recently contracted COVID-19 in prison, and is reportedly suffering some lingering aftereffects. Glenn Greenwald has been furiously denying that he had anything at all to do with the Winner clusterfuck, and I recently got in an argument with him about it on Twitter. I read a New York story about Winner, which clearly implies that she was listening to the Intercepted podcast of March 22, 2017 , where Greenwald and Jeremy Scahill expressed skepticism about Russia actually b

Varanus albigularis albigularis

That is the Latin name for the white-throated monitor lizard , a large reptile native to southern Africa that can grow up to two meters long (see pictures of one at the Oakland Zoo here ). In Setswana, it's called a "gopane." I saw one of these in my village yesterday on the way back from my run. Some kids from school found it in the riverbed and tortured it to death, stabbing out its eyes, cutting off its tail, and gutting it which finally killed it. It seemed to be a female as there were a bunch of round white things I can only imagine were eggs amongst the guts. I only arrived after it was already dead, but they described what had happened with much hilarity and re-enactment. When I asked why they killed it, they said it was because it would eat their chickens and eggs, which is probably true, and because it sucks blood from people, which is completely ridiculous. It might bite a person, but not unless threatened. It seems roughly the same as killing wolves tha

The Basic Instinct of Socialism

This year I finally decided to stop beating around the bush and start calling myself a democratic socialist. I think the reason for the long hesitation is the very long record of horrifying atrocities carried out by self-described socialist countries. Of course, there is no social system that doesn't have a long, bloody rap sheet, capitalism very much included . But I've never described myself as a capitalist either, and the whole point of socialism is that it's supposed to be better than that. So of course I cannot be a tankie — Stalin and Mao were evil, terrible butchers, some of the worst people who ever lived. There are two basic lessons to be learned from the failures of Soviet and Chinese Communism, I think. One is that Marxism-Leninism is not a just or workable system. One cannot simply skip over capitalist development, and any socialist project must be democratic and preserve basic liberal freedoms. The second, perhaps more profound lesson, is that there is no s