Happy Birthday, Bob

It’s the most wonderful time of the year: Robert Mugabe’s birthday.

Uncle Bob turned 3,113 last week (actually, 92). And, as usual, he celebrated in style. This year’s party cost $800,000 (note: the average Zimbabwean lives on approximately $3 per day) and involved a 203 lb “edible replica of the Great Zimbabwe ruins“.

It also involved this travesty of a birthday cake (photo screengrabbed from the NYT article linked above), which, as far as I can tell, doesn’t admit to the existence of South Sudan, and maybe also has some unorthodox ideas about where Eritrea and Djibouti are relative to Ethiopia?

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Thanks, everyone who sent this to me!

WTF Friday, 1/15/2016

OMG, you guys, Zimbabwe’s president-for-life Robert Mugabe is dead, or dying, or maybe just on vacation with his family. (Seriously, that’s the entirety of that story.)

In more actually newsy news, Kampala’s police chief has fired all of his intelligence officers for “failure to prevent crime, alleged connivance with criminal gangs, drunkenness and negligence“. Seems like reasonable grounds, but I can’t help wondering what kind of mischief hundreds of drunk, out-of-work, well-connected-to-the-criminal-element cops are going to get up to.

And meanwhile, why isn’t it a bigger deal that sharks can reproduce asexually?

WTF Friday, 10/23/2015

Here are this week’s highlights:

Robert Mugabe, 3,112 year old dictator of Zimbabwe, just won the Confucius Peace Prize, a.k.a. “China’s Nobel Peace Prize”, for his contributions to “African peace”. Because “peace” is definitely the thing you get from 28 years of systematic repression, political violence, and torture. (h/t: Milli. Thanks Milli!)

Jina Moore, a.k.a. “Lady Issues Reporter Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary”, found clear evidence that refugee women and children are being sexually assaulted and exploited as they journey across Europe, despite official denials. (Today the UN High Commission for Refugees changed its tune, admitting that refugee children face “heightened risk of violence and abuse, including sexual violence”.)

And the New York Times, a.k.a. “Somehow Still the Paper of Record”, decided to survey its readers on whether they would go back in time and murder baby Hitler. (42% said yes.)

So it’s pretty much been business as usual.

Mugabe vs. SCOTUS

A late entry in the category of “Most Ridiculous Responses to the Supreme Court’s Marriage Equality Ruling”: Robert Mugabe has announced plans to propose to President Obama.

Speaking to listeners of Zimbabwe’s national radio station on Saturday, he said:

“I’ve just concluded – since President Obama endorses the same-sex marriage, advocates homosexual people and enjoys an attractive countenance – thus if it becomes necessary, I shall travel to Washington, DC, get down on my knee and ask his hand.”

Then he called the U.S. government a bunch of “perverted Satan-worshipers who insult the great American nation”.

H/T: Ben in NYC.

WTF Friday, 2/20/2015

A few weeks ago, I wondered how 3,172 year old dictator Robert Mugabe would celebrate his birthday (actually, his 91st) this year.

The answer turns out to be: by gorging on Zimbabwe’s precious wildlife. The big day is tomorrow, and the menu reportedly includes ELEPHANT MEAT. This man is leaving no box unchecked in his quest for super-villain status.

I’m at #ISA2015, so that’s all I’ve got for today, but here is a giraffe standing perfectly still to avoid being spotted and eaten by Robert Mugabe.

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(Photo credit: me, 2010.)

WTF Friday, 2/6/2015

So:

WTF Friday, 1/30/2015

Zimbabwe President Robert Mugabe just became chairman of the African Union. That’s right, Mugabe, destroyer-of-hope, wrecker-of-the-economy, thrower-of-extravagant-birthday-parties-for-himself.

You might be thinking: “This man has completely mucked up the one thing he has ever been in charge of [and again, that thing is a country of 14 million people], why would anyone elect him chairman of anything?”

I don’t have an answer for you. But what I do know is that the 1115 year old Mugabe (or 90, whatever) looked “youthful and strong” speaking to press yesterday. Can’t wait to see what he does for his birthday next month.

WTF Friday, 10/24/2014

The following things happened this week:

  1. First lady Grace Mugabe indicated that she would like to succeed her husband Robert Mugabe, currently 3,713 years old and in his 846th year in office, as president. I feel like the Mugabes might’ve done enough for their country (if “enough” = the destruction of its economy, civil society, and performance on health indicators), how about you?
  2. Female activists in South Sudan took a page from Lysistrata and proposed a sex strike for peace. It’s a reasonable strategy; abstinence seems to be at least as effective as any other peace-building approach.
  3. Evidence emerged that ISIS is using prohibited chemical weapons against Iraqi government forces. This is, of course, in addition to their already horrifying record of violations of the laws of war such as the massacre of captured Iraqi soldiers, and the use of Yazidi women as sex slaves. Anyone got war crimes bingo? (There should be war crimes bingo, right?)

And then last night a doctor in New York tested positive for Ebola after treating victims of the epidemic in Guinea. Predictably, everyone has gone completely insane over this. Especially in my neighborhood, where Dr. Spencer hung out on Wednesday night before he began to experience symptoms.

Somehow, this has become additional fodder for the crazies (and their leader, Donald Trump) demanding that President Obama stop all flights from West Africa. Which just makes me wonder angrily: WHAT FLIGHTS ARE THEY EVEN TALKING ABOUT?

The next time I have to get to somewhere in sub-Saharan Africa, I am contacting Mr. Trump to do my travel booking. I look forward to the route he will find me that will not involve 3 layovers in airports of decreasing cleanliness, and the inexplicable arrival of my baggage two days later, with one member of each pair of shoes missing.

Are You Ready for the Zimbabwe Elections?

Zimbabwe goes to the polls next week amidst reports of an “alarming clampdown” by security forces loyal to long-time (seriously, it’s been a really long time) incumbent Robert Mugabe.

Apparently, we’ll all be able to track the election results in real time. In the meantime, if you need a quick refresher on what’s at stake, check out the latest edition of Ikenna Azuike’s “What’s Up Africa?”

H/T: Max Fisher

WTF Friday, 6/29/2012

If you’re ever in need of some good, hot WTF action, here’s a pro tip: Head on over to Kickstarter, and type the name of any African country into the search bar. We tried “Congo” yesterday, and uncovered these gems:

  • The crew over at 1 Million Bones raised more than $25,000 to create “a 2-minute time-lapse video shout-out to the entire country to tell them about One Million Bones.” They promised that supporters who pledged $15 or more would be entitled to “have a bone made in your name.”

    We don’t even know which way to joke about this. On the one hand, the reality of this is so strange that it almost transcends humor: Is the idea that these supporters are being pre-memorialized now in case they are genocided at a later date? Is it a way to get an authentic “victim of mass murder” experience without having to go to the trouble and expense of being brutally killed first? A statement that the memory of a genocide victim should carry roughly the same weight as that of an individual who donated approximately two Chipotle burritos’ worth of money?

    But on the other hand, there is a whole range of “I’ve got a big bone with your name on it” jokes available to us here, and we’re reluctant to just let them go.

  • These modern-day Dr. Livingstones raised nearly $29,000 to go exploring in the Republic of Congo to see if they could find living dinosaurs. They helpfully point out that “the The Congo Basin is a region of Central Africa larger than the state of Florida, more than 80% of which has been totally unexplored.” (We assume they are using the standard “photographed and posted to Facebook by white people” definition of “explored.”) Their rewards were pricier than 1 Million Bones,’ but how could anyone resist “a handcarved Spear made by the Baka Pygmy people along with a picture of the person who carved it holding YOUR spear” for the low, low price of $100? Or corporate naming rights to one of the many new species the group plans to discover, for only $1500? (First 5 pledgers also receive free Pygmy crossbow!)

    For an extra dose of WTF, please refer to this Huffington Post article on the project, which refers to the research destination as “the African Congo.” Look, we know the search for a modifier with which to identify which Congo you’re talking about is time-consuming and tedious for all of us. Congo-K, Congo-B; Heart-of-Darkness-Congo, Heart-of-Darkness-Adjacent Congo; etc. Why don’t we all just agree to call them “Rape Congo” and “Dinosaur Congo” from here on out? Sound good to everybody?

And, some late-breaking WTF news from Peter Doerrie’s always-interesting Twitter feed: Apparently, Zimbabwe suspended all weddings this April in order to “curb fraud.” Marriage officers have been warned that if they perform marriages in spite of the ban, “jail is waiting for you.” According to The Scotsman, “The authorities complain foreigners, mostly from Nigeria and the Democratic Republic of Congo, are paying Zimbabwean women to enter into marriages of convenience so that they can obtain residence permits. In a case that recently came to light, a desperate local street vendor agreed to marry a Nigerian man for just £6 in 2006.”