It’s a strange existence sometimes in Africa.
We’re on our last night of a two week holiday. I just took out a plate of food for the guard who’s been patrolling our holiday house at night time. He’s a young Zulu chap. He smiled and thanked me for the bryani. Then I got a call from the security company at home telling me our home alarm system has triggered – Is everything ok? Shall we come and assist?
We’re hundreds of miles away I tell them, but sure please go and have a look. Be nice to my dogs.
They found nothing except my grumpy dogs. We never actually put the alarm on. I think it was a power cut causing all the commotion. Guess we’ll find out tomorrow.
It is so easy to cause havoc if you really want to, but we still try to control the risk. Some countries don’t have this issue.
But they also don’t have whales and zebras and sunshine and snakes and zip lines and beaches like I experienced this holiday.
Pros and cons. The grass is always greener.
Where I come from, malaria is seen as something pretty manageable. Treat it once it hits you – sort of like a bad cold. Obviously you will feel grim if you catch it, but the trick is not to let the risk escalate after you got the disease. Treat it quick. No worries.
Risk versus reward.
Murder and hijacking rates in Johannesburg are high – the risk is all around you, and yet millions of people live their lives accepting the pros with the cons. Make money, socialise like mad, good restaurants, events, culture atmosphere and the risk of getting shot.
At the end of the day we all die, so the risk vs. reward equation is important because it answers the question of why we do what we do.
But it is completely subjective. My comfort zone is another person’s crisis.
I am a fan of surprises. My wife has booked us a trip away for my birthday tomorrow and I have no idea where we are going, but it’s in a plane so it ain’t close!
Some people hate surprises and moan about birthdays….I like em both.
Seth’s latest is about the most succinct and important post I have read this year. Give it a read:
What interests me is the perspective that Seth has on the issues he raises – namely he is American and is at the heart of the most developed, sophisticated economy in the world – and the media he is exposed to is a reflection of that. On the other hand, I live in Africa.
In many ways, we Africans are leapfrogging Americans and Europeans in terms of consuming media – we are keen to use technology. We get the latest TV shows, movies and sports from all over the world. Premier league soccer games are passionately followed even in the poorest slums in Nairobi. We have access to Twitter, Facebook and the internet. Mobile telephones have been taken up far quicker here than they were in the developed world – so there is a case to be made that the surplus of the internet and the ‘race to the bottom’ trends Seth speaks of are likely accelerating quicker here than in the USA.
There is also huge scarcity in Africa – however rather than an artificial scarcity controlled by the FCC or its local equivalent, African scarcity is driven largely by poverty. Unfortunately poverty combines very neatly with any media agenda that is pushing us to think short term – to care about now and not later. I think Africa’s environmental degradation and lack of investment in culture or education is in part a reflection of this. Scarcity is in conflict with the ubiquitous internet. I am still getting my head around how this plays out locally in terms of media consumption. The pace of change and media consumption is slower because of scarcity. Access is restricted. Africans cannot contribute as much to their own media and culture because of poverty. We are influenced by other continents far more than we should be. Just ask a local if he’d watch South African or English soccer. My bet is England any day of the week because of the exposure it has gotten through the TV networks.
Despite these differences between geographies, Seth’s ending point is still completely true the world over: “We’ve been willing participants in this daily race for our attention and our emotions. But we don’t have to be.”
Every now and then we must get out and do something other than consume.
I have a little bit of money invested in Bitcoin, using BitX as my exchange. It’s a bit of an investment in a possible future.
Today i got a note from BitX telling me about all the stores in South Africa accepting Bitcoin.
The fact that I can trade in a virtual currency and not use a bank is amazing to me. All these options online for me to use the Bitcoin – It’s sci-fi come to life.
Africa is adopting new technologies quickly and will likely leapfrog some older infrastructures as new developments take hold. That is what happened in Kenya with MPesa. It is happening in Rwanda with drones. Maybe it will happen with Bitcoin too.