Friday, February 22, 2008

UPDATE - February 22, 2008

February 15, 2008

I’m standing in the security line in Johannesburg trying to catch a flight along with many other people who are possibly trying to hurry. And a large plain-clothes lady (some would call fat) walks down our line singing loudly (as if humming to herself) in an operatic voice,

“It’s Toooo Laaaaaaaaate. It’s Toooooo Laaaaaaaaaaaate!”

At this point I knew it was over. No one else seemed to find this comical.

Strangely, I made my flight. But maybe some of the others didn’t.


I have a bit of a headache. I’ve been running between people and groups and family and friends. In my culture, I have to talk to people on the phone who I don’t know but who want to talk to me to greet me. Some can talk. Some aren’t good at holding conversations. So it’s very strange to talk to someone like you know them but you don’t. But you’ve heard the phrase “it takes a whole village to raise a child.” It’s really true. So I’ll have someone I have never met come and see me for the first time and say “I miss you. I missed you soooo much.” I think in American cultural English the person would have said “Oh, I’ve heard so much about you. It’s nice to meet you. Your mother has been missing you.” But it doesn’t quite capture it because the person is actually expressing some vicarious or transferring longing experienced because everyone raises you even if some of your “parents” have only done it from afar. But it’s always a shock or jolt as I’m within the American culture as well.

So I’m in Texas and many travel plans have changed. I made it in time for a wedding I was attending. And I visited a church my father opened up (I was expected to lead the music—not asked). I visited with many family and friends and “family” and missed many family and friends and “family.” I was told by someone how another person doesn’t like who I chose for a wife and received prayer from the person telling me this because she saw a vision of a diamond rusting and me trying to love someone (she said “make love”) but in the end, withdrawing that love. I’ve had people not respond to me and received e-mail from others wishing they could meet. I’ve heard from many students. I’ve played the piano for a gig (wonderful to do that again after such a long time of irregular playing), had Ethiopian food, Latin danced.

I had the chance to early vote since my absentee registration was only in time for the November election. I even worked (or am working) on a new diseducation piece on a comparison between Obama and Clinton (which are less pronounced than the difference between Huckabee and McCain). It was very difficult for me, though, because the candidates are not forced to list their stances on the same topics. So they can be group their issues into whatever topics they want. This means you might find a topic on Hillary’s site that is a subtopic of another topic on Obama’s site. Or you’ll find a topic on Obama’s site that is spread between many topics on Hillary’s site. Also information is doubled on the same person’s site since it falls into multiple categories. So it’s really a mess. And the process of running a country is so huge that the task was daunting and overly-time consuming. I did not enjoy it. I was able to go to an Obama rally. It was interesting to see people treat him like a rock star or something. They are truly taken with him.

I also deal with people who misunderstand when I say “in my culture.” It doesn’t mean it doesn’t happen in American culture. It doesn’t mean that it goes for everyone in my culture. It doesn’t mean I’m not American. It simply represents a trend that occurs with higher frequency in the corresponding culture (earlier I was talking about Nigerian culture) than in American culture. That’s all. It’s hard because some people take my generalizations as absolutes. They are not absolutes and don’t apply to everyone. They are simply generalizations for simplicity. They are always exceptions and outliers. I’m only pointing out a trend or tendency, that’s all. For example. . .

In my culture (and in many others) a host hosts people. It’s ok if a host takes great care of a guest because it’s a family affair. To try to pay a host back for food or gas or anything is like trying to pay your mother back for caring for you. It doesn’t make sense because we’re all family. It especially doesn’t make sense because there will come a time (and has) when I will be the guest and the roles reversed. So we all take care of each other. But in American culture there seems to be more of the tendency to refuse help or be independent, or when given help or things (even from a host) to pay it back. I definitely understand trying to both pay for a meal or something. But when the meal (or flight or gift or ride) is already paid, it’s strange for me to see someone try to repay it pay it back. It’s done and one day the roles will be reversed. But most importantly, it’s a family affair. I was never seeking to be paid back. We give of ourselves for each other. That’s just what we do. Sometimes, Americans teach me though this more independent style and pay-back style. So I vascillate. But I’m so glad I have been taught how to graciously accept. It’s SOO important as you can offend by not accepting. There is gracing in knowing how to receive or learning how to do such.

So sometimes Americans (even my mom a Nigerian) have to remind me that I should pay for this or pay this or that back because it doesn’t occur to me sometimes because of my family mentality with family (I remember house sitting for a friend and being told to pay a small rent for the luxurious place). When I went to Chicago for a visit of a pastor friend, he paid for everything the entire trip (gas, food, any activity we did, etc.). This was what I am used to from a host (he’s Korean). I did offer to pay for everything as we went, but I accepted what he tried to do because it’s more according to what I understand. And he was showing love. I really appreciated it. So I get a lot of culture clash, not just outside but within me as I move and back and forth and forget and remember. So it was interesting being home.

It was good to hear our language, again. It was good to sit around the table with Africans and discuss the world. You know how in some cultures people don’t like to discuss religion and politics. That doesn’t exist with Africans in general. The most controversial things are the very things you DO discuss and discuss with passion (Nigerians on the passion part). So it was great to see that and to hear people outline various things from the first Nigerian to Clinton vs Obama to Nigeria’s role in ending apartheid in South African and Black South African xenophobia. And to hear languages is great.

Jeannie and Haley studied Xhosa for 3 weeks while in Cape Town, and they would watch these videos, so I wanted to show you only ONE of the Black South African languages here. This one is called Xhosa and is the largest Black South African ethnic group where I am (but not the most spoken language as English and Afrikaans trump it).

Interesting video about appearances and pre-guesses (prejudging).

When most people come to South Africa (from a wealthy country outside), they do a safari or visit a game reserve. These are the places where you get to see if it is really true that lions are the king of the jungle. While it’s true, I want you to see a video that might show a slightly different perspective and show you the nuances of courage, defense, love, and courage among the animals. Welcome to the Battle!


Well, a proposal has been placed before the floor of parliament to disband the Scorpions (similar to FBI). They are a strange group because though they are not allowed to gather intelligence. That brings up your next interesting question: how can you carry out investigative duties without gathering intelligence? Good question. Mbeki avoided all talk of the Scorpions in his State of the Nation address (started with Madiba), but people are bringing up the things he didn’t address.

Mbeki’s stance is that with all our problems (HIV/AIDS, all crime, power, etc.), we are not to change directions. We have always been on the right course and we should “stay the course.” The challenge is in the implementation of our directed plan, not in the plan itself. Others disagree and want government officials to pay or “experience” responsibility for power failures or for the crime which should be lower than it is now. Others want the Scorpions disbanded as they don’t work in their current state.

One member of parliament is trying to instate a school oath. Kids have weighed in on it, but in the overall scheme of things, it’s not the most pressing thing facing the country. It is interesting though because it reminds me that Texas instituted a Texas pledge some years ago (maybe 2003). And so I was in the university when it was instated, and I never had to say it. But it brings up an interesting observation. What is discussed on the state level in the states is discussed at the “federal” level in other countries. In fact, I was at a talk recently in which a presenter used the words state and an American interpreted that to mean an organization like Nevada or New Hampshire. I thought it meant country because I’m more oriented to understanding that meaning.

So it just reminds me how the definition of state is not really taught well or reinforced in schools. A state in its original meaning is actually a country (I’ve said this before, so bear with me). The US rightly appropriated the word in order to say that we are 50 united countries in one federation. But this concept (that we are 50 countries together) is not hammered home in schools. So we lose this meaning and the power of the statement this makes. This message is not lost on other countries. They understand that in the US very little (historically) was left to the federal government and each state makes up SO MUCH of its own rules (like a country). And so you have myths that abound over here. A South African once told me he thinks its weird how you can commit a crime in California, but then if you escape to Oregon, the police can’t get you. Of course there are problems with his understanding (actually depends on type/nature of transgression), but you can see his perspective on the US. Many people have told me how people in Washington D.C. are not allowed to vote. Though it’s true of Puerto Rico, this also isn’t true.

It is an amazing thought—50 states (seminal meaning, denotative) combined to work as one with inter-autonomy. Interesting. It’s not really like there anywhere else. Some come close, yes. And some even use the word “state” for their province or territory.


Just wanted to say that the Cup of African Nations ended last Sunday. Egypt (who defeated Cote D’Ivoire in the semifinals) defeated Cameroon (who defeated Ghana). So it kind of establishes the North African reign in these games. It’s Egypt’s 6th win in this cup. It is nice to have the games as they are more exciting than the local South African league.

It was nice to see Speilberg pull out as artistic director of the 2008 Olympic games because China wasn’t doing more in Sudan (and I would say doing negatively). I find it highly strange (may have said this as well, too) that the biggest countries (mostly guys on the Security Council of the UN especially the 5 permanent members) sell weapons and arms to countries that are in conflict and then wonder why there is conflict. Now of course the arms don’t cause the conflict, but the big nations fuel it. And so it’s very strange to see it being addressed. We do this all the time ourselves as many of these places do not manufacture these weapons. And so it seems almost contradictory to promote peace and manufacture weapons (opinion or fact under the guise of an opinion). As always my primary concern is not security as I see security as a symptom not a root cause; I tend not to prioritize symptoms. In my prioritizing hierarchy, peace is above security (as it comes as a byproduct, to some a counterproduct). Given that, it seems that we speak of peace in many ways and then fight it in many actions. A complete nuclear disarmament of every nation on the globe would be fantastic but also fantastical in my cartoonish world.

So African-Sino relations are souring as suspicions increase. I’m trying to imagine China and India 64 years in the future and what the world will be like.

Regarding Africans helping Africans Annan was criticized for not understanding the issues in the Kenya turmoil.

I don’t know if I said this, but people consider this the cradle of humankind. I’ve heard people disagree with this thinking that humanity started in Africa, but in North Africa, but scientist place it here. I am not referring to homo sapiens, but to homo habilis, the first species they label as man. And it was supposed to have started here. So if you ever fly to Johannesburg, South Africa, one of the sites to see is this World Heritage Site (UNESCO) about an hour outside the city where you can find a museum that talks about the Cradle of Humankind or Humanity.


And so I was in Johannesburg and wanted to visit this spot, but I chose not to do so due to the distance and my time constraints. Let me tell you how I got to Joburg.

In the US when you fly someone out for a permanent position, you do it one way (you can do a round trip), but if you fly them out for a timed (1 year) fellowship, you purchase it round trip, paying for travel both ways. Here it’s only one way. I didn’t know that, interpreting their words by American culture since this is temporary (at least for now). So when I asked why was the return set for May since the earliest I can use it to go home would be at the 1year mark in September 2008. They said, don’t worry; I can change it (notice this in direct response to my question about how can I use it to get home after 1 year or 2 years—I did add 2 years). So I found out this was untrue. At most I could push it forward one month to June and that was it. Additionally it would cost me. So I decided to use it now in February to make it to Houston for wedding.

If I changed it with the travel agency they charge me extra (here they don’t receive pay from airlines). So I tried to change it directly with SAA. They said no because the original card that purchased it must be the same card used to pay a change fee. It’s a strange policy, but I explained it was a university and it would not reopen until Monday (they can only hold a changed reservation for one day). They said too bad. They need that card to pay it, a faxed copy of the front and back of the card, and the ID of the holder. The guy was nice and held the reservation longer than the 24 hours. On Monday, the UCT woman located the card that paid and said it was not UCT but a contracted travel agency. So I couldn’t avoid going to them and paying extra. I had to use them. So I was sent to a location close to me even though the woman (agent) handling it was at a more distant location.

The guy she sent me to didn’t know what was going on though she told me he would. So it took awhile. I finally paid it. They finally found change, and I was released. I asked what should I do (he wasn’t giving any info). Finally he found out I should call the airline after 1 hour and it would be set. I gave them 24 hours. Tuesday morning I called and the airline said nothing had been confirmed with the money. So I e-mailed the agency again to handle things (I was in a meeting at church about children’s program). Finally, I got back after lunch and they said they had worked it out (the agent e-mailing that she didn’t understand why SAA didn’t see it as changed or confirmed). So I didn’t bother checking with SAA again. I went to the airport on Wednesday after returning the rented VW beetle (for Jeannie, Haley, and Rosa) and at the check-in counter after taking my bag and putting a sticker on it, the guy said I don’t have a ticket and need to go to ticket sales to get the ticket.

There they said the travel agent didn’t “follow through” so it wasn’t revalidated (I think we call this re-issued where your reservation is assigned a ticket number; you can’t fly on just a reservation; you need an actual paper or e-ticket/number). So she was on the phone for about an hour trying to work it out. This is about the entirety of my time before the plane was taking off. The entire time the ticket-sales woman was telling me I’m going to miss my flight so be prepared to fly tomorrow; I got prepared. They started calling me over the loudspeaker “Dr. Udoewa, Dr. Udoewa.” I didn’t know who that was at first. I’m used to people throwing stuff at me saying “hard-headed” and “crazy” (here in SA businesses like to refer to me like doctor for some reason). After finally getting the proper faxes and money sent in a three-way conversation with SAA HQ in Joburg, the travel agency, and the woman at ticket sales, they rushed me through security (though I still had to empty the laptop and all that) and rushed me to the plane. The gate people wouldn’t let me on though.

So the original check-in guy who rushed me down there took me back and booked me on the next flight. I tried to ask if I would fly tomorrow (I didn’t want to rush off just to wait for many hours in an airport because I knew I had at least one leg that was once a day Joburg—DC). Well, he puts me on the next flight. The problem is (I didn’t know this) it gets in at the same time the Joburg—DC flight leaves. And the Joburg airport is a mess so you have to actually walk outside to get from the international to the domestic terminals and vice-versa. By the time I arrived at the international gate, I missed the flight. SAA wouldn’t pay for a hotel or food because they said it’s not their fault as regulations say you can’t put two connecting flights closer together than an hour. They said it was the travel agent. I called two friends in Joburg, and only reached one who was sitting down to a play, so she gave me directions to a good part of town with a cheaper hotel (I inquired at the airport hotel but it was about $500 a night). So I got to town and thought I was good.

I’m skipping lots of difficulties to shorten the story (difficulties finding vacant hotels, being rebooked on the next flight, getting from international gates back to ticket sales [have to pass through customs and immigration and explain to people], etc.).

Well, on Thursday I thought I would fly to DC, but luck was against me. A 30 minute taxi ride took 2 hours (1 hour 50 minutes) due to the time of day. I didn’t have a proper knowledge of Joburg traffic and locations to know now to leave at that time. I missed the flight, again. This time the guy at ticket sales charged me to put me on Friday’s flight. I was not content. Things weren’t working out.

I’m not one to argue, but I went back to ticket sales just to inquire if he would remove the R1 380 charge (like $175 I think) if I flew standby. Well, all the ticket sales agents disappeared except for the same white, uncaring (not related) man, and I thought I would have to see him again (on Thursday a nice black guy (unrelated) helped me out and didn’t mention a word about charging me so I was confused about the policy). Well, some guy was stuck; he was going back to Zambia and he needed help to pay the extra-weight fee and he was short R50. So I helped him which required me to go with him to the window right when another woman appeared (and she was the one that called us). This put me with a black, Zulu woman instead of the same guy. This woman had pity on me after the Zambia guy left (he said so many people have hearts of stone and he was so thankful). This woman and her higher boss (also same ethnicity) really helped me out. They asked who charged me (maybe they needed to know to reverse it) and they took care of everything. The original woman who couldn’t do it just asked that I give them a little something. The older woman who did it (the first one left) didn’t ask but I said I would give something. When I did (R100) she looked at it strangely like I shouldn’t worry about bribing, but she took it. She was super sweet.

The problem is that the trip was unplanned but necessary because they aren’t paying my way back to the US and my sister had booked the new roundtrip leaving the 23rd, and I needed to get to the US to catch the new flight. Anyway, I finally found the other friend, Audri (she hates it when I call her this). I stayed with her and her husband Thursday night and got to see a little more of Joburg, ruin their Valentine’s (not really, they are really caring people), spend time with them and see their missionary work. I admire them.

It was good talking to Brian. I love to see people who are impassioned by something, and he had some great ideas. So it was good to listen and learn and see a piece of their experiences and life. I was thankful for them and their hospitality, their food, and their rides. I also got to meet Brian’s boss the woman organizing the youth rally on HIV/AIDS who asked me to speak on it. At this point I’m in Joburg about to board the plane, wondering where my bag is (I think it went to DC on Wednesday). I was going to

a) dance for the bachelorette pary

b) sing at the rehearsal dinner

c) be a gift-bearer at the Vietnamese morning ceremony

d) usher at the American ceremony in the afternoon

e) surprise at the reception

At this point, I would only make e. I anticipate luggage issues in DC Saturday morning though. We’ll see.

(I got in Saturday night just in time to catch some of the reception; maybe missed an hour. I stopped in Dakar. I missed

a connection in DC, had to locate the luggage (took hours) and my rescheduled flight was delayed in DC as well).


We have two that I want to mention. Born-Frees just ended. It is a show that follows the lives of kids born in 1994, thusly named Born-frees. Interesting concept.

The second show is called “Forgive and Forget.” I thought it interesting because you can see why it has automatic appeal here in South Africa. However it is not a show where blacks and colours confront and eventually forgive whites who killed their black or coloured family members during apartheid. It’s just normal family and friend issues. But you can see the foundation for the show set in the country’s history and the efforts for reconciliation.

Sunday, February 10, 2008

UPDATE - February 10, 2008

It’s hard for me here because I go up to windows to speak to customer service agents or buy tickets. But in South Africa, they don’t put those circles of holes so that sound can pass through the glass from you the representative.

“Hi, I’d like to buy 3 tickets.”


“I’m sorry did you say 9 or 4 rand?”

“The Lore Sands are at the sentinel beach.”


“Who are you?”

“I would like to buy tickets, please.”

“The facilities for deaf and mute persons is to your right.”

“I am sorry, I can’t hear you.”

“Are you looking for a job?”

At this point I realize not only can I not hear her, she cannot hear me. So I give her a piece of my mind.

“Why don’t you put some holes in your glass.”

“Is this your first day to work security?”

“Then maybe you would hear somebody when they ask for THREE TICKETS!!”

“Oh, you want three tickets. (aside) Tell the security guys it’s a false alarm. (to me)

Why didn’t you say say so! It’s 9 rand.”


It’s driving me over the edge.

Vic Falls Over the Edge

All that water makes me think about peeing, excuse the terminology. Apparently there is a huge academic debate about the sociology or anthropology (I told you how all these fields intermingle and people do the same thing in different field) of toilet use. Anna, who owns my house, did an anthropology project on it. So I put it here for your enjoyment, ladies, and your belittlement (if you do poorly), men. The urinal game. Choose wisely.


So someone mentioned that Mandela’s clan name is Madiba and not Mandiba. People actually refer to him as both. And I’ve seen published works referring to him as Mandiba. So I left that the same from the last update.

I did, however, incorrectly write that Graca used to be married to the head of Zambia. That was an obvious mistake. She was married to Mr. Machel the head of Mozambique. But I thought it might be obvious as I said that she continued to work in Maputo. I think I was just thinking of Zambia or Rhodesia at the time I was writing that and it came out. It is correct on the blog (for those of you who use the e-mail as a notice that the blog is updated and don’t read the e-mail).

Also the movie Cate Blanchett was in is called “Notes on a Scandal.” I said “Notes on a Letter” but did not correct this as I wrote that “‘Notes on a Scandal’ I think or something like that,” admitting I wasn’t sure. So I didn’t update it on the blog since I admitting I wasn’t sure. It’s more natural.

I hadn’t heard this much before, but I met the first white person in South Africa who mispronounced these multiple consonant names. I hear it all the time in the US. But here people seem more educated about it. But I met a woman here, a wife of a Rotarian, who pronounced Mbeki (the president!) as “Mabeki.” I was shocked. I heard another do it, but she was a foreigner.


So I’ve been quite blessed to have gone to some amazing schools even since Day-Care. And because of it, I often have former classmates (whether I knew them well or not) who are doing big things (renown or not) in the world. It often gives me the opportunity to do call up favors: “Hey, can you, the leading historian, come to my campus to speak for an event?” or “I keep getting this thing in the mail and I don’t know who it’s from, will you please trace this name and tell me everything you know on it including an address, please?” Things like that. Well, I was reminded recently, that I went to school with Obama. This is not an attempt at name-dropping or trying to ride his coattails; if you ask my family I say this all the time about other people. It doesn’t mean we were the same class or at the same time, but were at the same institution. You hear some funny stories sometimes because of the people that have gone before you.

Anyway, the last time I mentioned Suresh and just sent the e-mail out hurriedly, I wanted to mention what Suresh (the Trini biography-writer who has lived in South Africa for at least 10 years now) said. Suresh was actually in the same law school class with Obama. And in one particular class (course), the professor was talking about politics. The professor espoused that the way to do politics correctly was to deracialize politics. And this was the way one should do politics. Well, if you know Suresh and Obama, you’ll know (as Suresh said) that they were the two most vocal people in the classroom. Obama was on the side of people that agreed that you must deracialize (Suresh’s word) politics. Suresh disagreed and felt you have to deal with it or leave it in, so to speak. The interesting thing Suresh pointed out over dinner, was that Obama’s campaign is the practical implementation of everything he said in the classroom that particular day in that particular class. In fact, this campaign would show who was right. If Obama was right, he will win, and if Suresh was right, Obama will lose, which Suresh doesn’t want. Interesting, huh?

I’ve always felt that Obama would win and still hold to that though people keep giving me conflicting reports (I don’t like for people to tell me counts before a state finishes tallying their vote for the night because it makes too much confusion and can be wrong). But actually honestly, I have to correct my thoughts and what Suresh said. For reasons I haven’t mentioned, I feel Obama will win and (if Obama was right) Suresh thinks he will win in a presidential race against a Republican.

Using the same logic (as Fletcher pointed out, Clinton is more polarizing then Obama) on my side and Obama’s law school arguments, the stance that he will win is much weaker if you talk about a Democratic primary race. This is because of two reasons. Clinton’s polarization deals with the entire nation and we’re looking at a subset—Democrats (or whoever would like to vote in the Democratic primary this year to be honest). And deracializing politics seems to be a way to pull in whites from either party, not a way to hold on to minorities who tend to lean away from the Republican party. So we shall see.

Suresh especially thought that deracializing politics doesn’t work because of some effect (the one where a white person thinks she will vote for Obama and likes what he says but when she gets to the poll both chooses a white candidate; I don’t know what this is called). I still hold, though it looks different, that Obama will win the Democratic primary from my vantage point. I think he would for sure if the entire globe were voting.

If you’re an American or from the States, you’ve probably already seen this, but I’m sending it anyway. Here’s an Obama video my good friend Jennifer (she’s the one I asked you to contribute to as she ran for Teach for American in Hawaii) sent me. She added, “Politics aside, it’s just good stuff.” That’s a paraphrase.

Over here, no words yet on if Annan (Kofi) can get Kibaki to budge on having another set of election or some kind of resolution to the conflict in Kenya. Now the count is over 1,000 people (last time I mentioned it, it was over 600). Everything is affected even universities like where I work at. I read about one university that had 1/2 Kikuyu and Kamba students/people who all left. The infrastructure in all realms is likewise seriously hampered.

I don’t know if I should be hopeful or not about the Zimbabwe elections. But a (now former since announcing this) member of Mugabe’s party is now going to run against him. We’ll see what happens. I think it’s a bit courageous.


There’s a guy here named David Goldblatt. And a wonderful friend named Karen in Montpelier, France introduced me to him, strangely enough. She’s an English teacher there.

David has been capturing the changing landscape of South Africa for over 50 years or so. Some of his exhibitions or group exhibitions are named “Apartheid: The South African Mirror” (just ended in Barcelona), “South Africa, The Structure of Things Then,” and “Intersections.” I think he’s nearly 80 now, going to be 78 this year. And he has some great photographs if you can search through the site (you have to click a gallery and then look for artists and then find him, so it’s not a direct link).

In 2006, he won the first—well he was the first South African to win the highest prize in photography. It’s called the Hasselblad Foundation International Award in Photography (the hasselblad is a really expensive camera, if you know photography). So this time, I don’t have to spend a lot of time writing about art you can’t see. You can actually go to the sight and try to view some of the pictures.

They are not necessarily shocking or immediately grabbing. They are just real in the line of a photographic story-teller. Enjoy.


I need some help. A large editing project has fallen in my lap, and I would like some help. It’s allowed, so no worries. So if you are feel you

1) have editorial skills (feel comfortable editing)

2) are not only willing but able (it’s book-length) and I need a turn-around time of a month

3) enjoy the genre of Christian non-fiction

please let me know if you would like to help. I just need a few more. Thanks.


It’s a bit funny. In most places—excuse me, in many developing countries, if you have something like rolling blackouts planned or unplanned, people accept it more or less. I mean you wouldn’t have academic and political debates about power and the crisis and the government. But South Africa is an entire intersection of the first world in the –I mean a developed country in a developing country. It’s so strange, and I see the juxtaposition or possession of one by the other all the time and in everything.

I’ve been quite excited by the fact that lectures start again in one week because now there are special talks and lectures you can attend and special exhibitions and concerts again at the university. It became very dead and quite in December. I went to two lectures this week outside my field: one on the power crisis and one on cities in conflict.

No need to give you an in depth analysis of these. It’s just interesting to see people engaging like this when I’ve been in countries where people just deal and no one complains to the government. Even with the unusual (so it’s not normal) situation in China with the power issues, failures, bad weather, transportation issues, etc. Some people are complaining, yes. But many are not. So it’s strange here. Funny, though, it’s more of the people at the higher socio-economic class (and students or university people) who are engaging in this discussion.

Economists would say (I love when economists say things) that energy is incorrectly priced in this country. Eskom, a government corporation, only recently (past few years) starting paying taxes. They underpaid for the energy they bought (subsidized by the government), and they offer a lot of free energy and low prices to people as a result. [I know I might have confused people with some of those statements, so if you want, just think of Eskom as a normal corporation apart from government. Also remember that we not only sell energy to other places, we also buy it as well.]

We live in a poor or low-income house. I don’t know the actual government designation. But it means if you consume electricity below a certain limit, you get some of your electricity free. Now, during the talk, it came up that many economists want to raise the price of energy. Of course, not thinking holistically, say as Anna, my anthropologist house mate is apt to do, they were not considering the effect on a disenfranchised people who are still in the process of integration into society. I don’t know how that would help them. It would be good for the government in relation to those who have the money.


It took me awhile, but I now understand how some people feel the pace of change here is faster than it was in the US since the civil rights movement and how some people say things are so bad here. It’s both. It’s still bad in many ways, but because of the times sometimes people don’t go through all the stages that older countries went through.

In technology for instance, the cell phone is an example of a leap frog technology. In developing countries where the infrastructure for a land-based telephone system (telephone lines) is absent, people have picked up the cell phone industry and run with it. They have “leap-frogged” the land-line phone stage. I think it works well with cell phones because it’s a special example. Mobile phones don’t require much, right.

But imagine computers using the internet. Just because you’re wireless or so, you still need a wireless “router” that is sending out a signal somewhere. And there “router” is connected to a port which is connected to what? Lines. Telephone lines again. So the leap frog phenomenon doesn’t happen so well here. Development is so important, and you will often see me jumping for joy over this and that. But in retrospect, it requires a lot of thought because you can develop the wrong thing or push efforts that are effortlessly pushed and also counterproductive and useless. Hmmmm. . .

The one computer for every child program is one that I love. But I know that more important than a computer which is dependent on cables and networks and lines is human infrastructure and educational infrastructure. You need teachers and schoolhouses. Without that you’re sunk. I think it’s ok for people to work on different parts of the problem. But you definitely need people working on paramount and root problems, and you need the brunt of the effort going there. So the leapfrog doesn’t work there.

So I used to get upset with the government here about housing. It seemed to me like outside NGO’s were doing more. But the government did begin a housing program back around ’94 when the new government started. I saw one woman (it’s like ABC, CBS, and NBC each showing an hour of documentaries every night at around 9 or 10 after 2 hours of prime time on issues like poor communities in Pre-Katrina New Orleans or border town policies or other parties besides Republicans and Democrats) who was so excited in 1994 when she could apply for a house. They gave her a choice (as opposed to apartheid when you were sent to certain places) between 3 different towns. She chose one. She just got her house. She just got her house. In 2007. She was sooo pleased though. She said “I have gotten fatter. My colour has returned. . .” It was lovely to hear. But she had to wait so long. I get it to. Imagine if 80% (high high conservative number) of your population needed new housing. I mean the government is still working.

So the government has done some things at lightening speeds in terms of starting (perhaps compared to change in other places) due to the time. But in the execution of it, it takes or is taking a long time here because of such an imbalance.

And the housing is not as simple as giving someone a house. There are bouts and disputes in newly formed neighborhoods—a common result of people being put immediately into community never having had it before or at least with these people. There are border and land disputes. There are water disputes. And so the government has had to handle all of this and try to do better with future communities. It’s a large job and they are nowhere near finished.

I met a white man today who started a new job (he got tired of his old job at a bank—FNB) in asset management. He told me he was thankful to God because not only did he not have the skills to get the job, but he was the wrong colour. Sometimes those statements still surprise me. In the US, I hear them from a small minority of majority people in an negative sense claiming reverse discrimination. Here you hear it from a majority of minority people in a neutral sense as that’s the way things are (though it’s hard being the minority). Still with all the Affirmative Action I don’t yet see its effect. I just hear white people mention it when looking for jobs.


Because I look at things here through African lenses, it seems like people smoke a lot here. It is not like China or Japan or Russia or the US, maybe. But it seems a lot. I think it’s part of the development perhaps (maybe someone can explore that theory). I’ve read that it came to Europe after 1492 when Columbus brought some of it back on his ships from the New World. And since then it’s grown like wildfires. It’s, of course, the leading cause of preventable death (though people who fight every disease seem to find something their disease leads in). But it’s true. And this is worldwide. We lost 100 million in the 20th century and may lose 1 billion people this century, according to WHO (and the Economist).

California’s bans have been copied by –I was going to say 22 states, but it’s more than that. And City of New York has similar bans. Ireland banned it from all work places in ’94 and France’s cafes are smoke free, too.

WHO has 6 things it wants countries to do to curb smoking. And the strange thing is that some of these are proven to work though many places don’t use them.

1) “improve the quality of data on tobacco use”

2) Impose bans like in Ireland

3) Increase efforts to induce and help smokers quit

4) Large huge pictorial campaign warnings on cigarette packs

5) Complete ban on marketing (proven to work in 5% of world’s population that’s tried it; WHO says partial bans on advertising don’t work, I agree)

6) Higher taxes

So it’s strange. When I see it here, it always looks like a European thing to me. But I have to remember it originally came from the Americas. I don’t know where before that or if they started it. Over 150 countries have adopted the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control which encourages countries to take on a range of preventative measures. You’ll notice 4-6 focus on keeping people from ever getting started while 1-3 are for those who already started. It seems like it’s growing here. I don’t know. I probably need more time to tell.

One thing that is already evident is that the world is in a prosecuting frenzy with world leaders with crimes against humanity. It’s like it wasn’t done so much before, and then it somewhat erupted after Britain ruled in 1999 that some crimes can receive no immunity (referring to Pinochet, Chilean ex-leader/dictator). He was rushed back to Chile due to health and died in 2006 before facing trial (Milosevic (Serbia) also escaped jail by dying and General Suharto of Indonesia was rushed to the hospital in the middle of legal proceedings against him; he’s 86). We now have 10 or more guys currently going through trials in their own country’s courts, or international tribunals (like the Hague).

So Charles Taylor (you probably here about him now) is facing trial at the Hague right now; he’s a former head of Liberia (11 counts of war crimes in the 90’s during civil wars in Sierra Leone an Liberia). Fujimori (ex-pres Peru), after 6 years in jail for power abuse, is on trial for crimes against humanity—no, it’s human rights violation. Samphan, former Cambodian president from 1976-19679 is in jail waiting to go ahead against the Hague. They are going to try a lot of his group for war crimes.

Suriname – Desi Bouterse (former dictator) being tried for execution of 15 political opponents in 82

Uruguay – Juan Bordeberry being tried for those “disapperances” and murders in the 70’s (I’m sure you heard of it—desaparecidos at least with other places)

It’s also interesting because sometimes a country is unable or unwilling to try a citizen or former leader. In those cases international courts will step in, but even other countries have stepped in to prosecute crimes of leaders of other countries against other citizens. Some call it universal jurisdiction. Britain did it with Pinochet. And Belgium was going to do it to Habre (ex-president of Chad, crimes against humanity) before that shamed the African Union to pressure Senegal to do it. So he’ll be tried before a special court in Dakar. Look at Noriega. He just finished a 17 year sentence in the US for smuggling drugs. Now France sentenced him to 10 years (with him absent from the proceedings) and they want him now (for money-laundering). He’s trying to get around extradition, but Florida said yes to extradition (or a Florida judge’s gave a sentence of no for protecting and harbouring him)

Even Maria Peron (you know her) is waiting to hear about Argentina’s extradition requests for the killings of many left-wing militants by government “execution squads.”

But some countries are not granting extradition. Guatemala is protecting Spain’s Efrain Montt (Guatemalan dictator being charged on genocide). Get this. Mexico let a former pres (Echeverria) off the hook for killings of student protestors in 1968 because of statute of limitations. Wow. Most places don’t have a statute of limitations on war crimes or crimes against humanity by heads of state.

I thought it funny that Qaddafi (I see his name spelled so many ways) of Libya, said that now any head of state can face the same thing. He was implying that no one was safe. Strange comment if you haven’t done anything.


Jeannie and I went to Moonstruck (I think that’s the name). It’s an annual beach concert to raise money for the National Sea Rescue Institute (NSRI like 911 for the shoreline). It’s coincides with the second full moon of the year. It was fun and I almost got Jeannie to dance (she didn’t feel well and wanted funk music). It was golden oldies. And we saw all these South Africans singing Queen, Abba, Beatles, Whitney Houston, Van Morrison, and whoever else. The main band did only American music. It was fun, and the sun set was spectacular. The people here think it’s the most beautiful city on earth. The opener was a marimba band, and they were excellent. They did actual South African songs.

Mbeki gave a State of the Nation address, but it was nothing spectacular. The question was whether he’ll have a lame duck presidency this last year. Most people didn’t like his speech because he didn’t mention the Scorpions (like the FBI) and what he would do with them. And he wasn’t as specific with targets and goals for all our issues (power, crime, HIV/AIDS) facing us at this moment.

Tuesday, February 5, 2008


I have to correct one thing. Some people have said that CT is diverse contradicting whatever I implied (not sure). If you come and you see a mix of people you would think it was diverse. The lens I’m using is an African one. So from an African perspective being in an African country, it has a large amount of white people. It’s enough to call it a white city in reference against the rest of the country (say like Joburg) or relative to the other parts of the country. Also remember two things. MANY times I am the only (or one of few) black person at an event or in the room (conferences, university events, city events, concerts, anything that involves money disenfranchises most blacks and coloureds). Again, I’m the only black person there. WHAT? That’s like in the US (exACTly!). Secondly, many of the black people come into the city to work and go back out to the townships. Coloured are a bit more spread throughout the city, but many of them also come into work and back out to the Flats. So that is to help you understand. The percentages I gave in the first update are still accurate.


Mzwakhe, the People’s Poet – he first started doing poetry at traditional events and he began to espouse his political views especially through a first famous poem called “Young People” done in memory of those who died June 16th (Soweto Uprising). From there he’s grown and done music albums. He’s performed in Berlin with Meriam Makeba (you may know her; huge SA artist in the past with current legacy) in Berlin in 1990. He praised Mandela in ’94 as the first black President. And his words have inspired people for decades. He’s done work all over even in schools.

Graca Machel – she’s the current wife of Mandela and Chancellor of my university (Mandela is a CT boy, well it’s a seat of government and Robben Island was here, and he lives here when he’s not traveling). They had a romanticized love affair, something like you might imagine following Princess Diana. Previously Mandiba (Nelson Mandela) was married to Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. But after his divorce from her, it seemed like he wanted more perhaps: he said that she never came to visit him in his bedroom even once after his release from jail. They finally divorced in 1996 after Winnie evaded it for awhile. So after years of struggle for South Africa, the man, Mandiba was finally following his heart. And they call what followed “one of the last great love affairs of the 20th century.” Initially it was a secret affair, and their time was very limited, but eventually everyone on the president’s team liked her. In spite of all the distance and traveling, they made it a practice never to go to bed without contact (phone or fax). It didn’t matter where in the world he was.

He even wanted to do romantic things personally like buying chocolates no matter the hassle and commotion and security clearance needed in a mall. He would and did do that.

Anyway, Mandiba wanted to marry but Graca didn’t, so they did a modern thing: they lived together. By 1998 he convinced her to marry him, and they did it privately because Graca said a public thing would have meant thousands of people and, of course, some people would get offended that they were not invited (couldn’t invite EVERYone). So they did it very quietly and privately at his home on his 80th bday. They did have a few friends and five members of the clergy. Zuma and Mbeki and his wife were there.

Graca is funny, though, in a good way, a strong willed woman. She continued to work and didn’t only want to be his wife. She worked in Maputo and was a UNICEF ambassador. In her vows she agreed to love, honour, and cherish but not to obey. I think it’s some church’s vows, but that was taken out of the Anglican (Episcopal vows).

He married Graca on his 80th birthday, and they are a cute riot (to me). Previously Graca was married to the president of Mozambique, Samora Machel. When asked, she hates to compare the two, but she has said that “She has been married to the two tallest trees in Africa.”

It’s nice. His personal assistant was very happy as before this started she would see him up late many nights alone, and wanted someone for him. Well, now they have each other and have cute stories like having to welcome Prince Charles and the Spice Girls and Mandiba asking Graca “By the way, who are theses Spice Girls?” And Graca rolling with laughter, head going back, telling him he had better ask his grandchildren (before meeting the girls). I think she’s more hip or so.

Zackie Achmat – AIDS activist (who has AIDS himself)

He heads the TAC (Treatment Action Campaign), and I thought it interesting that for many years, being a person with AIDS, he would not take ARV’s until South Africans, in general, could afford them. He finally started taking them in 2003. But it’s still hard to pay for many South Africans. TAC does a lot of things, but they fight pharmaceutical companies (and have been) and government for cheaper drugs.

Those companies only lower the prices which only helps some not all. Seems like ARV’s should be a right when you’re dealing with an epidemic. But that’s the problem of capitalism; it doesn’t care. A company is an impersonal force that works to make money not to help people. And therein lies the problem. Many of the companies feel they are doing well and treating others fairly. They point to the governments late response to accept free drugs for the public sector and ignoring offers to obtain drugs at low prices. They say the government hadn’t worked hard at negotiating low prices with drug companies.

Either way, even after the government and TAC won legislation that ignored drug company patent rights back in 2003, the rollout of such drugs was superslow, and still is compared to the rates of incidence and death.

To explain the importance of Zackie and TAC, you must know that they were nominated for a Peace Prize in 2004.


People use this word a lot, and I have heard it much recently. I don’t really know what it means. Anyone who is truly brilliant probably knows she isn’t brilliant as there is always someone smarter or more intelligent. It seems very relative to me. Plus, I’m not sure what it means or how it’s defined. Some have called me that, but I’m far from it. I’ve seen it, and I am not that. I think, to me (opinion), in it’s essence it’s creativity in its highest form. That is the synthesis, the highest level to achieve. So guys who might have a lot of information that they feed to an update list every week (sound familiar) does mean brilliance, it just means some knowledge recently acquired. If you go the MacArthur Foundation, they give out genius grants. They are not always on target, necessarily, but you’ll see some highly creative people doing some amazing things that really push the envelope of what we know, understand, and experience.

Search for past winners

I was skimming a biography about Obama in which they biographer wrote about wonderful things and some of his cutthroat methods in politics. I was a bit intrigued, and I didn’t find it, but it’s definitely not anything like those strange e-mails trying to convince people he’s a radical Islamist who studied in the Wahabi strain or school of Islam because his mother’s second husband was a “fundamentalist.” It made me think of Mandela.

Some people asked what is some bad stuff about Mandela. Remember how I listed all of these artists, poets, leaders who pushed us and that I called them flawed with flawless messages? Well, Mandela is flawed, too, and he’d be the first to say it. But he’s never really criticized publicly. And someone was asking about his foibles, his bad points, his dark side. I know of a few things which aren’t really huge really. And I was going to write it really quickly. But then I thought, why does it matter? His work is his work. And his contributions are positive and have helped us. And I’m happy with that. And again, the criticisms are poor or weak (not too strong). Well, some might be upset that he lived with his current wife before they married, but I won’t say more past that one.


Really quick, we have elections next month in Zimbabwe, and the opposition head is actually considering running against Mugabe (sometimes people say don’t lend legitimacy to fraudulent elections by running, etc.)

This is month we have our real state of the country address. The one I mentioned before was more of a new year address.

And UCT is helping with two HIV vaccines right now. Others have failed. I thought it was interesting that my university is involved in the two latest vaccine trials that we have going on in Africa.


I’ve had visitors for 3 and a half weeks. Jeannie and Haley were here taking Xhosa lessons. They moved into my house on Tuesday. And Haley hosted Rosa from Thursday to Sunday. Well, Rosa was my guest because the guest of my guest is my guest (if a host has a guest who has a guest that guest is the host’s guest). Anyway, you get my point. So it was a full bustling house with Radesh, Anna, and Ryan and all these people. We were sleeping everywhere in the house. Anna commented yesterday that it’s quiet once again. I agreed; it feels like we’re alone.

It’s been a great time. Rosa (a Rotary Ambassadorial scholar from Pennsylvania assigned to Rhodes University in Grahamstown, as well) is a spunky girl. She’s ready to take on the world and change it through philosophy. I commended her as it’s not a common path to that goal (others choose political science, government, social work, law, etc.) So it was really cool, and she reminded me how wide and sometimes practical philosophy can be (political philosophy, philosophy of religion (one of my favorite profs teaches this), etc.).

Rosa left Sunday on a bus. And Haley left Monday on a plane. And now Jeannie is left in a new place. We hope she likes it and we’ll see what happens.


Ahh, the land of beauty, the land of leadership, the land of blackouts. Yep, I said it: blackouts. I’ve talked about this before, so I won’t overtalk about it. I’ll just say that for some reason our blackouts have now become world news. Actually, I think the reason is that it is more pronounced now? Well, at UCT, we have scheduled slots of when it will happen, from 10 – 12:30 and from 6 to 8:30. . . . .each day. But it doesn’t have to happen then. That’s just when it could happen. They call these planned outages “load shedding.” But before it got really bad a few weeks ago, the planned outages seemed rarely planned. We were always surprised by it.

Now, the only difference is that places across the country have assigned times, and they never do an entire city at once, just sections of the city (neighborhoods). It’s ironic that the very economy that is booming beyond predictions is now being reigned in by the lack of power to keep up with the economy.

Imagine it. Every time there is a blackout many businesses close, especially not knowing the duration of blackout. Some places are better suited to handle them. Grocery stores have UPS’s (uninterruptible power supplies). That just means they have some type of battery-operated power unit that can keep supplying power for maybe an hour or so after the main power cuts off. This allows cashiers to finish ringing people up in the dark. But they don’t stay on for that long. Imagine a bakery (really is happening here) that must spend hours in the morning preparing all its good. It can no longer do that because of load shedding messing up its morning routine and again ruining its noontime baking for the rest of the day. One bakery said it could only really do business at night when its had power to really bake for a good long amount of time.

In my life, I experience it as businesses (post office, grocery store), at home, and at work. Work is hard because I do computational stuff. So anytime the power goes out, you have to start the calculation. Say it takes 2 days, through a computer program you wrote, to calculate the best path for Santa to take through every city on the continent of Africa so as to minimize the time it takes. Well, when the power goes out, the two-day calculation waits until you return to the computer and restart it before it starts again.

It’s strange. We, South Africa, want a 15% power reserve. Right now, we’re about 5%. So it’s not that we can’t give power to the entire country for a little while. It just means that if we do, we’ll use up our reserve and really have no power reserve when the power goes out.

The problem continues though. Remember that South Africa actually sells power to other neighboring countries. Zimbabwe and Mozambique are examples. Now, if you thought the Zim blackouts were bad, think about how bad Zim blackouts are now since we are only supplying say about 20% of what we used to provide to Zim. Do you begin to see the problem? So businesses cut back on workers, businesses make less, etc.

But as always there are good things that can come from bad things. Hopefully people are becoming more conscious and aware of the power they use and conserve it more and more efficiently. More importantly, maybe this will spawn alternative sources of energy like solar, wind, geothermal, etc. So we’ll see what happens. One note, the articles may something like it was 1998 or so that forecasters realized we do not have the power to match the boom in the economy (and population). But it is originally due to earlier forecasting. 1998 and 1999 were years that people began to realize the earlier forecasts were wrong.

We have an adult chain store (or an adult store chain). At first I thought I was seeing things, but you see the same name all over town in all sorts of neighborhoods—well on busy streets (but never inside a mall). The windows are always tinted so you cannot see through.


Here you can vote for a hospital of your choice (out of a small list) to receive a Fun Center (an additional one to the one they get for participating).

Oh, if you want to vote for the new Texas plates, go here (thanks Efrat!).


So the strange thing with victories and victors is that you often don’t hear the story of the defeats, struggles, difficulties along the way. Normally with me, people don’t hear about those hard points, and they focus on the highs. But I think you get a bit of an insight into the process because this is a blog which follows me much more closely. All that is to say that there were more rejections this week, actually today (Tuesday). There were three that came in today.

I had applied to a 5-year professorship mentoring program in Japan where they mentor you from an assistant professor into an associate/full professor (and you can go serve as an associate anywhere in the world; you don’t have to stay after the 5 years). They said no to my application. I figured it’s because they don’t like the papers I sent (the ones that are pending).

And I heard back on one of those papers. Remember there are 4 from the thesis. 1 is an applicational paper on jumping paratroopers and falling cargo. And three are more technical papers. You’ll remember I took a break from resubmitting the #1 paper to general audience journals. Paper 2 (out of the remaining three) came back saying rewrite and resubmit. Now, today I heard back about Paper 3 which said rewrite and don’t resubmit (I’m laughing). The quality is not even up to the journal (this was a physics journal). And one of the reviewers said I should consult a native speaker of English. Are you laughing, too? The strongest of the three (#2-4) was #2, so I didn’t expect much from 3 and 4. Still it surprises you. It’s strange that due to my graduate school situation, they brought in an outside expert to validate and confirm that this was good work and enough. And they brought in one of the top guys in the world and he gave his yes. And now, in trying to submit it, the paper doesn’t get a break. Some people ask why? I’m not sure. Tons of possible reasons. Reviewers have personal styles and don’t like others; sometimes reviewers have chips on their shoulders; the paper may not be good; time that has passed since the work was done puts it behind. I think I’m like a literary guy writing science articles because the reviewer had problems with correct sentences that I wrote. I think it might be best to do a 2nd year here and just build up a paper resume through new papers done here. Vinod, my friend in the same position from graduate school, is doing that. He’s not publishing anything from his thesis. He did have papers from grad school though (he wasn’t allowed to be first author), so he just started a professorship. But most probably, to be competitive, I may not get one for this fall. So I may just stay a second year. Not sure. Oh also, it’s easier (in my field) to get into a journal if you are a reviewer for it. It’s like payment for rendering your editorial services in a sense. Few will say this though.

Lastly, I was awarded a tutorship (something like a TA position in the states except more work). And I would rather be a writing consultant instead of a math (they say maths) tutor. So I just sent an e-mail asking what happened since they never responded. And they apologized because the secretary was supposed to get back to me and tell me that I did not get it. Perhaps I shouldn’t have sent the soft power essay as a writing sample.

I thought it strange that one of the reviewers used the words “no originality.” I just thought it interesting because I find most of my field highly original or lacking in creativity. So it was strange that someone from that community was saying that about me, especially when I love creativity and love being creative. I actually think if scientists were more creative or truly creative (compared to actual state) there would be an explosion in advancement. We do have some bright spots, but many of the people who think quirkily or differently don’t go into science. I’m not sure how I think because the guy said I was unoriginal.

The campus is alive at least.

For the past two weeks we have had freshmen on campus going through pre-orientation or tours. I was shocked because it was at least 4 weeks early. They still have two more weeks before everything begins. This past weekend was Parents Orientation so they came on to campus and many are still here helping their children to move in.

On top of that, we have had more people on campus because of summer courses. But the real reason we have so many people on campus during this second summer session is the annual and ever popular two-week long extramural summer school. It’s highly popular in Cape Town, and people come from all over the city to enroll and learn. People of all ages come and you can find classes with the elderly alongside the college-age. Courses range from wine tasting to figure drawing to transportation issues in Cape Town to the Renaissance, languages, clay figures, etc. I thought it notable that the mayor of Cape Town came to take the Cape Town transportation course. Pretty humble.


Elizabeth: the Golden Age

Cate Blanchett—what can I say. She’s quite terrific. She is starting to appear too much because when an actor appears in many films, you start to see how she does what she does. And it doesn’t look so amazing. But she always does low-profile characters and movies. And I had never seen her in sort-of-normal role until “Notes on a Letter” or something like that. She seemed to play a normal teacher-mother-wife where I could almost see her personality. But otherwise, it’s hidden behind her amazing roles. She doesn’t like to play herself. Excellent job.

Bucket List

This is Jeannie’s favorite movie. It was a nice fun, moralish movie. And it was just good to see Jack do his thing. Haley said he breathes life into what ever role he does, and it was true here. Morgan was Morgan. There is a sort of natural elegance which he seems to be unable to help. But it was an enjoyable for me. It had mixed reviews, but ask Jeannie; she loved it!