Africa

Category archives for Africa

Sungudogo Second Edition

As you know, I wrote a novella as part of a fundraiser a while back. It is called “Sungudogo” and it is the story of the origin of the Skeptics movement and modern cryptozoology. It is also an adventure story in which the protagonists, Archer Mallows and Pat Soffer, travel across the unforgiving landscape of…

Nelson Mandela Has Gone Home

Imagine going back in time to visit Nelson Mandela in prison and telling him this: “You will live through this and be free, you’ll lead your country and set an unattainable example of leadership, you’ll retire as president and die at a very old age. The violence associated with the end of Apartheid will be…

New Stanley

… As instructed, I arrived at the New Stanley Hotel, in downtown Nairobi, at just before 11:00 AM, to meet Pat Soffer, primatologist. Willoughby didn’t have to tell me about the fish and chips at the hotel’s cafe; I’d eaten here many times. The Thorn Tree was a pretty standard meeting place in Nairobi. A…

“First, we’re going to collect our data,” Jack, the archaeologist, was telling me as we slogged down the narrow overgrown path. He seemed annoyed. “Then, we’ll leave. Until we leave, they won’t leave. They think it would be rude. After they leave, we’ll go back and map in the abandoned camp.” I had just arrived…

Meat Eating in Human Prehistory

All human hunter-gatherer groups that have been studied incorporate meat in their diets. Studies have shown that the total dietary contribution of meat varies a great deal, and seems to increase with latitude so that foragers in subarctic and arctic regions eat a lot of meat while those living near the equator eat less. It…

At the beginning of the 20th century, a traveler in Central Africa made mention of some strange people that he had come across. He was traveling among regular, run-of-the-mill natives…probably Bantu-speaking people living in scattered villages and farming for their food. But along the way, strange people came out of the forest. These strange people…

We were talking about River Blindness. Trigger Warning: The video below is not for general consumption. Having said that you may want to watch it. The first part depicts the reactions of a handful of celebrities watching a series of shots depicting seven different related tropical diseases, and I must say, having seen all of…

King Leopold’s Soliloquy

This is the book: King Leopold’s Soliloquy: A Defense of His Congo Rule. If you prefer, this is the on line version. I first became aware of, and read, King Leopold’s Soliloquy, which is not his soliloquy but a parody of what he might say according to Samuel Clemens, while doing fieldwork in the ex-Belgian…

A Test For River Blindness

River blindness, also called Onchocerciasis, is the result of the infection of several different eye tissues by the nematode Onchocerca volvulus. The bacterium Wolbachia pipientis lives symbiotically in the gut of the nematode, and escapes the small roundworm to cause an inflammatory response in human tissues, which results in damage to the tissue. These infections…

We were talking about insects, and eating insects, and this reminded me of something funny. I was traveling in the most remote part of Central Africa, several days walk from any place you could possibly drive a car, visiting uncharted villages mainly occupied by people who had moved into the deep forest because they were…