Africa: Not For the Faint of Heart

Whilst President Trump received derision  for a colorful use of language regarding certain regions, it remains true that there are countries in Africa which Americans should avoid.

Just one small example will suffice:

Shoot the Farmer

But then again, perhaps a second link should be included.  The Last English Prince has not clicked on the video portion – a LiveLeak.  It is not recommended nor endorsed that any should view such level of atrocity.  Years ago, I viewed the video of an American beheaded in Saudi Arabia.  I regret it.

Zaida Catalan


Two Down – One to Go

Two Down – One to Go

Not wishing to cannibalize my own work, yet to provide anchorage for the current commentary let me quote from my article published in a military officer’s magazine (November 2017).

“Men such as Omar al-Bashir, Jacob Zuma, and Robert Mugabe should be awakening to night sweats about now.” (1)

Robert Mugabe is under house arrest and his wife has been stripped of her fraudulent Ph.D. With the ANC (African National Congress) and his own political party snapping at his ankles, Jacob Zuma has resigned. As a journalist with an intense focus on investigative journalism and predictive analysis it is noted with a wry sense of humor that even a blind pig is occasionally rewarded with a truffle.

But today, let me cut loose with the wildebeest side of me. My horns are now oriented toward the Sudan. Omar al-Bashir has about a year to consider his fate. That is my prediction. Two down – one to go.

A great resource on my shelf is “Islamism and Its Enemies in the Horn of Africa” (edited by Alex de Waal.) Respected for both his research and mediation efforts he is considered an expert on the Sudan.

Books are an advanced form of sign language. We use them and other resources for our education and enjoyment. But journalism must be binary to have efficacy. The reporter requires face-to-face interaction for any significant cross-pollinating of communication to occur . So while not having a passport stamp for the Sudan, I have been blessed to have a long-standing friendship with a powerful member of the Sudanese community, Mohamed Elhassan. Fortunate to be within his circle of confidence when he ran for the president of the Sudan for the second time. Grateful for what he has taught me about his nation. And certainly wiser and more cautious with this friendship. One thing is now deeply felt. My friend has birthed passion in my heart for the Sudanese people. They are desperately in need of new leadership.

History repeats itself. Hassan al-Turabi was to Omar al-Bashir what ibn Abd al-Wahhab was to Muhammad bin Saud: An ideological strongman capable of unifying factions under a power-hungry despot. Once political confederacies were solidified, both Al-Wahhab and Al-Turabi entered into power-sharing agreements which made them majority stakeholders in issues of state. The harm inflicted by Al-Wahhab’s brand of jurisprudence with a “twist” of Naqshbandi Sufism is matched by the harm Al-Turabi inflicted on the average Sudanese with an introduction of elements which were feral to what was generally considered a culturally soft people. This impact is still felt today.

There is one healthy reason why Omar al-Bashir must be pried from power. And it has to do with the nature of evil. Here is the deal. Evil does not have a motive. Evil has a purpose. And its purpose is to winnow of the souls (mind, will, and emotions) of men. Decades of potential progress have evaporated as Omar al-Bashir has taken his winnowing fork against his own citizens. He has emaciated both the economy and the citizenry. Amassing an enviable wealth portfolio, his favorite wife has also hardened her face against the people as evidenced by her affinity for, and hoarding of, the hidden wealth of the land.

Evil has a purpose. Count not the Sudanese blood shed by Al-Bashir’s hand in drops. Count it in gallons. From the undulating desert sands to the Nuba mountains, from the smaller White Nile which marries the robust Blue Nile near Khartoum, to the region which nestles the calamitous Darfur, few have escaped the implacable spirit with which a tyrant rules.

Look to al-Fasher and the misery of the Zam Zam IDP camp in north Darfur. The name of the camp is far removed from the original meaning. As Hagar cried out “Collect, collect” her heart told her that her son would survive. In the Christian tradition, God is seen as the one who preserves lineage.

“And God heard the voice of the lad; and the angel of God called to Hagar out of heaven, and said unto her, ‘What aileth thee, Hagar? Fear not. For God hath heard the voice of the lad where he is. Arise, lift up the lad, and hold him in thine hand; for I will make him a great nation. And God opened her eyes, and she saw a well of water; and she went, and filled the bottle with water and gave the lad to drink. And God was with the lad; and he grew, and dwelt in the wilderness, and became an archer.”

Genesis 21:17-20

The latter (Hagar) collected water. The former, collects children and the women who live in daily fear of rape. It collects the bones of destroyed lineage – patriarchs and matriarchs alike. Were Dante alive today it is possible that a modern inferno would include the name of this place which is spit out like a curse.

So it is time for the “One-to-Go” to be gone. In saying this, the responsibility for this task is not tossed into the laps of the vulnerable. The task is delegated to those who can actually accomplish the same through a process of leadership which removes leadership. This process minimizes harm for those who have already suffered too much. And it also leaves in place a means for renewal and not continuous low-grade revolutionary ambitions.

Who are these men? This is the good news. They already know who they are and know what they must do. This statement is not based on any particular knowledge rather the understanding of timing and the cup of God’s wrath. For at times it is righteous men who dip into that very cup, and with faith, rid a land of falsehood. Two down, one to go.

* Early release to my readership. This will appear on the Friday page of my news organization.


The post is untitled. In all honesty, there is nothing clever to bait this hook. An intelligent person might simply title the post, “Spousal Abuse”. But the term is too fancy. My preference would be “Wife-Beating”.

To begin – it is necessary to draw from my own experience obtaining a clearance. As a direct commission officer in the Navy I had an interim secret clearance when I attended my first field exercise two months after taking the oath of office. A fellow junior officer was unceremoniously dispatched home when it was found he had committed an act of vandalism as a teen and had lied on the application. A few months later I was granted a permanent clearance. The biography of my rather boring life afforded the honor of receiving a designation of bedrock trust.

The aforementioned, brings us to the current optic facing the Trump administration regarding former White House Secretary Rob Porter. He was still working under an interim clearance after a year on the job. Based on interviews conducted by the F.B.I. with his two ex-wives and knowledge of a legal protective order against him, a permanent clearance had not been approved. White House Counsel Don McGahn was aware of the domestic abuse allegations a year ago. Chief of Staff John Kelly and certain staffers in the West Wing were cognizant (on some scale) of a stall in the approval process. And yet Rob Porter had an answer. He was a good guy. People were trying to smear him. It was a vase. It was that crazy inanimate vase that somehow found itself sentient and physics capable (mass x acceleration) to inflict a black eye on his first wife.

There is that truth which is ultimately known between God and man. And then there is the convoluted “truth” birthed in the womb of perception, personal bias, and individual life experience. The column today is gleaned  from open source interviews and accounts. The press corps coverage still swirls within the mist of allegations from two ex-wives and the one damning photograph which broke the abuse scandal at Daily Mail (UK). But one thing is certain. Wife-beaters are always chameleons. And they tend to run in pairs. The woman who is beaten is prone to provide cover for them.

Porter’s first wife, Colbie Holderness states that her husband choked and punched her during their five year marriage. She saw the red flags while they were dating and wanted to call the wedding off. Yet she covered up her fears. She was the recipient of a black eye after Mr. Porter punched her in the face while they were vacationing in Italy.

Second wife, Jennifer Willoughby spoke to media regarding “low grade constant terror of not knowing what I might do to set something off”. But then we see the chameleon; the woman who speaks of the shame she felt and (my words) her projection of fault onto herself for the abuse. In an additional and bit bizarre of an interview she defends her former husband and his record at the White House stating, “I am not at all surprised that people who work with him in a professional capacity see him as a model of discretion, integrity and character. Because like I mentioned, I believe he is that.”

Chameleon. Integrity does not make a fist in the presence of a lady.

Enter stage left, another chameleon: White House Communications Director, Hope Hicks. Prior to the hard-hitting article and accompanying photograph by Daily Mail, Ms. Hicks crafted the message read by Chief of Staff John Kelly regarding the rumors which had not yet crested across the digital sea of information. She is romantically involved with the subject of interest. Here is the pertinent portion of the statement.

Rob Porter is a man of true integrity and honor…” Except of course, when he is in the privacy of his home.

One commentary referred to a flawed character. It begs the question. Is spousal abuse an issue of flawed character or is it a crime? If it is only a character flaw then it is o.k. to beat your kids. If we concur that physical violence is a crime, then it is the end of the story. Period. The story becomes not one of “why” (motive) but one of “what” (what evil was committed against another human being?) . Nobody really wants to know why you bullied and beat on someone smaller than yourself. We just want to make sure you understand that what you did can never be tolerated in civil society.

Regarding women-who-protect-women and cover for potentially dark secrets it seems to me that Counselor to the President, Kellyanne Conway, is also a chameleon. She was asked to comment regarding Jennifer Willoughby’s interview with Anderson Cooper (CNN). Ms. Willoughby was asked if she believed her ex-husband had changed. She said, “It worries me for a lot of reasons, I mean it definitely worries me because if I’m being frank with you, if he hasn’t already been abusive with Hope, he will…”

Kellyanne Conway deflected the question regarding the future safety of Ms. Hicks by stating, “I don’t worry about her in that respect. I’m sorry for any suffering that this woman has endured. But in the case of Hope, I’ve rarely met somebody so strong with such excellent instincts and loyalty and smarts.” Sure. Ms. Hicks is smart. But the two ex-wives can lay claim to intelligence and they both hooked up with a hit-and-cry kind of man. Their marriages were like a hit-and-run but only worse.

Ms. Conway? She’s really… not… sorry. Chameleon.

As for me, there is just one wish for Mr. Porter. I pray he signs up for a zip-line adventure and finds himself fitted with faulty gear. I will send a vase – with a few flowers.

Bloggers note: This is my Friday piece for this coming week for my newspaper.

Morning Mail