Go Pepe Go Posts

April 24, 2016

Ayatollahs. Head scarves. Fanaticism. Nuclear bombs. Perhaps even revolution. These may be the first words that come to mind when you think of Iran. A country which is estranged from the West, which has seemed (at least until recent years) to rejoice in flouting the demands made by the UN and other international bodies, and which seems to revel in stoking its own concept of Islamic rapture: it is not that surprising that most people looked on in dismay when I told them that I would be going on vacation there with three friends. But if there is one revolution…

Read on...Shape of my Heart

January 3, 2016

  Imagine walking in a verdant vista. You are almost fully enveloped by nature; by foliage, which bristles overhead in the gentle breeze or which crunches underneath your feet as you shuffle forward. Through the small gaps of light peering through the trees you can make out that there is not a single cloud in the azure sky. And then you hear a rumble. The ground shakes. You keep still. Nothing. And then, another rumble. The ground shakes again. There are still no clouds in the sky, so you deduce it cannot be a brewing storm. Another rumble. It is…

Read on...Fire burn, and cauldron bubble

August 30, 2015

According to Greco-Egyptian myth, when the brother of the Goddess Isis – who was also her husband – was murdered, the tears she wept resulted in the Nile River flooding every year. Now, over 2000 years later, it appears that Egypt is being haunted by a namesake of the Egyptian Goddess. This time, however, the acts of savagery haunting not only Egypt but the Arab world at large (plus more), is not resulting in an abundance in the same way Isis’ tears generated a torrent of water. Rather, the converse is materialising; it is resulting in scarcity, as parts of…

Read on...Walking in the Footsteps of ISIS

December 30, 2014

  Think of South Korea or, specifically, its capital city, Seoul. What images does this evoke? Cherry blossom trees? Radiating neon signs? Kimchi? Or, most likely: None of these are incorrect by any means, although like most stereotypes, they contain grains of truth and harvests of imprecision. Actually, from my (unfortunately very) brief stint in Seoul, the following graphic neatly sums up the city: (Courtesy of Quartz)   The city was vibrant; pulsating at every moment. It also felt safe. Whether that was because South Koreans were always in a moment of serene enlightenment courtesy of the soju (which neatly…

Read on...Ain’t No Mountain Higher

October 1, 2013

    Expectations tend to lead people astray. Utopia to one person is perdition to another; paradise lost may be deemed to be paradise gained. Equally, the grapevine is often thorny and any opinion, although usually taken at face-value, should be unbundled from the context in which it is given.     Returning from Southern Africa in August (and having time to reflect on the same) gave rise a series of difficult dichotomies. Race, class, nationality: they all matter, but to differing degrees to different people. The one nightmare which nobody can escape, however, is history.     For example,…

Read on...History Matters

March 31, 2013

     On 12 September 1974, Haile Selassie, the emperor of Ethiopia, was captured by the Communist DERG forces that had descended upon his palace. What subsequently happened to Selassie became the source of vivid speculative rumours. This much was known: he had disappeared. But was he dead or alive? Had he been spared by the DERG and exiled or was he slaughtered and scorched like the land he once ruled over? Rumours ran amok, exacerbated by how the ‘ring of Solomon’ which once adorned Selassie’s middle finger, was subsequently donned by Mengistu Haile Mariam, the undisputed leader of the DERG…

Read on...Just Don’t Give a…

August 1, 2011

  Let’s play a game. Guess how many people you can fit into the following vehicle:   The answer is below, just after the video of the car.   So, following on from the previous entry, after my second foray in Rwanda’s Kigali, I went to Musanze. This town was my base for gorilla tracking. I had no plans to go gorilla tracking before I arrived in East Africa, but became seduced by superlative stories people told me once here. The problem is that it is notoriously difficult to obtain a permit to do this: in Kigali, the tourist office…

Read on...Trapped like a lamb

July 20, 2011

What will the next global battle be over? Received wisdom deems it will be a war between an ailing American and a rising China. Some point to a resurgent Russia instead, or those oil-rich nations with immense Sovereign Wealth Funds. Others, such as Tony Blair, expect strife to occur not over ideology, but over values, notably of the religious variety. Perhaps they are all wrong though. The next global battle may be peaceful. It is arguably already under way. With the globalisation of markets being the main paradigm through which countries plan their economic strategies, communication is pivotal. And what…

Read on...Viva La English!

July 8, 2011

  Where in the world has an entire continent, a myriad of cultures and multitude of histories, peoples and languages been reduced to a few singing lions and a warthog? Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to Africa. Or to be specific, East Africa, as Africa is a continent not a country. Believe it or not – and take a deep breath here whilst clutching your chair – there is more to East Africa than famine, wars and poverty. In fact, almost immediately upon arrival it was startling how normal everything was: yes, the roads were slightly more tumultuous than those in…

Read on...Hakuna Matata

September 1, 2010

I almost made it. Until two days before my return flight to England, I had not been mugged since my last update. What a wonderful swan song for South America, I thought; it would be nice to leave on a high. Instead, I broke a new record: two mugging attempts in two days, both in the same city, Buenos Aires. So, what savage attacks did I encounter this time? The one on the final day was a wonderful parallel of the Quito experience, albeit sans the excrement. Whilst passing by the intersection dividing Florida Av with Peru Av (one of…

Read on...Brute Force