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#1 Feb 05, 2020 10:27 am

New Historian

Speaking of Africa...

Wednesday, 17 January 2001

A shitty beach.

Went jogging on the beach in Dar-es-Salaam yesterday. Man, the stench of sewerage coming off the water! I mean renk! Like you’re in the middle of a sewage farm. And there are the little boys splashing around in the water, with the wide-bore sewage pipeline heading off into the not-so-far distance. The top of the pipe is broken, and you can see the great, coagulated lumps of turd come sliding down - complete with paper! So after about two miles of jogging (OK, well maybe a mile and a half!), and still with the stench invading my delicate nostrils, I sit on a rock and watch the fishermen offloading their catches from their marvellously primitive dhows.

A policewoman comes up to me: "What are you doing here?" she demands. "Sitting on a rock," say I, "what does it look like?" (when will I learn to be polite to the boys and girls in blue?) "You can’t stay here," she says. "Move along." Why?" I ask. "Because this is outside of State House." Sure enough, there behind me was the high barricaded wall, above which you could see the beautiful turrets and minarets of  the Prez’s palace digs.

OK, I getcha, I can’t sit on the beach, just in case I reach under my sweat-soaked t-shirt and hurl a bomb onto His Excellency’s lawn. So, I figure as I go loping off, that the President lives day after day with the shit-stench from that polluted beach wafting gently over his otherwise immaculate palace, a continuing reminder of the poverty of his people. If I was him, the first thing I would do is clean up that beach. You can imagine all the diplomatic dignitaries, sipping champagne on the State House lawn, all of them politely trying to ignore the noxious oh-dear blowing in the wind. Amazing.


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