Tanzania, Hamburg, “Freedom Properly Understood,” and Back

I am in Hamburg and quite exhausted, partially because I seem to have gotten something rather nasty in Tanzania. (The hospital here was noncommital, but they said to keep taking the medications and I should be ok.)

My talk to the Liberal International meeting here was, I think, well received and I enjoyed the comments from the panelists. Here is the full version, which I finished while suffering from the heat and humidity in Tanzania (I only got them to fix the AC in the room on the third night) after sessions of the African Resource Bank: “Freedom Properly Understood.”

Our Africa trip was very inspiring in a number of ways. It was our first meeting of Cato’s Africa team and I am optimistic that we will be able to have a positive impact in the continent. I have known and worked with all but one of them before, and I had a chance to meet for the first time one of our new colleagues from Ghana. All are serious, impressive, and very sharp. In addition to our two Ghanian colleagues, members of Cato’s Portuguese, French, and Arabic teams were also there, as well as my colleagues David Archer and Nicole Kurokawa, and all are pulling together to create a sound continent-wide libertarian program. (We hope to include a Swahili element, as well.)

After the African Resource Bank meeting (where I spoke on “Globalization and Cultural Identity”), we had a team meeting for Cato’s Center for Promotion of Human Rights in Zanzibar . At that meeting, we went over strategies and had a very valuable presentation and training session on media outreach and publication strategies and techniques led by our Arabic team members, Fadi Haddadin and Ghaleb Hijazi. It was followed by a walk through Stone Town and dinner at the waterside restaurant dedicated to the late singer Freddy Mercury, who, it turns out, was born in Zanzibar.

The trip to Zanzibar was on the fast boat, which was reasonably tolerable. The two television screens in the economy class section showed a really dreadful movie about “Lake Placid,” Maine, in which a GIANT crocodile was overturning boats and eating people, including biting them very graphically in half, with body parts all over, etc., etc. Not really a great movie for a boat ride, but it was one of the few stable objects on which I could focus to avoid getting sick, so I saw most of it.

Well, the same movie was playing on the way back. I had figured it was a broadcast of some sort, but no, it was what the crew had chosen as appropriate entertainment for the trip. The trip back was truly awful and almost everyone was terribly sick. Only David, our cheerful English participant, seemed unfazed by it. The rest of us were miserable — really miserable. (The full-screen pictures of human entrails being eaten by crocodiles did not help.) One of our team members (not to be named) staggered out and sprawled on the deck in misery, only to find himself propped on the coffin (occupied) that was being sent back to the mainland for burial. That evidently didn’t help his spirits. It seems that all (except, again, for David) were sick for a long time after.

We have big plans for publishing, broadcasting, webcasting, and teaching about liberty in Africa. 2008 should be a big year for African libertarianism.

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