Dissecting risk as a career brings with it certain professional pitfalls. One of them is to think that the world is constantly on the verge of calamitous change. This temptation must be held strongly in check. There are only so many times you can say the sky is falling. Most of the time, it’s not. [Read more…]
The Twitter diet – high calorie, low context
I opened a Twitter account earlier this year. It’s a personal account and a relatively simple affair. Primarily, I follow news on Russia and on local restaurants. One news feed nourishes my brain, the other fills my stomach (and empties my wallet). I also subscribe to an unnatural amount of news about airplanes, the by-product of a childhood obsession with aviation.
“Big deal,” you say. “So he’s discovered Twitter.” And you’re right. I am late to the global gabfest. Or, perhaps, just in time. [Read more…]
A Tale of Two Cities
This week is fashion week in Lagos. This is an image of Nigeria that rarely makes the headlines. More often, it is the other side of life in this extraordinary country that catches the eye of news makers: corruption, sectarian violence and poverty. Recently, Boko Haram, the Islamic group behind a series of violent attacks in the north and that operates on the fringes of al-Qaida has been dominating international perceptions of Nigeria.
This perception does reflect the reality of much of life in the country. Nigeria has been a poster child for the curse of oil. It has defined the all too familiar tale of how fragile post-colonial political institutions succumb to the flood of money that washes through the corridors of power as oil is literally sucked from the coastal swamps and dispatched across the Atlantic to gasoline-hungry US consumers. Add in an already complex ethnic and religious matrix and it is not surprising that Nigeria has set the standard for countries where the abundance of natural resources and chronic wealth disparity go hand in hand.
Sitting in the foyer of one of the now numerous five star hotels on Victoria Island in Lagos, the trappings of all this wealth are easy to spot. Well-heeled guests pull up outside the hotel in their brand new Range Rovers and bustle through the swing doors in a swirl of Italian designs and private equity chatter. Secure in this hotel, we are cocooned away from the teeming chaos of the rest of Lagos where the millions that have migrated from the countryside to create one of Africa’s biggest cities are still largely waiting for the trickle-down effect from this extraordinary concentration of wealth and power at the apex of Nigerian society. [Read more…]
In the past few weeks I have been to a seemingly random selection of countries: Bahrain, Colombia, the USA and Canada. On the surface, there is not a lot to obviously connect each of these nations. But there are a few common threads.
A near compulsive interest in Lady Gaga is such an obvious shared characteristic it hardly needs mentioning. But each place is also preoccupied by their near neighbours. In Bahrain, it is Iran – blamed for much of the recent unrest. In Colombia, it remains Venezuela, despite an improvement of sorts in the traditionally fraught relationship. And in the USA, the chaos in the Mexican border region continues to harden attitudes towards combatting drugs and illegal immigration. [Read more…]
From hero to villain
Do you think former British Prime Minister Tony Blair is embarrassed at the news footage now being regularly replayed on television around the world of him embracing Colonel Gaddafi during his visit to Tripoli in 2004?
Fleetingly, I think is the answer. [Read more…]