On Xanda the Lion and First World Problems 

A son of Cecil the lion has been killed by trophy hunters in Zimbabwe, meeting the same fate as his father whose death in 2015 caused a global outcry.

Xanda was six years old and had fathered a number of cubs himself. He was shot on 7 July just outside the Hwange National Park, not far from where Cecil died, but news of the death only became public on Thursday.

The trophy hunt was organised by Zimbabwean private hunter Richard Cooke but his clients, who may have paid tens of thousands of dollars, have not been revealed. Xanda was wearing a GPS tracking collar, fitted by scientists led by Andrew Loveridge at Oxford University, who have studied the Hwange lions for many years.

“Xanda was one of these gorgeous Kalahari lions, with a big mane, big body, beautiful condition – a very, very lovely animal,” Loveridge told the Guardian. “Personally, I think it is sad that anyone wants to shoot a lion, but there are people who will pay money to do that.”

That’s from The Guardian concerning a lion that’s been shot in Zimbabwe. 

Found it rather amusing that I’ve not heard a single Zimbabwean talk of this lion. In fact I’m quite certain very few Zimbabweans even heard about this. 

Even the death of Cecil was a non Zimbabwean affair with protests in Europe and the US.

With unemployment in the 80s and a dying economy and other maladies including an upcoming election that looks likely to be violent, I don’t think many Zimbabweans have time to think about lions. 

I do find it strange, however, that some people make a sport of killing animals. It just does not make sense to me at all. 

As an African, born and raised in the village, I can only think of two reasons to kill any animal – for food or when that animal threatens you. 

The killing of animals for fun  is a strange sport for which I can find no reasons. So is the grieving for animals. 

First World problems I’d say. 

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38 Years of Crime

A 55-year-old Harare man convicted of armed robbery last week together with 11 others, started stealing in 1979 and never looked back, resulting in him being convicted on several occasions between then and now, it emerged in court yesterday.
Charles Nyandoro began living a life of crime when he was only 17-years- old. After the 1979 conviction, Nyandoro was back in the courts after independence in 1980, 1982 and twice in 1984 for assault and rape.
He was arrested in 1988, 1991 and 2006 for robbery. Nyandoro told Harare regional magistrate Mr Hoseah Mujaya yesterday that his first conviction in 1979 was his way of celebrating the country’s imminent independence.

– The Herald

38 years of crime.

As The Herald reports, the dude above has been a criminal for almost 40 decades. Quite a long time and about time he goes behind bars, perhaps this time for good.

Despite his attempts at humour by saying he committed his first crime to celebrate Independence, this is a vile character that should be removed from society.

But I couldn’t help thinking of the other criminals esp politicians who’ve stolen and looted for just as long with no punishment.

Indeed, as Swift wrote: ‘Laws are like cobwebs, which may catch small flies, but let wasps and hornets break through.’

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Winter has Come

So today I watched the long awaited first episode of Game of Thrones Season 7 and it was good. It is good. 

Arya Stark is badass as expected of a faceless man, (woman?) and she gets opens the season in a totally unexpected but very much Game of Thrones way. 

Oh and there’s an archmaester Marwyn, who delivers a great line. Maesters, he says are a repository. “We are the world’s memory- without us men would be little more than dogs”. 

It’s a good start and there’s even a singing, rabbit eating Ed Sheeran in there too. The Hound  finds his whole beliefs turned on their head after mocking Lord Beric. 

Excellent I’d say. Except the smartest guy in Westeros, who happens to talk a lot, doesn’t even say a word. That’s totally unTryion. 
The Mother of Dragons herself only utters three :  “Shall we begin?” 

Yes Daenerys Storm born, Mother of Dragons, let us begin. 

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Fitness and all that

Around February I rejoined the gym and then stopped going soon afterwards. For some reason I never stick to my fitness goals.

And then today I noticed I’ve gained some weight, which made me panic a little. So I decided, for the umpteenth time, to start working out again.

I know, of course, that eating well is better than exercise for losing weight so I will have to make some adjustments in my eating habits. I think now is a good time to cut down on carbs and try one the in vogue diets like Keto, Paleo or the Slow Carb popularised by the maverick Tim Ferris in his book The Four Hour Diet.

A good diet is the best hope I have of losing a few kilos in the shortest possible time but exercise still has plenty of other benefits. So I have to start working out again

The challenge is that I’ve recently moved and there doesn’t seem to be a gym close to where I now stay. Which means I will have to take up calisthenics. Also I’ve realised I don’t like gyms anyway, and even if I move to where there are gyms close by, hopefully soon, I don’t think I’ll ever go to a gym again. My plan is to just buy my own weights, rack, benches and bars and workout at home.

Or I might take up running again. Last time I did I tried running I went from only managing a minute to running five km by following the Couch to 5k program.

Either way, I have new fitness goals.

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Game of Thrones is Back

Tomorrow Game of Thrones returns for the seventh season and I have to say I don’t think there’s ever been a more anticipated TV show in history. Everyone is writing about it, making predictions, analyzing past seasons and lamenting the death of Hodor.

I was initially not a big fan of the TV series but since Martin has seemingly forgotten that he’s in the middle of writing a fantasy series, I have resigned myself to the fact that I have to watch it.

It’s been over six years since he released the fifth book and in that time the TV series started and overtook the books. Used to be fun back when the TV series was just starting to threaten to drop some spoilers but it now looks like I’ll have to watch the spoilers myself.

Still, it’s a pretty good series and, like millions of other people, I can’t wait to hear Tyrion Lannister’s latest quip.

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I Have Joined The Now Movement

Derek Sivers, a cool guy I greatly admire, has on his personal website a “Now” page which is a more specific version of the usual “about me” page. The now page focuses on what he’s currently doing.

Back when he created it, a retweet encouraged other bloggers and creatives to create their own and that’s how the now movement was born. There’s now a whole website dedicated to showcasing these “now” pages. Good to visit if you’re bored and just want to see random pictures of people and their random websites.

Sivers thinks we all should have one and I kinda agree. Like he says, it’s the kind of stuff you’d tell a friend you haven’t seen in a while.

In his words, “… a website with a link that says “now” goes to a page that tells you what this person is focused on at this point in their life. For short, we call it a “now page”.

Today I finally created mine, which I’ll be editing from time to time.

You can check out the now movement here.

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This and That

Been a while since I last posted.

I’m back now though. A few days ago I wrote an article on a much talked about political development in our country. Had not been commenting on political matters much but I thought to write down a few things.

That article is on my old blog Reflections of an Afrikan Youth. I kinda miss my old political and social commentary blog whose domain I allowed to expire.

In other news Zimbabwe won the Cosafa Cup earlier on today. We seem to be good at winning this particular tournament.

Also Romelu Lukaku joined the biggest club in the world. Would be wonderful to see what Lukaku can do in Manchester United colours. Rooney, meanwhile, has moved in the opposite direction. Football, it seems, is on its way back.

Interesting developments on the Zimbabwean political scene as Professor Jonathan Moyo, known for his quick tongue and Twitter outspokenness, has threatened to reveal “who really” wrote General Chiwenga’s PhD thesis. Gen Chiwenga is the Commander of the Zimbabwe Defence Forces, and therefore the most powerful soldier in the land.

Ah, and by the way I hope to be writing more often.

I’m out

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The Art of Counting 

​My people (Zimbabweans) are in the habit of inflating things. From inflation proper to fellows who exaggerate their wealth and self worth, to “men of God”  who give unbelievable figures of the sizes of their flock, we give too much importance to huge numbers. Maybe it’s a remnant of those hyperinflation days,  when even this poor villager was a trillionaire many times over,  never mind that I couldn’t buy a loaf. 

You only need to look at how the crowd sizes are estimated at rallies or church services. In Zimbabwe one gathering can have as little as 10 000 people,  or as much as 1 million,  depending on who is doing the counting. Ranga Mberi has a brilliant post on his blog about this. 

I,  however,  didn’t expect to see the same in the world’s biggest democracy. But politics is a game of numbers,  and politicians  everywhere will take offense if you suggest they have fewer supporters than they believe. 

Trump,  through his Press Secretary,  took great offense when newspapers pointed out that the crowd at his inauguration was quite small compared to those of his predecessors. 

The Trump team claimed that the crowd was in fact one of the biggest ever, which of course is total rubbish. Photographic evidence clearly shows that the Trump crowd was much smaller,  never mind what Donald thinks. 

It prompted a couple of brilliant articles,  in The New York Times and elsewhere, about crowd counting. This one traces how crowd estimates have been done through the years (centuries actually) from just rough estimating that was really guesswork to satellite imaging. 

Louis Farrakhan’s Million Man March of 1995 is mentioned in the article,  where the Nation of Islam claimed a crowd in excess of 1.5 million,  while the National Park Service said it was a mere 400 000. It became a huge controversy as the Nation of Islam threatened to sue and eventually specialists used mathematical computational techniques to get a better estimate. Interestingly  there was  a bill introduced that banned the National Park Service from spending public money on crowd estimations. 

In another article a Professor Still claims that Trumps crowd was only about a third of Obama’s 2009 one while The Guardian concludes that  “evidence certainly seems to challenge Trump’s assertion that he had drawn a crowd of as many as 1.5 million people.”

You’d think these are petty things,  beneath the notice of the President of the most powerful nation on earth but clearly Trump is not your usual president. 

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At 25 : 10 Things I’ve Learnt

I turned 25 earlier this month, on Sunday 11 September 2016. Twenty five years isn’t a very long time, to be honest, and I can hardly claim to have seen much. Still, here are some things a quarter century of living has taught me.

1. Choose yourself
Possibly the most important thing I’ve learnt, and how I wish I had learnt this much earlier. In life you have to be a little selfish. In almost all cases choose yourself. This also happens to be the title of an awesome book by James Altucher.

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2. Value your Relationships
No man (or woman) is an island, we all live in societies and interact with hundreds of people and possibly thousands online. These relationships are very important. Value them.

Try to be on the best of terms with your family. You cannot choose family and at some point you will need them. Do not create unnecessary drama. And there is nothing like a beer with a sibling/siblings and uncles, aunts etc. It is priceless.

More importantly, I think, are your friends. After college it becomes increasingly difficult to meet new friends. Sure, there’ll always be a colleague or two from work or the bar who you can have a drink with or discuss the weekend’s games but that saying about old friends being like wine Is true.

These old friends know you, they’ve been there since day one. I’ve found that my best friends, the most reliable, all weather friends are those I met as a kid and when I started high school. I did meet a couple at varsity but these are few. Cherish them.

I cannot say much about girlfriends/boyfriends but I guess the same applies.

3. Be healthy
I’ve mostly been healthy- barring a bit of weight gained here and there- so I have always taken health for granted. However as I get older I see how important it is to be in shape.

Beyond the immediate, selfish reasons of looking good in clothes and to women (and men), being healthy is very important. Your mind functions better, you feel better. It boosts confidence and self-esteem and keeps you away from the doctors and possibly an early death.

4. Educate yourself
Regardless of the extent of one’s formal education, there is always room for improvement. There are always books to absorb, blogs to read, crafts to learn, languages to learn, skills to acquire and cultures to explore.

Learn to code, play the guitar, learn French, build robots, enroll for an arts course or design websites. It is truly never too late. I remember sitting at the same table with a 62 year old undergraduate at the University of Zimbabwe years ago. I didn’t get it then but I now do.

Read, write, learn, build. At the very least it’ll make you a more exciting person and make you appreciate the true extent of your ignorance- itself a vital stage of learning.

5. Express yourself
Never conform to societal expectations or keep silent just because you are afraid of offending people. Be yourself, conformity is the enemy of progress. However don’t be rude.

It’s perfectly fine to believe there’s no God, to believe there’s God, to support Inter Milan or Wigan Athletic. Do not let the noise of the world drown you.

6. Stand for what you believe in

Often I have found myself defending unpopular views. Sometimes I’m wrong, sometimes I’m right, but at all times I will stand for what I believe in.

Be it gay rights, the death sentence or democracy, do not be afraid of stating your position. Attend those rallies, wave your banners, tweet the struggle.

There is no trivial battle if you truly believe. There’s no cause too small. Of course you should always accept that sometimes your views are wrong and need to be changed.

7. Say no
Saying no is underrated. Often we agree to things without thinking about them much. A colleague invites you to their party and you offhandedly say yes only to realize that you got stuff to do that Saturday.

Saying no is better than not keeping promises. Say no to things that you cannot do, events you cannot attend and tasks you can’t complete.

8. Wander a little (and create memories)

When you are young you often do not know what you want to do with your life. I didn’t too, and I still think I don’t.

I wanted (and want) to become a teacher, a journalist, an architect, a politician, a writer, a pool champion, a millionaire and hundreds of other things. I know I cannot become all these things but I can learn of them what I can. I can travel, teach, read economics, meet new people and do a whole lot of other things.

There’ll always be people steering you to their goals and what they think is good for you. Sometimes you need to give them the middle finger.

It’s your life. You can wander a little, change your degree, and decide to move to Morocco or Kazakhstan or study the languages of Brazilian tribesmen.

As Tolkien would say, “Not all who wander are lost.”

9. Don’t be afraid of trying
There’s so much in that nursery rhyme: If at first you don’t succeed, Try , try, try again. No matter the odds or circumstances, do what you believe is worth it. Give it your best shot.

Approach the pretty girl, enter the half marathon, apply for the scholarship. Showing up is huge. Because most people never do, just showing up may be enough.

Failure is not the end. Rather it is a lesson, a chance to improve. And I’ve learnt that failure is much better than regret- that endless what ifs.

Anomander Rake (A great fictional character) advises in Book 8 of the Malazan Book of the Fallen- Toll the Hounds: “There is no struggle to vast, no odds too overwhelming, for even should we fail- should we fall- we will know that we have lived.

10. Do not compete, Improve
In the world of social media it is easy to constantly measure oneself against the achievements not only of one’s peers but also against the whole world. You will see twenty years olds who have made millions, teenagers living dream lives in the Mediterranean and twenty somethings that are already retired.

This can make the best of us bitter and cynical. We’ll lose hope and think little of our worth. What I’ve realized is that there will always be people who are richer, better looking, smarter and more popular. It shouldn’t matter.

Rather the goal is to improve oneself. Always.

Bonus: Be happy
OK, this is quite generic and all but seriously be happy. Don’t give too many f%£&s about the world. Forgive,  forget,  drink a little,  be stoic,  don’t let the world ruin your beer.

I like this statement by Obama: “All of us, we make mistakes,” he said. “And at times we are lost. And as we get older, we learn we don’t always have control of things — not even a president does. But we do have control over how we respond to the world. We do have control over how we treat one another.”

Respond to the world like a boss.

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The meaning of innovation

I visited my barber a few days ago and came across what I think is brilliant innovation- a saloon cape with a window that allows you to use your phone while getting a haircut or whatever.

Apparently someone figured out that if people want to use their phones all the time even when getting their hair done why not allow both? So a transparent window was put on those capes they use to keep hair from your clothes.

I will get haircuts more often
I will get haircuts more often

So simple, yet brilliant. Like I have previously written, innovation need not be new, revolutionary or complicated. Innovation only needs to be relevant, and convenient. Like the selfie stick. Or this barber’s cape with a window.

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