Saturday, December 20, 2014

Liberia Land of the Free Cassava Bong Fries Recipe

Liberia’s name means "Land of the Free," because it was founded by freed slaves from the United States. The food of Liberia is a fusion of African, Americo-Liberians and Congoes. Bong fries are a favorite in Liberian restaurants and bars. Seasoned cassava bong fries resemble potato chips and are eaten in the same manor.


Liberia's national flag, the "Lone Star," reminiscent of the American "Stars and Stripes," appears in the lower right corner. The single star in the blue field representing the African continent signifies Liberia's claim to be the first African "independent republic." Lagoons and mangrove swamps mark Liberia's beautiful coastline. Liberia is slightly larger than Tennessee and recently Liberia's surfing tourism has begun to become popular and gaining a reputation for having spectacular beaches. The food of Liberia is a fusion of cultures and bong fries are a favorite in Liberian restaurants and bars. All you need are cassavas and vegetable oil to make this favorite Liberian side.
For the best possible cassava chips, the slices of cassava need to be paper-thin.

Liberian Bong Fries

2 fresh cassava roots
Oil for deep-frying
Salt to taste

In a large frying pan heat 2 cups of oil, peel the cassava, slice thin wash and dry. Fry in hot oil until a lightly brown and crisp. Drain the chips on paper towels, sprinkle with salt and enjoy.

Did you know?

Monrovia, the capital of Liberia, was named for U.S. president James Monroe.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Lost In Thought: How does an idea come into being for a better Africa?

How does an idea come into being? Daydreaming produces ideas and ideas come before the business innovation. Daydreaming keeps our minds active while helping us manage life and be creative. Africa's community of entrepreneurs is growing and new ideas and innovations are vital. You get ideas from daydreaming, projects start as ideas, ideas and drive turn into action and action creates change for a better Africa.

Daydreaming photo by Stefano Montagner
Daydreaming produces ideas and ideas come before the business innovation. Daydreaming is so routine that we usually think little about it or how it affects us. The types are so varied that there is still no definition of daydreaming that researchers agree upon. However, what is agreed upon is daydreaming is an important, intriguing and necessary part of mental life. Daydreaming helps expand new ideas developing better solutions for Africa. 

This liberating idea of encouraging daydreaming is radical. However, creating designs and solutions for collaborating with other thinkers on how to make Africa self-reliant is not radical but essential. The idea for self-reliance comes before action. Those who take action before having an idea are unprepared and thus find themselves lacking.

Our minds constantly flip from one thought to another and one type of daydream to another. New knowledge is being created about food security or environmental management for Africa. Daydreaming is the gateway to creativity, problem solving and boosting productivity. Daydreaming creates new spaces for collaboration and innovation, daydreaming is an essential cognitive tool. 

When you are daydreaming, your mind naturally cycles through different modes of thinking, and different areas of your brain are involved in a completed tango. Our brains are built to daydream. Daydreaming keeps our minds active while helping us manage life and be creative. Ideas shape action, daydreaming is the gateway to creativity, problem solving and boosting productivity for a better Africa. 

You must be a part of cultivating innovation around the clock. Many innovators jot down ideas that pop up throughout the day. Daydreams are your source for ideas, when daydreaming; you can visualize the idea, mimic events, and are free to look from every angle. You get ideas from daydreaming, projects start as ideas, ideas and drive turn into action and action creates change for a better Africa. Daydreaming is just the first step on the long path to successful innovation.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

The True Size of Africa: Immappancy Creates a Distorted Worldview

Africa is 11.68 million square miles or 30.22 million km2 and covers 20.4 percent of the total land area on Earth but on the Mercator projection map, Africa appears small in size, why is that?

How big is Africa

The Mercator projection of 1569 was one of the first important navigation maps produced. The map was created by Gerard Mercator who was a Flemish mapmaker attempting to solve the problem of sailors navigate the world accurately. However, the accuracy of the Mercator projection is for traveling purposes and not an accurate visual representation of the world.  The east-west and north-south lines are straight lines. Because the world is round, this makes for some not-so-accurate geographical representations. Antarctica and Greenland, in particular, look far larger on a Mercator projection than they are in real life. Alternative projections use an equal area projection that shows the countries' areas correctly while minimizing shape distortion. Some projections preserve the shapes of countries but misrepresent their areas as does the Mercator projection.
Why it is that today the Mercator projection is still such a widely recognized image used to represent the globe? The biggest challenge for mapmakers is that it is impossible to portray the reality of sphere-shaped world on a flat map. Mapmakers refer to the inability to compare size on a Mercator projection as "the Greenland Problem." Greenland appears to be the same size as Africa, yet Africa's land mass is actually fourteen times larger. Because the Mercator distorts size so much at the poles, it is common to crop Antarctica off the map. This practice results in the Northern Hemisphere appearing much larger than it actually is, the U.S. looks the same size as Africa but Africa is more than three times the size of the U.S.

Learning geography is vital
In October of 2010 at an exhibition in a London gallery by the Royal Geographic Society a German software computer-graphics engineer Mr. Kai Krause set out to show the world that "immappancy" or insufficient geographical knowledge is a major social issue. Krause was puzzled why the true size of Africa was a worldwide misjudgment. Krause partly blamed it on the distorted nature of mapping estimates using the Mercator projection. Krause point is you should know the map Mercator projection limits your view of what you see and learning geography plays an important role in the evolution of people, ideas and development.

Monday, December 15, 2014

Cameroon Lake Nyos CO2 Suffocation Tragedy of 1986

The environmental disaster that occurred at Lake Nyos, Cameroon is one of the most destructive carbon dioxide natural disasters in modern times. This is due to Lake Nyos being a naturally gas-rich lake.

The Cameroon line is a 994-mile or 1,600 km chain of volcanoes. The oldest rocks have been dated at 70 million years old. Nine volcanoes along the line are active. A fissure eruption occurred at Mt. Cameroon in 1982.  Lake Nyos is a water-filled crater of an old volcano, deep and funnel-shaped.
Lake Nyos is a naturally gas-rich lake
In Cameroon, West Africa on August 21, 1986 Lake Nyos, belched a lethal carbon dioxide gas because a landslide disturbed the lake. At least 1,800 people died and in one village, everyone was killed. Most of the victims died in their sleep of carbon dioxide poisoning. The gas killed all living things within a 15 mile or 25km radius of the lake. The signs of asphyxiation are similar to strangulation, as like being gassed by a kitchen stove. The tragedy happened at Lake Nyos, about 200 miles or 322 km northwest of the capital, Yaoundé, during the night.

The lake's lower levels became flooded by carbon dioxide gas due to gaseous springs, which bubbled up from the extinct volcano beneath. Carbon dioxide is denser than air, the massive bubble of carbon dioxide gas hugged the ground and flowed down the stream like fog. Sadly, many villagers were in the carbon dioxide fog’s path and were killed.

The auto-siphon project began in 2001 by scientists from the United States, France and Cameroon. Pipes have now been put in place in Lake Nyos to siphon water from the lower layers up to the surface and allow the carbon dioxide at the bottom of the lake to slowly bubble out, avoiding a repeat of the August 21, 1986  Lake Nyos catastrophe.  The very long pipes eject 90% carbon dioxide and 10% water. Lake Nyos is slowly being degassed but it is still dangerous. Its been 28 years since the tragedy at Lake Nyos and the Lake is still at dangerous CO2 levels.


Sunday, December 14, 2014

Pioneer Cultural Empowerment Author Grace Emily Akinyi Ogot

One of Kenya's first black female pioneers of cultural empowerment, author Grace Emily Akinyi Ogot writes about the tensions between tribal customs and modern life.

Grace Emily Akinyi Ogot was born in Kenya's Central Nyanza district in 1930 to Christian parents. She began her career working as a nurse and midwife at Maseno Hospital and Makerere University College. Ogot then began working as a script-writer and broadcaster for the BBC. Ogot made another career change as a community development officer in the Kisumu District Kenya. She also worked as a public relations officer for Air India. Ogot then made another career turn around opening clothing boutiques in Kenya’s largest city of Nairobi.

Hon. Dr. Grace Emily Akinyi Ogot 
During this time period of many career changes as nurse, journalist, radio host and business owner Ogot never stopped writing. In 1966 she published The Promised Land, making her one of Kenya's first generation of published writers in English and one of the first black female Kenyan novelists. Ogot wrote The Promised Land and the Nigerian author Flora Nwapa who wrote Efuru, both published books in 1966 and both were groundbreaking books by black African female writers. Ogot was a founding member of the Writers' Association of Kenya she served as its chairman from 1975 to 1980.

Ogot was named a delegate to the General Assembly of the United Nations in 1975, and as a member of the Kenya delegation to UNESCO in 1976. In 1984 Ogot served as a Member of Parliament and the only assistant minister for culture in the cabinet of Ex-President Daniel Arap Moi who served as the second President of Kenya from 1978 to 2002. Ogot is 84 years old and married to her husband of 55 years Bethwell Allan Ogot who is also a writer and politician.

Major Works by Grace Ogot
The promised land- 1966
Land without thunder - 1968
The other woman: selected short stories- 1976
The graduate- 1980
The strange bride- 1983

Ogot recently published the story of her life entitled “Days of My Life: An Autobiography. She gives accounts of how she and her husband went through a lot of pain to have access to Ex-President Daniel Arap Moi in order to organize fund-raising meetings to develop her constituency. The book however shows how she badly let down writers and thespians as Assistant Minister for Culture and Social Services. She never worked to improve the working climate of the Kenya Cultural Center in general and the Kenya National Theater in particular.

Warm Pineapple Kuskus Breakfast Recipe

A dish so nice they named it twice, Kuskus or Couscous is actually pasta though it looks like rice. Kuskus is stocked in most grocery stores on the rice and pasta isles. Instant and non-instant varieties are available.

Photo by dark.molly
Warm Pineapple Kuskus
2 cups dry Kuskus
2 cups low fat milk
1 teaspoon honey
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 cup finely diced pineapples

In a medium saucepan over medium heat, combine the milk, honey and cinnamon. As soon as it comes to a boil, stir in the Kuskus. Turn off the heat, cover and let stand for 5 minutes. Stir in pineapples. Serve warm for breakfast or as a dessert.

Did you know…?
Kuskus (Couscous) is a neutral favored dish that combines with just about every ingredient imaginable. No wonder it’s one of North Africa’s staple foods.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Which Is More Important The People Or The Land

Samburu had de facto ownership of Eland Downs Ranch by virtue of living on the land for generations. However, Eland Downs Ranch was legally privately owned by former Kenyan president Daniel arap Moi.

The conflict over natural resources across Africa is a serious issue. The Samburu of Kisargei were on the losing end of the17,100 acre Laikipia National Park (formally known as Eland Downs Ranch) land ownership dispute with the Nature Conservancy, and the African Wildlife Foundation and the Kenya Wildlife Service.
The Samburu were semi-nomadic pastoralists on the Eland Downs ranch. Cattle, as well as sheep, goats and camels, are of utmost importance to the Samburu culture and way of life. The Samburu are extremely dependent on their animals for survival. On November 11, 2011, 1,000 cattle and 2,000 sheep and goats of the Samburu livestock were impounded due to a violent dispute over land ownership with the Nature Conservancy and the African Wildlife Foundation who purchased the land and gave it as a gift to Kenya for a national park, Laikipia National Park. As reported by the Star Kenya on December 1, 2011 Kenya Wildlife Service officers guarding Eland Downs ranch were murdered and in return, an elder identified as Brian Lelekina was shot to death.
The Samburu of Kenya photo by ninara

The Samburu's legal case over the Eland Downs ranch was heard in the town of Nyeri on December 14, 2011 and the court ruled the Kenya Wildlife Service had secured legal registration of the land. The Samburu were forced to vacate the land after generations of living on Eland Downs ranch. The Samburu had no squatters rights ownership of Eland Downs Ranch, the Ranch was upheld legally as owned by former Kenyan president Daniel arap Moi.
The Samburu of Kisargei were pitted against the conservation charities, the government and the former president, Daniel arap Moi, who owned the land. The 17,100 acre Laikipia National Park or Eland Downs ranch was purchased from former Kenyan president Daniel arap Moi by the Nature Conservancy and the African Wildlife Foundation. Daniel arap Moi who was in power for 24 years in Kenya from 1978-2002. Eland Downs had previously been part of the nearby 90,000 acre Ol Pejeta Ranch. The Ol Pejeta Conservancy is the Largest Black Rhino Sanctuary in East Africa housing Mount Kenya Wildlife Estate with homes for sale on the eastern corner, camps and tours. The question remains in this case, which is more important the people or the land.

Sunday, December 7, 2014

Slow Cooker Mutton Stew

What is mutton you might ask? Mutton is a mature sheep; in a sheep's first year of life, it is called a lamb. Yes, mutton and lamb belong to the animal. People in North America prepare far less mutton recipes than Africa, Asia or Europe therefore the term Mutton may seem a little strange.

Slow Cooker Mutton Stew

3 pounds lamb or mutton stew meat

2 medium tomatoes, peeled and chopped

1 diced carrot 

2 medium diced potatoes

1 cup mushrooms

1 cup onions, chopped

1 garlic clove, crushed

1/2 teaspoon thyme

2 teaspoons salt

1 bay leaf

2 cups water

Place lamb or mutton and vegetables in slow cooker. Mix salt, garlic, thyme, and bay leaf into water and pour over lamb and vegetables. Cover and cook on low 8 to 9 hours, until lamb is tender. Serve with rice.
Photo by jazzijava

Thursday, December 4, 2014

When an Ordinary Sport Just Won't Do Try Kudu Dung Spitting

There are plenty of ordinary sports out there in the world, but sometimes you feel the need to look at the not so ordinary such as Bokdrol Spoeg or Kudu Dung Spitting.

When someone says they are a sports fan, it is presumed they enjoy watching or playing football, baseball, basketball or other popular sports. Yet, there are many sports out of the ordinary, the world is full of sporting events that most people would think odd but are actually very popular. In fact when ESPN began in 1979 Slo-Pitch softball World Series game featuring the Kentucky Bourbons vs. the Milwaukee Schlitz was the highlight game of the week. Munster Hurling and Irish Cycling were opening weekend sporting events on ESPN as well. Bokdrol Spoeg would have fit nicely in the early days of ESPN’s line-up.

Bokdrol Spoeg or Kudu Dung Spitting is a sport practiced by the Afrikaner community in South Africa. Bokdrol Spoeg is a traditional indigenous South African sport of spitting antelope droppings. Yes, antelope droppings. The object of the competition is to spit the small hard dropping of the Greater Kudu antelope poop the furthest distance. The person who spits the antelope dropping the farthest wins. There is skill in choosing the right texture of poop to spit, the harder the poop the further the poop travels when expelled.

Greater Kudu Antelope 
photo by the sharpteam
Legend has it Bokdrol Spoeg began when South African hunters who failed to catch a Kudu antelope would take their dried poop and spit them as far as possible in the direction of their departing meal. Nevertheless, no matter what others may think of Bokdrol Spoeg the participants in the competitions continue to develop their skills, for the thrill of competition and the love of their traditional sport. Will we see this sport in Olympics? My guess is probably not any time soon but the first gold medal would definitely be awarded to South Africa.

Before you judge odd sports, Brunsbuettel, a town in northern Germany hosts the Mud Flat Olympics or Wattoluempiade every year. Competitors battle playing football, volleyball, and other sports while deep in thick mud. Camel wrestling or Turkish deve güreşi has been a Middle Eastern sport for many centuries where two male camels wrestle after being “enticed” by a female camel. We cannot forget the World Worm Charming Championship in the small village of Willaston near Nantwich in England. The goal is to charm worms from the soil using only vibrations within the allotted 30 minutes. The existing record of worm charming listed in the Guinness World Records is 567 worms.

Did you know…? There is a yearly competition held in South African for Bokdrol Spoeg 

C'est la vie!

To each their own!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Poverty is an old enemy that has many faces

Poverty is an old enemy that has many faces. What is unprecedented is the commitment of world leaders to agree on setting a deadline for human development.

From 1990-2015, the Millennium Development Goals 15 year project provides a framework for the entire UN system to work together towards a common purpose. The UN Development Group (UNDG) ensures that the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) remain at the center of those efforts.


The eight internationally agreed targets are to reduce poverty, hunger, maternal and child deaths, disease, gender inequality and environmental degradation.

The Eight Millennium Development Goals
These targets are to be achieved by 2015, from their level in 1990:
1.     Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger- In 1990, 57% of Sub-Saharan Africa was living below $1.25 a day, in 2010 48.5%

2.     Achieve universal primary education- In 1999 40 million children were not in school in Sub-Saharan, in 2014 22 million children were not in school in Sub-Saharan which is a substantial improvement.

3.     Promote gender equality and empower women- 23% of poor girls in rural areas completed primary education. Adolescent fertility rate women ages 15-19 in 2012 were 45% of all births. In 2013 22% of seats held by women in national parliaments.

4.     Reduce child mortality- Sub-Saharan Africa made major strides lowering the under five mortality rate by 48% from 1990 to 2013.

5.     Improve maternal health- Africa has reduced its maternal mortality rate from 870 deaths per 100,000 live births in 1990 to 460 in 2013, a 47% reduction.

6.     Combat HIV/AIDS, malaria and other diseases- In 1990, Africa had the highest burden of HIV and malaria of all regions of the world, accounting for more than half of global incidence. In 2012, globally, 25 out of 35.3 million people living with HIV were concentrated in Southern, East, Central and West Africa; Africa quadrupled its 1990 level of 5.7 million. In the same year, this same region accounted for 1.6 million HIV deaths out of a total of 2.3 million living with HIV. Additionally, more than two thirds of HIV/AIDS deaths among children and adults occurred in the same regions of Africa. These facts warrant continuous efforts in the battle against HIV/AIDS. Between 2000 and 2012, Africa (excluding North Africa) reduced its malaria incidence rate by an average of 31% and death rate by 49%.

7.     Ensure environmental sustainability- Many African countries are reducing their CO2 emissions and use of ozone depleting substances and increasing the protection of territorial and marine areas. The world met the MDG target for drinking water in 2010, but 45 countries (20 of which are from Africa) are still not on track to meet the target by 2015.

The Millennium Development Goals
Palm Oil Seeds an export of Africa
8.     Develop a global partnership for development- Official Development Assistance (ODA) declined 6% from 1990 to 2012 African countries used funds from oil and mining projects to successfully finance new  industrialization. However not every country in Sub-Saharan Africa is on equal ground when it comes to a reduction of ODA and income subsidizing the poor.

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