Independence is not an easy thing to establish, especially not in the Balkans. Serbia’s moves toward independence from the Ottoman Empire started in 1804, and de facto independence was achieved by 1830.  Full independence did not happen until 1878, however. Bulgaria’s path to independence was even more convoluted, with moments of Schrodinger’s Independence in 1878 …

  • September 14, 2020
  • Bulgaria
  • Comments Off on The Twisted Road to Independence

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On 14 September 1960 Colonel Joseph-Désiré Mobutu seized power in the newly independent Congo in a bloodless coup.  Ostensibly, as Mobutu claimed on his radio broadcast explaining the event, the coup was undertaken to break the impasse the Congolese government had reached.  Mobutu characterized it as a “cooling off” period, in which the government would …

  • September 14, 2020
  • History
  • Comments Off on The Moment the Future Changed in Congo

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In 2018, just under half of the world’s new HIV infections, 800,000, appeared in South and Eastern Africa.  There are some bright spots – currently 85% of people living with HIV in these areas are now aware of their status.  Thanks to a sustained world effort and the United States PEPFAR program, 79% of those …

  • August 31, 2020
  • Reading , Review
  • Comments Off on A Story About The Story of a Plague

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“Don’t compromise the future with hasty reforms, and don’t replace the structures that Belgium hands over to you until you are sure that you can do better.  Don’t be afraid to come to us.  We will remain by your side and give you advice.” With those most patronizing of words, King Baudouin I of Belgium …

  • August 30, 2020
  • Congo
  • Comments Off on A Defining Crisis

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Samuel Maharero was born in 1856.  It was the beginning of a time of massive upheaval in South West Africa. His father, paramount chief of the Herero, had consolidated Herero rule in the area over the Nama and Orlam people by 1861.  The latter stages of that struggle was marked by the usage of much …

  • August 26, 2020
  • Interesting
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The nineteenth century wasn’t a great time for the Ottoman Empire.  It wasn’t the worst time, that would be the beginning of the twentieth century when everything collapsed.  But for an empire that had been the strong conqueror of Europe out of Asia, it was a catastrophe. The coming fall of the Ottomans was so …

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“Natives must be taught from an early age that equality with Europeans is not for them,” Dr. Hendrik Verwoerd, author of the Bantu Education Act.  In 1971, sociologist Dr Melville Edelstein, who devoted 18 years of his life to working in Soweto to improve conditions, wrote a book called “What Young Africans Think,” about the …

  • June 18, 2020
  • South Africa
  • Comments Off on When the Children Led

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School children the world over returned from their Christmas break 1989/1990 with a new and difficult name to pronounce – Ceaușescu.  The Romanian communist and his wife had been ousted and executed in the only violent revolution in the democratizing Eastern Bloc.   A new political party had been organized to lead Romania in the …

  • June 13, 2020
  • Interesting
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No one would have suspected that a humble German Mauser Rifle, carrying a breakthrough technology, would serve on many sides of the precursor conflicts to the Great War.  The big small arms breakthroughs, the rifle cartridge, were quickly embraced by Germans arms manufacturers, and changed the range of infantry engagements from 50 meters, to a …

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