Addiction in African Literature

Where are the African tales of personal struggles with alcoholism and drug addiction?  I’ve been studying the history of alcohol use in Africa for more than twenty-five years and more recently I’ve also been looking at drug use.  Yet I can’t recall a single such story in my unsystematic sampling of African creative writing.  HereContinue reading “Addiction in African Literature”

In Search of the Drunken Native

In a March 3, 2012 New York Times article, “At Tribe’s Door, a Hub of Beer and Heartache,” reporter Timothy Williams provides yet another account of the terrible consequences associated with alcohol consumption among native Americans.  This article, which of course joins many others on the same topic, touches on a number of familiar points,Continue reading “In Search of the Drunken Native”

African Perspectives on Pharmaceuticals and Drugs

In a panel on “Drugs in Africa” at the African Studies Association annual meeting in Washington, DC in November, Donna Patterson, a historian in the Department of Africana Studies at Wellesley College, presented a paper on “Drug Trafficking in Africa:  Historical Cases from West Africa,” which in contrast to other papers on the panel lookedContinue reading “African Perspectives on Pharmaceuticals and Drugs”

Herding Khat

On January 11th the  BBC reported that the Netherlands government would ban the use of khat—the mild, leaf-based stimulant produced largely in East Africa.  The ban came as something as a surprise, given the liberal Dutch approach to cannabis and the ubiquity of “Coffee Shops” selling joints in Amsterdam and other Dutch cities.  Why thisContinue reading “Herding Khat”

Johnnie Carson on “African (Drug) Issues”

In a recent talk on “African Issues” and US policy on those issues, Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs, Ambassador Johnnie Carson, chose to conclude by stressing the growing challenge of drug trafficking in Africa.  Having discussed democratization, having covered all of the regional hot spots and having emphasized hot-button topics such as HIVContinue reading “Johnnie Carson on “African (Drug) Issues””

Alcoholism, Race, and Decolonization

In the June 1958 issue of the Nchanga Drum, Dominico Chansa, a social welfare worker on the Northern Rhodesian (Zambian) Copperbelt, asked readers the question, “Is Beer Drinking a Good or Bad Habit?”  The author claimed that there was “no subject on the Copperbelt today which draws more heated debate”—a surprising yet surprisingly accurate assertion. Continue reading “Alcoholism, Race, and Decolonization”

“We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Badges!”

In a strange twist in the history of international drug interdiction, three West African drug traffickers have through their attorneys in New York Federal Court openly acknowledged that they are in the global business of distributing cocaine.  According to a story, “Admitting Clients Are Drug Traffickers, but Denying Guilt,”  in the New York Times AprilContinue reading ““We Don’t Need No Stinkin’ Badges!””

Are Drug Traffickers Re-Colonizing Africa?

In 2009 the West African country of Guinea Bissau made a rare and brief appearance in the international media when, in the early hours of March 2nd, President Vieira was assassinated—apparently at the hands of units of the military.  Only hours before, the head of the army, Gen. Tagme Na Waie, had been killed; theContinue reading “Are Drug Traffickers Re-Colonizing Africa?”

Rural Distilling in Burma and Nigeria

On a visit to Myanmar/Burma in late December I toured the region surrounding Inle Lake, well known for its spectacular beauty and villages on stilts.  A boat trip to the southern reaches of the lake took us to a regional market and to several temple sites—and to a local distillery.  We were welcomed by theContinue reading “Rural Distilling in Burma and Nigeria”

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