Three Words – African Countries

As I leave Africa and wing my way toward Switzerland, I have been thinking about the three words I will assign to each of the African countries I have visited. I have decided not to do this for Zambia, for I only spent a couple hours in this country and then only in the Victoria Falls East Cataract National Park, so I don’t feel that I had adequate exposure to the country to really get a sense of it. However, the following are the words I have chosen for the rest of the African countries I visited:ZIMBABWE:

  1. Stoic: (In the face of great adversity, with their country crumbling around them, inflation out of control, and suffering severe shortages of even the most basic of commodities such as cooking oil, fuel, and sugar, these brave people plod on day after day, trusting that things will eventually work themselves out)
  2. Poised: (As in ready and waiting – because of the wonderful, irrepressible spirit of its people, I have no doubt that the moment Zimbabwe rids itself of their corrupt President, Robert Mugabe, it will rapidly bounce back to its former status as an economic powerhouse in Africa)
  3. Potential: (Huge stores of natural resources, including diamonds; fertile lands covered in rich volcanic soil, a diverse yet peaceful people, and a land full of people who know the importance of and value tourism – these factors point to great potential once the dust settles)


  1. Stable: (a peaceful country with some poverty, but still better off than most other African nations)
  2. Functional: (things seem to work here – the stores are stocked, the infrastructure is in good shape, the government bureaucracy and corruption seems to be at a minimum on a continent where these two factors are so prevalent)
  3. Teeming: (unbelievable quantity and diversity of wildlife and a National park system that protects it)


  1. Corrupt: (Corruption in South Africa is insidious and goes to the highest levels of government)
  2. Depressed: (Although the government admits to 25% unemployment, people repeatedly told me that the real figure was closer to 40%. In part, this is due to the fact that under Apartheid, blacks and coloureds (their own classification, not mine) were not allowed to get an education. In the short 13 years since Apartheid has been abolished, this has changed. Now all South African children get a free education through secondary school. However, there is a huge populace of disenfranchised black and coloured people who, now in their 30’s, 40’s and 50’s, have no education or work experience, so they are unemployable, despite the cessation of Apartheid. As the new educated generation enters the workforce, this situation will change, but it will take a number of years until change is evident)
  3. Stunning: Cape Town and the Peninsula have absolutely stunning scenery, making it even sadder that the current situation is as it is)


  1. Tribal: (over 130 different tribes populate Tanzania and they all live together peacefully, most sharing Swahili as their native tongue)
  2. Safari: (Tanzania may be the world’s best safari location)
  3. Suspicious: (the people of Tanzania, in general, did not smile easily and often seemed suspicious or untrusting of tourists)

ZANZIBAR (Although Zanzibar is technically a part of Tanzania, these islands are so completely different from the mainland that I have separated them into a category of their own)

  1. Historic: (Zanzibar’s fascinating past includes being ruled by Persia, Oman, Britain, and now Tanzania, all of which have left their indelible marks on these tiny island)
  2. Welcoming: (Unlike the mainland, the people of Zanzibar are quick to smile and go out of their way to welcome visitors)
  3. Colorful: While the colors of Africa are spectacular throughout the continent, in Zanzibar I found their hues to be just a little more saturated, their patterns a bit more lively, and the fabrics a bit more luscious)

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