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Category: Blogs

Dutch treat

Dutch treat

May 31, 2011 | Comments (0)

“The devil shits Dutchmen,” complained Sir William Batten in 1667 as he watched the English fleet burning in the Thames estuary. The famous British naval administrator was exasperated by Dutch challenges to English rule in the east Indies, on the high seas, and now even at home. While few would accuse the Netherlands of having […]

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Witchcraft

Witchcraft

May 31, 2011 | Comments (0)

In addition to the rising cost of production, unclear property rights and limited access to capital, the tobacco grower I visited this morning had to deal with another challenge recently—witchcraft. After several of his workers were killed in a car crash and others contracted mysterious illnesses, farm laborers started accusing each other of casting spells. […]

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In a nutshell

In a nutshell

May 31, 2011 | Comments (0)

After visiting a commercial tobacco farm and several leaf merchants, the story that emerges is as follows: Zimbabwe tobacco production used to be dominated by a small number of large-scale tobacco farmers. The majority of these commercial growers were white descendants of British colonists. At independence in 1980, the Zimbabwean government announced it would purchase […]

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Table topics

Table topics

May 30, 2011 | Comments (0)

I had dinner with three fellow guests at York Lodge—a Belgian diamond trader, a Brazilian AIDS consultant and a member of the Danish embassy in Zambia. The diamond trader was in Zimbabwe to help the government secure the spoils of a recently discovered field—supposedly among the largest and most easily accessible in the world—and the […]

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Keep the change

Not your money’s worth

May 30, 2011 | Comments (0)

I met John Robertson today, a local economist whom I have always admired for his common sense and willingness to speak truth to power. He said the game changer in Zimbabwe has been the “dollarization” of the economy in 2009, which has restored a degree of order to the marketplace. Prior to that, hyperinflation, combined […]

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Portugese chicken

Portugese chicken

May 29, 2011 | Comments (0)

Pleasant dinner with my good friend Murray Prince, whom I hadn’t seen for at least eight years. Murray gave me the skinny on tobacco and politics in Zimbabwe—none of it attributable, of course, but his primer will be helpful as I start my workweek.

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Getting my bearings

Getting my bearings

May 29, 2011 | Comments (0)

One of the local leaf companies kindly let me borrow a car for the week, which should facilitate logistics considerably. I spent the day with my friend Makiwa, getting my bearings in Harare. I have a basic knowledge of the city from previous visits, but things are different when you are driving yourself. For starters, […]

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Life is good again

Life is good again

May 29, 2011 | Comments (0)

After traveling for nearly 24 hours, watching four movies and almost finishing a badly written book on the Hells Angels motorcycle club, I am enjoying a Zambezi beer in front of my room at York Lodge in Highlands, Harare. During past visits, I’ve flown from the United States through either Johannesburg or London. Due to […]

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One journey ends, another begins

One journey ends, another begins

June 28, 2008 | Comments (0)

With the container delivered to Beira, our journey has come to an end. Alex will return to Lilongwe with a load of grain, and I will fly back to the United States to prepare an article for Tobacco Reporter’s print issue about the logistics of tobacco in southern Africa. Our cargo, on the other hand, […]

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Cash

Cash

June 10, 2008 | Comments (0)

Zimbabwe’s hyperinflation continues to fascinate me. I’ve seen photos of people getting trays full of change after paying for a beer in a bar. The money depreciates so quickly that Zimbabweans must spend their earnings instantly on items that hold their value better than the does beleaguered currency—which is pretty much anything these days. Apparently, […]

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