otherPriorities.com was supposed to become a site for texts and think pieces, written exchange and debate on Africa, the West, and the Rest of the World. It didn’t work. I will now use it to offer bits and pieces of text which might grow into a book, one day, and invite you to follow the evolving story.
The coastline embracing the vast land of Africa and holding together the Arab North and the Sub-Saharan South, the East and the West, measures something over 30’000 kilometers and defines the shape of Africa. The distinct and clear-cut form of Africa has become a recognizable logo for the continent itself. It is printed on tee-shirts, artisans sell it as keyring and necklace pendants, and tourists buy its replica in leather, wood or gold and silver in any African country they visit. Geologically, the shape of Africa shows us what a continent is meant to be: A discrete landmass separated
South of the Sahel comes the open range of the tropical savanna, one of the defining landscapes of Africa and, of what I have seen of the vast continent, my favorite. Add to an endless plain of grassland a lone acacia tree and a sunset. Or add a giraffe or one of the ‘Big Five’ – a lion, a leopard, an elephant, a rhino, or a buffalo – and you have the perfect advertisement for a photo safari in the savanna of East and southern Africa. In some countries, for a lot of money, you can shoot these animals
As a student of law in the 1970s, I had a lot of free time on my hand. This allowed me to visit the countries where my father was the Swiss Ambassador in that time, Ethiopia, China, and Tunisia. After my visits to Ethiopia and leaving Switzerland for Tunisia, it would never have occurred to me to say that I was going to ‘Africa’. Once in Tabarka, the Tunisian wine region, I was surprised by snowfall in spring. Tunisia and Morocco are both fully in the northern temperate climate zone. In Morocco I was only once, for a seminar