Posted May 15, 2020. To settle a pandemic-related financial crisis at UMass Dartmouth, law faculty are not receiving research compensation in summer 2020. I will be away from my desk, May 16 to August 15. Blog posts will be sparse, and I will not receive email. On the upside, summer 🌞! If you need to reach me, please send a message through the faculty assistants’ office (Ms. Cain and Ms. Rittenhouse). Stay thirsty.
Showing posts with label nuclear technology. Show all posts
Showing posts with label nuclear technology. Show all posts

Sunday, March 22, 2020

Happy Independence Day, Namibia!

Your humble blogger reaches Swakopmund, crossroads of the Namib Desert and South Atlantic Ocean.
All photos RJ Peltz-Steele CC BY-SA 4.0.
Yesterday, March 21 was independence day in Namibia. One of the youngest countries in the world, Namibia attained independence from South Africa in 1990 after a brutal war and bloody history of subjugation as the German colony of Southwest Africa. Public celebrations of 30 years of independence were cancelled because of the coronavirus, though an inauguration ceremony of President Hage Geingob, for his second term, proceeded.

Sign fallen to the ground in Windhoek.
I found mixed feelings on the ground about Geingob, who was the country's first prime minister and a hero of the independence movement. One middle-aged man from Namibia's rural north told me Geingob can't be blamed for entrenched intransigence and corruption in the political establishment, that he can only do so much. Meanwhile a young woman in the capital, Windhoek, stringing together multiple jobs to put herself through university, blamed Geingob squarely for double-digit unemployment--by various estimates, one in three Namibians, or more, need work--and fiercely lamented his second term.

The National Museum and historic German Lutheran church stand in juxtaposition in Windhoek.
Me and Nujoma. He holds the Namibian constitution.
I've been sensitive in traveling Africa to the subtleties of foreign influence, especially that of China, and that shadow turned up in a curious way in Namibia. Like elsewhere in Africa (I wrote earlier about Guinea-Bissau), communists financed the independence movement as an aspect of the Cold War; consider, for Namibia, this was the 1980s. North Korea grew close to legendary independence leader Sam Nujoma. North Korea financed a great many public works projects in independent Namibia, including recently and strikingly, the National Museum, which opened in Windhoek in 2014. The building is modernist (technically "socialist realist"), marking a contrast with Windhoek's colonial center, and boasts a Kim Jong-ish statue of Nujoma. The interior is to match, celebrating Namibian independence with socialist-style murals and cult-of-personality-type homages to national leaders.

A mural in the National Museum celebrates independence.
The sun rises over the Rössing Uranium Mine in the Namib.
Why does North Korea's interest persist so many years after independence? Locals point to Namibia's especially valuable natural resource: uranium mines in the western Namib desert. Though North Korea formally is walled off by the West from materials that might advance the DPRK's nuclear capabilities, suspicions point to China as a willing intermediary. And so the African "natural resources curse" persists.

Namibian Parliament: A banner on the Parliament's administrative building heralds 30 years of independence.