Tuesday, 16 December 2008

On becoming a Millionaire

Unfortunately only in Tanzanian shillings. I am in Tanzania on holiday. Escaping the bustle and commercialism of an English Christmas for the sun and relaxation of Africa. I'm heading out of Dar es Salaam up country towards the Serengeti. On a supposedly deluxe coach which advertised "air con" but which turns out to mean "windows open". But the reward is that tonight I'm staying on a coffee plantation with views out over the bush towards Mount Kilimanjaro.

The last few days have been spent in idleness by a pool, celebrating the 150th anniversary of the discovery of "Gin and Tonic". It was invented as a pleasant way of taking quinine in The Tropics so I regard its consumption here as medicinal. And I came out with a large bottle of Bombay Sapphire and small cans of tonic to ensure protection!

Then at the weekend it's Zanzibar: that magical island of spice and intrigue and a week by the beach. I will celebrate Christmas Day at Mass in the historic Anglican Cathedral in Stone Town. It's built on the site of the old slave market and here they buried Livingstone's heart before shipping his body home for burial in Westminster Abbey.

I have my trusty shortwave radio so I can get both the Service of Nine Lessons and Carols from King's, as well as The HM The Queen's speech, without which no self-respecting Englishman can truly enjoy Christmas - whether on sunny beach or snowy hill.

It's a shame that Dar es Saleem has GPRS. It has meant that my compulsive need to check emails has continued, but I suspect it won't work up country and I can relax. One of the problems I find being a CEO is that it is always difficult to entirely switch off: it is not that I do not have an impressive team at ACEVO to support me, so there is no real need for this compulsion (though amusing to read that Obama also has that problem).

The last month has been pretty hectic by any standards and it is just good to be able to relax now - though the BBC World Service continues to relay the doom and gloom from home!

Last week we celebrated Human Rights Day on the 60th anniversary of the U N Declartion of Human Rights. I was at the reception at Lancaster House and heard the PM's stirring defence of the need for a Human Rights Act. In Africa it's particularly important and Gordon used the example of the genocide in Rwanda to make the point. In countries surrounding here there are daily atrocities of the kind it's hard to imagine. That is why I always find it hard to stomach the idiocy of those who attack our Human Rights Act and make fun of this as "PC". We should be proud of our record in promoting the universal nature of Human Rights. I trust that the Conservatives will think again about the pledge to scrap this Act. It would be setting a bad example worldwide.

I have made contact with the head of the main civil society umbrella body in Tanzania. He is coming out to Zanzibar to spend a day with me so we can talk about growing links with ACEVO.

It's increasingly true that leadership learning cannot be constrained by national borders. ACEVO has been working with the leaders of various African organisations to support the development of leadership of chief executives. We have already helped the establishment of a Nigerian ACEVO and there are links with Uganda and Kenya. The fact is that in Africa a thriving democracy will depend on the leadership of civil society. When governments are so often corrupt we need to ensure that the leaders of civil society are supported. And I believe we can learn from our colleagues here.

But now it's back to enjoying the unfolding countryside as we bump along the potholed roads. It's amazing to think that with the ubiquitous presence of the mobile phone I'm able to blog you from Africa!

1 comment:

Janet F said...

...becoming a millionaire AND your first post without (as far as I can tell) a stream of spelling mistakes...all in the same week!
This does mean that I'm not convinced you really are blogging from Dar es Salaam - emailing into someone to post it for you?
That aside, fun to read as usual - keep it up.