The two grandchildren who live with us have been fighting a flu bug for well over a week now. That has, of course, affected us all. They whine or cry 24/7 – it’s impossible to explain anything to them as they are too young. They are just miserable and don’t want to do anything. Every hour or so one of them will throw up. As liquids are coming out both ends, we are concerned about dehydration and have to keep a close watch on them.
In the midst of this, Sunday morning I started shaking uncontrollably, a sure sign of my annual reunion with an old friend from Africa – malaria.
When we lived in Ghana, we all got malaria at different times, It’s said that it’s impossible to live there more than three months without getting it. If you are taking the prophylactic, you might not actually get the fever, but it will still be in your blood. Mosquito bites are very difficult to avoid. Any one bite can give you malaria. As only the female mosquito carries the malarial virus, always check the sex when you’ve been bitten!
When I first got malaria 35 years ago, I asked a doctor what to expect. He said: “In the first 24 hours, you’re afraid you’re going to die; in the second 24 hour period, you will be afraid you might live.” In other words, it gets worse.
It’s not so bad now that I live in a cold climate (very cold right now), but a sudden severe change of climate can bring it on, which is what likely happened on Sunday.
I suppose I should be thankful. In my years as a minister in Ghana, I buried a few people who died from the disease. It’s still the world’s biggest killer, but I’ve managed to survive half a lifetime with it inside me.
There are frequent rumors of developing a vaccine, but that would not help those of us who already have it. There’s also a major problem with a vaccine – the malaria bug mutates, rather rapidly as it happens. The same problem exists with flu and HIV. So it’s doubtful any solution will be found in the foreseeable future.
You just have to learn to cope. I have my pills, which I take as soon as the shakes start. I get a new prescription every year and the pills usually last.
I have every confidence I will be OK (at least, this time). I just hope the boys are as they work their way through the flu bug that has stricken them.
Talking of Africa, the world was aghast at the sign language interpreter standing behind President Obama when he gave his speech at Nelson Mandela’s funeral.
People were flailing in the dark trying to figure out what happened.
There is a perfectly simple explanation.
It’s called BEE. BEE stands for Black Economic Empowerment. This is the South African government’s policy of advancing the majority black population, “encouraging” white and Indian employers to replace workers with Africans.
Sometimes, this results in people being advanced who are just not capable of handling the job. The sign language interpreter is just one example of this.
It’s not just in South Africa that this happens. My African-American doctor here in Michigan laments affirmative action programs that are designed to give minorities educational opportunities that lead to better jobs.
His point is that most white people are afraid to go to him because they wonder if he is really qualified, or was advanced by a government program that was well meant but clearly has negative side-effects.
It’s time to end affirmative action – and BEE!
On Friday I went to a local grocery store and as I checked out with my groceries saw the cover of a tabloid that drew my attention. It was the Globe and the cover showed Kate, Prince William’s wife, with a tiara on, under the headline “Queen Katie – it’s official.”
Now, I think most people realize that the “Globe” does not rank up there with the “Wall St Journal” or the “New York Times.” It’s more likely to be read by those who have never read the other two papers.
But I still feel a need to comment.
The implication of this cover is that Kate will succeed Queen Elizabeth as Queen.
This is absolutely impossible. I repeat – totally impossible. (Hopefully, I’m putting the Globe out of business here!)
Kate’s husband will be king one day, after his father Prince Charles. At that time his wife will have the courtesy title of “Queen,” simply by virtue of marriage. It does not make her “Queen” like Queen Elizabeth, who is a reigning monarch. Kate will simply be a consort to her husband, the King. This is the same role the late Queen Mother had when her husband, King George VI, was alive. As soon as he died, she assumed the title “Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother.” She was never vested with any political power. That can only come by virtue of birth.
After yet another school shooting on Friday, this time in Colorado, a police spokesman made a comment that needs to be corrected. If anybody knows him please forward this.
I write this with great respect for the police, who have to deal with these incidents. But we can never solve this problem if we don’t face up to an incontrovertible fact.
The police spokesman made the comment: “We hear about these things happening in other parts of the world. We never expect them to happen here.”
Again, with respect, we don’t get to read about them happening in other parts of the world. They are a peculiarly American problem. In one year since Newtown, we’ve had 28 school shootings if you include all those on school land as well as in buildings. Seventeen children have died – since Newtown.
During that same twelve months, there has not been one school shooting anywhere else in the world – not even in Syria. Yes, there have been isolated school shootings, Dunblane, Scotland, almost twenty years ago; and Beslan, Russia about ten years ago, a politically motivated attack. But these were isolated – they have not become a regular feature of life in either country.
I’ve asked friends in Canada, the UK, Australia, South Africa and Zimbabwe if they worry about school shootings when their children or grandchildren go to school. Sometimes, they can’t believe I’m asking the question – the very idea is inconceivable. Even during the Zimbabwean civil war, there were no attacks on schools.
Again, this is an American problem and it requires an American solution!
On a lighter note, the title of this column is “Random Thoughts.” I hesitated before using it. It reminded me of Lord Haw Haw, an Irishman who broadcast German propaganda from Berlin during World War II, with the intent of undermining morale amongst the British people.
Having heard on the BBC that “German planes had been bombing at random,” he announced to the British people that the Luftwaffe had destroyed the city of “Random.”
There is no such city.
His credibility was destroyed, though people still listened for a good laugh.
He was hanged for treason after the war.