FAO Quotables

"But being right, even morally right, isn't everything. It is also important to be competent, to be consistent, and to be knowledgeable. It's important for your soldiers and diplomats to speak the language of the people you want to influence. It's important to understand the ethnic and tribal divisions of the place you hope to assist."
-Anne Applebaum

Friday, January 7, 2011

The Zanzibar Chronicles continues

My consolidated notes are here.

Continuing series on my journey through The Zanzibar Chest by Aidan Hartley.  For the sake of clarity my comments are those in bold.

From time to time, God causes men to be born—and thou art one of them—who have a lust to go abroad at the risk of their lives and discover news—today it may be of far-off things, tomorrow of some hidden mountain, and the next day of some nearby men who have done a foolishness against the state.  These souls are very few; and of these few, not more than ten are of the best. 
I love Hartley’s opening quote.  If there were ever an engraving to be mounted on the wall of my hypothetical office it would be this .  Part of the path to achievement is often began just by the act of writing your goal down:  to be one of the ‘ten best’ FAOs, foreign policy experts, africanists. 

p. 1
My father was the closest thing I knew to the immortal.
This book is largely a story about father s and the sons who remain eternally fascinated with them.  My father was a Marine Corps FAO when I was young and I can remember soaking in every detail and word he spoke about his trips (or that I overheard him telling my mother) with an idol-like attentiveness. 
Isaiah 18:  “Woe to the land shadowing with wings, which is beyond the rivers of Ethiopia…Go ye swift messengers, to a nation scattered and peeled, to a people terrible from their beginning hitherto; a nation meted out and trodden down.”
In the book, Aiden likens himself and other intrepid journalists to these swift messengers, but I think in many ways FAOs (especially those in Africa) could do the same—being swift messengers in diplomacy in down-trodden, oft-forgotten nations.

p. 58
Emperor Haile Selassie- medieval dictator toppled soon after BBC pictures and film shown.  They came because of a message sent by Aidan’s Dad. 
Poem by his Dad describing the aftermath of starvation in Ethiopia (but also sums up Africa in the 20th century Hartley comments)
The camps lie broken down on hill and plain,
Skulls, bones and horns remain,
No shouts, no songs of fighting, or of love,
But from the bare thorn tree above,
So sadly calls the mourning dove… Was this your ravaged land,
The work of God, or was it Man’s own hand?
In the book, Aiden describes how his father delivered the news of the devastation  via a runner who took his hand-written message to be cabled to London.  The poem that his usually stoic father wrote afterwards aptly captures the emotional connection of a man to the land.  Aiden’s additional supposition that it also captures Africa’s plight in the 20th century is especially poignant as much of the death and destruction in Africa has often supposedly been conducted in the name of one God or Allah or another, but more likely these ‘Gods’ have been exploited my despotic politicians and warlords (man’s own hand). 

No comments:

Post a Comment