One of the problems with the lifestyle I have chosen is that I don’t always have access to a radio station when I need one.  When I heard that Pete Seeger had passed on I really felt a need to be on the air, to talk about Pete, to play his music, to connect with my “tribe” of folkies and activists.  Facebook and this blog will have to do. The first time I interviewed Pete Seeger was in May, 1972 after a concert at Mankato State University. I remember it because it was the day Nixon announced we were mining … Continue reading Pete

Final Letter from South Sudan, I post one last photo gallery and fly out.

September 8, 2012 Dear Friends, I got out of Africa last Friday but it was a struggle.  When I got to the radio station I noticed two rips in the bottom of my brand new, “lifetime guarantee,” ultra-light, ultra strong suitcase.  Turning it over I found another rip in the bottom and one of its “feet” coming loose.  Getting a new suitcase in Juba on short notice was not an option so I used the whole roll of duct tape I carry to hold the suitcase together.   Suitcase patched, Christina came into the office looking stricken.  “I have a … Continue reading Final Letter from South Sudan, I post one last photo gallery and fly out.

Letter 8 from South Sudan, where I wonder if I am getting too old for this.

August 30. 2012 Juba, South Sudan,   Dear Friends, My mother once asked me why I didn’t stay home like she did, close to her parents.  I told her it was because of her father, my grandfather, who at 13 was apprenticed to trade as a grocer in Derry City, hated it, and ran away to sea.   His travels took him across the North Sea to ports exotic to him (Rotterdam and Hamburg) and then across the Atlantic to Halifax, and New York, and finally, coasting the Eastern Seaboard.  He told me his favorite port was Baltimore, “A man can … Continue reading Letter 8 from South Sudan, where I wonder if I am getting too old for this.

Leopards and Cows and Making Gravel in South Sudan (Letter 7)

August 25, 2012 Juba, South Sudan Dear Friends, Navigating Juba roads after two days of heavy rains is like navigating a large, ever shifting, river.  The course of the road changes, what was high ground two days ago is now a sink hole, and when you enter a large mud hole you have no idea of how far down you will sink.  I almost think I should sit on the hood of the Land Cruiser with a pole, poke it into the brown opaque water to see if there is a bottom. “Mark Twain” would be a bad thing on … Continue reading Leopards and Cows and Making Gravel in South Sudan (Letter 7)

South Sudan, I return and am “attacked” by two leopards. (Letter 5)

August 17, 2012 Dear Friends, My camera case has a hole in it left by a leopard tooth.  If you look closely, my crocks also have a little chew mark from the same leopard.  The leopard is the last of the “big 5” (Cape Buffalo, Rhino, Elephant, Lion, Leopard) that I’ve seen in Africa. But I didn’t expect to meet two so up close. Two leopard cubs were orphaned.  They would normally have died but someone rescued them, and then left on holiday, or assignment, or something, and they ended up at Yei Road Camp (co-owned with the Jebel, where … Continue reading South Sudan, I return and am “attacked” by two leopards. (Letter 5)

South Sudan, Letter 4, Flying Out of Juba.

April 20, 2012 Nairobi, Kenya Dear Friends, Suzi and I were upgraded to a suite at the Fairview in Nairobi, which is a good thing because every possible surface on which I could lay out clothes is full and any hook like object has clothes hanging from it.  Everything I have is soaked, but that’s the end of the story of today’s travels. On Thursday the Germans working on building a brewery (one of those “peace dividends” after years of “dry” Islamic rule in South Sudan) were ordered out – now.  So they left.  Then we learned that Ethiopian Airlines … Continue reading South Sudan, Letter 4, Flying Out of Juba.

South Sudan, Letter 3, Learning history and current events.

April 14, 2012 Juba, South Sudan Dear Friends, On Friday the thirteenth the newsroom was full for our morning editorial meeting. South Sudan had captured Heglig, a region just north of the border, in Sudan (an area that happens to have a major oil field.)  This came after several weeks of (North) Sudan bombing towns and refugee camps in the South.  The African Union (AU) and the UN had asked South Sudan to withdraw its troops.  On Thursday South Sudanese President, Salva Kir, had given a stirring and bellicose speech in Parliament to a romping and stomping floor, no withdrawal.  … Continue reading South Sudan, Letter 3, Learning history and current events.

South Sudan, Letter two, Small Road Trip

April 8, 2012 Easter Sunday Juba, South Sudan Dear Friends, Friday, April 6:  Everyone is waiting for the rain. When the rain comes this area is very productive, if not, famine.  It looks encouraging.  On Sunday the barometer dropped and we got thunder and lightning signifying, for that day at least, nothing.  Monday and Tuesday the clouds teased us.  Wednesday night we got our first downpour.  I sat on the verandah looking at kids running in the rain, but the rain was short. On Thursday afternoon we got another brief downpour, followed by more sun.  Thursday night the rain on … Continue reading South Sudan, Letter two, Small Road Trip

Juba Letter 1, First Impressions

April 1, 2012 Juba, South Sudan Dear Friends. At the bar Saturday night (anti-malarial gin and tonics or Stony Ginger Beer) an American raised as a missionary son now working for a USAID funded fish farming project building ponds along both the Nile and Congo said, “Welcome to Africa.  Kenya and Uganda are just ‘Africa lite.’ This is the ‘real’ Africa.  You’re not in Nairobi anymore.” I’m staying at the Jebel Lodge, a fenced compound of metal pre-fab buildings.  I have my own cabin near the fence on the far side of the compound from Rock City, which is a … Continue reading Juba Letter 1, First Impressions

South Sudan

When it comes to media in South Sudan — radio is king.  Radio plays to the country’s oral tradition.  Further, there is limited electric power distribution.  The country is poor and TVs are expensive.  Finally TV coverage has not reached much of the country.  Radio is perfet for a country like this.  Radio sets don’t require much infrastructure.  Radios can be powered by batteries, solar cells or hand cranks. South Sudan had just become the world’s newest nation after decades of civil war with the North.  The infrastructure was ruined and radio is playing a central role in nation building, … Continue reading South Sudan

Vukovar, Croatia

Note, Vukovar was the first major victim in the Balkan wars of the 1990s.  It is a border town on the Danube, in Croatia but, before the wars, with a slight Serbian majority.  The Serbs finally took the town over but after the Dayton Accords the town was administered by the UN before being turned over to the Croats, 13 days before we arrived.  Our job was to work with the Serbian radio stations in the region to make sure they got licenses from the Croatian government and to help assure that the rights of the Serbian, Roma and Hungarian … Continue reading Vukovar, Croatia

Belgrade, NATO Bombing Sites.

This is from an October 2000 letter from Belgrade, on my first visit to the city after Milosevic lost power– and my first visit since the NATO bombing.   When someone asks “do you want to see the sights” he really means “sites,” the places hit during the NATO bombing.  Like in Pristina, the tour points out how accurate the bombing really was.  People mark time “before bombing, after bombing” always pronouncing the second “b” in bombing.  And when people ask “how has Belgrade changed” they expect me to cite the most visible of the sites, the tall building next … Continue reading Belgrade, NATO Bombing Sites.