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
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
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
This is Albania’s National Holiday, Flag Day. On this date in 1912, 101 ago today, the Albanian Flag was raised in Vlora, Albania, marking the nation’s independence from the Ottoman Empire. Albania is one of the countries I can call … Continue reading Albanian Flag Day, 1993.
November 28 is Albania’s Flag Day, marking its declaration of independence in 1912. The Albanian Community in the US is celebrating Flag Day on November 27 so it does not conflict with Thanksgiving. This is from a letter I wrote … Continue reading Albania Flag Day, Letter from 1995
“For All the Saints Who From Their Labors Rest,” Especially for one. All Saint’s Day 15 years ago at Dubcek’s grave. This is All Saints’ Say. Today Slovaks visit cemeteries and light candles on graves. Most of my staff … Continue reading Alexander Dubcek’s Grave. All Saints Day 1998, Bratislava, Slovakia.
Note, many of the photos for this post are contained in the posts “Shadows of the Wall,” “East Side Gallery.” and “Bernauer Str.” Pictures on this post are general Berlin tourism shots. March 22, 2013 Berlin, Germany Dear Friends, In … Continue reading Berlin, March, 2013
Text for these pictures is on the post “Berlin, March, 2013” These are pictures from the area of the old wall. Panels of the wall have been re-erected near “Checkpoint Charlie” and feature dictators still waiting for falling. The man … Continue reading Shadows of the Wall, Berlin 2013
The text for these pictures is in the post “Berlin, March 2013.” The East Side Gallery is the longest stretch of the wall still standing. One side has been painted by famous artists. The other side is a “free … Continue reading East Side Gallery, Berlin, 2013
This is Bernauer Str. The Wall used to run along this street, not it is a memorial to the wall and there is a park where Berlin has its Sunday flea market. The Text for this letter is in the … Continue reading Berlin 2013, Bernauer Str.
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
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.
Suzi and I were in Kosovo on 9/11, 2001. I wrote these letters in the aftermath of 9/11. I am putting them in the “Winds of Change” category because the events of 9/11, and the response, affected a change in … Continue reading 9/11, Kosovo and Slovakia
In July 1985 our family traveled to the Soviet Union, Leningrad and Moscow. This was our first exposure to Soviet life and, while we had not intended this, it provided a baseline against which to judge our later experiences. These … Continue reading Russia, The Prelude: Moscow and Leningrad, 1985
Rose Revolution Square is still under re-construction. It had two anchors, The Hotel Iveria and the reviewing stand for Mayday parades. One is gone and the other utterly transformed. In 2004 I wrote: “Georgia has some of the screwiest modern Socialist Realism on the planet, including a massive, several story high multi arched reviewing stand for May Day parades that looks like what Le Cobisier would build if he had a commission from McDonald’s. Locals playfully call it ‘Andropov’s Ears.’ Andropov’s Ears is where President Saakashvili reviewed the troops last week and made his saber rattling speech on Adjara.” Andropov’s … Continue reading Rose Revolution Square, A Transformation.
The bridge cleaned up. April 15, 2011, Cairo, Egypt I got into the cab in Cairo and was shocked; the driver was wearing a seatbelt. I hadn’t seen this before. I put mine on. He smiled and said “New Egypt.” New Egypt is being stuck in a traffic jam near Tahrir Square and seeing a citizen in a white t shirt step forward, waving a cigarette like a baton, directing traffic. People are taking responsibility. One friend said “They used to own Egypt, now we do. We have to take care of it.” Or as another said “Before we … Continue reading Arab Spring, April 2011
On February 11, Hosni Mubarak stepped down as President of Egypt. Suzi and I were in Doha, Qatar that night and went out on the streets as soon as we heard he had left power. We were watching the events on Al Jazeera in our hotel room. I looked out the window and across the bay I saw what looked, to me, like a large number of cars for that time of night. We could hear a lot of honking so we set out from the hotel on foot to see what was happening. Doha is a strange place. To … Continue reading Arab Spring, Feb 11, Mubarak Steps Down
Suzi’s McClear was Chief of Party for USAID’s Media Development Program in Egypt. Tuesday, January 25 was a state holiday, Police Day. That day a group of demonstrators gathered in Tahrir Square protesting the government. It was a large demonstration but many people thought not much would come of it. The local press tried to ignore it but Suzi got an email from our son, Kevin, who said that international media said Cairo looked like a war zone. From her perspective it was a quiet day. Two days later, Friday, prayer day, a traditional day for protests, social media activists … Continue reading Arab Spring, January 2011, Suzi’s Story
November 10, 2009 Berlin, Germany Dear Friends, It was an attempt to recapture the past, to to relive some of the joy we felt in Berlin in 1990 when we watched bulldozers open streets closed for 28 years, to … Continue reading Berlin Wall Fall (Mauerfall) 20 Years Later
In May 2009 we returned to Prague. It is such a beautiful City I wanted to add this photo gallery taken in 2009 with a better digital camera, along with a letter for that week. May 3, 2009 Prague, Czech … Continue reading Prague, 20 Years Later.
This post shows two areas of Berlin and how they have changed over 45 years. In 1964 when the leader of our student tour told me that Potsdamer Platz has been the busiest intersection in Europe it was difficult to … Continue reading Berlin Contrasts
April 8, 2008, Cairo, Egypt Dear Friends, For the past several months we’ve been trying to pull off the first ever course on blogging in Egypt. There is a lot of concern because bloggers have been the ones who exposed police brutality, sexual harassment and bloggers have given people a voice that is denied in state controlled press. The news moves forward on blogs. At the end of Ramadan two years ago several women reported being groped in public, the police denied it so some women bloggers took their cell phones and photographed the groping. The story was picked up … Continue reading Arab Spring, April 6, 2008, A blogging course.
This is a paragraph from a 2004 letter. The markets no longer have Stalin icons. I have not found Stalin Vodka in recent visits and the Stalin statue in Gori was torn down after the war with Russia, although I … Continue reading Stalin
In June, 1999, about a week after NATO took control of Kosovo Suzi and I visited Prishtina for the first time. For the next two years we would be regular commuters into Kosovo, based either in Podgorica or Belgrade but managing a media program in Kosovo as well as for Serbia. Dear Friends, It was 4:22. The muezzin’s morning call to prayer drifted through the apartment window with a warm spring breeze. “God is great, prayer is better than sleep.” This time I didn’t sigh my own Christian prayer and drift back to sleep. I had an early appointment. … Continue reading Kosovo, June 1999