The road into Thika stretched before us. The hot, noon sun made the air shimmer above the Tarmac and to one side the first Jacarandas of the season were bursting into colour. An occasional flame tree added a dash of scarlet to the dusty green acacias that lined the verge. Pineapple orchards filled the hills all around.
Not once, if memory serves, was I minded to think of Birmingham – although it is quite a long time since I’ve been there.
You may remember that a couple of weeks ago I took issue with the standard, lazy size comparisons used for Darfur. If you bother to check the facts (ridiculous I know) then France and Texas are not nearly as accurate an area comparison as Spain. At the time I offered a prize for the first copy to use the Spain exemplar. So hats off then to Andrew Heavens at Reuters in Khartoum…
The UNAMID force, which still only has 9,900 soldiers and police on the ground out of a promised 26,000, has struggled to cover the remote western region which is about the size of Spain.
The largest block of cheese I can find will be on its way to Meskel Square towers at the first opportunity. Unfortunately, it appears that AFP has managed to go one better. After some clever dick pointed out that Turkmenistan was in fact the most accurate comparison, the following appeared on the wires last week…
Another rebel commander lashed out at African Union and UN peacekeepers, who are struggling to provide security in a region broadly the size of Turkmenistan with just over a third of the 26,000 troops they have been promised.
This raises some important questions. First, what on earth was the AFP Cairo desk playing at last week allowing this sort of nonsense through? Comparing Darfur to Turkmenistan is useful only if you know the size of Turkmenistan, and I’m pretty certain that there are some Turkmenistanis (?) who would struggle to identify their own country on a map. Everyone knows how big Spain is – it’s that bit that is tagged on the side of Europe.
Second, and perhaps most importantly does anyone know what sort of permits I’d need to swim naked to Tuti Island without falling foul of the Sudanese authorities? Presumably I should wait for the holy month of Ramadan to end?