Calm in CAR, rhododendrons in Nepal and the global search for happiness!

So. Bangui and I finally parted company four months ago. It was hard in a good way, because it felt like the right move, which counts as a good ending. I spent my last night in ‘La coquette’ sitting on my balcony eating pizza with friends and laughing about the experiences we’ve shared over the […]

In which Bangui sees the Pope Francois come and go in a Holy Whirl

So. The Pope arrived here in Bangui this morning just slightly late at 10.45 am. I heard his plane touch down, the Presidential cavalcade screeching its way past the airport, and later this afternoon hymns from the Cathedral mass drifted up to my garden. I live near Bangui Cathedral, and have a pass to the Pope […]

In which tennis becomes a political statement

These last couple of weeks in Bangui have been very stressful. Between 24 September – 2 October an eruption of violence, politically orchestrated and clearly calculated to bring down the discredited Transitional Government, killed at least 77 people. Hundreds more were injured, and houses were burnt down across Bangui’s 5th arrondissement. International NGO offices were […]

how to write about the Central African Republic

Having previously pondered how pushed-for-time reporters tend to write about life, and more especially death, here in the Central African Republic (CAR) I thought I’d post my own guide to writing about CAR. With a nod and heavy wink to Binyavanga Wainaina’s stupendous 2005 satire, ‘how to write about Africa,’ which still makes me laugh today. […]

Reasons to be poignant in Bangui

Sometimes, when looking at scenes of my daily life in Bangui – like the MBYE nightclub where I dance most weekends and the Bangui Rock Club where I play tennis – I am struck by the fact these images aren’t represented by any international media coverage of the Central African Republic (CAR). This country has […]

In which the Bangui National Forum Needs to Move On…..

The Bangui National Forum is just over. The last speech rang out in the Parliament late this afternoon; tomorrow’s Air France flight from Bangui – Paris will be packed with suits, flying back to Europe to file reports on possibilities for peace in CAR.  For those of us who are not leaving (I’ve been here […]

The Bangui Forum – national Dialogue or political Disaster?

The freshly-painted banners are lying on grass banks drying out in the sun: mobile phones are bleeping with sms texts announcing ‘the Bangui Forum –  flame of hope.’ Bangui’s diminutive M’Poko airport is rammed with visitors coming to the forum which will run from 4-11 May. But what’s it really all about? When journalists write […]

In which I write a stream of consciousness because it’s late, for me, and because I’m in recovery

Is it too late to say happy new year? Surely not, because it is a happy new year for me, and I warrant you can carry on basking in the new year glow until at least mid January. I spent Christmas here in sunny dusty Bangui (the rainy season finally dried out mid December) and we […]

After the violence, the calm?

Well hello! It’s been a while, but I’ve finally found a time to write about life here in the quartiers of Bangui in the Central African Republic. To set the tone: just about 45 minutes ago I was standing inside a sweltering bakery, inhaling the aroma of fresh bread, and even the bread-furnace-heat couldn’t drive […]

The Republic of Peace Keepers

I am back in Bangui; to be honest I’ve been back here for a couple of months, but simply haven’t been able to find the time to write. It’s because I’ve got a job. Yes! I am finally working for an NGO, so I get up early and get myself ready and go off to […]