Sunday, September 11, 2011


In 1998, I spent the 4th July at the Marine Club next to one of the US embassies that was bombed the next month. We all knew who Bin Laden and Al Qaeda were. We also knew that US embassy personnel had delayed ambulances getting to the office building next to the Nairobi embassy, that had also blown up.

Ten years ago today, I was in the air, first flying to Nairobi overnight, and then at the time the planes were in the air over the East Coast of the US, I was on an internal flight. Because I'd flown overnight, I went straight to a colleague's house and had a nap. I woke up later that afternoon and everyone was listening to the BBC World Service. I could not believe what I was hearing, to the point where I thought it was a joke, or exaggerated. I did not see any pictures of the attacks until several days later, and then only stills on the web.

This weekend there has also been news of a  ferry disaster in an ocean I know very well. I have never taken that ferry but once I was on a catamaran ferry in that stretch of water and we suddenly slowed and stopped. We picked up two fishermen clinging to their outrigger boat. They had been there for at least 24 hours and were suffering from dehydration and, because the sea is cold and it is not that warm at this time of year, imminent hypothermia. Poverty kills, in unexpected ways. One of the biggest causes of death in developing countries is road accidents, from poorly maintained vehicles or poorly skilled drivers, or both

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