Friday, March 07, 2008

Victor Bout arrested

The infamous Russian, known to anyone who's worked in African conflicts over the last twenty years, was arrested today in a sting operation by US DEA officials in Thailand. The so-called 'Merchant of Death', the subject of a book and movie ('Lord of War', with Nicolas Cage) supplied arms and military hardware to all sides of almost every major global conflict, including the Taliban in Afghanistan, and yet lived openly in a Moscow luxury high rise until his Thailand trip. His links to African blood diamonds and Al Qaeda financing have been the subject of much research, mostly by Doug Farah, formerly of the Washington Post.

Hopefully this will stop the US from hiring him as a subcontractor on its 'heavy lift' cargo operations, under KBR, Fedex and others. More on his liaisons with the very governments ostensibly seeking his arrest over the years on Doug Farah's blog here.

Here is Bout on an airfield in North Kivu in Eastern DRC during the war.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Franco, King of African Rumba

Africa has produced many musical giants. Some, like Fela Kuti and Cesaria Evora, achieve international renown; others influence a wide swathe of musicians but remain relatively unknown to a wider public. François Luambo Makiadi (6 July 1938 - 12 Oct. 1989), the Congolese bandleader and guitarist, is definitely in the latter category. Considered the father of the modern Congolese sound, he is a towering figure even in death, and certainly the greatest the DR Congo (formerly Zaire) has ever produced.

Read the rest of this story, with links to various Franco tracks and videos, over at 3QuarksDaily.

Bosana mayele ya bakoko te!