This is the account of a week spent teaching antitrust law in a World Bank sponsored program for the Tanzanian Fair Competition Commission and members of their High Court. Before I leave, my seven year old daughter asks “why do you want to go to Africa?” So do some friends and clients. Most of what we hear about Africa is awful. Extraordinary violence, famine, tribal war, Aids, contagion, and more. My purpose is not to explain why a lawyer from Cleveland would head off on the 4th of July for sub-Saharan Africa, but what I found there. I hope the Tanzanians found our time informative; I learned a lot.
Vol. 7: Out of Africa
Along the road, I see a country returning to subsistence farming of small hard scrabble patches of earth beside mud huts unimproved for decades. There are also larger fields of sisal: a fiber that has been largely replaced by nylon as the raw material for rope. Conversely, in a nod to bad modernity, there are lots of big U.S. style gas stations under construction – more than you would suppose. My hypothetical to the Technocrats has unwitting currency. The further east we return, the heavier the traffic. Cars and buses pass on this two lane road by going out into oncoming traffic or passing on the outside shoulder as people scramble out of the way. Several hours outside of Dar, we come upon a head on collision between a Dala-Dala (minibus) and a car. Passengers hobble stunned out of the minibus and lie by the side of road. A crowd forms of the curious, people trying to help and boys hawking drinks and food to the curious and the injured. Annand finds an opening and we go on. Road travel is yet another real concern in Tanzania. According to the Colonel, this is one of the good roads. Nevertheless, I surmise there is no hospital within hours on this clogged road, no medical helicopter, and no safe supply of blood if you ever get medical help. (Coincidentally, an international conference on road safety convenes this very week in Dar, claiming more deaths in road accidents in Africa than from malaria. I doubt the comparative count, but not the severity of the problem.) A half an hour later, we hear sirens. I expect to see ambulances, but instead it is a motorcade. “This is the President, Jakaya Kikwete going from Dar to Dodoma (the capital)” Annand tells me. Once popular, Kikwete’s approval is reportedly declining fast as inflation spikes above 16% and people struggle to meet basic needs. Everyone pulls off to the side to let the motorcade pass. I am relieved to make it back into Dar, but there we find complete chaos at the central bus station. What looks like a thousand people jam the area in front of the station, spilling into the street. The newspaper carries the story the next day that the bus system simply collapsed under the weight of too many passengers, stranding thousands. We inch forward a few feet at a time, but a Dala Dala tries to cut us off from the side. When Annand does not yield, a man jumps out of the bus and pounds on the hood of our truck. Up to this point, people have been surprisingly upbeat, but the atmosphere now is inflammatory. Our battered 4-Runner sits broiling without air conditioning in the heat. I roll my window up after a beggar sticks his stump of an arm in the window, and I feel lousy for rolling up my window on Africa again. Eventually we make it to the Kilimanjaro Kempinski Hotel by the harbor in downtown Dar. A lot about this place is sealing out the world outside. There is a guarded front gate, stickers reminding you not to open the windows because of the risk of mosquitoes, and a few signs stating that anyone can be refused admittance for any reason. Here, they have recreated all of the luxury of the “First World” – this is by any standard a lovely hotel with excellent food – but it comes at New York prices. I sit in the sushi bar watching the lone Japanese chef work and wonder what it cost in hardship pay to move him to Dar. Because I am beyond filthy, I take a shower in the gleaming chrome bathroom and then go to the infinity pool on the roof. I sit on a chaise lounge chair by the pool reading the local paper. Several black ravens fly up and drink from the pool. Caw-Caw. And then I just want to get out of here. I am ready to go home. Partially it has to do with getting so little sleep; maybe it is a reaction to the malaria medicine I restarted in the game park; maybe I am still a bit stunned by the ugliness on the road and feeling guilty to now sip Perrier by the pool; maybe it is all of the horrible stories I read in the local paper (the influx of cheap automatic weapons from Kenya, the serial killing of Albinos, etc. ), and likely a synergy of all of the above combined with the fact that after nine days I would like to see my family. I telephone Continental to get on the 10:55 pm flight to Amsterdam. They can’t reach KLM. Eventually, I reach an African at the local KLM desk. He can put me on the flight if I get there by 9:15; they may or may not charge me a change fee. I check out of the hotel, handing the new Adidas shoes to the doorman as a tip. He is happy to receive them. The fare quoted is $25 for a ten minute trip to the airport. At the airport, I am told that I have arrived a day early – there is no record of my call. Eventually, I end up with the Supervisor who tells me that he can put me in business class for four hundred dollars – cash. I am willing to pay the fee but I don’t have that much cash. “Why can’t I pay KLM with a credit card?” A Ms. Lee from the U.S. Embassy interrupts me: she wants to use miles to upgrade. After standing there for forty-five minutes watching him help others, I ask him whether he is going to put me on the flight? He hands my credit card back. “No one can figure out how to change your ticket,” he says. I try to reason with him. I call KLM in Amsterdam but control of the flight is locked down at the counter in Dar. They call the flight. I walk out of the airport into the darkness with the unsettled feeling that if I had paid in cash, I would be on the plane. I end up in what is supposed to be a taxi. The driver showed me some kind of identification but the car has no signage on the outside, no medallion, no meter inside, and no posted passenger bill of rights. We head down the main road in Dar, and then the driver turns right when I am certain the hotel is up on the left. “What are you doing?” I ask him. “Short cut; no police,” he says. “No shortcut” I say. “Turn around.” “It’s okay – short cut,” he says. “Turn around now!” I say, pulling a metal pen from coat pocket. He turns the car around and the route confirms we were headed in the wrong direction. The doorman looks surprised to see me, but makes no offer to return the shoes. I don’t ask. “You must be very frustrated,” says Noela at the front desk. She gives me my same room back with no additional charge. But when I go back upstairs, the television is on and the bed is unmade. I never turned on the television or got in the bed. I don’t look behind any closed doors. “Very odd,” Noela at the desk says. “No problem,” I say. She gives me a new room. By now, I am in poor spirits. I go up to the Level 8 Bar on top of the Kili rather than be alone. There are dressed up Africans flashing a lot of gold and fancy clothes – in contrast to the understatement of the Tanzanians at the Commission. A round fiftyish white man sits with an attractive young African woman. I order a Heineken (can’t go to Amsterdam but can drink Dutch beer). Two African women look at me longer than law-abiding women ever do. I sit down away from them. Another African woman dressed up in a bright red dress and cherry lipstick, tries to get my attention. She opens a big smile. She can’t be much older than eighteen. She catches me taking a quick look at her and she starts patting the cushion to gesture that I should join her. I presume that her intentions are economic. I try to avoid her stare. The third or fourth horseman of death in Africa – I have lost count – is, of course, AIDS. The reported rate of HIV infection in Tanzania for adults 15 to 49 is 6%. Although the reported rate may be low, by all accounts some progress has been made. Nevertheless, it still surprises me – if my assumption is correct – that the clientele in this hotel would run this sort of risk. Before this, I saw no evidence of prostitution even at the truck stops on the road to Mikumi. I down my beer and head to my room alone. The next day is mostly wasted sulking around the hotel. I walk out of the gate briefly to look closer at the High Court of Tanzania – an old white stone building that looks like it might date back to the Colonial era and where my colleague the High Court Justice sits. I read the local paper which leads with an article on swine flu and has a picture of a terrified looking white tourist getting examined at the airport by an African doctor. Catching swine flu at this point is not a significant worry for me, but the idea of getting quarantined in Africa scares the hell out of me. I eat lunch by a group of men negotiating a construction project in broken English. No Africans in the conversation. I enjoy talking to an American named Dave White. He is a pilot for Emirates Air. He is smoking cigarettes by the pool and joking with three Emirates flight attendants in their bikinis. They are funny too. “Dubai is great,” he says. “A lot more fun than Cleveland.” He used to fly for Continental. He tells me that his flight crew only leaves the hotel in Dar to return to the airport. At 5:30, I go down to negotiate with the hotel about putting a car service on my credit card and I am delighted to find Kingu from the Commission standing in the lobby. You may recall that he gave me the Adidas shoes for the soccer game. He has come to take me to the airport – a promise I thought might slip. We arrive early and go upstairs and sit in a dingy restaurant Kingu is now direct whereas he only hinted in our conversations at the beach. If he is going to become more at the Commission, he needs to go back to school. Can I help him find a graduate program in the U.S.? I tell him I will try without any clear ideas how. “Thank you,” he says. “I am nervous to raise this with you. You are highly regarded by the Commission.” “Kingu, there is something I must tell you,” I say. He looks at me wondering what is coming. “I gave your Adidas shoes away,” I say. There is no easy way to explain why and I do not even try. I just promise to send money. There is one scare left. At the KLM desk, my record says that I have a reservation for the night before and tonight. “I assure you I never left last night,” I say. They give me a boarding pass and I head to the Tanzanite lounge. An Indian man says he needs to take my boarding pass back to the KLM desk and confirm that I am entitled to use the lounge. “That’s all right,” I say. “I will wait upstairs with the regular people.” Shortly, after eleven that night, KLM flight 567 takes off. I drink a cocktail and fall into a deep sleep. When I awake, the flight map shows we have left Libyan airspace and are over the Mediterranean.