"Africa is, indeed, coming into fashion." - Horace Walpole (1774)


this week in goats

As Fred notes, there other goats of concern in central Africa:
The other tenants have been complaining about the smell in the hallway, so now the goats are tethered outside on the street. (After all, to call someone a billy goat in Lingala – ntaba mobali – is to say that they stink.) Their neighbour, formerly a senior civil servant, has just become a VIP, winning a ministerial appointment in the latest reshuffle.

Instead of sending cards, the new minister’s better off friends and relatives have brought gifts. Some bring whisky or champagne, others bring live chickens and goats (five, to date). A goat (worth $70-120 in Kinshasa depending on its size) is the most prestigious of these, symbolising wealth, and being the essential ingredient for a good feast (to which the giver might hope to be invited).

Clearly, the minister isn’t in desperate need of extra food, and nobody’s getting married, so why the lavish generosity? The message is quite simple, yet a little devious: “Don’t forget about me”.
Ah, patronage politics.

(And extortionate Kinshasa prices - the same goats would go for $25-50 in Goma.)


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