No Antidote for FGF*
*Fucking Great Fever
Yes! I am out of my self-imposed purgatory! I think. But it's not quite heaven here in Tanga. After isolating myself on Anjea for 14 days with no ill effects, I rejoined the human race — well, the Tanga yachties at any rate. I am still very cautious about interacting with anyone else.
Sunday marked my return to civilization so I went to the Tanga Yacht Club in the evening where I met a Swiss sailor, who moved up here to Tanga from Zanzibar. He is the second boat from Zanzibar in the past few days. It sounds like things are a bit difficult there. The islands off the coast of Tanzania are all 100% Muslim, historically Arabian, highly dependent on tourism, and politically unstable. With the FGF having pulled the tourist rug from beneath their feet, they are hurting already.
The Swiss sailor and I tip-toed around each other discussing the effects of the FGF until he had one whisky too many and started raving about how Trump was gonna save the world at which point I got up and walked out. I will listen to any reasoned argument, but I can't stand it when people refuse to think and blindly support the biggest bully in the room on the basis that it's 'natural selection'.
Really, the Swiss sailor is ok, just confused and wanting a solution, like all of us. His business disappeared overnight and he’s watching the rest of his life collapse in slow motion. I should not have walked out like that but my feet worked by themselves.
There were plenty of other interesting people at the club. I spoke to an older German guy and his beautiful and intelligent Greek partner. He told fascinating stories of Tanga’s past. Although he holds a German passport he grew up in South Africa and still speaks fluent Africaans. He even lived for a time in Canberra as a German diplomat, but his roots in Tanzania go back to the 1970’s, to Nyerere’s days. At various times he was general manager of a Kenyan beer company, and managing director of Amboni Sisal, the biggest local sisal exporter. When Nyerere nationalized most of the sisal industry in Tanzania the only company that escaped was Amboni.
We were joined by some other yachties, and then the son of an (ex-?) smuggler, whose father is now one of the richest men in Tanga. Certainly a colorful bunch. All of them stayed to listen to the Swiss sailor’s rave about Trump. There are a lot of increasingly scared people looking for simple solutions to a complex set of problems.
I see no return to the way things were. The FGF is an opportunity for change. I fear those at the bottom with nothing to lose might grasp it forcefully. Those at the top, with much to lose, want things to go back to the way they were. Some countries are thinking in terms of an eventual return to normal, but there are people who do not want to go back to ‘normal’, where disruption at least offers an opportunity for change, and the chance of a better life.
Increasingly, it seems that this will not be over anytime soon and that even if an antidote were to be discovered today the FGF is upon us in other ways — it is a psychological and sociological fever as much as a physical one, and I cannot see an antidote for that.