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Konrad Werner: (Not yet) out of Africa

During his African sojourn, Konrad regaled the Sierra Leonean fisheries minister with updates about German politics. He was amused.

Dr. Soccoh Kabia is supposed to look after Sierra Leone’s fish. They need a lot of looking after. They keep getting stolen by illegal trawlers – they are basically pirates, but they don’t steal ships like the ones you get off the coast of East Africa. They come at night and sweep all the big fish away from the local fishermen, who have to watch out for the lights and get out of the way or they could get killed and their flimsy little wooden canoes get run over. This also costs the Sierra Leonean economy $30 million a year, apparently.

On top of this, as Dr. Kabia well knows, him formerly being the health minister and all, Sierra Leone has many other pressing issues – education and healthcare are what you’d call basic. Plus people are starving in the more remote parts.

Anyway, that really isn’t the point. The point is that when I met him, the affable, grey-haired Dr. Kabia had much on his mind, but he wanted to know all about where German politics was now. He had studied medicine in Heidelberg in the late 1960s and early 1970s, and said he had learned much from German politics. He kept saying “unbelievable” when he heard about the success of the Green Party and laughed heartily at the misfortune of the FDP and Guido Westerwelle.

Sierra Leone is one of the few functioning democracies in West Africa, and while a lot of people there are very cynical about their government ministers, especially the cabinet – who often get accused of being corrupt – I think it’s probably good that they have ministers that can remember the West German troubles.