Gave us your email before?
My Liberia blog
Updated: 1 week 6 hours ago
This morning I’ve been Googling for sample survey questions that measure concepts that lots of academics are interested in. For example, I want some questions on my survey to measure social capital, and see no need to completely recreate the wheel. I found this World Bank document with ideas. One sample question:
Which members of the community participate most in solving the issues facing the community? (then it asks for responses based on employment status, age etc.)
I’ve also been trying to incorporate questions from the World Bank Enterprise surveys for the purpose of comparability. For example, here’s one question I’m interested in from the Enterprise surveys:
To what extent do you agree or disagree with the following statement: Government officials’ interpretations of the laws and regulations affecting this establishment are consistent and predictable
Last month, however, I pre-tested a lot of questions like these with Nigerians, including specifically a version of this question about predictability. Uniformly, they did not work. Nigerians do not like to answer hypothetical and vague questions like these. “What laws and regulations?” every respondent asked. I am certain if I asked the social capital question respondents would say, “What issues are you talking about?”
Sometimes vague questions are too vague for anyone to provide an answer. But sometimes they are answerable. If one specified a level of government, the question about predictability is answerable. But, to generalize, Nigerians don’t talk like this. They are used to direct and specific questions.
As a result, questions in my survey about government predictability, for example, will be extremely specific. This will improve response validity, but will not allow me to compare responses to Enterprise surveys in Albania or Gabon. Sad.
Excerpts from an article on the connection between religion and cars in Nigeria, by Ebenezer Obadare, a sociologist at University of Kansas: [hat tip to Cat]
In Lagos, Nigeria, though, the social and physical circumstances which enable communing while commuting seem radically different. When traffic grinds to a complete halt as is its wont in the city (a normal Lagos “go slow” can last between three and five hours), the commuter faces the severest test of all: what to do with the suddenly abundant time at his or her disposal. In-traffic communion often unfolds in this situation of baffled boredom; where an ordinarily desperate situation becomes a moment for sustained reflection, and anarchic time becomes an opportunity for “quiet time.”
As fatalities from car accidents have grown, prayers for protection from the dangers of the road have become louder and persistent. The prayer, “Ka ma rin ni ojo ti ebi n p’ona” (May we not travel on the very day that the road is famished) carries an added resonance against a backdrop of endemic auto-mortality. The unusually high frequency of road traffic accidents is attested to by the following anecdote from Kathryn Rhine in a presentation in 2011, who reports that “during a recent fieldwork among HIV-positive persons in Nigeria, patients would insist that their virus was not going to kill them; rather, they would likely die in a car accident.”
Speaking of Kathryn Rhine, an anthropologist at University of Kansas, she has a new blog with thoughts from her fieldwork, which is on how Nigerians understand car accidents. She calls her project “Cultures of Collision.”
A seemingly ordinary footnote, until one realizes that North is one of the paper’s authors.
Mancur Olson’s (1993) roving and stationary bandits and Douglass North’s (1981) revenue maximizing monarchs are at the center of the two most persuasive attempts to explain the interrelated behavior of economies and polities. With all due respect, we submit that modeling the state as a single actor is inherently flawed. Unless we understand the dynamics of relationships within the organization of the state, we can never understand the interrelationship of politics and economics.
One of the small pleasures of Lagos was the free trial subscription I accepted from MTN for daily health tips via SMS. They were always about honey. Until they were always about lemon. Some highlights:
Honey is referred to as “Yogavahi” since it has a quality of penetrating the deepest tissues of the body when it is used with other herbal preparations.
All honey is antibacterial, because the bees add an enzyme that makes hydrogen peroxide.
[etc. etc. etc.]
There are many health benefits of lemons, known for centuries. The 2 biggest are lemons strong antibacterial, antiviral n immune-boosting properties.
Africa Confidential has an article [gated] on the new opposition alliance in Nigeria and the proposed Boko Haram amnesty. Excerpts:
The membership of the President’s Amnesty Committee for Boko Haram, chaired by Minister of Special Duties Kabiru Tanimu Turaki, is relatively low profile. Some, like northern-based rights activist Shehu Sani, claim they weren’t even consulted before their membership was announced. Sani has refused to join, dismissing the Committee as an attempt to defraud the government.
However, in a digital recording in Hausa sent to the media in mid-April, Boko Haram leader Abubakar Shekau rejected any negotiation with government: ‘What wrong have we done? On the contrary, it is we that should grant you pardon.’
This issue also has a full-page flow chart called “Who’s who in Guinea’s mining intrigues.” It’s very cool. Africa Confidential is great.
I was pre-testing my survey with a market trader this morning. I asked him how often products that he orders arrive later than they are supposed to. How often are there delays?
“We are used to delays. If my supplier says 1 week, I know it will be 2 weeks. Is that a delay?”
I went to the Ladipo spare parts market in Mushin today. It had path after path after path of second-hand steering pumps, engines, and things I don’t know the names of.
It’s one of those things that you remember as happening more frequently than it actually does. You’re alone in some foreign country, doing laptop work at a bar. You start chatting with a group of people who turn out to be extremely interesting. They invite you to join them for dinner. Hours of fascinating conversation ensues.
This happened the other night. The people were 3 pediatricians who were infectious disease specialists, 2 of whom were also medical professors. I learned so much. For example: this stuff you read in the Times about the benefits of a diverse biodome–it’s for real!
The doctors told me about a study (which is widely praised for its solid research design, though there are critics), which they summarized as follows: providing very sick children in Africa with ICU-like emergency treatment increases mortality at 48 hours post-admission. Here’s part of the abstract:
Why would this be? This is one possible explanation offered: “One could speculate that the vasoconstrictor response in shock confers protection by reducing perfusion to nonvital tissues and that rapid reversal with fluid resuscitation is deleterious.” I think what this means is that the body’s natural response to shock is protective, and the treatment is bad. As far as I can tell the authors don’t explore explanations for why things might be different in resource-constrained settings, though it’s not completely clear that the authors believe there should be differences.
The Union Popular, one of the two legitimate opposition parties in Equatorial Guinea, has just issued a press release in advance of legislative and local government elections in May. I post the press release in its entirety below. My Spanish is not perfect, but after going back and forth with a party official a few times I think the main points are that 1) The UP wants voters to boycott the elections, and 2) President Obiang is claiming that the UP signed an electoral pact with his ruling PDGE. This is not true. No pact has been signed.
Full text below. Please let me know if there are other main points I missed.
República de Guinea Ecuatorial
La Radio y Televisión del Estado bajo el absoluto control de PDGE, y patentizado en la página web de su gobierno, está difundiendo en los últimos días la firma de un Pacto Electoral entre el PDGE y los partidos paniaguados incluyendo en su lista al partido político Unión Popular.
Mediante la presente, el Partido político Unión Popular recuerda al pueblo de Guinea Ecuatorial y a la comunidad internacional lo siguiente:
Que, a raíz de la NO participación de Unión Popular a la Reforma Constitucional en Annobon el mes de mayo del año 2011, el mandamás de los partidos políticos Clemente Engonga Nguema Onguene expresa su cólera y venganza y saca de su delincuencia escuela democrática a Alfredo Mitogo Mitogo para estar al frente de UP con la aprobación y oferta protectora anticonstitucional del presidente Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo a todos aquellos que saben nutrirse de sus ‘sabias orientaciones’;
Hoy refuerza su acostumbrado método, apoyado por un miembro de gobierno que dice ser de la “oposición democrática” en ofertar por primera vez, a cambio de cargos y otros intereses económicos, las siglas de nuestro sufrido partido al Presidente fundador. ( esta vez, no se puede aplicar ninguna ley), por mucha que la ley reconozca la integridad y la legalidad de la directiva de U.P, el vice primer ministro encargado de la política interior agarra a Mitogo para desestabilizar a U.P y acabar con la ilusión y el sueño que un día tuvieron sus padres fundadores, hablamos de Juan Ntue Masakum, Andrés Ikuka Ebombe Bombe, Julián Yekue, José Martinez Bikie, Justino Mba Nsue, Andrés Moisés Mba Ada, Hermenegildo Ilolo Paca, Julián Mañe Edu, Baltasar Abaga Obiang, Jacinto Edu Alogo, Guillermo Richar Cuaresma, Tome Salas, Benito Mangue, Esteban Avehe…todos muertos junto a su mártir PEDRO MOTHU MAMIAGA, y pocos vivos como Domindo Abuy Elo Nchama, Angel Masie Ntutumu, Angel Masie Mibuy, Teofilo Ondo Nkulu.
Alfredo Mitogo y Genoveva traicionan memoria de estas ilustres personalidades vendiendo las siglas de UP exponiéndola en la sangrienta lista de apoyo al PDGE. A Mitogo y sus colaboradores, que Dios les dé larga vida, responderán el día después ante este pueblo por todo el daño que están causando a tanta familia huérfana, exiliada, sin trabajo a causa de UNION POPULAR.
Para que vuestro silencio no suponga complicidad, es momento que los militantes y simpatizantes de PDGE sepan que su presidente fundador Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo está utilizando sus votos para regalar a su antojo a los verdugos llamados “partidos políticos de la oposición democrática”. Pues, el PDGE es siempre ganador al cien por ciento pero con la formula de 97.97% de votos a favor y 2.03% de votos a repartir.
Es momento que el pueblo de Guinea Ecuatorial se conciencie que el PDGE gobierna con o sin elecciones razón por la cual Teodoro Obiang Nguema Mbasogo viene teniendo y manteniendo a toda costa la actual antidemocrática Junta Electoral Nacional bajo control y supervisión de su Partido Dictatorial de Guinea Ecuatorial y jurado NUNCA aceptar una Junta Electoral Independiente que realice unas elecciones democráticas transparentes y fiables.
Unido a todo lo susodicho, el partido político Unión Popular a raíz del pacto electoral suscrito entre el PARTIDO DEMOCRATICO DE GUINEA ECUATORIAL Y EL CIUDADANO ALFREDO MITOGO
Primera: NO HABER FIRMADO ningún Pacto Electoral con el fundador y propietario del PDGE;
Malabo, a 17 de abril de 2013
Margaret Thatcher supported her son (Sir Mark) and Simon Mann’s 2004 failed coup attempt in Equatorial Guinea, according to a deleted section of Mann’s 2011 memoir obtained by The Observer.
Thatcher “allegedly told Mann at a meeting at her Belgravia home: ‘I’m sure it’s going to work’.”
More from the article:
On his release from prison, Mann said he could never forgive Sir Mark, who he claimed was a key participant in the military adventure rather than a mere investor, for failing to come to his aid. Details of the meetings between Mann and Baroness Thatcher, held in the lead-up to the attempted coup, were originally due to be published in Mann’s memoir, Cry Havoc, which came out in 2011. This section was removed on the advice of the publisher, John Blake. However, an early manuscript of the book has been obtained by the Observer and its full claims can be revealed for the first time.
Thatcher’s mental capacity was already on the wane in 2003 – the year her husband, Denis, died – when the conversations are said to have occurred.
[Mann] writes: “Maggie asks me how ‘their’ money is being handled.”