By the Editor

Uganda's Chemutai WinningOur last issue was dedicated to change which comes with happiness, uncertainty, and sadness. This issue is dedicated to learning lessons from history. The just concluded Tokyo Olympics was fairly successful despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. There was no massive infection of athletes and no boycotts and no massive doping scandals. Thanks to lesson learned from past experiences. However, it is regrettable that there is still some doping among athletes as well  as corruption within the International Olympic Organization (IOC).

As for the pandemic, anti-vaxxers and other people are still vehemently resisting COVID-19 vaccination despite evidence that it prevents hospitalization and death from COVID-19. Whatever their reasons are, including weaponizing vaccine resistance for political reasons, they simply defy logic, especially in developed countries where the vaccines are readily available. In developing countries, the irony is that they mistrust foreign vaccines manufactured under stringent conditions and yet they easily trust herbal medicines without seeing the evidence they want to see for the foreign manufactured vaccines. They also readily pop foreign drugs without pausing to ask if there is any evidence for safety or efficacy. Whatever the doctor orders is good enough. On COVID-19 vaccines, no, the doctor’s word is not good enough for them.

In geopolitics, the USA and its allies have finally decided they have had it with the endless war. They are withdrawing their military troops from Afghanistan. Unfortunately, the withdrawal is predictably chaotic. History is repeating itself, implying that no lessons have been learnt from past USA experiences in Vietnam (1975), Somalia and Iraq (both in the 1990s), or from that of the Soviet Union in Afghanistan (1980s) and the British Empire before that. The lesson not learned is that occupying other people’s territory without their consent is simply a bad idea.

This month, Africa has something good to celebrate–a peaceful acceptance of an election outcome in Zambia. In the August 12th election, the incumbent, President Edgar Lungu lost to the opposition challenger, Hakainde Hichilema. The beautiful thing about it is that the loser, despite a mild protestation, gracefully conceded his loss, a rare commodity in Africa.

Haiti Earthquake DamageEarthquakes, natural fires, landslides, hurricanes, etc. are generally considered natural disasters. However, the aftermath often turns into man-made disasters. This week, there was a big earthquake in Haiti (7.2 Richter magnitude scale). This followed another devastating earthquake in 2010. Haiti’s earthquake history dates back to the 1560s. Regrettably, the two recent ones killed thousands of people. The question is, have people learned lessons from their past experiences or are  they simply repeating mistakes of the past in the way they build houses, roads, and other infrastructure or where people live. If not, then the effect of such disasters become man made instead of natural disasters. Knowing that earthquakes will likely happen, it may be necessary to consider relocating the population to a relatively safe place.

Lastly, a global crisis is brewing due to climatic change. Every year, we see the effects of climatic change manifesting itself in different forms. Ice in the Arctic zone is melting. In 2019, Mozambique, Malawi and Zimbabwe were hit by Tropical Cyclone Idai, the second worst cyclone in the southern hemisphere, killing over 1,000 people. Northwestern USA (California and Oregon) is now getting unusually hot and is having major fires every year. Australia had devastating fires in 2019-2020 which killed billions of animals. Europe had serious floods this year, causing hundreds of fatalities, especially in Germany and Turkey. Learning lessons means taking corrective measures. Otherwise, humanity will be doomed; to paraphrase Einstein,  if we keep doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.