Reporters on the Job
• Somalia's Pure Capitalism: Correspondent Rob Crilly says that despite the fact that Somalia is a nation run by warlords and has lacked a functioning government for years, he finds it easier to work there than in most African nations. "Three of the major hotels in Mogadishu have set themselves up as bases for journalists. There's good, inexpensive food; Internet access; fixers; cars; and, most important, guns for hire," he says. "You can get a lobster meal for $5 and the telecommunications are excellent," he says.
Why? He chalks it up to the entrepreneurial spirit of Somalis and a place that has no government regulations, no taxes, and plenty of free-market competition. "It's a pure form of capitalism, a free-enterprise zone. There are several competing telephone companies, so phone rates are low," Rob says.
The downside? "There are no taxes to repair roads or pay a police force. So you take your chances in the streets," he says. "And if you are poor, weak, or sick – if you need the support of a hospital or social services – Somalia doesn't have much to offer. But if you have money, you can get anything."
• Event of the Week: Johannesburg correspondent Stephanie Hanes notes that Oprah Winfrey was the talk of the town this week as she opened her Leadership Academy for Girls.
She says that the families of the first girls selected to attend the school were beyond proud. "I went to a party for one family's girls, where relatives had splurged on a party tent, food, ribbons, and flowers – the type of festivities people in this impoverished community usually only see at weddings and funerals. The kids danced in the street, the older women said prayers. Many people cried. Oprah might have gotten more attention. But for me, this was the event of the week," says Stephanie.
David Clark Scott