Where have all the Greeks gone? The story of Greeks in Africa

A shorter version of this article appeared in the Sunday Mail on 4th April 2021

https://cyprus-mail.com/2021/04/04/where-have-all-the-greeks-gone-the-story-of-greeks-in-africa/

Today there remain only a few Greeks in Africa, mainly in the metropoles of South Africa. These last remnants only hint at a rich past that tied generations of Greeks to the vast African continent. There are some who still remember this prosperous past. Minis Papapetrou, a retired engineer who grew up in Sudan and now resides in Athens describes how he and around 200 members of the ‘Greek Community of Sudan’ still meet periodically in the Greek capital. Before covid disrupted life, they regularly gathered for Christmas and Easter, even though most, including Mr Papapetrou himself, left Africa almost 50 years ago. So powerful is the memory of the place that bonds them. “When we get together, or go to the club, our conversations are all about when we were back in Sudan,” he sighs. “Do you remember that? Do you remember when we went there? It’s a nice feeling to remember the country you were born.” Mr Papapetrou represents the last in a line of three generations of Greeks whose fortunes ebbed and flowed with those of the continent.

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The broken social contract and the paradox at the heart of Brexit

Up until about 2004 when I emigrated to Africa – first to Kenya and then South Africa, I had lived in London all my life. 

From Greek heritage I always considered myself English growing up. A born and bred Londoner.

Even when people would retort, “yes, but where are you actually from?” puzzling over my generic dark, Mediterranean physical features, I would brush the slight aside and proudly declare allegiance to Blighty – water off a duck’s back as the old British saying goes.

Moving abroad, that sense of nationhood only deepened. Distance makes the heart grow fonder and all that – A proverb probably borne out of the intense passion of a thousand long-distance relationships fueled by well-engineered love letters in well-crafted English as described in the best traditions of 19th century British romance novels of the Jane Austen persuasion.

But all that changed with the Brexit vote on 23rd June 2016. 

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This is how a Superpower dies… State Sponsors of Terrorism and U.S. Foreign Policy in Sudan

A superpower begins to fade under the weight of its bloated size and over-confidence.  Through arrogance and careless mis-steps it bungles and self-sabotages to the point it starts creating problems it could have easily avoided, undermining its strength and capacity to shape global events to its will along the way.

Nowhere are these early seeds of destruction for U.S. better-exposed than in its dealings with Sudan. 

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The End of the Age of Labour. We are entering the Era of Automation & Neo-Socialism: A Look at Daniel Susskind’s ‘A World Without Work’

I grew up in the 1980s and 1990s, a time that saw the end of the Cold War and a new wave of prosperity.  An age when the modern industrialised capitalist economy reigned supreme and globalisation, then still in its infancy, seemed to be the answer to global poverty. We clung to the hope that it would raise billions out of subsistence. 

Continue reading “The End of the Age of Labour. We are entering the Era of Automation & Neo-Socialism: A Look at Daniel Susskind’s ‘A World Without Work’”

Smart Cities in Africa. The Smart Move or another White Elephant that brings crushing debt

A shorter version of this article appeared in Business Day, South Africa on 23rd March 2020

https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/opinion/2020-03-23-sas-smart-city-drive-may-not-be-such-a-clever-move/

Last month President Ramaphosa in his SONA heralded the forthcoming construction of a new 5G-ready smart city around Lanseria Airport in the next decade.  With it, South Africa was belatedly thrust to the front of a Continent-wide rush to establish so-called smart and eco-friendly cities, seen as a means of jump-starting the so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution powered by digital technology.

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The Covid-19 Medical Emergency is an Unprecedented Crisis, but it is the economic fallout that should truly petrify us all

I’ve had a few heated debates in the past few days about how I appear to care more about the economic fallout of Covid-19 than the mounting death toll from the virus itself.

Of course I care, and especially about the looming global health system crises too. But looking to the bigger picture, I also know that in the long-run, for better or for worse, this virus will be under control in a about a year’s time. Whereas the economic fallout, and by extension the social and political fallout could last decades.

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Comments on Francis Fukuyama’s two seminal books: ‘The End of History & The Last Man’ and ‘Identity’


I recently finished reading Fukuyama’s two seminal books. They are essential reading for anyone wishing to get a deeper understanding of the advent and spread of democracy and the modern industrial economy globally. Not to mention the subsequent rise of identity politics and the likes of Trump and Brexit.

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The President’s New Clothes

A shorter version of this article appeared in Business Day, South Africa on 05/09/19 ‘Shredding of the rag trade has lessons for the future’

https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/opinion/2019-09-05-shredding-of-the-rag-trade-has-lessons-for-the-future/

‘We never realised it could be so dramatic!’ Aldo Agnelli, Managing Director of House of Monatic says smiling and throwing his arms open as a gesture of warm welcome and striding into his humble wood-panelled office.  He was referring to the President of South Africa’s recent State of The Union Address where Mr Ramaphosa proudly announced wearing a suit, shirt and tie made by the clothing manufacturer.  The President was actively encouraging consumers to buy locally made products to stimulate domestic production. 

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