Sucking Wind

Saturday, February 5th, 2011

Check out the first sentence of this piece in La Libre Belgique by Philippe Paquet: “For those who believe they have touched bottom when it comes to absurdity and political stupidity in Belgium, Malawi provides reasons for hope.” How? Well, obviously because there is even more absurdity and political stupidity to be found there! Curious, such an attitude – still, are we to allow it anyway, in view of the fact that the Belgians did not actually rape & pillage that particular African land over eighty years of colonial rule, but rather what is now the Democratic Republic of the Congo, located two countries away?

In any case, the article’s title is “The wind turns in Malawi,” but don’t get too impressed, Paquet is merely trying to be clever*. After a brief mention of that country’s intention to raise its official retirement age to 70 – that when life expectancy even for women is only 51 years – we get to the real subject: Get a load of this, he crows, the Malawi Assembly (i.e. parliament) is bringing back a law from British colonial times that makes it illegal to fart in public!

He then takes that theme and runs with it. I’ll leave most of its further ramifications to French-readers interested enough to click through to the original. But just to give you a trace . . . apparently one good thing about the dictatorship under Kamuzu Banda that ruled the country for thirty years after independence in 1964 was that people were much more discrete with their personal gas-emissions during that time. So does that mean that dictatorship always smells better? No, Paquet points out, look at China, where this particular aspect of personal behavior has been notoriously loose for centuries, under kings, presidents, and Communist dictators.

* Much as I also try to do all the time when crafting titles for the posts of this weblog, I have to admit!

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