Summer is upon us

Richard negotiating with the local mayor
Richard in discussions with the Mayor of Malé
In discussions again, this time with the Mayor of Malé, a trusted ally and a joy to deal with.

I’ve had a couple of weeks’ leave since my last blog. It was delightful to return to the UK and take a break from the crisis which has engulfed Central African Republic. I had attempted to finish off my final two pieces of work for the semester before my break so that I didn’t have to think about study during that time. I was pretty successful in that endeavor. Since returning, I have submitted those two pieces and I’m now staring down the barrel of four months without study (distance learning MA students finish at the end of May and don’t start again until the end of September).

My overall impression of my leave period – apart from glorious spring sunshine as a contrast to African heat – was the media frenzy covering Brexit. This is of interest to a student on the MA International Policy and Diplomacy and thus I was interested in following the debate. But what (thoroughly expected) disappointment awaited me at the standard of debate surrounding this momentous referendum. I briefly thought about introducing some informed logic on the question until I realized it would be utterly pointless.

Countryside in the Central African Republic
Central African Republic is a beautiful country.

Brexit fascinates me for reasons related directly to my study. I am a voracious reader of political autobiographies and biographies. I recently finished Robin Cook’s autobiography and am currently reading John Major’s. Now, for those who remember, John Major took the UK into the European Exchange Rate Mechanism as Chancellor, and pulled us out as PM so he has quite a bit to say about the EU in his book. As I read it, and realize what was at stake then (pretty much what is at stake now), I think back to my leave period and walking past the newsstand in my local supermarket, reading the headlines as I tootled past loaded up with rubbish, processed foods which are unavailable in the depths of Africa. It’s a depressing contrast, I can tell you. Surely this cannot be the standard of political debate in a country situated in the Global North, can it? I mean, can it?

Returning to Africa, I am following developments in South Sudan (CAR’s eastern neighbor). The debate there is fractious and loaded with tribal pressures – but they are debating policy and the business of politics!

My reading list for the academic break lies on my desk – it all relates to the dissertation I will write next academic year. In the meantime I’m back in the groove at work without the pressure of evening study, weekly seminar posts, and essay submission deadlines hanging over me. In truth I loved those guided modules; now I need to shift mindset and consider working at my own pace on a dissertation for an extended period. I can also put the Brexit debate out of my mind because not a single Central African in the far north of the country, and I really do mean NOT ONE, has even heard of Brexit. How refreshing.

Richard with the Children in Boh Village
With the children of Boh village.
About Richard Bretherick 13 Articles
Final year MA International Policy and Diplomacy student. After twenty years in the military I eventually landed a job in the humanitarian industry, and I'm currently in the far north of Central African Republic managing a program in the fight against malaria. I love my job and I'm very lucky that I can say that.

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