Saturday, June 11, 2011

Lusaka, June 10-11

I am still having trouble adding pictures, which isn't surprising since I've been having a lot of technical problems on this trip: blackberry doesn't work, or works intermittently, computer won't hook up to wifi, etc etc. It makes for a frustrating time...

Anyway I've got a decent picture of Zambian dancers welcoming Clinton in Lusaka on arrival. It was great to be back in Southern Africa -- sharp, clear blue sky, warm sun but cooling off quickly at sunset, just a faint hint of smoke in the air. Felt like home.

But along with the technical issues I've also had to deal with another bump: my colleague Lesley Wroughton broke the story that Clinton was interested in moving to the World Bank. This is VERY sensitive...they don't want to be seen losing a secretary of state at this juncture, and it wouldn't be for months anyway as the job doesn't become vacant until mid-2012.

They denied it on the record, and then Clinton herself denied it in a press conference here in Lusaka. We had their denials in the original story, but the drumbeat of "no!" makes for some rough going. Still, I tend to believe Lesley before I believe the Clinton crowd. It would be a perfect job for her (everything we are doing on this Africa trip centers on development/health and women, which are her obsessions). But the politics are such that it will never be formally acknowledged until the official announcement.

But that makes me the "guy from Reuters" on the trip. It is fine -- I am sure we will be shown right in the end. And people are not being nasty, just a little jumpy. But that, added too the regular exhaustion of these trips, has made this feel like a long one.

I'm going to sign off now but will try to fill this out (and add the picture!) later

(Next Day) -- up early in Dar es Salaam, and somehow the picture uploads seem to work now. The dancers really were fantastic, and Clinton clearly loves being in Africa.

At the trade conference she was attending in Lusaka she was serenaded by a chorus of African businesswomen (!) -- lovely harmonies, and she got in there to sway and clap (a little off beat) with them. Makes you think the World Bank would be such a good fit!

Lusaka looked very tidy -- they spruced up a lot for the trade meeting and for Clinton, with clean streets, and all the trees freshly painted with their white "skirts" to keep the bugs off, making it all seem very tidy. We did one stop at a new pediatric hospital which the U.S. built and has donated to Zambia as a center to combat mother-to-child transmission of HIV. The speeches went on for ever ("all protocol observed" being a favorite phrase...even Clinton used it). I was nodding off but then this lady sat down in front of me with a terrific hair-do....makes me miss Africa.