Mugabe Knocks ’Em Dead
Mark Steyn reports on the non-stop hilarity at the Earth Summit: ‘I’ll have the rhino,’ I said.
In his Guardian column this week, our old friend George Monbiot argued persuasively that poverty made people happier: “In southern Ethiopia, for example,” wrote George, “the poorest half of the poorest nation on earth, the streets and fields crackle with laughter. In homes constructed from packing cases and palm leaves, people engage more freely, smile more often, express more affection than we do behind our double glazing, surrounded by remote controls.”
He’s so right. That’s why I’m glad I made the effort to attend the opening gala of the Earth Summit, truly a night to remember. The banqueting suite of Johannesburg’s Michelangelo Hotel was packed as Bob Mugabe warmed up the crowd with a few gags: “I don’t know about you,” he said, “but I’m starving millions of people!” The canned laughter - an authentic recording of happy Ethiopian peasants clutching their bellies and corpsing - filled the room.
After the chorus of native dancers clad only in packing cases and palm leaves, Natalie Cole came on to sing her famous anthem to industrial development, “Unsustainable/That’s what you are”, and 65,000 of the world’s most eligible bureaucrats, NGO executive council members and BBC environmental correspondents crowded the dance floor to glide cheek to cheek under a glitter ball of premium ox dung specially flown in from Bangladesh. It glittered because of the 120,000 flies buzzing around it, their gossamer wings dappling the international activists below in a myriad of enchanting shadows.