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Tuesday, May 31, 2016

"I Came All the Way To Djibouti To Talk To You About Diarrhea."

(Overheard quote from Mary Roach, author of the non-fiction book Grunt in an interview with Fresh Air's Terry Gross. Let me write that again, so you can say it in your mind a la Ms. Gross, Fresh Air.)

Once I heard that, I knew I had to write this post as a call-out to my friend, the infectious disease-specialist. And as another thank you note to Sporcle's Georgraphy tests and as an aha! because England's King Henry V died of dysentery while on military campaign.  (Dysentery is essentially horrible, bloody diarrhea, though it can come out both ends.) 

Now, King Henry V leads, via his wife, Katherine de Valois, straight into the early Tudors, which I have blogged about before, so yes, everything does ultimately connect back to everything else.  

But back to Djibouti, a smaller country located on the Upper East Side of Africa, officially established as a country in 1977. Before that, Djibouti was known as The French Territory of the Afars and the Issas, which tells you the names of the two major ethnic/tribal peoples who inhabit Djibouti. 
It appears that among the Afar, teeth-sharpening is still a thing to do, for both
men and women, but that may
only be in Ethiopia. I can't find reference to it in Djibouti
Remember that next time you want to
judge a teenager with his underpants showing.

The Issa are a sub clan of the Somali. 

Djibouti's current leader is of the Somali ethnicity. The minority party walked out of the last two elections, stating they weren't fair. Still, when you compare it to nearby Somalia and Yemen, across the Gulf of Aden, so since Djibouti's Civil War ended in the 1990's, it is considered relatively stable. (I am basing this on people I have met from Djibouti, not from the Internet. 

As such, Djibouti serves as a base for military operations for nearby  Somalia and Yemen, the former a failed state and the latter on the verge of failure. 

Hence this reporter who had to travel to Djibouti to talk to a Special Services guy about Diarrhea for research on the Science of the Military, particularly of the kind of Science that helps people get, stay and be returned to health. 

Her book sounds both disgusting and fascinating, much like my friend's experiences--she's soon heading off to Kenya, or Uganda, or Rwanda, (they keep switching locations,) to teach good practices for infectious disease control. And oh, I wish I could stow myself away in her suitcase and have that adventure with her. Yes, I know, lecturing is hardly an adventure, but still. . .

So, pull out your maps and look up Djibouti, and your assignment for tomorrow is to research and write a report about either the Afars or the Issas, or a paper on the languages spoken in Djibouti, and please diagram the accents created by colonization. 

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