I remember studying modern Latin American literature and learning about magical realism, that delicious form of narrative where the lines between fact and fiction are blurred, best embodied by the masterful work of Nobel Prize winning Colombian author Gabriel García Márquez.
I always saw this as an "outsider" view of Latin America that doesn't take into account how the fantastic and the mundane, the tragic and celebration can co-exist, seamlessly and totally sanctioned by people because it's just life. It's what I experienced as a girl who summered in South America amidst a big, fat Colombian family.
Africa takes this mind and "reality set" to the umpteenth degree. When I learned that Ethiopia's PM Meles Zenawi has disappeared for 2 months, the gringa in me couldn't believe this. Imagine if President Obama went missing for 2 hours!
But in Africa, like in many parts of the developing world where life is precarious because of disease, poverty, and violence and who is at the tippy top of power doesn't spare them from the harshness of their daily lives, it's just biz as usual.
Still, Meles Zenawi who ruled with an iron fist that drew criticism from opponents, also brought a stability to a region strife with fighting, not just for the people but for powerful allies like the U.S.
So what's next? I spoke with the indefatigable and very fabulous Ofeibea Quist-Arcton, NPR's Africa correspondent on the implications of Meles Zenawi's death for Ethiopia and the region.
“Missing Ethiopian Prime Minister Pronounced Dead” aired on August 21, 2012 on NPR’s Tell Me More with Michel Martin with me as guest host while Michel was away.
Click here or below to listen.I hadn't followed this story or the region at all to be honest so I learned a lot. What's the takeaway for you?