Alex Kellogg

Alex P. Kellogg is a reporter for The Detroit Free Press.

Recent Articles

Internal Affairs

ADDIS ABABA, ETHIOPIA -- It is no secret that the old Organization of African Unity's (OAU) annual summits often provided an excuse to give a face-lift to the cities that hosted them. And though the group was reincarnated here last week as the African Union (AU) -- a move intended to herald the organization's transformation from a dictator's club of years past to an agent of reform and progress on the continent -- old habits die hard. Prior to the conference, which began last Monday and ended 30 hours later on Tuesday afternoon, the fence around Ethiopian President Meles Zenawi's palace was repainted; so were the city's roads. And those roads were put to use, as delegates from 53 African nations zipped around town in fleets of brand-new Mercedes and other top-of-the-line vehicles, bringing traffic to a halt and leaving Ethiopians on their way to work festering in the mid-day sun. Federal police armed with automatic machine guns sat perched atop their vehicles, holding the plebeians at...

Autocracy's End

NAIROBI, KENYA -- The streets were nearly deserted in the Kenyan capital of Nairobi last Friday evening. After voting in the country's most important presidential and parliamentary elections in nearly a quarter-century, most people retreated to their homes. The brave went to their local bars to watch the results come in on national television. A handful of popular clubs were sprinkled with the normal crowd of young professionals, expatriates and Asians. Yet amid the prevailing silence in this normally bustling East African metropolis of 3 million, where mansions abut slums and Mercedes swerve among street kids, was a sense of anxiety at what the election results might bring. The events of the next three days brought the answer: a sweeping victory for a coalition of opposition parties united primarily by a desire to prevent President Daniel arap Moi's hand-picked successor, Uhuru Kenyatta, from taking power. The National Rainbow Coalition, a ramshackle alliance of more than 10...

War Justifies All

ASMARA, ERITREA -- When U.S. Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld concluded a whirlwind tour of the horn of Africa and the Persian Gulf last week, he left in his wake more than just a handful of new allies in America's war on terrorism lined up behind him -- most of them countries that prior to September 11 rarely turned up on America's geopolitical radar. He also lent legitimacy to at least one government whose policies in recent years oppose everything the United States claims to stand for. Rumsfeld's four-country tour of the region began on Tuesday, December 10 here in Eritrea, where he spent several hours meeting with President Isaias Afewerki before being whisked off for a similar meeting in Addis Ababa with Ethiopian President Meles Zenawi. He and Afewerki emerged from their meeting saying that Eritrea and America had agreed to cooperate closely in the U.S.-led war on terrorism. "This is a country that has been dealing with the problem of terrorism in the same way our country...

Reparations in Disrepair:

C hances are that August 17, 2002 won't go down in history as a particularly pivotal day for the pro-reparations movement. Not only did the Millions for Reparations Rally -- held on a small patch of the Mall immediately in front of the nation's capital for seven hours -- fall well short of a million participants. The event also indicated why formal legal channels, rather than popular demonstrations or legislative action, may be the best way for the descendants of America's slaves to pursue compensation for centuries of slavery and discrimination in the United States. One of the most jarring aspects of the rally was the alarming rhetoric flowing from center stage. "I heard black people get happy on pay day," shouted Hashim Nzinga, the national chief of staff for the New Black Panther Party. "Well it's pay day!" he continued excitedly, before introducing Malik Zulu Shabazz, the 34-year-old party chairman. Shabazz's group, it should be noted, has been denounced by members of the original...

Tupac against the World

Holler If You Hear Me: Searching for Tupac Shakur By Michael Eric Dyson. Basic Books, 292 pages, $24.00 I 'll never forget the one and only time I saw Tupac Amaru Shakur, meandering down Michigan Avenue, Chicago's main strip, with two thug homies. It was midsummer 1993, yet all wore enough winter garments to shock the sun, despite the 94-degree sizzle. Shakur held his sweatshirt up to show off the infamous "Thug Life" tattoo etched across his stomach, along with other calligraphic markings. At 5'6", the rapper was not the imposing figure he appeared to be on television. But he was audacious to the point of hilarity, and he had the kind of pressing need to be seen and heard that one would expect in a rising recording star. If he didn't quite seem larger than life then, he does now. There is currently no rap artist as exalted in death as Shakur. Five years after he was gunned down in Las Vegas, Shakur is revered around the world, not just in America's inner cities but as far away as...

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