Friday, March 27, 2009

Farewell McGreal, Guardian's Man in Africa

For 20 years, there has been no journalist in Africa quite like Chris McGreal, the bulldog of Britain's Guardian newspaper foreign corps. Chris was everywhere, or had been everywhere, when Nelson Mandela cast his first ballot in 1994, when Hutus were slaughtering Tutsis in Rwanda, when Zimbabwe's long descent into hell picked up speed. Chris hustled. He was brave. He was tough. He took no shit. And, to top it off, he wrote pretty damn well too, better than most of us dared.
Check out his swansong today, whose only weakness is the inevitable, hackneyed headline "Out of Africa." Egad. I'm sure it's the fault of some editor somewhere. In any case, at a time when many great foreign correspondents have gone home, been laid off, or simply moved on to other parts of the world, I mourn Chris's move to the Washington bureau for the Guardian. Our understanding of our still-new president no doubt will be enriched, but our grasp of Africa certainly will suffer.

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