Djibouti (S4.03)

S04E03 Djibouti Audio

In this episode of 80 Days: An Exploration Podcast, we’ll be talking about Djibouti, a small nation located on the Northeast Coast of the Horn of Africa. Bordered by Eritrea to the North, Ethiopia to the West and Somalia to the south, Djibouti lies on the west side of the Bab-el-Mandeb Strait, the narrowest point of Gulf of Aden.

djcolor

Around 30km across the strait lies Yemen. This chokepoint into the Red Sea, which overlooks the approaches to the Suez Canal, has long made Djibouti a desirable location for naval bases. Dominated by two main groups – the Afar and Issa Somali people, Djibouti today is balanced between these two factions, having endured a protracted civil war in the wake of winning its independence from France in 1977. Occupying a total area of around 23,000 km2 (9,000 sq mi), Djibouti is the third smallest country in continental Africa, and today has a population of around 880,000, the vast majority of whom live in the captial city of Djibouti City. Nearly 94% of the population is Muslim while the remaining 6% are Christian, and official languages are French and Arabic. Djibouti today attracts plenty of foreign investment, and aims to become “Africa’s Dubai.”

This episode, just like all of our recent ones, is supported by our Patreon backers. If you want to help out the show, you can help out by joining us over on www.patreon.com/80dayspodcast to give us whatever you can in terms of financial support and avail of all the lovely awards and extras that entitles you to. If you’re unable to support us financially, you can always leave us a review on Apple Podcasts or wherever you get your podcasts from.

Djibouti

Your hosts, as always, are Luke Kelly @thelukejkelly in Hong Kong, Mark Boyle @markboyle86 in the UK, and Joe Byrne @anbeirneach in Ireland . (Theme music by Thomas O’Boyle @thatthomasfella)


Some further reading:

  • Peter Tyson, writing for PBS Nova, attempts to tackle the “Where Is Punt” question here.
  • Brittanica has loads of additional info on Adal and the Adal Sultanate, discussed by Joe in this episode.
  • You can find additional info on the Ifat Sultanate which succeeded it at openedition.org.
  • The New World Encyclopedia has a wonderful, long form post on the Scramble for Africa, which Djibouti was caught up in.
  • For more info on our old friend Ferdinand de Lesseps and his ill-fated other canal project, you can listen to our season one episode on Panama.
  • We also touch on old friend Vasco Da Gama in this episode. The Christmas special minisode referenced is here.
  • The disastrous Cossack invasion of Sagallo in what was then French Somaliland is profiled in an excellent blog by towardsthegreatocean.com, which Luke quotes from in this episode.
  • Bruno Macaes profiles modern Djibouti in a recent article for Politico, entitled “The most valuable military real estate in the world.”
  • The LSE has a long-form article on Somali regiments during WW1.
  • The Guardian also profiles the “forgotten Muslim heroes who fought for Britain in the trenches” in WW1.
  • You can read the New York Time report on Djibouti’s declaration of independence in 1977 in the paper’s archives here.
  • To learn more about the Djiboutian Civil War, which broke out in 1991, see New World Encyclopedia’s lengthy article on the conflict here.
  • The plans to turn modern Djibouti into “Africa’s Dubai” are detailed by The Culture Trip here.
  • The SCMP journalist James Jeffrey details his experiences with the new Chinese-backed railway revitalisation project here.

 

Western Sahara (S3.10)

S03E10 – Western Sahara Audio

In this episode of 80 Days: an exploration podcast, we’ll be talking about Western Sahara, a disputed territory in North-West Africa. Home to roughly 550,000 people and bordered by Morocco to the north, Algeria to the east, Mauritania to the south and the Atlantic Ocean to the west, Western Sahara is partially controlled by the self-proclaimed Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic and partially Moroccan-occupied, and is often called ‘Africa’s last colony.’

Map of Western Sahara's position on the west coast of Africa, between Morocco and Mauritania

Map of Western Sahara’s position on the west coast of Africa, between Morocco and Mauritania

First colonised by Spain in 1885, the territory’s sovereignty has been fiercely disputed for decades, particularly since 1975, when Spain officially relinquished its claim over the region. Today it is alternately known as Morocco’s Southern Provinces or the Sahrawi Arab Democratic Republic, however, we’ll be referring to the region as Western Sahara throughout most of this episode. At roughly 260,000 square kilometers or 100,000 square miles, Western Sahara is about the size of the US state of Colorado or just slightly larger than the UK. The territory consists mostly of uninhabitable desert, and nearly 40% of its inhabitants live in Laayoune, the largest city in Western Sahara, while up to 100,000 people from the region are currently living in refugee camps in neighbouring Algeria.

This episode, the Finale of Season 3, is our first Patreon-nominated and voted-on episode. Thanks to Erik Tastepe, in particular, for suggesting this interesting location and to all of you who voted. Join us over on www.patreon.com/80dayspodcast to have a say in the direction of future seasons or get access to various awards.

Your hosts, as always, are Luke Kelly @thelukejkelly in Hong Kong, Mark Boyle @markboyle86 in the UK, and Joe Byrne @anbeirneach in Switzerland . (Theme music by Thomas O’Boyle @thatthomasfella)


In this episode, we carried out an extensive interview with Nick Brooks (@WSaharaProject), a climate scientist, who has worked over many years in Western Sahara, co-directing a project with archaeologist Jo Clarke. This “Western Sahara Project” has led to a recently-published book on the topic (see here). Nick also has a very interesting blog about his time spent there, the politics of the situation and related topics called “Sand and Dust”. Beautiful photo galleries of all the archaeological discoveries from the research project in the desert have been shared on Flickr.

Here are a few things you may want to read/watch more about:

Lesotho (S3.08)

S03E08 Lesotho Audio

In this episode of 80 Days: An Exploration Podcast, we’ll be talking about the Kingdom of Lesotho, previously the British Crown Colony of Basutoland. This small African country is entirely surrounded by South Africa, making it one of only three nations to be contained entirely within another country’s borders. Lesotho is also one of the highest countries in the world, standing an average of 1500 metres above sea level, making it the fifth highest nation in the world by average elevation. Lesotho has a population of around 2 million, and its capital and largest city is Maseru.

 

 

At around 30,000 square kilometres, the country is roughly the size of Belgium or the US state of Hawaii. Its combination of high altitude and a relatively cool climate results in it being free of tropical diseases. Rainfall is highly variable, farming is difficult and the country has few natural resources. Sesotho is the national language, but English is the language of business, government and education. 

Your hosts, as always, are Luke Kelly @thelukejkelly in Hong Kong, Mark Boyle @markboyle86 in the UK, and Joe Byrne @anbeirneach in Switzerland . (Theme music by Thomas O’Boyle @thatthomasfella)

LocationLesotho.svg

Above is the location of Lesotho, contained entirely within South Africa.

Here are a few things you may want to read/watch more about:

King_Moshoeshoe_of_the_Basotho_with_his_ministers

Some nice  music (and characteristic dancing, in some cases) we found:

Thanks to Seán Lyons for his interview about his time working in Lesotho with Irish NGO Action Lesotho. A massive thanks too to all of our patrons on Patreon who are supporting season 3. If you’d like to join them and see what rewards are available for supporters, and get a peek behind the curtain check out www.patreon.com/80dayspodcast. We really appreciate the support and input!

Natal, 1497 (Christmas Special)

In the spirit of New Year’s resolutions, we’re asking our listeners to fill out a quick survey to help up improve in 2019. It should only take a minute or two. If you have the time, please click the link below to help out.

Click here to take the listener survey.

In this minisode, Mark takes the lead to tell the story of the discovery of Natal by Portuguese explorer Vasco da Gama on Christmas Day 1497, a story that has intrigued him since he first heard it as a child. The story has a festive aspect to it, and introduces a special guest.

Merry Christmas and a happy new year to our listeners from Mark (@markboyle86), Joe (@anbeirneach) and Luke (@thelukejkelly)! We’ll see you in 2019.

In addition to our theme music by the talented Thomas O’Boyle, this episode featured a lot of music and sound effects, graciously made available for free by contributors at FreeSound.org, Looperman, Free Music Archive and Incompatech, for use under a Creative Commons license, by attribution.

The pieces of music you heard under the text were “Swiftwind” and “How I Used to See the Stars” by Lee Rosevere, licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 4.0.

The version of “Silent Night” we used was played by Kevin McLeod (Incompatech.com) and is licenced under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/)

Market sounds from Porto (user Digitopia)Waves in Barcelona (user Mmiron), “Wind, realistic, A” (user InspectorJ), “Wind through trees, 3b” (user spoonbender),  a thunder clap recorded in Pretoria, South Africa (user SoundLover16), Bird ambience in St Lucia Forest, South Africa (user EpicWizard), the sound of glass bells (user Idalize), Trumpets (user Harbour11), “Africa Pavillion Drum Jam” (user RTB45), People laughing, while playing volleyball (user andriala) and the sound of cannons being fired over the Hudson river (user nofeedbak), are all licensed from FreeSound under a Creative Commons by Attribution Licences; while the sound of a crowd in India (by Martin.Sadoux)“Wind and rain in Iceland (user Bashrambali), and the sound of Sleighbells (user Soundstack) were released without copyright.

The following tracks were taken from Looperman: sitar loop (by jensmuse), “Darbuka Dreaming 8” (by planetjazzbass) and “One for Joe (horns)” (by doudei).

Samples of Khoisan people speaking were taken from these YouTube videos of a man in Namibia talking about the use of grass, and a number of people in Botswana speaking to tourists about medicinal plant usage in their community.

The final song is a translation into Portuguese of “Feliz Navidad” by Corrossel (2012) – it can be found here.

Saint Helena (S3.04)

S03E04 Saint Helena Audio

In this episode of season 3 of 80 Days: an exploration podcast, we’ll be talking about Saint Helena, a volcanic tropical island in the South Atlantic Ocean, and one of the most isolated points of land in the world. Saint Helena is more than 2,000 kilometres (1,200 mi) from its nearest mainland neighbour. The nearest port is Namibe in Angola. It was uninhabited up until its discovery by the Portuguese in 1502, and was later taken over by the British. Used for much of its life as an island of exile, its most famous inhabitant was Napoleon Bonaparte, who was exiled there after his defeat at Waterloo. The island today has a population of just over 4500, and is roughly the size of Staten Island in New York or San Marino, at just 121 square kilometeres, or 47 square miles, and its climate is generally mild.

The island is situated in the Western Hemisphere and despite having the same longitude as Cornwall in the United Kingdom, it is classified as being in West Africa by the United Nations.

Its inhabitants, known locally as “Saints”, are the descendants of sailors, settlers and slaves, and are said to be fiercely loyal to the British monarchy. The island’s economy is dependent on British grants and remittances, and up until recently its only link to the outside world was by a Royal Mail Ship, the St Helena, which made a five-day journey from Cape Town in South Africa, every three weeks.

Your hosts, as always, are Luke Kelly @thelukejkelly in Hong Kong, Mark Boyle @markboyle86 in the UK, and Joe Byrne @anbeirneach in Switzerland . (Theme music by Thomas O’Boyle @thatthomasfella)

Flag of Saint Helena  Global position of Saint Helena, with respect to the UK

Here are a few things you may want to read/watch more about:

Music you heard was from the following sources:

Thanks to Fran Hobbs for his insightful interview about life on the island. A massive thanks to all of our patrons on Patreon who are supporting season 3. If you’d like to join them and see what rewards are available for supporters, and get a peek behind the curtain check out www.patreon.com/80dayspodcast. We really appreciate the support and input!

The Gambia (S2.07)

S02E07 The Gambia Audio

In this episode of 80 Days: an exploration podcast we’ll be talking about the Gambia, the smallest country on the African mainland. Cutting a small sliver out of the Western coastline of Senegal, the Gambia is one of just a handful of nations on earth to share a border with just one country. The entirety of the country surrounds its namesake the Gambia River, with the border running parallel to both banks of the river inland for about 250 km. Gambia’s population of around 2 million is largely impoverished. It’s GDP is ranked at 167th out of 188 countries around the world, and like much of West Africa, it’s history has been impacted heavily by the slave trade. Having gained its independence in 1965 from the British empire, the Gambia has come to rely on its growing reputation as a tourist destination, and recently made headlines following a political power struggle between presidential candidates.

Your hosts are Luke Kelly @thelukejkelly in Hong Kong, Mark Boyle @markboyle86 in the UK, and Joe Byrne @anbeirneach in Switzerland . (Theme music by Thomas O’Boyle)

Table of Contents:

[02:01]  Early exploration and the Stone Circles
[05:52] Influence of Islam and trade
[07:14] Mali and Songhai Empires
[09:43] Mandinka culture and scary masks
[18:07] Arrival of Europeans
[21:35] Start of trans-Atlantic slave trade
[26:15] First permanent European settlement
[26:55] Royal African Company founded in London
[30:26] Niall visits Nemban (clip)
[31:24] English and French vie for control
[35:01]The English liberalise the slave trade
[37:49] Pirate taking everything not nailed down
[39:20] Francis Moore’s reports
[42:32] The man who returned from slavery
[46:52] “Roots”
[49:59] Interview with tourguide
[53:24] Decline of the Royal African Company and searching for Timbuktoo
[55:38] Abolition of the slave trade and colony formation
[58:50] A colony for free slaves
[1:02:00] The kora and storytelling
[1:03:50] Setting the boundaries
[1:06:05] 20th Century, evolving colony and the world wars
[1:14:02] After the war… voting for all!
[1:16:45] Green Revolution and the PPP
[1:20:00] An awful flag
[1:22:32] An attempted coup and Senegambia
[1:29:32] A new character enters the stage: Jammeh
[1:39:42] Jammeh’s home town
[1:44:32] The Magic Presidential Powers – “hard on AIDS, hard on witches”
[1:47:56] 2016 Election kerfuffle
[1:50:25] A new president elected
[1:55:43] Food, wildlife, tourism and sport

Here are a few things you may want to read/watch more about:

Photographs of Kenyaleng women in various roles, exhibiting distinctive dress

The Kankurang mask – associated with circumcision rituals

Map showing the fort on James Island/Kunta Kinteh Island from Juffreh, the Gambia

The West African Frontier Force fought in the First World War

The original flag of the Gambia, which we all think is pretty terrible

Music you heard was largely from field recordings by our friend Niall Ó Laoighaire (who is also responsible for most of the photos above, you may also want to listen to music from the following sources:

A massive thanks to John Keating and Lorraine Mounsey, two of the backers of our recent Kickstarter Campaign – thank you for making Season 2 possible. And special thanks this week to Niall Ó Laoighaire for his research in the Gambia, providing the photos above and some audio that you heard. Thanks too to our sponsor Hairy Baby, who in addition to making the funniest Irish-themed t-shirts, have also produced the official 80 Days shirt for our supporters. Find it by clicking here. You can get 10% off anything on www.hairybaby.com by using our promo code “80DAYS”.

Seychelles (S2.03)

S02E03: Seychelles Audio

Welcome to our third episode in season 2 of 80 Days: an exploration podcast. Today we will be looking at the little island paradise of the Seychelles, a country made up of an archipelago of 115 islands in the Indian Ocean. This former British colony has a population of just over 90,000, the smallest of any independent African state, and lies 1,500 kilometres (or 932 miles) off East Africa.

Your hosts are Luke Kelly @thelukejkelly in Hong Kong, Mark Boyle @markboyle86 in the UK, and Joe Byrne@anbeirneach in Switzerland. (Theme music by Thomas O’Boyle)

Like neighbouring Madagascar, the islands are best known for their unique geology and diverse wildlife populations. White sand beaches and clear blue oceans abound here, in what was once a haven for pirates marauding throughout the Indian Ocean. A tropical rainforest climate ensures that the islands are hot and humid year-round. Victoria, the capital city of Seychelles, is the smallest capital in the entire world, with a population of around 27,000 and the country today is one of the most prosperous in all of Africa.

900px-Flag_of_Seychelles.svgLocation_Seychelles_AU_Africa.svg

Table of Contents:
[01:10] Intro – sounds pretty nice tbh
[02:07] Early history – coco de mer the rudest fruit
[06:28] Discovery – Seychelles can’t get no respect
[14:00] Pierre Poivre & other French colonial hijinks

[19:54] As usual the British turn up and Seychelles surrenders many times
[26:13] Welcome to the Empire Seychelles
[29:24] Seychelles – exotic prison colony with balls, baths and Birch
[36:30] Smut(s) and WW2’s loyal aliens
[40:30] Independence – Brits start to feel bad
[45:44] Commie Coup
[53:20] Mad Mike Hoare and his bad couping
[1:00:37] Democracy, climate change and geology

[1:04:22] Food – sharks and tiny persons
[1:07:13] Economy – tourism & N. Korean… friendship
[1:37:07] Modern day

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Hindu temple (credit: Murat Dagdeler)Key Facts

  • Smallest population of any independent African state (92k) mostly on Mahé
  • 1500 km east of African mainland
  • 115 islands in archipelago spread over 1m sq km
  • Unique Geology
  • Interesting flag, looks like a combination of Hungary and Romania (/r/vexillology) – third flag since independence, adopted after end of single-party state
  • Low temp of 24 degrees, highs in the 30s…
  • Mix of granite islands (only examples and oldest islands in the World) and coral islands (very new)
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Local fishmarket (credit: Murat Dagdeler)

Music:

And now you can check out some of the main reference links for the podcast. It’s a red letter day for you and no mistake.

And here’s the coco de mer that got us all so… excited. Think you can see why.

Thanks to Rob Curran & Krista Phillips for their generous Kickstarter support. You guys are heroes.

And a massive thank you, as always to our sponsor Hairy Baby, makers of the funniest Irish-themed clothing. Remember to get a 10% discount off anything you buy on their website (www.hairybaby.com) by using our special promo code, read out during the episode. We recommend the 80 Days official tee.