In 2019, employees of Fleming by Le Bilboquet told the New York Post that they Google anyone who makes a reservation in order to make sure patrons are rich and famous. A representative of the high-end restaurant later rejected the claims as “absolutely not true”.
Former US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton looked “a bit forlorn” as she and her spouse were recently spotted having a meal with friends at Fleming by Le Bilboquet, a posh restaurant on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, the Daily Mail reports.
The newspaper published an array of exclusive photos which, in particular, showed Bill Clinton deep in conversation with Trudie Styler, the wife of prominent English rock musician Gordon Sumner, better known as Sting, during Tuesday’s dinner.
2016 Democratic presidential nominee and former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (L) arrives with her husband former President Bill Clinton for the inauguration ceremonies swearing in Donald Trump as the 45th president of the United States on the West front of the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., January 20, 2017
While the former US president apparently focused his attention on Styler, Hillary was seen “sipping her favourite white wine” with “a glum” expression on her face, according to the Daily Mail.
At one point Sting’s wife was spotted posing with her head rested on Bill’s shoulder as the group of five sat for a photo taken by a waiter. The Daily Mail cited an unnamed bystander as saying that Hillary “appeared to not want to be in the photo”.
After the group reportedly left the restaurant at 9 p.m., they were greeted by fans and well-wishers who asked the Clintons for selfies.
Despite the pair having been seen arriving at Fleming by Le Bilboquet separately, Hillary and Bill jumped into the same car to go home together, shortly after the ex-secretary of state took a selfie with a passer-by outside the restaurant.
The fling allegedly spanned a year and a half, which Clinton rejected when speaking to the Senate, before being charged with perjury and obstruction of justice. Impeached by the House on 19 December 1998, he was later acquitted after a 21-day Senate trial.
In 2022 the world’s population will pass 8 billion. It has increased by a third in just two decades. By 2050, there will be about 9.5 billion of us on the planet, according to respected demographers. This makes recent comments by Elon Musk baffling. According to him, “the low birthrate and the rapidly declining birthrate” is “one of the biggest risks to civilisation”.
Fertility rates in Europe, North America and east Asia are generally below 2.1 births per woman, the level at which populations remain stable at constant mortality rates. The trajectory in some countries is particularly arresting. The birthrate in Italy is the lowest it has ever been in the country’s history. South Korea’s fertility rate has been stuck below one birth per woman for decades despite an estimated $120bn (£90bn) being spent on initiatives aimed at raising it. Japan started the century with 128 million citizens but is on course to have only 106 million by 2050. China’s population will peak at 1.45 billion in 2030, but if it proves unable to raise its fertility rate, the world’s most populous country could end the century with fewer than 600 million inhabitants. This is the “big risk” alluded to by Musk. The trouble is, his statement seems to imply that “civilisation” does not include Africa.
The populations of more than half of Africa’s 54 nations will double – or more – by 2050, the product of sustained high fertility and improving mortality rates. The continent will then be home to at least 25% of the world’s population, compared with less than 10% in 1950. Expansion on this scale is unprecedented: whereas the population of Asia will have multiplied by a factor of four in this timeframe, Africa’s will have risen tenfold. “Chronic youthfulness”, as demographer Richard Cincotta has termed it, is the result: 40% of all Africans are children under the age of 14 and in most African countries the median age is below 20.
African mothers will have about 450 million children in the 2020s. This is projected to rise to more than 550 million in the 2040s, about 40% of all children born worldwide in that decade. Overall, low or rapidly declining birthrates remain the exception rather than the rule in most of Africa. Globally, the number of births are at their highest level ever – 140 million a year – and are unlikely to fall by much in the course of the next two to three decades.
That is some bow wave underpinning future population growth, for good or ill (or both). With continuing high fertility in east, west and central Africa, the continent will contribute 1.3 billion of the 2 billion increase in the global population between 2019 and 2050. By then, the populations of east and west Africa will each exceed that of Europe. Thereafter, Africa’s varied demography will be one of the principal determinants of whether the global population will peak in the second half of the 21st century or continue growing, a vexed and contested issue with added significance in the age of the climate crisis.
Elon Musk’s population implosion narrative is not original. It echoes that of Dr HB McKlveen, warning of the “depopulation of civilised nations” in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 1895; and that of many western economists in the 1930s, John Maynard Keynes among them. More than 50 years after the publication of Paul Ehrlich’s bestselling The Population Bomb, explosion narratives also burst forth at regular intervals. To date, human adaptability and resilience have overcome demographic crises (such as the Black Death in the 14th century), and periodic alarmism. This is not intended to sound complacent or Panglossian, merely to caution that alarmist narratives are invariably touted for ideological or some other specific reasons. Beyond two or three decades, demographic futurology is fraught with pitfalls, although not nearly as hazardous as medium- and long-term economic or weather forecasting.
The omission of African demography from Musk’s pronouncement is symptomatic of colossal shortcomings in the understanding of Africa and its constituent countries in the west. African delegations are bit-part players at global gatherings like Cop26, despite the ramifications of the climate crisis for the continent (and its potential for countering deleterious effects). Western governments have been slow to cooperate with African counterparts in the battle to contain Covid-19, and have done woefully little by way of assistance. Africa remains fundamentally marginalised, including in stereotypical depictions in most western media and the imaginations of most western citizens. This lamentable state of affairs cannot – will not – endure.
Sheer weight of numbers must bring about a reimagining of African countries and their populations. This alone will impact geopolitics, global trade, technological development, the future of the world’s dominant religions, patterns of migration – almost every aspect of life. More widespread familiarity with the continent’s diverse demographic characteristics and trajectories is a good entry point to this reimagining. Oh, and it might also help to be ever-cognisant of the fact that the landmasses of China, the US, Europe, India and Japan can all fit inside this continent that will loom ever-larger in the lives of its neighbours and the world.
The EU should start paying out its €72bn fund for helping poor households shift to green energy in 2024, instead of 2025 as previously planned, according to a European Parliament proposal seen by Reuters. “The green transition should be feasible for everyone,” Dutch centre-right MEP Esther de Lange said. “The fund should not be used to buy Teslas …. but rather small- and medium-sizes cars for everyday families,” she added.
Like many young Zimbabweans before and since, Tinashe Nyamudoka left the economic chaos of his country to find work and a better life for himself in neighbouring South Africa.
When he left in 2008, Nyamudokahad never tasted wine. Now, he ranks among southern Africa’s top sommeliers and has his own wine label with international sales.
“We have a lot going against us as Zimbabweans, and you might think there is nothing good coming out of the country,” says the 36-year-old. “So, for me to be recognised as the [top] sommeliers in the world, being African and Zimbabwean, instils a sense of hope and pride.”
Nyamudoka began his career as a waiter in a Cape Town restaurant, where he learned about the different varieties and tastes of the wines his customers drank. He moved on to become a hotel wine waiter, working alongside some of the city’s leading sommeliers.
After studying his trade, he won the best wine steward award in a competition for luxury hotels in the Western Cape in 2013.
His talents received international attention when, in 2017, he and three other Zimbabwean sommeliers were selected to take part in the World Blind Tasting Championship in France. The team was the first from Zimbabwe to take part in the contest, in which competitors have to use just their palate to identify the variety of grape, country of origin, appellation, vintage and producer of the wines.
The Zimbabweans did not win – coming 23rd out of 24 teams – but their story became the subject of a documentary released last year, Blind Ambition, which Nyamudoka says brought him “a sense of pride”. The team returned to the competition the next year and this time came 14th – beating the UK and the US teams.
His wine label, Kumusha – “home” or “roots” in Zimbabwe’s Shona language – has benefited from his celebrity, producing 200,000 bottles a year, up from 1,200 when it was launched four years ago. “People started embracing it,” he says.
“I conceptualised it [the label] around 2014,” he adds. “Xenophobia was hitting home [in South Africa] and we were all missing kumusha.”
The eight Kumusha wines – three reds, four whites and a rosé – are all produced in South Africa. They are sold in the US, the Netherlands, Kenya and Zimbabwe – “my exciting market”, he says. This month, he is starting to export his wines to the UK.
“I started this brand from scratch with no aid or financial handouts. It has been pure grit, passion and dedication,” he says. “I want people to understand that you can make it without prejudice.”
But Nyamudoka says he has encountered racism on his way to the top of a white-dominated industry.
“There are instances where you get to a tasting, and it is all white [people], you kind of feel out of place. At work, you cannot get the position you want because you are black. It comes in different forms. It is not obvious, it is much more subtle,” he says.
“When I was in my last days on the floor [in a restaurant], people would recognise your talent, but they would not give you your flowers [recognition] because you are not like them. It is like you must work twice as hard to prove yourself. It is always going to be there, I suppose.”
Nyamudoka, who sits on the board of the recently established Sommeliers Association of Zimbabwe, hopes that his achievements will encourage other Zimbabweans to enter the wine industry.
“There’s been an emergence of black sommeliers in the world as the industry becomes more diverse. We see the hospitality offering in Zimbabwe improving and there will be a need for sommeliers.”
A fellow sommelier, Takura Makadzange, agrees. Also from Harare, Makdazange, 38, trained in Australia, working his way up from hotel porter to restaurant owner. Now, he is back in Zimbabwe.
“I came back home because there are plenty of opportunities. There is plenty of space in hospitality. Recently there has been more of an explosion in the food and drink sector in Zimbabwe, especially speciality wines that are being made now.
“The industry has grown, the fish industry has grown and we can have access to wildlife and game meat. Promoting the local food and beverage industry is a no-brainer. We have something that no one else does. National pride is important but also we have beautiful products,” he says.
Makadzange qualified for last month’s Ubuntu Sommelier Trophy in South Africa, but had to withdraw when he caught Covid-19.
“There are instances where a less-qualified white person is trusted with looking after the wine list over any person of colour, but you have to keep moving,” he says.
“It is very unusual for a Zimbabwean to do well in this field. We want to continue that trajectory.
“I think it’s time we have more women sommeliers from Zimbabwe so, hopefully, I will train someone to get to the standard of competing.”