It’s time to take stock and,
if necessary, make some hard decisions for the better

Take stock and make some decisions for 2021
New Selander Bridge Construction Project in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania

What a year. As 2020 draws to a close, I wanted to reach out with a personal message, and a bit of a pep-talk. I think we could all do with one.

I am grateful for many things in life:

  1. My wonderful wife and children. Life with me is not plain and simple, or of the cookie-cutter variety. That they were willing to pick up and leave for Africa back in September at short notice is something I’m very thankful for. Our time here so far, in Tanzania and Kenya, has been amazing. We asked our older daughter (5 ½) yesterday if she wanted to go back and visit her friends and classmates in Bali early next year. She said no. She wants to stay here.
  2. The professional network of business partners, colleagues, employees, service providers, contacts, and clients I’ve built up over the years, many of whom have become friends. Without a savvy, well-informed network of high-quality people with integrity who are willing to offer help, advice and problem-solving solutions, I couldn’t do what I do.
  3. My former bosses and mentors who imbued in me a knowledge and willingness to challenge the orthodoxy, showing that it is possible to run a highly successful international business from anywhere, while living a life true to yourself and on your own terms. In 2020 this got way more complicated as the overreaching power of bureaucrats, politicians and regulators, as well as the global elites who pull the strings with their lobbyists and bribes, hit a whole new level. Perhaps more than at any time in history, they have heavily restricted our basic freedoms, including where we can go, and who we can associate or spend time with.
  4. My far-flung family and relatives who are in countries such as Australia which, thanks to draconian quarantine measures and border controls, has become a place I cannot even visit any more, let alone contemplate living in, for understanding that I see the world in a very different way to most. The same goes for my friends in Hong Kong.
  5. My readers and investment clients for listening to what I have to say, and often agreeing with it – so much so that they are willing to follow my advice and even put me in charge of part of their financial destiny. You allow me to do what I love doing. So, I offer a BIG thank you for that.
  6. The broad and varied education I’ve had, the networks I’ve built, and the skill-set I’ve developed to be able to make a living from almost anywhere, and cope with whatever the world dishes up. Personal resilience is extremely important.

As you reflect on 2020 yourself, I’m sure a mixed well of emotions apply. I know that’s the case for me. Anger, despair and uneasiness at what is going on in the world are all present. But not fear. Fear is counter-productive. You are no longer a vulnerable hominoid living on the African savannah or a primitive caveman in Europe at the mercy of your surroundings.

If you are reading this, you have knowledge, skills and tools at your disposal to change your circumstances.

As I wrote earlier in the year…

If you find your current situation uncomfortable, uncertain
or unacceptable, the time to do something about it is now

You may never get such set of circumstances again. If ever there was a year when doing radical, formerly unheard of or unthought of things suddenly became not only possible, but acceptable and advisable, it was 2020.

Seize that opportunity. Make a change. Sticking with the status quo out of fear, or inertia, frozen by indecision in the face of all the uncertainty in the world is not going to lead to any improvement.

I can’t stress this enough. Things are not going back to “normal” … whatever that means.

This is not some passing phase. If and when the pandemic fades into the rearview mirror, the world is not suddenly going to revert to the way it was in 2019.

Innumerable times during this crisis, the powerful, and the wealthy, who make the rules for the rest of us, have moved the goalposts to suit their evolving agenda. Shockingly, even the medical definitions of things such as “herd immunity” are being altered. Don’t believe me? Check the evidence straight from the WHO website.

Saving lives, “flattening the curve,” and getting over the worst of the onslaught of the strange pneumonia-like virus that allegedly emerged from Wuhan in the early stages, as best we could, seems to have been replaced in many countries, by moves to test, and trace everyone, and where necessary shut entire cities down, throw up internal borders, and ignore all other cost-benefit analyses in a zealous drive to eradicate Covid-19.

To me, it makes no sense. Especially when, by the WHO and Center for Disease Prevention’s own admissions, for most people, influenza, aka “the flu” is a far more discomforting illness.

COVID 19 vs Cold and Flu symptom chart

Already it’s clear that the vaccines that have been rushed to market are not going to stop governments requiring mandatory Covid-19 tests and quarantining. The vaccines have only been tested and shown to reduce symptoms. Whether they actually prevent infection or stop potential carriers from being able to spread the virus to others is unknown. The clinical trials were not even designed to test this!

In fact, according to one former Professor at Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health writing in Forbes Magazine the trials were “designed to succeed.”

Unfortunately, as individuals there is not much we can do about any of this. We just need to cop it on the chin. Then, as I am fond of saying …

Worry about what you CAN control

For most of us, that means our choice of place to live (both the country, and where specifically within the country), what job to do, or business to be in, as well as whom or what to rely on for information and support, among other things.

Unless you’re in the lucky minority for whom the status quo is just fine (and I readily acknowledge there are some people who are this fortunate), the best Christmas present you can give yourself is to reflect on your own personal situation. See if there aren’t some adjustments you can make, which might make sense, in order to help improve your physical, mental and financial well-being.

For those who don’t know already, the other business I have been involved in, and a part-owner of, for the better part of a decade, Sovereign Man offers a wealth of practical and actionable information and advice about what you can do to take back more control over your life. You may want to check it out.

As far as your investments and financial well-being are concerned, I’m happy to be here to offer opinions and guidance via Global Value Hunter.

African Lions Fund is also off to a great start. It is up over 10% since inception and was the third-best performing fund for November in the entire African investment fund universe tracked by Africa Global Funds. December is looking strong so far, as well.

As to what 2021 holds, it’s impossible to know. Things are fluid and changing very fast.

News of:

  • “mutated” strains of the Coronavirus,
  • bans on flights from South Africa and the UK in dozens of countries,
  • stricter quarantine control measures in many places, including Hong Kong
  • renewed internal border closures between states in Australia, where tens of thousands of people have had their holiday plans thrown into last-minute disarray…

and so on and so forth, are to be expected now.

To be “shocked” or outraged is, by now, as far as I am concerned, the same as being ignorant of what’s going on in the world.

We need to learn to live with the virus. But more importantly we need to learn to live with the REACTION by governments and policymakers to the virus.

Just as 19+ years on from 9/11 we still submit to body scans, taking our shoes off, and (the one that gets me every time) tests for traces of explosives on our clothes or luggage, we will be submitting to all the new coronavirus tests and tracing mechanisms, and control measures and vaccines for decades to come.

That is, unless there is a sufficiently large backlash, from enough people all over the world to say enough is enough and cause a genuine revolution.

While I’d like to think that were possible, I don’t see it. From my observation, 75%+ of the population nowadays seems just fine to have their remaining, limited freedoms eroded further and further by rules, regulations, and government controls over and interference in every aspect of their lives.

While you can’t ever get away from it, you can make choices as to what rules and regulations you’re prepared to live with by making the necessary changes in your life. That realization, if nothing else, is what I hope you might take away from this column.

If you’ve been following me for a while now, especially on my Telegram channel, you know I practice what I preach. Just before the launch of the African Lions Fund, I decided to take a leap of faith, packed our bags and flew to Tanzania (back to where I was born). In this part of the world, the effects of this pandemic are mild compared to other parts of the world. Had I stayed in Bali, once one of the most sought-after places to live on earth, I would be stuck in my villa with all the comforts but no freedom to travel out (or in again).

Next time, I promise, I’ll get back to my core beat – finding overlooked, unloved, and undervalued investment opportunities here in Africa, or elsewhere around the world. But I feel strongly that we should all use the holiday period to take stock and reflect on things.

Right now, I’m in Nairobi Kenya, where I’ll be doing my best to celebrate a traditional Danish Christmas on Christmas Eve with my wife and daughters.

Enjoy the holidays.

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year,

Tim

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