Africa's silence on Libya
For years the rest of Africa has treated Colonel Muammar Gaddafi like an embarrassing uncle - the sort who arrives for Christmas lunch five hours late and insists on rambling through a long-winded speech, but then makes up for it all by tucking a £50 note into your top pocket, or paying off your mortgage.
It's that combination of embarrassment and generosity - with a heavy emphasis on the latter - which must surely explain the continent's abject silence regarding events in Libya and the fate of its "king of kings". Plus, in some of the more opulent state houses, a "there-but-for-the-grace-of-God-go-I" reticence.
The African Union - chaired until recently by Col Gaddafi himself - waited on the sidelines for days before daintily suggesting "dialogue and consultation", while South Africa's government left it to the governing African National Congress (ANC) to deplore "the unprecedented deaths". Only gallant little Botswana has come out swinging.
The details of much of Libya's south-bound generosity are shrouded in secrecy. "Lots of dollars, MIGs, aircraft servicing, cheap oil and training," was how a well-connected source in Harare described the nature of the colonel's long-standing support for President Robert Mugabe.
How many other sub-Saharan states can claim the same relationship? In return, it seems, some African countries may have allowed - or perhaps even deployed - mercenaries to help out in Tripoli.
I'm always a little wary of the "foreign sniper" rumours that crop up in almost every conflict - in Chechnya there was endless talk about Baltic death squads.
But this time the reports seem more credible.
So - where are these mercenaries from? Kenya? Sudan? Niger? Zimbabwe? Chad? And if Col Gaddafi runs out of options, how many African soldiers will ever make it home?