“The court seems to buy into the concept that there are exactly two genders, and that there’s a bright line dividing them: If Caster Semenya has 4.99 nanomoles of testosterone per liter, the “integrity of female athletics” will be preserved, but at 5.01, it won’t.So, if you were forced to submit to a testosterone test, would you bet your livelihood and your identity on the hope that your measurements would turn up on the correct side of the line? If they didn’t, would you alter your identity based on this new data — or might you argue that your personhood was more than a number? Most women have never been forced to submit to such a test; most of us are quite sure we know who we are without one.How should athletes who are born with hormonal differences be allowed to participate in the world?
If a higher-than-normal level of testosterone makes someone excel in certain pursuits, do we then dictate that they have to stay away from those pursuits — that they can only do things they suck at?”
OUR COMMON GROUND with Janice Graham
Teaching a New Peace in Africa and Hoping to Change a Nation
Guest: Anti-Violence EducatorActivist Carmen del Rosario
Founder, Roots of Transformation
Saturday, March 29, 2014 10 pm ET
Web location: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/OCG
Call In – Listen Line: 347-838-9852
“When I dare to be powerful– to use my strength in service of my vision, then it becomes less and less important whether I am afraid” – Audre Lorde
Carmen is a highly driven and motivated, partnership, and programme management professional with over 20 years of professional experience working in the field of violence against women and children with government and development organizations, community networks and institutions in the US, El Salvador, Rwanda, Burundi, Dominican Republic, Tanzania, Congo (RDC) and Liberia
Ms. Carmen Del Rosario served as the Director of the Boston Public Health Commission’s Domestic Violence Program for 10 years. Del Rosario was a pioneer in developing strategies to engage boys and men in positive ways to prevent violence and to promote healthy relationships. In the year 2000, under her leadership, de Domestic Violence Program received funding from the CDC to develop , implement and evaluate a five years demonstration project working with men as fathers.
Over the past eight years Carmen has been working in East Africa, (Tanzania) Central Africa (Eastern Congo) and West Africa (Liberia), developing, coordinating and implementing programs to respond to survivors of Gender Based Violence (GBV), Women’s Empowerment Program as well as prevention initiatives with men from different background; these include, refugees’ men, religious leaders, traditional leaders, the police, and the UN peacekeepers. Carmen has developed intervention and prevention programs providing technical support to capacity development of the implementing partners in partnership with government, UNHCR, WFP, UNICEF and INGO.
Roots of Transformation, is a non-government grassroots organization working toward the prevention of VAWC by catalyzing changes in communities and by supporting organizational sustainability. The organization works to prevent violence by addressing its roots causes, such as traditional gender roles, and the imbalance of power between women and men.
Roots of Transformation is committed to equipping people with the knowledge, wisdom and tools needed to make decisions that will positively impact their futures, the future of their family and their nation.
BROADCASTING BOLD BRAVE BLACK
OUR COMMON GROUND with Janice Graham
“Speaking Truth to Power and Ourselves”
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“Speaking Truth to Power and Ourselves”
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“Speaking Truth to Power and Our selves”
OUR COMMON GROUND with Janice Graham
2014 Black History Month
The Gullah Geechee Nation
OUR GUEST: Queen Quet Marquetta L. Goodwine
Head-of-State for the Gullah/Geechee Nation
Saturday, February 1, 2014
10 pm ET LIVE
ABOUT the GULLAH/GEECHEE NATION
The Gullah/Geechee Nation exist from Jacksonville, NC to Jacksonville, FL. It encompasses all of the Sea Islands and thirty to thirty-five miles inland to the St. John’s River. On these islands, people from numerous African ethnic groups linked with indigenous Americans and created the unique Gullah language and traditions from which later came “Geechee.” The Gullah/Geechee people have been considered “a nation within a nation” from the time of chattel enslavement in the United States until they officially became an internationally recognized nation on July 2, 2000. At the time of their declaration as a nation, they confirmed the election of their first “head pun de boddee”-head of state and official spokesperson and queen mother. They elected Queen Quet, Chieftess and Head-of-State for the Gullah/Geechee Gullah Nation.
ABOUT QUEEN QUET MARQUETTA L. GOODWINE
Queen Quet Marquetta L. Goodwine is a published author, computer scientist, lecturer, mathematician, historian, columnist, preservationist, environmental justice advocate, environmentalist, film consultant, and “The Art-ivist.” She is the founder of the premiere advocacy organization for the continuation of Gullah/Geechee culture, the Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition. Queen Quet has not only provided “histo-musical presentations” throughout the world, but was also the first Gullah/Geechee person to speak on behalf of her people before the United Nations in Genevé, Switzerland.
Queen Quet was one of the first of seven inductees to the Gullah/Geechee Nation Hall of Fame. She received the “Anointed Spirit Award” for her leadership and for being a visionary. In 2008, she was recorded at UNESCO Headquarters in Paris, France at a United Nations Conference in order to have the human rights story of the Gullah/Geechee people archived for the United Nations. In 2009, she was invited by the Office of the High Commissioner of the United Nations to come and present before the newly founded “Minority Forum” as a representative of the Gullah/Geechee Nation and the International Human Rights Association for American Minorities (IHRAAM) which is an NGO in consultative status with the United Nations. Queen Quet is a directorate member for IHRAAM and for the International Commission on Human Rights. She represented these bodies and the Gullah/Geechee Nation at the “United Nations Forum on Minority Rights.”
Due to Queen Quet advancing the idea of keeping the Gullah/Geechee culture alive, the Gullah/Geechee Sea Island Coalition under the leadership of Queen Quet, worked with Congressman James Clyburn to insure that the United States Congress would work to assist the Gullah/Geechees. Queen Quet then acted as the community leader to work with the United States National Park Service to conduct several meetings throughout the Gullah/Geechee Nation for the “Special Resource Study of Lowcountry Gullah Culture.” Due to the fact that Gullah/Geechees worked to become recognized as one people, Queen Quet wanted to insure that the future congressional act would reflect this in its name and form. As a result in 2006 the “Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Act” was passed by the United States Congress and signed into law by the president.
Queen Quet is vetted with the United States White House as an Expert Commissioner in the Department of the Interior. She is also the Chair of the Gullah/Geechee Cultural Heritage Corridor General Management Plan which is being completed by a commission created by the act for there to be a “Gullah/Geechee National Heritage Corridor.” Queen Quet is also a member of the “National Park Relevancy Committee” and proudly continues to work to protect the environment and to insure that diverse groups of people engage in the outdoors and the policies governing them. Queen Quet has engaged in several White House conferences on this issue.
To preserve, protect, and promote our history, culture, language, and homeland and to institute and demand official recognition of the governance (minority) rights necessary to accomplish our mission to take care of our community through collective efforts which will provide a healthy environment, care for the well beings of each person, and economic empowerment.
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“Speaking Truth to Power and Ourselves”
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Nelson Mandela State Funeral Update: Statement By Minister Chabane On Behalf Of The Inter-Ministerial Committee For The State Funeral
8 December 2013
Fellow South Africans,
Ladies and gentlemen of the media,
Welcome to this latest update on the preparations for the State Funeral for our beloved President.
We are pleased to have with us:
- The Minister of International Relations and Cooperation, Ms Maite Nkoana-Mashabane;
- The Minister of Transport, Ms Dipuo Peters;
- The Executive Mayor of the City of Joburg, Mr Parks Tau,
- and representatives of the City of Tshwane.
These leaders are here to provide closer details of some of the logistics in and around the two cities, as well as South Africa’s hosting of the large number of international dignitaries who have begun to arrive.
We will in this briefing provide more information on some of the arrangements on which we reported yesterday.
But we do again want to start by thanking people around the country and the world for their warm and generous responses in the wake of the passing of our beloved President Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela.
These demonstrations of love and affection will go a long way to entrenching our memories of Madiba and in shaping the way we live and work with one another as human beings in this country and beyond.
What we have seen over the past few days reflects the true spirit of South Africa as a place where people of all backgrounds are working together to create a non-racial, non-sexist, prosperous society. These efforts are creating the hope that we will achieve even greater things than we have during the first 20 Years of Freedom.
I now want to turn to the update on the programme over the next few hours and days.
1. DAY OF PRAYER AND REFLECTION: TODAY, SUNDAY, DECEMBER 8 2013
Government has been heartened by the positive response of various communities of faith and other civil society formations to President Jacob Zuma’s call for today to be observed as a day of prayer and reflection.
We are aware that a large number of events are being held in South Africa and abroad today, giving people an opportunity to come together in fellowship and reflection.
We hope these events will bring comfort and healing to congregants and participants, and that it will inspire all of humanity to ensure that Madiba’s values live on in our hearts and in our actions.
As these events take place, government agencies will be hard at work making preparations for the rest of the week’s official programme.
2. INTERNATIONAL ARRIVALS
From today we will see the arrival of a large contingent of Heads of State and Government and a broad range of eminent persons, including royalty.
The fact that international leaders are making their way to South Africa at such short notice, reflects the special place President Mandela holds in the hearts of people around the globe.
We are touched by the fact that many countries have declared periods of mourning, ordered that flags be flown at half-mast and draped or lit landmarks in the colours of the South African flag. We truly appreciate these gestures.
We appreciate the willingness showed by a broad range of eminent persons to come to South Africa to join us personally at this time of mourning, reflection and celebration of Nelson Mandela’s life and legacy.
To date, 13 African states have confirmed attendance, in addition to 15 from outside the continent.
International and regional organisations from the United Nations and European Commission to the African Union, for example, have also confirmed attendance.
Eleven (11) Eminent Persons will also be in South Africa during this period.
From the United States, President and Mrs Obama will be accompanied by three former Presidents – Carter, Bush (George W), Clinton and their spouses, and 26 Congressmen.
The Brazilian President, Ms Dilma Rousseff, will be accompanied by four former Heads of State: Presidents Sarney, Melo, Cardoso and Lula da Silva.
We expect more confirmations, and we wish to reiterate that our international guests are most welcome as they join us at this difficult time.
3. OFFICIAL MEMORIAL SERVICE: FNB STADIUM, JOHANNESBURG
The Official Memorial Service at FNB Stadium, Johannesburg, on Tuesday, December 10. The event will begin formally at 11am. Gates will open at 6am.
This is an international event that will be attended by members of the public alongside national and international leaders.
The President of the Republic of South Africa will address the official memorial service.
The programme will also include tributes by Heads of State from the various regions of the globe, the continent and representatives of international and regional organisations. Eminent persons will also address the gathering.
As we invite people to participate in this event, we must make the additional point that the body of President Mandela will not be in position at the Official Memorial Service. President Mandela will lie in state at the Union Buildings only from Wednesday, December 11 to 13 December 2013.
Our advice is that people outside Gauteng come together in their own provinces to ensure that this is a truly nationwide event, and that people take advantage of the fact that all key events are being broadcast live.
Provincial and local authorities have been requested to arrange transport for mourners from various parts of the country to FNB Stadium and the overflow venues at Ellis Park Stadium, Orlando Stadium and Dobsonville Stadium.
Big screens will be installed at the overflow venues to allow members of the public to follow proceedings at FNB Stadium in the company of compatriots.
While these venues offer extensive seating, people must accept that at some stage this capacity will be filled and police and other authorities will turn people away.
We call on people to cooperate and demonstrate patience and dignity if they were to be turned away.
Government is doing all it can to allow as many people as possible to be part of these official events, but there are limits to how many people we can reasonably accommodate.
Members of the public who want to attend the National Memorial Service at FNB or other stadiums must plan their trips carefully, leave early and use public transport. No cars will be allowed in the vicinity of FNB Stadium.
ROAD CLOSURES, PUBLIC TRANSPORT AND PARK AND RIDE
- There will be road closures around FNB Stadium and no cars will be allowed at the stadium. Some of the road closures have already been listed on various government websites, including http://www.mandela.gov.za.
- There will also be road closures on Tuesday morning around Orlando, Ellis Park and Dobsonville stadiums.
- Mourners to FNB Stadium can travel by Metrorail from all major stations in Gauteng.
- They will also be able to travel by Gautrain to Park Station and transfer to Metrorail to FNB Stadium.
- People will also be able to walk from the surrounding areas to the stadium, and
- A special Rea Vaya service will also be in operation.
- The City of Joburg has a number of Park and Ride sites for FNB Stadium, Ellis Park and Orlando Stadium. Members of the public must watch the media, visit websites and follow broadcast media for details.
The City of Joburg has also established Mourning Sites at various locations but the City will provide more details in its own briefing here shortly.
4. PUBLIC VIEWING AREAS FOR REGIONAL MEMORIAL EVENTS AROUND THE COUNTRY
We must emphasise that also on Tuesday, provincial authorities will be hosting various events around the country where people are invited to come together to view the national event at FNB Stadium on big screens.
These public viewing areas, which are normally activated during national events such as the State of the Nation Address, will be similar to the “fan parks” that were in place during the 2010 FIFA World Cup.
Around 90 big screens will be set up by Government Communications (GCIS) and partners in all provinces.
We expect this number will increase as provincial plans are consolidated later this afternoon.
Some of the big screens will be live from Tuesday 10 December to Monday 16 December, which is Day of Reconciliation.
On the Day of Reconciliation, we will unveil a statue of President Mandela at the Union Buildings and observe the 100th anniversary of the Union Buildings as the seat of government.
Throughout this period, people will also be able to express their emotions and reflections in books of condolence that have been posted at various government offices around the country and our diplomatic missions abroad.
Details of the sites where books of condolence have been opened have been posted on the government memorial website, http://www.mandela.gov.za.
Details of the public viewing areas for Tuesday’s provincial events will be posted on government websites and social media later today, Sunday.
5. LYING IN STATE: WEDNESDAY TO FRIDAY, DECEMBER 11 TO 13, 2013
The procession will leave 1 Military Hospital at 7am daily and President Mandela’s body will be on view from 8am.
On Wednesday December 11, the Mandela family and VVIPs will view the body from 10am.
Members of the public will file past the body from 12h00 to 17h30.
On Thursday and Friday December 12 and 13, the public will have access to casket from 8am to 5.30pm.
We also appeal to people to work with the various agencies of government who will manage this route so that this daily event will be dignified and secure.
Two sites in Pretoria will be used as points from which mourners will be shuttled to the Union Buildings and back. No other access will be possible. Mourners are also advised that cellphones will need to be off and out of sight as mourners file past the body.
Government reiterates its appeal for members of the public to line the memorial route each morning to form a public guard of honour. The public guard of honour will not apply in the evening.
STATE FUNERAL, QUNU
More information will be released in the coming days about arrangements for the laying to rest of President Mandela at Qunu in the Eastern Cape.
However, it is worth noting that South African Airways will operate a special air transport service to ferry mourners who will attend the funeral of world icon and former president Nelson Mandela in the Eastern Cape.
This special service – for which travellers will pay – will cater for mourners who will attend the funeral and the service will also be available on the return leg of their travel.
The special service does not replace and will not disrupt SAA’s existing daily operations to the Eastern Cape – except that airspace will be restricted around Mthatha.
Information about the readiness of the Airports Company of South Africa to manage passengers and aircraft during this period has been compiled into a factsheet. This factsheet is available on the official government memorial website, http://www.mandela.gov.za.
The Reactionary Nature of Black Politics
What has caused Black people, after almost 400 years in North America, and after 150 years of emancipation from slavery, to be mired in a social condition that is becoming more debilitating by the day? One need not sound off the various statistics available illustrating the evisceration of whatever illusory semblance of progress Blacks have made, particularly since the post movement era after the 1960s.
Contrary to the inclinations of racists and many self-hating Blacks to deem this failure as some innate shortcoming in the Black American psyche, the social and political condition of Black America is a direct consequence of the level of political sophistication and sheer brutality of the tactics that have been used to deny them clarity of vision and planning as a means of rectifying this pervasive cavern they have found themselves in for generations.
The main vehicle allowing this constant social and political demobilization of the Black community stems from the problematic reality that Black politics has traditionally been grounded in a purely reactionary response to the phenomenon of racism — particularly without a clear understanding of the purpose of racism in its application to Blacks.
This stems from a failure to understand basic key aspects of the relationship of Blacks to America and racism, mostly because the sheer terror used under the guise of racism to maintain the prevailing order has been so atrocious that the political focus by Blacks has been to concentrate on that terror and attempts to neutralize it without truly addressing its root cause.
From the beginning, Europeans did not bring Africans to the Americas because they were racist. They brought Africans to the Americas to expropriate labor from them as workers in an economic system that denied compensation for that labor to maximize return on investment for the presence of those Africans. The function of Black people in America was an innately economic one from the start rooted in a politics that was based on protecting the sanctity of that economic relationship. All the terror and brutality used to maintain that system was purely ancillary to the goal of protecting that economic system of exploiting free Black labor. Yet many Blacks, even educated ones, will say that Europeans brought Africans to the Americas because of racism and White Supremacy. Racism is merely the rationale and tactic used to justify that exploitative economic relationship, and White Supremacy is the subsequent accrued benefit of the successful maintenance of that relationship — in varying degrees — over time.
A perfect example of how these realities are confused can easily be shown by attempting to ascertain from most people what the actual purpose and function of Jim Crow Segregation, which started with the consummation of Plessy v. Ferguson in 1896, and lasted to the end of the Civil Rights Era in 1968, actually was. Many would say things like: keeping Blacks subjugated, or denying blacks the ability to compete with Whites, or racism/White Supremacy, or fear of Black male sexual potency via White women. In reality, Jim Crow was a purely intentional reaction by White Southern agricultural interests meshed with Northern industrialists to combat the rising political and economic militancy and mutual co-operation of Blacks and poor Whites during the progressive era of the 1890s with the combined efforts of the Farmer’s Alliance and the Colored Farmers Alliance in order to maintain economic hegemony and cheap exploited labor for capitalist interests in the South, primarily Agricultural but also industrial, with the slow but new development of Southern industrialization. Jim Crow was rooted in economic control, not simply racism and brutality. Those were the tools used to keep the system intact.
Moreover, few people will admit that the main reason for the collapse of Jim Crow starting in the 1930s, and expanding rapidly into the post World War II era, had more to do with three key factors as opposed to the romanticized notions of how the valiant fight of the ancestors during the Civil Rights Movement brought us freedom: First, the new methods of mechanized agricultural farming technology started to make the need for Black farm labor in the South obsolete. Hence, the need for the disenfranchisement and related oppression became more about form rather than substance; second, the rise of Hitler and Nazism made the notion of race-based exclusion in the United Stated unpalatable, particularly in the face of Hitler’s anti-semitism; thirdly, the Cold War era and the fear of American racism being an obstacle to the competitive advantage over the Soviet Union in winning the hearts and minds of the newly independent Black, Brown, and Yellow third world would rapidly assure desegregation and ending Jim Crow being an American primary domestic agenda.
As African American political science professor Adolph Reed, Jr. states in his essay “The Color Line Then and Now,” found in the anthology, Renewing Black Intellectual History, when discussing some of the egalitarian social science and legal strategies to end Jim Crow:
This intellectual enterprise was no more responsible for defeating early-twentieth-century race theory than Charles Hamilton Houston’s and Thurgood Marshall’s legal arguments were for defeating codified racial segregation, probably much less so. Factors like the leftward shift in the domestic political climate in the 1930s and 1940s, the embarrassment that Nazi extremism presented for racialist ideology, and cold war concerns with the United States’ international image were undoubtedly more important.
An excellent treatise that explains the relationship between the Cold War and the Civil Rights victories we often wrongly think were a result of these romanticized protest activities is Cold Civil Rights: Race and the Imagery of American Democracy, by professor of law and political science, Mary L. Dudziak, in which she states about Brown v. Board of Education: “According to the Justice Department, the interest of the United States in school segregation was that race discrimination harmed American foreign relations.”
This is not to diminish the efforts of the hundreds of thousands of Americans who waged moral protest to the brutal and racist treatment of our nations Black citizens. To diminish in such a fashion could have the effect of discouraging the belief in the human capacity to make social or political change. The point is to show that our desires to romanticize certain periods of history, especially dealing with African Americans, lead to a limited and pedestrian understanding of the factors that truly shape events.
In the face of the reactionary nature of Black politics, we can better understand the post Civil Rights dilemma that has plagued the Black political scene. If the illusion of racial equality is touted as one of the greatest achievements of the 20th century American democratic experiment via these Civil Rights victories, how do you create a Black politics in a post Civil Rights era when the political traditions of this group has been rooted in combating or reacting to the racism that society now forces them to accept as no more, when in fact that is not the case?
Now we understand the root of the past 45 years of increasing Black political demobilization — meaning Black politics being unable to actually achieve lasting policy that succeeds at remedying the true root of Black suffering: economic inequality.
The ultimate sign of that demobilization is the over 97 percent support of Black America for a president whose agenda is to introduce neoliberal privatization of government resources at rates never seen before that might ultimately demolish those same communities that supported him — i.e. Barack Obama.
This is why Black America is in a crisis, because Black politics is in a crisis. That crisis is a product of the place from which Black politics was born and grew. We now need a new politics, if we shall even call it Black politics, that is not rooted in reactionary response to racism, but seeks to foster cross-racial coalitions with those similarly situated to crush the barriers to economic equality while allowing Blacks to maintain social autonomy and ideological integrity in recognition of the need for nuance in neutralizing the tool of racism that has been used to distract them from the ultimate problem of economic injustice. This is the work that must be done, but the question is: Who is up to the task?
Chinua Achebe, African Literary Titan, Dies at 82
The iroko has fallen.
Chinua Achebe, a Nigerian-born novelist and poet, at home on the campus of Bard College in Annandale-on-Hudson, New York, in 2008.
By JONATHAN KANDELL
Published: March 22, 2013
Few details were immediately available.
Besides novels, Mr. Achebe’s works included powerful essays and poignant short stories and poems rooted in the countryside and cities of his native Nigeria, before and after independence from British colonial rule. His most memorable fictional characters were buffeted and bewildered by the conflicting pulls of traditional African culture and invasive Western values.
For inspiration, Mr. Achebe drew on his own family history as part of the Ibo nation of southeastern Nigeria, a people victimized by the racism of British colonial administrators and then by the brutality of military dictators from other Nigerian ethnic groups.
Mr. Achebe burst onto the world literary scene with the publication in 1958 of his first novel, “Things Fall Apart,” which sold millions of copies and was translated into 45 different languages.
Set in the Ibo countryside in the late 19th century, the novel tells the story of Okonkwo, who rises from poverty to become an affluent farmer and village leader. But with the advent of British colonial rule and cultural values, Okonkwo’s life is thrown into turmoil. In the end, unable to adapt to the new status quo, he explodes in frustration, killing an African in the employ of the British and then committing suicide.
The novel, which is also compelling for its descriptions of traditional Ibo society and rituals, went on to become a classic of world literature and was often listed as required reading in university courses in Europe and the United States.
But when it was first published, “Things Fall Apart” did not receive unanimous acclaim. Some British critics thought it idealized pre-colonial African culture at the expense of the former empire.
“An offended and highly critical English reviewer in a London Sunday paper titled her piece cleverly, I must admit Hurray to Mere Anarchy!” wrote Mr. Achebe in “Home and Exile,” a collection of autobiographical essays that appeared in 2000. A few other novels by Mr. Achebe early in his career were occasionally criticized by reviewers as being stronger on ideology than on narrative interest.
But over the years, Mr. Achebe’s stature grew until he was considered a literary and political beacon.
“In all Achebe’s writing there is an intense moral energy,” observed Kwame Anthony Appiah, professor of Afro-American studies and philosophy at Princeton, in a commentary written in 2000. “He speaks about the task of the writer in language that captures the sense of threat and loss that must have faced many Africans as empire invaded and disrupted their lives.”
In a 1998 New York Times book review, the novelist Nadine Gordimer hailed Mr. Achebe as “a novelist who makes you laugh and then catch your breath in horror — a writer who has no illusions but is not disillusioned.”
Mr. Achebe’s political thinking evolved from blaming colonial rule for Africa’s woes to frank criticism of African rulers and of citizens who tolerated their corruption and violence.
Forced abroad by Nigeria’s bloody civil war in the 1960s and then by military dictatorship in the 1980s and 1990s, Mr. Achebe had lived for many years in the United States, where he was a university professor. But he continued to believe that writers and storytellers ultimately held more power than army strongmen.
“Only the story can continue beyond the war and the warrior,” an old soothsayer observes in Mr. Achebe’s 1988 novel, “Anthills of the Savannah.” “It is the story that saves our progeny from blundering like blind beggars into the spikes of the cactus fence. The story is our escort; without it, we are blind.”
Above from the NYT
A KING HAS TRANSITIONED…LAST NIGHT IN BOSTON, MASS.
The iroko has fallen.
A Great One has passed over today.
“Things Fall Apart” tells two intertwining stories, both centering on Okonkwo, a “strong man” of an Ibo village in Nigeria. The first, a powerful fable of the immemorial conflict between the individual and society, traces Okonkwo’s fall from grace with the tribal world. The second, as modern as the first is ancient, concerns the clash of cultures and the destruction of Okonkwo’s world with the arrival of aggressive European missionaries. These perfectly harmonized twin dramas are informed by an awareness capable of encompassing at once the life of nature, human history, and the mysterious compulsions of the soul.”
Chinua Achebe (Nov 16, 1930-Mar 22, 2013).
HAVE YOU READ FROM HIS BOOKS! ONE IS “WHEN THINGS FALL APART” Comfort&Courage.
Chinua Achebe Biography
Today in History: We mourn the death of literary great and activist Prof Chinua Achebe, 82. He died in the United States where he was said to have suffered from an undisclosed ailment. He died last night in a hospital in Boston, Massachusetts, United States.
A source close to the family said the professor had been ill for a while and was hospitalized in a hospital in Boston.
Until his death, the renowned author of Things Fall Apart was the David and Marianna Fisher University Professor and Professor of Africana Studies at Brown. The University described him as “known the world over for having played a seminal role in the founding and development of African literature.”
“Achebe’s global significance lies not only in his talent and recognition as a writer, but also as a critical thinker and essayist who has written extensively on questions of the role of culture in Africa and the social and political significance of aesthetics and analysis of the postcolonial state in Africa,” Brown University writes of the literary icon.
Mr. Achebe was the author of Things Fall Apart, published in 1958, and considered the most widely read book in modern African Literature. The book sold over 12 million copies and has been translated to over 50 languages worldwide. Many of his other novels, including Arrow of God, No Longer at Ease, Anthills of the Savannah, and A man of the People, were equally influential as well.
Prof Achebe was born in Ogidi, Anambra State, on November 16, 1930 and attended St Philips’ Central School at the age of six. He moved away from his family to Nekede, four kilometres from Owerri, the capital of Imo State, at the age of 12 and registered at the Central School there. He attended Government College Umuahia for his secondary school education. He was a pioneer student of the University College, now University of Ibadan in 1948. He was first admitted to study medicine but changed to English, history and theology after his first year.
While studying at Ibadan, Mr. Achebe began to become critical of European literature about Africa. He eventually wrote his final papers in the University in 1953 and emerged with a second-class degree.
Prof Achebe taught for a while after graduation before joining the Nigeria Broadcasting Service in 1954 in Lagos. While in Lagos with the Broadcasting Service, Mr. Achebe met Christie Okoli, who later became his wife; they got married in 1961. The couple had four children. He also played a major role during the Nigeria Civil War where he joined the Biafran Government as an ambassador.
Mr. Achebe was a consistent critic of various military dictators that ruled Nigeria and was a loud voice in denouncing the failure of governance in the country. Twice, he rejected offers by the Nigerian government to grant him a national honor, citing the deplorable political situations in the country, particularly in his home state of Anambra, as reason…
This is a great loss to not only the literary world, but to humanity! His legacy will live on in his work. May he ‘ascend’ in peace!
Here’s he is on CNN’s African Voices
Dr. Tony Martin Now an Ancestor
Professor Tony Martin dies at 70
January 17, 2013
Professor Martin has written, compiled or edited 14 books including Caribbean History: From Pre-Colonial Origins to the Present (2012) published by Pearson Education; Amy Ashwood Garvey: Pan-Africanist, Feminist and Mrs. Marcus Garvey No. 1, Or, A Tale of Two Amies (2007), Literary Garveyism: Garvey, Black Arts and the Harlem Renaissance (1983), and the classic study of the Garvey Movement, Race First: the Ideological and Organizational Struggles of Marcus Garvey and the Universal Negro Improvement Association (1976).Dr. Tony Martin, former Professor Emeritus at Wellesley College, has passed over tonight, January 17th 2013 in Trinidad & Tobago at West Shore Medical Hospital. Trinidadian-born Dr. Martin taught at the University of Michigan-Flint, the Cipriani Labour College (Trinidad), and St. Mary’s College (Trinidad). He has been a visiting professor at the University of Minnesota, Brandeis University, Brown University, and The Colorado College and also spent a year as an honorary research fellow at the University of the West Indies, Trinidad.
His work on Marcus Garvey was featured on the curricula of many African studies programmes around the world and he was a well-known lecturer in many countries.
Dr. Tony Martin is Emeritus Professor of Africana Studies at Wellesley College, Massachusetts, where he taught from 1973 to 2007. Prior to coming to Wellesley, he taught at the University of Michigan-Flint, the Cipriani Labour College (Trinidad), and St. Mary’s College (Trinidad). He has been a visiting professor at the University of Minnesota, Brandeis University, Brown University, and The Colorado College. He also spent a year as an honorary research fellow at the University of the West Indies, Trinidad.
Professor Martin has authored, compiled or edited 14 books. His most recent isCaribbean History: From Pre-Colonial Origins to the Present (2012) published by Pearson Education. Earlier works include Amy Ashwood Garvey: Pan-Africanist, Feminist and Mrs. Marcus Garvey No. 1, Or, A Tale of Two Amies (2007), Literary Garveyism: Garvey, Black Arts and the Harlem Renaissance (1983), and the classic study of the Garvey Movement, Race First: the Ideological and Organizational Struggles of Marcus Garvey and the Universal Negro Improvement Association (1976).
Martin qualified as a barrister-at-law at the Honourable Society of Gray’s Inn (London) in 1965, did a B.Sc. honours degree in economics at the University of Hull (England), and the M.A. and Ph.D. in history at Michigan State University.
Martin’s articles and reviews have appeared in such journals as the Journal of Negro History; Journal of African American History; American Historical Review; African Studies Review; Washington Post Book World; Journal of Caribbean History; Journal of American History; Black Books Bulletin; Jamaica Journal; Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East; and many others.
His writings can be found in several reference works and encyclopedias, including the UNESCO General History of the Caribbean; the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography; American National Biography; the Encyclopedia of African American Business History; International Encyclopedia of the Social Sciences; and Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance. He has received numerous academic and community awards, including a grant from the American Philosophical Society. He has reviewed articles and programs for scholarly journals, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Austrian Science Fund. His biographical listings can be found in Who’s Who in America; Who’s Who in the World; Who’s Who Among America’s Teachers; Personalities Caribbean; Who’s Who Among African Americans; and elsewhere. He has been a reviewer and consultant for publishers and has served as an expert witness for Congressional hearings.
Martin is well known as a lecturer in many countries. He has spoken to university and general audiences all over the United States, Canada, the Caribbean, and England, as well as in Africa, Australia, Bermuda, and South America. In 1990 he delivered the annual DuBois/Padmore/Nkrumah Pan-African lectures in Ghana. In 2004 he was one of the principal speakers at the First Conference of Intellectuals of Africa and the Diaspora, which was sponsored by the African Union in Senegal.
Dr. Martin became an OUR COMMON GROUND Voice in 1989. His voice is deep and important. We are proud of his association and support of our programming. We expect that he will be an ancestral guide to our mission.
Theogene Rudasingwa, a Tutsi who was appointed Rwanda’s ambassador to Washington after serving as an officer in Kagame’s army, puts it bluntly: “If you differ strongly with Kagame and make your views known from the inside, you will be made to pay the price, and very often that price is your life.”
Rudasingwa, who now lives in exile in the United States, describes Kagame as an extreme control freak who has concentrated power in the hands of a select group of Tutsis who, like Kagame himself, returned to Rwanda from years of exile in Uganda after the genocide.
“When you look at the structure of key parts of government, leadership is occupied almost entirely by Tutsis from the outside, and this is especially true in the military,” Rudasingwa says. “As for the Hutus, they are completely marginalized, and things [for them] have never been as bad as they are today. Almost the entire Hutu elite that was built up since 1959 is either outside the country or dead. They are marginalized and banished, forced into exile when they haven’t simply been killed.”
Kagame tightly controls the country and its citizens through the Tutsi- dominated Army and the Rwandan Patriotic Front, the country’s dominant political party. Throughout Rwanda—in every town and tiny village—the RPF is present, not unlike the Stasi in East Germany during the Cold War. While a town may have a Hutu mayor, under Kagame’s system government officeholders have little authority compared with the RPF representatives who work in parallel to them and often pull rank.
RPF regulations—enforced by local commissars with vigor and steep fines—govern almost every aspect of daily life. There are laws requiring peasants to wear shoes and good clothes when not working their fields and prohibition of drinking banana wine from shared straws—a traditional gesture of reconciliation—and myriad other rules, generally resented as gratuitous and insulting.
“The RPF saturates every aspect of life in Rwanda,” said Susan Thomson, a longtime Rwanda expert at Colgate University. “They know everything: if you’ve been drinking, if you’ve had an affair, if you’ve paid your taxes.” Everything is reported on, Thomson says, and there is no appeal.
From the beginning, Kagame’s legitimacy was founded on his image as the man who had halted the genocide committed by the Hutu-led government and extremist militias. While the vast majority of the 800,000 people killed in the frenzy were Tutsis and moderate Hutus, there are profound flaws in what is usually a rather simplistic telling of the country’s history.
Pointing to the origins of the war and its bloody aftermath, Scott Straus, a political scientist at the University of Wisconsin, said: “An honest analysis … would show that the reasons for what happened were much more complicated than the idea that the Hutus hate the Tutsis and want to wipe them out.”
For one thing, there is abundant evidence that Kagame’s forces in the early days carried out targeted executions of the Hutu elite, followed later by much larger extermination campaigns that killed tens of thousands of people.
A year after the genocide had ended, blood was still being spilled, recalls Timothy Longman, then the country director for Human Rights Watch. “People would take me around and say, ‘There’s mass grave right over here,’ and you would ask, ‘From when?’ And they would say, ‘Just from a few weeks ago—not from the genocide,’” says Longman, who now directs the African Studies Center at Boston University.
One of the earliest investigations was undertaken by a U.N. team led by the American Robert Gersony in the fall of 1994. The team conducted research by interviewing people in refugee camps and the countryside. In a report later suppressed by the U.N., partly as a result of American political pressure aimed at supporting the new RPF government, Gersony’s team concluded that four provinces had seen “systematic and sustained killing and persecution of their civilian Hutu populations by the RPA,” the armed wing of the RPF.
Furthermore, the report estimated that the RPA killed between 15,000 and 30,000 people in just four of its survey areas in the summer of 1994. Years later a key member of Gersony’s team told me that the real number of Hutus killed during this period was likely much higher, but that a low estimate had been published because of fears of a political backlash within the U.N. so soon after its failure to stop the larger-scale killing of Tutsis. “What we found was a well-organized military-style operation, with military command and control, and these were military-campaign-style mass murders,” the team member told me.
(In one notorious incident in April 1995, the RPA attacked an internally displaced people’s camp in Kibeho using automatic weapons, grenades, and mortars. A team of Australian medics listed more than 4,000 dead when the RPA forced them to stop counting. France’s leading researcher on the region, Gérard Prunier, estimates that at least 20,000 more people from the camp “disappeared” after the massacre.)
Many people inside the country know this history well but have been prevented from talking about it as the political space has narrowed.
In the run-up to the 2010 election in which Kagame was declared the winner, there was widespread violence, with several journalists and figures from the opposition attacked or killed, including a politician who was beheaded. Amnesty International condemned the violence and the “killings, arrests, and the closure of newspapers and broadcasters [which] reinforced a climate of fear.”
The case of Victoire Ingabire, a politician from the opposition, was instructive. When she returned to Rwanda that year, having lived 16 years in exile, to prepare a run for president, her first stop was at the official genocide memorial. “We are here honoring at this memorial the Tutsi victims of the genocide. There are also Hutu who were victims of crimes against humanity and war crimes, not remembered or honored here,” she said in a prepared statement. “Hutu are also suffering. They are wondering when their time will come to remember their people. In order for us to get to that desirable reconciliation, we must be fair and compassionate towards every Rwandan’s suffering.”
Ingabire was promptly arrested and accused of “genocide ideology.” During her trial, President Kagame publicly declared that she was guilty.
Tiny Rwanda is called the land of a thousand hills because of its verdant, rolling countryside of strikingly fertile farmland. It is a land of beauty and unrelenting order. But unlike its much larger neighbor Congo, it is not endowed with any mineral wealth to speak of. Yet Rwanda’s economy depends on the exploitation of Congolese resources.
Through mafialike networks reportedly run by the Rwandan Army and the RPF, huge quantities of Congo’s minerals are siphoned out of the country, experts say.
As early as 2000, Rwanda was believed to be making $80 million to $100 million annually from Congolese coltan alone, roughly the equivalent of the entire defense budget, according to Reyntjens, the Belgian expert.
Pillaging the Congo obscures Rwanda’s giant military budget from foreign donors who provide as much as 50 percent of the country’s budget every year. It also provides a rich source of income to the urban elites, especially returnees from Uganda, who form the regime’s core.
“After the first Congo war, money began coming in through military channels and never entered the coffers of the Rwandan state,” says Rudasingwa, Kagame’s former lieutenant. “It is RPF money, and Kagame is the only one who knows how much money it is—or how it is spent. In meetings it was often said, ‘For Rwanda to be strong, Congo must be weak, and the Congolese must be divided.’”
Congo looms large in the story of Kagame in other ways as well. For years Rwandan government forces and their proxies have operated in Congo. Twice Rwanda has invaded the country outright, in September 1996, when with U.S. acquiescence it successfully waged war to overthrow Mobutu Sese Seko, and again beginning in August 1998, when it mounted a repeat operation to depose Laurent-Désiré Kabila. This second operation, to replace the very man Kagame installed to replace Mobutu, ended in failure but established a pattern of intervention and meddling aimed at undermining its much larger neighbor. The ensuing war, involving several African nations, is believed to have cost the lives of 5 million people.
As early as 1997, the U.N. estimated that Rwandan forces had caused the deaths of 200,000 Hutus in Congo; Prunier, the French expert, has since estimated that the toll is closer to 300,000. According to the U.N. report, these deaths could not be attributed to the hazards of war or to collateral damage. “The majority of the victims were children, women, elderly people and the sick, who were often undernourished and posed no threat to the attacking forces.” The report concluded that the systematic and widespread attacks, “if proven before a competent court, could be characterized as crimes of genocide.”
Two years ago, Kagame delivered a lecture in London on “The Challenges of Nation-Building in Africa: The Case of Rwanda.” When confronted with a U.N. report that was then making headlines with the suggestion that his forces had committed genocide in Congo, he dismissed such allegations as “baseless” and “absurd.” Clearly he was keener to talk about economic indicators and repeat the oft-told success story of his country.
But even that is a truth with modification. Social inequality in Rwanda is high and rising, experts say. Despite an average annual growth rate of about 5 percent since 2005, poverty is soaring in the countryside, where few Western journalists report without official escort.
“The rural sector has suffered enormous extraction under the post-genocide government, far more than what had happened before,” said one longtime researcher who spoke on the condition of anonymity. “There is a real increase in misery. When you speak of Rwanda as a volcano, that’s what’s involved.”
Will Rwanda explode again? The big, looming issue is whether Kagame will leave office in 2017, as the Constitution calls for. With so much to answer for, few expect a straightforward exit.
Howard W. French is the author of A Continent for the Taking: The Tragedy and Hope of Africa and Disappearing Shanghai. He is completing a forthcoming book about China and Africa, titled Haphazard Empire. He teaches at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism.
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Lisa Kristine photographs slavery
Updated 2:31 pm, Saturday, January 5, 2013
Humanitarian photographer Lisa Kristine of Mill Valley had captured the dignity of indigenous people in 100 countries on six continents, yet never realized that modern-day slavery was in the shadows everywhere she traveled.
That all changed when Kristine, whose color-saturated photos are set to go on world tour this year, met an abolitionist while exhibiting her work at the 2009 Vancouver Peace Summit. The advocate told Kristine that 27 million people are enslaved worldwide – more than twice the estimated number of people taken from Africa during the Atlantic slave trade between the 16th and 19th centuries.
“I almost fell over,” said Kristine, whose images hang in the Palace of Bhutan, have been auctioned at Christie’s to benefit the United Nations, and have drawn accolades from the Dalai Lama. “It blew me away that I, whose whole job is to see, didn’t know.”
Within a week, she was in the Los Angeles offices of the advocacy group Free the Slaves, offering to use her 19th century, 4-by-5 camera to expose slavery: the impoverished children and adults given false promises of money, education and a better life, only to be tricked into indentured labor and held in captivity by fear, force and coercion.
In Ghana, Kristine climbed 200 feet down an illegal gold-mine shaft to find men with crude flashlights tied to their heads, forced to endure dust and dark for 72-hour stretches.
Escorted by local representatives from Free the Slaves, she found children in the Himalayas lugging slabs of slate heavier than themselves down the mountains, via crude harnesses attached to their foreheads made from sticks, rope and torn cloth.
At a brick kiln in Nepal, she photographed workers in 130-degree heat and choking dust, stacking 18 bricks on their head at a time and walking the loads to waiting trucks.
“All I could see was Dante’s ‘Inferno,’ ” Kristine said.
She saw trafficked children in tattered shirts reeling in 1,000-pound fishing nets on the shore of Lake Volta in Ghana, freezing in the early dawn after all-night fishing expeditions.
Avoiding patrolmen with automatic weapons, she quickly snapped off a few shots with her 35mm camera of men, women and children panning for gold in huge, watery pits contaminated by mercury in Ghana.
‘No end in sight’
“These slaves are in plain sight, some are hidden deep in the jungles – some of them don’t even understand they are enslaved because they have been laboring all their lives – with no pay, and with no end in sight,” Kristine said.
The images she brought back stunned the world, including Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who wrote in the preface to her 2010 book, “Slavery”:
“On behalf of God, (I have a hotline), thank you for all the people you are going to liberate and thank you for all the rest of us who will be truly free only when those in bondage are finally free.”
After visiting her Sonoma gallery, a young girl started a lemonade stand to fight slavery, and collected money for Free the Slaves, Kristine said.
Soon, her slavery images will embark on a multiyear, world exhibition, “Enslaved,” in conjunction with several nongovernmental organizations, including Voices for Freedom and Free the Slaves. (The tour locations have not been revealed yet.)
A film in production about a Nepalese girl trafficked to India includes a character based on Kristine, played by Gillian Anderson.
Kristine is often asked whether any of the people she photographed has been set free.
“Kofi,” she says.
She photographed Kofi taking a bath at a rescue center for trafficked children in Ghana after he had been forced into fishing. After his photo was taken, he was reunited with his family, and abolitionists taught his parents to turn away traffickers who come knocking with false promises of good jobs for their children.
Such promises are also made in this country, Kristine said, describing what she found in shopping malls in Washington, D.C., where affable men approach young girls and sweep them off their feet – and right into the sex trade.
“That’s why I won’t ever let my children hang out at the mall,” said Kristine, who along with her partner has adopted a son, 6, from Guatemala, and a daughter, 4, from Ethiopia.
In addition to her global slavery exhibit, Kristine also has a new book coming out, “Bhutan – Repository of the Spirit,” with a forward by the Queen Mother of Bhutan, Tshering Pem Wangchuck. She has a flight booked to India this month to document a gathering of neuroscientists and 10,000 monks interested in studying the effects of contemplation and compassion on the brain.
It’s a subject close to Kristine’s heart. The day after she graduated from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in San Francisco, the city native spent the next five years photographing and meditating in Europe and Asia.
“I photographed every day. I did tai chi. I spent 30 days in silence, the last 1o in a cave – a lot of sitting on pillows to ultimately confront myself,” she said.
And the trip left her with a four-word mantra: “I am a photographer.”
“I would do this anyway, even if nobody paid me for it. It’s just worked out that photography has been very gracious to me.”
(This article has been corrected since it appeared in print editions.)
The photography of Lisa Kristine: www.lisakristine.com.
Wicked African Leaders Are Selling-Off Africa
Source: Modern Ghana
Updated January 3, 2013 at 5:11 am GMT |
Killing our own African brothers and sisters for political power
By Naiwu Osahon
A new form of neo-colonialism has since surfaced in Africa. It is land grabbing by foreign companies and governments. It is probably not new. Arabs began grabbing Northern Africa and eliminating the native African owners of the land from 638 CE and is continuing this today in Southern Sudan, particularly now in Darfur. Europeans grabbed the rest of Africa, settled significant populations in Southern Africa, and hijacked most of the arable land in Zimbabwe and South Africa. Land is still the issue between Africa and the West in these countries even now.
The new land grabbing phenomenon started in earnest in the year 2000, and began to spiral out of control from 2004. The deals that have been concluded so far, place no obligations on the land grabbers. Agreements concerning thousands of hectares of farm land are generally just two to four pages long, and lack transparency, oversight regulations and environmental safeguards. They do not protect the small holding native farmers who lose their customary rights to their land in the deals.
The size of the deals so far is mind boggling. Foreigners are buying off Africa for pittance from ill-informed, selfish African political leaders, looking for personal gains. They put the tokens they collect from the deals, in their private accounts in Switzerland. A 2008 study of the media reports on foreigners’ recent land acquisitions in Africa by GRAIN, a non-governmental organization, and others, suggest that some 40mn hectares of farm land have been or are being grabbed by foreign interest groups. Some 10mn hectares of these have been given away for a variety of food crops and live stock farming in the Republic of Congo. Another 6mn hectares have been signed off in neighbouring countries. The International Institute for Environment and Development (IIED), a UK research outfit, estimates that at least 2.5mn hectares have been grabbed by foreign entities since 2004 in Ethiopia, Ghana, Madagascar, Mali and Sudan. The report claims that the scale of the leases is unprecedented and that they do not have complete data on the cases because of the secrecy surrounding the deals. Commercial enterprises, many of them European as well as Chinese companies have been in the lead in cultivating Jatropha, Sorghum, and other bio-fuels, in countries such as Madagascar, Mozambique and Tanzania.
In Mozambique, Tanzania and Zambia, for example, only some 12 per cent of arable land is actually cultivated, so the political leaders feel they can give the rest away cheaply and without safeguards, to foreign entities. The Chinese are at the moment negotiating to lease 2.8mn hectares in the Democratic Republic of the Congo to grow oil palm, and a further 2mn hectares in Zambia, to grow Jatropha (a crop used for bio-fuels). In Mozambique, local opposition to a Chinese project to develop 100,000 hectares was based on plans to import Chinese labour.
China sees Africa as virgin land to relocate some of her teaming population. Indians too are moving into Africa. Their companies, backed by their government, have invested $1.5bn in Ethiopia, to meet rising domestic food and animal feed demand in India.
A deal by South Korea’s Daewoo Corporation to lease 1.3mn hectares of land was a key factor in building support for the overthrow of Madagascar’s President, Marc Ravalomanana, in March 2009. Sudan has agreed to lease 690,000 hectares of land to South Korea to grow wheat.
In Kenya, the government leaders there are trying to bend the rules to overcome local opposition to a proposal to give Qatar, right over some 40,000 hectares of land, in the Tana River Valley, in return for building a deep-sea port. Saudi Arabia has not been left out of all these. Saudi has already grabbed 100,000 hectares to grow corn and wheat in Toshika, Southern Egypt, and yet unspecified size of land, (because of on-going pogrom), from the displaced or eliminated African owners of the land in Southern Sudan. They have moved their peasant farmers into all the land seized from the native Africans driven out of Darfur.
Naiwu Osahon: is a renowned author, philosopher of science, mystique, leader of the world Pan-African Movement.