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Archive for April, 2008

And, surprise its not about Zimbabwe’s people. Sadly, it is only about their struggles of the paper’s reporter (usually based in South Africa) who sneaked into the country and got arrested. What Robert Mugabe’s thug police did to reporter Barry Bearak is inexcusable and granted the Zimbabwe authorities “discourage” journalists (that’s to put it mildly), but three pages? It is a riveting read nonetheless. Here. (the images are from the Times website)

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It’s really about design. More here.

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I wrote a post on Western obsession with East Africa’s Masai for the Guardian’s Comment is Free site. See here.

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Original picture here. (Official Flea Market website here.)

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I asked my friend Herman Wasserman to unpack Louis Theroux’s (son of Paul) recent visit to South Africa as seen on the BBC:

‘… There he stood, poor Louis Theroux. Thin and civilised, black-rimmed spectacles and shirtsleeves, having to watch how an overweight Afrikaner, dressed in khaki, gets all excited about his daughter felling a wild hog with one shot from a crossbow. Initially, upon watching his program ‘African Hunting Holiday‘ (BBC), one sympathizes with Theroux to a certain extent – the dusty bush of Limpopo is no place for nuanced arguments or bookish chaps. As one of his interviewees less than delicately puts it in a heavy accent: “Africa does not have computers…it’s fucked, because we chop down everything and we eat everything. This (hunting) is a way of making money out what there is here.” But Theroux’s posh indignitation at the bloodlusty, weird Afrikaner father-and-daughter pair becomes annoying when he insists on framing the farmers as the brutes, and lets their clients go scot-free. One cringes at the poorly executed machismo of the American clients who pay good money for the thrill of the kill. Although towards the end it seems Theroux becomes a bit more sympathetic to the complexities of the hunting industry, what remains lost from sight is that these farmers play up an image of wildlife, the bush and ferocious animals to feed into Westerners’ fantasies about Africa. On several occasions what becomes clear is that the farmers actually care deeply about the animals and the bush, and try to arrive at an ethical way of doing their job. But Theroux does not allow himself to dwell on these contradictions. Rough farmers are part of the fantasy that the Americans come to enjoy, and Theroux actually is more complicit in upholding this colonial narrative than he would care to acknowledge. And then there are those parts of the fantasy which go wholly unspoken. Theroux never complains about the black workers having to sit on the back of the truck or clean the bloody carcasses while he and the hunters engage in elevated debate about animal rights or enjoy the scenery from air-conditioned comfort. Fantasies have many sides.. ‘

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Seriously. In terms of United States law. He needs ‘special permission’ when he travels stateside. That also counts for all former prisoners from the African National Congress.

Not for the Cabinet ministers or members of the Apartheid regime’s security council or its death squads. I forgot that was a ‘democratic’ government.

There are now finally — 18 years after Mandela came out of prison, and 13 years since he became South Africa’s first democratic President — attempts through legislation tabled in the US Congress to ‘fix the problem.’

See here.

I am not surprised: the US was a staunch ally of the previous racist South African government (Ronald Reagan, President from 1980 to 1991, once made clear why he supported Apartheid: “[South Africa is] a country that, strategically, is essential to the free world in its production of minerals.”) and current US Vice President Dick Cheney is infamous for his countless resolutions in Congress to declare Mandela a terrorist ‘who deserved to be jailed.’ .

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