Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Is birth the beginning or the end? Self- immolations, life as a burning light

In free flight, Photo by Gloria  Fernandes
2012. This year in numbers has looked elegant to me with two gracious 2s at the end of it. But it is the number 95 that means most to me as I come to almost end of 2012. 82 men and 13 women have immolated themselves in Tibet. Because they were born there and there is no freedom.
They have made me ask "What is birth?" For people were happy when these women and men were born. Now they are gone in our eyes is there shame that they could not live?

 Wangchen Kyi, 17 years, the last immolate on the 9th of December is heart rending. Only seventeen years of age. Her name sounds like my sister´s. Wangchen has paid the ultimate price for freedom. She is one among soon, hundreds. There has to be another way.

I want to think about birth. This is a topic of course that can be enriched by the festivities of this season. See how the birth of one Child is important in December for many people. I think about the greatness of a country that stands up for one person, like India has done for the student of medicine who was gang raped on a bus and is still fighting for her life. That is a birth because hundreds of women are raped in Delhi daily. Because ultimately, there is no such a thing as one person. Never.

The question of the Tibetans is not one between Muslims and Christians. The message Urbi et Orbi Pope Benedict XVI, 2012 received much international press. He mentioned several by name including my beloved Kenya, for to be born somewhere does make the place dear to us at heart. But this should not be over another's rights. Nigeria too was mentioned, and  Africa in general was described as the continent so challenged for peace. And it is true.  Mali, DR Congo, so many refugees in pain and suffering. Much of this conflict is seen to be based on religious differences.

In the message, Asia was in focus. But not directly Burma where the recent killings of Rohingya Muslims has taken place. Europe and its tendency to the right wing was not. Germany was not. The refugees from Afrika come mainly to Europe and find life very difficult. One who mentions China does not mention the sufferings of the Tibetan people so easily. So, that these immolations did not sound like the birth and death of Christ. What are the underlying factors on how we are reaching out for one another in the world today?

But I go back home. I have lost a dearly loved uncle in the last week. We nicknamed him Joj. Medical doctor GN Gitatha, Joj, (RIP). He was always open to everyone around him. In my village, we call that a good person. He learned new things including Haematology and always used them to serve others. For so many people it does not matter their ethnic affiliations when it comes to helping. He walked miles to sit with a sick person even long into his retirement. I did not see him limited by what he was. He learned languages. He tried to reach others in many ways. I could say that Joj burned out his life for others and so he lives even now and left so many people aware that his life was. He did not find a retired life in a village a barrier, neither were his simple clothes. Some people who thought they were progressive in the village did not understand a man who had lived in Europe for some years and now walking around 'just like that'?  He did. He kept fascinated by life in the present. He had no media and was not on fb. His smile on the village paths gave life. He read books. He read his niece's books and was always so happy about them!

As I reflect someone is already whispering that we are born to die. Well, we are also born to live and actually it depends on you to see which one prevails. And living in such a way that we are saying something about our life and that of others. That we are a fire that is burning or a light. Of course those who prefer the dark side of life are welcome. Joj was not born a doctor, he became one. He was always striving to be a better doctor. And so it was hard for him to "oppress" anyone by virtue of being a doctor.

We are living in an age of great technological progress and yet we are concentrating more and more on our own entity and are not too willing to reach far beyond. I have heard people from a very small clan, forget kings, simply say in arrogance that their clan does not speak to another or have anything to with them. They do not marry into that clan they disdain, they emphasise. I have heard the same argument repeated by big faiths, royalty, races and people in power and in class.

I am talking about being born into religions, royalty, tribe or ethnic group, man, woman. In Kenya and else where, I have lived with people who find it hard to relate to others who are not their own. Even if they say that they are ¨born again¨. I find it even worse to keep reading that at home, where ethnic conflict sparked by electoral fraud caused death and much bloodshed, loss of homes and livelihoods.

If we do not have the courage to see that what we are born into is not something we can use to oppress others or humiliate them then we have hardly been born, so to speak.  If we cling onto our being ´born´ this and that, then we are a miscarriage of what we were meant to be. You might ask what we were meant to be, a miscarriage of what and I would say of many things. For too long we have laid deep emphasis on what we are born: This country. This Religion. This Class. This sex. What we are born into or are cannot be denied but how does our birth affect those we find around us?  If it only leads to deaths as in Tibet then it is better that we question our identity. What is growth as human beings on this planet if another cannot live how they wish?

It is not a very alien idea. Kings dressed in rags and walked as paupers in years gone by so they tell us, to see how life is for the others. Today, kings or royalty might Twitter as does Pope Benedict XVI and some other leaders of the world. Who among them is really concerned about what is happening in Tibet? But we all need to see for ourselves around us. We need our own eyes.  We have to recognise that we are that other person we see as outside of us. And this is not just a romantic idea. Well it has never been. Because some people such as Hitler were so obsessed with what one is born genetically, 6 million people died in gas chambers. One would like to think that this is over but its ugly signs are not under cover. They are visible in Europe.

Today my heart goes with one couple I read about in a Norwegian language magazine  All Verdens Historie Number 14/2012. I am impressed by the man who refused to salute Hitler. It was in June 1936 in Hamburg. August Landmesser kept his arms folded on his chest as all others saluted. He did not intend not to be seen.  In a sea of Hitler salutes a photo has shown that he remained firm because he was in love with Irma Eckler, a Jew and engaged to her. They had a child. He was arrested for watering down the German race and was imprisoned. Even though he disappeared and had escaped and found a job but was disappeared and believed to have died in 1944. Humans in love and daring to be. The Gestapos arrested Irma in 1938 and in 1941 she was sent out of Hamburg where they were and in 1942 she was killed in a gas chamber.

I have talked about similar occurences, (would you call them stories? ) with people who always pipe out very fast that the thing to do is to have saluted to save his own life. Such people define life as breathing, eating for more years. But let me try and stick to my topic. What we think we are born into brings us very many problems, I have seen.

When the Rohingya Muslims get their houses burnt by Hindus and the act blessed by monks, I shudder to think that we do not understand being born into religions. I really do. Did we want Burma free so that some people can die? We have to fell some walls. Why should a child, a woman, a man die because of religion? Who is God that you might take life on behalf of whom all religions say is sacred and holds life sacred? There are so many things that obviously tell us that being born here or there is just accidental but we see it as ordained by some mighty force. I have not forgotten the same thing is done by other Muslims somewhere, say in Nigeria or Egypt, they persecute the Christians. Kill them at Christmas in church and on most ordinary Sundays of 2012. Christians did that before to the Muslims, so what is this all about?

The same differences occur in other areas. Lineage remains captured in a way that does not make sense for the outcomes in the lives of so many other human beings. I understand our longings for home and to belong. I know I felt it when the Mannasseh race left India over 2000 years later to go home to Israel. I suffered very much reading the Exodus and I wished I could just go and push Pharaoh out of Egypt all by myself for when you read these things as a child, they continue happening in your mind and are never over.  I later learnt that there are many other pharaohs in our lives.

It is important that Tibetans regain their freedom and space. There have been more  It is more important if their freedom is going to mean much to the world including to China´s own freedom. Because Mohammed Bouazizi was born in Tunisia, he immolated himself for Tunisia. But his fire was aflame beyond the Tunisian borders. Likewise when we are born, our flame must go beyond our religion, our light must go beyond my own things and touch humanity.

But how is it that we are not able to cope with those who we think are different by birth, religion, race and culture? How does a an 'accident', as they are called in Metaphysics of Being, such as location, colour, place and so on become so very important over the substance?  Look at race. And that not only black and white abut also racism with race. Dark skinned Indians versus are oppressed by lighter skinned ones. The cast system reigns.

What is it that we are not doing to focus now what we should become regardless of where we are born? Fundamentalism is rife in many ways and we need to help ourselves to recognise that we are not whom we believe we are.  Are we all together living a lie? It sounds strange I know.

So I look at this birth thing again in religion. Seeing what is becoming of us because of confessed faiths, I have said before that actually nobody should be born anything.  We have to thank rather than condemn those who are questioning our society in this regard. If we cannot live above or confessed faiths then Christopher Hitchens' international bestseller will always be greater than God.

I think we must quickly invite all forms of criticism and questions today. We have to take this life as a gift ... and unwrap this it. I see the scars of it in politics. People claiming power as family, that is to inherit it from their fathers (almost always)  at the expense of the many who were not born to there father of those who claim it. Sometimes it can be fair but it hardly ever is.

I cannot believe it when I see people even fighting from groupings that hardly mean a thing to the world, considering how the world is disorganised. Tibetans cannot to be forced to be what they do not want because they are growing in a different way. I hope that we will all dedicate more action and thoughts to Tibet right from today. Before 2013 most likely there will be another self-immolation. Shall we not all tell representatives of peoples voices to speak out against this all over the world? If the world behaved like India last week, standing up for Tibet in spite of our own wounds, and nothing changed, we would at least say we stood up to be counted!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Insecurity in Kenya, activist Okiya Omtatah attacked yesterday

Violence unleashing in Kenya. For speaking out, someone will remove your teeth and hit your thinking head, the house of your brain until it bleeds. Okiya has been outspoken and fearless in Kenya. This is what they have done to him. It was  done at night

There are many times I have received text messages from people in villages in Kenya who tell me they cannot sleep because of fear. They get attacked by thieves or gangs and the police are far from being available. I know sometimes they are. But most times even as we discuss in the media big topics the people are just worried about how to get out of the house safely and go to a toilet outside the house as is common in the rural areas where water does not flow to have outside toilets. Just how to hold up for the night and how to sleep. How can you when every leaf that move reminds you of how your doors and windows can come out all of a sudden and you find knives on your flesh.

Even as we argue that we can manage our justice systems and indeed even want to stop the ICC from prosecuting  our indicted leaders on political violence in 2007, where is our strength? Even as we insist that the African Court of Human and Peoples Rights should have capacity built for this, where is our hope? Activists in Kenya are in fear. The people both in the cities and in the rural areas live in fear. We need to take into consideration that Kenya goes into an election next year.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

A tale of two hearts of liberty: Chief Albert Luthuli and Maxim Gorky

Chief Albert Luthuli
I was given a book gift on the life Albert Luthuli. I normally look at several books at any given time so I was also re-reading Mother by Maxim Gorky. It is exciting to be able to play with dates and see what was happening in different places at the same time. Contemproraiety has its interesting aspects. Chief Albert Luthuli and Maksim Gorky. They are very different but their passion for freedom and political growth measures the same. It is all consuming. Perhaps they both died for their love for freedom.

It sounds strange. Can you compare from all distances? I loved the frequent question at school. Compare and contrast...  But I often wonder what was happening in the same years or thereabouts in different places and people. What if I could hear a symphony of all events? Would it be a symphony or a cacophony? What about just two lives? Are they easy to see clearly? They both lived in very complex political arenas. Was Gorky murdered or did he die of a heart attack? How could a moving train slay Chief Albert Luthuli ever so cleanly on the back of the neck? Who killed him?

Could I make sense of a unity of facts without music but just seeing the dates and how they influence others? Seeing it clearly in my mind like in a crystal ball?   What did Luthuli and Maksim have in common? The former was brought up by his mother and the latter by his grandmother.  Where is the discordance in their lives? What did it mean to Gorky to be an orphan and for Luthuli to only have his Mother, the very person Gorky so longed to have that this influences the title of his book about change: Mother? Did deprivations of affections they needed from missing parents make them more of seekers of justice? What hope is there today for so many orphans in Africa. My article is a strange introspection. How much do Russia and Africa communicate? How much African literature do Russians or Chinese people know?

Can you compare this great spirit of Albert Luthuli to that of a writer's free spirit in Maksim Gorky? Well, I do because of the way the two handle change. One of these men became change, Luthuli. That was especially so when he chose to defend the ANC. Gorky other became the change in his writings which he sends out to the world. Both persons impressive for working against all odds. Chief Luthuli was a quiet and humble activist. Gorky wrote Song of the stormy Petrel, a poem that got the Marxist magazine banned. He was an activist though the writing and in speeches. Both men got arrested many times. The Chief was banned from addressing people. He joined many protests including the one after the Shaperville massacre.

Gorky (in white)and A. Chekov
Chief Albert John Luthuli (Nobel Peace Prize 1960) lived from c. 1898 to 21 July 1967. His Zulu name was Mvumbi. He was a teacher and a politician. He read and wrote a lot. He is the author of Let My People Go! Luthuli lived in exile too. Chief Luthuli was a fervent Christian but he was a friend of all. His role was in the non-violent struggle against apartheid. Today when the Chinese inundate Africa, will they inter-marry and learn with respect and depth our African languages?

Chief Albert Luthuli could answer all these questions today.  He was the first African, and the first person from outside Europe and the Americas, to be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.Chief Luthuli believed in equality of all human beings. He knew how to love people who believed in other means of changing society.

The Chief worked with everyone who looked for good even when they did not agree on certain things. He worked with Moses Kotane, a Communist, Logan Naidoo tells us in the book about Goolam Suleman In the Shadow of Chief Albert Luthuli. Chief Albert Luthuli was born in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe then Southern Rhodesia where his father worked as an interpreter. His father died when he was 10 years old and his mother returned to Grouteville because they were very poor and life was hard. His mother had grown up in the royal court of King Cetshwayo, the third in the line of Zulu Kings and since King Shaka. (Logan Naidoo, In the Shadow of Chief Albert Luthuli)

Could they, being people of very diverse areas of origin have been inspired by the same things? What was it that made them make a difference?  One is a believer in God and the other an atheist. These are two men who knew the change they wanted to see. They envisioned it, owned it and set forth to let it grow. We need to learn from them. We need to desire a peaceful world not to the same extent that we desire to eat or wear a dress. This has to be madly. I love activists and Maksim Gorky was a political activist.

I have heard and seen something of Luthuli here and there, but visiting his Museum in Durban was very special. It happened that we went there as part of Poetry Africa 2012. The spirit of the man fills every nook and pricks with little rays of light, every little cranny in that place. I did not visit it, I experienced it. There is a sense of peace there. The school students who were there to recite pomes were for me the greatest sign of hope for Africa.

One wonders where all this peace and common sense has gone in some parts of the continent of Africa. We are descendants of very dignified people. Nobody feels out of place with people who have the spirit of freedom. People who struggle for it, no matter the differences they may have. We are surrounded by examples of good leadership which we do not allow to blossom, however. There is so much learning and study in Africa. So much study that we have to say if we are still failing to bring progress and stability to some nations it is because we are not interested.

There are many lessons to learn form literature, history and politics. Why are people only ready to listen to their own group leaders today in so many parts of Africa. Chief Albert Luthuli is a fine example. See how he handled Communism. Chief was never a Communist. But he knew how to work with everyone to attain freedom. "Moses is a top intellectual. I respect him highly. He is making a tremendous contribution to the cause. We will work together until freedom is atained; after that maybe Moses and I will fight because he is a Communist and I am a Nationalist." The Chief believed in the dignity of all peoples.

Maksim Gorky writes powerful things but this is his first sentence in Mother. "Every day the factory whistle bellowed forth its shrill, roaring, trembling noises inot the smoke begrimed and greasy atmostphere of the workingmens's suburb: and obedient to the summonss of the power steam, people pored out of little gray houses into the street. With somber faces they hastend forward like frightened roaches... Living a life like that for some fifty years, a workman died."

They are two very different men but whose were greatly involved in the lives of their nations and peoples. They are so different but their interest in humanity helps them overcome many difficulties and diffferences.  Perhaps they read one another. Perhaps they did not. Both did amazing work to ignite the consciousness of the people towards freedom and dignity.

Wikipedia writes of Gorky that, "At the heart of all his work was a belief in the inherent worth and potential of the human person. In his writing, he counterposed individuals, aware of their natural dignity, and inspired by energy and will, with people who succumb to the degrading conditions of life around them. Both his writings and his letters reveal a "restless man" (a frequent self-description) struggling to resolve contradictory feelings of faith and skepticism, love of life and disgust at the vulgarity and pettiness of the human world."

Maxim Gorky wanted to awaken the world to struggling for a better life. He was a political activist who funded Lenin's party but spoke against it when necessary. He did not join the party. He was a Marxist. He was part of the 1905 Russian Revolution. He opposed the Bolsheviks taking of power in 1917. He worked with people who did not agree with is ideas.

Yes, Gorky means "bitter" . Bitter is the last adjective one would use to describe the humble and peaceful Chief Albert Luthuli but these two men reach very far in stirring our consciences or the that of humanity, if such a thing exists, and for the good of the human race. Gorky,  is one of the many pen names that Alexei Macimovich Peshkov who lived from March 28th 1868  to 18th June 1936 used. His novel Mother was an immediate success.  He lived in exile. At the age of twelve in 1880, he ran away from home to find his grandmother. He was brought up by his grandmother. He lived in exile for many years. He handled paper and writing when it was very dangerous in his country to do so.

Chief Luthuli travelled a lot to speak with people about freedom. He travelled by bus. Gorky, deeply affected by the death of his mother travelled on foot across the Russian Empire for years looking for different jobs and gathering ideas for his writing. Maxim believed that man created God. However he has thousands of people who follow him today as a saint. Who follows Chief Albert Luthuli who prayed often for his nation and for guidance? Who thinks this ancestor of Africans is a saint? At least the followers part should matter. Africa needs generous, dedicated and happy leaders. Look at that smile again? 

Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Imam and His wife- Freedom of Expression is paramount

This picture of Imam Abduljalil and Jamila Sajid lasts and lasts on my mind. It is the Imam looking down from his six foot something frame tenderly at his only wife Jamilla, who spoke with much passion about freedom on his side. The Imam spoke first about the Innocence of Muslims, a You Tube that a few weeks ago was all the rave in the news and which he addressed in the context of freedom of expression. His wife Jamilla told us of her firm belief in togetherness and how in Brighton in their early years, she decided to speak to all her neighbours about why it is important to talk to other people. She says, "What is important is to keep talking. When you talk, you discover many other things, and there can be peace!"
It was not easy. I asked her if some people did not reject her message especially those who were from her own background because she has opted not to wear the hijab for the time being and says she may one day wear it but not now. 

"Of course. Some of them shut the door in my face and broke eggs on me when they saw me." But that did not stop her. She spoke to us at a Sophus Lies Gata 5 at the invitation of Initiatives of Change (IOC) and then went on to speak at the Daru Salaam Mosque about bringing up children without rolemodels, the experience of Muslim mothers in Great Britain. Jamilla is of her own mind and the Imam knows that. 

Abduljalil hardly mentioned the film in question. "Freedom of Expression is paramount" he says. He explains that does not mean insulting others. However, violence is not an answer to such insult if it should occur. I could hear between the lines that responding with violence, and two weeks ago violence hit many embassies and in Libya Chris Stevens the USA ambassador and two of his colleagues were killed, is futiel. Abduljalil says violence does not show your enemy or the person you fight that your are superior but on the contrary, it gives a poor image of the violent and all that they stand for, The Prophet and religion included. 

He told a story of how lonely he was in his days in Oxford. Then one Christmas there was a message for those who were going to be alone at Xmas and felt it to get in touch. He ended up being a guest of a Christian family at Christmas. He had thought it would be his last one in England as he could not stand the place. Rev Carr and his family however, made him see another side of life. Imam Abduljalil tells of his fears on his way to the Christian home which turned out to be the Rev's home. 'First, they will have dog at home. Then they will serve pork!" It turns out that this family had no dog. I would say that for a British family was like to be without 'god' and then they did not have 'pork' and even alcohol was not served. He relaxed when he heard Rev Carr say that they too did not serve alcohol but allowed those who wanted to drink to do so in town and to if drunk to stay outside! Abduljalil cannot ever forget his surprise.

Islam as a religion suggests what a woman should wear but does not oblige one to wear that. This is no secret. The suggestion is made several times but it does not become an order to wear a hijab but yes, to cover the body. In Jamilla's case, the body is well covered with her punjabi-lke  suit and lovely delicate sandals. Her long hair covers her head. 

Imam Abdulljalil says that the Prophet has taught that one in a foreign land must understand and respect the rules of that land. Abduljalil argues that if some people cannot understand that freedom of expression is paramount in the West, they have to remember they are not at home. They also have to know that just because in their countries some people are ordered to hit at others by presidents who are dictators, the case does not apply in America and other lies. Therefore, he said people who feel offended have to know that it is not the president of America who told someone to make a film titled "The Innocence of Muslims". The hitting back at a whole land and its peoples is illogical. He pleaded for dialogue and patience, and never hitting back. The Imam and his wife work for peace. This is a favourite couple!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

The rhythm of activism for peace in Harry Belafonte

Mending the hole in the bucket

It does not matter where you start... if you sing out loud "There is a hole in the bucket... " everyone will join in with "Dear Liza, dear Liza!"  "Coconut woman is calling out... and ... " Before you can go any further you will hear all join in " and everywhere you can hear her shout eh... " If you start singing, 'wid plenty rydthm and so sweetly... " before long you will hear " dey play this stilbahn... " If you star "Day O... Day O... " You know what you will hear.
Harry Belafonte was even suprised that before he started "Day O " in Japan when he visited... the people had gathered to sing his song to him. Then, he told us in the Melafestavalen in Oslo last week, he knew then that the power of song is immense. See, he went on, among all the arts music is with us everywhere. It is found wherever we are because we take it there. That includes in the bathroom and the bedroom.

 A singing soul

But Harry Belafonte has another song in his soul that we were so lucky to listen to. And this song calls one to consciousness. He is a resilient activist and unabashed to speak out for the voiceless.. you will be left shattered by the images in his film "Sing your Song" especially so the last image. I will not say what it is. And again once you hear this song of championing for justice deeply in you,  you will find you will join in singing it  somehow... you will find your own lyrics, you will begin to do your own thing, you will start  to Sing your Song if you had not began. If you had began it you will find that it has more and more verses and choruses and that you just have to keep on singing louder after hearing Harry Belafonte.

It was amazing to watch the film Sing your Song and listen to HB's live interview in Oslo's Melasfestivlen 2012. I am glad that a friend had a reservation for me. You see it was a very special thing to be there not because of fame or how shall I put it? It was something else that happened at Klingenberg Kino. It was the fact that I heard a song that Belafonte sings very deeply with his soul. It is the song of peace. The song of that peace which many of us know is not found by just smiling back but by speaking as he often repeated, 'Truth to Power'. This is the song I did not know that Belafonte sang so deeply with all his might and soul. It was very inspiring. The film, which am not reviewing here is a jolt for those who sit back and watch all the violence and injustice in the world going on.

We cried and laughed and went through deep soul searching with Harry Belafonte whose life story is an example of what it takes to be resilient. Growing from poverty of not just not having material things but also lack of voice and recognition for the many black people in the South and becoming the icon he is another sign that much can be achieved in this life. Let me say quickly that for me this interview was life defining. I can say and this not just because he is a UNICEF Ambassdor of goodwill that Harry Belafonte can change lives with his words. I will blog this story in bits but I will blog on for some time because I want to explain what I mean as well as share thoughts on Harry Belfonte's thoughts in Oslo. I warn you that am not referring to any notes or magazine. Only if I need a spelling or some data. I am doing this a week later and without notes to see how much of it I made mine and why. I am challenging myself.

So we were waiting and then the movie rolled on. Violence, poverty, blood and song. The first scene in the house where Belafonte in the house where he was born is pacing up and down and the title of the movie on his backs is a masterpiece as the rest of the documentary produced by Gina Belafonte is. The movie is fast and intense. I went through a whole range of emotions. Some of the things I heard are never to be forgotten. Smiles, tears, tough times, telephone calls. Joy in Afrika, the visits to Afrika and a place where am going to go deeper. Harry Belafonte and Afrika. I knew that he had sang with Miriam Makeba but I must say I was very impressed that this was the first question that the interviewer asked him. No notes, so what I remember is that he was asked what it was like to and how he came to sing with Makeba. The answer was beautiful. He said he heard hear and he knew at once that this was a voice from Afrika singing... and telling the African story from Afrika. My soul was smiling as I so love as many people do, Miriam Makeba. I know she sang in western capitals but Miriam was in touch with the soul of her continent all the time as is Harry Belafonte when it comes to Afrika. He is committed to championing justice and am glad the issue of so many black Africans in prisons today in America is so well analysed and taken to deeper levels. Modern day slavery. I have been shocked everytime I have switched on programs on TV and especially one National Geographic which for me was meant to always be about scenic and exotic travel. Lots of crime in one color. We went form Norway where the 22nd of July was a real alarm to realising that this unfortunately is the world. From Mississippi to New Guinea. I count myself lucky to have been in that hall and heard and seen for myself what Harry Belafonte is all about. A friend and I had watched Carmen Jones before when we saw he was coming. I had not seen this old movie and it is mindblowing. In Sing your Song, clips of movies with famous actor come in. He narrates some details relating to the movie that one would never have got to know.

The picture coming to my mind now is Nelson Mandela's. I did not write earlier how the flight to Afrika from Mississipi impressed me. The dignity and joy of the people on the roads dancing and singing is captured so well. These and many other scenes keep coming to mind. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. so close and so far.. in death. The scene where Harry Belafonte is asking where he had gone is heart rending. Seeing our Kenyan Tom Mboya almost made me stand up in the hall but on the way home always the puzzle of what we know about who assassinated this man Tom Mboya in Kenya in 1969. The decade sixties for those with strong convictions did not only swing, it stung.  Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was assassinated at 6:01 p.m. on April 4, 1968, Tom Joseph Mboya was assassinated on July 5, 1969 in Nairobi at about 1 pm and J F Kennedy at 12.30 p.m. on November 22, 1963.

But we go back to Mandela and hear Belafonte saying that he would rather wake up listening to Tata's wisdom than looking at his accounts. And then the wonderful meeting where Madiba calls him "Harry Boy" and laughs asking if he remembers him... so wonderful. See... am carrying on...

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Marikana Miners' burial song (South Africa)

Marikana broadcasted live during burial of 44 miners killed, 34 of them shot by police.

12.32 local time

"The cage moved downwards till it was out of sight and there was a vacant hole where the cage had been.
Xuma had known it would happen. Yet it shocked him. His heart pounded. His hands wre clammy with sweat"
Mine Boy, Peter Abrahams 1946. Heinemann Johannesburg

To the 44 miners
by philo ikonya

In death
It is impossible for this poet
to break words like kola and
wrap you with oil squeezed from seed
I have heard the miners blood crying as priests sing salve
and their shroud I must make with no cheap justice
from speaking minds we must get liberation
Racing beyond fears for a loss so deep
I weep at your burial from the north
violence the robber black and white
and anger that you have gone
chokes me in songless silence
All miners and the 44 miners killed in Marikana
I still hear your worksong unfading and tearing the world
and I pray you sing it till they in power tremble
We perish our tears and grab your struggle

So simply you asked for your rights
which so long all miners have deserved
Behind a rock you stayed put
holding on to tough ancestry
hands triggering smooth bullets
get you down forever
and Afrika has become lesser
she shrinks in my praying hands
Undressed in pain and moaning
Leaving widows carrying sticks
crying unclad in gold and children who know not copper
Like your blood devoid of diamonds
You writhing no more in rigor mortis held

And I stand up to make your tiaras
with same hand I open word power curse
To them that kill you so
To powers that standby and watch
Afrika raped and killed no matter when
entertaining your leaders in fine wine
To hearts and minds unmoved
All Africa should be in demon stration
Not enough to pencil evil: ballot castration
To churches and peace elders quiet
To young people waiting in violent dreams
Change this course as soil covers these miners
Change this shaft of blood, change these cages
And let us open up new ways so old
Let the miners keep singing till they break power drums

Without aparted salary, destroy apart wages
Join the cry of ages while anger still rages
Injustice must depart no new color can it wear
This nation can pay and it must pay now
Chile and China saved her trapped miners
You shoot ours dead and leave the rainbow bleeding

All Miners, your eyes you must not close
Blaze your fire beyond death and drill ruling brains
Blaze it beyond church prayer and free silenced lips
Occupy and occupy the world
Raze with your spirits a new path build and pave
for peace for your children and ours. Rest not now
Rest not. The bugle cries the world over
that together we shall not perish.

Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Dear Siri, this is not a secret, we must rid ourselves of fear

Dear Siri,

You are not happy at all, Siri.  And you know I wish that you were. Not so long ago you told me about your frustrations with the slow pace of developments in Kenya. I remember sighing a lot when you mentioned tribalism. You were skyping with me from a far country where you live and work for now. You told me that we had to do something. I promised to write you a letter. Skype was not enough even though we could talk for long, see each others' expressions and even take tea in between. You liked my black mug. It was written in white. NO to Racism! From such things, I drink Siri.

You know your name fascinates me.Siri. In Kiswahili it means a secret and you seem to have none. In Norwegian it is a girl's name. And it is not in the dictionary Norsk-engelsk dictionary by Aschehough and Gyldendal that I have here. But we have the internet. And I have found it in a site called My! Its meanings are given there in Kiswahili and Swedish. " The baby girl name Siri comes from the Indian word which means 'Godess Lakshmi, wealth'. 'God's gift of love'. In Sandinavian countries it means "Beautiful & victorious, fair victory!"

I really wish for us in Kenya, Siri that we become like you. Have a fair victory. Can we make it? How shall we make it to live with that wealth that is love? You know Siri, a lot is said about our peoples taking to tribalism because of lack of knowledge. I disagree. You see Siri, very often we take it for granted that things cannot be examined and questioned and that this makes us grow. Look, I know that many people in Kenya quoted to me the Bible, in the book of Isaiah often during elections.

They told me.. "My people perish for lack of knowledge!" Not always so. We know much about one another. Of course we can always learn more but we lie to ourselves if we say that people discriminate for lack of knowledge of the other. No one knows a human being completely. No one can actually master even one culture and why it ticks. Our business is not to master one another. It is to be open to one another. I do not know all your customs in your area but to love and not want to cut you down including with a panga does not come from knowing your customs. I know it just by being human. I do not want anyone to cut up my children or me, and so it simply follows that I do not wish it on any human being.

I saw that a dean at the University of Nairobi was very excited that on one radio there is education about our many ethnic groups. I understand. But let me say that it is actually injustice that makes people angry, not lack of knowledge. It is when people are left out and feel they are hanging precariously on the whims of those in power and not institutions.

Tribalism which is worrying you and is uppermost on our minds for a long, long time and moreso since 2007 has a direct correlation with poor governance. I mean that if Kibaki had led in a different way, it would not be an uppermost concern. It grows proportionately with cronyism, nepotism and corruption. There is some kind of touting of what one has and can do for individuals one chooses that goes with it. It grows more when institutions are not respected.

You have seen the Judiciary in Kenya is trying to make a significant mark. The fact is that Justice Mumbi Ngugi ruled that the president cannot appoint as Kibaki had done 47 county chiefs without regarding of gender and unilaterally was great. In the judicial reforms and appointment we were and are breaking world records with the vetting of judges. Why should anyone then over look an instutition and be so retrogressive, so against the steps we have already taken forward. This kind of action as the county bosses were not reflecting any gender or even regional balance bring tribalism head on to the people. It really does not take too much to see that.

Just rulings, will include the risk of choosing democracy. It is a risk in that it allows power to the people and the people can do a lot with power, but it is a happy risk. Much better than not having it and choosing dictatorships. You will see, Siri that if judgements continute to uphold the rule of law and human rights, there will be less tribalism.

I know there are so many other issues to speak about but I must do that another time. However, I want to let you know how much I enjoyed meeting or seeing Aung San Syu Kyi in Oslo. It was on 16.06.2012. She was so peaceful land so calm inspite of the very many years of oppression. She gave a marvellous speech in which her reference to refugees and those who are not at home was so moving because she knows what it means for one to be shut off from the people one loves. I was very near where she passed and there was something that many people did not see but which I saw. A woman from Burma covered her head with a cloth as she left the hall on the isle. I was watching how she bent her head so humbly and the cloth was put on her. I have a photo which is not so clear but which I will post to you with time. Today am writing very late and I have an early morning flight to catch. And I cannot find the page i wanted to quote in this book but will.

But Siri, the more I read about Burma where my Uncle and so many other Kenyan men were taken to fight by the British, the more I see that we have here a model both for Kenya and for us. What do I mean?  I will eleborate and draw parallels. I will not do it all in this letter as I will write again. For today, let me just say that when I read about dosa bhaya or corruption that is indulged in because of fear. I read about in Freedom from Fear by Aung San Syu Kyi. I had two ideas.

First was of course Bhaya... so close to mbaya which we depending on the class of the noun we are discussing in Kiswahili also turn it to baya means bad. Now this is deep. Aung San Syu Kyi describes four types of corruption. Dosa bhaya is an injustice one does because they are afraid to disappoint. They connive in cheating or giving another public resources because that other is a clansman or woman, of the same tribe or family and there is fear to say no because love might be affected. I have never seen corruption split into these sections and I wish so much to share more with you if you would like it. For you see, where there is fear we cannot look one another in the eye and say, we are going to sort out the problems of our country. We have faith in the people, in one another and this is something we must do.

All people who have a public post, all people who can write and do, must help us cut deep into our consciousness and from there arise with better thoughts and deeds. Arise without fear of saying this is where things have gone wrong and this, is what we can do about them...

I will write more when you reply. Remember to suffer in your heart for Uganda hit by Ebola a second time. We do not need more of these diseases that are so mysterious. Siri, all human being are learning and all of them are behind. Do not think as many do that all is well in advanced nations. I am sure you have heard that in a Baptist church in the USA a pastor refused to preside over the marriage ceremony of a couple simply because they are black. I guess this pastor who apologised later has never understood anything around him, never really seen these people. But he knew for sure that they worshipped in his church. He saw for sure, black people all over that land built upon slavery but he never saw. He learned but had no knowledge because he never wanted, did not have the will to open up to people of a dark skin. I am just concluding by telling you that we do not want the knowledge we have. We have to learn to will to know and to do.
We have to stand up without fear. We have to...

So long Siri,
Ni mimi

Thursday, July 5, 2012

We no longer ask who assassinated Tom Mboya on 5th July 1969

Tom Mboya 

We no longer ask who assassinated  Joseph Thomas Mboya, on July 5 1969 and Josiah Kariuki Mwangi, on 2 March 1975. We know. We must now acknowledge these deaths as the Government of Kenya. 

And yet.... WHO ASSASSINATED these politicians, who?

The Government of the day must rise and serve justice, and tell the people…how to make sense of their history and nation. An apology is not enough. We have elected governments that have continued to operate as if these were not matters of urgency.

Writers and intellectuals have been relentless in this cause. Politicians have given up. The last voice I heard on Robert Ouko was James Orengo's and then it petered out. We cannot leave everything to a Truth Justice and Reconciliation Committee that has been dwarfed by controversy.  We have great hope in the Judiciary today. If only reforms will be real after the new constitution. We  have hope in committed people. Dr. Willy Mutunga, Kenya's Chief Justice is one of those who might make a big difference to Kenya's capacity to know herself as a nation, to believe in herself. And the citizens of course. 

We know our responsibility in communicating culture, history and peace. Tom Mboya, J.M Kariuki, Robert Ouko and Gama Pinto, no matter their weaknesses, are personalities that represented so much for Kenya that many people have died as a result of the deaths of these voices.

Chief Justice of Kenya, Dr. Willy Mutunga
We have to learn from history. Nations are still apologizing for the deportation of the Jews. Jens Stoltenberg the Prime Minister of Norway did so this year, January 2012. Recognition of such inhumanity, horror is important. It is vital.   

Joseph Thomas Mboya was assassinated on Saturday of July 5th 1969 in Nairobi Kenya at about 11am. The city of Nairobi and the entire country was plunged into darkness. We were paralysed. I was in Kiambu and shock spread everywhere so tangibly that children could touch it. We only asked the adults in hushed tones… “What is it?” As we crowded round radios.. Later a song was released. Tom Mboya, ndiye baba yetu… Afirika twasitikika!.... “Tom Mboya is our father and we in Afrika are distraught!” 

It was a dark day beyond every border. It was terrible in Nyanza and Kisumu the capital. At his ceremony there was a stampede. My aunt told me that Mama Ngina’s shoes came off there.  In Kisumu people were later shot the day when Kenyatta visited Kisumu to  open what was called the Russian hospital. Poet Macgoye was there. She wrote a poem about the children who were killed.

The darkness continues since Mboya’s death. No justice was served.  Writers and human rights activists continue to speak out and to ask questions.
This is Tom, the man Kenya lost.


David Goldsworthy wrote: Tom Mboya, the man Kenya wanted to forget. There are other books.
Marjorie Oludhe Macgoye has written about Mboya in her fiction. In Coming to Birth. Mboya was a brilliant leader.

In her fiction, Macgoye describes Tom Mboya after one of his meetings in Kenya. She writes,
"Martin was present at that Adult Education rally at Bahati where Tom finished his speech, debonair and controlled as ever and then rushed into the meeting which had been organised to exclude him."

On reading this, we realize that had the author captured Tom in a lively manner, Tom's image in action, this might have vivified this work tremendously. After all, Mboya's life had  marked effect on the major characters, Paulina and Martin. This minister was Martin's hero and when he died Martin's life was deeply influenced. It is then that Martin, and the author questioned the real meaning of freedom.
There is so much pain. There are no words. The characters speak…in sorrow…
Martin says in Dholuo.., "wawuok mondi" let us go… "woud min, nyathiwa" which means `child of my mother'. Macgoye further describes the situation in her poetry.

She wrote this poem For Tom only partly quoted here.

There's danger.
                            The grass is trampled.
                            Only vultures overhead
                            swoop, rend and darken.
                            All sheep is down,
                            The buffalo is down,
                            The elephant fallen,
                            Lion torn and unmanned.
                            Lie low for safety
                            The highest is gone.

"The hunters go unchecked; we see
                  Nothing to salvage from their prey. 
                  The carcase snatched from jackals,
                  lay encased, the spirit wandered free".

In a second poem,("For Tom another mode)", Macgoye asks     perti­nent questions about the death of Tom which led to so much distress in the land. She asks a question for freedom, for "the hunters go unchecked" after they have taken away the freedom to live, think and act from a leader who promised to be extremely helpful to the poor who needed him most and to the nation.

                   "Who calls him rich in worldly things? 
                  We knew him rich in peasant tongue, 
                   Thought in each language newly sprung
                   and courtesy, the grace of kings."

“In 1965, Pio Gama Pinto, formerly an activist for independence in 1950, was assassinated for political reasons. When in 1975, Josiah M. Kariuki, Member of Parliament disappeared and his dismembered body was found in Ngong Hills, the people of Kenya were deeply shocked. Macgoye, narrates in Coming to Birth how the people never stopped to miss their elected but killed leaders.  They mourned and commemorated them. The impact of J.M's death was strong: "J.M. burst upon the scene as a martyr and a paroxysm of grief ran through the city. The skies were leaden that April and it grew colder and colder." And pop music makers of the day, Kamaru and others did not fear so ask Kenyatta in songs in his mother tongue which they spoke what happened to Kariuki. The song went... People of our mother since Kariuki has died... and he has not stolen or killed anybody He has died for being good... and you ask yourself what you will die for... a song I heard and which moves me still. "Andu a maitu tondu Kariuki ni akua.. na tikuiya kana kuragana.. tundo arakua arakwire wega wake.eee na inyui mwiyuragiee mugakua kiii_ oiii oiii ooiii ye.. J M Kariuki mwendwo ni iri...." Kenyatta banned the song.
JM Kariuki

A bomb blast at a Nairobi bus station in 1975 preceded J.M. Kariuki's death. Some ordinary Kenyans were killed in that mysterious incident. Macgoye shows the negative impact of these mysterious deaths of leaders on the people and on the country as a whole. In so doing, Macgoye is questioning the fact that some individual's political careers and therefore freedom, were so thwarted. “ (Philo Ikonya MA thesis)

Charles Mugane Njonjo  is testifying today, 5th July 2012,  in the Kirima case in Nairobi was interviewed by Citizen TV and a series run in 2008 &2009 on the assassination of JM Kariuki on March 1975. It is still about questions, not answers but it gets very close. Leaves it in Government. Now we want acknowledgement.

Charles Mugane Njonjo

Former legislator, Martin Shikuku who is unwell today told me in 2008 and that is also recorded in the Hansard (Kenya Parliament official documentation) how he spoke to JM Kariuki when Mboya was killed urging him to support him when he asked the question in Kenyatta’s Bunge. Everyone was a afraid. JM Kariuki was Kenyatta’s secretary. Shikuku asked the question in Kenyatta’s  Parliament, Who killed Tom Mboya? He was supported by Deputy Speaker, Seroney. J.M. Kariuki did not manage. Martin and Seroney were detained. But a five years and a few months later, J.M. Kariuki was assassinated too. Now Shikuku still went to Parliament and still asks from his sick bed am sure….”Who killed Joseph Thomas Mboya? Who killed Josiah Mwangi Kariuki? We ask because it is good when governments acknowledge their big errors even if time has passed. Norway only apoligized to the Jews this year. We ask. But we know even when we ask. We know. It is better that you, governments of today, come clean and speak to us. There is something about healing in agreeing on what happened if we are one! These issues have never been focused on in a way that can unite us and now we are often torn and in tribal shreds. Some of the politicians today were still in Parliament then, many have died without telling us what they knew or felt, registering their grief beyond tribal and family cocoon, bar talk. 

We do not need whispers anymore. We need crystal clear voices of justice on what went wrong, symbolic ceremonies, justice for the families, shrines and museums where we make reparation for their bodies so violently taken, all of them...all the heroes of Kenya recognized and their role, and more books and poems. Songs. Songs in all languages of Kenya but songs of unity in our struggles. Songs for heroes. Not songs of the hatred that injustice has borne among us and tribalism, the child of political machinations. We need hope in the likes of Shikuku, Seroney, Ouko, Kariuki and Mboya who spoke the mother tongue of justice without worrying about clans and ethnicity they came from. All these and more love protests, so that history is forever alive!

Robert Ouko, left Minister for Foreign Affairs, Jimmy Carter and  Daniel Toroitich Arap Moi on the last tour they  made A few weeks after their return, Robert Ouko was assassinated. 

Eh Mungu nguvu yetu!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Utøya, Anders Breivik and justice

Norwegians were not glued to the live transmission of the Anders Breivik case that has been going on for the last 10 weeks. Many said there is a lot more to life than Anders Breivik. They did not want him to have so much airtime but to uphold the fact that this is a matter of public interest, the hearing of his case was still transmitted live daily. Not even today when the court hears the last of the case and the judges are left on their own are people that enthusiastic. He is not a hero. 

 The judges will pronounce their sentence perhaps before 22 July or maybe not. Their judgement may come later. Some Norwegians will be at home, many more will be on holidays abroad. Those at home will hold a memorial for all those who died. The 77 people all of them innocent and unsuspecting that such terror was ever possible in Norway. It has been termed as the worst killing ever since World War II. NATO and the European Union and many countries in the world, among them also countries with huge Islamic populations, suffer the burden of these killings with Norwegians. 

It has been a very difficult year. It was the darkest summer that ever was here that day of 22 July 2011 ironically in a season when the sun does not set here in Norway, the season of the midnight sun.

This has been referred to all the time as the Anders Breivik case. The words "terror attack" have come up again today. But many times they disappeared and if they did not, they did not sound like terror or terrorist whent it is said at home. For there, the US immediately steps in and takes suspects in renditions to lands unkown. They say they take them to Guantanamo Bay. If Andres Breivik was called Adam Sheikh he would be there now, I think, even if he held Norwegian citizenship. This was a huge act of terror. It involved all the things that make many around the world get renditioned. Some of them are innocent and they suffer for years, for life. Many of them who will never have the comfort of Anders Breivik. He smiled, lost no weight and took time so often to say he preferred not to be asked some questions, for example, about his connections in the UK.

Here a bomb was made by Anders Breivik. Here use of internet was at its highest for all these machinations to work out as he planned. There were journeys back and forth in the acquisition of the bombing materials. There were flights to other countries. And then, here in Oslo a bomb exploded in a government building very next to Apotekegata Bus stop. It was just what happened when the American Embassy in Nairobi was bombed in 1998, a car drives in and parks, and minutes later, every thing is in the air. Here assassinations were planned and executed. It was done by Anders Breivik and he says he is not insane. He says he did it for political convictions that sound very fundamentalist. 

If as at the start some people worried this man had turned out to be from Afghanistan, Pakistan or any stan or Somalia, we know where this case against terror would be. We may not all understand the law, but it is relevant to ask why these laws are not coming into play here. They are not laws I like. Many people I know have suffered under them endlessly.  But does not this terror, this stuff that Anders Breivik is made of, fit like a glove for the aims of the law against terror- which operates internationally? Please guide me.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Shall we then kill a mocking bird? We are poorly educated on racism!

Samuel Eto'o celebrates a goal
Football whether watched at home on screens or in stadiums brings more than a buzz of life to a city. It charges the atmosphere. Money is earned. It can plant faith in values. In Nairobi pubs are full to beyond capacity. No matter the threats of grenades, people sit and cheer, stand and cheer, shout, bet, rejoice and cry at loss. It is the same everywhere. Maybe football is humanity challenging itself?
He knew nothing but love for Arsenal. That was his Juliet. In Kenya, kids know the Man U's and the Chelseas long before they know what is T-shirt. How are we and they suppose to understand that our heroes who score goals for many teams abroad are permanently suffering and bearing the brunt racism on football pitches? Today, Bolatelli says something that should make us all sit up. He says racism is unacceptable for him and that if anyone throws a banana peel at him again...  he will kill that person. About violence let us rue as we hear the man's frustrations. Racism itself is unbearable violence. We do understand his frustration. Leaders in football and in governments must not sit and wait for more violence to happen. They must talk and act now.

Racism is everywhere

Harper Lee, author. To Kill a Mockingbird
The history of racism in football is a reflection of racism in the world.  It does manifest in fields far from football pitches. And some of them more deadly. What should we do? Guilty, shall we kill a mocking bird?  We have no excuse for being so ignorant. We have none either for not knowing what football racism is. Those heading teams have no reason whatsoever why to brook this kind of denial mentality. This is at a time when we are showing off that we are so connected?A time when we are saying even kids are reading the whole world online? A time when all it takes is to google football racism and see what comes up?  

While FIFA says it has zero tolerance for racism, some managers keep saying either it does not exist or what can they do about it anyway, if people are racist. Denial persists at government levels and at football leadership levels even in churches. Shocking indifference. It is time for action now, not just words. Why should anybody suffer because of the color of their skin or because of where they were born? Has the preacher you listen to ever defined racism and fought against it? Isn't there a good portion of it in your holy book? If you want to overcome racism, you must be prepared to be radical even in your way of reading traditions and religions. Radical.

Voices against racism

I am so glad that there are so many people in history and living today who understand racism and are doing something to stem the tide. I am so glad that so many of them are unknown heroes and sheroes who will have nothing to do with racial discrimination because they know it exists and it is unworthy of human beings and so destructive. Equally so that others are icons. Let them speak out more clearly each time! What has been said and written does not seem to be enough. I wish that we could all hear them. I am disturbed that some suppress fellow humans on the basis of race. Some rationalise racism and accept it.  

Mario Balotelli: Racism is unacceptable! Yes!

Blatter chatter harmful

Blatter's chatter was in denial of racism in football. And he in a high position in UEFA. And later, after an apology, he said all you need to do if your are racist is to shake hands. Now it seems as if a huge number of people are doing a Blatter. Saying sorry is no enough. We fall short of concrete measures against racism.

Racism in football is a big shame on the world. Marion Balotelli Barwuah threatens to walk off the pitch if he is taunted again.  The image of a group of European youth shouting Hitler slogans and broadcast on BBC was very ugly. 

"In 2006, British librarians ranked Harper Lee's book To Kill A Mockingbird ahead of the Bible as one "every adult should read before they die"

Racism is not a myth or a fabrication, it is an ugly reality

 I am glad that because of Euro 2012  racism is being discussed openly. I was watching TV. Poland and Ukraine were on the spot because British citizens said they would not attend Euro 12 because of racism. It is amazing how cagey the Polish minister for Foreign Affairs and the Culture minister were regarding something we cannot deny. Racism. Racism  is real. Football has only given us a podium. But many continue to be in denial And societies you would dream are liberated of racism have challenges right at their doorsteps. Scandinavia is no haven for minorities. Nobody is setting the pace except perhaps TorontoCanada, and that only perhaps.

Nations boycotted games in South Africa to break apartheid

The Asian man was hit repeatedly. He staggered head bent forward and just when he was about to straighten up some two young white men infront of him kicked him in the belly again. He bled. Before that, they had shouted Hitler slogans and booed Africans calling them monkeys. The TV footage was appalling but it was not all. This is illegal and immoral.

To fight apartheid many nations cut links with South Africa. They would not trade or play with her. It was a powerful message. Today, a country that displays racism should not be acceptable ground for play. The memory of Mahatma Gandhi being thrown off a train for his color in South Africa sprung to mind when an Asian young man was hit repeatedly by different European people for being black. 

When you think of it, this is what it really means to be barbaric! And all of it happening in the so called civilised societies. To beat or kill someone because of his skin color is to be very base. Is it possible that in all our endeavours to educate humanity so many people have missed the point? Balotelli is right. We cannot accept racism. Not in Africa, not in Asia, not anywhere. Not from anyone, even when we do not kill a mocking bird. Europe's moral collapse is tremendous. The Middle East and all the Arab countries are also challenged with accepting the 'other'

Ida B Wells precursor of Rosa Parks
It is ironic that only in 2010 we had a Football World Cup in South Africa where apartheid helped to make the injury of racism an unhealing and deep wound with the hope that this was a declaration that the world can make it out of racism.In Apartheid times, it was legal to discriminate in South Africa. This was a defiance of basic natural rights. Natural law should make us realise that we are no better than anybody else. Maybe I should start with that we all eat and we know where all the food ends up. What we have is a celebration of color in human beings not black and white. We want human dignity in our diversity all over the world. Ida Burnett- Wells the precursor of Rosa Parks, fought racism. The history of the civil rights movement is recent. How has the memory died on us?

Poland, Ukraine and Euro 12, Be afraid!

I know what the Government officials of Poland are talking about... They mean well. The problem is that no one can assert that a whole country is not racist... that is cheap publicity. Racism is rife too in Britain. It is everywhere. We need to be afraid of how corrupted we can be rather than try to say we are the best. We can only be free from fear when we recognize our enemies well and when we are making big efforts to fight racism. I am not against the Polish take. Reality is. I have a polish amethyst ring given to me by a woman in leadership in Poland. She loves all people. I know her well. Let us just call her Danuta for now. She lives in an Afrikan country. Between her and I, we share a solidarity for freedom that few people can have. I know all about Solidarity and the workers at Gdansk. Lech Walesa is my hero. When John Paul II declared "Do not be afraid!", he meant only if we are fighting to overcome evils we should have no fear.  All the beauty of the Polish spirit that I know does not mean that some Polish people cannot be racist. Even when they suffered the holocaust. 

Keep asking and reading about racism for your own good

So what it is racism? I have read some people who have written that if one says a people are racist, one becomes racist themselves... So that when Balotelli says that Italians are racist (of course he does not mean all of them are) he is told to stop being racist himself. So that when Grada Kalomba defines racism and talks about identities some people answer that she is so racist herself. Some of the comments one reads tell it all. 

 Who is so arrogant? Who is so arrogant as to forget what slavery did to the world, colonialism? Who is so arrogant as not to know that some churches also perpetuated racism? Who is so ignorant as not to know that naturally this stinks? Who is ranting as to keep on turning the pain of racism back to the black people? I looked at these responses to Grada Kalomba and I wondered where these people live? Of course it is true that people of darker complexion whether African, Romany, Indian or American have been at the receiving end of racism.  Between 100 000 to 200 000 Romany were killed during Hitler days. And Hitler was a manifestation of the mentatlity of many during those times. "Long before the Nazis came into power in Germany there existed a strong anti-Semitic tradition in Europe. This was not a specifically German phenomenon. A widespread hatred of the Jews can be found in the writings of Martin Luther and it was an important part of the self-perception of many Christians."


Everyone should do something to stem racism. It behoves those societies that spread it most to do more. It is a moral responsibility too that those who have greater capacity invest more in this. Everyone must accept racism exists. There are endless things we can do personally and together in the world if we are really seriously against racism.Others must be done institutionally.  Each country should not just say we have a law but take proactive steps for the world we have must change! You have some answers too. One of them lies in acquiring knowledge. There are books that are a must read. Just recently I read that British librarians declared that Harper Lees 'To Kill a Mocking Bird' must be read even before the Bible is.