Evil Spiral

Evil Spiral

indiaharassmentafricansSurrounded by security officials and police, two (later proved) innocent Kenyan immigrants to India are unfairly detained, then harassed by police in Greater Noida, India.

“India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)’s hypernationalistic “Hindutva” ideology has found common cause with Trumpism,” writes a Kenyan commentator today. “Ultranationalism and hatred of the ‘other’ are being associated with patriotism in both India and the US.”

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Artsy Fartsy

Artsy Fartsy

fuck white peopleCan a piece of art be hate speech? A year-long furor in South Africa blew up yesterday when a gang of white men calmly entered Cape Town’s prestigious National Art Museum and plastered a large sticker reading “Love Thy Neighbour” over a “F**k White People” pop-art canvas.

What’s illegal here? The vigilantes believed South Africa’s strict hate speech laws weren’t being enforced, but were they breaking laws protecting the artist’s freedom of speech?

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Better Not Pout!

Better Not Pout!

betterwatchoutAfrica’s a bit unsettled. Europe’s more unsettled than ever.

The world is connected by a million strings. They’re best seen from afar, because up close they’re indistinguishable from the humdrum of everyday life. The ones I watch are in Africa:

Growing protests turn really violent in the DR-Congo. The Gambian president who conceded defeat in an election now says only God can tell him to step down. The Ugandan military is flexing its arms like it did under Amin.

What’s happening and is it coming to America?

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The Last Laugh?

The Last Laugh?

lastlaughThe alt-right may be ecstatic, but the majority of us in the world are increasingly depressed. And now guess what? There’s no comic relief.

A much watched tongue-in-cheek news podcast in South Africa recently replaced twenty years of sarcasm with all that’s left: “there’s only bad news.”

I thought of South Africa’s much loved Evita Bezuidenhoutis after watching this week’s opening sketch of Saturday Night Live. Plays on Trump’s naivete if ignorance are less funny now, because they’ve turned out to be real. The news was wrong: Sarcasm is the truth.

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Authority Dolls

Authority Dolls

authority-fossilThe trouble with authoritarian rulers is that their authority becomes more important than themselves.

Adam Barrow defeated Yahya Jammeh last week in The Gambia and unleashed days of celebrations in the capital of Banjul. Twenty-two years begun with a violent coup seemed to end happily when Jammeh called Barrow and graciously conceded. Seemed like the old man just had had enough.

But it just wasn’t that easy.

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The New World

The New World

trumpsamirTrump’s America is just like many other world power centers, and Africa’s dean of communism sees this as the wonderful start of an irreversible change. According to Samir Amin, you can throw out the Democratic Party with the Republicans; in fact, America as we’ve known it for 2½ centuries is over.

Listen to the old man. Marxism and communism still carry components that could be helpful to us today, just like there are good components in both contemporary conservative and liberal ideologies. Just beware. These are troubled times, but they are also very new and unprecedented times.

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How Much Is Right?

How Much Is Right?

rightoeducationThe success of childhood education is directly the result of how much tax payers will pay and how good the government is that implements it.

Backpedaling in America and proudful politics in Kenya forecasts doom for those countries. Instability and war not only inhibits but defiles education. Massive government investments have assured Asia will become the political, economic and cultural center of our earth. So says PISA.

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Things Falling Apart

Things Falling Apart

soyinkaSometimes, you can’t take you with you.

Wole Soyinka, an 82-year old Nigerian Nobel laureate is going home after 20 years in New York. (Three years ago, also at 82, his revered countryman, Chinua Achebe, also left New York… when he died. Alas, New York is now bereft of great Nigerian writers.)

Soyinka tore up his green card. He’s protesting Donald Trump. He’s elite. Trump confirms he doesn’t read.

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Battle #1 in The War

Battle #1 in The War

assaultonfreespeechIf you’ve got something to say, say it now.

The world is contracting into conservative populism and freedom of expression is in the gun site. Trump idly suggests shutting down the internet or incarceration for flag burning, and legislators in Kenya and South Africa kick gleefully into high gear.

Stalled legislation in both countries to curtail the press and freedom of speech is moving forward, again.

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A Thousand Words

A Thousand Words

ugandapicturewordsAnyone taking a picture is arrested or shot. Then, Facebook takes down the pictures of the courageous who manage to post the massacre. A Kenyan TV journalist is charged with “abetting terrorism” for taking … TV video.

And most noteworthy of all, the organizer of the massacre, self-imposed Ugandan president Yoweri Museveni poses for a “government picture” in sunny South Africa with its despised leader, Jacob Zuma. You can truly wonder in Trumpian vernacular, “What the f*#! is happening in the world today!”

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Genderright

Genderright

semenyaToday Elle magazine’s South African cover was the controversial, victorious woman athlete Caster Semenya. Semenya trounces all others in track and field and carried home Olympic gold for South Africa this year.

Her critics contend she is either not a woman or too androgynous to be allowed to participate as a woman. She’s undergone intense scientific scrutiny which certainly became personal humiliation. Legitimate concerns about the efficacy of the division between “men” and “women” in sports competition got hopelessly muddled in the process of investigating her gender.

In the end sports authorities accepted she had crossed the finish line first as a woman, but they’ve punted on the issue of whether or not she is a “woman.” Where does this leave us?

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Triumphant Tutu

Triumphant Tutu

tutuOne of the world’s gentlest, most thoughtful and consequential men is sick and dying but more importantly, suffering. After 85 years he has changed his mind: euthanasia is right.

Desmond Tutu, the revered Anglican archbishop of Cape Town, Nobel Laureate and winner of countless other peace prizes including America’s Presidential Medal of Freedom, is above all a deeply religious, non-violent man. His prolonged sickness broke his resolve against euthanasia two years ago when he wrote in an Op-Ed in the Guardian “I have been fortunate to spend my life working for dignity for the living. Now I wish to apply my mind to the issue of dignity for the dying.”

Tutu’s arguments are not religious ones, and that is what has attracted me to his thinking. His arguments are practical, political.

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