Intimations: people had lived with this emotion as with something private, not to be carelessly exposed. Everyone – the typist in the office, the black boy or man from St James, Blair, even the master of ceremonies at the Miss fine Brown Frame contest, the mocking crowd there, and some of the self-mocking contestants – everyone had lived with it according to his character and intellectual means. Everyone you saw on the street had a bit of this emotion locked up in himself. It was not secret. It was part of the unacknowledged cruelty of our setting, the thing we didn’t want to go searching into. Now all those private emotions ran together into a common pool, where everyone found a blessing. Everyone, high and low, could now exchange his private moetion, which he sometimes distrusted, for the sacrement of the larger truth.
– From A Way in the World by V.S. Naipaul. A scene describing the beginning of political rallies promoting black rights in Trinidad.
More info here: Push Your Pens to the Pinnacle!
Beverley Nambozo Poetry Award is here again this time linking poetry to financial literacy and so we invite you to push your pens to the pinnacle. The theme for the 2010 Beverley Nambozo Poetry Award is Money and Culture.
Ugandan women residing in Uganda from the ages of 18 to 45
Unpublished poems between 15 to 30 lines
Poems must be in English following the theme, Money and Culture. Translations from local languages are acceptable.
Submit your poems by email to email@example.com or by post to P O Box 8470 Kampala, Uganda
Typed poems must be in Times new Roman size 12 single spaced. Handwritten poems must be in blue or black ink.
Submissions will be accepted from November 15th 2009 to March 31st 2010
We accept up to 3 submissions.
Include the title of poem, your name, phone contact and email address separate from each actual submission.
The first three winners will receive 250 USD, 150 USD and 100 USD respectively. In addition, all first six winners will receive autographed copies of The African Saga poetry collection by Dr. Susan Kiguli and How to Save Money for Investment by celebrated Kenyan author and motivational speaker Ken Monyoncho. All shortlisted winners will receive writing journals.
1. Dr. Susan Kiguli; celebrated poet and author of The African Saga
2. Iga Zinunula; returnee judge, entrepreneur and poet
3. Joseph Mugasa; President of Literature Association of Uganda and published poet.
WordAlive Publishers, National Book Trust of Uganda (NABOTU), Uganda Clays Limited and Akamai Global
Latest blog on THIS.org: Binyavanga Wainaina: What the fuck is African literature?
A picture (courtesy of TMS Ruge) from my interview with Binyavanga Wainana on Friday in London. Blog & article to follow.
My heart just skipped a beat! Free access to JSTOR for African organizations. This database ushered me through the hiccups of degrees in anthropology and journalism.
A strange book, part photojournalism and part graphic memoir, “The Photographer” tells the story of a small mission of mostly French doctors and nurses who traveled into northern Afghanistan by horse and donkey train in 1986, at the height of the Soviet occupation. The book shows the damage done to bodies and souls by shells, bullets and iron fragments, and the frantic struggle to mend the broken.
The narrator and photographer is Didier Lefèvre. His black-and-white photographs — many reprinted directly from his uncropped contact sheets — are interwoven with drawings by Emmanuel Guibert. The small sequential frames of the contact sheets merge seamlessly into the panels of artwork. The book, at 267 pages, is long. But its length is an asset, allowing the story to build in power and momentum as it recounts the arduous trip into mountain villages, the confrontation with the devastation of war, the struggle to save lives and Lefèvre’s foolish and nearly fatal attempt to return to Pakistan ahead of the team.
If I was rich I would buy all these books (the library where I am currently living is abysmal). However, my 21st brithday is coming up…
A rather scathing pick-apart of Mamdani’s new book on Darfur, Saviors and Survivors.
However, Easterly remains a fan and asks us to keep the following in mind:
- The Save Darfur campaign repeatedly ignored and distorted the facts on the ground.
- Darfur is an insurgency and an extremely vicious counter-insurgency, but there was never the intent to eliminate any specific group and so the word “genocide” is inappropriate. But the word “genocide” gave the West and the UN a free hand to intervene.
- The prospect of foreign military intervention encouraged the rebels to hold out rather than agreeing to a peace deal, while hardening and attracting additional support for the position of the government to “defend national sovereignty.”
- There were also terrible atrocities on the “good African” side.
- The “good African” side includes one key player, the Justice and Equality Movement (JEM), that is an opposition Islamist movement that was previously on the “bad Arab” side in the North-South civil war between “bad Arabs” and “good Africans.”
- There was a sharp decrease in violence after 2005 just as the Save Darfur campaign picked up steam.
- The ICC is not credible to much of the non-Western world as a judge of war crimes since the US itself does not subject itself to the ICC, and since the ICC seems to selectively prosecute US enemies and turn a blind eye to war crimes by US allies.
- The Western pressure based on distorted facts has set back attempts within Sudan and within Africa to reach a peace settlement in Darfur, which is the only way the tragedy will end.
After reading How To Write About Africa, I picked up one of Binyavanga Wainaina’s short stories. It’s hard to describe his writing style accurately, without butchering it. But, here’s an attempt: Each sentence is thick, pungent. After reading the story, you leave feeling full of words, descriptions, realities that you would prefer to ignore.
There is something about them that Matano dislikes. A closed-in completeness he has noticed in many liberals. So sure they are right, they have the moral force. So ignorant of their power, how their angst-ridden treatments and exposes are always such clear pictures of the badness of other men, bold, ugly colours on their silent white background. Neutral. They never see this, that they have turned themselves into the World’s ceteris paribus, the invisible objectivity.
He puts on a tape. Tina Turner: Burn, baby burn . . .
“Looking for something real,” they keep saying.
Twenty years he has been in this job, ever since he took it on as a young philosophy graduate, dreaming of earning enough to do a Masters and teach somewhere where people fly on the wings of ideas. But it proved impossible: he was seduced by the tips, by the endless ways that dollars found their way into his pockets, and out again.
He has seen them all. He has driven Feminist Female Genital Mutilation crusaders, cow-eyed Nature freaks, Cutting Edge Correspondents, Root-Seeking African Americans, Peace Corps workers, and hordes of NGO-folk: foreigners who speak African languages, and wear hemp or khaki. Dadaab chic.
Not one of them has ever been able to see him for what is presented before them. He is, to them, a symbol of something. One or two have even made it to his house, and eaten everything before them politely—then turned and started to probe: so is this a cultural thing or what? What do you think about Democracy? And Homosexual rights? And Equal Rights?
Trying to Understand Your Culture, as if your culture is a thing hidden beneath your skin, and what you are, what you present, is not authentic. Often he has felt such a force from them to separate and break him apart—to move away the ordinary things that make him human—and then they zero in on the exotic, the things that make him separate from them. Then they are free to like him: he is no longer a threat. They can say, “Oh I envy you having such a strong culture,” or, “We in the West, we aren’t grounded like you . . . such good energy. . . . This is so real.”
Ouch. Moyo is facing some tough reviews:
The book is sporadically footnoted, selective in its use of facts, sloppy, simplistic, illogical, and stunningly naive.
I’ll show what I mean momentarily. In the meantime, my characterization raises a question: why is anyone paying attention to this book? Well, I admired her pungency about rock stars and movie stars: