Friday, July 18, 2008

...Mandela is 90 today!

Dedicated to MADIBA (his nick-name)

Miriam Makeba - N'kosi Sikeleli Africa lyrics

Thursday, February 28, 2008

...And Simon, the compatriot, Says..

In the midst of all this turmoil, the greatest dictator on earth announced to Cameroonians that he shall employ all "legal means necessary" to see that order reigns in Cameroon. His address follows, then my commentary.

Cameroon: Declaration of The Head of State on the Ongoing Crisis in Cameroon
The President has denounced the manipulation of Youths and promised to ensure that law and order prevailed.

Our country is witnessing a situation which brings back unpleasant memories of a period we thought was long gone.

While it may be understandable that when negotiations fail, the demands of a group are sometimes expressed through strike action, it is unacceptable that such action should serve as a pretext for outpourings of violence against people and property. Besides, it is now established that any industrial dispute can always be resolved through negotiation.

In actual fact, that is not the problem. What is at issue is the use, not to say exploitation of the transporters’ strike for political ends. For some people, who by the way, did not hide their intentions, the objective is to obtain through violence what they were unable to obtain through the ballot box, that is to say, through the normal functioning of democracy.

They therefore did not hesitate to throw into the streets bands of youths who were joined by delinquents lured by the possibility of looting. The results are there: public buildings destroyed or burnt down, shops and businesses looted or devastated.

Be it State property, I mean our common heritage, or private premises, these are years of efforts thus reduced to nothing.

The demons who manipulated these youths behind the scenes, were not bothered about the risk that they made them to run by exposing them to confrontations with the forces of law and order. As a result, several of them lost their lives, which, of course, cannot but be deplored.

When the human and material toll of these dark days will be taken, it will probably be very heavy. Those behind these manipulations definitely did not have the good of our people in their mind. A country cannot be built through destruction.

It should therefore be made absolutely clear that Cameroon is a Constitutional State and intends to remain so.

It has democratic institutions which are functioning normally. It is within this framework that the nation’s problems are addressed. It is not in the street that they are resolved.

The vast majority of our people long for peace and stability. The last elections proved this. Cameroonians know that disorder can only bring about calamity and misery. We cannot allow that to happen.

To those who are responsible for manipulating the youth to achieve their aims, I want to tell them that their attempts are doomed to failure. All legal means available to Government will be brought into play to ensure the rule of law.

Source: Presidency of the Republic


To start off, I don't think I can think of one instance in which Bi Mvondo Afam Paul Biya has never greeted Cameroonians at the beginning of his speech...Funny don't you think? I think I miss the familiar "Camerounais, Camerounaises, mes chers compatriots..." which he usually croaked.

That aside, Paul Biya basically declared war on Cameroonians by first insulting them when he called them amateur sorcerers, and then denying to talk about the issue at hand, which is the frustration of the common man with the way the economy of the country was going. After calling his opponents demons, he decidedly ranted musings and irreverent insults to his political opponents accusing them of exploiting the transporters workers' union strikes for their political ends declaring that his opponents were trying "to obtain through violence, what they were unable to obtain through the ballot box,that is to say the normal functioning of democracy."

Such paradoxical affirmations are unheard of especially when someone like him has fraudulently won two consecutive presidential elections with an overwhelming 90+% votes. "Normal functioning of democracy," he so fervently calls it. In the 25 years he has led Cameroon, normal functioning of democracy is evident in the constant intimidation and harassment and killing of his political opponents or anyone with a patriotic conscience for that matter, scrapping the National Assembly when they wanted to limit his powers in 1989, imprisoning any journalists in Cameroon who seek to report any news not written for them by government officials, pocketing 80% of the nation's wealth,...the list is long.

Calling his 25 year old dictatorship a normal functioning democracy really grinds my gears as I think he basically spanked all Cameroonians on their bottom after having slapped snot out of their noses with his bashful and near manic assertions. Maybe he wasn't living in Cameroon all these years to realise that his people were suffering. Oh yeah! He has been in Europe touring his vineyards, chateaux(s) and spending Cameroon's money instead of trying to alleviate poverty in his own country, which is what is being decried in these demonstrations.

He tactfully avoided the issue at hand and resorted to levy accusations on everyone else but himself. Even going as far as saying that people were taking advantage of Cameroonian youth for their personal ends. Does anyone smell a repeat of the Mombutu Sesseseko Kuku Pwendu Wazambangah debacle and downfall of a dictator?

Bi Mvondo Paul Afam Biya didn't hesitate to make it known that he would kill more of his opponents if the need arose. He so eloquently prepared us for the outcome of it all. "When the human and material toll of these dark days will be taken, it will probably be very heavy," he accusingly explains. This, he plans to do by using "all legal means available to the government ... to ensure the rule of law" He sternly warned his opponents.

Bi Mvondo mockingly states that "Cameroon is a constitutional State and intends to remain one." Can someone bring this contradictory announcement to his attention? If it is a constitutional state why not just leave in 2011 as the Constitution says rather than try to employ Cameroonian 'democracie avancee' to instigate people to elect for constitutional amendment so he can serve another term? After 25years in power, one would think he would have found whatever solace it is he is looking for and amassed enough wealth by now to be able to take care of his kids 10 generations from today. So why else does he want the constitution amended? Do not get me wrong, a constitution can always be amended but the majority has already spoken on this issue and Bi Mvondo is not welcome anymore. He wasn't welcome in 1992 and hasn't been since so what is the problem?

My dear Bi Mvondo, the time has come and the youth have realised you have put enough sand in their gari. The young people of Cameroon are tired of having to leave school with degrees and not be able to work. They are afraid of the type of Cameroon, we are building in the face of globalization and they are tired of your constant evasive and senseless promises. The time has come to make good on your promises. Why not start by reducing the prices of petrol? Why not start by increasing civil servant salaries, why not just for once spend a tenth of your ill-gotten loot on Cameroon, rather than open up bank accounts in Switzerland and France? You are 73 and we want you to leave now!

Cameroonians in the US, I hear there is a protest march planned on Wednesday March 5th, 2008 in Washington DC in front of the Cameroonian Embassy at 10:30am.

Please come out and let's remind Paul Biya and his accomplices that after 25yrs of tyranny, subjection, poverty and intimidation, we are tired and want him to leave peacefully in 2011. He should park out of Etoudi heading straight to his palace in Mvomekak. Let us come out and remember the 17 people already killed. Let us come out and pray for Cameroonians the world over. Let us pray for out children and remind the Cameroonian government that Democracy means: government of the people, by the people and for the people. We don't want any forms of this democracy be it 'avancee' or 'moderne'. We just want democracy; the simple type. The type of democracy that would mean there is some form of sustainable economic development ahead for Cameroon and it's people!

Long Live Cameroon, Long Live Freedom!

...Cameroon is on Fire...

I really don't have much to say since sh%t has hit the fan in Cameroon and the strike of the Transporters' Union degenerated into something more than anyone ever imagined. With no one leading the charge, the Cameroonian lay man has expressed their frustration at continuous subdued poverty amongst other things.

Please read on ...Dibussi has more insight...

Thursday, December 13, 2007

...Eto'o dancing Coupe Decale

He is multi-talented. I like this kid.

Thursday, November 15, 2007

...Elf has done it's part for Africa...

I am compiling a list on this subject. I shall be coming back to this in a moment but please feast on this video while you make up your mind about foreign aid to our beloved continent.

My next post will start with the following line: "I have always believed that the white man, no matter how much they strife to show that they are helping us in Africa, never really intend for us to be as well off as they are..."

Now enjoy the video. Thanks!

Thursday, November 08, 2007

...Gas Prices Rise while...

Thursday, November 01, 2007

...Most cruel emblem of racism...

Article from Chicken Bones:A Journal for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes

She was born on the Gamtoos River in the Eastern Cape in 1789 of a Khoisan family in what is now South Africa

Sara's Story a symbol of subjugation
and humiliation, her homecoming will be a spiritual thing

Sara is the short-name used these days for Saartjie Baartman, a Khoisan slave woman who at the tender age of 20 was taken from Cape Town to London and then on to Paris to be displayed naked in their streets and at their circuses like an animal her European audiences viewed her to be. Her story is a tearful and moving one. It is at once the story of an everyday woman, a human being, one of us, treated in the most grotesque ways, used as "scientific proof" of "European white superiority."

But it is also a story about the more widespread "social, political, scientific and philosophical assumptions which transformed one young African woman into a representation of savage sexuality and racial inferiority." Finally, her story is one that provokes us to look in some detail at the power of imagery to form opinions, and the way such power has been employed to depict people of color, especially women of color.

Since this story was published in February 2002, Sara's remains have been returned to South Africa. Saartjie Baartman's skeleton and bottled organs -- long stored at a French natural history museum -- were turned over to South African officials on April 29 at a ceremony in Paris, the culmination of years of requests by countrymen who wanted to bring her home [February 27, 2002 Editor's Note].

The Miami Herald on February 24 carried a story about a South African woman named Saartjie Baartman that attracted our attention, and, we have learned, has had the attention of many for some period of time.

Before getting into the story, we’d like to highlight what we think is the key issue here, the image of the black person, in this case a woman, in Western art. This is tied into the more macro issue of the way blacks have been portrayed as racially inferior and more specifically, the way black female sexuality has been portrayed as inferior. Those times are changing, but Saartjie's story is worth knowing about, because her story says a great deal about history, recent history at that.

Who is Saartjie Baartman?

She was born on the Gamtoos River in the Eastern Cape in 1789 of a Khoisan family in what is now South Africa. The Khoisans are among southern Africa’s oldest known inhabitants, people who made a major role in shaping South Africa’s past and present. But back in those days, bands of Dutch raiding parties went on horseback to the eastern and northern Cape frontiers to hunt down and exterminate these "bushmen" groups who were considered cattle thieves and a threat to settler society.

Canadian socio-linguist Nigel Crawhall, speaking of the Khoisan people, says this:

"These people moved across this land before any other human being. It was they who named the plants and the trees and the features of this land. . . . There [has been an] explosion of identity . . . [among] people who had spent their whole lives having to hide who they were. These people had been destroyed and now suddenly there [is] light and air."

There was never any light and air for Saartjie. In her late teens, she migrated to Cape Flats near Cape Town where she became a farmer’s slave and lived in a small shack until 1810. That year, she was sold in Cape Town in 1810 at the age of 20 to a British ship’s doctor, William Dunlop, who persuaded her that she could make a great deal of money by displaying her body to Europeans. Dunlop put her on a boat and she ended up in London.

There she was put on display in a building in Picadilly and paraded around naked in circuses, museums, bars and universities. She was most often obliged to walk, stand or sit as her keeper ordered, and told to show off her protruding posterior, an anatomical feature of her semi-nomadic people, and her large genitals, which varied in their appearance from those of Europeans.

Khoisan people anatomically have honey-colored skin and stock their body fats in the buttocks rather than in the thighs and belly. These are natural things for them, but Europeans found them to provide an excuse for stereotyping African blacks in grotesque ways. For example, the British described her genitals as like an apron, "skin that hangs from a turkey’s throat."

Contemporary descriptions of her shows at 225 Piccadilly, Bartholomew Fair and Haymarket in London say Baartman was made to parade naked along a "stage two feet high, along which she was led by her keeper and exhibited like a wild beast, being obliged to walk, stand or sit as he ordered".

There were protests in London for the way Baartman was being treated. The exhibitions took place at a time when the anti- slavery debate was raging in England and Baartman's plight attracted the attention of a young Jamaican, Robert Wedderburn, shown in this portrait, who founded the African Association to campaign against racism in England, and wrote of the horrors of slavery.

Wedderburn is himself an interesting black British radical. He was arrested twice in the early 1800s, once for Sedition for defending a slaves rights to rise up and kill his master, and then a second time for sending among the first revolutionary papers from England to the west Indies. For that, was found guilty of "Blasphemous libel" and served two years in Carlisle jail. He subsequently was released wrote and released his autobiography entitled, The Horrors of Slavery.

Under pressure from his group, the attorney general asked the government to put an end to the circus, saying Baartman was not a free participant.

A London court, however, found that Baartman had entered into a contract with Dunlop, although historian Percival Kirby, who has discovered records of the woman's life in exile, believes she never saw the document.

After four years in London, Sara was handed to a showman of wild animals in Paris, where she was displayed between 1814 and 1815 in a traveling circus, often handled by an animal trainer.

French Research Minister Roger-Gerard Schwartzenberg told the French Senate recently that she was also exhibited before "sages and painters," including George Cuvier, surgeon general to Napoleon Bonaparte, and seen by many as the founder of comparative anatomy in France.

Cuvier, shown here, described Baartman’s movements as having "something brusque and capricious about them that recalled those of monkeys." Cuvier used such descriptions to demonstrate the superiority of the European races. Several "scientific" papers were written about Baartman, using her as proof of the superiority of the white race.Jeremy

Nathan, a South African film producer who is making a feature film on the life of Baartman, says such women excited the attention of the Parisian intelligentsia at the time. Cuvier was at the center of an eminent school of social anthropologists who believed she was the missing link, the highest form of animal life and the lowest form of human life.

Her anatomy even inspired a comic opera in France. Called The Hottentot Venus or Hatred to French Women, the drama encapsulated the complex of racial prejudice and sexual fascination that occupied European perceptions of aboriginal people at the time

Sara Baartman died in Paris in 1816, an impoverished prostitute, a lonely woman, and an alcoholic. She had come to be known as the "Venus Hottentot," which was a derogatory term used to describe "bushmen" of southern Africa.

Instead of providing her a decent burial, Cuvier made a plaster cast of Baartman’s body, dissected her and conserved her organs, including her genitals and brain, in bottles of formaldehyde. Along with her skeleton, shown here, Sara Baartman’s brain and genitals were stored somewhere in a back room of the Musée de l’Homme in Paris Her remains including those in the jars were displayed there until 1976.

Saartjie Baartman has created controversy in South Africa as well. Willie Bester, a world known contemporary South African artist, made a metal sculpture of Saartjie Baartman.

Bester is shown in the next photo, and you can barely see an overhead image projection on the screen behind him of his sculpture of Sara. Bester's father was Khosian and his mother what has been called "Cape colored." He was himself classified as "other colored" during the apartheid years.In Bester’s work apartheid has remained the dominant theme.

In particular he has consistently tackled the Group Areas Act (the law that defined where people could and could not live according to their color); the militarized and violent character of South African life stemming from apartheid; and the role played by the Dutch Reformed Church in supporting the apartheid ideology.

Yet, his sculpture of Baartman created controversy, perhaps because it was displayed in the Science and Engineering Library at the University of Cape Town. A panel was convened to discuss the sculpture. Some felt it needed greater explanation to accompany it, to explain the oppression and injustices committed during the colonial era. Others complained that the science library was the wrong venue, because it was in the name of science that Baartman was paraded about Europe like an animal. There were also complaints that if art of indigenous peoples are to be displayed, they should be by indigenous people.

Here in the US, an African American woman, Deborah Willis, has written a recently published book that was motivated to a great degree by the tragedy of Saartjie Baartman. The book, entitled, The Black Female Body in Photography, focuses on the power of the photographic image to reflect and affect opinions. Willis, curator at the Smithsonian’s Anacostia Museum and Center for African American History and Culture, commented on Baartman’s situation this way: "The stereotypical caricatures of Baartman portrayed her as entertainment while also sexualizing her image. (Despite the negative and stereotypical nature of Baartman’s images) the bustle soon became very stylish in Europe and later in America, and this may have been the result of the popularity of her images."

After reading about Baartman, Willis contacted Carla Williams, a longtime friend and fellow photographer, to discuss the possibility of a book on the black female body
in photography.

Willis has noted that most images of black women produced in the decades after the Baartman images were exotic shots of African women in tribal attire or were of slaves working in the fields or taking care of white children and babies.

The latter images, according to Willis, provide a counterpoint to the earlier sexualized images of black women. "They were images of ‘neutered’ black females instead," Willis explains. These new images of slaves and "mammies" robbed black women of their femininity and portrayed them more as genderless workers.

A recent advertisement for Benetton, an international clothing store chain, featured a black woman with a white baby at her breast and was considered controversial when it debuted, Willis says. "But I loved the imagery, because it provided a counterpoint to that neutered black female aesthetic."

It is also worth noting that a new documentary film has been produced by Zola Maseko, who grew up in Swaziland, entitled, The Life and Times of Sara Baartman – "The Hottentot Venus". Using historical drawings, cartoons, legal documents, and interviews with noted cultural historians and anthropologists, The Life and Times of Sara Baartman - "The Hottentot Venus" deconstructs the social, political, scientific and philosophical assumptions which transformed one young African woman into a representation of savage sexuality and racial inferiority.

American Historical Review has said of the film:

"Zola Maseko's elegant and rather beautiful film recounts the life and times of Sara Baartman in clear and acceptable terms, using both contemporary and contemporaneous sources.... A telling and quite powerful film. It would be very appropriate for any class in the history of racism or colonial history. And just an hour long, it is perfect for a single classroom showing."

Le Monde has written:

"By combining the history and tragic destiny of Baartman, with the theories and racist imagination of the period... (Sara Baartman) presents an implacable plea against racism."

The film was rated the Best African Documentary, 1999 FESPACO African Film Festival, Ouagadougou Burkina Faso, and Best Documentary, 1999 Milan African Film Festival, Italy.

Commenting on the film and the life of Saartjie Baartman, now known to many as Sara, Alex Dodd says this:

"Part of the power of the documentary is that, as a viewer, you cease to think of history as words on a page or abstract theories. Despite the myriad discourses her tale has triggered, one cannot for a second escape the reality that Sara Baartman was a real human being with feelings. (The film) was Baartman’s life…an amazing story of one woman’s life."

South Africa, since it broke loose from the grip of apartheid, has been asking the French to send Sara home. Former President Nelson Mandela made that a personal project. He asked the late President François Mitterand for help in 1994, and two years later, South African Foreign Minister Nzo formally raised the issue yet again But no progress was made.

However, now the French Senate, in late January 2002, approved a bill proposing that Sara be returned home to South Africa. The lower house of the French parliament, the National Assembly, is expected to pass the law before the end of June.

For many South Africans, most especially for the Khoisan and a man named Boezak, a representative on the Khoisan legacy project of the South African Heritage Resources Agency (SAHRA), Sara’s "sad story has become a symbol for us…of the subjugation and humiliation of Khoisan women through all the ages." He went on to say:"(When) we celebrate her homecoming it will be a spiritual ceremony. It will be a reburial. It will not be a Cape Town thing, it will not be a Griqua thing, it will be a national thing."

* * * * *

Friday, October 12, 2007

...Nigerian Comedy...

Gone are those days of Zebrudaya and co.; Usher in Ukwa et al.; but don't forget the amateurs.
Nigerian Laugh Out Loud comedy. Just a couple of videos.

Another one.