Friday, 27 August 2010

Coming to terms with the truth..

A UK government minister Crispin Blunt aged 50, has today announced that he has separated from his wife of 20 years. The couple have two children together. Mr Blunt says that he is "coming to terms with his homosexuality".

I am completely unable to understand how a person can live through 50 years on this planet before finally achieving self acceptance. This is a 50 year period during which he would have undoubtedly suffered considerable torment. And it is undeniable that this separation will blight the lives of those others who are affected by it.

The interesting twist to this story is that Mr Blunt's voting record in Parliament has been broadly unsympathetic towards gay rights. And in my view, this speaks volumes about the true nature of much of the opposition that gay people face.

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Moving on..

I like the word GENTRIFY. I was sorely tempted to use it in the title of this post, but I thought it might be giving too much away too soon. Let me start by offering my apologies to you guys for having been uncharacteristically silent on this blog for a while now. There is a good reason for this however, and it is this: I've been in the process of finding a new place to live. And finally this weekend, I am giving up my flat in London for a place in suburban Essex, a place that was once a little village, but which has now been swallowed up by the conurbation that is Greater London. But by gosh, what a difference 20 miles makes!

Okay, the new place is exactly that, New! Its a newly built development, very modern on the inside with an attempt on the outside to ape the traditional English look, mock Tudor and all. Those who know me will agree that I've often whined about the fact that for the last five years I've lived in a flat, without a garden, indeed one with no outdoor space at all. And guess what, I'm moving into a new place, which is not only a flat, its a smaller flat than the one I'm leaving behind, also with no outdoor space and no garden! Worse still, the ground surrounding the building is completely concreted over. But it is located in a very lovely area indeed..

It has not been easy for me to justify the cost of living in the crowded, grotty, noisy, unfriendly part of inner-London that I have called home for many years now. I had a spell in leafy Surrey some years ago, but that was the accommodation provided for the staff of a hospital that was my then employer, under which auspices I lived the life of suburbia without actually meriting it. It was at this hospital that I did my moonlighting, while studying during the day. Now I am making the move to the suburbs under my own steam and it turns out its not the financial nightmare that I thought it would be, (although I still have to factor-in travel costs, since henceforth commuting will become a part of daily life), but I still do think that I'm getting value for money.

Property in inner-London is outrageously expensive. The property market here is attractive to people from all over the world, hence ordinary men and women like us find that we are having to compete with Sheikhs from the Gulf States for the same property. The nosedive in value of the UK's Pound Sterling brought on by the recession has not helped either, because suddenly London property is even more attractive to foreign property investors than before.

Okay, I know this seems a bit exaggerated, but when the Sheikhs and Russian oligarchs buy up all of the very expensive houses, the not so rich then compete for the not very expensive ones. Then those like us who are on the lower rungs must be content with what property remains, but there are millions of us. So what we have is overcrowding, astronomical property prices and exorbitant rents! But then, there is always the option of moving further out of London. And having carefully considered it, living in inner-London for me is really not worth all that cash I've been throwing at it.

So I've taken this option and I'll be moving over the next few days. It might be a while before I get the internet connected, so I'll likely be scarce around here. But don't worry about me, because I'll be busy taking in the fresh air and enjoying my new surroundings, the plush carpets and the recessed lighting throughout the flat, which I admit was the clincher for me. I said its a smaller flat than the one I currently live in, but small has its advantages too. Firstly, its easier to keep clean and there aren't too many nooks and crannies for things to get lost in..

My experience of moving house is that you never realise just how much stuff you own until you are moving house and have to pack your stuff. The prospect of packing my stuff together has been so scary that I've avoided doing it until now that there's no more time left. Fortunately, my nephew has offered to come and help me out, but its a bank holiday weekend this, and he has insisted that he must go out on Friday night and Saturday night as well. So he'll probably be so hungover on Sunday that he won't be of that much help to me in the end. I really should be getting on with it..

Sunday, 22 August 2010

Rudisha smashes the world record..



Today in Berlin.. Another clean sweep for Kenya..
More here..

After the race, David Lekuta Rudisha (a more up-to-date profile here) is quoted as saying:

"Last year I had a bad time in Berlin. The weather was not very good, and I did not make it into the final.

"So I did not want to talk too much about the world record before the race. But today I knew it is my day. I trained very hard, the weather was good. I told the pacemaker to run the first lap under 49 seconds. He did a great job.

"The last 200 metres I had to push very hard. But I saw the clock. 1:41,09 at the end, fantastic. I am very happy to be the fastest 800 metres runner in the world. The crowd was fantastic."

Thursday, 19 August 2010

Africa's sickness..

This is a post I have borrowed from Beppe Grillo's blog. Read more about Beppe Grillo here.

Africa sickness

In ten years in the global banking system, everything has changed. Apart from in Africa. In 1999 the American and British banks were dominating. Four of the top four positions for capitalisation. On the Stock Exchange, the American banks were worth about half the value of existing banks.

concentrazione_banche_1999.jpg

Today, in first, second and third positions there are the Chinese banks: Industrial & Commercial Bank of China, China Construction Bank and Bank of China. The American and British banks have lost two thirds of their value. New banking centres that before hardly existed have sprung up: Brazil, Canada, Russia, India, and Australia. The banks have expanded into every continent (except one), from a phenomenon that was mainly western and Anglo-Saxon to a planetary distribution.

concentrazione_banche_2009.jpg

Capital has arrived everywhere but not in Africa. A continent without capital but with enormous resources. Anyone with capital is buying up resources. But those who sell them stay with no capital and no resources. Where's the trick? Africa has suffered colonialism, then the exploitation of its primary resources and now the expropriation of its territory. Korea and China do shopping for immense agricultural lands in Africa, the size of European states. The government of Madagascar went down after an attempted sale of part of its territory to Daewoo.

You can’t eat money. It’s a good that is not solid, metaphysical, that can be created from nothing. Money is created, resources are destroyed and Africa is a consumer good. There is a hypothesis that 30% of the planet's mineral and metal reserves are in Africa. If up until now, from the African continent, there has been plundering of gold, diamonds, uranium, manganese, nickel and cobalt, in the future they will take maize, soya and wheat to keep the world from starving and leave the Africans to starve. Land is bought or leased thanks to a corrupt government. The local people work the land. The foreigners eat the produce. Anyone with land and water will live only if there’s a national bank in the area. You can’t eat capital but it is top class for starving your neighbour.

It is no longer necessary to line up the army at the border, it’s enough to have the capitalization of the national banks. To fight the world war, the toxic assets for export are worth more than atomic bombs. You introduce them to the foreign banks and the State fails just like has happened in Iceland, and as is about to happen in the Ukraine. Only capital can defend us from capital in a capitalist system. Perhaps it’s the moment to change the system. In Italy, we will eat cement, we are destroying our agriculture. In compensation we have no capital, just debts. We will die of hunger but with nuclear power stations, the Bridge over the Straits of Messina and an extra room. Do you want to have that satisfaction?

* Images comparing the concentration of the banking system 1999-2009 from The Financial Times.

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Out of Africa...The incredible fashion show inspired by Mother Nature

An amazing fashion show inspired by Mother Nature. I came across this 2008 posting on the Daily Mail online website. The models are said to be of the Surma and Mursi people of the Omo Valley in East Africa, (see here too). The story in the Mail reads:

"With colourful make-up of bright yellows, startling whites and rich earth-reds, flamboyant accessories and extraordinarily elaborate decorations, you'd be forgiven for thinking that these images originated in the fevered mind of some leading fashionista. Yet far from the catwalks of New York, London or Paris, these looks are the sole creation of the Surma and Mursi tribes of East Africa's Omo Valley.

Inspired by the wild trees, exotic flowers and lush vegetation of the area bordering Ethiopia, Kenya and Sudan, these tribal people have created looks that put the most outlandish creations of Western catwalk couturiers to shame."
Read more





"...a leaf or root is transformed into an accessory..
Instead of a scarf, a necklace of banana leaves is draped around a neck.
In place of a hat a tuft of grass is jauntily positioned.
A garland of flowers, a veil of seed-pods, buffalo horn, a crown of melons, feathers, stems and stalks-
Mother Nature has provided a fully stocked wardrobe.
Like a dressing-up chest brimming over with costumes and make-up (paint created with pigments from powdered stone), the natural environment is the source of this glorious jungle pantomime.."

"Although the origins of this astonishing tradition have been lost over the years - the Surma and Mursi spend much of their time engaged in tribal and guerilla warfare - their homeland is a hotbed of the arms and ivory trades. Fifteen tribes have lived in this region since time immemorial, and many use zebra skins for leggings, snail shells for necklaces and clay to stick their wonderful designs to their heads. As they paint each other's bodies and make bold decisions about their outfits (all without the aid of mirrors) it seems that the only thing that motivates them is the sheer fun of creating their looks and showing them off to other members of the tribe. As a celebration of themselves and of their stunning environment, this is truly an African fashion parade like no other." Marcus Dunk

Pictures by Hans Silvester (Rapho/Camera Press) from the book Natural Fashion: Tribal Decoration from Africa by Hans Silvester, published by Thames and Hudson, £19.95

Poetic and rather evocative, but I do not like the word "tribe" and never use it, since I think of it as a word devised by Europe to describe peoples they thought were less 'civilised' than they were. The word carries with is a connotation of primitiveness and applies only in relation to the 'native' peoples of Australia and the Polynesia islands, parts of south Asia, Africa, parts of South and Central America and the indigenous populations of North America.

It angers me to see that many of us in modern times have embraced the word and refer to our various ethnic groups, indigenous societies, indigenous nations, kingdoms and fiefdoms as tribes, without thinking about the implications of the use of the word. The word appears in the Mail's description of the fashion event and I needed to express my view. Please pardon me for digressing. See here too.

Tuesday, 10 August 2010

Interesting discussion on homosexuality in pre-colonial Africa

There is an ongoing discussion that was engendered by one of my older blog posts, posted on this blog in March 2009. The post is the first of a five-part series, The Truth about Homosexuality in Africa (Part 1). Go to the comments on that post to see the discussion so far.

The discussion has been between me and (im)perfect_black ☥☥☥ (GI), who blogs at Thoughts of a Ghetto Intellectual and whose Facebook page is here. We have been considering whether there is the potential for obtaining from our elders currently living, (or from any other sources), historical information about homosexuality in traditional African societies. What is desired is information that is authentically African and devoid of all European or Western input or influence, since it seems that all of the literature and the majority of the material that is currently available to us on the subject are of Western origin.

And this would include those reports about the homosexual practices and traditions that the early Western anthropologists observed among our communities. These are available to us today but are of questionable value, since what we find in the literature are the Western anthropologist/missionary/colonial officer's views on what he thought he had observed, rather than a factually accurate and true account of what he did in fact observe.

The reason for writing this post this is to call for ideas and suggestions..

Saturday, 7 August 2010

Being gay in Africa..

A good friend of mine sent me the link to a special edition of the programme 'The State We're In', in which Radio Netherlands Worldwide discusses what it like to be gay throughout Africa, with voices from around the continent. Click here to download or listen to all 52:11 minutes of the programme..

Wednesday, 4 August 2010

419 Scamming... Lol

I woke up this morning feeling below par. My body has been crying out for some rest for a while now, so it felt the natural thing to do to call in sick and roll over in the bed under the covers and go back to sleep. I rose much later to an empty day with nothing planned, so desperately seeking entertainment, I found myself on YouTube checking out videos on Nigerian 419 scams.. I had myself a good laugh..