Here, There and Everywhere

Posts tagged ‘South Africa’

A Multi-faceted Ruby

NairobiBloodstarNairobi Bloodstar by Carole Hall
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans

You know a good writer when you read one. Carole Hall is such a writer. Nairobi Bloodstar pulls you into Kenya in the late forties, as if you were just there yesterday. The characters (Charles, Karl, Annalisa, Nils, M’tebe, Michael) are flesh and blood men and women that could have been historical figures, though this is a work of fiction.

Starting at Karl and Annalisa’s mining operation in Kenya, the story follows each individual, at the points where they are related and intersect, and there individual lives, thoughts and feelings. It is like a great ensemble cast in a play, when they are all believable and well played. Ms. Hall’s writing style also reminds me somewhat of Agatha Christie, who was one of the most adept of all time at describing her character’s appearance, emotions, thoughts, traits and personal history.

The story takes place as a number of countries are seeking independence in Africa from the English, Portuguese and French, and at the same time Jews are fighting to establish Israel in Palestine, and protect their new nation from assault. There are romances and alliances throughout, but in many ways (to its credit), they are the background and not the main entre. Individual and national independence, as well as finding personal happiness, are at the crux of this tale. Choices are made, with many unexpected results.

There are no pat answers, conclusions, or moral certitudes in Nairobi Bloodstar, much to its credit. There are people from a variety of cultures who are genuine and will have you caring about each one.

Author Nadine Gordimer Dead

South African anti-apartheid author Nadine Gordimer dies, aged 90
Reuters South Africa
Mon 14 July 2014 1:07pm GMT

JOHANNESBURG, July 14 (Reuters) – South African Nobel Prize-winning author Nadine Gordimer, one of the literary world’s most powerful voices against apartheid, has died at the age of 90, her family said on Monday.

Gordimer died peacefully at her Johannesburg home on Sunday evening in the presence of her children, Hugo and Oriane, a statement from the family said. (Reporting by Ndundu Sithole; Writing by Ed Cropley; Editing by Pascal Fletcher)

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Hate Crime In South Africa

Dear Gabriel,

W1304EALGBT1Two years ago today, 24-year-old South African Noxolo Nogwaza was raped, repeatedly beaten and stabbed.

Why did a young mother, soccer player, and human rights activist die so brutally, her body dumped in a drainage ditch?

Noxolo’s murder was an apparent hate crime. It is believed that she was targeted because she was a lesbian and an active campaigner for LGBTI rights.

Two years later, Noxolo’s murder remains unsolved, and her friends, family and fellow activists wait for justice. Demand an end to the climate of fear for the LGBTI community in South Africa, and demand justice for Noxolo!

Raped, beaten, stabbed — but why won’t South Africa’s authorities fully investigate and solve Noxolo’s case? In two years, there has been no progress in the investigation into her murder and Noxolo’s killer(s) remain at large.

“Contempt, mockery or general disinterest” – that’s how police are often reported to respond when LGBTI individuals try to report hate crimes.

Homophobia in South Africa goes far beyond taunts and insults — behavior that in and of itself is already entirely unacceptable. LGBTI individuals are targets of terrible hate crimes, particularly in townships, informal settlements and rural areas, ranging from assaults to rapes to murders, just because of who they are.

Noxolo’s killer(s) remain unpunished. And as long as murderers and perpetrators of hate crimes are allowed to go free, LGBTI people will never feel safe in South Africa.

But there is hope. The world is marching towards justice — just yesterday, France became the latest country to pass marriage equality legislation.

Momentum is on our side and the world is listening to calls for LGBTI rights.

The time to speak out for justice is right now.

Today, march on and honor Noxolo’s memory by taking action. Demand a full investigation into Noxolo’s murder and an end to violence against the LGBTI community in South Africa.

Sincerely,

Samir Goswami
Director, Individuals and Communities at Risk Program
Amnesty International USA

White Dog Fell from the Sky

White Dog Fell from the Sky: A Novel by Eleanor Morse
New York Journal of Books. 3 January, 2013
Reviewed by Gabriel Constans

0670026409.01._PC_SCLZZZZZZZ_“. . . a satisfying, savory dish that should be served alongside the best in contemporary multicultural fiction.”

There are not enough adjectives to describe the strength of this story.

Eleanor Morse has written a character driven novel with character. White Dog Fell from the Sky has a life of its own that blends reality, insight, observation, and nuance with such ease and grace you forget you are reading.

Two of the main characters, Isaac Muthethe and the white dog, are immediately dropped into reader’s laps with perfect clarity and timing. Their circumstances and environment can be absorbed and felt, as though you are inside Isaac’s skin as he lifts himself up from the dusty Botswana road.

At its core, White Dog Fell from the Sky is a powerful story of love – love of a person, a people, a land and living with purpose. It involves a medical student (Isaac) who must flee apartheid infested South Africa in 1976, after he witnesses his friend’s murder at the hands of the South African Defense Force and the American woman, Alice Mendelssohn, who he befriends in Botswana. Alice followed her husband to Africa and works for the Botswana government.

When Isaac goes missing, her marriage disintegrates and a new love comes into her life, Alice abandons all pretext, while Isaac tries desperately to save the rest of his family and himself, from the terror, torture, shame and killing in his homeland.

The novel’s insight into land, people, relationships, culture and political realities is superb. It is easy to identify with many people in the story, including Isaac and Alice, regardless of one’s personal background or home of origin. The Africans and Europeans who populate the pages are honest embodiments of fellow human beings we have all known—fragile, strong, abusive, kind, and complicated.

Each individual has his view of the world shaped by his experiences and expectations. When Isaac describes his “friend” Amen, who is working with the African National Congress (ANC) in Botswana and Angola, he sees “. . . an ancient injury living side by side with arrogance. Menace, the child of the union.”

Alice and her marriage are described as, “You could see their hearts were not beating together, the blood in their veins wanted to flow toward different oceans.” Alice realizes that, “She and Lawrence had slid into each others lives in simple, naive faith.”

Eleanor Morse’s story is emotionally riveting, heartbreaking, and at times unbearable, while simultaneously embracing hope, insight, and a sense of perpetual mystery.

Each sentence is more beautiful than the last. Some aspects, such as the mutual respect and understanding that develops between Alice and Isaac, are similar in its depth and ambition to the literary masterpiece by Alan Patton and his characters in Cry, the Beloved Country.

Read entire review and others at New York Journal of Books.

China’s Most Famous

Gabriel –

You may not know his name, but my friend Liu Xiaobo is a global icon for freedom. He was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2010 for his long and non-violent struggle for fundamental human rights.

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Today, this hero remains in jail, as China’s most famous political prisoner.

Xiaobo is serving an 11-year term for his activism demanding that the Chinese government make his country more democratic and make its courts more independent. His wife, who has never been convicted of any crime, is under house arrest. This is not just.

I was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 1984 for my work fighting the racist Apartheid system in South Africa. I am humbled to share the Nobel legacy with someone so brave as Xiaobo.

Today, with more than 130 other Nobel Prize winners, I am calling on the new Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, to release Liu Xiaobo from prison and his wife, Xia, from house arrest.

Click here to join us and call for their freedom by signing the petition I started on Change.org.

This is an historic moment in China. Every 10 years, the Chinese government hands over power to a new generation of leadership. As of a few weeks ago, Xi Jinping has succeeded his predecessor, Hu Jintao, in leading China — and hopes are that he will open China to reform more than any of his predecessors.

The Chinese government doesn’t usually listen to voices from outside the country. (Or voices from within the country, for that matter!) But the world has a singular opportunity to push for change when China’s leadership changes over every 10 years. This is our chance!

Humans are wonderful, and we can do amazing things when we act together. I have seen this time and time again with my own eyes.

Click here to sign my petition now, and call on China’s new Premier Xi Jinping to release Nobel Peace Prizer winner Liu Xiaobo and his wife Liu Xia.

Brothers and sisters, we are going to move mountains together!

God bless you,

Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Cape Town, South Africa

She Was Loved and Murdered

Dear Gabriel,

W1212EAIAR1“Noxolo was loved for being a mother, friend, soccer player and activist, she will never be forgotten by her loved-ones.”
– Ekurhuleni Pride Organizing Committee Colleagues

Why did she die?

Noxolo Nogwaza was murdered on her way home from a night out with friends. In the early hours of April 24, 2011, her attacker(s) raped, repeatedly beat and stabbed the 24 year-old—apparently because of her sexual orientation. Noxolo was an activist for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and intersex (LGBTI) rights in South Africa.

A year after her death, no progress has been made in the investigation into her murder and her killer(s) remain at large. Help change that. Demand justice for Noxolo.

She was a member of the Ekurhuleni Pride Organizing Committee, an organization that aims to empower and inform LGBTI people and to combat hate crimes, victimization and injustice through education and awareness-raising activities.

Sadly, homophobia and hate crimes against LGBTI individuals are common in South Africa, particularly against those living in townships and rural areas. Definitive statistics are difficult to obtain as the South African government does not classify rapes according to sexual orientation. However, in the last five years, there have been at least 10 reported cases of rape followed by murder of lesbians in townships across the country.

South African authorities must urgently take steps to put an end to these crimes. With your help, we can make sure that they do.

Please take action now. Tell the Police Commissioner to thoroughly investigate Noxolo’s death and bring her killer(s) to justice.

Thank you for standing with us.

Sincerely,

Linda Harris and Sadie Healy
Country Specialists, South Africa
Amnesty International USA

Killing Lions for Profit

Dear Friends,

Hundreds of South African lions are being slaughtered to make bogus sex potions for men. But we can stop this cruel trade by hitting the government where it hurts — the tourism industry.

A global ban on tiger bone sales has traders hunting a new prize — the majestic lions. Lions are farmed under appalling conditions in South Africa for “canned hunting”, where rich tourists pay thousands to shoot them through fences. Now experts say lion bones from these killing farms are being exported to phony ‘medicine’ makers in Asia for record profits. Trade is exploding and experts fear that as prices rise, even wild lions — with only 20,000 left in Africa — will come under poaching attack.

If we can show President Zuma that this brutal trade is hurting South Africa’s image as a tourist destination, he could ban and punish the trade in lion bones. Avaaz is taking out strong ads in airports, tourism websites and magazines, but we urgently need 1 million petition signers to give the ads their force. Sign below to build our numbers fast:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/1_million_to_ban_the_lion_trade_fbb/?bMPbqab&v=15583

‘Tiger bone wine’ and other tiger-part medicines were banned after massive international outrage — now traders have shifted their attention to lions’ bones to make all kinds of bogus remedies. Experts say unless governments act now, lions could be the next in line — after tigers and rhinos — to face extinction.

There is a solution: banning and punishing the trade of lion bones and organs. South Africa is currently the largest exporter of lion trophies, bones and organs — it is also the only African country actively breeding lions in large numbers to supply trophy hunting. But if we can show that allowing this senseless trade can hurt South Africa’s booming tourism industry and make visitors flee, President Zuma could be forced to act.

Let’s build a thunderous global roar for the lions. Avaaz will show the cruelty of the lion bone trade with stinging ads — sign now:

http://www.avaaz.org/en/1_million_to_ban_the_lion_trade_fbb/?bMPbqab&v=15583

Avaaz members across the world have come together to demand strong protection for elephants and rhinos, save the world’s bees from poisonous pesticides and achieve huge marine reserves in Chagos and Australia to safeguard vulnerable marine species. Lets come together once again and stand up for Africa’s lions.

With hope, and determination,

Jamie, Alex, Antonia, Mia, Alice, Ricken, Luca, Emily and the entire Avaaz team

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