Keeping the Focus on Jena and Connecting the Dots

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Quality: HD
Title : Fifty Shades Darker
Director : James Foley.
Release : 2017-02-08
Language : English
Runtime : 118 min.
Genre : Drama, Romance.
Synopsis :

Movie Fifty Shades Darker was released in February 8, 2017 in genre Drama. James Foley was directed this movie and starring by Dakota Johnson. This movie tell story about When a wounded Christian Grey tries to entice a cautious Ana Steele back into his life, she demands a new arrangement before she will give him another chance. As the two begin to build trust and find stability, shadowy figures from Christian’s past start to circle the couple, determined to destroy their hopes for a future together.Watch Cyberbully (2015) Full Movie Online Streaming Online and Download

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Bitter harvest

With rising food prices and shortages on the horizon, OBA board member Raj Patel calls for farmers and landless people to take back our food system from corporate agriculture. Reposted from The Tablet, September 8, 2007.

The switch from fossil to biofuels is being encouraged by governments to combat global warming but emissions in their manufacture are worse than burning diesel. Now the quantity of land required is contributing to a worldwide shortage of food.

Consumers in Britain have been warned that they will have to pay more for meat in the coming months as farmers pass on the increased cost of animal feed. Bread is going up too to keep pace with the rising cost of wheat. Elsewhere in the world the price of basic foods is already increasing. One recent report observed that the price of tortillas in Mexico had quadrupled, Indian food prices were up by over 10 per cent, and in China, the cost of pork rose by more than 40 per cent last year.

These price increases are just the beginning, as in the years to come the effects of a world food shortage will begin to bite. The latest warning came last week from 50 climate and soil scientists gathered in Iceland to discuss the future of the world’s food production. The picture they painted was bleak. In the next 50 years, we’ll need to produce more food as a species than in the past 10,000 years combined. And this is happening at the same time as soils are being degraded by intensive agriculture. As a result of more people demanding increasingly scarce food, prices are set to rise. It’s a combination that bodes ill for the world’s poor.

The first symptom to appear has been high grain prices. In part, wheat and maize prices are high because the harvest this year has been particularly poor – climate change has already taken a toll on some farming operations. There has been bad weather in important grain-growing areas such as Canada and parts of Europe. Soil degradation and water depletion also play a role. But, ironically, the new and forceful reason for the price rise lies precisely in a measure designed to prevent climate change – biofuels. With prices for maize at record highs, farmers are switching to growing it for the biofuels industry.

President Bush is keen to increase annual output to 35 billion barrels of biofuels within a decade. We might be more inclined to accept this if biofuels actually worked. But they do not. One recent study found that production of palm oil in South East Asia produced between two and eight times more carbon dioxide than burning diesel. The British Government’s own advisers have cautioned against going down this road. But every government, including the British one, wants to be in on the act.

Biofuels – agrofuels is what environmental campaigners argue we should call them – are taking over. The Indian Government intends to plant 14 million hectares of them while Brazil is planning 120 million hectares, and an African consortium is vying for 379 million hectares over 15 countries. This is the energy policy that our leaders have committed us to, despite evidence that it is irrational.

The competition between biofuels and food, you might think, leaves at least one clear set of winners – grain farmers. But even here, the situation is not clear. For biofuels to work, they need to be produced on an industrial scale. And that means growing them on plantations, and using cheap labour. Plantations are made by one of two means: either clearing virgin forest – which more than cancels out the carbon-reduction goal – or by taking land away from the poorest farmers, who are usually indebted, and ready to be bought out by large landowners just to keep the wolf from the door.

In fact, the real winners here are not farmers at all, but food corporations. Today, the four companies that run our food supply are companies few of us have heard of – ConAgra, Bunge, Cargill and Archer Daniels Midland. They remain mighty forces – hidden from us as consumers, but with the power to pit farmers across the world against one another. Emelie Peine, a United States-based soya farmer who was visiting Brazil when I interviewed her, put it like this: “Farmers need to understand why they’re competing. The thing that made me realise this most is that Cargill is not only the largest exporter of US soybeans, but also the largest exporter of Brazilian soybeans. Farmers need to understand that every independent producer of tradable commodities in every country is being squeezed by the same companies and that the root of the problem is the corporate structure of the global agricultural economy.”

The irony, as food prices rocket, is that the world’s poorest people are those who work the land. Three out of four poor people in the developing world live in rural areas. Higher crop prices are going to increase income a little for those who can afford to bring their produce to market. But for the opportunity to be successful, a farmer needs to have land, access to loans to be able to invest in crops, and the technical support to be able to develop better farming systems. Those are things that the poorest agricultural workers can only dream of. Most are left to fend for themselves. The support that goes to industrial and corporate farming in the US, through the Farm Bill, and in Europe, through the Common Agricultural Policy, means that the poorest farmers, in both the developed and developing world, struggle to compete.

Around the world, farmers and landless people have been organising to reclaim our food system. Together, they have formed La Via Campesina – the peasant way – that promotes the idea that both farmers and consumers need to be more connected to our food. Currently based in Indonesia (although with origins in Latin America) and claiming up to 100 million members, it is a strong contender for being the world’s largest social movement.

Progressive farmers’ movements want to circumvent the industrial agricultural giants and deal with consumers directly. They want to be able to grow the food to feed the planet in a way that respects its producers, as well as deal with a range of issues, from direct farmer-to-farmer emergency relief work during disasters such as the Asian tsunami to lobbying the World Trade Organization and the alarm about human rights violations committed against the rural poor.

Their hope is that we’ll connect with food more, and enjoy it more as a result. Recent research shows that children enjoy food more if it is wrapped in a McDonald’s wrapper than if it’s wrapped in brown paper. How much more would we enjoy food if we knew where it was grown, how, what was in it and how we were connected to it? A group of activists, artists and artisans realised this long ago in Italy, and started the Slow Food Movement. They want to enjoy food more by celebrating the labour that produces it with every morsel.

One important move is to eat less meat and fish, and consume more vegetables. It’s sensible advice from a purely nutritional perspective, added to which there’s certainly not enough land on earth to support a global population of six billion eating the amount of meat that we do in the developed world. But this isn’t a hair-shirted movement; it is also tremendously enriching as well as a way of combating obesity – current trends suggest that by 2050 half of all British children will be overweight.

If there is to be more expensive food, let it be expensive not because it is grown in competition with biofuels, but because it reflects the true human cost of growing it, with farmers earning the income they are hungering for, in a society that allows its poorest members dignity and self-respect. That would be an outcome worth savouring.

Baraka Eulogizes Sundiata

Eulogy for poet Sekou Sundiata delivered at his memorial service on Wednesday, Aug. 22, at New School University in New York City.

This great poet takes the name by which the world knows him from two great rulers of Africa. Sundiata, the first ruler of the Mali empire (1230AD), in what was called Africa’s Golden Age and Sekou after the Democratic Republic of Guinea’s liberator from French colonialism, the great leader, Sekou Toure.

I first met Sekou in some organizing meeting in New York City aimed at creating an Afro American delegation to the 6th Pan African Congress (“6 Pac”, we called it) which was eventually held in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, in 1974. All those meetings were vigorous, serious and long. There had been some attempt to limit delegations to government appointed ones, in Africa and the Caribbean, so that, by default, the Afro American delegation was the only one nominally independent.

In those meetings and most clearly in Dar I came to recognize the young dark strikingly handsome shy but articulate brother who seemed to be finding his way through the maze of Pan African political unity, struggle & polemic. The Six Pac was so significant because it was the first Pan African meeting held in Africa itself! The famous 5th PAC was called together by WEB DuBois and met in Manchester, England, when it was impossible to meet on the continent of colonial Africa.

That conference was attended by Kwame Nkrumah, Jomo Kenyatta and Azikiwe, who were among the first leaders of post colonial Africa, in Ghana, Kenya and Nigeria.

The 6PAC made such an impact, not only because it was the first on the African continent, but because it tried to bring together representatives from the whole of the African Diaspora with representatives from each nation in Africa.

What made this conference of even more importance was that it was honored by the presence and addresses of two of the greatest of contemporary African leaders, Sekou Toure and Mwalimu Nyerere.

It was at that historic gathering that Pan Africanism, whose definition was tortured like the blind men describing the elephant, now was clearly defined by these two leaders simply as the world wide struggle of the African people against imperialism.

This pronouncement for some of us was crystal clear and politically and materially correct. But that was not the case throughout the delegations, many of whom represented somewhat conservative or even reactionary governments. It was in this context that I clearly remember the young Sekou Sundiata as a sympathetic ally as the internal struggles for clarity heated up with huffy words and mumbled denunciations of some of us who were pushing a left and socialist oriented approach to Pan Africanism.

So it was in that period of more intense struggle for the liberation of Africa and equal rights, self determination and democracy for Black people wherever they were in the world, that I came to appreciate the mind, heart and will of the still developing Sekou Sundiata, who was in his middle twenties at the time.

It was only later that I discovered Sekou was a poet. So it was the political consciousness of this poet that I first appreciated. But in those days that was not unique. I first met poets Larry Neal and Askia Toure in demonstrations against the murder of Patrice Lumumba, where our comradely relations were initiated before I knew they were great poets.

The fact that the little known Robert “Bobby” Feaster of East Harlem, who often uttered Spanish in his poetry, because he thought it was hip, not because he could actually speak the language, only came to be known internationally as a poet combining the names of two of the greatest African leaders, is also a paradigm of what time he came to “true self consciousness.” Roland Snellings and Everett L. Jones are not as well known as poets as Askia Toure and Amiri Baraka.

So that Sekou was coming, like some of us before him, grounded in the political struggle of Black Americans and the Pan African struggle as well. Sekou, to me seemed to have gleaned and winnowed what he thought was most important from the Black Arts Movement (The Black Arts Repertory Theater School, BARTS had come to Harlem in 1965) and the Black Consciousness movement from which it was spawned and which re-ignited the Black world, so that that learning was one important factor of his teen-age Harlem life.

This period, beginning with his birth in 1948 (the year after India gained its independence and the year before the Chinese gained theirs) through little boydom, 1954 Brown vs. the Board of Education. By the time he was 10, Rosa Parks and Martin Luther King Jr. had already initiated and led the united Afro American community of Montgomery, Ala. to victory in the bus boycott, and in a minute Fidel Castro led his Barbudos into Havana. The next year Malcolm X would appear on television for the first time and the Greensboro sit-ins would generate SNCC and the national student movement. Kwame Nkrumah became the lst Premier of Ghana that same year, 1960.

These are not just historic facts, but part of the obvious Sekouization of young Bobby Feaster. This was his deep education, “A woman to my right worried a flag/the size of a handkerchief/ the kind you get at the fairgrounds/And Little Emmett Till came to me/ a face that long ago cured/ my schoolboy faith/ in that lyric/so that I could no longer sing/ with the voice of praise/As if it was my own/O beautiful for spacious skies” (51st State). The Till incident had happened when he was about 7 years old. The boy’s slaughter is generally felt to be the transcendental horror that triggered the Civil Rights Movement. Welcome to America, Son!

Sekou Toure said that we are shaped by what contains us as we shape what we contain. The poet Sekou Sundiata was shaped by that world, Blackly sensitive to it.

“What is Life?/Life is what we are thinking about all day” (51st State) He said of himself in an interview, re his Blessing The Boats “…we didn’t just grow whole, we come out of something and … there’s a rootedness there and at the center of that root is Black culture and tradition. …particularly Black music traditions, Black language, Black linguistic strategies, humor, what we think is hip and beautiful.”

All that at the root of his perception in and of this America. “I could even draw a map of the United States from memory”! A sensitive Afro American youth, given a pan American perspective by his birth in Spanish Harlem. “The Bodega Republic”, “…days & days goin by in broken English”, as a son of Black civil servants. Who would move all over Harlem in love with music and poetry & basketball. Whose role models were his mother and father, Virginia and William Feaster, and older brothers. But by the time he was fourteen Texas oil had assassinated John Kennedy and by the time he was 16, Malcolm X was murdered not far from where he lived. Like Chickens coming home to roost, these kinds of images would maraud throughout Sekou’s work.

Sekou always wanted to know where he was at. Literally, the most basic sense of place, geography…where his room” …our apartment stood in relation to other rooms and other apartments in other countries…to the mountains and the rivers and the great oceans. I could spend hours staring at maps.” (51st State) And you want know where you are, exactly, in the world, then of course you want to know where every thing every one else in the world is at. Like we say, where they be coming from!

This is also why Sekou’s poetry is so specific in it’s rendering of self and other selves. Where they be coming from. ‘Here’s to people who when you tell them wait in the car they don’t wait in the car.” The name Sekou itself is of the aggressive, those who push. Toure said, “Victory to Those Who Struggle”!

He took from that period of mass struggle what he could use, what was true and fundamental and rejected and criticized what was superfluous and jive. That is the very freshness of what you hear on The Blue Oneness of Dreams. What we heard earlier with his seminal Are & Be Ensemble. We hear a voice committed to the nitty of truth and the gritty of real life. And real life don’t fit no formulas or ready mades, even the ones we believe in.

This is Sekou’s Freshness, reflecting of what we was, whether it was real or not. “In the early days of the Aftermath/I was in hiding/from the lost army of protest/calling from the 20th century/for something boisterous and skinny on the page”. And Was is as continuous as Is. Is becomes Was instantly, instanter upon instant.

And with that freshness, an openness to new things, innovations, a qualitatively renewed extension of the valuable, the proven, but released from slavish imitation by the psychological summation of what was true and beautiful and useful from what was not. So what we hear is usually impeccably placed, images that represent ourselves at another time, at this time, You don’t belong to Malcolm or Bird anymore…Oh Harlem, Oh Harlem, Oh Harlem…..I don’t want to tell you, I don’t want to Tell you, Suppose I was dreaming, Oh Harlem, Oh Harlem, Oh Harlem.”

But to be so metaphorically precise, so exquisitely wordish. That you cannot fear because words, those sounds, are visible and sensual, knocking relentlessly in your head. He said,” I feel like I’m always writing. I’m always collecting lines, images and titles. In many ways it’s a way of life; you”ve got to be open to what the moment to moment possibilities of any day are….In my mind it’s always like that, its always kind of churning.”

Sekou was the most artistically powerful and politically advanced voice to emerge in the wave of poets grown to maturity in the post 60’s milieu still reflecting the revolutionary thrust of Black Consciousness, Black Arts, Anti Imperialist commitment. But there is a ubiquitous tenderness and sensuality throughout the work. And no poet is funnier than Sekou “Once I married a woman behind her back…she knew enough French to get out of the working class”. Such humor is like Robin Hood’s arrows dead on target. The exact image of what it was and what it is. Check how he can sum up his own generation’s perception of the Black fury in which he grew “I never went to see John Coltrane because I thought you had to belong to something.”

But he would take Trane’s teachings and Malcolm’s and King’s and make totems to their truth in his own fashioning beauty. Listen to Sekou quote Malcolm and King on the fly, straight out of their mouths, reminding us and revealing to his own mass of roadies “You wouldn’t use that word if you (Revolution) if you knew what it meant….” I would like to live a long life, longevity has it’s place….” but in a few beats we hear the agonizing sound as the icons are blown away by actual America penetrating our dreams. “I even wrote a character named Mason Dixon into one of my stories. His job was stop you at the (Mason-Dixon) Line and search your car for weapons” By the time Sekou was 20 years old, both Malcolm X and Martin Luther King would be murdered. Take all that and give it back.

Sekou’s entire approach to literature was live and on records. So he created audioture. Are & Be, (1980) which announced for me that he was indeed at the head of the next wave of powerful witnesses. The hip waited eagerly for the wonderfully titled The Circle Unbroken is a Hard Bop which we saw and heard and knew what we first dug was true and that Sekou was stretching out now in earnest.

He was by now beginning to receive some wider acknowledgment of his work and several awards and grants, culminating in a professorship at the New School But it was his own production that was the most valuable aspect of Sekou’s life not the accretion of outside response. Unfortunately this production was marred near the end of his life by uncertain health, although his kidney disease and need for dialysis and a new kidney brought out the internationally acclaimed Blessing The Boats which premiered in Harlem, at the Aaron Davis Hall (’02) and examined his life under siege by the disease and served not only as inspiration but the very practical role of instructing people all over the world what kidney disease was and how it was to be fought, lived with and conquered. On the Blessing tour discussions were included.

Sekou was just taking off, that is the depth of my own sadness. When I first heard he had split I blurted out to an old friend on the phone, “it’s not fair…” and we both wept.

Because Sekou was always, as Richard Wright instructed us, at the top of his time. The 51st state turns his wandering across a Manhattan consciousness “I came to my feet at the Wall St station/and walked towards the door/like a reluctant witness to the witness stand” into 911 “I drowned in a flood of burning Jet fuel/ Down was looking like Up when I jumped with my brains on fire/ I ran from the falling towers and wandered for days..A priest kneels in the powdered ash/The holy ghost and the angel of death cross paths/Someone calls for the jaws of life: earth water fire air!” (51st State)

And in the next breath he is in New Orleans unhealed from Katrina’s blows

“A citizen walks into a Citizenship looking for directions as the drama opens in a New American/Theater with a view from the 9th Ward that looks out on Speed, an ancient word for a future that is Always Now, a millennium already old and half done.”

He is always open to the criss cross of sensibility altering impression, from perception to rationale to use in a few beats, “Who said who to who said who to who?”(51) or as he said in another moment ..”I’ma tell you like this” repeating it again and again with varying explanations of what life was and is and might be, constantly interjecting the whole world of his consciousness from the clichéd promos of vanished radio preachers “to all those in the sound of my voice”, but also to those outside the sound of my voice. What we heard in The Blue Oneness…with it’s stream of completely contradictory but exactly precise dedications, e.g., “to the swift and the cool and even to the fools”. Everybody is alive , so dig it. “My left. Your right/My left. Your right/My. Your. My. Your. My. Your. y” The endlessness of life’s variations. Of life’s life.

For me, I was constantly awed by Sekou’s incredible sensitivity and skills. To me he was a comrade in struggle, a co-cultural worker gigging hard at the task of raising the consciousness of the people, yes our people, but all people. In one of our conversations when Sekou came to Newark to read in the Poet Laureate’s series at the Newark Library and in Newark Schools, we agreed, that it was very dangerous living in a world full of ignorance.

So his stream of dedications to reach anybody, everybody, somebody, “prayer after prayer bears witness by listening for a call back /Peace and whatnot to the indigenous people of the Salvation Army/Amen to the sinners coming to the House of the Lord for the sweet hour of power/Inshallah to the believers handcuffed in front of the hallal store’”(51st State) Everywhere, anywhere, trying to register everything touch everything, Mao told us perception is the lowest form of knowledge, rationalization the next, that is what is it I am digging, the poet, like Sekou takes the perception and includes the rationalization, the what it is, within that same image, so that the highest stage of knowledge, use, is realized to the highest extent. No more becomes Know More. Like Billy the kid drawing and firing and hitting the bullseye without apparently aiming. So a child thought. Billy said, I’m always aiming. So was Sekou.

You telling me that now he is an ancestor. When he was just beginning but already become another icon within our own cultural treasure chest, his glorious addition. The Circle Unbroken… A Hard Bop.

But it is time, Maurine Kazi, Craig, Katea, Louis and Sekou’s whole circle of friends, relatives and artists,to gather what Louis Rivera characterizes in the title of own book, as Scattered Scripture, all of Sekou’s scattered scripture and reissue the audioture and now the literature. We need it. We must have it!

Bring On The Reparations!

Amiri Baraka

If Stones Could Float: The British Press and the Turks and Caicos Boat Disaster

The Ota Bengas of today are people all over the planet treated as less than human by a system built on greed, profit, and violence. What follows is an example. The story was reposted from HaitiAnalysis.Com.

Updated on 6 September 2007[1]

Every now and then something happens which helps to shed a little light on the way our newspapers distinguish between what counts as news and what doesn’t. Consider how the British press handled two very different disappearances, the nights of 3 and 4 May 2007.

In early May two British doctors, Kate and Gerry McCann, were on holiday in the Portuguese resort of Praia da Luz. On the night of 3 May 2007 they went out to dinner at a tapas bar near their hotel, leaving their three-year old daughter Madeleine behind with their two other young children. At some point that evening, Madeleine left or was abducted from their unlocked apartment, and she hasn’t been seen since.

Nobody who lived within reach of the British or indeed European media in the spring of 2007 is likely to forget its extraordinary response to this event. Madeleine McCann’s disappearance remained one of the lead stories in most of the British papers for a full week, and immediately became the object of obsessive national attention. The phrase ‘Madeleine McCann’ appears in no less than 164 articles published by the Guardian newspaper between 4 May and 13 July ? an average of two or three articles per day. Tabloid papers like News of the World and The Sun still strive to outdo each other in their commitment to ‘leave no stone unturned’, to use the slogan adopted by the official website of ‘Madeleine’s Fund’ (a site that apparently received 58 million hits and 16,000 messages of support within 48 hours of its launch on 16 May). Author J.K. Rowling and her publishers recently instructed every shop in the world that wants to sell the latest Harry Potter book to put up posters of Madeleine asking ‘Have you seen this child?’

The night after the world’s most visible missing person vanished, early on 4 May 2007, at least 80 other people disappeared when a boat sank in the Caribbean. This time British authorities were directly involved in the disaster, and there is good reason to suspect that the deaths may have been the result of criminal negligence, if not of deliberate police violence. Some of the dead may have been eaten by sharks; many were women and children. A UK government enquiry is currently underway and the publication of its final report is due in August.

It doesn’t take much effort to imagine how the media might have reacted if the victims of such a calamity had themselves been British. The disappearance of even a single white yachtsman is always guaranteed a certain amount of press coverage. But what if the dead are poor and black? What if they come from a place like Haiti? How many stones might we expect newspapers like the Guardian or Independent to overturn in their coverage of such a story?

Before answering this question it may be worth remembering what actually happened the night of 3-4 May.

Early on Tuesday 1 May, a 30-foot sloop set out from the northern Haitian city of Cap-Haïtien, headed for the neighbouring Turks and Caicos Islands. US and UK officials estimate that it was crammed with around 160 people. These were people who had finally decided to abandon the certainty of crippling destitution at home in exchange for a one-in-a-million shot at precarious low-wage employment abroad. They were people who lived on the edge of starvation, people whose children had little prospect of ever going to school or getting a job. Haiti is a country where, according to the best available study, around 75% of the population ‘lives on less than $2 per day, and 56% ? four and a half million people ? live on less than $1 per day.’[2] Punitive international trade and financial arrangements ensure that such destitution will remain a structural fact of Haitian life for the foreseeable future.

Every serious political attempt to allow Haiti’s people to move (in ex-president Jean-Bertrand Aristide’s phrase) ‘from absolute misery to a dignified poverty’ has been violently and deliberately blocked by the US government and its allies in the international community. As a result, in a normal year, an average of around a thousand of Haiti’s most desperate or most reckless citizens try to escape this misery by sea. Most of them first need to sell whatever few possessions they and their families might have accumulated in order to pay the hundreds of dollars that traffickers charge for passage on a boat to the US or to another Caribbean island. The story of one of these passengers, 36-year-old Jean-Baptiste Metellus, sounds fairly typical. Married and the father of two children, until the day he boarded the sloop on 1 May Metellus earned around three dollars a day selling lottery tickets in the aptly named town of Trou-du-Nord, a place where unemployment probably exceeds the national average of 70%. Metellus’ brother told the Associated Press that Jean-Baptiste boarded the boat in the hope of joining a godfather living in the Turks and Caicos islands.[3]

The Turks and Caicos Islands (TCI) are a small British overseas territory, the sort of place that until 1981 went by the more accurate name of ‘Crown colony’. They are located north of Haiti and south-east of the Bahamas. London is responsible for their security, defence and foreign affairs. The TCI coast guard operates in conjunction with the United Kingdom Security Advisory Team and Maritime Training Unit (UKSAT MTU), an organisation whose stated purpose is to ‘protect the UK from illegal immigration, drug trafficking and other international crime’, and to enhance the ‘security and good governance of the UK’s Overseas Territories.’[4] Among other things, UKSAT personnel in the British Caribbean offer training courses that focus ‘predominantly on maritime skill development and counter-narcotics operations.’ Legal TCI residents are full British citizens, although a large proportion of the local ‘belongers’ take advantage of their island’s much-hyped offshore status to avoid paying full rates of British tax. Per capita income in the TCI is around $10,000. Famous for its exclusive hotels and ‘breathtaking beaches’, according to online tourist brochures the TCI have become ‘one of the most popular destinations for Hollywood Stars’.

In recent years, the Turks and Caicos Islands have also become a popular destination for impoverished Haitian emigrants. In the TCI as in Florida or the Dominican Republic, it is legal and illegal Haitian workers who take on many of the poorly paid jobs in construction, street-cleaning and hotel maintenance. As the numbers of would-be migrants have risen in recent years, so has the violence of the local police response. Among other incidents, TCI ‘residents recall that back in 1998 another boatload of escaping Haitians died off the shore here, after the police fired at the boat.’[5]

The TCI first agreed to let the US Coast Guard use one of their beaches to ‘process’ Haitian refugees back in June 1994.[6] Both the US and UK governments have long treated Haitian migrants with exceptional severity. Whereas Clinton’s so-called ‘wet foot, dry foot’ policy still facilitates the naturalisation of many Cuban emigrants, Haitian migrants to the US cannot even apply for the ‘temporary protected status’ occasionally enjoyed by the citizens of countries like Honduras or El Salvador when their homes are threatened by war or natural disaster. Almost without exception, the US Coast Guard immediately and automatically repatriates every Haitian migrant or asylum-seeker that it manages to intercept at sea. Back in February 2004, when the US helped to engineer the violent overthrow of Haiti’s most popular modern president, Jean-Bertrand Aristide, it was careful to station three of its own Coast Guard cutters less than a mile off the shore of the capital Port-au-Prince. Around the same time, lest anyone forget where his government stood regarding its international obligations to grant asylum to refugees fleeing political persecution, president George Bush reminded reporters that ‘I have made it abundantly clear to the Coast Guard that we will turn back any [Haitian] refugee that attempts to reach our shore.’[7]

Around two in the morning of Friday 4 May 2007, the Cap-Haïtien sloop was intercepted by the TCI 50-foot police launch Sea Quest, about a mile south of Providenciales Island. What happened next is the subject of some controversy. A reporter from the Associated Press spoke to half a dozen of the survivors, finding that ‘they all gave the same story’.[8] The survivors say that the TCI launch rammed the boat, and then tried to tow it further out to sea. One of them described the sequence in some detail.

I was on the prow at the front of the boat and I was able to follow everything that occurred. It all happened as we left the channel to approach land. We were, in fact, approximately five minutes away from [the Turks and Caicos island of] Providenciales. At that moment, a coastguard ship appeared on the left side of our boat. Then it passed us on the right. It wanted to prevent us at all costs from reaching the shore. Everyone was getting their belongings together, and getting ready to disembark from the boat. When the coastguards realised that everyone was getting ready to disembark, they rammed our boat. Twice. [… Then] they tried to tow us out into the channel, out to open sea.[9]

Moments later the bow was dragged under and the sloop capsized. Many of its passengers were unable to swim. The luckiest survivors claim that TCI police left them waiting in the water for around fifteen minutes; others ‘alleged that police beat them with wooden batons when they tried to scramble aboard the patrol boat from the shark-filled waters.’[10] AP went on to note, on 8 May, that ‘reports about the alleged involvement of the Turks and Caicos boat [in the disaster] have taken days to come out because the survivors are locked in a jail-like detention centre and barred from speaking to the media.’[11]

As for the TCI police, they initially claimed that the boat had already capsized before they arrived on the scene. A little later they changed their story (after some gentle prompting from US Coast Guard personnel who assisted in the rescue operation), to acknowledge that the boat sank as they tried to tow it into port through ‘heavy seas’. Between them, the TCI and US coast guards then managed to pick up a total of 78 survivors. 60 dead bodies were also recovered at the same time, though the real death-toll was probably closer to 90 people. ‘Some of the recovered bodies were missing limbs,’ noted the Washington Post, ‘apparently from shark attacks.’[12]

It was the worst disaster to befall Haitian migrants in recent years.

In line with standard procedures, after spending almost a week in detention the survivors were forcibly transferred back to Cap-Haïtien on 10 May. The badly decomposed bodies of the dead followed them home ten days later. In a final insult the corpses were dumped into a mass grave before relatives had time to identify and reclaim them.[13] The body of Jean-Baptiste Metellus went into the trench with the others. In a country where life is so desperately cheap, many Haitians take funerals very seriously. After taking the bus to Cap-Haïtien in order to retrieve his remains, Metellus’ brothers had to return to his wife empty-handed. ‘We never would have wanted him to be buried this way,’ one of them told the AP. ‘Now he’s gone and he didn’t leave anything for his children.’[14]

A statement published by the Turks and Caicos government on 11 May expressed sympathy with relatives of the deceased but explained that ‘the boat was suspected of containing illegal migrants and, in line with standard practice, the police boat took the sloop in tow, in order to bring it in to South Dock, Providenciales.’ Pending the publication of their full report in August, investigators sent from the Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) of the UK’s Department of Transport ‘concluded that while the two vessels had touched, there was no evidence to support claims that the migrants’ boat had been rammed.’ Richard Mull, the lead British investigator, acknowledged that ‘the decision to tow the overcrowded sloop in stormy seas without giving the migrants life jackets also raised concerns, but [he] said Turks and Caicos police were following the standard operating procedure.’[15]

A government that refuses to contemplate prosecution of its police when they execute an innocent bystander like Jean Charles de Menezes (in July 2005) isn’t likely to worry too much about standard operating procedures that kill people who are plainly guilty of being both black and poor. Anyone with even a little experience of boats knows, however, that when you tow an unstable and heavily-laden vessel through heavy seas it’s virtually guaranteed to sink. ‘When it’s done that way’, a spokesman from the US Coast Guard admitted, ‘it takes almost nothing for a disaster to occur. A strong wind or a sea swell or people moving around can capsize a boat in an instant.’[16] In their initial report, the British MAIB investigators more or less admitted the same thing. ‘This type of sloop with this number of passengers is inherently unsafe’, the report notes, and such boats become especially unstable ‘when the majority of the passengers [come out] on deck. This movement of passengers starts as the sloops near their destinations, but is also triggered when they are intercepted by the authorities.’ Consequently, MAIB suggests, ‘the sloop would have suffered a major reduction in stability as the passengers moved from the hold onto the deck following the intercept.’ Had most of the passengers come out on deck, as is likely, this would have caused the sloop’s ‘stability to progressively diminish to almost zero. In this condition, it would have taken only the smallest of movements of the passengers towards one side, or another stimulus, to cause the vessel to capsize.’[17]

There may be some grounds for questioning a government that defends such a procedure as ‘standard’, especially one that is prepared to apply it to scores of terrified and exhausted people in shark-filled waters in the middle of the night, without first trying to off-load any of them onto another vessel and without providing them with life-preservers or assistance of any kind.

But what sort of questions have been raised about this incident in the British press? As far as I can tell neither the Daily Telegraph nor the Guardian nor the Sunday Times nor the Financial Times have ever yet mentioned the event. The Observer, the Sunday paper that belongs to the Guardian group, has so far devoted a grand total of 135 words to the story, clipped from a single Associated Press wire and published on 6 May 2007.[18] The Independent has likewise published just one short article about the disaster, a full week after the story broke.[19] The Times dispatched it in a single two-sentence snippet from the AP on 11 May 2007.

The full Times coverage of the TCI catastrophe reads as follows: ‘Survivors of a sunken boat carrying 160 Haitian migrants said that a Turks and Caicos coastal patrol rammed their vessel, towed it into deeper water and abandoned them. At least 61 people died.’ End of story. So far no British newspaper can be bothered to investigate the truth of such claims, let alone consider the implications of this indifference.

Post-script ? 6 September 2007

‘If Stones Could Float’ was written in the middle of July. Some readers may be curious to know a little more about the evolution over the past few weeks of British reactions to the May 4th calamity.

On 1 August 2007 the UK’s Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB) released, as announced, its final report on the ‘tragic accident’ of 4 May. It is available online. MAIB’s investigation produced a detailed and informative 50-page document, complete with an arresting set of photographs, maps, and some fairly technical information about the various boats and other ‘assets’ involved.

MAIB concludes that while there is no clear evidence to suggest that the Turks and Caicos launch Sea Quest deliberately rammed the Haitian sloop, it seems that the hulls ‘bumped as the two vessels came together’ in heavy seas (and that the Sea Quest’s ‘crew did not use fenders to cushion the interaction between the hulls, even though fenders were available onboard’). More importantly, MAIB’s investigation confirms that as a result of the circumstances in which it was intercepted, the Haitian sloop would have had ‘negligible stability’ and so even ‘the slightest of stimuli’ might have caused it to capsize. ‘Once sufficient numbers [of people] had moved onto the deck, capsize was almost inevitable.’

The MAIB report then proceeds to demonstrate, in diplomatic but perfectly damning terms, the rather startling failure of the TCI marine police (and by implication, of their UKSAT minders) to take even the most elementary steps to avoid this inevitability or to mitigate its consequences. MAIB points out that so long as ‘the sloop and passengers remained in the custody of the police, there was a duty upon them to take reasonable steps to ensure the passengers’ safety and right to life’, and suggests, discreetly, that this ‘implicit duty had not been fully appreciated.’ MAIB observes that although ‘over recent years there have been a number of cases of sloops capsizing, and reports of heavy rolling and near capsize’, nevertheless the TCI police had not even begun to formulate appropriate procedures for the safe interception of clandestine migrants. MAIB points out that ‘the problem of Haitian sloops with poor stability carrying migrants was well known in the region and among members of the TCI marine police unit (MPU). However, no instructions or operating procedures for mitigating the risk of capsize when interdicting these vessels had been issued to the police launch crews.’ Instead, the Sea Quest and other TCI coast guard vessels have simply been left to follow ‘common practice among the launch crews, derived from previous experience and passed on within the MPU.’ MAIB notes that whereas ‘other nations have developed ways of countering the stability problem’ (by off-loading passengers onto more stable boats, or by escorting rather than towing intercepted vessels into port), the Sea Quest has been operating for years without even estimating and testing its own ‘maximum permissible passenger carrying capacity.’

The MAIB investigators further demonstrate that a whole series of failings in seamanship, communications, logistics and planning severely hampered the subsequent search and rescue operation. As a result of these failings the last eleven survivors were left clinging to their sloop’s upturned hull for around three and a half hours. Even more damning is MAIB’s observation that, after disaster struck, the crew of the Sea Quest failed to use its 7-man life-raft to help save any of the sloop’s drowning passengers. Once the launch then returned to port (around 4am) with about half of the sloop’s passengers on board it was prevented from rejoining the rescue effort until 8am, because a rope had become entangled in one of its propellers.

In short, MAIB concludes that ‘the significant risk of a sloop capsizing, with the consequent need for a rescue operation, had not been considered by the TCI MPU. Although such an emergency could have been predicted had the inherent risks of towing vessels with unknown stability been assessed, no operating procedures were established to respond to marine emergencies on this scale.’

Or in other words: as far as the UK and its overseas territories are concerned, when handling large numbers of frightened Haitian people in an over-crowded boat the adoption of even the most basic and most obvious safety precautions isn’t worth the hassle. Why should it be, after all, when an incident that kills dozens of such people fails to arouse even the slightest ripple of interest from the media based in the country that is responsible for their safety?

Of course MAIB itself is careful to point out that its ‘recommendations shall in no case create a presumption of blame or liability.’ This precaution is hardly necessary. The UK government is no doubt entitled to take some comfort from the fact that Haitian relatives of the deceased, for reasons too obvious to mention, are in no position to press for any sort of meaningful compensation for their loss.

It is now September 6th. You might be wondering if the publication in London of MAIB’s incriminating report on August 1st finally managed to provoke at least some sort of minimal acknowledgement of the disaster in any of the UK’s famously even-handed newspapers. No, it didn’t. British press coverage of this story, such as it was, began and ended in mid-May 2007. If today you have the time to search the online editions of the Guardian, the Independent, the Daily Telegraph, the Times, the Financial Times or the Sunday Times and look for articles published over the last few months containing the words ‘Caicos’ or ‘Haiti’ or ‘Haitian’ then just about the only things you’ll find are some thoughtful tips about Caribbean holidays and reports of tourists worried by Hurricane Dean, along with a few appreciative (and as it happens, profoundly misleading) reviews of Asger Leth’s so-called ‘documentary’ film, The Ghosts of Cité Solely. This too is business as usual. It isn’t very hard to see why most foreign observers of Haiti seem to find fantasy more palatable than fact.

1 An abbreviated version of this article was first published in the journal Radical Philosophy, number 145 (September 2007), pages 53-55.

2 Pål Sletten and Willy Egset, Poverty in Haiti (Oslo: FAFO, 2004), http://www.fafo.no/pub/rapp/755/755.pdf.

3 ‘Haitian migrants killed on capsized boat buried’, Associated Press 21 May 2007.

4 Kim Howells (Minister for the Middle East), written statement in the House of Commons, Hansard 29 June 2005, http://www.parliament.the-stationery-office.co.uk/pa/cm200506/cmhansrd/cm050629/wmstext/50629m02.htm.

5 Marc Lacey, ‘New routes and new risk to flee Haiti’, New York Times 19 May 2007.

6 Steven Greenhouse, ‘Islands to let U.S. process Haiti refugees’, New York Times 4 June 1994.

7 cited in Christopher Marquis, ‘France Seeks U.N. Force in Haiti’, New York Times 26 February 2004.

8 ‘Boat rammed, say Haiti survivors’, BBC 10 May 2007.

9 ‘Survivor of Turks & Caicos Islands boat disaster gives an eyewitness account,’ Haiti Support Group 6 June 2007, http://haitisupport.gn.apc.org/TCIeyewitness.html.

10 ‘Haitian migrants “angry and revolted” at alleged boat ramming off Turks and Caicos’, Associated Press 8 May 2007.

11 ‘Haitian migrants “angry and revolted”’, Associated Press 8 May 2007.

12 Manuel Roig-Franzia, ‘20 Haitian migrants die at sea’, Washington Post 5 May 2007.

13 ‘Haitian migrants killed on capsized boat buried’, Associated Press 21 May 2007.

14 ‘Haitian migrants killed on capsized boat buried’, Associated Press 21 May 2007.

15 ‘Haitian migrants “angry and revolted”’, Associated Press 8 May 2007.

16 Petty Officer Third Class Barry Bena, cited in ‘Boat Capsizes; Scores of Haitians Are Lost’, New York Times 5 May 2007.

17 MAIB Safety Bulletin 1/2007, ‘Capsize of Haitian sloop, while under tow by Turks and Caicos Islands’ Police Launch Sea Quest, 4 May 2007’, http://www.maib.gov.uk/cms_resources/Safety%20Bulletin%201-07.pdf.

18 ‘36 dead as migrants’ boat capsizes’, Observer 6 May 2007, http://observer.guardian.co.uk/world/story/0,,2073475,00.html.

19 Andrew Buncombe, ‘Patrol vessel blamed for collision which left 60 Haitian migrants dead’, Independent 12 May 2007, http://news.independent.co.uk/world/americas/article2534050.ece.

“The views and opinions of articles that appear on Haitianalysis.com do not

A Message from Leonard Peltier

Peltier’s stance goes way beyond what we learned from Mandela. I am referring to Mandela because he has become an icon and, as such, people have no problems identifying with him even though when he was on Robben Island, the same folks who are today proud to identify with him would not even dare mention his name because they might be seen as sympathizers of communist terrorists. A double whammy.

The question remains. We managed to get Mandela out. How do we keep trying to get out not just Peltier or Mumia, but all of those unknown, despised people separated from their extended families whose only sin is to be a Native American or a black American who refuses to submit to injustice in any form?

Originally posted on Leonard Peltier Defense Committee, September 6, 2007.

Greetings My Relatives,

You know I was just thinking there should be a degree one could receive for having expertise on doing prison time. I think I would be called Professor Peltier, PhD. with 30 years tenure. A friend of mine said once, PhD where he is from stands for post hole digger. I think I would at this time, embrace being a post hole digger, although I don’t relish the thought of fencing anything in after being fenced in myself for 30 + years.

On being imprisoned, I want to touch on that subject a bit. There are some who have voiced their opinion in one way or another, that I should give up after all these years of trying to win my freedom. Aside from the oppressors who put me here, some of them are people who were at times, part of the Leonard Peltier Defense Committee; others, on the fringes. My answer, to put it in a simple, colloquial phrase, that anyone can understand, …it ain’t gonna happen! There are many reasons, both physical and mental, spiritual and social. The number one reason is that there aren’t any women in here. That should cover the social. Eh!

Another reason, is that the struggle is not just about me. It’s about life on earth, the struggle to survive, the onslaught of destructive technology, wealth mongering, by those who see the common man as nothing more than expendable beings to further their personal quest for power and affluence. I am here because, as a common man, along with other common men, I chose to try to stop the exploitation of my people. I know the Creator sent other common men at other times and other places and to other races to do the same. I am honored to be among common men. I know they tried to cause us to separate from alliances by color, religion, and geographic locale but our struggle is the same. It’s against people taking more than they need. In my culture it is taught that you should not take more than you need. In Christianity, Buddhism, and Zen, as well as most other spiritual teachings, it is taught that gluttony is a sin. Violation of this teaching is the reason for global warming, and the reason for world wars, including the war in Iraq at this time.

Because of people who always seek to take more than they need, my people have suffered greatly. They are the poorest of the poor yet most still cling to the original teachings. They have fought for several generations for the exploitation of our land, illegal occupation of our land, unjust treatment in the U.S. judicial system, and most of all, government lies and liars that have led the American people to believe all this exploitation and violation of treaties is in their best interest. I watch TV from time to time, and I notice there are those who try to make the wars like a war between religions. I tell you my relatives, it is only a ruse to get young men to die for those who crave wealth and power over the common man.

If the many denominations of religions would stand together as one against the violation that jeopardizes life itself, it would make a major difference throughout the world. Today, more than any other time in history, you are either part of the problem or part of the solution. I may, by now, have written more than you care to read. But, from where I sit myself, it’s the best I can do. The Defense Committee that bears my name struggles to help enlighten people of events and needs of people in jeopardy. I don’t use the word struggle lightly. Aside from trying to raise money for attorneys and office expenses, etc., we raise money for food and clothing for needy people on reservations in urban areas. In my world, the poor are common. I am honored to be one of them, to represent them from time to time, though it be from afar. We as Native People look to the Creator’s greatest manifestation for teachings, Mother Earth and her system of nature, along with personal visions, from time to time. In that, we see grass though encased in concrete, pushing its way through the cracks. We see the trees and water break down the structures of man that imprison them. We see everywhere, all life trying to follow the original instruction given by the Creator. If I were a blade of grass, I would grow out of here. If I were water, I would flow away from here. If I were a ray of light, I would bounce off these walls and be gone. However, I am not and unless I, at some future time, receive my freedom that was unjustly taken in the same manner as was the freedom of so many Native People before me. I can only leave here through my paintings, written words, and some other forms of communication that are sometimes available. I am in my 60’s now. If I end up spending all my days here, and my last breath rides on the wind, and the moisture of my body flows to the sea, and the elements of my being make the grass grow and the trees flourish, make no mistake they can kill my body but they can’t kill me. I am a common man.

The Leonard Peltier Defense Committee will continue working on my behalf and towards my freedom unless you the supporters tell me to close down the Defense Committee. Having said all this, I wish to ask you, if you can in any way help us, meaning the Defense Committee, send any donation to :
Leonard Peltier Defense Committee
3800 N. Mesa
A2
El Paso, Texas 79902
Please do so, it is a common cause. If my case stands as it is, no common person has real freedom. Only the illusion until you have something the oppressors want. Back to being a post hole digger…. I’d rather be a free post hole digger than Professor Leonard Peltier, PhD.

May the Creator bless you with all you need.
In the Spirit of Crazy Horse, who never gave up
All my relations,

Leonard Peltier

Note: Sept 12, is Leonard Peltier’s birthday. Supporters wishing to send Leonard a Birthday Card, we suggest that you send the birthday cards and letters NOW, thus allowing sufficient time for mail delivery. Leonard Peltier’s address:
Leonard Peltier #89637-132
USP Lewisburg PA
PO Box 1000
Lewisburg PA 17837
Leonard Peltier Defense Committe
Email: info@leonardpeltier.net
Website: http://www.leonardpeltier.net/
Phone- 570-524-0749
International Peltier Forum email:
IPF WEBSITE: http://users.skynet.be/kola/index.htm
ONLINE PETITION FOR EXECUTIVE CLEMENCY
http://users.skynet.be/kola/lppet.htm

Meet Kenneth Foster: Speaking on Sports

Below is a letter from Kenneth Foster, Jr. (Haramia Ki Nassar) from Texas death row to author and sportswriter Dave Zirin (“Edge of Sports”). Thanks to an international campaign to block Foster’s execution, on August 20 the governor of Texas granted him clemency just six hours before he was scheduled to die. Whenever a voice that was supposed to have been silenced speaks up, one should do everything possible do to let it be heard loud and clear.

Dear Dave,

Let me say that I grew up like most youths playing sports. I started off
playing pee-wee football and went all the way up to high school giving it 6 years. I went to high school and hung out with guys that are now NFL football players (Priest Holmes, ND Kalu and have a cousin that was in the NFL as well- Tony Brackens). I indulged in basketball and track and field as well. But for me sports never took hold of me the way it did other youths. I had a pretty active mind, so from year to year I wanted to be/do something new. My last year in sports was my Freshman year in high school (around 1992). By then the streets encompassed my mind.

So, coming into prison I entered with a little bit of love for sports.
But, I had a different personal legend to unfold, so I slowly began to
drift from that interest. As I began to become politically and culturally
conscious the more recidivistic aspects of prison began to heavily reflect off of me. A strong contrast comes to light when a man steps outside of the prison molds.

Facing an injustice the only thing that I began to get obsessive about was how to get heard and be free, and as the saying goes- you can’t serve 2 gods. Sports, as you know, becomes a way of life. You monitor it, you almost come to breathe it. It’s not just about watching a game, but knowing the stats, knowing the colleges they came from, knowing their proneness to injuries, etc.. All of this becomes relevant due to the fact that 9 times out of 10 there’s money on these games. Sports becomes a way of life in prison, because it becomes a way of survival. For men that don’t have family or friends to help them financially this becomes an income, and at the same time it becomes a way to occupy your time. That’s another sad story in itself, but it’s the root to many men’s obsession with sports.

I also began to observe the way sports is used as a crutch for a sense of pseudo-pride. In prison, due to being stripped of your humanity, man cling to anything they can to give them a sense of identity. The spectrum varied intensely- it could be keeping a pet snake in your cell, it could be wearing an earring you’re not supposed to, keeping your hair trimmed a certain way when you’re not supposed to, and then there’s the more intense levels of rolling with the gangs or becoming interested in religion, politics, etc.. More times than not sports becomes a crutch.

Seeing this, sports became something that I avoided. It was just another weapon in the arsenal of ignorance and mental oppression. It was another part of the term we call- “penitentiary poli-tricks.” These are tricky games, rules and concepts whose function only dilute and separate prisoner power. Therefore, I began a self-induced process to undergo sports amnesia. I didn’t watch it, I didn’t even listen to it, I didn’t gamble on it and didn’t entertain conversation about it. I even extended that to the city I was from. Not wanting to be belligerent in conversation if a person asked me where I was from I would tell them. I didn’t mind the casual conversation. But, I made sure to keep the lines drawn. There’s a comfort zone that rises and while interacting with each other and joking ones, while playing the dozens on each other, will way things like- “Aww, that fool must be from Dallas talking like that. You know how them fools from Dallas is,” or “that sounds like a Knicks fan over there, you know them dudes is throwed off anyway.” The cities and teams become protracting devices often-times for subliminal feelings and thoughts. This really becomes so when someone has lost a gambling bet and what often comes out as- “Man, them damn Spurs ain’t shit. To hell with them Spurs,”- usually translates to – “Man, fuck you.” And this has been the cause of numerous prison riots across the kountry.

This is why when I’m approached with the city pride think I let an
individual know straight from the outset- I don’t represent cities, I
represent ideologies. I don’t care about any city or State in this
kountry, because the only thing they’ve done is railroaded me and ain’t none of these teams donating to my Defense Fund, so they don’t exist in my world- That’s a truth that can’t be rebuttled. But for many, whom are hopeless and still lost in their lower-selves, sports is a mighty ruler in their lives.

In 2000 Texas’ death row was moved to a new unit due to a death row prison escape in 1998. As a result Texas officials stripped us of everything we had- work program, group rec, arts and crafts and TV’s. That has lasted up until today and those continued conditions was the spark for the creation of DRIVE (drivemovement.org) which was a protest coalition I helped create. But, having no TV’s doesn’t stop the sports lovers. They go into their radios and find ways to wire it up and catch TV stations by radio, so the love of the game continues.

For a prisoner who has become politicalized I have a very hardline
mentality- so things like sports, gambling, drinking, fooling with guards
(in friendly manners) don’t exist for me. Because this goes against the
grain of the norm I become a target not only for guards, but for inmates as well. From years of repression and humiliation (just like slavery) there is an enjoyed monotony.

I wanted to say that my favorite part of the book [Welcome to the Terrordrome, by Dave Zirin] was the interview with Mumia. Mumia just has this way of taking the most complex of issues and making it seem so simple and understandable. I was even drawing my own parallels throughout your book- for example I saw the censoring of the 2 Live Crew in what David Stern is doing to his NBA Players. And if we wanted to stretch it, what Stern is doing is on the edges of old Apartheid/Jim Crow laws where you can’t do this, you can’t do that, you can’t go here or there. Everyday in this kountry we see things that we thought was Rights being rolled back. Even my case is an example of where they’re trying to execute me, because they say I should “anticipate” something and now they’ve passed laws to make repeate sex offenders eligible for the death penalty. Pretty soon we’ll be back to the old Emmitt Till days where you get murdered for looking at the wrong person (system wise).

And so, all of this ties into a deeper issue. For those of us in these
movements we have strong allies in the athletic field. You did a great job highlighting Roberto Clemente and Etan Thomas. I have even tried to reach out to Etan. I think for those of us in the movement we have to start making demands from athletes (and rappers too). Athletes have the money and platforms. I’m sure that many fear going through what Carlos Delgado went through, but in this day and age stances must be made. It’s never easy to make them, but we, as a people, must stop feeling uncomfortable to stand on what we know is right. We must not feel uncomfortable to ask for things back from persons that benefit from us so much. We have to find more Etan’s and create coalitions. They must become serious and passionate like CEDP members. And when one try to silence them, like they did Delgado, we will let their bias and racist be reflected on their own.

“Athletes, Artist and Activist: from solidarity to power” is the next book
you should work on. We have to connect the Glovers, Etans, dead prezs and Fred Hampton Jrs; also the Delgado’s, Welfare Poet’s, and other Latin movements. And then we have to take that internationally building with ones like Chavez and other countries open for progressive change. We have to put challenges up like Dennis Brutus did with SANROC.

Speaking of such, though I don’t know where it was initiated from, I have a great feeling that you probably had your hands in it, and that was the Jocks for Justice petition done on my behalf. That touched me greatly and whomever is responsible I’d like to thank them from the bottom of my heart. I’ve read Dennis Brutus’ work and I was always enchanted by the photo of Tommie Smith and John Carlos. It’s time to bring this new generation out.

You wield power, because you have vision and like Baldwin said- “Where there is no vision the people perish.” I only wanted to share a piece of my journey with you and want to continue to be a pebble in the pond. Though I wanted to save your book as a collectors item since you signed it I’m going to try to circulate it around here and see what I can spark in these dry prairies.

Brother, I wish you much success in all that you do and will pray that your work opens more eyes and empowers even more minds. It’s been a great blessing for me to have met you, even in this limited fashion.

Revolutionary Love to you!

In Sprit/Strength/&Struggle

Haramia Ki Nassar
(Kenneth Foster Jr.)

Democracy in my Experience

Reposted from Pambazuka News, September 5, 2007.

Democracy has many different meanings. To Philani Zungu, a shackdweller in Durban, democracy means “accepting the unacceptable”.

People have different definitions of democracy. Some people say that democracy means freeing everyone to do whatever they want, regardless of rule or controls, with no instructions or boundaries, no importance to whether what is done is wrong or right.

Some people say democracy is the power of the state to decide things, acting in the interests of those who hold state power, its behaviour designed to suit their demands. In this vision, society is always in a position of compliance with orders from the state.

Some people say democracy is about rights. After the Freedom Charter was created, people came to know about their particular rights. The more they understood their rights, the freer they became. We never expected to be disappointed in turning these rights into reality. But we were.

Some people say democracy is for all of us – as society. They say it is a reason to improve and protect our lives. It is equality, whereby all should participate in building a better society and achieving a better life for all.

Let me share my experience of democracy since 1994 as a shackdweller in Durban.

I stayed with my mother, step- father and my younger brother in a small house, four by four meters. We were tightly squeezed up. The eThekwini Department of Housing decided that we could no longer build or extend shack structures. We had no choice. If we built, they would come and demolish the same day, or soon after.

I also felt the shame of women giving birth in the shacks. This they did after not attending clinic for a long time, because nurses shout at them, and when they are admitted, are not being attended to in good faith.

New to unemployment, my parents had no finance to support us; so I had to come from school and look for work, such as car washing and gardening.

I had to stop school at grade 9. When I was 20 years old, I needed to be independent, so I tried to build a house. It was demolished, and inside it was everything I owned. I was was assaulted by the land invasion unit, and had to be admitted to Addington Hospital. I was denied a right to housing.

This happened purely because it was already decided for me, in advance,without any redress or consultation, how I could live.

I was arrested for demonstrating against the lack of delivery, and lack of of consultation in 2005.

In 2006, I was arrested again. This time, I was being searched by a police officer on the way to a radio interview. I asked why I was being searched. It was a relevant question to ask, in case I might have some information to assist on a particular case. But the policeman replied that a black man is always a suspect. And then they arrested me. This time I was arrested for asking why I could not be treated like a human being, with rights, in a democracy. Once again I was assaulted, this time in the Sydenham Police station.

In 2007 I was arrested for not agreeing to be treated like an animal by the police. The police had come to my home and demanded to search me after I had built myself a new home so that I and my wife and child could move out of my mothers’ house where I had lived for 16 years. I had nothing to hide. I had written a letter to the Land Invasions Unit and the Housing Department telling them that I was going to build my own house and why. I just asked the police why they wanted to search me and their response was arrest. Formal warnings were issued by the Sydenham police Station.

I can see that in the future, I’m expected to accept the unacceptable. That is the reality of democracy of the state and democracy of human rights in my experience. My only remaining hope for an acceptable future is hope in the democracy of society.

* Philani Zungu is Deputy President of Abahlali baseMjondolo, the shack dwellers’ movement with members in almost 40 settlements in South Africa.

Faut-il restituer les butins des expéditions coloniales ?

Faut-il restituer les butins des expéditions coloniales ?
Bernard Müller – reposted from
http://www.monde-diplomatique.fr/2007/07/MULLER/14916

Au long de sa première année d’existence, le Musée du quai Branly – ou musée des arts et civilisations non occidentales d’Afrique, d’Asie, d’Océanie et des Amériques – a connu un véritable succès : un million sept cent mille visiteurs et des centaines de chercheurs s’y sont pressés. Le 20 juin 2006, les festivités entourant son inauguration avaient marqué l’apothéose d’un processus qui, à des degrés divers, affecte la plupart des musées d’art et de civilisation non occidentaux des anciennes puissances coloniales. La fête fut belle, les intentions louables, et il fallait se pincer pour ne pas succomber à la tentation de croire à l’idée que la France renouait avec son rôle de messager universel de la paix, à l’aune des principes humanistes dont elle se targue si souvent.

De fait, le passé resurgit dans l’actualité de manière surprenante : alors que la conquête, le travail forcé et l’administration coloniale sont remis à l’ordre du jour par nombre d’associations et de mouvements militants dans le but d’instruire le procès de la colonisation, les objets collectés durant cette période suscitent simultanément un enthousiasme sans précédent.

Accompagnant ce phénomène, les musées occidentaux se refont une beauté. Ce processus affecte à des degrés divers la quasi-totalité des musées en question : alors que depuis 2000 le British Museum consacre de nouveaux espaces aux collections ethnographiques, que le Dahlem Museum de Berlin développe un projet inédit permettant de redécouvrir des collections que la guerre froide avait disséminées, la France inaugure, on l’a vu, le Musée du quai Branly…

On s’attend logiquement à ce que les musées concernés, rénovés et remis à l’heure des pendules du monde d’aujourd’hui, se conçoivent comme un espace de discussion, comme une « zone de contact (1) », se donnant activement les moyens d’un débat qui implique les sociétés dont sont issus les objets conservés, dans l’espoir d’affronter sans complexe le dilemme postcolonial. On s’attend ainsi à ce que la « toilette » à laquelle sont en train de procéder les musées en question invite, dans un monde alarmé par le fantasme du « choc des civilisations (2) », à esquisser une manière nouvelle d’envisager le lien qui unit les nations contemporaines, notamment le Nord et le Sud, au-delà de la mascarade ethnotouristique de la diversité culturelle.

La nature des objets conservés par les musées, et notamment le contexte de leur collecte, offre une occasion unique à l’ouverture de ces discussions qui devront donner lieu à des développements concrets et pratiques. Car – faut-il le rappeler ? – la grande majorité des objets conservés par ces musées a été collectée entre 1870 et la première guerre mondiale, période recouvrant aussi celle de la conquête coloniale. Alors qu’en 1880 les Européens ne contrôlaient que 35 % de la superficie de la planète, cette proportion s’élevait à plus de 84,4 % en 1914. Plus important encore : bon nombre d’objets ont été saisis au cours des campagnes militaires. Ils ne parlent donc pas seulement de la culture des Autres, mais aussi d’un chapitre complexe de l’histoire de l’humanité dont ils sont les traces.

Le signal fort de cette volonté de coopération pourrait être la reconnaissance symbolique du caractère aujourd’hui problématique de la présence de butins des guerres coloniales dans les collections des musées des anciennes métropoles.

Ces butins demeurent vivants dans la mémoire des peuples jadis colonisés, comme en témoigne la créativité notamment artistique à laquelle ils donnent lieu encore aujourd’hui. Et il coule de source que les sociétés qui ont fabriqué ces objets souhaitent y avoir accès, de manière à redécouvrir leur propre histoire. Le préambule de la résolution 42-7 votée par l’Organisation des Nations unies (ONU) en 1987 précise justement : « Le retour des biens culturels de valeur spirituelle et culturelle fondamentale à leur pays d’origine est d’une importance capitale pour les peuples concernés en vue de constituer des collections représentatives de leur patrimoine culturel (3). »

Conscientes du caractère explosif de la problématique, des initiatives se font jour ; la chape de plomb commence à se soulever. Timidement, mais certainement, les mêmes musées qui ont signé la « Déclaration sur l’importance et la valeur des musées universels » organisent des rencontres, colloques, expositions qui permettront progressivement de dessiner les contours du différend.

Il paraît de plus en plus urgent d’aborder la question de la propriété des biens culturels détenus par les musées du Nord et la question épineuse de la restitution. M. Abdou Diouf, secrétaire général de l’Organisation internationale de la francophonie, affirmait ainsi que « la question de la restitution, souvent présentée de manière polémique, mérite un traitement raisonné, comme le souhaite d’ailleurs la résolution “retour ou restitution des biens culturels à leur pays d’origine”, adoptée par l’ONU, en décembre 2002 (4) ».

En Afrique, le mouvement œuvrant en faveur de la réparation et de la restitution des biens culturels spoliés s’est développé à la fin des années 1980. Il a ensuite été relancé au début des années 1990, quand l’Organisation de l’unité africaine (OUA) adopta le principe de « réparation », notamment sous forme d’indemnités, pour l’esclavage et le colonialisme. Au cours du sommet de 1992, les chefs d’Etat africains créent un groupe d’experts, chargé d’étudier la question, coprésidé par Moshood Abiola (5) et l’ancien directeur général de l’Unesco, M. Amadou Mahtar M’Bow. Cette initiative débouche en avril 1993 sur la proclamation d’Abuja. Celle-ci se réfère « à la “dette morale” et à la “dette compensatoire” dues à l’Afrique par les pays engagés dans la traite négrière, le colonialisme et le néocolonialisme. Elle exige le retour des “biens spoliés” et des trésors traditionnels (…). Pleinement convaincue que les dommages subis par les peuples africains ne sont pas une “affaire du passé” (…). Convaincue que de nombreux pillages, vols et appropriations ont été perpétrés sur les peuples africains, la proclamation en appelle à ceux qui sont en possession de ces biens spoliés de les restituer à leur propriétaires légitimes. [La proclamation] en appelle à la communauté internationale pour que soit reconnue la dette morale sans précédent qui est due aux peuples africains (6) ».

La question de la restitution des biens culturels africains a en outre été inscrite au plan stratégique de la commission de l’Union africaine pour 2004-2007. Depuis les années 1980, les demandes de restitution connaissent une croissance importante. Et il semble raisonnable de pronostiquer qu’elles augmenteront parallèlement à la visibilité gagnée dans les musées. On se souvient que le Nigeria demande depuis vingt ans la restitution par le Royaume-Uni des centaines de plaques en bronze évoquant l’histoire du royaume d’Edo (Nigeria actuel) saisies durant l’expédition punitive de 1897. L’Ethiopie réclame au même pays les objets saisis en 1868 durant le siège de Magdala. Les descendants de Béhanzin, « dernier » roi d’Abomey (République du Bénin) renversé par les Français en 1892, demandent, par l’intermédiaire d’une question écrite au gouvernement formulée le 18 novembre 2005 par la députée française Christiane Taubira, la restitution du trésor royal, aujourd’hui conservé au Musée du quai Branly.

Une association internationale réclame à l’Autriche le retour de la couronne du roi aztèque Moctezuma (Mexique), emportée par les soldats de Hernán Cortés en 1519 et aujourd’hui conservée au Museum für Völkerkunde de Vienne. L’Egypte exige de l’Allemagne le retour du buste de Néfertiti. La Chine demande le retour des objets pillés durant le sac du Palais d’été opéré conjointement par les troupes anglaises et françaises, durant la seconde guerre de l’opium, en 1860. La Corée du Sud réclame la restitution des deux cent quatre-vingt-dix-sept volumes de manuscrits saisis en 1866 par les militaires français au sein d’archives royales, aujourd’hui déposés à la Bibliothèque nationale de France. Dans les décombres d’un autre empire, le Japon doit aussi faire face à de nombreuses requêtes émises par les gouvernements de ses anciennes colonies, dont la Corée. Tokyo a ainsi restitué en 2005 à la Corée du Nord, via la Corée du Sud, le « monument à la grande victoire » de Bukgwan emporté par les Japonais lors de la guerre russo-japonaise de 1905 dans la péninsule.

Malgré la complexité juridique qui accompagne le transfert d’un objet inaliénable d’un patrimoine à un autre, la restitution est possible. Elle s’est déjà produite à plusieurs reprises et certains objets de la polémique ont connu le chemin du « retour ». Le sceau du dey d’Alger saisi par l’armée française, au cours de la prise d’Alger en 1830, est donné au président Abdelaziz Bouteflika par M. Jacques Chirac le 2 mars 2003. Dès 1954 est retourné en Tanzanie le crâne du sultan Mkwaka, qui tint tête à un bataillon de l’armée allemande, et qui fut rapportée comme trophée en 1898 : le traité de Versailles de 1918 prévoyait sa restitution. Une partie du trésor de l’île de Lombok, sur laquelle régnaient les familles princières de Bali, saisi en 1893, a été restitué à l’Indonésie par les Pays-Bas en 1977.

La réponse des musées occidentaux à la multiplication des demandes est toutefois sans équivoque. La « Déclaration sur l’importance et la valeur des musées universels », rédigée en décembre 2002 et signée par dix-neuf directeurs de quelques-uns des principaux musées du monde (notamment le British Museum, le Louvre, le Metropolitan Museum of Art de New York, le Prado de Madrid, le Rijksmuseum d’Amsterdam, l’Hermitage à Saint-Pétersbourg), est édifiante. Les signataires vont même jusqu’à ne mettre l’accent que sur « la nature essentiellement destructrice de la restitution des objets », en rajoutant ensuite que « les musées sont les agents du développement culturel, dont la mission est d’encourager la production de la connaissance en entretenant un processus permanent de réinterprétation. Ils ne sont pas seulement au service des citoyens d’une nation, mais au service des peuples de toutes les nations ». Il s’agit d’affirmer l’irrecevabilité des demandes de restitution en rappelant toutefois la responsabilité qu’appelle le principe d’universalité, d’inspiration humaniste, qui fonde les musées.

Les demandes de restitution trouvent toutefois un écho plus favorable auprès des institutions transnationales. Dès 1907, la convention de La Haye concernant les lois et coutumes de la guerre sur terre stipule dans son article 28 qu’« il est interdit de livrer au pillage une ville ou localité même prise d’assaut ». La convention pour la protection des biens culturels en cas de conflit armé, ratifiée en 1954 toujours à La Haye, à la suite des destructions massives infligées au patrimoine culturel au cours de la seconde guerre mondiale, fut le premier instrument international à vocation universelle qui soit exclusivement axé sur la protection du patrimoine culturel. Plus récemment, le code de déontologie du Conseil international des musées (International Council of Museums, ICOM) comporte une déclaration sans équivoque, dont l’article 6.1 stipule que, « si une nation ou une communauté d’origine demande la restitution d’un objet ou spécimen qui s’avère avoir été exporté ou transféré en violation des principes des conventions internationales et nationales, et qu’il s’avère faire partie du patrimoine culturel ou naturel de ce pays ou de cette communauté, le musée concerné doit, s’il en a la possibilité légale, prendre rapidement les mesures nécessaires pour favoriser son retour (7) ».

Et l’on se demande si la communauté internationale abordera un jour avec la même fermeté les spoliations coloniales que les spoliations des biens culturels juifs (8). Pour cela, il faudrait que soit juridiquement admis que la conquête fut une guerre et non une succession d’expéditions punitives visant à la « pacification ».

Pourquoi alors ne pas rendre ces objets à ceux qui les demandent ? Ce geste aurait certainement un incroyable effet de détente et serait compris comme l’expression d’une authentique volonté de coopération universelle, véritablement humaniste. La reconnaissance du principe de la restitution s’inscrit dans un processus visant à admettre une évidente responsabilité morale et historique. Il apparaît toutefois que ce travail de mémoire ne doit pas se contenter de feindre une repentance de bon ton, mais impliquer activement tous les acteurs de l’exploitation coloniale. Par ailleurs, s’il est impossible de nier la légitimité morale des demandes de restitution des prises de guerre, le fait que « le colonialisme fut une perversion qui s’est paré des oripeaux des Lumières pour justifier ses conquêtes (9) » n’étant en effet plus à démontrer, les mouvements qui s’en font aujourd’hui les porte-parole sont-ils pour autant habilités à jouer ce rôle ?

Pour faire sens, le retour sur le passé que permet le débat sur la restitution des butins ne doit pas seulement venir des pays occidentaux, mais aussi des relais locaux de la mécanique d’exploitation coloniale, dont les avatars sont bien souvent à la tête de dictatures d’aujourd’hui… Il serait donc déplacé de formuler des excuses ou de restituer des butins à des dirigeants d’Etats sanguinaires et obscurantistes !

Si ces derniers ne sont pas représentatifs des populations, cela ne remet pas en question la légitimité des demandes. Dès lors, que faire ? Comment sortir de ce double lien, sinon en affirmant l’universalité de ce patrimoine ? Ne faudrait-il pas inscrire les objets de la polémique sur la liste du patrimoine universel, de manière que juridiquement ils n’appartiennent plus à personne ? Cette liste serait gérée par des commissions internationales incluant bien évidemment les représentants des mandants, les conservateurs des musées des anciennes colonies et surtout des acteurs de la scène culturelle des pays concernés.

Cette (ou ces) commission devrait alors envisager certaines restitutions au cas par cas, et surtout organiser des expositions itinérantes permettant de faire circuler les objets, à l’instar de la récente exposition « Béhanzin, roi d’Abomey » coorganisée (du 16 décembre 2006 au 16 mars 2007) par le Musée du quai Branly et la fondation Zinsou (10) à Cotonou (République du Bénin), simultanément à la commémoration du centenaire de la mort du souverain. Ou encore l’exposition « Benin : kings and rituals. Court arts from Nigeria (11) » (du 9 mai au 3 septembre 2007, Museum für Völkerkunde de Vienne), qui réunit plus de trois cents objets provenant de la cour du roi d’Edo pillée par les Anglais en 1897 et dont on espère qu’elle ira aussi en Afrique. Cette exposition ne tente pas d’éluder le contexte colonial dans lequel les objets ont été collectés.

Pour atteindre l’objectif d’une véritable « restitution », en l’occurrence symbolique et sous forme de connaissance, ces expositions devront être accompagnées de projets pédagogiques. Cette démarche implique que l’utilité des musées du Sud soit reconnue et accompagnée par des financements adéquats, dont une partie pourrait provenir d’une taxe sur les bénéfices réalisés sur le marché des arts non européens. Elle devra accorder une grande importance à la diffusion des informations inhérentes à l’objet : archives, bases de données, publications, etc., qui restent trop souvent inaccessibles.

Il est fondamental que les jeunes générations du Nord et du Sud accèdent aux fruits de la recherche et de la conservation réalisés par les musées du Nord. Les « musées universels », pour rester crédibles, doivent ainsi se donner véritablement les moyens de la circulation de leurs projets muséographiques. Cette circulation est d’autant plus urgente que l’intérêt des jeunes générations risque de s’émousser complètement, le vide laissé, dans la mémoire collective, par l’absence de ces objets n’en devenant que plus béant !

L’important est de sortir ces objets de leur engourdissement muséal, de leur carcan autant ethnologique qu’esthétique, en rendant possibles des réappropriations diverses et contradictoires, en encourageant la multitude des angles de vue. Il est essentiel de remettre ces objets en jeu, par le moyen d’un débat constructif reposant davantage sur un esprit de réconciliation que sur le principe moral de la réparation – de manière à éviter que les butins des guerres coloniales et plus largement les objets des Autres ne deviennent des armes d’affrontements, au risque de transformer le « musée universel » en espace de confrontation généralisée.

Il faut, comme l’écrit l’écrivain nigérian Wole Soyinka, « trouver des réponses permettant d’atteindre les trois objectifs incontournables pour qu’un semblant de paix puisse s’installer dans ce XXIe siècle multiculturel : l’établissement de la Vérité, la Réparation et la Réconciliation (12) »…

Courrier des lecteurs.

(1) James Clifford, Routes : Travel and Translation in the Late Twentieth Century, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1997.

(2) Samuel Huntington, Le Choc des civilisations, Odile Jacob, Paris, 2000.

(3) ONU, résolution 42-7 : « Retour ou restitution des biens culturels à leur pays d’origine », 42e session, 21 septembre-21 décembre 1987, communiqué de presse GA-7612 du 29 janvier 1988.

(4) Actes du colloque organisé au Sénat le 28 mars 2003.

(5) Moshood Abiola fut l’éphémère président du Nigeria, qu’il dirigea du 6 au 31 juillet 1993.

(6) www.awrrtc.org/the-accra-declaration.php

(7) Le code de déontologie a été adopté à l’unanimité par la 15e assemblée générale de l’ICOM, réunie à Buenos Aires (Argentine), le 4 novembre 1986, modifié par la 20e Assemblée générale à Barcelone (Espagne) le 6 juillet 2001 et révisé par la 21e assemblée générale à Séoul (Corée du Sud) le 8 octobre 2004 ; http://icom.museum/ethics _fr.html#debut

(8) http://icom.museum/spolia tion_fr.ht…

(9) Tzvetan Todorov, « L’esprit des Lumières a encore beaucoup à faire dans le monde d’aujourd’hui », Le Monde, 4 mars 2006.

(10) www.fondation-zinsou.lescorsaires. be

(11) www.ethno-museum.ac.at/en/fram eset.html

(12) Wole Soyinka, The Burden of Memory, the Muse of Forgiveness, Oxford University Press, 1999.

Uganda: Traditional ways could be a tool against HIV

Originally posted on IRIN, the humanitarian news and analysis service of the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs.

KITGUM, 30 August 2007 (IRIN In-Depth) – The lyrics of the latest Acholi pop songs are a lament: they mourn the loss of “values” in northern Uganda after a two-decade civil war that has displaced two million people.

“The singer says all the girls are now prostitutes and the men have turned to drink,” said Alex Odong as he translated the lyrics of a song blaring from the radio in his taxi, in the northern town of Kitgum. “He wonders what has gone wrong with our society since the war.”

A walk through Labuje camp for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Kitgum proves the singer’s point. It is only 10 o’clock in the morning, but in a small round hut with ‘Ber’ – ‘good’ in Acholi – written on it, several men huddle in a circle, sucking on long straws that snake out of a pot filled with the local alcoholic brew.

While the men drink, women and young children, hoes in hand, walk several kilometres to work their fields. At the height of the war, insecurity made cultivation impossible, and women were regularly attacked as they farmed. Now that the north is largely peaceful, they are back on the land.

But not all women live a traditional lifestyle toiling away in the fields. In Kitgum town, young women trawl the bars at night; in the clubs, couples are slow grinding on the dance floor before slipping off together.

According to Odong, the behaviour of the urban youth is a far cry from the traditional Acholi way of life, when men earned their position of respect by providing economic support and physical protection to their wives and children, and women looked after the household.

In Kitgum district the war forced 90 percent of the people off the land and into desperate, squalid IDP camps. Now, talks between the government and the rebel Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) have raised hopes that the long lull in fighting may crystallise into a permanent peace.

But many Acholi worry that the 20-year experience of the war has irreversibly changed traditional values, and a new culture of hard drinking and sexual freedom may heighten the new threat of HIV.

Kitgum already has an HIV prevalence rate of nine percent, about one and a half times higher than the national average. “Young people no longer respect their elders; girls don’t listen to their mothers, and men have forgotten how to work,” Odong said. “AIDS is killing us; it is the next killer after the war.”

‘Back to yesterday’

The people the girls are listening to are the men who provide for them financially, commented Rufina Oloa, the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) project officer for HIV in Kitgum. “They listen to the soldiers who patrol the roads; they have relatively more money than the IDP men and women.”

Olushola Ismail, head of the UNICEF office in Kitgum, said excessive drinking was driving sexual infidelity and, worse, sexual violence and child sex abuse. He suggested that the high rates of alcohol abuse by men could be linked to the dependency and emasculation they felt in the camps.

“The men live in camps for years, unable to feed their families or take any real responsibility for them, so they turn to alcohol,” he said. “The women turn to soldiers, not only because they have money, but because they are ‘real’ men, who work – not drunks in bars.”

Relief workers in northern Uganda are looking into ways of resurrecting traditional Acholi values as part of “early recovery”, to help post-war communities get back on their feet.

“One of the biggest problems has been that no one listens to the men; no one has given them a chance to express their frustration with their lives, or to discuss with them alternative ways for them to be productive,” Ismail said.

On the few occasions when he had sat down with local men, they had expressed a desire to ‘go back to yesterday’ and reclaim their place as the respected heads of their communities.

“It will be a long road back to yesterday, but once real social workers, not just NGOs [non-governmental organisations], get the chance to speak to the men, and once they get involved in income-generating activities, like farming, they can own their manhood again, and their self-esteem can begin to be restored,” Ismail said.

There was also an urgent need for every child, particularly girls, to be in school, he said, which would ensure they were not only fully aware of the facts about HIV, but had little time to spend with men interested in them only for sex.