Politics and Culture

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GANGSTER POLITICS 

Over the last few weeks one or two issues I have been too busy to do anything about have been bugging me. I have labelled them gangster politics and racist reporting. In case I am accused of being an inveterate US-basher, in this case only one of the issues concerns the US. The other concerns the entire West but presented itself to me in an article published on the Russia Today news site.

Although there have been and are even now gangsters of all descriptions in most parts of the world, there is no doubt it is the United States of America we always think of when it comes to gangsters - New York, Chicago, the Mafia, the Wild West

VOODOO ECONOMICS

Russia Today is definitely a news channel worth checking out. Its perspectives on almost everything are quite different from those of the Western media and its acolytes, Al Jazeera being one of them. I say almost. Russia Today is really not interested in Africa. When an occasional news report on Africa does come along, there is little to differentiate it from what the Western Media peddles. In fact, I should imagine that that is where they get their stories from in the first place. It looks like their slogan ‘Think More’ only applies to issues relating to the Western and Northern hemispheres.

Recently it has run two articles on Zimbabwe. I’ve forgotten the first – probably because it differed little from the Western line. I have not and will not forget the second.



SOCIALMEDIA TERRORISTS and the Great Zimbabwe Stayaway

A little over a week ago Harare and Bulawayo saw the most effective stayaway I have witnessed since I first came to Zimbabwe in 1984. The prevailing conditions in the country were ideal terrain for protest and something of the kind was always going to be on the cards...

In the days leading up to the stayaway the social media were awash with anonymous stories. The point about these media is that anyone can say anything they like with impunity and unfortunately those who read what they write, all too easily believe them. ..



KNOCKNAGOW IS NO MORE: SOME NOTES ON HIDDEN LITERATURE BY AN AFRICAN

Not having taught or studied since 1976 the great novels in English of past centuries and not having made any effort to keep in touch therafter, I have no way of knowing what current syllabi in English departments in the Western World consist of. When I was academically active in the field F.R. Leavis and kindred spirits fed us on a diet of Austin, Bronte, George Eliot, Conrad, Lawrence, E.M. Forster, Henry James, Virginia Wolf, James Joyce and so on. Since then, for me, Marxism, African, Carribean and Indian literatures have added considerably to the canon.

In recent years, not having had easy access to novels I have to buy, I have subsisted on a diet of what I can download for free from the internet and these have generally been confined to those in the public domain – mostly 18th, 19th and early 20th centuries. In the process I have barked my shins on hidden gold and wondered why such a treasure trove has lain hidden from me – and I suppose others – for so many years.


MNANGAGWA'S NEW GIRLFRIEND

What goes around, comes around.

I couldn’t leave England fast enough when in 1979 Margaret Thatcher, sometimes referred to as Atilla the Hen, the Milk Snatcher and the Iron Lady, came to power and began laying the foundations of the kind of UK they have today. Now, thanks to one Emmerson Dambudzo Mnangagwa I find myself living in a Zimbabwe over which Thatcher’s dreaded ghost would appear to be hovering. Must I flee again – whereto? As Isabel Allende said recently at the U.S. National Book Awards: "This is a dark time, my friends..a time of nationalism and racism; of cruelty and fanaticism…and poverty.” In the midst of poverty Thatcherite governments, including Zimbabwe, it would seem, call on the people to tighten their belts.


THE POETRY OF MAISHE MAPONYA

Introduction to the poetry of the South African poet, Maishe Maponya, and his latest publication, Themba Book's "Da's Kak in die Land".


MARTIN MEREDITH'S THE STATE OF AFRICA: CHALLENGING STEREOTYPES

A book review.


A MOMENTOUS CENTENARY

On 7th November, 1917, exactly one hundred years and three days ago, one of the most significant and extra-ordinary events in world history took place. In an op-ed for Russia Today, Bryan Macdonald, an Irish journalist living in Russia, didn’t think it was up to much....








ZIMBABWEAN PALACE COUP

As I wrote in a previous article, ‘I never find life in Zimbabwe dull’. The reason for this is that Zimbabwe is writing its own script. She long since turned off the neo-colonial road. In the face of fierce opposition from some of the most powerful nations on earth, who expect little countries like Zimbabwe to dance to their tune, she seized her destiny in both hands. As a result, for every problem she finds her own, often quiteunusual, solution.  In the early hours of this morning, she did it again. 




FROM CASH ONLY TO CASHLESS IN ONE YEAR [and a Response to Responses]

I have gone into a big supermarket in Westgate, Harare, on two occasions in the last week or so hoping to get some cash back. All I asked for was $10. On the first occasion after waiting and waiting I came away cashless. Yesterday after another long wait and an assistant who pulled out all the stops to oblige me, I got $7.

I marveled. I could not believe it...[MORE]

And the response: FUNNEL VISION

It is as if you were to tell a certain type of Zimbabwean that the sun is shining and he or she will say yes but my problem with that kind of viewpoint is that there are lots of weeds in the garden. To say that the sun is shining does not mean you do not know that in addition to the sun shining, there are weeds in the garden. The topic was the sun...[MORE]


AN AFRICAN LAMENT FOR THE GOOD OLD ACCOUSTIC GLORY DAYS

I attended a wedding the other day. It took place Kwa Bobo, the rough and ready extension of the Harare high-density suburb of Tafara. From beginning to end there wasn’t a single song - or hymn, for that matter, though it took place in a Zimbabwe Assemblies of God Africa [ZAOGA] church. The DJ with his powerful sound system and his apparently unlimited store of pre-recorded music ruled the roost...[more


SUPPLEMENTING DOCUMENTATION AND RESOURCES IN SOUTH AFRICAN THEATRE: Majority Theatre in the 1970s

Paradoxically and almost perversely, apartheid legislation in the early 1960s led to the development of a rich and dynamic theatre in the black urban and sometimes rural areas, a development which was checked by the uprisings in 1976. Although such theatre activity continued – and is still in existence today – it was adversely affected by the political turmoil, social instability and ultimately the breakdown of segregation. It was never again able to attain the heights and intensity of those years.

Up to now academics, authors, students and practitioners who have shown an interest in the arts of that period have had little grist for their mill...[more


THE FREEDOM CHURCH

By Robert Mshengu Kavanagh (©RMMcLaren)

In Charleston, South Carolina, a white youth, sporting the colours of Verwoerd’s South Africa and Smith’s Rhodesia and a hand gun he had been given by his father as a present, guns down a pastor in his church and seven of his congregants. Their church is the Emanuel Temple and its denomination the African Methodist Episcopal Church (AMEC).

It is very likely that few people, following the coverage of this hateful act, will know very much, if anything at all, about the African Methodist Episcopal Church – and yet it is rooted in the history of the region and in Africa as well... (READ ON)


A preacher at a Fraternal ‘Big Sunday’ church service last week in Kambuzuma spoke of xenophobia in South Africa. She reminded us of Christ’s words on the cross: “Forgive them, Father, for they know not what they do.” The South Africans who are indulging in xenophobic onslaughts against our people, their fellow Africans, ‘know not what they do’. They do not know because they are the lost sheep the shepherd has abandoned.


A cultural allegory written for my grandchildren on acculturation and globalisation. 

Not everybody is clear on what is going on in the Ukraine. As usual it would not be helpful to rely solely on the Western Media – and on the Ukraine their slavish support of US and European Union policy is even more biased than usual - but also consult Russia Today and get the other side of the story. Even then, as with the understanding of any contemporary situation, one needs to know a bit of history – and this is something that news coverage very seldom takes into account...



COFFEE, CHICKEN AND THE PRESIDENT

I am particularly devoted to freshly ground coffee and I am sure that the music produced by the South African group of that name lives up to it. I wouldn’t know because I have never heard it. In fact, I thought they were a black a cappella outfit. However, recently I find this previously unknown (to me) musical group has got my goat and I need to write about it. (SEE BELOW)





KWAME NKRUMAH


THREE QUESTIONS - RECENT ELECTIONS IN ZIMBABWE 


(see also accounts of theatre auditions with young people in Windhoek, Namibia, and Johannesburg, South Africa)


ART FOR TRANSFORMATION: AN OLD FOGIE’S RESPONSE TO TWO DAYS OF CONTEMPORARY SOUTH AFRICAN COMMUNITY THEATRE

(written after adjudicating a two-day community theatre festival as a talk to actors and directors at a subsequent workshop)

This morning I checked the national news stories in The Star (Monday, 14.11.11).  Of a total of 10 stories, 2 were on Death, 1 combined Sex and Death, 2 on Crime, 1 on Corruption, 1 on Feuds in ANC and 3 on other topics. On other days, there are often many more on Sex, Crime, Death, Corruption and Feuds in the ANC than there were on Monday. This probably goes for other local dailies too.

The Star is a newspaper read by those who control the economy of this country – and they are overwhelmingly white. As you know, money controls everything else, including arts and culture.

Before we get any wrong ideas, it is important to note that we are talking about mental attitudes here, not skin colour. ‘Being black is not a matter of pigmentation... it is a reflection of a mental attitude’, wrote Stephen Bantu Biko in his book, I Write What I Like...MORE 

FROM WAR ON TERROR TO CONTAINMENT OF CHINA

I came across an article on Wednesday night on BBC News Online in which Obama and the Australian Prime Minister announced that it had been agreed that a company of US marines would be stationed in Australia and that in due course the company would be increased to full strength, namely "around 2,500 personnel, that is a full Marine air-ground task force." The article quoted Obama as saying that this was being done to counter China's growing influence in the region. Very interestingly that extraordinarily provocative statement seems to have been censored as the posting I am sending you reveals. I checked the BBC site yesterday. The story had been sent backstage and that quotation had been downgraded into a speculation! The result is that the response of the Chinese to the deployment appears intemperate. This seems to be a neat piece of media manipulation...MORE


'JUNE 16: THE DAY OF THE AFRICAN CHILD'

 The significance for South Africans of that day in Soweto...more 

'PETITION IN THE UNITED STATES TO END THE WAR IN LIBYA'

Its importance for Africa...more


"HISTORY"

Memorial Day in the US and the importance of history - READ


“BEHAVE YOURSELF, STOP ACTING LIKE A NYAU”

Netanyahu, Obama and the people of Palestine - READ


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On the use of electronic music and the death of traditional singing in weddings and churches.  15k v. 1 30 Jan 2019, 00:04 Robert Mshengu Kavanagh
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21.11.10 "ARAB AS AFRICAN....AFRICAN AS ARAB" - NORTH AFRICAN RELATIONS WITHIN THE MOTHER LAND. Are the people of North Africa Africans or Arabs?   31k v. 6 23 Jun 2011, 04:23 Robert McLaren
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18.11.11 Written after adjudicating a two-day community theatre festival in Benoni, South Africa, as a talk to directors and actors at a subsequent workshop.   60k v. 2 18 Nov 2011, 02:06 Robert McLaren
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24.5.11 Written after Netanyahu's rapturous reception in the Congress of the United States of America  111k v. 6 1 Jun 2011, 09:07 Robert McLaren
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A blog on how Zimbabwe has gone from an all cash economy to a cashless one in one year.  264k v. 1 4 Nov 2017, 04:22 Robert Mshengu Kavanagh
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The South African musical group, Freshly Ground, were invited by the Zimbabwean arts festival, HIFA. The group produced a musical video called ‘Chicken to Change’, in which they featured a caricature of President Mugabe and the opposition party,MDC, slogan ‘Chinja (maitiro)’, meaning ‘Change (the way of doing things)’. They were denied entry into Zimbabwe.  259k v. 1 9 May 2014, 02:53 Robert McLaren
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28.1.11 COLD-SHOULDERED BY THE SPHINX Egypt in the early days of the recent revolution - I was there.   43k v. 5 26 May 2011, 08:18 Robert McLaren
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The need for a theatre network where African practitioners can access each others work and share is at last being attended to - in the pipeline.  53k v. 1 5 Sep 2013, 09:46 Robert McLaren
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CONFESSIONS OF A TRIPLE AGENT I must be one of the few spies that have served faithfully and harmoniously in the secret service of three   28k v. 2 20 Jun 2011, 03:08 Robert McLaren
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Some thoughts on the army coup that toppled the democratically elected Muslim Brotherhood government in Egypt.  36k v. 1 5 Sep 2013, 09:47 Robert McLaren
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Background to the story of the killings in the Emanuel Church in Charleston, South Carolina - who is the AME Church? As it is rooted in the history of southern Africa and Africa in general, I decided write about it - my wife is a Pastor in the AMEC.  466k v. 1 22 Jun 2015, 01:52 Robert Mshengu Kavanagh
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9.6.11 Sitting on a hot summer's day in Crabby Joe's Pub and Grill beside the Congamond Lakes in Massachusetts, I remember the photo on the front page of the New York Times that morning.   27k v. 2 23 Jun 2011, 04:26 Robert McLaren
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A response to some who responded to the blog on a cashless Zimbabwe, drawing attention to the corruption and looting and the hijacking of the revolution.  196k v. 1 4 Nov 2017, 04:24 Robert Mshengu Kavanagh
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An African Lament for the Good Old Acoustic Glory Days  50k v. 1 28 Oct 2017, 03:34 Robert Mshengu Kavanagh
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31.5.2011 Memorial Day in the United States and the importance of history  39k v. 5 1 Jun 2011, 09:04 Robert McLaren
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23.6.11 JUNE 16: THE DAY OF THE AFRICAN CHILD Why South Africa should join the rest of Africa and celebrate the day of the Soweto Uprising as the Day of the African Child   34k v. 2 18 Nov 2017, 08:01 Robert Mshengu Kavanagh
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15.3.11 What’s happening in Libya? I was in Cairo when the Egyptian Revolution broke out. Tunisia was the spark and now Egypt burns. Where next? We asked.   34k v. 5 26 May 2011, 07:40 Robert McLaren
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An abbreviated chapter from a book on life in Palestine, "I was born there, I was born here", by Moured Bhargouti.  75k v. 1 5 Sep 2013, 09:50 Robert McLaren
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A book review: Challenging Martin Meredith's "The State of Africa"  804k v. 1 20 Jan 2018, 02:41 Robert Mshengu Kavanagh
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There is no belittling the immense significance of the October or Russian Revolution, the centenary of which is being celebrated this month.   603k v. 1 18 Nov 2017, 07:54 Robert Mshengu Kavanagh
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Why is the recent intervention of the armed forces in Zimbabwe a 'palace coup'?  316k v. 1 18 Nov 2017, 08:01 Robert Mshengu Kavanagh
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18.6.11 PETITION IN THE UNITED STATES TO WITHDRAW FROM LIBYA. What is the significance for Africa?   27k v. 2 23 Jun 2011, 04:24 Robert McLaren
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YOUNG WOMEN ACTING OUT: a participatory theatre communication pre-test at a Harare girls school.   63k v. 1 30 Nov 2011, 15:04 Robert McLaren
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Supplementing available documentation and resources majority theatre in South Africa during the 1970s.  240k v. 1 4 Jul 2016, 12:31 Robert Mshengu Kavanagh
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15.5.2011 Modern Day Assassins and the Death of Osama bin Laden  38k v. 5 1 Jun 2011, 09:06 Robert McLaren
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For my grandchildre. When the wolves came, massacred and conquered the sheep, the sheep started wanting to be like wolves. A tale for African children.  64k v. 1 28 Jun 2014, 08:49 Robert McLaren
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There recent stayaway in Zimbabwe and the role of social media in orchestrating violence.  557k v. 1 30 Jan 2019, 00:05 Robert Mshengu Kavanagh
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A BBC report on President Obama's announcement that the US will be stationing a company of marines in Australia - with some introductory comments of my own.   57k v. 2 18 Nov 2011, 02:29 Robert McLaren
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19.3.11 THE HYPOCRISY OF THE WEST The hypocrisy of the West is now proverbial. ‘Perfidious Albion’ is a soubriquet that England over the years has richly deserved. Now with the ‘No Fly’ Zone over Libya and the possibility of armed intervention we have yet another in a long line of examples.   29k v. 5 26 May 2011, 08:21 Robert McLaren
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13.4.2011 THEY ARE TRYING TO ROB US OF OUR HISTORY written on an article (included) by A.Kanengoni entitled Their bones shall rise - on the importance of rmembering  41k v. 7 1 Jun 2011, 09:44 Robert McLaren
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An effort to explain the current crisis in the Ukraine in terms of history and the geopolitical agenda.  61k v. 1 14 May 2014, 12:37 Robert McLaren
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A paper on adapting with particular reference to a playmaking workshop in 2010 at which the play "The Most Wonderful Thing of All" was adapted from Ibsen's "A Doll's House".  75k v. 1 4 Mar 2017, 06:58 Robert Mshengu Kavanagh
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An introduction to the roots of xenophobia in South Africa as written by a South African for Zimbabweans.  196k v. 1 3 May 2015, 13:47 Robert McLaren
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Three questions on the recent elections in Zimbabwe, concentrating in particular on the response of Britain, the US and the EU.  70k v. 1 5 Sep 2013, 09:48 Robert McLaren