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African Visions

Friday, October 14, 2005
A Festival of African Literature, Culture and Politics at the British Library.

And you can read about it and other news from the literary scene in Molara Wood's interesting blog which I've just discovered here. She has some great poems and articles too.

Nobel Pinter

So Harold Pinter has won the Nobel prize and the Literary Saloon has a great round-up of the reactions so far including some modest words from the man himself.

I'm pleased for him because I rather like people who don't just get angry about things but actually try to do something about it. He might have got up a lot of people's noses, ruined a few dinner parties, that kind of thing, but good for him.

Asylum: Make your voice heard

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

Originally uploaded by lotsofbigideas.

The Refugee's Council has a new campaign, Don't Believe The Type.

Why We Are Angry is a very useful page of hard facts aimed at countering the kind of misinformation and opinion we're always reading in the newspaper headlines.

There are useful suggestions for making your voice heard such as writing to local newspapers or online news sites to challenge opinions that you know to be ill-informed or articles which are inaccurate.

Hmmm... This has made me think how often I have a rant over a TV report or an article without actually complaining to the people who created it.

Poems for the Waiting Room

Tuesday, October 11, 2005
Now in Kurdish, Greek, Turkish, Bengali, Romanian, Chinese.

A brilliant big idea because wouldn't some of these quietly reflective poems make you feel just that little bit better if you came across them in your local surgery, hospital or dentists'?

I like the fact that this year there are new poems in translation including 'Acceptance' from Choman Hardi. And I like this by Greek poet Yannis Ritsos:


She opened the shutters. She hung the sheets
over the sill. She saw the day.
A bird looked at her straight in the eyes.
'I am alone,' she whispered.
'I am alive'. She entered the room. The mirror
too is a window.
If I jump from it, I will fall into my arms.'

Responses to Bali bombings

Monday, October 03, 2005
As an attempt at some kind of counterpoint to the current coverage of the Bali bombings here's a link to the Global Voices round-up of initial responses.

It includes this post by The Religious Policeman:

'It's very difficult being a moderate Muslim these days. The vast majority of Muslims are moderate, wouldn't hurt a fly, want to do nothing more than live in peace, earn a living, bring up their families. Yet they constantly have to apologize for their religion because the whole Islamic PR effort is being driven by the crazies.

I used to feel sorry for the Christians in Northern Ireland, because they had terrorists killing in their name. But that's all over. And the chilling fact is that these days, wherever there is any trouble in the world, Muslims are tied up in it.'

I'm not so sure that the problems with religious fanaticism are over in NI. The recent rioting during the marching season suggests that violence may still be bubbling somewhere just beneath the surface. (And why, anyway, do people feel the need to join an 'Order' which stages a parade through an 'opposing' religion's 'territory' unless they want to intimidate others and prove that they are somehow right or superior? Doesn't that speak of fundamentalism? And doesn't that kind of behavior count as incitement - thus, one would imagine, attracting the attention of those who wish to curtail such expressions of free speech as part of the new anti-terror legislation?)

But the parallels between supposedly-Christian and supposedly-Islamic brands of terrorism are interesting. It's certainly true that the recent rioting in Belfast didn't result in a global 'War on Terror' against Christian fundamentalists... Because most people would probably accept that most Christians are not potential terrorists.

And it does seem a bit late for us to be worrying about 'harming relations between Christian and Muslim nations'. Maybe we should have thought of that before we illegally invaded Iraq. Hmmmmm...

Untold London

Saturday, October 01, 2005
I've just come across the Untold London site which aims to tell the stories of London's diverse communities.

As well as featuring items such as 'Ten Things to See in London during Black History Month', there's a really useful search engine which lets you track down collections throughout the city's museums and galleries by either 'continent' or 'community'. What a great idea! But why stop here? Wouldn't it be brilliant if someone expanded this to include all of the UK's many other culturally diverse towns and cities?

'Black Victorians' at Manchester Art Gallery

Mary Seacole

A new exhibition Black Victorians opens today at Manchester Art Gallery.

It aims to 'give the first comprehensive overview of black people in British art in the 19th century' and to reveal 'the human stories' behind the paintings, sculptures, prints and photographs, including those of the first black British footballer Arthur Wharton; Crimean nurse and heroine, Mary Seacole; and celebrated actor, Ira Aldridge. It runs until 8 Jan 2006. If anyone goes to see it before I do, please let me know what you think.