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Everyday Media Culture in Africa: Audiences and Users (Hardback) - Routledge
"African audiences and users are rapidly gaining in importance and increasingly targeted by global media companies, social media platforms and mobile phone operators. This is the first edited volume that addresses the everyday lived experiences of Africans in their interaction with different kinds of media: old and new, state and private, elite and popular, global and national, material and virtual. So far, the bulk of academic research on media and communication in Africa has studied media through the lens of media-state relations, thereby adopting liberal democracy as the normative ideal and examining the potential contribution of African media to development and democratization. Focusing instead on everyday media culture in a range of African countries, this volume contributes to the broader project of provincializing and decolonizing audience and internet studies."



"Table of Contents

Foreword
Paddy Scannell

1. Decolonizing and provincializing audience and internet studies: contextual approaches from African vantage points
Wendy Willems and Winston Mano

2. Media culture in Africa? A practice-ethnographic approach
Jo Helle Valle

3. ‘The African listener‘: state-controlled radio, subjectivity, and agency in colonial and post-colonial Zambia
Robert Heinze

4. Popular engagement with tabloid TV: a Zambian case study
Herman Wasserman and Loisa Mbatha

5. ‘Our own WikiLeaks’: popularity, moral panic and tabloid journalism in Zimbabwe
Admire Mare

6. Audience perceptions of radio stations and journalists in the Great Lakes region
Marie-Soleil Frère

7. Audience participation and BBC’s digital quest in Nigeria
Abdullahi Tasiu Abubakar

8. ‘Radio locked on @Citi973’: Twitter use by FM radio listeners in Ghana
Seyram Avle

9. Mixing with MXit when you're ‘mix’: mobile phones and identity in a small South African town
Alette Schoon and Larry Strelitz

10. Brokers of belonging: elders and intermediaries in Kinshasa’s mobile phone culture
Katrien Pype

11. Agency behind the veil: gender, digital media and being ‘ninja’ in Zanzibar
Thembi Mutch"
africa  media  books  everyday  culture  communication  2017  wendywillems  winstonmano  thembimutch  katrienpype  aletteschoon  larrystrelitz  seyramavle  marie-soleilfrère  abdullahitasiuabubakar  admiremare  hermanwasserman  loisambatha  robertheinze  johellevalle  paddyscannell  decolonization  audiences  radio  zambia  zimbabwe  nigeria  uganda  rwanda  ghana  southafrica  congo  drg  kinshasa  zanzibar  digital  twitter  bbc 
december 2016 by robertogreco
Now Is the Time to Talk About What We Are Actually Talking About - The New Yorker
"America has always been aspirational to me. Even when I chafed at its hypocrisies, it somehow always seemed sure, a nation that knew what it was doing, refreshingly free of that anything-can-happen existential uncertainty so familiar to developing nations. But no longer. The election of Donald Trump has flattened the poetry in America’s founding philosophy: the country born from an idea of freedom is to be governed by an unstable, stubbornly uninformed, authoritarian demagogue. And in response to this there are people living in visceral fear, people anxiously trying to discern policy from bluster, and people kowtowing as though to a new king. Things that were recently pushed to the corners of America’s political space—overt racism, glaring misogyny, anti-intellectualism—are once again creeping to the center.

Now is the time to resist the slightest extension in the boundaries of what is right and just. Now is the time to speak up and to wear as a badge of honor the opprobrium of bigots. Now is the time to confront the weak core at the heart of America’s addiction to optimism; it allows too little room for resilience, and too much for fragility. Hazy visions of “healing” and “not becoming the hate we hate” sound dangerously like appeasement. The responsibility to forge unity belongs not to the denigrated but to the denigrators. The premise for empathy has to be equal humanity; it is an injustice to demand that the maligned identify with those who question their humanity.

America loves winners, but victory does not absolve. Victory, especially a slender one decided by a few thousand votes in a handful of states, does not guarantee respect. Nobody automatically deserves deference on ascending to the leadership of any country. American journalists know this only too well when reporting on foreign leaders—their default mode with Africans, for instance, is nearly always barely concealed disdain. President Obama endured disrespect from all quarters. By far the most egregious insult directed toward him, the racist movement tamely termed “birtherism,” was championed by Trump.

Yet, a day after the election, I heard a journalist on the radio speak of the vitriol between Obama and Trump. No, the vitriol was Trump’s. Now is the time to burn false equivalencies forever. Pretending that both sides of an issue are equal when they are not is not “balanced” journalism; it is a fairy tale—and, unlike most fairy tales, a disingenuous one.

Now is the time to refuse the blurring of memory. Each mention of “gridlock” under Obama must be wrought in truth: that “gridlock” was a deliberate and systematic refusal of the Republican Congress to work with him. Now is the time to call things what they actually are, because language can illuminate truth as much as it can obfuscate it. Now is the time to forge new words. “Alt-right” is benign. “White-supremacist right” is more accurate.

Now is the time to talk about what we are actually talking about. “Climate contrarian” obfuscates. “Climate-change denier” does not. And because climate change is scientific fact, not opinion, this matters.

Now is the time to discard that carefulness that too closely resembles a lack of conviction. The election is not a “simple racism story,” because no racism story is ever a “simple” racism story, in which grinning evil people wearing white burn crosses in yards. A racism story is complicated, but it is still a racism story, and it is worth parsing. Now is not the time to tiptoe around historical references. Recalling Nazism is not extreme; it is the astute response of those who know that history gives both context and warning.

Now is the time to recalibrate the default assumptions of American political discourse. Identity politics is not the sole preserve of minority voters. This election is a reminder that identity politics in America is a white invention: it was the basis of segregation. The denial of civil rights to black Americans had at its core the idea that a black American should not be allowed to vote because that black American was not white. The endless questioning, before the election of Obama, about America’s “readiness” for a black President was a reaction to white identity politics. Yet “identity politics” has come to be associated with minorities, and often with a patronizing undercurrent, as though to refer to nonwhite people motivated by an irrational herd instinct. White Americans have practiced identity politics since the inception of America, but it is now laid bare, impossible to evade.

Now is the time for the media, on the left and right, to educate and inform. To be nimble and alert, clear-eyed and skeptical, active rather than reactive. To make clear choices about what truly matters.

Now is the time to put the idea of the “liberal bubble” to rest. The reality of American tribalism is that different groups all live in bubbles. Now is the time to acknowledge the ways in which Democrats have condescended to the white working class—and to acknowledge that Trump condescends to it by selling it fantasies. Now is the time to remember that there are working-class Americans who are not white and who have suffered the same deprivations and are equally worthy of news profiles. Now is the time to remember that “women” does not equal white women. “Women” must mean all women.

Now is the time to elevate the art of questioning. Is the only valid resentment in America that of white males? If we are to be sympathetic to the idea that economic anxieties lead to questionable decisions, does this apply to all groups? Who exactly are the élite?

Now is the time to frame the questions differently. If everything remained the same, and Hillary Clinton were a man, would she still engender an overheated, outsized hostility? Would a woman who behaved exactly like Trump be elected? Now is the time to stop suggesting that sexism was absent in the election because white women did not overwhelmingly vote for Clinton. Misogyny is not the sole preserve of men.

The case for women is not that they are inherently better or more moral. It is that they are half of humanity and should have the same opportunities—and be judged according to the same standards—as the other half. Clinton was expected to be perfect, according to contradictory standards, in an election that became a referendum on her likability.

Now is the time to ask why America is far behind many other countries (see: Rwanda) in its representation of women in politics. Now is the time to explore mainstream attitudes toward women’s ambition, to ponder to what extent the ordinary political calculations that all politicians make translate as moral failures when we see them in women. Clinton’s careful calibration was read as deviousness. But would a male politician who is carefully calibrated—Mitt Romney, for example—merely read as carefully calibrated?

Now is the time to be precise about the meanings of words. Trump saying “They let you do it” about assaulting women does not imply consent, because consent is what happens before an act.

Now is the time to remember that, in a wave of dark populism sweeping the West, there are alternative forms. Bernie Sanders’s message did not scapegoat the vulnerable. Obama rode a populist wave before his first election, one marked by a remarkable inclusiveness. Now is the time to counter lies with facts, repeatedly and unflaggingly, while also proclaiming the greater truths: of our equal humanity, of decency, of compassion. Every precious ideal must be reiterated, every obvious argument made, because an ugly idea left unchallenged begins to turn the color of normal. It does not have to be like this."
chimamandangoziadichie  culture  politics  us  race  racism  donaldtrump  class  classism  responsibility  resistance  freedom  populism  climatechange  identitypolitics  berniesanders  media  workingclass  economics  listening  sexism  gender  misogyny  rwanda  mittromney  words  howwespeak  communication  consent  2016  elections  hillaryclinton 
december 2016 by robertogreco
What's deadly dull and can save the world? (Hint: We can't stand it)
"What do poor people need most? Food? Healthcare? Education? The answer is as surprising as it is simple. And it can be found under fluorescent lights and modular ceilings."



"“Do you live here?” I say.

“Yes, over there.” He points his spoon at a shack with a corrugated roof, walls made from advertising signs, and – unusual for this neighborhood – a window, salvaged from a bus, frame and all.

“Have you been here long?”

“Since the earthquake.”

That was five years ago. In the meantime, billions of euros in aid money have been pumped into Haiti, including millions from the Netherlands. Yet Lebrun – along with more than half the country’s population – still lives below the poverty line.

“If you could name one thing that would really change your life, what would it be?” I say. I'm expecting him to say a better house, or more food, or a doctor, or education for his kids. I'm expecting him to mention one of the things relief money often provides.

But Sony Lebrun grins broadly at me, revealing a missing tooth, and says, “What would help me most? A land registry.”

I assume I’ve misheard.

“A land registry,” he repeats, smiling.

A land registry. An agency where you can officially affirm that the land you’re building your house or planting your food on is your own. Lebrun would love to build a brick house, he says. He wants to save up for the materials. But what if someone shows up at his door one day claiming to own the land? His savings would be gone in a heartbeat.

What Lebrun needs is security – security he can build a future on. And he needs agencies to safeguard that security. What Lebrun needs is bureaucracy."



"Development organizations are starting to take notice. Along with food, schoolbooks and mosquito nets, one agency after the other has started donating paperwork, Excel sheets and bookkeeping courses. They call it “capacity building.”

For instance, the OECD sends idealistic experts from the group Tax Inspectors Without Borders to help developing countries. Because poorer nations don’t just suffer from a shortage of tax inspectors: they also often lack the knowledge needed to bring crafty multinationals to book.

British tax veteran Lee Corrick went to Kenya in 2011 to train local inspectors. For years, the Kenyan tax office had had problems with a big multinational company – something to do with tea auction license rights and letters of credit. It sounds overly complicated, and the Kenyans thought so too. But after two workshops with Corrick and a stern talk with the multinational, the Kenyan tax office managed to collect $23 million. In fact, revenues from Kenyan tax inspections doubled after Corrick came to town. And in Colombia, the take increased tenfold after training.

And the effects of Lebrun’s longed-for land registry are being studied in a growing number of developing countries. A few months ago, World Bank researchers published a paper on land registration in Benin. containing the first results of an experiment in Benin. In one area, farmers’ land was officially added to a land registry; in another, it wasn't. The researchers then looked at how the farmers used their land.

Here’s what they found: farmers who owned their land on paper invested more. For example, they more often planted trees, such as oil palms, that would continue to provide income all their lives. And since they no longer feared their land would be snatched out from under them, they spent less time guarding it. That left them more time to do other things – like earn money. Similar results have been seen in Rwanda and Ethiopia.

Why doesn’t Haiti have a land registry?

The big question, then, is: why, in spite of all the aid money and relief organizations, does Haiti still not have a land registry? If development economists and slum dwellers like Sony Lebrun are calling for bureaucracy outright, why don’t we all – aid organizations, governments, companies – get behind it 100%?

The answer is simple. Bureaucracy is boring.

To convince people to donate money and persuade taxpayers their money is being well spent, you need pretty pictures. A TV ad showing a sweetly smiling Haitian girl who’s just gotten her first school uniform works better than one with a blah bureaucrat in a fluorescent-lit office drawing lines on paper with a ruler. Pictures of starving children with distended bellies still bring in the most money, research shows. And so all too often, capacity building remains the neglected stepchild.

But the truth is, real progress is a gradual, thoroughly bureaucratic, deadly dull process. Saving the world isn’t sexy.

We need to update our image of what it looks like to change the world. The superheroes aren’t the people handing out well-intentioned teddy bears to smiling toddlers; they’re the nondescript worker bees printing out forms in gray offices.

Yes, it’s invisible work. Yes, it’s boring. But the people who will genuinely save the world won’t have throngs of kids hanging onto their superhero capes. The people who will save the world will sit hunched over heaps of files, stamping one certificate after another, sporting an office pallor. The people who will save the world will give Sony Lebrun what he wants: the bureaucratic security he needs to build a future."
bureaucracy  landregistries  law  legal  haiti  ownership  security  2016  maitevermeulen  governance  rwanda  ethiopia  land  landregistration  kenya 
july 2016 by robertogreco
DYNAMIC AFRICA — Presenting ‘Polyglot’: A Berlin-based Webseries...
"Presenting ‘Polyglot’: A Berlin-based Webseries That Centers On Urban Afro-German Experiences.

Created by Amelia Umuhire, a Rwandan-European self-taught filmmaker from Berlin and self-identifying Afro-European, Polyglot is fictional webseries based in the German capital that explores the diverse stories of politics, growing pains, love and the challenges of living in a city as complex as its inhabitants. Each episode centers on individuals who, through their equally complex hyphenated identities, represent these intricacies as they navigate the multi-layered worlds and spaces of their everyday Afro-European lives.

Filmed in an intimate and unconventional style that creates a reality that reflects these layers, with the help of cameraman Ferhat Yunus Topraklar, Polyglot is not only experimental in nature - it is a true work of heart. The first season, which stars Amine Ardhaoui, Axel Ibarroule, Amanda Mukasonga and Hiba Kahla - three young actors and artists living in Berlin, is currently being produced with no budget. It is instead being driven by passion - a love for film, diverse stories and humor.

Watch episode 1 “The Bewerbungsgespräch” with poet, rapper and actress Babiche Papaya on her quest to find an affordable ‘Altbau-Wohnung.’"

[“Afro-German Webseries ‘Polyglot’ Returns with Episode 2: “Le Mal du Pays”.”: http://dynamicafrica.tumblr.com/post/122754528103/afro-german-webseries-polyglot-returns-with

"Created, written, directed and edited by Amelia Umuhire, a Rwandan-European self-taught filmmaker from Berlin and self-identifying Afro-European, Polyglot is fictional webseries based in the German capital that explores the diverse stories of politics, growing pains, love and the challenges of living in a city as complex as its inhabitants. Each episode centers on individuals who, through their equally complex hyphenated identities, represent these intricacies as they navigate the multi-layered worlds and spaces of their everyday Afro-European lives.

Filmed in an intimate and unconventional style that creates a reality that reflects these layers, with the help of cameraman Ferhat Yunus Topraklar, Polyglot is not only experimental in nature - it is a true work of heart. The first season, which stars Amine Ardhaoui, Axel Ibarroule, Amanda Mukasonga and Hiba Kahla - three young actors and artists living in Berlin, is currently being produced with no budget. It is instead being driven by passion - a love for film, diverse stories and humor.

In episode one “The Bewerbungsgespräch”, which premiered on our blog in April, we briefly met poet, rapper and actress Babiche Papaya on her quest to find an affordable ‘Altbau-Wohnung.’ In the second episode, we follow the series’ central character, thus far, during one of those days when homesickness - a strange but all too relatable feeling for many who inhabit the space between two very different worlds - suddenly kicks in. Unable to afford a ticket back home, she opts to do her hair instead.

With familiar scenes of natural haircare, frustration at YouTube tutorials, headwraps and hair stores, the episode also explores the ever-present and ever-changing relationship with hair and the complexities of the relationships we form far away from home, as seen with her encounter and conversation with Mama Omar played by Anna Dushime, wherever that may be."'

[All “Polyglot” posts at Dynamic Africa:
http://dynamicafrica.tumblr.com/tagged/polyglot ]
ameliaumuhire  polyglot  germany  afro-european  africandiaspora  film  rwanda  africa 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Everything Is Yours, Everything Is Not Yours — Matter — Medium
"Claire, unlike me, was not a kid when we got asylum in the United States, so nobody sent her to school or took her in. Instead, she worked as a maid, cleaning 200 hotel rooms a week."



"Claire kept on her toughest, most skeptical face, because she knows more about the world than I do. I leapt up onto the set smiling, because I learned some really useful skills as a refugee — like, I always could read what people wanted me to do."



"Around town, some people treated me like an egg, the poor, fragile refugee girl. People wanted to help in the ways that they wanted to help. One day one of Mrs. Thomas’s friends picked me up at school in her convertible, handed me a pair of sunglasses, and said, “We’re going shopping today. Call me Auntie Wilma.” She became my godmother of shopping. We drove to Nordstrom’s."



"Claire always taught me everything is yours, everything is not yours. The world owes you nothing; nobody deserves more or less than the next person. Even as a refugee she always kept one dignified outfit — early on, a crisp white blouse, well-fitting flare jeans, short black boots; later, a brown suit — so she could present herself to anybody, anywhere, as a smart, enterprising young woman, period. She asked no pity, no permission. She was a fact of life, an equal. Nobody needed to know more.

At Hotchkiss, Claire’s attitude, along with my refugee skills, served me well: Whose behavior do I model to achieve in this place? Who has real power and who is bluffing? Where are the dangers and how do I escape? My ability to hack the system got me there, into those long halls filled with portraits of pale, square-jawed men. But it couldn’t protect me from my inner life. I was also alone for the first time, away from Claire and the Thomases. I was 20 and felt so old and so young. One day, in a philosophy seminar, I sat around a table with my fellow students, the boys in sports jackets, the girls in sweaters. It was a beautiful, crisp fall day. The professor gave us a thought experiment: You’re a ferry captain with two passengers. Your boat is sinking. One passenger is old and one is young. Who do you save?

With this, my veneer of decorum started to crack. Before I arrived on campus I asked the headmaster not to share my history. Nobody knew who I was. “Do you want to know what’s that really like?” I blurted out. “This is an abstract question to you?” Everybody stared.

A few weeks later, around that same seminar table — mahogany, with a view of the golf course — the professor asked us all to share the presentations we’d prepared on whether or not to send troops into a Black Hawk Down-like war scenario, like in Somalia. I cracked for real. “You have no idea, do you?” I yelled as one girl spoke. “You’ve never been in that scenario. What gives you a right to even talk? This is real. That’s me — and I have a name, and I’m alive and there are people out there who are dead, or they’re living but they’re checked out, and they hate the world because people in your country sat there and watched all of us getting slaughtered.” I ran out of class.

When I returned to fetch my bag, the professor asked me to meet him later in his office. He was in his mid-50s, with a salt-and-pepper beard, contained but kind. He told me that I needed to learn how to be a less emotional student. I did not agree. “I can’t be less emotional. It’s personal,” I said, all the while thinking that I didn’t survive all that horror to sip tea and join his club. I dropped the seminar and started therapy.

The following fall, at Yale, I tried again — psychology, history, and political science classes, to learn about the world abstractly. But those courses didn’t help me make sense of my life. I found them unnerving, intellectualized, and cold. So I built a private curriculum. My sophomore year I signed up for a class on the intense, inscrutable German writer W. G. Sebald because Sebald had written a book called On the Natural History of Destruction, and that sounded like my history. Sebald dropped into his books random-seeming photographs of libraries, eyes, animals, windows, and trees, as a way to try to capture the mass amnesia that fell over his country after the Second World War.

Ever since my freakout at Hotchkiss, I’d been on a mission to piece together who I was. I’d been looking at my hands — they were my mother’s hands. I’d been looking at my feet — my right foot in particular, it looked like my father’s foot. I knew I couldn’t understand myself through my American family or my classmates in their YALE sweatshirts and J. Crew skirts, even though I dressed like them. But I had so few concrete artifacts from my past — just a vinyl pencil case from South Africa and a photograph of myself at age four, dressed up for my aunt’s wedding, that I’d now hidden so deep that I could no longer find it. But Sebald offered a method, a technique for navigating out of the fog: He implied that if a person wades deep enough into memory, and pays close enough attention to the available clues, a narrative will emerge that makes moral and emotional sense.

I read all of Sebald’s books — The Rings of Saturn, The Emigrants, Vertigo. Then I started rereading. I also made a practice each day of walking by Annette, a woman who stood in front of Graduate Hall with a bucket of flowers that she purchased in bunches at the grocery store and sold as singles for a tiny profit. She was a fighter. Almost nobody noticed her until she called out, “Hey, sugar, come buy some of my flowers.” She had nothing to do with most students’ impressive, Ivy League lives. But to me she was a clue, a link to a buried past, a reminder of my sister who used to sell anything — salt, meat — so that she could save enough money for us to try to escape our deadening refugee lives. I had so many questions. Why did I use the GPS map on my phone, even on campus, when I knew where I was going? Why did I obsessively collect buttons and beads? Why did I talk so much — was I afraid I’d disappear? After Annette, I turned down Hillhouse Avenue and took pictures of the roots and vines growing outside the Yale cemetery. Then I studied the patterns in the images to see if they matched the patterns of the veins in my hands.

Once back in my dorm room, I retreated to the nest of pillows I built on my bed and pulled out my worn copy of Austerlitz, Sebald’s novel about a middle-aged man, who, as an infant, was shipped out of Czechoslovakia by his Jewish parents on the kindertransport, though nobody ever told him this. I twisted my earbuds to listen to Austerlitz on audiobook as I read. When my fair, green-eyed boyfriend, Ian, returned from his day — political science, crew team — I said, “Listen to this! Everything is connected!” I’d been with Ian for two years. I loved him and clung to him, but he often joked that I was having a more intense relationship with Sebald than I was with him. And it was true, in a way: I did want Ian to care more about Sebald, to interrogate the details of his own life. For instance, Ian was constantly playing and twisting pieces of paper or anything small in his hands, a nervous tic. But he wasn’t inclined to assigning much meaning to this, he didn’t want to investigate why he behaved as he behaved.

“Clementine, you’re so weird,” Ian said, gently dismissing me.

Still, my own interrogations did not feel optional. Why did I drink only tea, never cold water? Why did I cringe when the sun turned red?"



"We walked another week or two, south toward Maputo, until immigration again picked us up and put us in a camp, this one surprisingly nice and run by Italians. I wanted to stay forever, but Claire felt staying in a good camp was even worse than staying in a bad one — what if we started to think this life was okay?"



"I didn’t talk about my past. I didn’t want to be that refugee girl, I didn’t want to open that box. When I was in eighth grade, my class took a trip to Washington, D.C. Our first day there we visited the battle field at Antietam. I learned that 23,000 people had died there in a single day. Twenty-three thousand people. In one day. I broke down. The next day we visited the Holocaust Memorial Museum, where a docent handed me an identity card. It had a picture of a bald German man with round glasses — Jacob Unger, a salesman who died in the Sobibor extermination camp. He had two children and taught Hebrew in the evenings. My whole defensive shell cracked. Nobody in my family talked about all the people we knew who had been killed. I couldn’t hold it all inside anymore. At the Vietnam Memorial, I sat down and sobbed. I felt ashamed of being a human. I felt mad at everything and everyone. I’d thought I was the only one carrying this around and now… all those names."



"I still often feel like the seven-year-old girl, waiting for water at the refugee camp in Burundi, trying to assert that I have a right to take up space. I scan every room for the exits, in case I need to run, and I read people’s faces and body language so I know how they’d like me to walk, talk, and gesture, what they’d like me to do. I know I am ridiculously privileged. I now have so much, and I used to be considered worthless, and nothing about who I am changed. I try to be grateful, proactive, and normal."



"People listen, and they don’t listen. They’re amazed and moved, and they look bored and proud of themselves, like they’re checking a box. I try to be relevant and not frightening. I totally freaked out watching The Hunger Games movie. Maybe you did, too? Some people pity me, and want to help me, and can’t stand the idea that I am not defeated and could help them as well. Others cast me as a martyr and a saint: You must be so strong, so brave. You must have learned so much. A few ask if I feel guilty for surviving. Uh, no. I did everything I could … [more]
2015  refugees  clemantinewamariya  elizabethweil  rwanda  burundi  zaire  drc  congo  southafrica  tanzania  malawi  mozambique 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Which is the cleanest city in the world? | Cities | The Guardian
"Fines, public humiliation and citizen action – every city has a different way of dealing with urban cleanliness. But is it community clean-ups or strict municipal laws that have the most success in making a city spotless?"



"There are less punitive ways to be clean and tidy, however. Kigali, the capital of Rwanda, seems to have achieved a clean and litter-free environment without the threat of harsh fines. Not on any of Mercer’s lists, modern Kigali isn’t exactly beautiful. It rises up on a tree-covered slope and is mainly built of concrete, but the level of upkeep is extraordinary.

Indeed, the city’s roundabouts are so well-swept and the grass so well-maintained that wedding couples sprint across the traffic to be photographed in the middle of them. Unusually, this has been achieved not through punishment, but by the principle of Umuganda. This word has many meanings relating to “community” and “payment”, and dates back before Rwanda was part of Belgium’s African empire.

In the 19th century, a number visitors recorded that Rwandans were required to work two days a week for their community leader and during Belgian rule Umuganda was encouraged as a way of bolstering civic responsibility. In the years before the 1994 genocide, President Juvénal Habyarimana emphasised it as part of his concept of “true” Rwandan identity. “True Rwandans” provided free labour for state-led projects like school building, road works, the construction of sanitation facilities and digging of anti-erosion ditches. Unfortunately Habyarimana’s true Rwandans, by extension, also belonged to the Hutu tribe, and Umuganda eventually became caught up in ideas of racial purity.

After taking office in 2000, President Paul Kagame harnessed Umuganda to help clean up his gun and shell-strewn capital, as well as to promote the idea of a cohesive national identity through communal projects. Under Kagame, Umuganda was formalised as a collective event on the last Saturday in each month when traffic – including airport taxis – is stopped for three hours in the morning, and the city comes together to tidy up. This can be problematic if you have a flight to catch. This day is called umunsi w’umuganda (contribution made by the community) and all able-bodied people between the ages of 18 and 65 are required by law to participate. The knock-on effect of such conscientious cleaning up is, of course, that people are less inclined to drop litter in the first place."



"So, if Singapore is proof that cleanliness can be achieved by legislation, Kigali and Dar es Salaam are definitely proof that motivation and communal spirit can work as well. Calgary, on the other hand, falls somewhere between the two. It’s also the least interesting of the three cities to visit – but that’s a whole other list.

Finally one has to ask, does it matter? Last year a Ugandan looking at Kigali told me wistfully that Kampala used to be as pristine as Kigali: “Why can’t we keep our capital clean and tidy anymore?”

So, if you live there I think it matters, very much."
cities  uban  urbanism  rwanda  umuganda  community  civics  responsibility  civicresponsibility  kigali  kampala  uganda  daressalaam  communalism  communalspirit  tanzania  singapore  via:anabjain  cleanliness  litter  calgary  zurich  adelaide  honolulu  minneapolis  kobe  tidiness  china  paulkagame 
june 2015 by robertogreco
Exclusive: Rwanda Revisited | Foreign Policy
[See also: “What did the Clinton administration know about Rwanda?”
http://www.washingtonpost.com/blogs/monkey-cage/wp/2015/04/06/what-did-the-clinton-administration-know-about-rwanda/ ]

"The indifference of outside powers, particularly the United States, was a central theme of the talks.

A lot of the criticism centered on the fact that the U.N. and other world powers failed to respond to a clear warning, issued in January 1994, that a plan for the extermination of the Tutsi was underway.

The contents of that cable, drafted by the U.N.’s Canadian force commander, Lt. Gen. Roméo Dallaire, were never shared with the U.N. Security Council.

But the U.N.’s top officials in Rwanda shared the cable’s contents with representatives of the United States, Britain, and Belgium.

“I never knew about the genocide fax. I am not sure my colleagues in the African affairs bureau knew about it,” said John Shattuck, the then-U.S. assistant secretary of state for labor, human rights, and democracy. “Had this fax become more widely known in the U.S. government, it would have provided ammunition for those who were trying to resist” efforts to constrain U.N. peacekeeping.

“I do think the genocide fax could have made a difference to those like myself who were trying to impact on the debate,” he added.

But Dallaire, who attended the conference, cut Shattuck off.

“I must rebut rapidly. President Clinton did not want to know,” he said. “I hold Clinton accountable. He can excuse himself as much as he wants to the Rwandans, but he established a policy that he did not want to know.”

Former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Prudence Bushnell reinforced the view that top policymakers in the Clinton administration paid little attention to events in Rwanda leading up to the genocide.

“I was way down the totem pole and I had responsibility for the Rwanda portfolio,” she recalled. “That shows you how important it was in the U.S. government.”

Indeed, there had been other warnings that had been ignored or missed. As far back as August 1992, Leader wrote a cable to Washington citing local concerns that an extremist political party linked to President Habyarimana was pursuing a “Ku Klux Klan-like approach to ethnic relations” that was “widely interpreted as a call for the extermination of Tutsis.”

In August 1993, Bacre Waly Ndiaye, a U.N. human rights researcher from Senegal, produced a troubling report about the prospects of genocide. And on Feb. 25, 1994, following a visit to Rwanda by Belgian Foreign Minister Willy Claes, the Belgian Foreign Ministry sent instructions to its United Nations envoy to explore how to strengthen the U.N. peacekeeping mission.

That document cited the “possibility of genocide in Rwanda…. It will be inacceptable for Belgians to be passive witnesses to genocide in Rwanda.”

On April 6, the day the Rwandan and Burundian leaders’ plane was shot down, French President François Mitterrand walked into the office of his foreign affairs advisor, Hubert Védrine, and asked: “Have you heard? It is terrible. They are going to massacre each other.”

U.N. officials and diplomats in New York said at the review that they were unaware of the reports. Iqbal Riza, a retired U.N. official who oversaw Rwanda for the U.N. Department of Peacekeeping, and Colin Keating, a New Zealand diplomat who served as the president of the U.N. Security Council, said they were unaware of the Ndiaye report.

The U.N. Secretary General Boutros Boutros-Ghali, meanwhile, never provided the U.N. Security Council with a briefing of Dallaire’s troubling cable.

The backdrop for America’s lack of interest in Rwanda went back to the end of the Cold War, when then-Secretary of State James Baker sought cuts in the State Department to fund the establishment of more than a dozen new embassies in the former Soviet Union, Bushnell recalled. The Africa bureau in the State Department saw its budget shrink. Clinton also showed little interest in Africa.

“Early in the Clinton term, I was not able to get a new, democratically elected president in Africa, a former human rights activist, to see the president because, I was told, ‘President Clinton would find him boring,’” Bushnell said.

The one initiative that sought considerable engagement was Somalia, where President George H.W. Bush had authorized the deployment of U.S. Marines to pave the way for a massive humanitarian relief effort. Clinton inherited the operation, which gradually entangled American military forces in a war with Somali militia challenging the international presence.

The Oct. 3, 1993, the deaths of 18 U.S. soldiers in a botched raid in Mogadishu put the Clinton administration on the defensive, and cooled the Pentagon’s attitude toward U.N. peacekeeping.

As the genocide unfolded in Rwanda six months later, the White House was finalizing a presidential directive, known as PDD-25, which placed severe constraints on the conditions required for U.S. support for peacekeeping missions. President Clinton, meanwhile, was preoccupied with producing a health care bill and upcoming midterm congressional elections — and was determined to keep America out of any foreign military entanglements, said Shattuck.

“It was effectively a straitjacket for U.S. decision-making, vis-a-vis various kinds of peacekeeping operations,” said Shattuck. “In a sense, PDD-25 was the U.S. equivalent of the withdrawal of Belgian forces after the killing of the peacekeepers, in the sense that it gave a ‘green light’ to the genocide planners.”

Even after the killing began, the White House was focused more on getting Americans and the U.N. out of Rwanda than coming to the aid of Rwanda’s victims.

Thomas S. Blanton, the director of the National Security Archive, who moderated the 2014 discussion, said that a review of declassified State Department cables and logs of a task force set up to handle the crisis showed that 80 percent of the discussion in the United States concerned the evacuation of American citizens.

Most of the remaining 20 percent was about convincing the warring parties to abide by a cease-fire and resume talks on a power-sharing agreement, Blanton said.

The White House focus on protecting civilians was largely limited to one individual, a Rwandan human rights activist named Monique Mujawamariya, who had met with President Clinton in the White House in December 1993, several months before the genocide began.

“Oh my god, all hell is breaking loose, and I am getting phone calls, ‘Where’s Monique?’” Bushnell recalled. “The greatest pressure from the White House during the entire Rwandan affair was finding Monique.” Mujawamariya fled Kigali in one of the last flights by foreigners out of the country.

The U.S. military, meanwhile, showed little interest.

The Defense Department “did not want to spend money,” Bushnell recalled. “I used to call them the ‘nowhere, no how, no way, and not with our toys’ boys.”

“Boy, oh boy, did the shooting down of the plane on April 6 and the withdrawal of the Belgians give us the excuse we need to pull the plug,” she said. “It was an unfortunate period in my government’s history. I regret it greatly, as I think all of us do.”

The U.N. peacekeeping mission was woefully unprepared for the violence, and Rwandan government troops killed 10 Belgian peacekeepers."



"ter years of blocking U.N. efforts to pressure Israelis and Palestinians into accepting a lasting two-state solution, the United States is edging closer toward supporting a U.N. Security Council resolution that would call for the resumption of political talks to conclude a final peace settlement, according to Western diplomats.

The move follows Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s decisive re-election Tuesday after the incumbent publicly abandoned his commitment to negotiate a Palestinian state — the basis of more than 20 years of U.S. diplomatic efforts — and promised to continue the construction of settlements on occupied territory. The development also reflects deepening pessimism over the prospect of U.S.-brokered negotiations delivering peace between Israelis and Palestinians."



"France, however, recently renewed its appeal to the United States to consider taking up the issue before the council, according to diplomats familiar with the matter.

The United States, according to the diplomats, gave no firm commitment. But the administration indicated that it was willing to consider action in the council once a coalition government is put into place.

“I think they probably just want to see how it pans out,” said one U.N.-based diplomat. “But certainly the message we got back in December was that they might be able to show more flexibility after the election.”

Security Council diplomats say there remain significant differences between the U.S. approach and that of France. “There are discrepancies between the U.S. and European positions but I think they will bridge them soon,” said an Arab diplomat. “The key elements are the same: a framework for a peaceful solution that leads to the establishment of a Palestinian state … plus guarantees for Israel’s long-term security.” The United States is unlikely to hit Israel or the Palestinians with punitive measures if they fail to comply.

During a recent meeting of U.S. and European officials in Washington, a senior State Department official said the United States was considering a draft resolution at the Security Council but that no decision had been made.

Of course, two other options lie before the Obama administration with regard to the Israel-Palestine issue: continuing to reflexively back Israel at the United Nations, and simply enduring the widespread criticism of the international community, or raising the pressure on Jerusalem by abstaining from a U.N. resolution condemning Israeli settlements.

In 2011, the United States vetoed a resolution demanding that Israel’s settlement … [more]
rwanda  1994  us  romeodallaire  africa  genocide  un  va:vruba  unitednations  policy  israel  palestine 
april 2015 by robertogreco
We had a lot of trouble with western mental health... - Noteworthy and Not
"We had a lot of trouble with western mental health workers who came here immediately after the genocide and we had to ask some of them to leave.

They came and their practice did not involve being outside in the sun where you begin to feel better. There was no music or drumming to get your blood flowing again. There was no sense that everyone had taken the day off so that the entire community could come together to try to lift you up and bring you back to joy. There was no acknowledgement of the depression as something invasive and external that could actually be cast out again.

Instead they would take people one at a time into these dingy little rooms and have them sit around for an hour or so and talk about bad things that had happened to them. We had to ask them to leave."

~A Rwandan talking to a western writer, Andrew Solomon, about his experience with western mental health and depression.

From The Moth podcast, ‘Notes on an Exorcism’
mentalhealth  trauma  depression  medicine  rwanda  exorcism  andrewsolomon 
august 2014 by robertogreco
6, 5: Hills
"The systemic problems – climate change, mass violence, police state, you name ’em – will not be solved from any single angle. One necessary one, I think, is sushi knife cuts across the idea that we are restoring the world. Sometimes, narrowly, this makes some sense: we can say, for example, that there was a past in which there were better women’s health options in Texas than there are today, and use it as an example. But most of the past sucked real bad, or was not a stable object. The good king to whom Robin Hood was loyal was, in the historical record, what we would now call a bad king. And the implication that we can turn the Anthropocene back into the Holocene is simply false, and a dishonest goal; we have to talk about how we’re never going home, but if we work hard we might make a new home that’s better than what we’ve begun to trek into.

A DM conversation with ace reporter Robinson Meyer (gently edited for clarity):

Rob: Have you played 2048, Dan W edition yet?

Me: No.

Rob: It is a hoot.

Rob: http://games.usvsth3m.com/2048/dan-w-edition/

Me: Astonishing.

Me: Died at 2656.

Me: What can we say about the people who think this is fun and clever?

Me: Can we make a more interesting description than “people who have heard of the New Aesthetic”?

Rob: Confusion: Do you think it was not fun and clever, or are you trying to name the very real category?

Me: I think it’s extremely fun and clever.

Me: And I’m trying to get at what this kind of enjoyment is beyond “people out there share my obsessions with certain ‘boring’/‘weird’ things”.

Rob: Haha, okay. Right. Yeah.

Rob: My shorthand is, indeed, usually “weird.” But that in itself is a shorthand for estrangement.

Rob: Estrangeurs.

Me: I sometimes think if it as: bulk people.

Me: People interested in mass transportation, mass communication, massive slabs of data.

Rob: The Blurry Commons.

Rob: (I think it is common-in-bulk—it being not enough to revive the old, say, Judt-esque progressive adoration for trains.)

Rob: The Fans of Connected Signifiers of Disconnection and Vice Versa.

Rob: Shirepunk.

Rob: Domesdayists.

Me: Census-botherers.

Rob: Because it’s partly about working on problems at 45 degree angles to climate.

Rob: Whigpunk.

Rob: But actually this time.

Me: Ack, perfect.

Rob: That’s what it feels like to be thought-led.

It might also be this thing or not. It might be about scale – the feeling of something on the edge between subitizable and not. (It also has the grace of something made by a friend for a friend – which animates some of my favorite light art, even where it lacks other merits.)"
scale  charlieloyd  2014  whigpunk  newaesthetic  climatechange  mailart  tuitui  micronations  robinsonmeyer  wendellberry  systemsthinking  systems  decline  disaster  lauraseay  jasonstearns  gérardprunier  catharinenewbury  davidnewbury  séverineautesserre  africa  genocide  southsudan  sudan  rwanda  centralafricanrepublic  injustice  libertarianism  normanborlaug  anthropocene 
may 2014 by robertogreco
Open Learning Exchange
"Open Learning Exchange (OLE) is committed to universal access to basic education by 2015.

Over one billion school-aged children in more than one hundred countries lack access to even the most essential learning opportunities. Enabling them to acquire at least a basic education is not charity – it is a universal right. Every child is entitled to an opportunity to develop an intellectually and economically strong life consistent with their abilities. This ultimately benefits all of us.

And it is now possible as never before. The global reach of the Internet, low-cost laptops and other information technologies, combined with a greater awareness of the importance of universal basic education, make it possible for this to be achieved by the UN Millennium Goal of 2015.

Basic education enables one to:

» Read local newspapers, magazines and books» Complete job applications and obtain employment» Write letters to friends and employers…

[list continues]"
education  learning  open  openlearning  openlearningexchange  economics  sharing  online  web  internet  olpc  community  access  rwanda  ghana  nepal  mexico  dominicanrepublic 
june 2011 by robertogreco
Rwanda's laptop revolution | Technology | The Observer
""You know the problem with having a poor education is that you are not given the faculties to cross-check information, not given access to information. Our society, before the genocide, was not open. Now I can go on the internet. I can check what I am being told. I can make my own analysis. "I remember a text that I learned at school. It said you go to school to learn how to learn. If you can enable people in society… with computers… you release the human potential. You can go beyond."...They work out for themselves what they want to do with the computer...Cavallo & OLPC are cautious about how they present themselves. One day he describes to me an ad campaign they rejected...one that the Rwandan government might have liked, but it jarred with Papert's ideals. "It was this Hollywood idea. The hero comes in. Does everything. That's what we rejected. It showed a Nobel prizewinner then wound back 20 years to the XO. But it is not what we're about. We are about teachers and nurses.""
olpc  rwanda  education  learning  genocide  africa  2010  trends  technology  development  via:preoccupations  seymourpapert  nicholasnegroponte 
march 2010 by robertogreco
Art:21 . Alfredo Jaar . Biography . Documentary Film | PBS
"In installations, photographs, film, and community-based projects, Jaar explores the public’s desensitization to images and the limitations of art to represent events such as genocides, epidemics, and famines. Jaar’s work bears witness to military conflicts, political corruption, and imbalances of power between industrialized and developing nations. Subjects addressed in his work include the holocaust in Rwanda, gold mining in Brazil, toxic pollution in Nigeria, and issues related to the border between Mexico and the United States."
alfredojaar  art  chile  artists  borders  us  mexico  rwanda  brasil  nigeria  activism  media  desensitization  brazil 
april 2009 by robertogreco

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