I’ve been following Teju Cole for a while, and like what and how he writes, and his playlists. This is from seven years ago, about Obama’s drone warfare., his “A reader’s war“, which appeared in The New Yorker in 2013, February 10. Cole starts out by praising the “reader in chief” Obama for his erudition that is so welcome after the anti-intellectual Bush years. Then there are the drone wars, though, one bad guy killed at 17th attempt, the 16 fails leaving uncounted “collateral damage” behind, every one a human being killed – literally – out of the blue. Cole:
I sit rigid in my seat, thinking, I don’t want to die, not here, not yet. I imagine those in northwest Pakistan or just outside Sana’a who go about their day thinking the same. The difference for some of them is that the plane is already hovering in the air, ready to strike.
Since my arrival, two of South Africa’s greats have left us – first South African poet laureate Keorapetse William Kgositsile, or “Bra Willie” (d. 3 January), and now the father of African jazz and ambassador of African culture, Hugh Masekela, “Bra Hugh” (d. 23 January). Both were fighters for African freedom, which for both of them meant many years of exile from the South Africa under the Apartheid regime. Their view of African freedom was not only that of politics, it goes deeper, and targets what Frantz Fannon had called the “white masks” in black skin. Needless to mention, the arts, music, all of cultural heritage were, and shall I say, are vital (pun intended) in their fight. Continue reading →
The following text is partly in response to friends or anyone really who is rightfully upset and hurt by ongoing racism in the world. My fear is that this pain makes it more and more difficult for us to engage openly, and to challenge ourselves and our prejudice, or if you like: myself and my prejudices. I sense that a lot of people on the receiving end of racism are fed up with finding themselves in a position where they are asked to explain or end racism or are asked to forgive, more so than those who commit acts of racism, directly or indirectly, are willing to do the work to overcome it, or even look at potential racist behaviour, or to admit to their position of privilege.
It’s become longer than I thought, and I believe what truth there is in it is personal, thus not necessarily The capital-T Truth.
Gulu is also the town where Okot p’Bitek was born. A friend from Zambia (hey there!, you know who you are 😉 ) recently introduced me to his best-known book, The Song of Lawino (1966). It’s a wonderful lament of a wife about her all-too European husband. He, Ocol, will respond later, in The Song of Ocol (1970). Very interesting author and scholar – read more here and here in German.