Friday, November 13, 2009

Friday Cleansing

Washing the dirt off a confounding week of highs and lows, with stories glimpsed between the headlines on a damp Friday night.

Apology For Slavery... From Africans: Nigerian Civil Rights groups are demanding that Nigerian tribal chiefs apologize for their role in capturing and selling fellow Africans during the trans-Atlantic slave trade:
The Civil Rights Congress (CRC), a leading coalition of human rights groups, said in a sequel to apologies by the US Senate last June and by Britain's former prime minister Tony Blair for slavery, it was time African traditional leaders take their cue.

"We cannot continue to blame the white men, as Africans, particularly the traditional rulers, are not blameless" said the grouping in a letter to Nigerian traditional chiefs.

"The rulers had participated by - helping to systematically raid and kidnap ... defenceless communities ... and then trading them off with European, American and other collaborators.

"They must apologise on behalf of their ancestors and... put a final seal to the history of slave trade.

"In view of the fact that the Americans and Europe have accepted the cruelty of their roles and have forcefully apologised, it would be logical, reasonable and humbling if African traditional rulers, [... can] accept blame and formally apologise to the descendants of the victims of their collaborative and exploitative slave trade..."
Polluted China: Haunting photographs in a gallery of horrors that catalogues rural life in today's polluted People's Republic of China. An interview with photographer Lu Guang is translated here:
Q: The places you shot at where you think the pollution was very serious, how did the villagers see the pollution in their lives? Did they feel the pollution was very serious and threatening their lives or [that the polluting industries] driving the local economic development was more important?

Lu Guang: In fact, there is no economic development for them, it only brought them destructions. Back then they had fertile fields. There were many water conservancy facilities built in the 70’s, all were every good, used to irrigate the fields. But now, pollution came and the water could not be used to irrigate the fields anymore. After a long time, now all the water conservancy facilities are wastes. The polluted water has led to contamination of the underground water. All their drinking water is underground water, water in the wells or from the water tower. Water from water tower flows straight to their homes, unlike us, the tap water we drink is already processed. Drinking this kind of water for long time, many people got very ill...
What Do Ann Landers and Daniel Defoe Have In Common? Both wrote advice columns for newspapers, reveals the new book on the history of "Agony Aunts": Never Kiss a Man in a Canoe: Words of Wisdom from the Golden Age of Agony Aunts. A review in the UK's Guardian reminds us how much those columns are a mirror of their times:
In our anti-authoritarian age, in which nobody's opinion – professional, amateur, drawn from experience or the ether – is deemed to be more or less valid than anyone else's, the hectoring tone of the Victorian agony aunts sounds utterly alien and alienating. ... Many agony aunts [now] seem to prefer a generalised I-feel-your-pain response. Cloying sympathy has replaced bracing empathy, which may make the reader feel momentarily better but doesn't really do much to resolve the problem.

1 comment:

truepeers said...

So am I right in guessing that this is the Christians in Nigeria willing to berate the traditional tribal chiefs but are not yet holding the Muslims to account for their slave-trading forebears/contemporaries?