Editor?s note, 28 June 2013: This article was written by Arjan El Fassed in 2001 in the satirical style then being employed by Thomas Friedman, of writing mock letters from one world leader to another. Although it carries El Fassed?s byline, it has been repeatedly mistaken for an actual letter from Mandela. It is not. It is a piece of satire and has never been presented by?EI?as anything other than satire. El Fassed has written?this history of the piece and how it subsequently was mistaken for a real letter, on his personal blog.
Memo to: Thomas L. Friedman (columnist New York Times)
From: Nelson Mandela (former President South?Africa)
I know that you and I long for peace in the Middle East, but before you continue to talk about necessary conditions from an Israeli perspective, you need to know what?s on my mind. Where to begin? How about 1964. Let me quote my own words during my trial. They are true today as they were?then:
?I have fought against white domination and I have fought against black domination. I have cherished the ideal of a democratic and free society in which all persons live together in harmony and with equal opportunities. It is an ideal which I hope to live for and to achieve. But if needs be, it is an ideal for which I am prepared to?die.?
When I reported from South Africa in the 1960s, the Nazi admirer B J Vorster occupied the prime minister?s residence in Cape Town. Thirty years later, as I waited at the gates, it was as if the guards had not changed. White Afrikaners checked my ID with the confidence of men in secure work. One carried a copy of?Long Walk to Freedom, Nelson Mandela?s autobiography. ?It?s very eenspirational,? he said. Continue reading “Nelson Mandela?s greatness may be assured ? but not his legacy”
Jodi Bieber to attend Chobi Mela VII International Festival of Photography
Photo by Jodi Bieber
Jodi Bieber ? Artist?s Talk
Tuesday, 29 January, 7PM
Goethe-Institut Jodi Bieber ? Workshop: Masterclass on Story-telling
26- 30 January
South African photographer Jodi Bieber will be holding an artist?s talk as well as conducting a workshop during Chobi Mela VII. She worked extensively as a photographer in South Africa leading up to and during South Africa?s first democratic elections and focused on her country of birth in her book?Between Dogs and Wolves ? Growing up with South Africa, a project Bieber worked on over a ten-year period between 1994 and 2004.
Bieber?s photograph of Bibi Aisha, an Afghan woman whose face got mutilated by her husband, brother-in-law, and three other family members, has seared itself into the memory of each and everyone. A brutal symbol of the violence that so many Afghan women face, the photograph, which was on the cover of?TIME?magazine, was selected as the?World Press Photo of the Year?in 2010.
Bieber also?works?on special projects?for non- profit?organisations, such as?M?decins Sans Fronti?res.
By KEITH GLADDIS Link showing video of shooting and protest (graphic content)
Police in South Africa say 34 miners were killed and another 78 injured when officers fired at strikers armed with ‘dangerous weapons’.
Police chief Mangwashi Victoria Phiyega told a press conference today that her officers acted to protect themselves when miners armed with spears and machetes charged towards them.
Shocking video of the incident emerged yesterday, showing police fire automatic weapons and handguns into the crowd of strikers for about a minute.
Music, politics and race: To what degree does a style belong to the people who developed it? At what point, if any, does musical fusion become musical theft? Is the greater good served by a noble project if it involves the flouting of solemn rules? And once the rules have changed, and the noise has died down, how much do these debates really matter?Those questions echo throughout?Under African Skies,?Joe Berlinger?s enlightening documentary about the making of ?Graceland,?Paul Simon?s masterwork, on the occasion of its 25th anniversary. The film, by the co-director of the ?Paradise Lost? trilogy, does an excellent job of recapitulating the controversies surrounding the album?s creation without bearing down too heavily on old news, while subtly taking Mr. Simon?s side against his critics. Continue reading “Under African Skies”
JOHANNESBURG ? When he was only in his 20s Ernest Cole, a black photographer who stood barely five feet tall, created one of the most harrowing pictorial records of what it was like to be black in apartheid South Africa. He went into exile in 1966, and the next year his work was published in the United States in a book, ?House of Bondage,? but his photographs were banned in his homeland where he and his work have remained little known.
In exile Mr. Cole?s life crumbled. For much of the late 1970s and 1980s he was homeless in New York, bereft of even his cameras. ?His life had become a shadow,? a friend later said. Mr. Cole died at 49 in 1990, just a week after?Nelson Mandelawalked free. His sister flew back to South Africa with his ashes on her lap.
Mr. Cole is at last having another kind of homecoming. The largest retrospective of his work ever mounted is now on display at the Johannesburg Art Gallery, built in the neo-Classical style almost a century ago in an era when South Africa?s great mining fortunes were being made on the backs of black labor. It is a collection of images that still possesses the power to shock and anger.
?How could white people do this to us?? asked Lebogang Malebana, 14, as he stood before a photograph of nude gold-mine recruits who had been herded into a grimy room for examination. ?How could they put naked black men on display like that??
Mr. Cole conceived the idea of his own portrait of black life after seeing?Henri Cartier-Bresson?s book ?People of Moscow.? He got this particular picture by sneaking his camera into the mine in his lunch bag, under sandwiches and an apple, Struan Robertson, who shared a studio and darkroom with Mr. Cole, recounted in an essay for the book that accompanies the exhibition, ?Ernest Cole: Photographer.?
On a recent Saturday afternoon at the museum here in a crime-ridden downtown that long ago emptied of white people, three visitors wandered through cavernous galleries lined with Mr. Cole?s work. Lebogang, an eighth grader, had drifted in from a nearby single-room apartment that he shares with his mother, who is a maid, and his younger brother. His father is in jail. ?It?s very sad,? he said as he lingered over the black-and-white images.
Jimmy Phindi Tjege, 27, who like many young black South Africans has never held a job in a society still scarred by apartheid, had come to the exhibition with his girlfriend, Nomthandazo Patience Chazo, 26, who works for the government and has a car. They had driven from their black township, Daveyton, about 30 miles away.
Ms. Chazo was struck by a photograph of four hungry children scraping porridge from a single pot set on a concrete floor. Mr. Tjege singled out another picture, one of a serious boy squatting on the floor of an unfurnished schoolroom, clutching a chalkboard, with two tears of sweat running down the side of his face.
?I feel angry,? Mr. Tjege said, as he gestured to the rest of the gallery with a sweep of his hand. ?This room is full of anger.?
Mr. Cole?s captions and photographs are imbued with wrenching emotions.
Next to a photograph of a maid holding a white baby girl whose lips are pressed to the woman?s forehead, the caption says: ?Servants are not forbidden to love. Woman holding child said, ?I love this child, though she?ll grow up to treat me just like her mother does.???
The caption for a picture of a hospital ward where the floor was crowded with sick children reads, ?New cases have their names written on adhesive tape stuck to their foreheads.?
A series of images of tsotsis, young black gangsters, picking the pockets of white men is accompanied by a caption that reads: ?Whites are angered if touched by anyone black, but a black hand under the chin is enraging. This man, distracted by his fury, does not realize his pocket is being rifled.?
The son of a washerwoman and a tailor, Mr. Cole quit high school in 1957 at 16 as the Bantu education law meant to consign blacks to menial labor went into effect.
When he was 20, the apartheid authorities deemed his family?s brick home and the black township where it sat as a ?black spot? and bulldozed them into rubble.
Somehow, pretending to be an orphan, Mr. Cole had by then already managed to persuade apartheid bureaucrats to reclassify him as colored, or mixed race, despite his dark skin. His fluency in Afrikaans, the language of most coloreds, probably helped. His ability to pass as colored freed him from laws that required blacks always to carry a work permit when in ?white areas,? and this mobility proved crucial to his photography.
Joseph Lelyveld, a retired executive editor of The New York Times who was The Times?s correspondent in Johannesburg in the mid-1960s and worked with Mr. Cole, then a freelancer, described the young photographer as a wry, soft-spoken man.
?His judgments could be angry, but he had an ironic, almost furtive nature, conditioned by what he was trying to pull off,? Mr. Lelyveld, who remained a friend of Mr. Cole until his death, said in a telephone interview. ?It wasn?t easy to be a black man walking around Johannesburg with expensive cameras. The presumption would be you stole them.?
In the mid-1970s, when Mr. Cole was destitute and homeless in New York, Mr. Lelyveld said they went together to a cheap hotel where Mr. Cole had left his negatives and the photographs he had of his mother, only to discover they had gone to an auction of unclaimed items.
For years rumors circulated that a suitcase of Mr. Cole?s prints had survived somewhere in Sweden. David Goldblatt, a renowned South African photographer, had heard they were with the?Hasselblad Foundation there. When Mr. Goldblatt received the Hasselblad Award in 2006, and traveled to Gothenburg to accept it, he asked to see them. He said he was agape paging through?the images, saying, ?They can?t lie in a vault.?
Later, when he carefully studied scans of them at his home in Johannesburg, Mr. Goldblatt, now 80, said he began to realize that many of the photographs in ?House of Bondage? had been cropped severely to enhance their impact in a powerful anti-apartheid polemic. But the full frames showed Mr. Cole?s artistry.
?He wasn?t just brave,? said Mr. Goldblatt, who has been photographing this country for more than a half-century. ?He wasn?t just enterprising. He was a supremely fine photographer.?
For example, the picture of naked mine recruits photographed in a line from behind, their arms outstretched as if they were being held up, had a water basin on the wall at the end of the line. It was almost entirely cut out in the book.
?Cole was careful to include the basin, and the basin is like the full stop or exclamation mark in a sentence,? Mr. Goldblatt said. ?It just brings another dimension. It makes it banal. It?s not just dramatic, it?s banally dramatic. This is the kind of thing photographers live by, these details.?
Next year the exhibition, organized by the Hasselblad Foundation, will travel to Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Durban and Mamelodi, the black township outside Pretoria where Mr. Cole?s family still lives. The foundation is now planning an American tour that probably will include San Francisco, Detroit, Atlanta and New York. A version of this article appeared in print on November 18, 2010, on page C1 of the New York edition.
Fellow South Africans:
The day should be a day of celebration and joy. After all, today is National Women’s Day as well as the historic day when we return the remains of Sarah Bartmann to the land she walked as a child and a young woman.
Difficult as it may be, we must still celebrate. But we could not be human and not be deeply saddened and weighted down with grief as we reflect on the short life of Sarah Bartmann who has, at last, returned to her people.
This occasion can never be a solemn ceremony in which we bury her remains and bury the truth about the painful circumstances of her death as well.
To this day, 186 years after she died, we feel the pain of her intolerable misery because she was on us and we, of her. When we turn away from this grave of a simple African woman, a particle of each one of us will stay with the remains of Sarah Bartmann.
We cannot undo the damage that was done to her. But at least we can summon the courage to speak the naked but healing truth that must comfort her wherever she may be.
I speak of courage because there are many in our country would urge constantly that we should not speak of the past, They pour scorn on those who speak about who we are and where we come from and why we are where we are today. They make bold to say the past is no longer, and all that remains is a future that will be.
But, today, the gods would be angry with us if we did not, on the banks of the Gamtoos River, at the grave of Sarah Bartmann, call out for the restoration of the dignity of Sarah Bartmann, of the Khoi-San, of the millions of Africans who have known centuries of wretchedness.
Sarah Bartmann should never have been transported to Europe.
Sarah Bartmann should never have been robbed of her name and relabeled Sarah Bartmann. Sarah Bartmann should never have been stripped of her native, Khoi-San and African identity and paraded in Europe as a savage monstrosity.
As the French Parliament debated the matter of the return of the remains of our Sarah to her native land, the then Minister of Research, Roger-Gerard Scwartzenberg said: “This young woman was treated as if she was something monstrous. But where in this affair is the monstrosity?”
Indeed, where did the monstrosity lie in the matter of the gross abuse of a defenceless African woman in England and France! It was not the abused human being who was monstrous but those who abused her. It was not the lonely African woman in Europe, alienated from her identity and her motherland who was the barbarian, but those who treated her with barbaric brutality.
Among the truly monstrous were the leading scientists of the day, who sought to feed a rabid racism, such as the distinguished anatomist, Baron Georges Cuvier, who dissected Sarah’s body after her death. It is Cuvier who said after he had dismembered her:
“The Negro race… is marked by black complexion, crisped of woolly hair, compressed cranium and a flat nose, The projection of the lower parts of the face, and the thick lips, evidently approximate it to the monkey tribe: the hordes of which it consists have always remained in the most complete state of barbarism…. These races with depressed and compressed skulls are condemned to a never-ending inferiority… Her moves had something that reminded one of the monkey and her external genitalia recalled those of the orang-utang.”
It was the distinguished Baron who wrote:
“The white race, with oval face, straight hair and nose, to which the civilised people of Europe belong and which appear to us the most beautiful of all, is also superior to others by its genius, courage and activity, (And that there is a) cruel law which seems to have condemned to an eternal inferiority the races of depressed and compressed skulls… and experience seems to confirm the theory that there is a relationship between the perfection of the spirit and the beauty of the face.”
Almost two centuries later, an honourable Member of the Parliament of France, Jean Dufour, sided with the truth and said:
“Enslaved, exploited, shown as an animal, (Sarah) was dissected by scientists who wanted first and foremost to confirm their theory of the superiority of a race over the others.”
A German predecessor of the Baron Cuvier, Johann Winckelmann, a priest and art historian, had stated the batter boldly, thus:
“The European, called by destiny to run the empire of the globe which he knows how to enlighten by his intelligence, tame by his abilities, is man par excellence; the others are nothing but hordes of barbarians.”
It was as one among these barbaric hordes that Sarah Bartmann was sucked into evil purposes pursued by those who defined themselves as a “man par excellence”, with a manifest destiny to enlighten and to tame.
When she died, Sarah Bartmann had indeed been enlightened about the ways and the barbarism of “man par excellence”. But she was not tamed. Continue reading “Speech at the Funeral of Sarah Bartmann”
Dear Mr. President,
I am writing to express my dismay and disappointment with both your attendance at the national conference of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies ? a racist organization by any standards ? as well as the content of your speech at that forum.
I am a naturalised South African of Palestinian origin. I spent more than five years in? Johannesburg, during which I earned a PhD from the University of Johannesburg and lectured at the-then Vista University in Soweto and Rand Afrikaans University in Johannesburg.
I would like to take issue with the manner in which you express your support for the two-state solution: ?It is a solution that fulfils the aspirations of both parties for independent homelands through two states for two peoples, Israel and an independent, adjoining, and viable state of Palestine? (emphasis mine). Allow me, Mr. President, as a resident of Gaza, to express my shock with the fact that ? only 8 months after the Gaza massacre, in which 1500 civilians, including 434 children, were brutally murdered ? you still believe that there are two symmetrical sides. You even call it the ?Israeli-Palestinian conflict!? Was that your belief in the 1970?s and 80?s; that there were ?two-sides? to the South African ?conflict?? Were there two equal parties, namely White and Black, with equal claim to the land and equal historical responsibility for the-then status quo? No doubt, this sounds like a bizarre interpretation of South African history?and one which we Palestinians find equally astounding when applied to our history and our reality today.
Mr. President, these words of yours are even more disturbing, given your own involvement in the commendable struggle against the brutal, anti-human apartheid system and the notion of ?independent homelands? which were based on the separation of human beings. Your struggle as Black South Africans, was morally superior to apartheid because it was inclusive where apartheid focused on separation; it was embracing where apartheid focused on division; it was life-affirming where apartheid was violent and murderous.
The South African anti-apartheid goal, adopted by anti-apartheid activists all around the world was unequivocal: the end of the racist system and ideology of apartheid. There could be no toenadering (rapprochement) with apartheid ideologues; no creation of homelands and puppet leaders: the system had to be dismantled in its entirety. Many South Africans supported by a sustained global anti-apartheid campaign, sacrificed their lives to bring down the Bantustansan euphemistically, called independent homelands by the apartheid regime.? Mr. President, Steve Biko, Oliver Tambo, Chris Hani, the Mxenges, the Slovosac to mention but a few anti-apartheid heroes must have listened to the speech to the JBD and wondered what happened to the universal values and human rights espoused by the ANC.
Comrade Jacob (if I may),
I would like to brief you on the nature of the powerful party, i.e. Israel ? with whom your post-apartheid government still, amazingly, maintains exceptional diplomatic and economic ties.
Unlike the new post-apartheid South Africa, which you helped to create, in the State of Israel all human beings are NOT equal. There are fundamental artificially created and selectively rewarded? a level of of citizens in the state. Israel defines itself as a Jewish State. It, therefore, creates a bizarre distinction between ?nationality? and ?citizenship.? Almost 22% of the citizens of Israel are Palestinians who are excluded from such a definition. Israel thus, by definition is NOT the state of its citizens, but rather that of ?The Jewish People?, most of whom, like the members of JBD whom you were addressing, have no birthright connection to it. The question which begs an answer is what the status of those Palestinian citizens in a Jewish state is? The answer is, as every single ? to use a word you must abhor ?non-white? South African knows: Racism.
The delegates at the national conference of the South African Jewish Board of Deputies, Jewish, but at the same time, South African citizens ?enjoy full rights? in Israel, rights that apartheid Israel denies to us, the indigenous people of this land. They also call us ?Israeli Arabs?,? ?Jerusalem residents?, ?Arabs of the territories?, not to mention the refugees living in the Diaspora, whose mere mention always spoils any party, and whose right to return and compensation is sanctioned by International Law (UNGA resolution 194).
Israeli nationality, therefore, is non-existent. Instead, there is ?Jewish Nationality?. To make such a bizarre term comprehensible, think of ?White Nationality? as opposed to South African. In your speech before the JBD, you state very eloquently that ?(m)uch as we are conscious of who we are culturally and otherwise, it must not take away the national identity, as we should be South Africans first?.
The International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crimes of Apartheid, Article 2, Part 3, clearly defines apartheid as:
?[a]ny legislative measures and other measures calculated to prevent a racial group or groups from participation in the political, social, economic and cultural life of the country and the deliberate creation of conditions preventing the full development of such a group or groups, in particular by denying to members of a racial group or groups basic human rights and freedoms, including the right to work? the right to education, the right to leave and return to their country the right to a nationality, the right to freedom of movement and residence.?
This definition, in its entirety, clearly applies not only to the Palestinian people residing in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, but also those living in Israel itself. This is precisely the reason that the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights Situation in the Occupied Territories, a fellow South African, John Dugard, concluded that ?the 1973 International Convention on the Suppression and Punishment of the Crime of Apartheid appears to be violated by many practices?.
If you were born to Palestinian parents living in Israel ? a fate you have been spared, Mr. President ? you too would be denied the rights of? ?Jewish Nationality? and been forced to submit to institutionalized inferiority or choose to resist it.
Furthermore, ICSPCA (quoted above), Article 2, Part 4, makes it crystal clear that:
?[t]he term ?the crime of apartheid?,? shall apply to ?any measures including legislative measure, designed to divide the population along racial lines by the creation of separate measures and ghettos for the members of a racial group or groups The expropriation of landed property belonging to a racial group or groups or to members thereof..?
Comrade Jacob, the word apartheid never appears once in your speech before the JBD! A listener would never know that you were speaking to an audience who actively support apartheid in another country.
Did you know that racist laws used to forbid Black property ownership in white areas in apartheid South Africa are in force in apartheid Israel? Indigenous Palestinian citizens of Israel are not only prohibited from living on land owned by ?Jewish institutions?, ?but are also not allowed by force of ?law? to reside in any areas designated ?Jewish? either.
I, myself, Mr. President, a resident of Gaza, like so many Palestinians, have legal title to my parents? land in Israel, but have no ?legal? right to it because my parents? property, like that? of millions of other Palestinians?, was taken away from us and given over to Jewish ownership. The facts are that Jews owned only 7% of Palestine before 1948; today 93% is considered ?state land? and can only be owned by Jews or Israel.
This is only one example, Comrade Jacob, of the nature of the state your government deems ?democratic?and ?friendly? despite its past strategic ties with apartheid SA. In your presidential campaign, you were quoted singing ?kill the Boer!? And yet, in your speech, you ?unequivocally? condemn ?all forms of violence from whatever quarter?, particularly where civilians are targeted!
I fail to understand this contradiction. Is this a reflection of the difference between comrade Jacob and President Zuma? Do you, as president, think that Palestinians have no right to resist their occupation and dispossession? You even equate our resistance with the War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity committed by the Israeli Occupation forces in the West Bank and, in particular, in Gaza.
Is it too much, comrade Jacob, for us, representatives of Palestinian Civil Society organizations to ask your government to sever all diplomatic ties with apartheid? Israel, and endorses not to say lead the growing global Boycott Divestment and Sanctions campaign against Israel? Is that really too much to ask a democratic post-apartheid South Africa for?
Is this the embodiment of Fanon?s prophecy about the ?Pitfalls of National (Racial?) Consciousness??? Is it because the Black Middle class which your government represents and which has taken power from the White Middle class is underdeveloped? Fanon, whom you? must have read while on the run from the apartheid police, says that this national middle class ?has practically no economic power, and in any case it is in no way commensurate with the bourgeoisie of the mother country which it hopes to replace.? Is this why you are prepared to kowtow to the South African Jewish community which ?has been called one of the most tightly-knit in the world, overwhelmingly united in its support for Israel??
Your government, Mr. President, turns a blind eye to the war crimes of its own citizens against Palestinians. The South African war criminal David Benjamin was allowed to freely move around South Africa and share his tactics of support and defence for the? Israeli Occupation Forces in its recent onslaught against the Gaza Strip with impunity. There are seventy other South Africans that are known to have links with the destruction of the Israeli Occupation Forces who enjoy the same impunity. It is left to individuals and civil society organizations in South Africa to take action against these criminals that should rightly be the task of the government.
Your post-apartheid government, Mr. President, unashamedly, supports the two-state solution: one for Palestinians (Muslim and Christians), and one for Jews. In other words, you support the re-birth of Bantustans, albeit in the Middle East this time. The two-state solution is a racist solution, comrade Jacob. If you did not accept it for yourselves in South Africa, why force it on Palestinians instead of supporting us as we demand the right to our homeland every single inch of it?
A politics based on narrow-minded, selfish pragmatism was rejected by all anti-apartheid forces, locally and internationally during the years of the anti-apartheid struggle. What was promoted, instead, was adherence to universal principles of equality and dignity.
I truly hope you will reconsider. I know that it is my constitutional right as a citizen of the New South Africa ? which I am proud of ? to address you directly. I do so to express my deep disagreement and dissatisfaction with your government?s Middle East policy and its continued support for the apartheid policies of the Israeli government, given that this support undermines and actively harms the Palestinian struggle for liberation and self-determination.
Professor Haidar Eid
– Dr. Haidar Eid is Associate Professor in the Department of English Literature, Al-Aqsa University, Gaza Strip, Palestine. Dr. Eid is a founding member of the One Democratic State Group (ODSG) and a member of Palestinian Campaign for the Academic and Cultural Boycott of Israel (PACBI).
OK. I’ll admit it. I do have a soft spot for older women. My grandmother, my mother, Shejokhalamma, Chotokhalamma, Chotomami, Sufia Khala (poet Sufia Kamal), Didi (Mahasweta Devi) were all pretty special. All in their eighties or so. I can’t be entirely to blame though. When a woman says, “I’ve been waiting for you all day. I’ll wait all night. You must come.” How can one say no? Especially if it’s a woman you haven’t even met. And Fatima Meer was some woman. Continue reading “67 Minutes for Madiba”