John Malkovich’s South African Accent and other Weekend Specials

So as usual, a bunch of links--new as well as ones--that have piled up in my bookmarks folder.

Still from "Disgrace." Malkovich (middle).

First, some good news: a Sudanese court only fined–but did not flog–Lubna Hussein, the woman who wore jeans in defiance of some irrational rules about women’s dress in that country. We should be so grateful.

* The New York Times has a story today about South Africa again: This time at least not about the white refugee crisis (although I know that’s coming in the next few days), but about those who were the real victims of Apartheid and, now, continue to bear the brunt of the violence and lack of change in the “new South Africa.”

* Apparently there’s a pattern to  J M Coetzee’s recent work: they’re all self-deprecating.

* “Disgrace,” the movie, which apparently has the blessing of J M Coetzee, will be out shortly. For one, I hope I can sit through John Malkovich’s accent.

* “Bang Bang Club,” (no trailer yet) the Hollywood film about the group of white photographers who made a name for themselves photographing political violence in Johannesburg’s black townships in the early 1990s, is also coming out soon.  I did not like the book; some of the men came across as thrill seekers who tailored their work to foreign publications’ demands. Oh, and what’s with Hollywood always focusing on white protagonists when it comes to South Africa?

* And the BBC has started a new TV program: Africa Business Report [that’s a link to a story about the show; here’s the actual site].

* “Once Upon a Coup,” an excellent documentary film uncovering the nuances of the failed military coup in 2004 to dislodge Equatorial Guinea’s 34 year long dictatorship, is now online. In that case, the coup plotters (a mix of former British mercenaries, the son of Margaret Thatcher, former Apartheid government soldiers, and a Guinean opposition leader) did not even pretend they were interested in freeing the Guinean people: This was about someone else–preferably Westerners–other than the family and associates of dictator Teodoro Obiang control the oil wealth of the country.

* If I was in London, I’d make it out to this exhibition of Anti-Apartheid posters at the Museum of London.

* What’s with the habit by fashion photographers and stylists to team up black models an animals in fashion shoots?

* This may upset: Video of how Spanish television gets away with racist nonsense about Africans on “reality television.” Is it because they think no-one is watching or is just that they don’t give a damn?

* Barack Obama backs a Polisario state, ending U.S. support for a plan by US ally, Morocco, to establish autonomy for Western Sahara. First Spain and then Morocco (since 1976) has colonized the Sahrawi people.

* Israel‘s rightwing foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman visited Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Nigeria and Ghana last week with a business delegation. Among other things, “… Israel sees Kenya as an African power-broker. Nigeria is a top client for Israel’s defense exports.”  This is definitely about influencing world opinion on Palestine. But more than that: is Israel is trying to be like China?

* I finally got to see the Hollywood film, “District 9,” Friday night. [Despite the claims of South Africa’s media and its boosters,  director Neill Blomkamp is a product of the Canadian film industry.] Enough has been said about the film already and I have linked to a number of reviews on this blog.  My short verdict: “District 9” is a good piece of science fiction with great special effects.  That is about it. When it wants to comments on South Africa specifically it displays all the faults of Hollywood films about South Africa: the bit-part black characters, the cannibalistic Zulu-speaking “Nigerian” criminals, and, crucially, the fact that in the end, the future of our species are dependent on two white men fighting it out.

* The hype around the Bill T Jones telling of Fela Kuti’s life continues (the show opensin late November here in New York City). This time, “New York Magazine” interviews the guy who plays Fela, Sahr Ngaujah, who is from Indiana.

* “In an effort to provide relief to a people devastated by civil war, genocide, and poverty, members of the humanitarian aid group Socialites Without Borders spent several hours this week teaching destitute Rwandans how to mingle.” Party on.

* When it comes to South African sport, everybody with a short memory thinks the Springbok victory in the 1995 Rugby World Cup victory is a key defining moment in its sports history. Not really. You’d have to go back much earlier in the 20th century.

* Journalist professor (and former New York Times Africa correspondent) Howard French has an excellent piece in The New York Review of Books on the West’s favorite Rwandan one-party leader, Paul Kagame.  President since 2000, Kagame has dominated Rwanda’s politics since 1994–in the wake of the genocide that saw 800,000 people, mostly Tutsi, murdered by state-sponsored Hutu militants. French reviews four books that point to the more unsavory elements of Kagame’s regimes as well as reinterpret the events of 1994.

* Rem Koolhaas went on about how there is a method to how things work in Lagos, while, worse, Western journalists can’t stop about “the chaos” there. A Nigerian city planner has better ideas.

* Finally, British comedian Stephen K Amos’ mock-Nigerian routine:

Further Reading