31 December 2005
28 December 2005
After some conversation and me explaining what took place and why I thought it was unacceptable she was thanking me for bringing this up and she promised to organise some counselling to the ones I pointed out having problems.
I am not sure are they really going to take action. I hope they will. I feel good that I got my point across although I realise that probably if I would have an African name they would not have necessarily called me. But something needs to be done. She promised to be in contact with me when some of her supervisors return from their holidays. So I will keep you posted.
27 December 2005
25 December 2005
One of the first people that I met in Windhoek was Dan. He was an American volunteer working as a teacher in the northern Namibia which is quite rural. We ended up spending long time reflecting our experiences and comparing the urban poverty and rural poverty and the trouble they bring just as we spend time analysing all that we love about these countries. We also talked about underground hip hop which he had a good knowledge on.
Another American who I was talking for a long time was Marie. She was just travelling. Trying to learn about what is real and what is not. She was not too keen on the mindset of the America where her friends had asked her simply "but why?" when she said she wants to travel. Now that is a strange questions no matter if you like travelling or not. In United States only 18% of the people have passports which leaves 82% of the people never even going to Canada or Mexico. Luckily the 18% more often than not seem to be really nice people.
Samantha was a half Namibian and half Angolan. I met her in the shop where she was working and she started asking about my piercings. We ended up talking for a long while and I found out that she was actually a medical student. She was about to come and finish her degree in the University Of Cape Town. I asked her what will she do after that and I must admit that I was slightly expecting her to say to work in South Africa or go to Europe, but I could not have been more wrong. She said she will return to her father's home to Angola where they really need doctors. I felt ashamed of my doubts but I was very happy to hear someone caring about their homeland and wanting to contribute for it to get better. I am not doing much of that at the moment.
Another strong part Angolan part Namibian woman who I met was Rejoice. She was working at the backpackers where I stayed so we had long conversations about life in Africa and everywhere in the world for that matter, about politics and media and the mind of a human bing. She wrote beautiful poems and taught me to play chess.
I would say that what all of these people had in common was their will to find answers and not to be satisfied with what is given. I hope to them, I came across that way as well.
Altogether it is too sad. It is too much for anyone and the worst part was that not all of the people who let these things to happen were white themselves. Apartheid in all of it sickness was well working plan and therefore it is still living. Here is the letter to the Intercape bus company.
I would like to express my deep disgust over what happened while I was waiting to take the bus from Cape Town to Windhoek on 18th of December 2005. Bus was getting very full as the queue was long and one could easily tell that there is not going to be any spare room. While I was waiting in the queue just like everyone else, I saw handful of local white people just walking in the bus straight in front of our noses. They were welcomed in and they got to choose their own seats in the bus while everyone else were outside trying to hear what the rude and rather angry drivers were trying to shout as they did not have microphones.
There were few of these groups of white South Africans who did not need to wait but just walked in. I would like to know were there some sort of a reason for this action besides the post-apartheid racism?
I am not saying that all of the Intercape employees would have been rude but the few who were putting the luggage in the car were just shouting at everyone, the Angolans who were going home for holidays in particular. At one point driver yelled "I am the boss in this bus and I tell you what to do" with a serious face to a person who was not even saying anything but just happened to have more luggage than the average passenger.
I am not even writing this letter as a paying customer, which I also am, but a human being. Nobody should be treated like many of the passengers were on that trip.
I recommend you give your employees some training that they might need in the world that is changing constantly. I would like to get some kind of a feedback on how you decide to act.
15 December 2005
14 December 2005
Whether this story is true or not, is irrelevant. It is a good story about communication. It is often distracted not only by an actual language barrier, but also different accents, slang and general ways of talking. Anyone who regularly, or even ever, communicates with language other than her/his first, can confirm this. Communication is one of our most important strengths but if it goes wrong it is our downfall.
The reason why I am writing about this is my previous piece about Baobab Urban Youth Conference. I was on a mission to find out what actually was being said by Dead Prez. I was emailing about it with Gia’na Garell from Air America radio’s On The Real programme and she forwarded my mail to a person called Umi, who is representing the band in question. He wrote back to me a very angry mail about me broadcasting and spreading foolishness and petty BS. There was no mention about “pimpin the system “ comment but they denied some other rumours that I am not going into as they said it was not true and I believe that. Needless to say I was not broadcasting any of this and his accusation was completely based on assumption. That adds up to all the other miscommunication around this matter as I do not know where he got this idea from. I was not spreading anything that was not happening. I cannot tell the absolute truth as I do not believe one exists but I can tell what I see, hear and read. So I did.
Umi went on in his mail suggesting that I should concentrate on the positive message of himself and Dead Prez coming around talking to the youth of Cape Town. I do not generally like to blow horns to people who demand that, especially when they are just doing something they are paid to do. I think it was cool that they were there but the amount of miscommunication was unfortunate regardless of what or who was the reason for it. In the end it is not about pay checks, accusation of what I have done or have not done but what the teenagers walked out with.
This all leads down to a conclusion. It is not so important what is being said but what is being heard, not what is shown but what is seen or what is written but what is read. Even if you had the theory of everything in your head but before you pass away you cannot communicate it, it will not benefit us. If you order a vegetarian burger in fast-food place, but they hear chicken, you are getting chicken. It was not your fault, but unless the miscommunication is fixed it will be your problem.
10 December 2005
Event started with opening speech from the Shamiel X, the organiser and the person to know if you are in Cape Town. Some other speeches were also heard, including one from Lee from Yfm, one of the strong women of African radio broadcasting, video messages from both blastmaster KRS-one and Chuck D of Public Enemy and finally a few strong words from M1 from Dead Prez who was participating in the event and who still mispronounces Uhuru, a Swahili freedom chant that he is so keen on.
After the opening we all went into the panel discussion sessions. There were different rooms such as media, Hip Hop, NGO:s, Government and corporate. Every room had handful of experts, who were answering the questions and sharing their views. Every session was organised twice so that everyone could attend two of them and I started of with media room, which was quite typical media discussion about the ethics of commercial media and how community media can do things more freely. It was interesting because it was in South African context, so although the questions would have been the same that I am used to, many of the answers differed a lot.
Another discussion was about Hip Hop. Young people mainly asking different questions from the panel that was consisted of some of the great names of SA rap such as Ready D from the POC, Emil from the Black Noise and Shame from Godessa and they answered as they could. And they did well. Actually I must say that they made more sense than many other rap people do ever in their lives. Even I felt good about the future of hip hop for a while which in itself is a rare occasion. Both of the sessions that I participated went well and were very informative I thought.
The drama had taken place in a session that I was not in. Apparently in the first Hip Hop panel also M1 from Dead Prez was talking and he started to talk about their ideas of "pimping the system". Emil from Black Noise had, and this is all hearsay but it is heard from the participants, said that it might just be the last thing that SA needs as there is well enough trouble with crime as it is. I must say that I appreciate the strive for Pan-Africanism by Dead Prez and the idea, that they are Africans in America, but I wish that they would not act so much like Americans in Africa.
Emil from Black Noise came across as one of the clearest minds in the conversation. Their music is good as well so I give them my full support - as if that would make much difference.
During the course of the day we also had an excursion to the District 6 museum. District 6 was an area where many of the so called black and coloured people lived still in the early sixties but which then was torn down by the racist apartheid regime and people were forced to move kilometres away to the townships that were then created such as Mitchell's Plain, Langa and Gugulethu amongst others. District 6 itself is right in the heart of Cape Town with the most wonderful views both to the sea and on the Table Mountain. I did not need to be reminded about the horrors and evils of apartheid, but I was. I suppose we all should, just so that it would never happen again anywhere in the world.
I spend almost all of the day with my friend Shaqir and we did not go to the evening jam where Dead Prez and some local bands were performing partly because of the transportation problem and partly because it seemed like a teenage event.
The whole day was great. It was very positive experience to see the raw energy and ideas that young people were having. It was positive experience that this kind of event was organised and that the local artist gave their full support and even some from overseas wanted to give their time for this. I learned quite a bit and not only the fact, that I am not part of the youth anymore.
8 December 2005
7 December 2005
2 December 2005
Some happy news that came across my way. I learned that the Al-Jazeera International television news channel has opened up bunch of offices in Africa and might be the first one to actually to talk about the continent also when it is not only about corruption, war or famine. Well that is what they promise at least. This obviously is the same Arabic TV station that George Bush allegedly wanted to bomb because their news coverage was not quite like the one of the Fox news. Maybe this channel could be the first step towards balanced news from all of the continents and the end for media suppression of… well everyone who is not white male.
Also on the South African side the grand township of Soweto in Johannesburg is getting its own community TV station to accompany Jozie FM which is a local community radio. Jozie FM has been quite good at what it has been doing and possibly the best known for their infamous radio version of the Cheaters which has been exposing the people cheating in their relationship. The word on the streets is that people are driving from around the Gauteng province on Wednesday evenings to the outskirts of Soweto to hear the show. That truly shows the power of a radio when it is done right and when idea is juicy enough. I hope the new community TV station will live up to these standards and at the same time I also wish that the Cape Town community TV starts getting a bit more support and funds to get started. For the rest of the world I just hope that we could wake up and understand the opportunities of community media.
On the negative side of things, and I feel this must be mentioned, I was rather disappointed with the album RBG by one of my favourite rap groups Dead Prez. This album has been released a while ago but I only got it now. Beats were not very strong and message, to me felt quite distorted. Far from the brilliance of their Let’s Get Free album. Sad really because great American rap groups can be counted with the fingers of one hand these days.
Few weeks back I wrote how "western" media likes to pose African paedophiles as ignorant people who follow sick traditions which really are not even traditions but plain misconceptions and their "western" counterparts as ones with some sort of a medical disorder. At least in South Africa the penalties for Europeans are not too harsh as a Swiss corporate lawyer Peter Zimmermann flew home after agreeing in the court to pay R10 000 fine which equals to approximately 1500 Euros after raping ten year old boy from Alexandra in Johannesburg.
Lastly I must mention that this week I was interviewing some street kids and recording their stories. Whoever has a chance to read this text should be happy about their lives because those kids have it rough. Never-ending circle of police harassment, imprisonment, more crimes, beatings drugs, rapes prostitution etc, are something that we do not even have nightmares about. More power to them. I hope that my feature on them could help at least some people to understand that life in the streets, especially at the age of six or younger, is not really your own choice. At the moment we have sixteen days of activism going on opposing the violence against women and children and these stories fall under that campaign, as many children left home after being abused. Us men really need to step up our game because more I read, see and hear, the more convinced I get that, regardless of your colour or religion, it tends to be the men who are behind all the madness that we like to call the present state of the world.
24 November 2005
The drama with my mattress seemed like a sorted one for a second when I super-glued a patch on the hole and it was almost keeping the air until I woke up one night on the floor as the mattress had a new and far bigger hole. I fixed that as well but now I need to fill it every night before going to sleep and in the morning it is so-so.
While struggling with the mattress I also went through three days of rather unpleasant stomach virus. That was not exactly helping me with sleeping.. or anything for that matter. Very exhausting experience.
I wish I could stop here, you have no idea how much I do, but there is more.
After my chemo therapy earlier this year I have been experiencing some trouble with my fingers and blood circulation in particular. That is what chemo therapy has as its side effect and so far it has been merely inconvenient rather than painful. This week some changes took place and I actually got a frostbite on my finger. I find it ironic that I must come to African summer to get one when twenty six years of Nordic winters did not do it. There was just too little blood reaching my fingertips. I got antibiotics from the doctor who I went to see yesterday. I have not yet started taking them because, and this is the climax of the story, I lost my ATM card and have not got the money to get them from pharmacy.
What happened with my ATM card was odd to say the least. I was trying to get some money out but the machine was speaking only Afrikaans so I did not understand it and then it said something like "you took too long, you bastard you, and I am not giving you your card ever back cos I reckon it’s stolen.. so what’cha gonna do? Ha?". As I said I am not sure because the text was in a language I did not speak but this is what I assume anyway. Now the card is dead, I am not crying but I must admit that things could have gone smoother. At the moment it seems that this incident has not got anything to do with any ATM frauds, that are so common here. No money was lost from my account but I suppose I need to check again in few days just in case if there is a delay in the withdrawal. Fortunately I have Euros with me so I just need to change them to get on with things.
I am not complaining or victimising myself. This is just part of learning experience and I am still here doing the uncompromising radio show and enjoying my time. Like my friend Shane always says – You have to take the rough with the smooth.
19 November 2005
My trips to the kitchen to refill my coffee cup always take longer than I expect because the meetings to prepare the future shows take place by the big table next to it. The debate there is amazing. I have not met many people in the European commercial radios who would be so critical with their topics and the content of their shows in general.
One importance of CREW is also that it is as multiracial and multicultural as South Africa can get at its best. Young people learn to live with each others, which almost twelve years after the democracy cannot be taken for granted. Last thing that one of them said when the show was ending was, "Hey guys, I think our conversation about human rights rocked today". - I only wish you would understand how much!
16 November 2005
12 November 2005
Yesterday (11.11.2005) I had one of the strangest days in a long while. I was quite exited in beforehand as I knew that the biggest Kwaito stars of South Africa, including Zola, were to come to Bush Radio for an interview and I was interested to meet them. Or just to see them actually. I was also excited about the tickets I had for the South African premier of Tsotsi, a film about township life. Tsotsi has been well received at some international film festivals, such as Glasgow and Toronto, and now it was opening up the Cape Town International Film Festival. Our tickets were also valid for the after party where all these stars were supposed to perform. That is a good prospect for a day.
Everything was quite normal until the afternoon. I was editing some sound production for the morning show when electricity went low but did not stop completely. Victor, our morning show host who also has the technical know-how at the station, looked a bit worried. Not quite as worried though as he looked two minutes after when everything went down. No electricity and we started running to the storage room where we got the generator and started the broadcast again. That was five to ten minutes of the dead air - the two words that radio people have nightmares on. The situation was surreal as the whole station was dark and quiet and only mixer, CD players and few other gadgets were on. Soon the generator run out of petrol and as we learned that the whole of Cape Town did not have electricity, we could not get more of it from the petrol station. They cannot function without power either.
So few brave men used the tube and the old "sucking the petrol tank of the car to get the petrol -trick" and we went on again. This time we suffered twenty minutes of dead air. Which was not too bad considering the circumstances and the fact that also most radios listening to us were off as well. Power cut continued and our Managing Director Zane Ibrahim gave the order to shut the output until we got the power back.
I assume it was due to the power cut that the artist could not make it to the interviews either. I also had one interview for my documentary project and had to use microphone and minidisc and take the hit with the sound quality. I have never experienced a radio going off air because of power cut. It was quite hectic.
I left the station after five and all the traffic lights were still out and everything was slightly chaotic but nothing major happened. My friend Shaqir, who was coming to the film premier as well, picked me and my housemate Shedrick from our place after seven and we arrived to the town centre soon after. The film premier was held in the Artscape Opera House which is as central as it gets and seats more people that most cinemas that I have seen. As we were walking in we crossed the red carpet where the superstar of the evening, Zola himself, was entertaining people and welcoming the audience. He shook some people's hands and when I past him we did the South African handshake, which at this point I know already although there are some variations out there, and he said "Wait wait… I wanna talk with you". This was said in the microphone in front of the blinding lights and everybody's attention, not to forget the TV cameras, so I was not quite sure what is happening. He complimented my style (there is a first time for everything) and asked me am I from Soweto as I was wearing my Loxion Culca trainers which are quite loxion indeed (=location which means township). He was talking to me for a while and I was starstruck. Probably more than ever before.
I am not sure, but I think Shedrick was also quite impressed by what happened. He is actually from Soweto, from Naledi, which is right next to Zola which is where Zola gets his name and comes from. Shedrick also enjoys Kwaito music a lot and he lives that life, so obviously he should have been interviewed but apparently a white boy in Cape Town wearing baggy trousers and township style shoes was "quite something else" as I was told afterwards.
Film started a bit behind of the schedule and audience were rather sarcastically demonstrating against some speeches by some ministers that just took a bit too long and which had a bit too political manner. But finally the film started and what a film it was. I am not going to talk much about it, as I recommend you to see it yourself if you are interested in African and particularly South African life. Tsotsi means a small time criminal or a thug and the story was about young Tsotsi growing out of his habits in a different way that we are used to see these things happening in the films. Cinematography was great and I hoped that I could take similar still images with my camera. It was a very stylish film and soundtrack was amazing. Zola was responsible of that and he also had a supporting role in the film.
After party took place outside in front of the opera house. It was a strange environment for such a great evening of Kwaito, which generally is more Johannesburg than Cape Town and which definitely is more township than city centre, as we were in the middle of the tall buildings and the neon lights of the big corporations. We saw Brickz, Ishmael, Zola of course, Pitch Black Afro, DJ Cleo and Cape Town's DJ Ready from the Prophet's of the City, who was the one to start hip hop in South Africa.
Fantastic day ended with a ride home with Shaqir's friend Kurt and his sister and brother. They found me being interviewed hilarious. I ended one of my previous pieces by talking about how seven means everything is great. It is actually Zola who has made this saying common on his TV show Zola 7, so I think it is only right to end this one with a number as well - 7!
8 November 2005
This obviously is a matter of our media discourse which is determined by the western broadcasters and publishers. Some people were paying attention to this matter during the hurricane Katrina in New Orleans, when white people were reported to try to survive and African American were looting and misbehaving. It is the same matter but it has been ongoing with Africa for decades and we are so used to it that we do not ask any questions about it.
“Westerners” are always quick to point the finger to places like South Africa, where racism undoubtedly exists. What we need to understand and realise is that racism is everywhere, just like sexism, and we all need to work in order to reach some sort of equality. We need to remember that we are not any better just because our media practice is the dominant one. To prove a point I want to give few more examples. Why would I be constantly asked about the living conditions in Africa, electricity and clean water, if our media would not only give news on famine and destruction? Yes, it exists but Africa is a diverse continent and talking about it as it was just one dodgy neighbourhood is not only ignorant but also very disrespectful. Why do we raise up the issue of religion in our media only when it is other than Christianity? And lastly, and this partly confuses the earlier point, do we really think that it is only the Catholics causing the trouble in Northern Ireland? Are they fighting alone? While I am not particularly supporting anyone in this conflict I am pointing out that maybe Protestants, like Ulster Volunteer Force (UVF), are having their part in the drama. Why does IRA ring everyone’s bell but not many know about UVF? These are just some questions that we should think as people who consider our media as free and unbiased.
The trouble with Africa seems to be that the propaganda has been so strong that it has also been bought by many Africans themselves. Even many “westerners” who mean good, fundraise and organise different events to help Africa are contributing to this problem. Africans are always seen as the weaker ones, the ones who need our help. Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand, all the ones who I consider as “western” countries, regardless of their geographic location, are not helping Africans, Asian or South Americans to decolonise their minds. Not that they necessarily should, as it is something that needs to be done by people in question, but we do not actually want to give it a chance to happen even without our help. Have I said this already, Steve Biko – where are you when we need you.
7 November 2005
Other things that I have found out lately are as follows:
Pat Robertson, yes the one who wanted United States government to assassinate Hugo Chavez, the President of Venezuela, is the head of Christian Broadcasting Network and hence controls all the money given to Christian media pretty much all over the world including here in Africa. Things are not looking very good regarding the Christian broadcasting media. Hardly ever it is good to have fascist leader.
One of my favourite rappers Jean Grae, who I knew was born here in Cape Town, is the daughter of Abdullah Ibrahim. They exiled to New York when Jean, whose real name is Tsidi Ibrahim, was just a young girl. I knew previously that her parents were jazz musician but my western sources would not expect one to know Mr Ibrahim. I still do not know the name of the mother so I am working on that. Quite a lot of musical talent in one family. Very interesting… unless if you do not know who Jean Grae and Abdullah Ibrahim are. In that case this paragraph would be rather useless read.
One Euro equals now 40 000 Zimbabwean dollar on black market. When I was there in 2002 it was 500-750 Z$. Not very good Robert Gabriel Mugabe. Maybe you need to step up your game, no? I asked the Zimbabwean fella I was talking with, how much the bank charges but apparently there is no more bank rate.. just the street one. Once again I want to emphasise that my dislike towards Mr Mugabe has nothing to do with Tony Blair’s one. Mine is not post-colonial “Good African is westernised African and good African leader is on my leash” –type. I just cannot appreciate the way he treats his people. I also acknowledge that he was a great leader when Zimbabwe was fighting for their independence and I think that Prime Minister Blair should understand that United Kingdom is hardly in a position to criticise after all that they have done on Zimbabwean soil.
To finish this one why not to share few photographs from our weekend trip to False Bay. Did not quite make the whole way down to Cape of Good Hope but saw the penguins and the magnificent views, beaches and the 7… as they would say around here… meaning all or everything is good, sharp and tight, but I am not quite sure about this slang yet.
1 November 2005
Next item to give me trouble was my MP3 player. It was working like a dream for the first few months. I appreciate that and its presence helped me over some hard times in the hospital. After some time though it started giving me some problems. The plug for headphones was not working properly and I could hardly hear any of the music. It was, and still is, impossible to walk and listen to music because the wire is moving and the listening experience is merely frustrating. I went back to the shop because the product had one year warranty. Unfortunately this product needed to be sent to some country far far away and this time it would actually only take two weeks to fix it, said the salesman. At that time I had one and half weeks left in the country and nothing could be done. Again, I would like to emphasise that I paid with cash.. hard currency and full price.
Next gadget that I bought was a stereo system for my sister when she moved in to her new flat. For some reason, that once again as a consumer I could not understand, the machine was not playing CD:s like I was promised in the shop it would. Once again I paid the full amount, no discounts and once again the product I got was not working properly.
Latest chapter in this sad story took place in Cape Town, South Africa. Although the money spent was not as much as in my previous examples this one possibly is even more frustrating. When I moved to my friend’s house there was no bed for me. So I decided to get myself one of those mattresses that are filled with air. They are not the most comfortable ones but quite convenient. So I got one and came home and did whatever it was that I needed to do and then started filling the mattress. I went to sleep and woke up early next morning which was Sunday and at the same time my only day off in the whole week. First question was where did the mattress go? Seconds later I figured out that there is a hole in my air mattress. It does not take an Einstein to understand that an air mattress with a hole is almost as good as no mattress at all. I tried to find the receipt and I could not. But I found the fixing kit. That unfortunately could not fix the hole.
It would be easy to say that just go to the shop and they will give me a new one which could happen. Even without the receipt. But the trouble is I do not have time to go to the shop. Eventually I might but now, after two more weeks of sleeping on the floor and fourteen mornings of backache, I have not had. The shop is only open at times when I am not available. So it ended up being my problem again that the item sold to me as perfect, was not as promised. Also this product I paid like I was supposed to, smiled and even wished them a good rest of the day. They, whoever they are in which case, will sleep their nights well on their comfortable beds which might or might not be filled with air.
Only one question is left. Where are my bloody consumer rights? They are rather theoretical it seems. If this is what capitalism is then put my name on the list that opposes it. I have been thinking about this a lot and the only logical explanation I can come up with, is that this might be a sign from Ganhi’s spirit which is trying to tell me to get rid of my material possessions. I start off by giving out my mattress. If you want that – hit me with an email.
31 October 2005
If I would have known about this chance in beforehand my line of questions would have been very different. Given the chance to prepare questions I would have gotten in to the matters such as the run down schools in the poorer townships, inequality of state and private schooling, which as a Scandinavian I cannot understand and the security in the state schools. Once again my local connection, Shaqir, was talking to me how out of control some kids are and how that affects to the security of the others. Or how he felt that he should save money in order to get his daughter in the private school. His daughter, Aminah, is now two years old.
So, I did not ask any of these questions. We did not get into a chat about anything very interesting. At least he was impressed with the Lego robots. That is better than nothing, I reckon.
26 October 2005
I was just reading local paper Cape Argus and on the front page it had a story about a man who was not let in to two different, predominantly white, pubs due to his skin colour to watch rugby. Owners of the places were convinced that they are not racist but they just have a right to separate people in to different areas according to their origin. Apparently the other pub had a policy where, what they call, “non whites” are allowed to be downstairs but not upstairs. The owner says that this proves that he is not a racist because “If I was, why would I let them in at the first place”. Firstly, here it is a norm to talk about them or them people and they shouldn’t find it offensive and secondly, who can honestly say that this kind of segregation is not racist.
Strange thing also is that I seem to belong into a very small minority who loses their sleep over this. Don’t get me wrong I like Afrikaners… but what the damn is their problem!
25 October 2005
Unfortunately the music mostly seems to be 50cent and likes of him … I have been thinking that maybe I should burn some cd:s to give away to the drivers. Mr Biko we would need you now more than ever.
Driving culture here is something quite different that many of us might be used to. Yesterday I was in a car crash when I was in one of these taxis going home and a pickup truck drove recklessly from petrol station to the main road only to crash with one van. The driver must have been high on something because nobody would drive so poorly. After the crash pickup truck driver started reversing with high speed from the car it hit, and came directly towards the car I was in and crashed that as well. Nothing happened to anyone in our taxi but in the other one some girls on the backseats got a rather big hit on their back and didn’t look very pleased with the incident. I can hardly blame them.
I am looking into the ways to get my features and shows uploaded here on the blog. So keep on checking this space.
10 October 2005
After postponing that seemed like forever I finally arrived to Cape Town, South Africa last Friday. The reason for me to be here is my work at the community radio station called Bush Radio. It’s not just any station but the first South African community radio and the one, that the linguistic and respected social commentator Noam Chomsky described by saying,
"I have had quite a lot of contact with popular media in the United States, and elsewhere in the world, and have rarely come across achievements comparable to yours. I appreciated the vitality and seriousness as well as the very high level of professionalism and dedication of the staff and volunteers from all over the globe.
What you are doing at Bush Radio is extremely important." - Noam Chomsky
So needles to say that I am absolutely over the moon about being here. I had my first day at work today and got to know more about the structure and organisation of the station. I also got to know the studio by being a technical operator for Bassie, the afternoon presenter for the show called Backchat. He had plenty of experience at the station and seemed like a nice man altogether. So far it seems like there is not such a competitive environment than at the radios I have worked for in Europe. That would have been very odd anyway keeping in mind the communal idea of the whole broadcasting model.
Yesterday I also met for the first time my friend Shaqir Erasmus. We have been posting on the same message board on the Public Enemy website and now happened to be at the same time in the same place. Shaqir is a local guy and he, his daughter Aminah (who by the the way at the age of two was the happiest and most smiling little girl, or boy for that matter, whom I have ever met. Shaqir told me it is because she doesn’t know better) and his mate Kurt, who was also a local policeman on a day off, showed me around the ups and downs of Cape Town. Went from the town centre to the tourist beaches of Clifton and to the half way of Table Mountain where an amazing view over the city opened before our eyes. From there we continued to the rougher townships including Gugulethu and Manenberg. If anyone ever dares to say that there is no difference between the conditions of the races here you can just slap them immediately. Although country would have democratic equality, the economical one seems to be far from reality. This obviously is not a shocking news for anybody but needs to be said as always when I meet white South African people in Europe they say that racism doesn’t exist except maybe in the form of black people not liking them. You can slap them as well. Hard.
Few fotos from our drive here. In Manenberg where some of the pictures are from I was able to go out with camera because Shaqir and Kurt introduced me to guy called Rufus, who had been in prison for a long for a murder, but who now had changed his ways and lived more positively in the community. But he was so respected that nobody dared to disturb me being an annoying western tourist. I wouldn’t have messed with Rufus either after seeing the scar on his throat.
(the title of the set is still wrong but no worries the fotos are right)
I also met another friend of mine Sofia on Saturday and I will be moving to her place next Sunday. She is far too nice person but I was happy to accept the invitation. Her place is located in Wynberg and at the moment I am staying at a small lodge near the station. People from Bush Radio were nice enough to fix that for me before I arrived.
I also got to know the time for my first show. That takes place this Saturday 3-4pm. It is going to be international hip hop. In the future I try to move into more constructive show but it is better to start easy, ain’t it. If you are interested hearing the show click here on Saturday and the time is GMT +1.
I have had a first day of work now in many months so I seem to be forgetting things as they come and go but few more notes that I must add here in the end. There is absolutely no words that can make justice to the authority and beauty of Table Mountain here. I knew that before but now I am reminded. Broadband internet connection costs here approximately 150 Euros, which is sick. That's all.
1 October 2005
I have witnessed two very moving incidents this week. A film and a concert. I start with the latter.
This Thursday I went to see Talib Kweli concert in Helsinki. He has been one of my favourite rappers since he came out. Music has been rather stylish and most of the times very conscious although he refuses to be political rapper. And I must admit the gig was good. He had good energy and the length was quite okay as well, him being on stage for over 1,5 hours which is decent for a one man with the back catalogue that he has. He performed songs I wanted to hear and only left me missing maybe only one or two that didn’t make it into the set. Sometimes he was screaming a bit too much. He has such a great voice, a very distinctive one indeed, and that I feel is one of his strengths. When he was rapping with his normal flow it was great because nobody does it quite like him, when he was loud it was energetic and got the crowd going but when he screamed it just sounded like he didn’t trust the microphone. There wasn’t all that much of screaming but it did happen few times. Nothing too serious really. Also the DJ of the show DJ Chaps did decent scratching mix and the singer whose name I unfortunately missed had a beautiful and very soulful voice.
Now the downsides of this gig. The venue could not have been worse. Not much anyway. It was Helsinki Club which used to be for young and obnoxious business people rocking their Boss suits and now it has been taken over by young bling bling hip hop kids. You know the white kids with their hair braided and who listen to G-Unit and sell-out stuff like that. It broke my heart to see Kweli there when there would have been whole different demographics in the show if it was at Tavastia or anywhere like that. Many rap fans skipped this one just because of the venue and although they missed a good show I cannot blame them.
So the crowd was young, they used every excuse to throw the Roc-A-Fella diamond hand signs in the air (honestly now.. what does Talib Kweli have to do with it?) and generally nobody seem to understand what took place on the stage and it was a pity indeed. Crowd also failed to know what a B-Boy and B-Girl which kind of created a awkward moment. Not only were the customers “wrong” but the setting of the club is not good for live gigs mostly because it is not simply designed for them. There was also constantly too much smoke on the stage. There were few times some minutes that I couldn’t see the performer from the distance of few meters just because the smoke was too thick.
A great concert and I am happy that I saw that but few small things could have made it so much better. It cuts me deep.
Another experience of the past week was a film called “Sophie Scholl”. A German film about the student resistance movement in the second world war. Sophie Scholl being a very brave 21 year old girl who participates in the distribution of anti-regime flyers, gets caught and goes trough the justice system which is not very balanced as you might guess. The film was based on the true story and although it was good as a film it was more moving as a story. I understand that there must have been some minor changes in the events in order for it to be a film that people generally want to see but I felt it was still a story for us all to see. Story that one would like to relate to but only in theory. How would you act if you could lose your life over your beliefs? That is obviously a big question which I am not trying to answer here. I just feel that it would be very healthy for all of us to face the question so that we could appreciate the people who are political prisoners, people who won't have free and fair trial and not only the ones that we see in the news but also the ones who we will never hear about.
19 September 2005
I was flicking through the channels one night when I could not sleep and stopped for a second to the God Channel. It must be rough to run a media that is all promotion because that is what the missionary work is in the media language. It is like TV Shop but with products you cannot see and you might not believe in.
Green Day is fooling us all big style by posing as a punk band and singing about the hypocrisy of media and basing their whole success, record sales and therefore millions in their bank account on pop radio airplay and MTV rotation. In theory this could happen against their own will but if that would be the case why are they even attending the MTV awards. There is nothing generally wrong with making a lot of money just like there is nothing wrong with being anti-structural punk band but if these two go hand in hand it decreases the credibility of latter and it only becomes a way to do what people tend to be doing anyway – maximise the profits.
Is the reality TV not eating its own future? How many more semi-celebrities fit in the tabloids? Or how long are the people willing to read about the people who can only to dream of spending the time that it takes the US government to act in catastrophe in the spotlight? I am very surprised that it has lasted this long but it might have something to do with the fact that in the dozen channels there is not really any choice – except maybe the God Channel. But nothing good.
Why is the job of a radio presenter not really respected? The problem I thing would be easier to fix if the trouble would not mainly be with the radio presenters themselves. Are they ever going to understand that there are thousand people ready to take over the jobs if they cannot be asked to do it. If the computer plays all the songs picked by the music director and you are not bothered to even read the promotion pack on the artist being played sent by the record company then how hard is your job.
That is the rant. Peace.
Few bonuses. Here is the link to a clip from Tucker Carlson show where Chuck D was being interviewed about his song "Hell No, We Ain't Alright"
If you haven't got the song and don't know what it is about you can download it from here.
At this point I must mention the reason why the whole question is in my mind at this particular moment. I just came home from cinema after seeing a Senegalise film “Moolaadé”. A fantastic film about women rising up against the female circumcision. The men in this very patronising community and culture are for the tradition and amongst all the other things they decide to burn all the radios as they believe that the women have gotten all the bad ideas from there. I liked the film a lot and I recommend it but I will not talk more about it here. I will not talk about female circumcision either as I do not have that much information about it except that as an idea it sounds rough, dangerous and pointless.
The idea that my way of doing things is better than the next persons regardless of the circumstances is a dangerous one. In my view it is the idea that has caused many wars and hindered the global politics. As an example I want to pay attention to the fact that it is the great nuclear powers that feel they have right to say to the other countries if they have or have not got a right to create these weapons or even enrich the uranium which might be used for energy or weapons. The reason is that as they are not sharing the “western” values they cannot be trusted. Maybe the likes of Iran should say that they do not want France to have nuclear arms as they are not sharing the values of middle east. I was raised in the so called western system and partly to its values so I feel that my analysis on which is better is subjective and therefore irrelevant.
When I was spending some time with San people, or Bushmen as they are generally known, in Kalahari I was puzzled with the question would they be better off with a formal education or not. They are one of the last tribes that has managed to keep their traditional ways. Well at least partly they have and I left with feeling we should leave them be. The trouble with that is for example that they have been exposed to HIV/Aids so should they be educated about safe sex before it spreads and if that is done then where do you draw the line that what should be taught and what should not.
I reckon the trouble often is that you cannot just go and get the economical gains and then leave. Like you cannot go and sell coke drink to someone and not to teach how to take care of your teeth. And most cultures has been exposed to the “west” and by no means I am not claiming “west” to be superior. I am just saying that we know how to make things look attractive and how to promote our values. Possibly the fact that the media is controlled by people from this culture has something to do with it. And the next question rises – If person from another culture idolises stars like 50cent because he/she has seen him being glorified by MTV, is the media or record company responsible to explain the cultural difference? A boy in war torn country might misunderstand the message of guns and diamonds and disrespecting the women. In this case we have apparently decided to import our worst assets.
While one might get the idea that I am mostly talking about the so called third world or clearly different countries this is not so. The same logic goes to countries like mine, Finland. English as a language is taking over and in the long run we will lose the smaller, what some might arrogantly call, less important ones and youth culture all over is a copy from the places that produce the films, music and TV. I love my own language (do not feel confused by the fact that I write in English) and want to contribute so that its life will be prolonged. It took me some years to understand the importance of my own culture. I would be very upset to see all people and all cultures completely melting into one. And McDonald’s would be on every street corner. Although considering the fact that never in the history of the world has two countries that have McDonald’s been in war against each others. So that could actually solve our problems. I still feel a bit cynical that peace would be what McDonald’s gave us. Maybe I am just a negative person.
As we are living the times of populist semi-political analyses like ”the war in Iraq is for oil”, anti-Americanism and Michaelmoorism* this was a brave move. Besides the script he also ignored his economical security in the corporate music world and the fact that thousands of patriotic people might turn their back on his art which would lead to the end of career when it has barely started.
Now although to me it has seemed rather obvious that Bush is not very keen on very many in general and although for example in my country this kind of criticism would have created rather a debate than a shock (I assume anyway), America is a different country and culture and most of all the media works in different ways and the fact that the statement was made nationally makes it very rare. Many celebrities and also president’s wife Laura Bush has condemned the statement, Mrs Bush calling it disgusting and Usher amongst others saying it was poorly timed. This I find fantastic. Not necessarily the fact that Usher is a sell-out to the system but that at least someone from the White House said something. Their greatest weapon so far against anti-Bush people, Michael Moore probably as the best example, has been completely ignoring them. They have hardly ever even denied anything, mostly just ignored, said nothing and pretended that nothing was said at the first place. And it has been working very well for them. Very well indeed.
Kanye West looked and sounded very nervous in his televised statement and he was apparently still shaking when he commented the incident for the first time publicly in television. That is how scary it must be to speak ones mind in United States. As a rapper Ice T once said “it’s a freedom of speech – just watch what you are saying”. I take my hat of for Kanye for stepping up his game like this. I am happy that as the rap music is getting so bland there is some leadership rising from the mainstream as well. I might even buy his album after this.
*Yeah I know it is not really a word but I feel it rightly indicates the people who have read one Mike Moore book, very likely Stupid White Men, and feel that they have done their research better than anyone else. Sometimes I belong to this group and I do not claim I would have excessive knowledge on anything but this piece is not about that.
13 September 2005
I got back from Varna, Bulgaria the other day. Had a good trip with my family. Very unusual feeling to be hanging out with tourists, most of them elderly and mainly German. Well I wasn’t actually hanging out with them but more like surrounded by them. But it is all just adding up to my social capital. An interesting experience altogether. Few pictures from there behind this link.
30 August 2005
My friend Shane, all the way from Dublin, came over last week. We had a great time in Helsinki and also went to Tallinn which was good fun. Here is few holiday shots.
For me Estonia has always been a bit problematic. Unlike most Finns who have been there several times I only had my third visit this weekend. I first went there 1987, which obviously was the soviet time. Only things I remember from that trip was my dad bribing everybody with chewing gum, which they did not have in Soviet Union, and that it was freezing cold. That was an Easter weekend then. Second visit was new year’s day 2004. It was very cold then as well and now, well a bit of a rain but generally fantastic weather and experience as a whole.
The reasons why I have been boycotting our southern neighbours has never been me disliking them. Quite the opposite. Finns in general look down on Estonians like Swedish people look down on Finns or Estonians Russians and I have always been a bit ashamed of this whole cycle. Other thing, mostly in 90s and early 2000 was the Finns misbehaving in Estonia, getting an awful and arrogant reputation and buying only cheap alcohol and pirated goods. I just felt a bit left out of that as well, but now I feel like I could go there every weekend. Really enjoyable and extremely affordable town. The only threat seems to be the EasyJet which ships the British tourists in with next-to-nothing prices. No offence my British friends but you behave even worse with alcohol than we do. And I thought it was impossible.
I do not claim to be an expert when it comes to Estonian culture, history or politics but I still find it rather interesting. I have lots of love for the country but I am saddened to see the speed that they are heading to complete free market economy (yes, the one where consumer has no rights but still spends). This seems to be quite a common thing in the former eastern bloc countries. The trouble is that very few people ended up making lot of money and the gap between poor and rich is relatively wide. I suppose the changes happened so quickly and the people were excited about the newfound possibilities that this was hard to avoid. They should have looked for the answers from the north, not the west.
21 August 2005
I cannot believe how many of my former colleagues have been impressed by all the crazy stuff happening in the film or in his show in general and not many of them realise that there is nothing particularly cool about it, especially if that is not what you stand for in life. I thought all these things were obvious.
I have now heard all the episodes from the “On the Real” by Chuck D and Gia Garell. Great informative show with a nice mixture of jokes and hard truth. I have also listened to some of the old “Unfiltered” episodes which I highly recommend as well.
The whole podcasting thing seems to be taking off big style and at some point I felt a bit left behind but now, although not receiving the shows on my MP3 library, I do plenty of downloading of shows. It is odd that people listen to some of that stuff at the first place because very often it is just people chatting rubbish but I must warn that it is also very addictive. I suppose it is the whole eavesdropping aspect of it. Cannot blame the ones who get addicted to Big Brother and rest of it reality nonsense on telly. Or maybe I can and I should. The bad news is that Big Brother starts now also in Finland. This is a sad moment in the history of my country.
I have also bought my flight tickets to Cape Town and I cannot really wait until I get to start my job at the Bush Radio (name by the way is not indicating to the W. I hope). I still need to fix few practicalities but other than that I am set to go.
Before my trip over there, which starts 6th of October, I still get to go to Bulgaria. That should be good fun. I am going there with my family. It should be a trip to celebrate the hard times that we recently overcome as I went through the cancer. Not fun that one but equally it is all good in the end, isn’t it. Also a small weekend trip to Tallinn with my Irish friend Shane who is coming next week. I am busy travelling and that is exactly the way I want to live my life.
15 July 2005
Lately I have been amused by the debate that is ongoing on the Enemy Board, message board on Public Enemy site, on the definition of Public Enemy record. Public Enemy is to release a new album 23rd of August but as it has leaked online this week we all already have it. Obviously we are all going to buy that album when it is officially released but we could not wait that long, could we.
Well the debate on the definition started because the album “Rebirth Of the Nation” is completely written and produced by Paris, political hard core gangsta rapper, and not by the group. Public Enemy front man Chuck D is on most tracks but not all and album sounds hmmmm.. very Paris. I like Paris so do most people on the board I assume, but to write a PE album. Many think that this is not a PE album featuring Paris but just the opposite.
Now I was thinking as I followed and participated in the debate how important the definition really is. Or how the album is marketed which seemed to be the problem for many. Is it not the music that matters? My stance is that it is just the tracks and I like them and for me Rebirth is a PE album. Not a classic PE album, but a PE album and a solid one. They still make my head nod. I reckon they always will and I can hardly wait for the “real” album, the New Whirl Odor” to come out sometime next year.