29 September 2006

Audio interviews from Welfare State of Mind

I have been having a bit of a writer's block recently but I have uploaded some interviews from the radio show online.

ENDZ talking about the Hip Hop in Cape Town

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Rushay about the Port Elisabeth, Eastern Cape and Hip Hop in general

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Emile and Jamayka from Conguering Lions part 1.

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Emile and Jamayka from Conguering Lions part 2.

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26 September 2006

Settling down for a bit.

I have been trying to settle down in Birmingham again – this time for the last time. It is the beginning, today was the first day to be precise, of the last year and it should be busy enough so time will very likely fly by.

I found myself a room. It is in the area called Erdington where I used to live for the first one and a half years of my UK era. It is nice room with a broadband connection and... well that actually is more or less all it has which is just fine.

I have not got anything insightful to say about anything so I finish this one here. Next time when it is not late at night and I am not so tired I write more.
View from my window

23 September 2006

Age is nothing but a number - except if you are old.

During the past weeks there has been several speeches given that have been worth making a note. United Nations met in New York and in UK the Liberal Democrats were having their conference. I was following both of the events a bit and something that really got me thinking was the leader of Liberal Democrats Ming Campbell’s speech. Or rather its outcome and reception. As for the content, I believe he was making more sense than any British political leader at the moment although it is obvious that it is easier to make sense in the opposition especially if you are not even the main opposition party, but I still do not believe that any of that is away from him. But the reception to a talk about welfare state was “he is such an old and boring man!”.

Ming Campbell is older than many political leaders in the country, born 1941, but since when has an older person been more stupid than a younger one? There have been some really mean comments made out of him this week by some people who would seem like sensible individuals but who have completely ignored the message and concentrated on the appearance of the speaker. This age racism has been quite sickening really.

One of the most celebrated world leaders ever, and my personal favourite, Nelson Mandela was 75 years old when he become a President of South Africa. He is still, fourteen years later and older, looked up to as a person whose opinions are valued and globally respected (with the exception of maybe some old rule Afrikaners and Bush administration) so what is this prejudice about then?

I am not comparing Campbell and Mandela as leaders or actually on any other level either. That is not even important at this point. The way I see it, is that age is life experience, life experience is knowledge and knowledge is power. It does not always work out in this straight forward way but I keep that as a general rule in my life.

I am not saying that leader should be old but maybe, just maybe, the glorification of youth has gone few steps too far in this country. UK has got an aging population, 16 % of all Britons are 65 years or older. That is almost ten million people in the country who can take all these jokes very personally.

Sad part of this whole thing is that Campbell and his advisors had taken it as their duty to try to make his image younger and cooler. He was talking about pop music, namely Arctic Monkeys, and other things along that line. That must have been the silliest thing in the whole conference. If there is something to be learned from the present administration of United States, it is ignoring and as they call it not validating things by commenting them. In Campbell’s case this would have been easy because unlike the things American government ignores, this whole debate has been completely pointless.

21 September 2006

TV Overdose

So I am back in UK, the hub mass communication and all of its side products on the current affairs and entertainment fields. And there has not been a lack of events taking place, which I am sure is always the case, but now I have been paying more attention to them – I have been watching television in other words.

Home secretary of United Kingdom, John Reid, gave speech earlier this week encouraging the Moslem parents to keep an eye on their offspring if they may be leaning towards the extremism – or terrorism – whatever they want to call it. That kind of statement, demand or just recommendation must have been made in the name of the so called war against terrorism, which probably justifies it to many people and Reid himself but is it not a bit blunt thing to say? It is understood that we live in this world where more and more people fall into being suspects for something but can you really make a sweeping statement that all the Moslems are suspected and they are responsible collectively of all these so called threats that so called west is facing and their parents should actually start doubting the children they are bringing up? I hope that this was not the intention of Home Secretary because then he could have said that all the Moslems are to be stopped and searched on the streets and the airports – which would actually explain some of the stuff you see in the security check points around the world – because “they” have been responsible of these acts that which have given the “west” an open cheque to continue doing what they previously did under the banner of colonialism. Quite frankly having lived here for few years now I am more afraid of the kids who have the St. George’s English flag in everything that they wear, drink and get rowdy. An awful generalisation from my side but I suppose it just reflects my fears in this society, which I have because I think they may hate my freedom of not supporting their football team. I suppose I should not put myself on that level but sometimes comparisons need to be made in order to highlight the ridiculousness of the statements being made in the politics and more so the actions that are taken on the ground level by the police officers, custom officers and even night club bouncers.

Now it was also in the news that the police officers who shot a Brazilian man who, they claimed had a bulky jacket and acted suspiciously and who later on was proven not to have a bulky jacket and did not act all that suspiciously, were pleaded not to be quilty. He paid the price of his actions that he did not take and choose of clothes which he did not wear by taking eight bullets.

My favourite unfunny joke at the moment is that the first British soldier has been convicted as a war criminal because of his inhumane treatment of people in Iraq. That is not the joke part, that is just sad that it has happened but now the British media, including BBC, talks like he is the first war criminal in the country ever. If that really is the way they see it, I would like to be fly on the wall when they teach history of past few hundred years in schools here. Big words from the country which first created the concentration camps.

But I really do not hate this country, it is not perfect but it is okay at times. It is just that it is often portrayed as some kind of Babylon.

President Bush was also giving his speech on the UN conference which I was watching live and I must say that first of all, he is still not very charismatic speaker and secondly the speech was very arrogant and resonated the old “white man’s burden” which again was a rationale explaining colonialism and imperialism. I do not have anything very intelligent to say about his speech but surely he makes it very hard to like him much considering his worries over the world and disregard of say hmmm… New Orleans.

I am not saying that there are not problems in some countries he named but then again as a devoted Christian, and as it seems that the whole world needs to pay some sort of a price of, not his only, but people who share his views, actions – the one who is innocent can throw the first stone.

BBC was first very careful to use the word coup of what is happening in Thailand but it certainly seems like one to me. Also the demonstrations in Hungary taking place at the moment it seems like we are living very unstable times. But I seriously doubt that this is something extraordinary. It has been happening all the time – maybe just in the countries that do not foster European tourists or which are not part of EU.

On the other end of TV entertainment, the reality shows which are ravaging my home country at the moment have taken a different turn in UK it seems. Many of them are actually struggling with rather interesting topics. Namely Ian Wright’s Unfit Kids in which the former football hero is trying to get obese children to learn team spirit and get a bit fitter at the same time. Last night he was going around to some places trying to raise some funds in order to have an after school programmes with the same idea. I personally think it is a great idea but as it is not very media sexy so it seemed to be hard to convince corporate businesses to agree on any kinds of donations. Well namely only Sony. Another one and straight after the one I already mentioned was Ballet Changed My Life: Ballet Hoo!, where kids from very troubled backgrounds were learning some discipline for life via learning ballet dancing. They are all well and good and also very admirable these projects but if only they could happen more widely and not all of them necessarily televised – so that people like myself could not feel the satisfaction that I am not that unfit or not that troubled and actually go and do something with our lives as well and stop moaning and being angry in the internet.

9 September 2006

8 September 2006

Sign Of Times

It is hard to put any kind of sensible description to all of the feelings that fill my existence at the moment. I suppose it is some strange mixture of melancholy, confusion of the past and hope of the future. I am in an airplane somewhere over the Namibian desert on my way to first Heathrow and then Helsinki; only to leave for Birmingham again in less than few weeks time. Although I am on the African airspace for the next hours - a whole night really - – I cannot say when will I be setting my feet on her ground again.

Not that I would say that I will not, because I am sure I will but the summer is over and not only was this summer a winter for me but I am about to start my last year of studying and then it will be the time for some big questions. What to do with my life? I love what I do but it does not pay any kind of rent so I must figure something out.

Leaving, after all these years of doing it, starts getting a bit old. - the goodbyes, the people that have been good to you but to whom you cannot promise coming back and everything that comes along. In this case of Cape Town I suppose I will always go back, even as a tourist, and see my people but after five years of not very stable life, I think I have seen it - unstable life, not Cape Town. Not to say where I would stop, or even for how long, but I need a room and the mindset that if I buy a book or a CD I do not have to think that what will I leave from my bag on return or will the weight of my luggage exceed the limits of whichever air company I am using. Or how do I get it to the airport at the first place.

Cape Town has been good to me. During the past eleven months I have spend half a year there. Not everyday has been sunny, weather wise or metaphorically, but there is something about that city. It is beautiful city, that to me is obvious and the mountain never fails to amaze me, but it is also a troubled one. Especially this time, maybe because of the season, many people around me were having trouble and on top of that the widespread poverty which is highlighted
during these times of widening gap between the different classes makes me feel sad. The street kids, the rape figures and murders. It is a violent city. But the spirit of its people is still something else. Last weekend my friend took me to Mitchell’s Plain, one of the biggest areas of Cape Flats, the poorer side of the city which does not see the tourists unless if they are on a tour driving through it, and I visited a the old neighbours of my friend. I was, like some many times before, asked the question “What do you think about Cape Town and South Africa?”. I cannot really answer very simply to it because there are so many sides to it, some of the very troubling and some just magnificent.

I learned so much again. Working with visually impaired people, Adrian and Leandre, was a great experience. It forced me to see things differently and think outside of the box. The other day I was helping them out with updating their blog; actually I was not helping but showing them how to do that by themselves. One is so used to looking at the computer screen and from there it is easy to say "“click that"”, but when you cannot see, or you can but they listen to what is happening on a computer with a help of a special software which reads the links and the texts with a very monotonous voice, you must first understand how it works, they how they are used to using computers and then how can you explain all this with out saying "just write on that big box on the corner". I was quite pleased when together we figured out the way of getting around all of the obstacles and now they can keep up their own stuff online.

I also learned that not being able to see really lets you to experience things on a different ways. I still do not know how exactly it works but I guess it is just sensing things the other way and picking up cues that to me just does not exist. Or they do but I cannot hear or sense them. Adrian always asked me "what’s that big grin on your face?”" or “"are you alright because you seem a bit sad?"” and not once was he wrong with it.

But this trip is now in the past. It saddens me a bit but at the same time, and on the very last moment, I was talking with a friend on a phone and was encouraged that it will be just fine. I suppose it will always be. On a very last moment I was also happy to realise that another friend had got her forthcoming album back on track and I heard a new song, recorded last night, and it sounded great.

I have this feeling that times are changing now more than ever before, maybe because the changes are happening within me, but I reckon I must get outside of South Africa and get some distance before I can truly understand that what just happened. Past months have been surreal time to me and I feel that I am being cryptic here but I must first understand the impact of many things before I can say more about them.

I am not sure what has been the purpose of this piece, or I know the purpose of it for me but for you it has probably been just emotional nonsense – and fair play, I just needed to get it out of my system. Next time something more sensible.

4 September 2006

It's been a while.

So I have not been writing in a while, actually not much after my trip to Tanzania, but it hardly means that nothing has happened. There are few reasons but I suppose the main one would be that I have worked with handful of other blogs for Bush Radio programming. Some of them are up and running and some just up, but then again I am hoping for the people to take the ownership of them and that may, in this very hectic environment, to take a while. I was thinking about it how the needs for the different skills are changing right here in front of our eyes when everyone get to learn some web skills on top of the radio ones. But Bush Radio by itself is not only a radio – nor its new blogs. Actually here is the place where I have noticed I can most freely be creative and try things out without anyone knocking my idea before I voice it. Sometimes I wish that lot of the people would have had some experience in commercial side, where the work in my experience is more robotic, so they could appreciate the opportunities here.

I am having my last few days left and trying to run things as much as I can. There are still few things to think about and quite frankly the facts that I am flying to Finland through Heathrow and with British Airways are creating some new challenges in packing. Nothing that I could not overcome though.

Check the links from below if you have much time in your hands.