Archive

Reuters blog archive

from Nicholas Wapshott:

What Mandela meant

Nelson Mandela will be remembered as the person who, more than any other, brought an end to apartheid, the heartless policy of “separate development” in which white, black and South Asian South Africans were obliged to live apart. It is part of his towering achievement that the very notion of racial segregation is anathema to democrats throughout the civilized world. He will be mourned as a freedom fighter and the father of his nation, whose wisdom, patience and courage tormented his oppressors and finally drove them to accept that racial discrimination should have no place in a system of government.

Along with eight other conspirators, in 1964 Mandela was accused of sabotage and armed insurrection against the apartheid state. (He admitted sabotage but denied conspiring to violently overthrow the government.) He spent the next 18 years caged in primitive conditions on Robben Island and a further six in Pollsmoor Prison. Outside the prison walls, the government insisted on “grand apartheid,” the creed that insisted that whites, “natives,” “Asians” and “coloreds” should live in separate areas. Education, medicine, public services, and public spaces and buildings were similarly apportioned by race.

The genius of Mandela lay in the power of his extraordinary character. From his lone prison cell, where he was allowed a single outside visitor and one heavily censored letter every six months, his example was used to undermine the legitimacy of apartheid. Outside of South Africa, his imprisonment became a symbol of racial oppression. His release from prison in October 1989 led directly to the collapse of white rule. His election as president concluded a dark and bitter chapter in the African continent’s history.

But Mandela’s life story has meaning well beyond his role as the liberator of South Africa. His release after 27 years in prison, many of them in solitary confinement, came to mark the final victory for multi-racialism as a dominant ideology in democratic countries. So long as apartheid’s spiteful creed continued -- it was brought to an abrupt end thanks to a coalition of giant personalities including Mandela, the final segregationist president of South Africa F.W. de Klerk,  and, much to her own and everyone else’s surprise, Margaret Thatcher -- the prospect of citizens being treated differently by the government according to skin color remained. Race still plays a large part in politics, but it is rarely awarded the preeminent prominence in dictating the formulation of laws that was evident until late into the twentieth century.

from The Great Debate:

Obama takes on the presumption of thuggery that permeates Martin case

Photo

Everyone looks to their president for protection against calamity, and black voters are no different. One little discussed fact of the Obama presidency is how it has been a singularly disastrous economic period for the first black president’s most loyal constituency: black people.

This has led to a running joke in families like mine where, nonetheless, black people cannot utter a word of criticism about him. They love him unconditionally.

from India Insight:

Justice delayed for Punjab beating victim

Photo

Burundi national Yannick Nihangaza was brutally beaten in April by allegedly drunk youngsters, and left for dead in Jalandhar, a city in Punjab. Nearly three months later, the 23-year-old Nihangaza lies in a vegetative state at a hospital.

His father has asked the Punjab government to allow him to bring his son back to Burundi. He also wants the state to prosecute the suspects and pay for his son's medical expenses.

from Full Focus:

Russia’s untouchables

Photo

Russia’s demographic situation is one of the many factors contributing to uncertainty in understanding the future of the country. As one of the world's only developing countries with a decreasing population, the Russian economy relies on a large influx of migrant workers to fill the gap. Photographer Denis Sinyakov documents the divisive issue of immigration.

from Global News Journal:

Pop star freed but Mexican attitudes still on trial

Mexican pop star Kalimba, accused of raping a 17-year-old girl in December, walked free on Thursday after a judge ordered his release for lack of evidence. For fans of the dreadlocked singer and dj, it was a justice of sorts, given that 73 percent of Mexicans believe he was innocent, according to a poll in leading newspaper Reforma. MEXICO/

Guilty or not, the case gave Mexico a bit of homegrown celebrity gossip over the past few weeks in a country where relentless news of horrific drug killings is daily fare. Seeing the singer arrested in El Paso, Texas, where he was recording a new album, then dressed in a orange jump suit and imprisoned in a Mexican jail and then crying on his release, made top news and created plenty of  chat both in Mexican homes and on the Internet.

from India Insight:

Does Indian literature owe its global success to the Raj?

Photo

As close to 50,000 people prepare to celebrate India's bulging roster of nationally and internationally renowned authors and poets at the seventh annual Jaipur Literary Festival, a public spat between its British organiser and an Indian magazine over allegations of perpetuating "a Raj that still lingers" threatens to ignite a decades-old debate over the role of colonial English in the country's literary success.

Bollywood icon Amitabh Bachchan (R) talks with Neville Tuli, founder and chairman of Osian's - Connoisseurs of Art Pvt Ltd, at the annual Jaipur literary festival, one of India's biggest, January 23, 2009. REUTERS/Abhishek Madhukar (INDIA)

As Delhi-based William Dalrymple and his fellow organiser stress the festival's intent to showcase works from India's array of states and dialects to thousands of book lovers, an article in India's Open magazine this month claimed the festival matters "because of the writers from Britain it attracts".

from Reuters Soccer Blog:

Italian referee leads the way in battling racist chants

Photo

SOCCER-ITALY/Italian soccer has long struggled with racist chanting, a horror which has largely been stamped out in countries like England and Germany.

The problem persists in Italy but finally the tide is turning and ignorant fans are being beaten.

from Tales from the Trail:

Shirley Sherrod says she will sue the blogger

Photo

Shirley Sherrod says she will sue conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart who posted an edited video that led to her forced resignation from the Agriculture Department over racism allegations.

"He'll definitely hear from me," Sherrod told the National Association of Black Journalists annual conference in San Diego on Thursday. USA-SHERROD/

from Tales from the Trail:

Mixing it up: Race, Tea Party, NAACP, Palin

Photo

The NAACP's resolution calling on leaders of the Tea Party movement to repudiate "racist elements" within its ranks has set off a political firestorm. The civil rights group illustrated its accusations with photographs taken at rallies that show supporters carrying controversial signs criticizing President Barack Obama.

USA/Sarah Palin, a star of the Tea Party movement, responded with a missive on Facebook saying she was saddened by the NAACP's charge of racism and accused the group of using "the divisive language of the past."

from Africa News blog:

“Kill the Boer”: History or hate speech?

Photo

SAFRICA-ELECTIONSThe African National Congress has defended the singing of an apartheid-era song with the words "Kill the Farmer, Kill the Boer", saying it is no incitement to violence but a way of ensuring a history of oppression is not forgotten.

That does little to assuage the concerns of the white minority, however, in a country branded the “Rainbow Nation” after the relatively peaceful end to apartheid 16 years ago and the government's message of "unity in diversity".

  •