Africa is defined in the popular imagination by images of wild animals, savage dancing, witchcraft, the Noble Savage, and the Great White Hunter. These images typify the majority of Western and even some South African film fare on Africa.
Although there was much negative representation in these films I will discuss how films set in Africa provided opportunities for black American actors to redefine the way that Africans are imaged in international cinema. I conclude this essay with a discussion of the process of revitalisation of South African cinema after apartheid.
The study of post-apartheid cinema requires a revisionist history that brings us back to pre-apartheid periods, as argued by Isabel Balseiro and Ntongela Masilela (2003) in their book’s title, To Change Reels. The reel that needs changing is the one that most of us were using until Masilela’s New African Movement interventions (2000a/b;2003). This historical recovery has nothing to do with Afrocentricism, essentialism or African nationalisms. Rather, it involved the identification of neglected areas of analysis of how blacks themselves engaged, used and subverted film culture as South Africa lurched towards modernity at the turn of the century. Names already familiar to scholars in early South African history not surprisingly recur in this recovery, Solomon T. Plaatje being the most notable.
The famous slogan of the French Revolution was “liberty, equality, fraternity“. In the succeeding two centuries the world has demonstrated both the contradictions of this slogan and the very limited degree to which in fact any of its three elements have been realized anywhere in the modern world-system.
Today, the question is whether, in a future world-system, there are ways of making this trio more compatible each with the other. We are dealing here not with this trinity but rather with the relation between inequality, pluralism, and the environment. It is hard to say what the French revolutionaries would make of this discussion. Pluralism was exactly the opposite of their aspirations, since they wished to eliminate all intermediaries between the individual and the state of all the citizens. The environment was entirely outside their topic. And inequality was assumed to be inevitable on tis way out, precisely because of their victorious revolution.
“But these questions about both trinities are very much unresolved today. The next several decades will be a period of collective world decision about precisely these issues, about whether another world is really possible in a foreseeable future. I shall start by discussing the least discussed, indeed the long almost-forgotten, member of the French Revolution’s trinity, fraternity. It is only in recent decades that fraternity has returned to the forefront of our collective concerns, but it has indeed returned, and with a vengeance”.
Het Centraal Station in Amsterdam was in de oorlogsjaren een cruciale plek voor de Duitse bezetter. Een banier prijkte op de voorgevel: ‘Victorie, want Duitschland wint voor Europa op alle fronten’. Een ware demonstratie van hun macht en aanwezigheid op deze plek.
Vanaf dit station vertrokken veel Amsterdamse joden naar Westerbork. Tegelijkertijd was het station ook een belangrijke uitvalsbasis voor joodse onderduikers en een trefpunt voor verzetsmensen. Het was er gevaarlijk want het gebouw stond onder streng Duits én Nederlands toezicht. Wie uit de trein kwam, wist zeker dat hij werd gadegeslagen.
Onderaan de trappen stonden de stillen van de SD (Sicherheitsdienst), op zoek naar verdachte personen. Ausweis bitte! was hun credo. In de hal van het station werkten SD en Nederlandse politie nauw samen. Wie werd opgebracht, werd opgesloten in een politiepost in het Centraal Station, een onderafdeling van bureau Warmoesstraat.
Op dit station kwamen Jan Hemelrijk en Bob van Amerongen elkaar in het voorjaar 1943 toevallig tegen. De zes jaar jongere Bob moet een zekere schroom hebben gehad. Jan zag er namelijk destijds in zijn motoroutfit nogal imponerend uit. Hij droeg een grote bruine leren jas. Het weerhield Bob niet om Jan te benaderen. Hij was op de hoogte van Jans vervalsingsactiviteiten en had hem nodig voor advies inzake goede persoonsbewijzen. Als vanzelf ging hun gesprek ook over het bundelen van hun krachten. Hun samenwerking zou tot de bevrijding duren. Read more
After the “Arab springs” and other protest movements that prompted many rises and falls in last year’s index, the 2013 Reporters Without Borders World Press Freedom Index marks a return to a more usual configuration.
The ranking of most countries is no longer attributable to dramatic political developments. This year’s index is a better reflection of the attitudes and intentions of governments towards media freedom in the medium or long term. The same three European countries that headed the index last year hold the top three positions again this year. For the third year running, Finland has distinguished itself as the country that most respects media freedom. It is followed by the Netherlands and Norway.
Although many criteria are considered, ranging from legislation to violence against journalists, democratic countries occupy the top of the index while dictatorial countries occupy the last three positions. Again it is the same three as last year – Turkmenistan, North Korea and Eritrea.
“The Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders does not take direct account of the kind of political system but it is clear that democracies provide better protection for the freedom to produce and circulate accurate news and information than countries where human rights are flouted,” Reporters Without Borders secretary-general Christophe Deloire said.
“In dictatorships, news providers and their families are exposed to ruthless reprisals, while in democracies news providers have to cope with the media’s economic crises and conflicts of interest. While their situation is not always comparable, we should pay tribute to all those who resist pressure whether it is aggressively focused or diffuse.”
Read more: reporters without borders
See also: http://www.freedomhouse.org
The Jarich Journal: http://www.jarichschaap.com/?p=1909
In The Speck In Your Brother’s Eye, Jan Jaap de Ruiter analyses Marked for Death. Islam’s War Against The West and Me writtten by Geert Wilders, leader of the Dutch Freedom Party.
From The Speck: The solution Wilders presents involves a high risk of invoking violence, even if he states repeatedly that his program should be realized by the word and the pen. Who will give me the assurance that this would indeed be the case? Who can guarantee us that there will not be people who, like so many Christians, Muslims and French revolutionaries, will take up the sword and ‘help’ to realize their goals that way? Wilders’ book brings us nothing new. Not only that, it is also completely counter- productive. Wilders’ message is not like that of religions and ideologies, which not only have a negative but also a positive side. It is exclusively negative. He focuses on the shortcomings of the other, accuses the other of being violent by nature, and uses words that can easily be interpreted as allowing violence to fight the enemy. He acts in exactly the same way as he perceives his opponent does. He sees the speck in his brother’s eye but fails to see the log in his own.
It may very well be the case that Geert Wilders will in due time give up his position as leader of the Freedom Party and leave the Dutch political arena. He might indeed, as was suggested, join an American think tank or travel the world spreading the message of the danger of Islam. Irrespective of where his career leads him, this will not mean that the anti Islam discourse will die out. On the contrary, it is supported by numerous others and in particular on the Internet it is very strong. Therefore countering this ideology by arguments, by pamphlets like this, remains necessary.
‘Am I showing myself to be a reprehensible cultural relativist here?’, asks De Ruiter in one of the chapters. ‘Undoubtedly’, is his answer.
The Speck In Your Brother’s Eye now online:
Donors and Governance in Southern Africa. The Case of Zambia, with Zimbabwe as a Counterpoint – DPRN Seven
Introduction: On donors and governance 
A key change in development policy since the early 1990s has been donors’ shift towards a principal concern with governance. Earlier, donors’ policy and practice had been mainly focused on filling gaps in knowledge, capital or foreign exchange. This implied that development was fundamentally a mechanical, technical undertaking. Gradually, however, development policy is being seen more and more as a political enterprise. Issues such as the division of power between the elite and society at large, basic freedoms and economic inclusiveness are at least as important for societal and economic development as technical considerations.
This concern with governance has given rise to a considerable body of literature that has a paradoxical tendency to de-politicise the debate. A reason for this is that politics traditionally does not fit into the non-political mandate of international organisations. Also, declaring a political interest seems to clash with the altruistic rhetoric of the development community. Nevertheless, recent evaluations and analyses have begun to explicitly address the political nature of both the environment in which donors intervene as well as the political influence donors have in processes of change. As an example the Swedish development agency (Sida) commissioned explicit political evaluations of conditional lending, program aid or ownership. The British Department for International Development (DfID) has had a series of studies carried out on ‘Drivers of Change’ and Netherlands embassies have undertaken Strategic Corruption and Governance Analyses that aim to look ‘behind the façade’ at what drives political and bureaucratic behaviour. These analyses see aid as an influence on local society that is, in turn, shaped by the local political process. This thus explicitly links aid effectiveness to the quality of governance. Read more