My purpose in this contribution is to present and contextualize the only film footage ever recorded of the novelist Graham Greene (1904-1991) in the Belgian Congo in 1959. The footage was filmed with an 8mm camera, which did not record sound. It belongs to Mrs. Édith Lechat (née Dasnoy;1932-) and her husband, the leprosy specialist Doctor (later Professor) Michel Lechat (1927-2014).
From 1953 through 1960, Dr. Lechat was head of the leper hospital and colony of Iyonda, a village and mission station some 15 kms south of the city of Coquilhatville (now, Mbandaka) in central-western Congo. Greene stayed a number of weeks in Iyonda and other mission stations in the region in search of inspiration, a setting, and material for a new novel. The novel, A Burnt-Out Case, appeared in 1960, and was dedicated to Dr. Lechat. Greene occupied a room in the house of the missionary fathers in Iyonda, but spent long parts of his days with the doctor and his family. The film reached me through the hands of Édith Lechat, who had it transposed to a DVD-playable format, and via my friend Hendrik (a.k.a., “Henri” or “Rik”) Vanderslaghmolen (1921-), who was a missionary in the region at the time. As he was one of the only Belgian missionaries there with some knowledge of English, he often accompanied Graham Greene during his trips from one mission station to another. Rik Vanderslaghmolen and the Lechats are still close friends today.
Much of the information I offer below stems from conversations I had with both Rik Vanderslaghmolen and Édith Lechat in July and August 2013. Regrettably, Dr. Michel Lechat’s poor health condition did not allow me to probe his memory, but an interview he gave for the Brussels-based weekly The Bulletin on the occasion of Greene’s death in 1991 is available (Lechat 1991), as well as a closely similar talk he gave at the 2006 Graham Greene Festival in Berkhamsted, published in the London Review of Books in August 2007 (Lechat 2007). Édith Lechat has given me the kind permission to share the film with the readership of Rozenberg Quarterly and to add the necessary contextual information on both the historical situation and the contents of the film.
Multicultural education, intercultural education, nonracial education, antiracist education, culturally responsive pedagogy, ethnic studies, peace studies, global education, social justice education, bilingual education, mother tongue education, integration – these and more are the terms used to describe different aspects of diversity education around the world. Although it may go by different names and speak to stunningly different conditions in a variety of sociopolitical contexts, diversity education attempts to address such issues as racial and social class segregation, the disproportionate achievement of students of various backgrounds, and the structural inequality in both schools and society. In this paper, I consider the state of diversity education, in broad strokes, in order to draw some lessons from its conception and implementation in various countries, including South Africa. To do so, I consider such issues as the role of asymmetrical power relations and the influence of neoliberal and neoconservative educational agendas, among others, on diversity education. I also suggest a number of lessons learned from our experiences in this field in order to think about how we might proceed in the future, and I conclude with observations on the role of teachers in the current socio-political context.
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 ways in which journalists frame HIV stories can strongly contribute towards news consumers’ perceptions of the epidemic. This paper discusses the news values of HIV radio programmes in Ethiopia, Kenya and South Africa. It argues that the culturally appropriate ‘humanisation’ of HIV stories and the proper use of conflict as adding news value are paramount to the impact of stories.
The skillful application of news values can make almost any HIV-related story newsworthy and therefore part of mainstream news. Moreover, it is maintained that HIV advocacy environments contribute to the newsworthiness of HIV stories in the media.
The AIDS advocacy milieus of South Africa and Kenya are compared and related to the type of HIV stories that are published and broadcast in the respective countries. Journalism training methods are critically discussed in the context of the above. It is argued, that, in developing countries, where journalists often lack basic journalism skills, it is not sufficient to provide reporters with HIV-related information; HIV information sharing should be combined with general journalism training and mentoring.
In December 2007, an excited Bashir Osman – a Somaligna-speaking journalist from Dire Dawa in the east of Ethiopia – broadcast a live call-in show on breastfeeding and HIV to his Somali audience on Dire 106.1 FM. According to the most recent Ethiopian government figures, Dire Dawa has the second highest HIV prevalence rate in the country, and almost doubles the national average. Each year there are almost 1, 000 HIV positive pregnancies with at least 230 children born with the virus. Yet this was the first HIV programme that Bashir had ever produced. AIDS was so stigmatised in the region that Dire 106.1 FM hardly ever discussed it on air. And Osman had no problem following this route. A week before the broadcast, the journalist – like most of his listeners – refused to be in the same room as people with HIV because he “didn’t want to risk breathing the same air” (Osman cited in De Masi, 2008) as them. He would never consider sharing a plate, or hosting an HIV positive person in his home, and thought it a deep insult to be tested for the virus.
But then Osman accessed what turned out to be a precious piece of culturally relevant information: he learned that babies of HIV positive women can get infected with the virus through their mothers’ breast milk (personal communication, December 6, 2007). All mothers with babies in his community breastfed their infants x including his very own wife. His own five-month old baby could be at risk, he perceived with shock, because neither he nor his wife knew their HIV status. The realisation changed Osman’s entire view on AIDS, and HIV was suddenly a virus that had the potential to directly impact his own life and those of everyone else he knew, in ways he had previously vehemently denied (personal communication, December 6, 2007). In short, this piece of information made AIDS newsworthy to Osman, his community and his editors. It became something that was crucial and worthwhile to talk about.
HIV and the News Media
Several communication experts, AIDS activists and journalists (Collins, 2005; Kinsella, 1989; Malan & Gold, 2006; Scalway, 2003; Shilts, 1987) have argued that the news media have the potential to be an immensely powerful tool in the response to HIV. According to the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS Executive Director (UNAIDS), dr. Peter Piot, “journalists can save more lives than doctors in terms of HIV prevention because preventing HIV is about communication and changing norms” (Piot, 2006).
Proving statements like this, however, is very complex; studies have not been able to conclusively show that stories in the news media have resulted in change in HIV-related behaviour on a large scale. Research has, however, strongly suggested that news stories are capable of setting the framework in which citizens discuss public events. McCombs and Shaw (1972) demonstrated that there was a strong relation between the topics that the news media highlighted during an American election campaign and the topics that news consumers identified as important. Another US study illustrated the power of broadcast news to set the policy agenda when it proved that evening news bulletins had the effect of defining the policy areas by which the president should be judged (Iyengar et al., 1984).
McCombs and Ghanem (2001) have argued that “the level degree of emphasis placed on issues in the mass media influences the priority accorded these issues by the public” (cited in Reese, Gandy & Grant, 2001, p. 67). Dearing and Rogers (1996) stated that this proposition had been supported by more than 200 studies. But, I would argue that the regular publishing or airing of stories on a certain subject does necessarily lead to the public taking note of that subject. If such stories do not directly relate to the lives of readers or broadcast audiences, or are not presented in captivating ways with strong news values, they are unlikely to influence news consumers’ opinions – whether negatively or positively. In the case of a highly stigmatised and sensitive subject such as HIV/AIDS, even more so. Read more
The South African township is characterised by low-cost houses as well as the so-called ‘shack’ that consists of corrugated iron, plastic and cardboard. In several research projects high levels of fear have been encountered among residents of these low-cost houses, in both rural and urban contexts (Holm, Murray and Pauw, 2005).
The high levels of fear among residents of low-cost housing present us with a combination of problems of a technical, socio-cultural and religious nature. Modern science, as it has developed since the time of the European Renaissance, has not been very successful in addressing this type of problem. Modern science has been remarkably successful in unlocking the secrets of nature and in utilising the potentialities of nature, through a strong emphasis on the superiority of reason. But this emphasis has had a reverse side: scientists tended to dismiss all the non-rational, yet vital elements of human life and reality, such as the destiny of humanity, human freedom and spontaneity (Prigogine and Stengers, 1984: 34-5).
Violence is everywhere (Lindiwe, Hector Peterson Residence).
In order to understand the concept ‘awareness’, Hastrup’s (1995) explanation of consciousness is invaluable, especially to identify with people’s behaviour in violent situations. She explains that our patterns of thinking are not subject to paths of practical reason, but that we rather constantly reformulate our whole existence through our actions; a reconsideration of our ideas of consciousness is thus necessitated (ibid.: 99). Hastrup reminds us that we are inarticulate and that expression is not limited to the verbal. Expression, rather, takes place in various forms (ibid.).
Given Hastrup’s suggestion to understand consciousness from multiple angles, we approach a field within which questions of ontology and methodology join: how do people think and how do we know? (ibid.; Ross 2004: 35). What tools should anthropologists use to access these forms of consciousness that are so intertwined in social space, affecting it, being affected by it and being its defining capacity? In an environment of violence, students are affected, they can potentially have an influence on this through the tactics they use to stay safe and, at the same time, can become the defining capacity of such an environment. These are among the dynamics involved in conceptualising ‘awareness’ of potential danger in potentially dangerous areas. This awareness is positioned on various levels.