foreign-soil

“Xenophobia will end. We just have to play our role in it, it's our responsibility as young people to do so. It is our struggle too, for a better and united Africa.”

SOUND THE CALL TO COME TOGETHER, SO UNITED WE SHALL STAND

BY ZANELE MABASO     (@Zanelemabaso23  - Twitter)                                    

I am a South African and I have been a foreigner in USA, Germany, United Emirates and Africa but never were my rights as a human being violated in any manner, and never during any of my other travels abroad have I experienced discrimination or hatred of any kind, but rather was welcomed by friendly global staff and citizens who treated me and other fellow travels travelling in foreign lands with the highest of respect which made me walk on foreign soil with integrity and dignity - fully experiencing the anointment of freedom, as passed on to us by our forefathers.

During my last visit to New York when the xenophobia outbreak was at it’s peak and watching the television to realise that it made headlines on every channel  where people around the world expressed their disapproval and condemnation of the violent, brutal and fatal actions bestowed on their fellow friends, families and citizens of their respective countries. Witnessing the visual collections of the incidents as they took place only left me disappointed and perplexed by the hate and unbelievable measures another human being can undertake to cause harm to another. Being born and raised in KwaZulu Natal, the province known as “the garden province” and “Place for the Zulu” as the majority population and language of the province is Zulu, due to it being the only province in South Africa that has the name of its dominant ethnic group as part of its name. I could not stop thinking about the fact that KwaZulu Natal is a province embedded with rich history; which is the birthplace of many notable figures in South Africa’s history, such as Albert Luthuli, the first African and the first person from outside Europe and the Americas to be awarded the Noble Peace Prize; Pixley ka Isaka Seme the founder of the African National Congress (ANC) and South Africa’s first black lawyer; John Langalibalele Dube, the ANC’s founding president; Mangosuthu Buthelezi, the founder of the Inkatha Freedom Party (IFP); Anton Lembede, the founding president of the ANC Youth League; Jacob Zuma, the current President of South Africa; and Bhambatha, a 19th-century Zulu chief who became an anti-apartheid icon. It is also a place recognised for it’s booming tourism where all South African’s plan their vacation to enjoy its warm beaches in the coast, the Internationally recognised Drakensberg Mountains and friendly residents. Lest we forget.

But now hereon due to the actions in the past few weeks, Kwazulu Natal’s draft history has been officially revised and it is disappointing that it will too be remembered as the place where the xenophobia and said acrophobic attacks reigned. A place where our fellow  brothers and sisters across boarders were inhumanly massacred, murdered and torched, slaughtered and stabbed on the busy streets in the full view of unbothered residents, to their death. I felt embarrassed to be associated with the country South Africa, yet one of many who were still proud be amongst those that not only pioneered the end to the xenophobic attacks on our fellow Africa brothers and sisters, but spoke about the good and positive things South Africa has done and is trying to do to combat the violent criminal acts done by only a selected few citizens due to misunderstandings occupied with selfishness and greed, where money  i the for of non-existing opportunity was a factor.

I was consulted by concerned global and national citizens, most of them being young people. Voicing out their disappointment in the ongoing violence in the countries popular province, and together we collaborated with the aim to resolute a plan of action, in mobilising young people in South Africa and across the African continent to raise awareness on the acrophobic attacks with an attempt to change people’s mindset on their unbecoming social behaviour as we knew that such violence, if not stopped will not only get out of hand with  more people dying in the hands of their fellow black people, but it would lead to an Africa which is at war with it’s self, and that, would take more than a decade if not century to resolve. Thus action towards change, had to begin, and it had to begin fast.

We mobilised ourselves amongst Civil Society where different organisations across the country too mobilised women and children, young people, public servants and officials, the private and public sectors who not only marched against Africans killing other Africans all due to great misunderstanding accompanied with anger, but to raise awareness on all forms of media communications, broadcasting  the Africa Africans should strive to see and  become, this done whilst many others drafted proposals for public attention on recommendations on interventions that need to be prioritised to ensure that such incidents are controlled on all costs and are to never be heard of again.

I have more friends, colleagues, allies and family living in different countries around the world than in my own country. Somewhere in the world right now, some one is a foreigner there and that person is being treated family and with respect as though they were a citizen of that country, South African citizens who have initiated the xenophobic attacks in different parts of the country have a lot to learn. We still have a long way to go and each global citizen has a role to play.

I thus reiterate our national anthem to the people of South Africa and pledge our fellow Africans and National citizens to hear the sounds of calls to come together so united we shall stand, let us live and strive for freedom in South Africa our land. A man or woman from any country around the world irrespective of race, social class, economic status, political stance, religion or origin is my brother and sister. We were together in the past when our leaders called for freedom; freedom came, let us practice our liberty respectfully, for the sake of the safety, health and prosperity of our current generation and the next generations to come.  Masisukumeni Sakhe Sonke, Let us stand up and build together.  Africa Unite!

Book Review: Foreign Soil by Maxine Beneba Clarke

Foreign Soil is a collection of short stories by Maxine Beneba Clarke, an Australian writer and slam poet of Afro-Caribbean heritage. Winner of the 2013 Victorian Premier’s Literary Award for an Unpublished Manuscript, shortlisted for the 2015 Stella Prize, and most recently, winner of the 2015 Indie Debut Fiction of the Year award, each of the stories focus around people that are mistreated by those around them, or have been disenfranchised by society in some way. The characters are incredibly diverse, from a Mississippi housewife, to a black militant living in Brixton in the 1960s, to a young Jamaican girl who moves away from her family to the big smoke. The language plays an important role this collection, and each story has an unbelievably well-written and strong voice. Even the accents are thought-out, and recorded brilliantly. The book almost feels like an anthology, because how could one writer manage to develop such differing tones!? Incredible.

As with all short stories, there were those I liked better than others. I struggled to get into “Big Islan”, and didn’t love “Railton Road” either, maybe because I couldn’t relate at all to the characters (as hard as I tried) and my concentration waned. I felt a bit out of my depth at times. Some of the other stories had me completely enthralled, such as “Foreign Soil” or “Gaps in the Hickory” which I absolutely couldn’t put down. I also loved the closing story, “The Sukiyaki Book Club” which was beautifully crafted, and a perfect way to end the collection (also possibly non-fiction, I think?)

The one downside I felt with most of these stories was that they ended too soon. Nearly every ending felt premature, or lacking in some small way. Perhaps this is a good thing, because I always wanted more? But while reading it was a bit frustrating.

Four stars from me, because apart from the cliff edge endings, it was a book that both transported me through its incredible voices, and tugged at my heartstrings while I considered the lives those who’ve been dealt a shitty hand.

2

Maxine Beneba Clarke on Foreign Soil:

Foreign Soil is undoubtedly a highly political fiction book, but the depressing thing is that I simply looked around me, both locally and globally, and wrote a book about the world that stared back at me: a vast and breathtaking world, but one overwhelmed with sadness, inequality, anger, and the vicious societal and interpersonal atrocities we continue to inflict on one another.

Little David riding that bike so much that Masud tell him about country call France, where is very long bike race which will make you famous if you win. Long bike ride is call the Tour of France because it goes all over that country. After the day Masud told David about the famous bike race, every time David passes him on that bike Masud calls out to him. ‘Here come David, on his Tour of Sudan!’ he call.

Foreign Soil

Chris Weitz (The Golden Compass, New Moon) trades in pretty stars and supernatural pixie dust for the gritty power of A Better Life, which echoes Italy’s bleak and beautiful post–World War II neorealist cinema but is set among Los Angeles’ demimonde of undocumented workers. Demián Bichir (the politician–drug lord Esteban Reyes in Weeds) is pure charisma as a skilled gardener trying to save his son from the gang life.

On the Bali 9 executions scheduled to take place tonight:

I made this same post to facebook and it didn’t get as much attention as i think it deserved.

Two Australian citizens are likely going to die later tonight on foreign soil for crimes committed over a decade ago. Our government has not tried to save these men who have spent their time in prison rehabilitating and educating other prisoners on the effects of narcotics. These men pleaded that they spent the remainder of their natural lives in prison continuing the good work they have done. They were denied and sentenced to death. I ask you to consider what it means for you, as an Australian citizen, that your government cares so little for it’s people that they will let them die without protest or arguement.

What does it mean to be Australian if your government cares so little for it’s citizens? What does it mean for Indonesia that they can continue their barbarism in west Papua or execute our citizens unhindered?

Take mercy on Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran and return them to Australian soil where they may be processed under Australian law.

race, relations, perceptions, and the blues....

from George M. Joseph on twitter:
‪#‎baltimore‬ middle-schoolers threw rocks at police WHO WERE CHASING THEM W TANKS. what were they supposed to do? wave?”

in the movies, we always - always! - cheer for the underdog. for the kid with the handful of rocks throwing them at alien invaders come to rob them of their humanity… and we STILL cheer when such scenarios play out in real life - as long as those ‘precious little freedom fighters’ are doing so on foreign soil… palestinian kids, irish kids, egyptian kids, moroccan kids, german kids… 

let the youth rebel and stand up for their truths anywhere else in the world and america hails them as the next generation of saviors leading us into a better world… the closest we get here in america to cheering for our militant youth is if they are college kids burning couches after major wins/losses to sports programs …or if they trash a pumpkin festival. at best, we adults are divided in our support for such actions… but the more “boy next door” persona that those youth have then the more lenient we are with them / the more tolerant and favorable we are towards them. it is a rare, rare scenario that ever places a black face as the poster child for that “boy next door” image. not in america. and not unless it involves a bratty prep school kid “harmlessly” adorned in black face for a halloween party… a lot of us have those kids’ backs - “that’s not who he really is! he donates his time down at the orphanage and has straight A’s! please, let’s not derail his future and mar his good character over this unfortunate incident.” those of us who persist at a harsher judgment (and are black) will be made out to be bitter agitators bent on destroying the social fabric… which, hell yes, is exactly what we want! -

“yes, please destroy all of this unfair social shit designed to keep black people disadvantaged… yes. please. more. and your point is?

but black kids are un-american.
well… black kids are un-american when asking for american privilege. 

we are not portrayed as the wholesome kid next door. we are not seen as Dennis the Menace… only as menaces. we are perpetually seen as potential hoodie-wearers just as we perpetually see white folks as potential HOOD wearers… we see the possible worst in whites just as they see the possible worst in us; only we lack the resources to have our fears impact your lives in such dire circumstances. your fears keep us economically disadvantaged and the disadvantaged get packed into questionable neighborhoods and then those neighborhoods are labeled 'dangerous’, not because it houses disadvantaged people but because the majority of those disadvantaged people are black.
it’s not that you see “a people struggling to survive”… you only see “predators”… 


so when a 'riot-mom’ beats her rebellious son’s ass on tv all the pundits stand up and cheer! not because she did the right thing in protecting her son from tearing up the pumpkin festival, but because beating his ass becomes a metaphor for placing a potential black predator in his proper place… had she instead stood, held, and hugged her son for 5 minutes in the middle of the street and showered him with kisses and affirmations until they walked off together then how would that have played out on CNN? would it have even been a story tho the outcome was the same?

when faced with a potential black predator would you ask for his high school transcripts or what after-school social programs he belongs to and then shower him with affection when you see he’s been accepted into Yale? or would you just allow yourself to run on automatic and fight for your life, fending off the illusions you’ve placed over his personage?

it’s okay. you can keep that answer to yourself. that’ll be your “secret”.

you know, a very popular, tho morbid, event on the black internet is “if i die….” in which the black youth are posting photos of themselves enjoying everyday activities, being generous and helpful and fun-loving and just beautiful young children - “if i die… at the hands of white supremacy then please make sure the public knows this about me before they dig up some lone photo where i was pissed and gave my ex the finger and that becomes the picture that 'justifies’ whatever they did to me.” …we are people. we are not caricatures for all that is wrong in your life. the internet makes it extremely easy for the world to reduce black folks to caricatures… the “regular media” was already stacked against us, but social media runs rampant with angst and vice and lack-of-context.

white folks upload to “the cloud”… but its “the overcast” for black folks. unless there is a comfortable level of exploitation then there is resistance to us everywhere. real-life or digital.

in truth, white or black, many of us side with the black kids throwing rocks at tanks in our city streets… we all understand the dynamics and what’s at stake… however, the problem is we never focus on the voices of those kids. we focus on the more destructive elements of “the riot” and use those judgements to justify the crack down on the entire event… “let’s sweep all of this potentially progressive shit under the rug in the name of protecting the public interests”…

but for once, like in the movies, i wanna see one little black kid throw stones at his oppressor and then, in such cinematic moments, have it touch the heart of an adult who sways from his inactivity and joins sides with that youth, turning the tides in favor of those who are flawed but acting very righteous.

that is what it means to be a patriot in this country.

maybe, every 150 years or so, we have to once again re-up and take a stance. once a society grows comfortable hoarding privileges and freedoms for itself, in a democracy that settles itself on battlefields, then these become the exact actions needed for us all to right the course.

Fast Times At Archbishop Molloy // Finn & Ivan // Flashback

It was his freshman year and Ivan was stuck in front of the school with the schedule in hand. He looked as if he had walked onto foreign soil for the first time, his height still rather tall but he didn’t look as developed as the other boys. His uniform was kind of baggy, something he had to borrow from one of the other boys at the orphanage that came here to Archbishop Molloy. Sighing heavily he started to make his way towards the front doors. He could hear seniors pestering him but he tried to ignore it, he knew it wouldn’t do any good. He just hoped he would find some sort of friend here…maybe.

Chapter 20: Terimakasih, Indonesia!

Temporarily moving to Hong Kong for my education paved the way for me to finally get a chance to step on foreign soil (or tarmac lol). I know that my presence in a UWC counts for so much; it’s because with all these opportunities in front of me, I have the chance to achieve something productive and meaningful. :) Not so long ago, through what we call Project Week, I was fortunate enough to be given the opportunity to yet again visit another wonderful foreign place to work for something I feel very strongly about. 

I’ve mentioned my involvement in a student organization at LPC called Help for Domestic Helpers in Chapter 13. Last month from March 7-14, a number of students, mostly members of said organization, hopped on a plane to Indonesia (thank you, Garuda Indonesia for your amazing economy class!) for a week’s worth of migrant workers-related service, sightseeing and mouth-watering local Indonesian food. :9

We stayed in a very rural place in Indonesia called Wonosobo.Observing some of the early morning sights around town suddenly propelled me back to the Philippines where small-scale establishments and busy yet cheerful people occupied the humble environment. I never thought I’d ever say this in my life but I really, realy miss seeing the fields.

The great thing about Wonosobo is that many natural landscapes do not require excessively tedious traveling to reach. We stopped along a few of them and boy, did we take advantage of all photo opportunties. ;-) Refer to photo above showing Yousra (The Netherlands and Morocco, me, and Belce (Turkey).

To make sure that we wouldn’t get hopelessly lost and that we don’t get ripped off, our student leaders established contacts with many locals in Wonosobo, including a woman called Miss Salas who had a strong link and influence to the migrant workers of the area. Another one is the man above who genially obliged to be our tour guide.

One thing about this trip that I will never, ever forget is that we took too many group photos. I almost felt bad for taking a picture in this historical and spiritual edifice. x) 

Then we also made a stop at this really peculiar site where it reeked strongly of sulfur and people were trying to boil eggs in them. The smell was unbearable but it was definitely interesting. x)

Locals told us that the liquid on the ground is an excellent remedy for pimples and other skin conditions so my friends decided to give it a try. Haha!

Miss Salas (center) and her friends also arranged for us to visit the village where her association of migrant workers as well as a school were situated. We spent a day playing games with children and sharing stories and concerns with the migrant workers who have worked in several countries in Asia. This is why in addition to the casual and open forum we had, we also organized a Playback and Cultural Evening. Through Playback, we were able to learn and capture the emotional triumphs and distress of these people. We ended the evening by performing acts that were native to our own countries. 

We also visited two training centers for women who are intending to work abroad as domestic help. We found out that they go through extensive training that included language lessons, cooking and cleaning in very specific ways fit for the lifestyle in their country of destination. We spent another day with these ladies sharing some knowedge we acquired from our collaborations with NGOs in Hong Kong for migrant workers, such as Enrich HK, involving budgeting and setting up businesses. We also shared relevant Hong Kong laws and procedures, its culture and many other useful tips. It was definitely very interactive.

To address some of the concerns these migrant workers experience, we also had dinner with the Mayor and his wife. The picture above is of him showing us his interesting collection of daggers and knives. :))

We had our second day of sight-seeing and it was spent solely in Borbodur Temple, which is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Ahh it was stunning; there were so many people from all over the world that admired it. It was so cute because many of the Indonesian locals wanted pictures with us. Hehe.

Soon, it started raining and because I am never one to have an umbrella ready in my bad, I had to purchase a rather funny-looking, flimsy rain protector. It was okay though; I embraced it ;-)

Then it was time to catch our plane to Jakarta. My Project Week roommate Olivia and I decided to have one last walk around Wonosobo. On our way back to the hotel, we got on this horse-driven carriage (aww yeah kalesa) and we felt super badass. B-)

Despite the lack of sleep caused by planning for activities, two days of nosebleeding, exposure to an obscene amount of indoor smoking, slipping on the floor on the way to a restaurant, having a tiny room that came free with roaches and a leaking ceiling, pains of using squat toilets and MK sneezing on my hair, it was hands down the best trip of my life. 

We, this people, on a small and lonely planet
Traveling through casual space
Past aloof stars, across the way of indifferent suns
To a destination where all signs tell us
It is possible and imperative that we learn
A brave and startling truth

And when we come to it
To the day of peacemaking
When we release our fingers
From fists of hostility
And allow the pure air to cool our palms

When we come to it
When the curtain falls on the minstrel show of hate
And faces sooted with scorn are scrubbed clean
When battlefields and coliseum
No longer rake our unique and particular sons and daughters
Up with the bruised and bloody grass
To lie in identical plots in foreign soil

When the rapacious storming of the churches
The screaming racket in the temples have ceased
When the pennants are waving gaily
When the banners of the world tremble
Stoutly in the good, clean breeze

When we come to it
When we let the rifles fall from our shoulders
And children dress their dolls in flags of truce
When land mines of death have been removed
And the aged can walk into evenings of peace
When religious ritual is not perfumed
By the incense of burning flesh
And childhood dreams are not kicked awake
By nightmares of abuse

When we come to it
Then we will confess that not the Pyramids
With their stones set in mysterious perfection
Nor the Gardens of Babylon
Hanging as eternal beauty
In our collective memory
Not the Grand Canyon
Kindled into delicious color
By Western sunsets

Nor the Danube, flowing its blue soul into Europe
Not the sacred peak of Mount Fuji
Stretching to the Rising Sun
Neither Father Amazon nor Mother Mississippi who, without favor,
Nurture all creatures in the depths and on the shores
These are not the only wonders of the world

When we come to it
We, this people, on this minuscule and kithless globe
Who reach daily for the bomb, the blade and the dagger
Yet who petition in the dark for tokens of peace
We, this people on this mote of matter
In whose mouths abide cankerous words
Which challenge our very existence
Yet out of those same mouths
Come songs of such exquisite sweetness
That the heart falters in its labor
And the body is quieted into awe

We, this people, on this small and drifting planet
Whose hands can strike with such abandon
That in a twinkling, life is sapped from the living
Yet those same hands can touch with such healing, irresistible tenderness
That the haughty neck is happy to bow
And the proud back is glad to bend
Out of such chaos, of such contradiction
We learn that we are neither devils nor divines

When we come to it
We, this people, on this wayward, floating body
Created on this earth, of this earth
Have the power to fashion for this earth
A climate where every man and every woman
Can live freely without sanctimonious piety
Without crippling fear

When we come to it
We must confess that we are the possible
We are the miraculous, the true wonder of this world
That is when, and only when
We come to it.

— 

Maya Angelou

-A Brave and Startling Truth

5

We do not know this Australian’s name and we never will.

We do not know his rank or battalion. We do not know where he was born, nor precisely how he died…

He was one of the 45,000 Australians who died on the Western Front…one of the 60,000 Australians who died on foreign soil. One of the 100,000 Australians who died in wars this century.

He is all of them. And he is one of us.