Letter from Kenya (six)

It seems that every school child knows how to say “How are you?” It is a chant they do. A mzungu (white person, literally translated to “wanderer”) is on the street and all the school children immediately begin the chant “ouryou?” and repeat.

Yes, endearing at first, and perhaps I even responded, fine and you? when I first arrived. But now, I dismiss them, knowing that it is a rote response. But there are those children that actually engage – or attempt to – in conversation; the ones that smile coily, that are actually curious and looking for some type of interaction. I smile back at them, wave, sometimes shake their hands.

Often the school children follow you, especially in less populated areas. Are they protecting you? Probably just interested in the wanderers. Makes me wonder how I must appear to them. The westerner I am, “diversity” is something that I don’t really notice until it isn’t there. Furthermore, I was always taught “not to stare” or to ignore those that were significantly “different”. Here they stare, call out to you (yes, “OBAMA” has even been shouted to me, though I don’t think it was because they suspected that I was American).

The most charming account of this that I can share was on the bus. As I was sitting in the aisle near the middle of the bus, I made a point to check out all of my fellow passengers going by. Almost immediately after a mother with a baby wrapped in a kanga and another daughter by hand passed by, I felt a tug at the back of my head. I looked behind me, but all I saw were backs. The ride was uneventful, but at Kenyatta

Hospital (near the end of my trip and a very busy stop), I again watched the other passengers as they left. The mother passed by and at the same time I felt a tug. Promptly I turned to see the culprit: the oldest of the woman’s two daughters, no more than 7 or 8. I smiled at her. She bashfully looked away, and scrambled to catch up with her mother and younger sister.

Nicole Rademacher is a currently in Kenya until the beginning of May doing research and documentation for her current project investigating domestic ritual (made possible by the North Carolina Arts Council, USA and many private donars/patrons).

Top Ten Stories of the Year

The good, the bad, and the beautiful.

1. New Bolivian legislation that gives rights to Nature.

Bolivia is set to pass the world’s first laws granting all nature equal rights to humans. The Law of Mother Earth, now agreed by politicians and grassroots social groups, redefines the country’s rich mineral deposits as “blessings” and is expected to lead to radical new conservation and social measures to reduce pollution and control industry.”

2. The real effects of the cuts in Britain:

“While foodbanks may be an alien concept to many living in Britain today, the number of these centres helping the needy has grown rapidly in the past few years. The Trussell Trust, which runs most of the UK’s foodbanks, says the number of its centres has risen from 20 in 2008 to 65 today.

Disability experts believe that being forced to rely on charitable food handouts will seriously damage the health of people already battling chronic illnesses such as multiple sclerosis and ME. They warn that some may even turn to crime, such as shoplifting, to make ends meet.”

3. So this experiment with capitalism obviously isn’t going so well at the moment, but luckily there are some alternatives out there, such as participatory economics.

“Participatory economics is an economic system developed to foster six broad values: equity, or fair and just outcomes; solidarity, or caring and mutual respect among all people; diversity of outcomes which would benefit everyone; participatory self-management, or having a say in decisions to the extent that one is affected by their outcomes; efficiency, or not wasting resources; and environmental sustainability, which requires leaving behind stocks of each kind of natural capital as large as those we enjoy today.”

“As defense giants like Boeing, Raytheon (RTNFortune 500), and Lockheed Martin (LMTFortune 500) increasingly seek to peddle their wares to well-financed (sometimes by the U.S.) international customers, they have a surprising ally: the President. “Obama is much more favorably disposed to arms exports than any of the previous Democratic administrations,” says Loren Thompson, a veteran defense consultant. Or, as Jeff Abramson, deputy director of the Arms Control Association, puts it: “There’s an Obama arms bazaar going on.”

“In 2011 the end of NATO as a collective security alliance is seen in four events: the intervention in Libya, the downsizing of proposed US ballistic missile defence systems in Eastern Europe, ISAF withdrawal from Afghanistan and the creation of the Visegrad Group.”

7. Whales make and share their own pop music!

“Music mania is sweeping the ocean, and all the young male humpback whales are in on the latest trend. A new study reveals that, just like humans, humpback whales in the South Pacific follow musical trendsthat change by the season. Moreover, these songs always move from west to east across thousands of miles of ocean—from the east coast of Australia to French Polynesia—over the course of a year or two. The authors say it’s one of the most complex and rapid patterns of cultural evolution across a region ever observed in a nonhuman species.”

8.  The biggest company you’ve never heard of: Serco

“As well as thanking God for his success, CEO Chris Hyman is a Pentecostal Christian who has released a gospel album in America and fasts every Tuesday. Coincidentally he was in the World Trade Centre on 9/11 on the 47th floor addressing shareholders.  Serco run navy patrol boats for the ADF, as well as search and salvage operations through their partnership with P&O which form Maritime Defence Services. Serco run two Australian Jails already, Acacia in WA and Borallon in Queensland. Theyre one of the biggest companies In the UK for running electronic tagging of offenders under house arrest or parole.Serco are in one of the two favoured bid consortiums for the new Sydney metro rail line. Here are some amazing corporate videos from Serco, we fully recommend both if youre a fan of Verhoeven-esque corporate propaganda. You can watch the video here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jo4_dF_Z1q0

9.  How we were convinced Climate Change is a hoax, by Chomsky.

10. The Authoritarians.  Why do people follow leaders when they know its is causing harm?

“Authoritarianism is something authoritarian followers and authoritarian leaders cook up between themselves. It happens when the followers submit too much to the leaders, trust them too much, and give them too much leeway to do whatever they want–which often is  something undemocratic, tyrannical and brutal.”

Awesome Easter Things!

Now that the Easter holidays are rolling their way around the world, its time to take a end-of-season break, stop the daily grind and have some fun and relaxation.  Fun and relaxation might seem like an inappropriate way to observe the an event as brutal as a crucifixion, but hey at least he got resurrected.

Anyway. Here’s some funny shit.

A whole Catalogue of Barack Obama looking at Aweome Things!

Have a look at this hilirous photo series poking fun at stupid republicans. Click on the image for a catalogue of this awesomeness.

Happy Easter!