Tuesday, 3 July 2018

The Will of Life | Tunisia

Firstly, here is an extract taken from the book, "The Wretched of the Earth" by Frantz Fanon ~ p.166, Chapter 4. On National Culture

"To take part in the African revolution it is not enough to write a revolutionary song; you must fashion the revolution with the people. And if you fashion it with the people, the songs will come by themselves, and of themselves.

In order to achieve real action, you must yourself be a living part of Africa and of her thought; you must be an element of that popular energy which is entirely called forth for the freeing, the progress and the happiness of Africa. There is no place outside that fight for the artist or for the intellectual who is not himself concerned with and completely at one with the people  in the great battle of Africa and of suffering humanity.*

*Sekou Toure, 'The political leader as the representative of a culture'. Address to the second Congress of Black Writers and Artists, Rome, 1959.

Beware the "Saatchi Effect" |  As Admen move in on the children of the revolution it is vital they understand the culture in Tunisia is rich beyond that found in the Western World ~ A poem by the Tunisian poet, Abu-L-Qasm Al Shabbi | The Will of Life

Demonstration in Tunisia | The Guardian

The Will of Life

If, one day, the people should want to live,
Fate is certain to respond.
Darkness will meet the dawn,
and shackles will be broken!
Those constantly refusing to accept
            the longing for life
Will surely evaporate into the abyss
            and be forgotten ~~
Grief to anyone not aroused by
            the burning desire of life.
Let others fear the slap of oblivion!
This is what life said to me,
this is how its spirit spoke.

= {|} =

The wind muttered between
            the valleys and the ravines;
“When I aspire to achieve my goals,
I ride my wishes, forgetting caution,
face the wilderness, the rugged trails
and flaming days –
He who does not like scaling mountains
will live eternally in potholes.”

So the sap of youth churned in my heart
As other tempests raged within my breast.
I bent my head, listening to
the loud clap of thunder,
the chimes ringing in the breeze,
and the steady tempo of the rain.

= {|} =

When I asked the earth,
“Mother, do you hate mankind?”
She replied, “I bless those
            with ambition,
those who brave danger –
I curse the ones not keeping
            step with time,
those who are content to live
            a fossil life.
The vibrating universe
            loves what moves
and despises the dead,
            forgetting their greatness.
The horizon hugs no
            stiffened bird
nor does the bee kiss
            an emaciated flower.
Not even graves would
hold the dead,
save for the tenderness
            in my motherly heart!
Woe to the one not longing
            for life!
Let him beware the curse
            of extinction!”

= {|} =

On an autumn night
            laden with boredom,
I was so drunk on starlight
            my sadness drank too.
I asked the dark, “Does life
            return the spring of youth
once it has dried up?”
The lips of darkness did not move
nor did the virginal dawn.
Then the forest gently spoke
like the quiver of a chord:
            “Winter comes, bringing in the mist,
            bringing in the snow and the winter rains,
and creation slowly dissolves.
What budded and ripened in
the gleaming notion of fields
under the quiet charisma of the
bright sky has vanished – gone like
branches that fall with their leaves.
Now the wind tosses dead petals
for floods to bury them, haphazardly.
All perish like a lovely dream
which, shone in the hearts of the few,
            then disappeared.
Only the seeds remain,
            kernels of memory,
still embracing, even under
            thick fog, the snows,
the heaps of earth –
the shadow of life that never dulls,
the green embryo of spring
dreaming of birdsongs,
the musk of flowers,
            the tang of fruits.”

= {|} =

“Time and trouble tumble on,
seasons diminish, others are reborn.
Dreams awaken laced with the mystery
of daybreak, asking,
            “Where is the morning mist?
The evening’s mystique? The glow of the moon?
The elegant swarm of butterflies?
The buzzing of the bees? Where are the clouds
            that floated by,
the sunbeams and creatures,
            the life that we all seek?”
“I have grown thirsty for the
sheen of light on branches,
thirsty for the shade beneath the trees!
Thirsty for the fountain that
            sings through blossoming fields,
            for the voices of birds,
            the whisper of clean fresh air,
the raindrops fluid melody –
I am thirsty for the universe,
searching for the long-awaited world!
Maybe it lies beyond the reaches of our sleep
and we need just awake in order to find it.”

= {|} =

“Like a bird’s slight flutter,
the seed longing to sprout
bursting till it cracks
the surface of the earth
and beholds a world
of exquisite marvels.
And spring returns with its
parcels of dreams,
its sweet-smelling freshness,
and kisses the lips
of all that had faded,
saying, “You have been granted life,
immortalized in your abundant seed.

The light has blessed you –
Now is the time to receive it!
Whoever worships the light in
            their dreams
Will be blessed in that light,
            wherever it shines.
Onward! To radiant spaces,
            inside the dreamy furtile earth!
For you are, whatever is luminous!
For you are, undying beauty.
The meadows, the air, the stars in the sky
            will be your home.
Commune with the moon
            and the stirring of life in all its glory.”

= {|} =

The diaphanous night revealed a 'Beauty'
that kindled in the mind.
A strange magnetism was flung
across the skies
as a giant wizard
            lit the glittering stars.
Incense drifted from flowers
            on the moon’s quiet wings…
A holy hymn singing out in a temple!
Across the universe it was proclaimed:
Endeavour is the flame of life,
the heart of victory.
If the spirit chooses life,
Fate is certain to respond!”

Thursday, 7 June 2018

FATMA CHARFI | Flowers and the Human Lace

Here are the final works of the Finest Artist of Africa ~|~ FATMA CHARFI performed at the Paul Klee Museum in Bern, Switerzerland.

Paul used to visit the gardens on a regular basis but Fatma only found that out after she had created the work. She was at the last stages of breast cancer at this time and this work is really her swan song to the world. I was so delighted to be asked by her son Nabil M'seddi Charfi to translate (well more interpret than a full translate) the final words of such a huge figure in the world of Contemporary African Art. So without further a do here is Fatma's Last Works.

The Artist version in french:

Interpretation in English by ~|~ Joe Pollitt

Flowers and the Human Lace | Elfenau Gardens in Bern, Switzerland

In the last three years I have become a lot closer to nature, inside of which I am able to calm my revolting cells and tranquilize my dreadful neurosis during these (simultaneous) world revolutions. In spring, summertime and especially in the fall, I visit the gardens of Elfenau in Bern. Here is where, my (Aberics) and I, live out this magical connection with the flowers. I have discovered the vibration of sound, the importance of the meditational frequencies and often listen acutely to bird-songs and in doing so I am able to tune in to the voices of the flowers that speak to me. Mutually, we have gained a certain kind of privacy and a magnificent trust has been building up. Day after day, I monitor the micro details of their daily transformations. Original or exhausted flora, rooted or on the ground, always sublime. My gaze constantly amazed, not to mention my joyful attention.

I watch them intensely and in turn they ostensibly look back at me. I fear that the moment will disappear, blown away by a gale, in a-blink of an eye, a-glorious rainbow sky, a-stroke of time, a-momentary distraction, a-passing detachment of my constant devoted curiosity…

Lately, I have been building transient interfaces with intermingled foliage, tips of branches, pieces of colour and ends of faded bloom. Rays of hope on a background of dark stems as daylight creates the unification of the ‘many-flower’, made-up from not-so-dead petals found on the ground. A rose, with its diverse coloured plumage layered together to form another, blended to create a high-bred plant with the use of washed out petals that gently lean on one another, to become unusual, novel yet blooming...

It was then that I knew and the flowers knew, that hereafter every tomorrow would never be the same... I felt that instant connection as the flowers engrossed me, completing me into existence. Together, we grew far deeper and way beyond the general visitor's brief and lazy stares....

Like a petal on a tissue, paper issues of  "Itself", I plunged into the world of flowers in the gardens of Elfenau in Bern.
A lace of vegetation, the new-born-strong and beautiful, its structure distinctive, its multi-coloured goodness, its rebirth and its pristine light...

Just like the natural world we are human lace, capable of intelligence to evolve to become the paramount of ourselves…
Human silhouettes-cum-dancers, bonded by handstands, stick-thin arms, antenna arms, root arms, arms raised in celebration.
Upwards, and forwards, a creation of a human lace with a new universal skin, an innovative thrust, graceful movements, a perfect result. A network of everything and just as lace ties so a bird flies....

Fatma Charfi (2006... 2012... 2014)
Charfi, F. (F.C.). Human lace and Elfenau Flowers in Bern (2014), Bern, Switzerland. 

Paul Klee's Grave in Bern, Switzerland

The Gardens of Elfenau in Bern.

Flowers in Bloom

Thursday, 31 May 2018


The Illuminaughti

The World is Killing Africa

To win the Peace we must first chop off their heads!

In watching the various videos below about Uganda, Rwanda, Congo, Zambia and an article on Cameroon with the influences of Tony Blair and Bill Clinton, it becomes alarmingly clear that politics takes precedence over human life. Stories are repeated from country to country right across the East down to the South. The way in which the Africans are being treated is abominable, all agencies working in the Aid Industry should be ashamed. Your actions have proven useless and millions have died.  We begin to see that the United Nations are an utter disgrace. The Security Council full of highly paid liars and Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International even Genocide Watch are organizations unfit for purpose. The way to rule the world with absolute impunity is to side with Power be it UN, US or UK followed by such joy to be had from the creation of conflict which, if done successfully, causes Wars and of course, those necessary famines. Like lambs, the majority are born to be slaughtered and with commerce on the rise, pollution is a small price to pay. As in the case with Glencore in Zambia in the toxic copper mines, the company regularly poisoning the water-table, contaminates the air as the children choke as we watch their elderly crawl their way around each and every room. We are the present that the future certainly doesn't want and clearly doesn't need. Check this video out. The Church of England has shares in this company......Turning a blind eye for profit.

The loop-holes in the Law are there to hang us all.

The simpletons, the small boys in uniforms acting as Dictators doing the will of others and thinking themselves ‘freedom fighters’; nothing could be further from the truth. They are Western educated, well-trained Agents of hate. Legal murderers, motivated by personal greed, bought by bigger fish whose Power exceeds the yearning for mere pounds, shillings and pence. In the end they will leave these futile and vain Agents out for the wolves to devour; washing their hands of them and once again becoming invisible, happy in the knowledge that their instigation of mass-murders has seen a return on investments which have paid such handsome dividends.

Murder as a model of success

Akon wants me to turn my back on the majority and talk about the few. To lie as much as possible; to hide what is true. He wants me to focus on the rich, on the possibilities of Africa. To help the Continent rise ~ rise on the back of a bunch of lies.

As friends, can we put our hand on our hearts and say Tony Blair has done so much good for the world? Firstly, as PM, taking Great Britain into War with Iraq, then Afghanistan, then leaving office and becoming the Peace Envoy for the Middle East and now as a Political Advisor to Paul Kagame of Rwanda, a job he does for FREE! Paul Kagame and his Rwanda Patriot Front, made up of Tutsi's, have since 1994, mass murdered over 5 million Rwandans, both in Rwanda and the Congo. This is what the International Community sees as a model of success? Blah, blah, blah. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UZpjmEjGuFs. Here is the Beeb and the Untold Story of Rwanda, watch if it even matters, stay silent, stay safe. Here the story unfolds, tells of truth and what has been going on in the dark corners of East Africa. BBC News |  

The people of Northern Uganda haven’t got long to live. The clock is ticking. A solution must come sooner rather than later.

We are hiding behind the cloak of Aid and simply throwing money at the problem and so Aid becomes the perfect excuse, the Pardoner, which makes donors, satisfied that they have assisted in some small way in the plight of the most vulnerable. Nothing changes, everything stays just as it always was and will be. What we need is effective change rather than money that slips into the pockets of the perpetrators. We need Leadership that protects the citizens rather than starves them into submission. In a Continent that is so rich in resources it seems unthinkable that people should starve in our Modern era. Disgraceful behaviour. No decent human being wants to turn their backs on the most defenseless but by doing nothing we are effectively allowing evil to overcome good. Staying ignorant can longer be a justification for staying silent.

Word from the Artists | "Cameroon wants no outside help, no intervention. No Foreign Aid. This is a victory that will be won with their own blood, sweat and tears. This is regime change, home-grown revolution and foreigners are no longer welcome." WE ARE WATCHING! The Commonwealth Amnesty International UK Humanrightswatch HuffPost The Independent The New York Times The New Yorker Conservatives Forum Education Unhcr_cmr The Spectator Seven Stories Press Vanity Fair Time Magazine

Time to Go Out. Meet my town in the flesh.

Shall I go out today? I am on my own, I look like an oddball, a weirdo, I can hear them all whispering behind my back, ‘look at him, loser, chubby chappy, what-a-cock, nob-jockey’. Shall I go out today? Can I go out, I am so fixed behind this screen, fearing the world, thinking all are against me, shall I go out today? Fuck it, why not...the world is full of cunts, just like me...WHY NOT...Let me risk it for a chocolate biscuit. I am off to find some friends at the Unfest - Tunbridge Wells Fringe Festival

I've gone out in the town, beside me I see this sexyPepsi and want to chat up this beautiful bird and out of my mouth comes this, "I am a witness to a Genocide in Uganda", that has to be one of the world's worst chat up lines ever. I have to somehow get this out, express myself to the world. Have you seen the documentary, "Brilliant Genocide" it was shown to the students of Columbia University in NYC. Click and enjoy:

Turned to Social Media and what happens next, ping, my email is calling me, a note from Twitter …


We’re writing to let you know that your account features will remain locked or limited for the allotted time due to violations of the Twitter Rules, specifically our hateful conduct policy.

We do not allow people to promote violence against or directly attack or threaten other people on the basis of race, ethnicity, national origin, sexual orientation, gender, gender identity, religious affiliation, age, disability, or disease.

Please note that continued abusive behavior may lead to the suspension of your account. To avoid having your account suspended, please only post content that abides by the Twitter Rules: https://twitter.com/rules#hateful-conduct.
You can learn more about our policy against hateful conduct here: https://help.twitter.com/rules-and-p…/hateful-conduct-policy.



Upsetting people's feelings, really. People have feelings, who would of known?

So I email back:

Dear Haters,

I read your post with interest and I am no longer interested in what you or your friends, of whom you have many, have to say or do ever. I now look forward to deleting you off my Social Media list. I hope that doesn't bother you too much. You are now blocked for good and quite frankly, for the good of others....

Tata for now,

Too_Busy To_Work

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Dambisa Moyo | Oxford Union

Al Jazeera 'Head to Head' with Dambisa Moyo 

Event Information





In this episode of Head to Head, Mehdi Hasan challenges the world-famous economist and thinker Dambisa Moyo, on why she believes liberal democracy is failing, and what can be done to save it.

The best-selling author first made waves with her book Dead Aid where she argued that foreign aid was in fact preserving poverty in Africa instead of relieving it.

Now the economist is taking on an even bigger target: liberal democracy itself.

In recent years, the West has been said to be in crisis: the election of Donald Trump, the UK’s Brexit vote, and the rise of far-right parties across Europe have all been cited by some as evidence of the failures of the current political system.

In her new book Edge of Chaos, the best-selling author provides her own diagnosis for the upsurge of populist and anti-establishment attitudes and provides a radical blueprint for change, which would “restrict the behaviour of politicians, limit the options available to voters, and…narrow the scope of the electorate itself.”
We ask:
  • Is democracy really under siege?
  • Is there such a thing as too much democracy?
  • Should some people get more voting power?
  • And, is prosperity more important than political rights?
Tickets are free of charge, but must be booked on Eventbrite, in order for you to gain entry. Seats are allocated on a first-come, first-served basis, so please arrive by 6.30pm to avoid disappointment. The recording will begin at 7.30pm. 

This event is being recorded, and will be broadcast globally on the Al Jazeera Media Network at a later date. By being a member of the audience at this event, you may be recorded or photographed. By attending the event, you hereby grant Al Jazeera the right to record you at the event and publish this material in all media, worldwide, in perpetuity. If you do not agree, please do not attend.


Here is an extremely graphic documentary about what has been going on in that schism between North and South in Uganda. Warning: Contains disturbing material.

Today the killing continues...

Fourteen Dead in Massacre, As Uganda's U.S.-backed Gen. Museveni Evicts Peasant Farmers on Behalf of Investors

Champagne toast. U.S. Ambassador to Uganda Deborah Malac and dictator Museveni. This is when she presented her credentials to Museveni in 2015 as reported in The New Vision. Photo: Uganda's Presidential Press Unit.

GULU--Leaders in Uganda's Acholi region have condemned a new spate of killings and evictions of peasant farmers by soldiers and police as the country's U.S.-backed dictator of 32 years Gen. Yoweri Museveni tries to seize land to sell to foreign investors.

Uganda receives more than $1 billion in U.S. financial and military aid from U.S. taxpayers' money each year.

Even though U.S. Ambassador to Ugandan Deborah Malac has not uttered a word Amnesty International has condemned the military attacks. "The evictions have been carried out by the authorities in violation of the constitution and international human rights law," the global human rights organization said in a statement calling for "urgent action."

Village leaders report that 14 people have been killed and two are missing in the latest attacks that occurred from May 15 to 17. As many as 5,700 homes are reported burned and over 15,000 people displaced.

Political, religious, and village leaders from the region have called the campaign "ethnic cleansing." Soldiers have burned down the homes of people evicted from their lands forcing some, including women and children, to sleep in the forests as they hide from the security forces fearing they will be killed.

Fifteen people are reported dead in raids against the population of Apaa villages in Amuru district in the  northern part of Uganda. The raids and evictions were carried out over a three-day period beginning May 15. It was a joint military assault by the Uganda Wild Life Authority, the Uganda Police, and the military which is known as the Uganda Peoples' Defense Force (UPDF).  It is believed that the Museveni regime wants to lease the land to foreign investors who want to turn the huge tracts into game parks reserves.

Political and religious leaders, and some of the victims of the raids, met at the Acholi Cultural Institution palace on Sunday May 27, to condemn the attacks by Gen. Museveni's armed forces. The meeting was chaired by Dr. John Baptist Odama, the Archbishop of Gulu Catholic Arch Diocese.
Sabino Ocan, a survivor, said the attack killed Elibarina Auma, 83, a mother of 10 children in her village of Punulyech. "The soldiers came and burnt 270 huts and looted chicken and goats," Ocan, who is a cultural, political and religious leader, said. He said the looted livestock were given to ethnic Madi people from Adjumani to carry for them.

Gen. Museveni has been stoking inter-ethnic violence between Acholi and Madi; fighting between the two peoples, promoted by the regime, has caused many homes to be abandoned. The regime has encouraged the Madi to attack Acholis claiming the latter are occupying land that belong to them. Critics contend the strategy is to make the areas where the Acholi reside inhospitable and eventually lease them out to the foreign game parks developers.

The area in question is about 319 square miles of fertile land. Ocan said soldiers have created a garrison in Punulyech, and in Gazi village in Apaa Parish to prevent people from returning to their homes.

Ocan said the attacks against the villagers were comparable to the atrocities against the Ryohingya, Muslim minorities who were attacked and driven out of Myanmar by the armed forces. "I appeal to international communities..." he said, referring to the attacks as "terrorism."

These new attacks by Museveni's military comes as people in the northern part of Uganda are slowly recovering from the two-decades conflict between the UPDF and the Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) led by Joseph Kony. Between 1986 to 2006, almost 2 million Acholis --or 90% of the population-- were herded into concentration camps by the regime. It is estimated that as many as one million people perished from hunger and diseases in the camps.

Also at the media briefing, Apaa Village leader Okema Justine was still receiving calls with updates from people describing the burning of homes and torture of villagers by soldiers. “So far the total numbers of grass thatched huts burnt by soldiers is 5,700, displacing over 15,000 civilians,” Okema said. “We have so far lost 14 people and two are missing,” he added.

Livingstone Okello-Okello, the highly-respected former Member of Parliament, and Chairman of Acholi Wang OO, a community networking and mobilization organization, condemned the killing, but also cautioned that people should refrain from Museveni's plan to incite war between the Acholis and Madis which he will then use to seize land.

“This is Museveni's systematic move to cleanse Acholi [ethnic people] and he is committed and doing it,” Okello-Okello said. “He has taken all our land stretching from Kololo to Lipan in Lamwo district.”

The latest attacks have created great anger amongst the youth in the region. Some have approached their chiefs and political leaders seeking their blessing to mobilize armed resistance. Critics contend that is exactly what Gen. Museveni hopes would happen so that he can unleash full-scale war as he did between 1986 and 2006.

“We are being treated unjustly. They want to loot all our wealth and make us useless,” Charles Olweny, a youth from the affected area, said. “We will dare them and never accept such nonsense.”
Member of Parliament Akello Lucy reported to Gen. Museveni on May 27 that soldiers raided the Apaa community. “We wish to bring to your attention that over 100 UPDF soldiers raided this community and during their raid they shot a 26 year old Okello Python and injured two more,” Akello wrote, “348 huts were burnt, several goats and chicken looted and displaced hundreds,” Akello also wrote.

Akello told Gen. Museveni that Brig. Emmanuel Kanyesigye, the 4th Division Commander under whom the soldiers are committing atrocities, told her his orders came "from above."

The community of Apaa sued the Uganda government in the High Court in Gulu District with a civil suit No. 0060 of 2011. The Court issued a permanent injunction on February 15, 2012 which is still valid to this day and the matter is proceeding. However, the regime has repeatedly used the Uganda security forces to violate the injunction by creating a state of terror in the region.

The Deputy Speaker of Uganda's Parliament Jacob Oulanya who presided over a hearing in the House on April 13, 2017 ruled that the issue was not about a boundary dispute between Acholis and Madis because people of Uganda can stay anywhere in the country. “When our people were in IDP camps, their land was degazetted as game reserve without consulting the land owners,” Oulanya said in Parliament. He was referring to the concentration camps, euphemistically called Internally Displaced Peoples' camps sometimes.

Oulanya instructed the Prime Minister Dr. Ruhakana Rugunda to return on the floor of Parliament to degazette the Land. On June 21, 2017, the Speaker of Parliament Rebecca Kadaga ruled that the government should go back and reaffirm the boundary between Amuru and Adjumani districts. She went ahead to emphasize that cultural and religious leaders and communities must be involved in the process within one month. One year later, nothing has been done; except the new armed attack against civilians by government forces.

On October 13, 2017, the Local government Minister, Tom Butime declared Apaa parish as located in Adjumani district --not in Acholi but in Madi-- and ordered the police and Chief Administrative officers of the two district to implement his directive. A signpost and roadblock is now set 16 miles inside Amuru district as part of Adjumani.

A Joint Acholi Leaders’ Communique on the Apaa Crisis was issued on May 27. It demands, among other things that: the Museveni regime immediately halt the wanton and inhumane attacks by the state security agencies; and,  immediately withdraw the UPDF, the Police and Uganda wild Life Authority armed agents from Apaa.

The communique, which was read by Justice Galdino Okello, the Court of Appeal Judge, further demanded that: government give assurance of its commitment to resolve the issue and to respect the Court order stopping further eviction; and, that the government officials who violated the Court order be held in contempt of Court.

“The attention of the International Community be drawn to the ... gross violations of human rights happening in Apaa and those involved face the world Court for heinous crimes against unarmed civilians,” the Communique reads in part.


Book Review: Africa Uprising: Popular Protest and Political Change by Adam Branch and Zachariah Mampilly

Jonathan Silver praises the book Africa Uprising: Popular Protest and Political Change by Adam Branch and Zachariah Mampilly for providing fresh insight on the histories and geographies of protests on the African continent.

Africa Uprising: Popular Protest and Political Change is a new title from the African Arguments series by Zed Books. In this engaging and accessible book Adam Branch and Zachariah Mampilly seek to provide a sweeping, continent wide response to the global uprisings we have witnessed on the streets of cities around the world over the past few years, reporting of which has often marginalised or excluded the unfolding protests across Africa. Furthermore, as the authors assert, the categorisation of uprisings in North African countries as part of the Arab Spring or of South African exceptionalism should not preclude accounts that claim to write authoritatively on the place we call Africa. This wide ranging and well put-together book examines the diverse histories and geographies of protest in Africa to suggest both new insights to these political ruptures, potential, if uncertain futures and finally how they might help us rethink the global uprisings that began in 2011.

After an introduction Branch and Mampilly set out their core argument and key contribution of the book. This is that the uprisings in Africa (both contemporary and historically) can best be understood through the divisions that characterise many African societies. Taking Chatterjee’s (2004) notion of civil and political society the authors situate it within the resistance to colonial and post-colonial rule. Branch and Mampilly establish a tension here that they assert runs throughout this history.

Chatterjee’s terms, generated from his experiences in India are firmly grounded within the Africa context and elucidated through examining the opposing ideas of two towering intellectual figures, Franz Fanon and Kwame Nkrumah. The main divide between Fanon and Nkrumah is traced to the countering ideas of non-violent resistance and ‘Wretched of the Earth’, lumpenproletariat uprisings that offered very different responses to the issue of breaking imperial rule.

Africa uprising

The authors go on to outline the consequences of Fanon’s critique of independence struggles such as those in Ghana in which the, “Such a mode of decolonialisation would set the stage for the pathologies of colonial rule after independence” (p31) that perhaps best illuminates the unfolding analytical orientation in the book. The disappointments of “multiparty regimes and neoliberal economics” in the late 1980s and early 1990s and the limits to the capacities of civil society is thus understood both as the precursor to the third wave of protest which the book focuses on and understood historically as emerging from the mistakes of the generation engaged in anti-colonial struggle, further perpetuated by the failure of civil society (such as NGO’s and the educated middle class) over the last 30 years to reach out beyond their narrow political focus.

The book continues with empirically rich accounts of uprisings in a number of countries across the continent. They take examples of Occupy Nigeria, of ‘walk to work’ protests in Uganda, the histories of protests in Sudan and the build-up and response to anti-government protests in Ethiopia to provide rich and textual accounts of the histories, make ups, successes and failures of these uprisings providing fresh and important perspectives that will surely be welcomed by activists struggling for social justice in these places.

Core to the authors’ argument is the ways in which these uprisings are limited by differences and divisions within each of the societies studied as well as the repressive state apparatus that have if anything intensified over the last decade.

The authors show the often intractable difficulties not just of civil and political society outlined above but of bridging the urban and rural divide in African societies through the political distance that exists between these constituencies but also the dialectical repercussions of political demands (for instance a lowering of food prices in the city hold the potential to further impoverish farmers in the countryside). Ethnic and religious differences form another key decision that has restricted the potentials of uprising from the schisms between North and South in Uganda to the intense heterogeneities of different peoples that make up Africa’s third largest country of Sudan.

As the book explains, little visible change has occurred in Uganda, Sudan and Ethiopia after the latest wave of protest beyond the increased securitisation and militarisation of urban space, clampdowns and restrictions on activists and opposition politicians, mirroring the failures and disappointments of uprisings elsewhere. This is not to say the authors ignore the future potential challenges to these violent regimes and the neoliberal economics that have done so much to stymie social justice over the last few decades, rather they highlight that a better grasp of the schisms of these societies generally and within the protests specifically is a pre-cursor to mobilising across civil and political society, urban and rural and religious difference.

Finally and perhaps most pertinently for readers working on or interested in similar issues elsewhere Branch and Mampilly suggest that, “engagement with African political society protest can be a starting point for rethinking the ongoing global wave of protest” (p201). Making the provocation that such manifestations of political society have a long history in Africa as activists have fought against “choiceless democracies and austerity for decades” brings a new Afro perspective to ongoing global debates in challenging austerity, authoritarian governance and the one percent. This idea of how places such as Uganda, Sudan and Ethiopia have prefigured global regimes of austerity is an important contribution of the book, challenging academics and activists elsewhere to take seriously the African experience and to learn from some of the limitations and potentials that are explored in well-informed case study chapters.

Africa Uprising: Popular Protest and Political Change. Adam Branch and Zachariah Mampilly. Zed Books 2015.

Dr Jonathan Silver is the Leverhulme Fellow in the Geography Department at the University of Durham. Follow him on Twitter @InvisibleMapper.

The views expressed in this post are those of the authors and in no way reflect those of the Africa at LSE blog or the London School of Economics and Political Science.

Chatterjee, P. (2004) The politics of the governed: popular politics in most of the world. New York: Columbia University Press.

Sunday, 20 May 2018

FATMA CHARFI | 1955 - 2018





The Art of Fatma Charfi is one that was born out of intense sorrow. The origins of her works where instigated by the events that unfolded in front of her eyes, at the time of the first Gulf War, back in 1991. This was a time of great sadness throughout the entire Arabic world. Sitting in her apartment in Bern, Switzerland, she, like so many others, watched the brutal scenes of the bombing on the city of Baghdad. When we met, back in 2006, she recalled that grief-stricken evening with such clarity and described how she watched with tears streaming down her cheeks, the inconsolable horrors of the mass murders inflicted on the innocent people of Iraq. Numb and in shock she stretched out her hand, blindly fumbling to find the hankies in her box of man-sized tissues on her glass coffee table, in the middle of the room. One after another she twisted the tissues with her fingers, rubbing them fiercely with her thumb and first finger as they slowly and gently fell down onto her wooden floor. Continually pulling, involuntarily crying and sobbing with exasperations, sheet by sheet, these man-sized tissues where wrenched out of the box and then the next and the next, until the entire box was empty. The rest of the night was a blur but she remembered falling asleep in a wet pool of her own tears that where generously soaked up by her fresh white Egyptian cotton covered pillows. When she woke the next morning she saw, with utter amazement, what she had done. There, all over her wooden floor, in her front room where the fallen angels; the symbolic message of this terrible Arabic massacre. On seeing this sight she fell to her knees and wept, determined to make the world take note of their numerous acts of wickedness.

Finally, she had found her voice and her medium. So began the age of the figurine, which Fatma named, her “Abroucs”.  Over the next three decades Fatma used her Art in glorious ways; sometimes she would support Arabic and African women and their plight of being marginalized and ignored; at other times she would highlight the injustices of Switzerland’s ironic status of neutrality and their naivety to the countless human rights abuses that take place across the world but specifically in Africa. The highlight of her career is to be found in the installation entitled, the “Laboratory of Peace” – the compassion and sensitivity in her Masterpiece or Mistresspiece is overwhelming, the work is not only powerful and poignant, it is also emotionally moving and capable of touching even the darkest of souls. She told me over the phone that she was so delighted that children from all walks of life, would leave her exhibition in floods of tears, so blown away at the marvel of it’s simplicity and transparency. In her passing she leave a cultural vacuum, not only for Tunisia but also the World.

Fatma Charfi was born in 1955 into a large family of Maghrebi nautical cartographers from Tunisia.* She was the fifth child and the only daughter of eight and grew up with her seven brothers and mother, Nabiha Ben Cheikh and father, Abdel Raouf Charfi in the city of Sfax. Her artistic career began in 1974 at Institut Supérieur des Beaux-Arts de Tunis in the capital, Tunis where she studied for her degree in Fine Art. In 1977 she went on to train as a cartoonist in Poland. In 1980 she moved to France and worked on her doctorate in “Artistic Aesthetics” at the Institut d’Estétique et de Sciences de l’Art de Paris | Sorbonne, and in 1985, she was awarded a PhD for her thesis related to the experimentation and the study of water; a year later she moved to Bern, Switzerland to attend the École Supérieure d’Art Visuel de Genève, where she enjoyed an internship.
Fatma was awarded the Jury Prize at the Alexandria Biennale, Egypt, in 1999 and took part in the Dakar Biennale, Dak’Art 2000 and became the first female artist to win the Grand Prix Léopold Sédar Senghor. She returned to Dak’Art in 2004 and again won the price for the second time, she proudly used to boast that she had danced with the Senegalese President and just how well she danced. Dak’Art honoured her again in 2010 and exhibited her artworks in a Retrospective at the Biennale.
Throughout her career Fatma exhibited her works in numerous countries including Tunisia, France, Switzerland, Egypt, Senegal, Germany, Spain, Dubai and America. Her works where shown extensively in the USA, mainly in Group Shows like “Shatat Disapora”, Arabic Women in Art at the University of Colorado Art Gallery, Boulder in 2003 followed by “A fiction of Authenticity” shown at the CAM Saint Louis, 2003; Carnegie Mellon University’s Regina Gouger Miller Gallery, Pittsburgh, 2004; Blaffer Art Museum, University of Houston, Texas in 2006.

She leaves behind her son Nabil M’seddi Charfi, aged 30 and her daughter Emna M’seddi Charfi, aged 25.

Author: Joe Pollitt