Wednesday, 30 September 2015

Letter from UK to Zimbabwe written by Claire Short

Zimbabwe - Claire Short's Letter Nov 5th 1997

5 November 1997
From the Secretary of State
Hon Kumbirai Kangai MP
Minister of Agriculture and Land
Dear Minister

George Foulkes has reported to me on the meeting which you and Hon John Nkomo had with Tony Lloyd and him during your recent visit. I know that President Mugabe also discussed the land issue with the Prime Minister briefly during their meeting. It may be helpful if I record where matters now rest on the issue.

At the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting, Tony Blair said that he looked forward to developing a new basis for relations with Commonwealth countries founded upon our government's policies, not on the past.

We will set out our agenda for international development in a White Paper to be published this week. The central thrust of this will be the development of partnerships with developing countries which are committed to eradicate poverty, and have their own proposals for achieving that which we and other donors can support.

I very much hope that we will be able to develop such a relationship with Zimbabwe. I understand that you aim shortly to publish your own policies on economic management and poverty reduction. I hope that we can discuss them with you and identify areas where we are best able to help. I mentioned this in my letter on 31 August to Hon Herbert Murarwa.

I should make it clear that we do not accept that Britain has a special responsibility to meet the costs of land purchase in Zimbabwe. We are a new Government from diverse backgrounds without links to former colonial interests. My own origins are Irish and as you know we were colonised not colonisers.

We do, however, recognise the very real issues you face over land reform. We believe that land reform could be an important component of a Zimbabwean programme designed to eliminate poverty. We would be prepared to support a programme of land reform that was part of a poverty eradication strategy but not on any other basis.

I am told Britain provided a package of assistance for resettlement in the period immediately following independence. This was, I gather, carefully planned and implemented, and met most of its targets.

Again, I am told there were discussions in 1989 and 1996 to explore the possibility of further assistance. However that is all in the past.

If we look to the present, a number of specific issues are unresolved, including the way in which land would be acquired and compensation paid - clearly it would not help the poor of Zimbabwe if it was done in a way which undermined investor confidence.

Other questions that would need to be settled would be to ensure that the process was completely open and transparent, including the establishment of a proper land register.

Individual schemes would have to be economically justified to ensure that the process helped the poor, and for me the most important issue is that any programme must be planned as part of a programme to contribute to the goal of eliminating poverty. I would need to consider detailed proposals on these issues before confirming further British support for resettlement.

I am sure that a carefully worked out programme of land reform that was part of a programme of poverty eradication which we could support would also bring in other donors, whose support would help ensure that a substantial land resettlement programme such as you clearly desire could be undertaken successfully. If is [sic] to do so, they too will need to be involved from the start.

It follows from this that a programme of rapid land acquisition as you now seem to envisage would be impossible for us to support. I know that many of Zimbabwe's friends share our concern about the damage which this might do to Zimbabwe's agricultural output and its prospects of attracting investment.

I thought it best to be frank about where we are. If you think it would be helpful, my officials are ready to meet yours to discuss these issues.

Yours sincerely

Claire Short


view of the tent structures (day)

Source: Abeer Seikaly

Structural Fabric Weaves Tent Shelters into Communities
Human life throughout history has developed in alternating waves of migration and settlement. The movement of people across the earth led to the discovery of new territories as well as the creation of new communities among strangers forming towns, cities, and nations. Navigating this duality between exploration and settlement, movement and stillness is a fundamental essence of what it means to be human. 

In the aftermath of global wars and natural disasters, the world has witnessed the displacement of millions of people across continents. Refugees seeking shelter from disasters carry from their homes what they can and resettle in unknown lands, often starting with nothing but a tent to call home. “Weaving a home” reexamines the traditional architectural concept of tent shelters by creating a technical, structural fabric that expands to enclose and contracts for mobility while providing the comforts of contemporary life (heat, running water, electricity, storage, etc.)

Design is supposed to give form to a gap in people’s needs. This lightweight, mobile, structural fabric could potentially close the gap between need and desire as people metaphorically weave their lives back together, physically weaving their built environment into a place both new and familiar, transient and rooted, private and connected. In this space, the refugees find a place to pause from their turbulent worlds, a place to weave the tapestry of their new lives. They weave their shelter into home.

view of the tent structures (night)
studies - cut & scored paper turns into a flexible/strechable pattern
study model showing movement of the system & its collapsibility
view of the tent structures opened (spring & summer)
view of the tent structures closed (autumn & winter)
interior view of the tent (open). double layer fabric/skin could be utilized for storage in the lower areas
supporting system (solar energy)
decentralized energy (nomadic)

Artwork by Néjib Belkhodja from Tunisia.

Demantelment 1992 | Néjib Belkhodja

Demantelment | 1992

This is one of series of images that Néjib produced on the theme of Demantlement. The home he lived in with Najet, his wife, is full of books, especially revolutionary poetry. If I may be so bold I thought that this painting would go extremely well with a poet that Néjib Belkhodja had an interest in. The poet is from Tunisia and died at 23, his name is Abu-l-Qasim Al-Shabbi. His book of poetry, Songs of Life, has recently been translated into English and I would like to share with you a poem he wrote about Tunisia. I'm sure that this poem sounds much better in Arabic but this is the English version.

Beautiful Tunisia

I do not weep because night
is a tyrant
nor because destruction reigns
in the countryside.
I weep instead for the heavy calamity
now afflicting us
without relief.
Whenever a leader rises in the country,
vigorous with reform,
yearning to awaken his people,
they garb him in a shirt that curbs his intent.
They stifle his heavenly voice
and murder his music.
Never receptive, they prefer to follow
the ways of tyranny and coercion,
because those are the roads they know.
This is what happens to ones who are sincere!
Death shots are aimed at them easily.
Lo! Calamities have taken hold of us,
they have annihilated our land.

Beautiful Tunisia! I ride the crest of the waves
in my love for you,
My love for you is my covenant -
I have known its bittersweet taste
I'll never yield to the wayward winds
even if I should die,
even if I lose my youth.
I'll never yield, even if they spill
my blood.
The blood of lovers is always game for spilling.
The days, no matter how long,
will show you how true my love is,
will speel out my loyalty in a clear voice.
This is the age of darkness, but I've seen
morning rising behind it.
No matter what time has done to my people's
glory, life will spread your glorious
mantle once again.

Author: Abu-L-Qasim Al-Shabbi | Songs of Life | 1909-1934
Translated by Lena Jayyusi and Naomi Shihab Nye

Monday, 28 September 2015

The Birth of Uganda

Here is an interesting look at Uganda.

Wednesday, 23 September 2015

Cartier Foundation | Beauty Congo

Source: Cartier Foundation


Success! Exhibition prolonged until January 10, 2016
Curator André Magnin

A place of extraordinary cultural vitality, the creative spirit of the Democratic Republic of the Congo will be honored in the exhibition Beauté Congo – 1926-2015 – Congo Kitoko presented at the Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain with André Magnin, Chief Curator.

Modern painting in the Congo in the 1920s 
Taking as its point of departure the birth of modern painting in the Congo in the 1920s, this ambitious exhibition will trace almost a century of the country’s artistic production. While specifically focusing on painting, it will also include music, sculpture, photography, and comics, providing the public with the unique opportunity to discover the diverse and vibrant art scene of the region.

As early as the mid-1920s, when the Congo was still a Belgian colony, precursors such as Albert and Antoinette Lubaki and Djilatendo painted the first known Congolese works on paper, anticipating the development of modern and contemporary art. Figurative or geometric in style, their works represent village life, the natural world, dreams and legends with great poetry and imagination. Following World War II, the French painter Pierre Romain-Desfossés moved to the Congo and founded an art workshop called the Atelier du Hangar. In this workshop, active until the death of Desfossés in 1954, painters such as Bela Sara, Mwenze Kibwanga and Pili Pili Mulongoy learned to freely exercize their imaginations, creating colorful and enchanting works in their own highly inventive and distinctive styles.

Popular painters
Twenty years later, the exhibition Art Partout, presented in Kinshasa in 1978, revealed to the public the painters Chéri Samba, Chéri Chérin, and Moke and other artists, many of whom are still active today. Fascinated by their urban environment and collective memory, they would call themselves “popular painters.” They developed a new approach to figurative painting, inspired by daily, political or social events that were easily recognizable by their fellow citizens. Papa Mfumu’eto, known for his independent prolific comic book production and distribution throughout Kinshasa in the 1990s, also explored daily life and common struggles throughout his work. Today younger artists like J.-P. Mika and Monsengo Shula, tuned-in to current events on a global scale, carry on the approach of their elders.

JP Mika, Kiese na kiese (Le Bonheur et la Joie), 2014. Pas-Chaudoir Collection, Belgique © JP Mika


View of the exhibition Beauté Congo – 1926-2015 – Congo Kitoko, Fondation Cartier pour l’art contemporain, 2015. © Luc Boegly

Dogon Togu'na Post At Auction in Chelsea, London

هنا هو العمل فني منحوتة بشكل رائع من شعب دوغون في مالي، الذي يعود pre.1950 وكان الموهوبين إلى أحد قضاة المحكمة العليا في لندن. الأمر متروك في المزاد في الكثير من الطرق، تشلسي هذا يأتي الأحد والمهتمين ببناء "مجموعة من الفن القبلية" وهذا هو قطعة مذهلة وتباع لجزء صغير من ما يستحق.

Here is a wonderful carved artwork by the Dogon people of Mali, which dates back pre.1950 and was gifted to a London High Court Judge. It is up at auction at Lots Road, Chelsea this coming Sunday and those interested in building a Collection of Tribal Art this is a spectacular piece and is being sold for a fraction of what it is worth.

Lot 642 - Estimated £350 - £550 - DOGON TOGU'NA POST, Mali,
 of traditional form, carved figure, 182cm H, with bespoke stand.

دوغون، الوظائف تجونا، مالي
تجونا هو الصرح العامة الأكثر أهمية في قرية دوغون، التي يحتجز فيها الجمعيات الرجالية واجتماعات المجلس. (توجو = المأوى، غ = كبيرة، كبيرة أو الأم، ولذلك تجونا = المأوى كبيرة) موقفها يتم اختياره من قبل الرئيس والقرية بنيت حولها. تجونا الوظائف، ولذلك، مفعمة بالروحانية التحف الثقافية أهمية كبرى والسلطة، تم إنشاؤها بواسطة رجل، والذين تتراوح أعمارهم من الأرض.

بشكل عام، يتم توجوناس الإنشاءات منخفضة على ثلاثة صفوف من يدعم (uprights خشبية أو الحجارة) مشمولة بالحزم التي تدعم سقف سميكة من سيقان الدخن. الوظائف خشبية، وبين الأعمال الأكثر رائعة وهائلة من أفريقيا التقليدية، منقوشة كايل الخشب (الغاف افريكانا)، والخشب الصلب جداً ودائم. الشجرة، وعندما وصلت إلى حوالي 6 أقدام، يقسم إلى قسمين، وعندما قطعت في القاعدة، ويخلق شوكة طبيعية التي تدعم حزم السقف، الذي يمكن أن متوسط 22 طناً.
مع عدة أقدام من وظيفة مدفونة في الأرض، والداخل ارتفاع تجونا فقط 4-5 أقدام، وأبقى قصيرة لتوفير الحماية من الشمس والحرارة والتشجيع أثر مهدئ على الرجال بإبقائها مقاعدهم وذلك أقل عرضه للمواقف أو القتال. بعض الوظائف لدينا قد تلون في منطقة المدفونة، والبعض الآخر أنه متعفن بعيداً بدرجات متفاوتة، يشهد لاتصالها تنصهر مع الأرض.

تجونا يهدف إلى إنتاج المأوى حيث التقى الأجداد البدائية ثمانية معا، وفي الحقيقة كل واحد منهم تم تعريفها مع إحدى الركائز الداعمة. الوظائف التي كانت مقدر من قبل جامعي وسرقت في بعض الأحيان، وبعضها شوهت للحفاظ على ذلك من الحدوث. تحويل المسلمين من القرى وإغلاق بعض توجوناس قد فاسيليتاتيد القانونية شراء وتصدير الوظائف.
يشار إلى "Dege" الأرقام Togu'na على الوظيفة وعادة ما تصور الخصوبة، وفي هذه الحالة من الذكور والإناث. كان المنصب واحد من 8 التي سوف تدعم الحزم، التي عقدت من السقف مع طبقات من القش. وكان ارتفاع الهيكل منخفضة نسبيا ولكنها مرتفعة بما يكفي منزل الشيوخ الذين أن كان جالساً. هذا الهيكل سيكون الجهة المحورية للقرية والتي قدمت فيها القوانين. أهمية هذه هو أن وظيفة Togu'na كانت مملوكة من قبل أحد قضاة "المحكمة العليا في المملكة المتحدة"، الذين كانوا يعيشون في هامبستيد هيث وابنه، والآن في ال 60 له يتذكر تنمو مع هذه الوظيفة في هذا المنزل منذ 50 عاماً المبكر. والده أعطيت هذه الوظيفة في مالي تكريما للخبراء مهاراته القانونية والمشورة المشتركة مع شعب دوغون قبل الظهر في عام 1950. وكان العمل بين العديد من رائع الكنوز التي وجدت في تطهير بيت ترتيب جمع الأموال للإبن أن يتقاعد إلى أستراليا.


Source. Hamill Gallery
The toguna is the most important public edifice in a Dogon village, in which men's assemblies and council meetings are held. (togu = shelter, na = big, great or mother, therefore toguna = great shelter) Its position is chosen by the chief and the village is built around it. The toguna posts, therefore, are cultural artifacts of major importance and power, created by man, imbued with spirituality and aged by the earth.

In general, togunas are low constructions on three rows of supports (wooden uprights or stones) covered by beams that support a thick roof of millet stalks. The wooden posts, among the most impressive and monumental works of traditional Africa, are carved of kile wood (Prosopis africana), a very hard wood and durable. The tree, when reaching about 6 feet, splits in two and, when cut off at the base, creates a natural fork that supports the beams of the roof, which can average 22 tons.
With several feet of the post buried in the earth, the inside height of the toguna is only 4 - 5 feet, kept short to offer protection from the sun and heat and to encourage a calming effect on the men by keeping them seated and therefore less prone to posturing or fighting. Some of our posts have discoloration in the buried area, others have it rotted away to varying degrees, witness to their fused contact with the earth.

The toguna is intended to reproduce the shelter where the eight primordial ancestors met together, and in fact each of them is identified with one of the supporting pillars. The posts were prized by collectors and sometimes stolen, and some were defaced to keep that from happening. Muslim conversion of villages and closure of some of the togunas has facillitated the legal purchase and exportation of the posts.


Toguna figures on the post are referred to as "Dege" and usually depict fertility, in this case both male and female.The post would have been one of 8 that would have supported beams, which held up the roof with layers of straw. The height of the structure was relatively low but high enough to house the Elders who would have been seated. See image below. This structure would be the focal point of the village and where the laws were made. The significance of this is that this particular Togu'na Post was owned by a UK High Court Judge, who lived in Hampstead Heath and his son, now in his 60's remembers growing up with the post in his family home as far back as the early 50's. His father was given this post in Mali in honour of his expert legal skills and advice shared with the Dogon people back pre 1950's. The work was among many superb treasures found in a house clearance in order raise funds for the son to retire to Australia. 


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71 Lots Road Auctions,
SW10 0RN.
Tel: +44 (0)20 7376 6800
Fax: +44 (0)20 7376 6899

Date: SUNDAY 27th SEPTEMBER 20015 

Time: 3pm