Wednesday, November 14, 2007

TONIGHT ON THE TERRORDOME: Rozena Maart on Neo-Apartheid South Africa


6 PM Mountain Time

South African novelist Rozena Maart is an English professor and a practitioner of psychoanalysis. She earned her PhD from the University of Birmingham. In 1987 when she was 24, Maart was nominated for the “Woman of the Year” award hosted in Johannesburg, for her work opposing violence against women and for starting, with four women, the first Black feminist organization in Cape Town, Women Against Repression [W.A.R].

She has been a researcher and writer for the Canadian Panel on Violence against Women. As well, she ‘s won the $10,000 Journey Prize for Best Short Fiction in Canada in 1992, and her writing was selected by the Governor General to be among that of twenty four Canadian writers of African descent whose work is being exhibited across Canada.

Last week Rozena Maart and I spoke in Edmonton about a variety of issues, although she was in town to promote her newest book, the novel The Writing Circle.

Our conversation began very conversationally indeed. In fact, after I turned the recorder on, Ms. Maart didn’t give me much chance to throw in a question for a while, and because I hadn’t formally started, you’ll notice several mms and ahs I wouldn’t ordinarily emit during an interview.

But because her comments were so intriguing, and because she gave me permission, I kept the recording of the informal discussion and now offer it to you. Ironically, I’d originally hoped to showcase Maart’s novel The Writing Circle. But we never actually got around to discussing it nor did I get the chance to record her reading from it. But if you want to win your own autographed copy of the novel, keep reading.

During our conversation, Ms. Maart discussed South Africa’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Led by Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the commission was hailed internationally for promoting national unity following the fall of the country’s racial dictatorship. Maart questions whether the Commission has been exploited to destroy opposition to Neo-Apartheid South Africa, or whether it was designed to do so in the first place. She engages the topic of author and activist Steven Biko. In September 1977, Apartheid police murdered Steven Biko, a Malcolm X-style political and cultural philosopher credited with founding the country’s Black Consciousness Movement. She mentions also the PAC, or Pan-Africanist Congress, the radical rival to the ruling African National Congress. In the opinion of many critics and former allies, the ANC has abandoned its revolutionary heritage in favour of Thatcher-style neo-liberalism, which has meant South Africa’s erosion of social programmes and the selling off of national institutions and resources to robber barons. Finally, Maart debates herself on what to think of Thabo Mbeki, South Africa’s current President who’s been lauded by the West for his neo-liberal policies and denounced for his “see no evil” approach to HIV/AIDS.

Ms. Maart began by discussing her experiences of alienation, as a South African of Khoi San and South Asian descent, inside nearly all-White teaching institutions.

If you’d like to win an autographed copy of The Writing Circle, send me an email with ROZENA MAART in the subject line, and tell me why you'd like a copy.


This Sunday, the Caribbean Fathers’ Interest Group presents a Town Hall Meeting at the Marcus Garvey Centre for Unity. The meeting will discuss how the Caribbean-Canadian community can develop new supports for fathers and families, particularly in order to raise successful sons.

Hercules Grant is one of the organisers. He's an Edmonton physiotherapist with a Master’s Degree addressing chronic pain. He’s put together previous Caribbean fathers’ retreats to address the chronic pain of family disunity. He was also the first chair of the board of Edmonton’s Marcus Garvey Centre.

WHERE: Marcus Garvey Centre for Unity, 125th Street and 126th Avenue
WHEN: Sunday, Nov. 18, 3 pm
FMI: Email address to contact Hercules Grant

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

TONIGHT ON THE TERRORDOME: Vijay Prashad - From Bandung to Durban


6 PM Mountain Time

In late summer, 2001, the international community convened in Durban, South Africa, for the World Conference Against Racism.

At stake was the making of a global declaration and agenda against the European domination of the planet called imperialism by some and Whitesupremacy by others, among many descriptions. But instead of agreement, delegates from over 160 countries found themselves filibustered by former colonial powers such as Belgium and boycotted by the United States.

Many delegates found the final declaration to be a drastically understated document. Instead of declaring European slavery of millions as a crime against humanity, the document went only so far as to address that crime with “profound regret.” But for a short time, whatever the conference’s failures, the world was focused on the former apartheid state for a discussion on the globe’s ongoing racial hierarchy and its enormous damage to the political, economic, social and ecological welfare of the planet.

Within days, the actions of Saudi terrorists in New York and Washington DC would all but erase the world’s memory of the Durban Conference.

One man who has refused to forget is Vijay Prashad, Professor and Director of International Studies at Trinity College, Hartford, Ct. His most recent books are The Darker Nations: A People's History of the Third World (New Press, November 2006) and (with Teo Ballve) Dispatches from Latin America: Experiments Against Neoliberalism (South End Press, October 2006).

He is the author of ten other books, including two chosen by the Village Voice as books of the year (Karma of Brown Folk, 2000; Everybody Was Kung Fu Fighting, 2001). He is on the board of the Center for Third World Organizing (, United For a Fair Economy ( and the National Priorities Project ( He writes a monthly column for Frontline, India ( and occasionally for Counterpunch (

In tonight’s presentation, Vijay Prashad speaks about his own experience at Durban and his reflections upon the meaning of the conference. Along the way, he discusses “teleology,” the perspective that human societies and civilisations have predetermined, ultimate goals, fixed as if by divine power. He frequently alludes to the 1955 Bandung Conference, one of the milestones of the non-aligned movement in which 29 newly liberated countries sent delegates to discuss how to avoid being dominated by either superpower.

Prashad cites figures such as Harlem’s Congressman during Bandung, the African-American reverend Adam Clayton Powell, and Samuel Huntington, author of Clash of Civilisations, a call to arms for neo-conservatives which argues that the planet is gripped in a conflict between Western liberty and Islamic tyranny.

But Prashad also questions why the liberation movements of Afrika, Asia and Latin America have so routinely been driven by military coups d’etat, and ultimately crushed by them, and addresses the shocking origin of OPEC among political radicals, rather than economic imperialists.

Vijay Prashad spoke on March 06, 2007, at Food for Thought Books, Amherst MA; his speech is archived online by Active Ingredients

Some videos I love....

Chris Rea's superb song and video for "Nothing to Fear."

Here you can find PE's brilliant song and video for "Black Steel in the Hour of Chaos."

I also just recently found this strange video for "So Whatcha Gon Do Now?" from the underrated 1994 Muse Sick-N-Hour Mess Age album. The video has nothing to do with the song, but Oliver Stone fans will probably enjoy the piece.

And here, find the excellent PE song (and Professor Griff-produced) "Revolution."

And don't forget Mali's Salif Keita and this excerpt from "Souareba."

Mind you, I love the sonic simplicity and visual impact of this song/video combo by Gnarls Barkley for "Crazy." A pop song? Sure! And an excellent one at that. Wish I'd done it (can't sing, though).

And because my tastes are catholic (not Catholic), here's a classic not by a Blackman, but by the Man in Black.