Wednesday, September 09, 2009

TONIGHT ON THE TERRORDOME: Ali Mazrui on the African Renaissance

6 PM Mountain Time
CJSR FM88.5 Edmonton worldwide

To anyone well-versed in history, it’s no surprise that Africans built the foundations of the ancient world through the Nile Valley Civilisations of Sudan and Egypt.

Nor is it a surprise that Africa blossomed with later great civilisations such as that of Ethiopia, Mali, Songhay, Ghana, the Yoruba and Zimbabwe and so many others.

To those who know more than imperial histories, it’s no shock that Africa created and disseminated arts, mathematics, philosophy, poetry, religions, textiles, painting, medicine and more.

But no matter how great was the past, the African present is sadly over-determined by conditions of misery.

The roots of that misery lie in the Maafa, the three waves of the holocaust against Africa: European and Arab human trafficking of scores of millions of people, the resulting deformation of those civilisations' development and progress, and imperialism that saw Europeans militarily occupying every country on the continent--in some cases for centuries.

Given those conditions, talk of an African renaissance probably is a surprise.

Yet such talk has been embraced by numerous highly esteemed figures. One such person is former South African president Thabo Mbeki who popularised the expression more than a decade ago. Another is the acclaimed Kenyan academic Dr. Ali Mazrui.

To most North Americans, Ali Mazrui is best known for his ground-breaking PBS, BBC and Nigerian Television Authority documentary series The Africans: A Triple Heritage, which aired in the 1980s.

That series examined African histories in light of the collision and fusion of African, Arab and European civilisations.

Such challenging and sophisticated presentations of complex knowledge through popular media are part of the reason that Mazrui has been recognised as among the world’s top hundred public intellectuals.

Born in 1933, Ali Mazrui earned his doctorate at Oxford in 1966, and later taught at Makerere University in Kampala, Uganda, the University of Michigan, the State University of New York, the University of Guyana, McGill University, Oxford University, Harvard and many others.

Mazrui has held three concurrent faculty appointments at the University of Jos in Nigeria, at Cornell University, and at the Jomo Kenyatta University of Agriculture and Technology in Nairobi.

Mazrui has also been the President of the African Studies Association, USA, and Vice-President of the International Political Science Association, Special Advisor to the World Bank, and a board member of the American Muslim Council in Washington, D.C.

He’s served on the editorial boards of more than twenty international scholarly journals, and is the author or co-author of more than twenty books, including:

Africanity Redefined: Collected Essays of Ali A. Mazrui
On Heroes and Uhuru-Worship: Essays on Independent Africa and
Euro-Jews and Afro-Arabs: The Great Semitic Divergence in World History.

Tonight, from a speech delivered on April 24, 2000 at Stanford University in Palo Alto, California, Ali Mazrui analyses the necessary the pillars of any proposed African renaissance: the combination of the African, Arab and European cultures, the role of women and modernization.

Mazrui also examines when each of the pillars can be an impediment to a brighter African future.

For more information, visit his website at

Monday, September 07, 2009

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

TONIGHT ON THE TERRORDOME: Jack Shaheen on Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People

6 PM Mountain Time
CJSR FM88.5 Edmonton worldwide

Few institutions exercise as much power over national and international society as corporate media.

Corporations and the newspapers, magazines, movie studios, television networks, video games designers, web portals and more that they own offer a non-stop menu of images, sounds, and text for us to consume.
And while corporate powers like to tell us we have the freedom to choose anything on the menu, we’re conditioned to be unaware of one critical fact: we don’t get to write the menu in the first place.

Corporate apologists tell media critics they’re merely serving people what they want, and if people didn’t want it, they wouldn’t watch it, listen to it or read it. But let’s take the case of political hip hop, which was enormously popular in the late 1980s and early 1990s.

When major corporations took an interest in the multimillion dollar profits of hip hop, they bought out the small labels which were distributing the most creative material being made, and in a few years, the Africentric consciousness movement in major record releases was all but gone, replaced by gangsta rap.

Corporations will happily sell socially-relevant material if it poses no real threat. But once its creators do pose a threat, corporate leaders take out a contract. Not the kind given to assassins… but the kind written by lawyers… to buy out the consciousness before it can develop into sustained action. As Bob Marley wrote in “I Shot the Sheriff,” to “kill them before they grow.”

In some cases, though, corporate media creates and distributes products of such pronounced racism and bigotry, that the hijacking of political hip hop is almost mild in comparison. In some cases, a century’s worth of toxic imagery, designed to poison a viewing public against a target population, is so effective that few people are even aware they’ve been poisoned.

That’s the thesis that Jack Shaheen presents. For decades, author, academic and media critic Jack Shaheen has been compiling and analysing Hollywood’s war on Arabs and Muslims.

The former CBS news consultant on Middle East Affairs has given over a thousand lectures around the world, including at the American University in Beirut, Oxford, and Harvard. A recipient of numerous commendations including two Fulbright teaching awards, Shaheen has also been a consultant for the United Nations, and has worked as a consultant for DreamWorks, Warner Brothers, Hanna-Barbera, and Showtime, and on the movies Three Kings and Syriana.

He’s written for Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal and The Washington Post, and is the author of five books:

• Nuclear War Films
• Arab and Muslim Stereotyping in American Popular Culture
• The TV Arab
• Guilty: Hollywood's Verdict on Arabs after 9/11
• and the award-winning book and Reel Bad Arabs: How Hollywood Vilifies a People, which has been made into a documentary film.

Tonight, from a speech delivered on April 22, 2008 at the American University of Beirut, Jack Shaheen discusses his central argument: that Hollywood’s depiction of Arabs and Muslims promotes hatred against them, thereby deforming American culture and its foreign and military policy, which ultimately leads the United States into war.