Joanne Hichens recently wrote about her travels abroad on Michael Sears’ Murder is Everywhere website.
DIVINE JUSTICE is Joanne’s third novel, following OUT TO SCORE (2006), co-authored with Mike Nicol and published in the USA as CAPE GREED, and STAINED (2009), published in the UK and France. She edited the first anthology of South African crime-fiction short stories, BAD COMPANY (2008) (Kubu makes an appearance), and THE BED BOOK OF SHORT STORIES (2010), both of which include her own work. She lives in Cape Town, but has recently been far to the north-east from home. Here she shares her feelings about the difference and similarity of cities.
Featuring the inimitable sleuth Rae Valentine, the setting of my new novel DIVINE JUSTICE is Cape Town at the toe of the African Continent. Voted Top Destination for Tourists by tripadvisor, Rae describes the harbour city, with Table Mountain as spectacular backdrop, as “a mix of sophistication and in-your-face Africa, a cross between London and Lagos, New York and Nairobi”. Indeed it’s a mix of first and third-world, of varying creeds and cultures, where wealth and glamour sit in stark contrast to poverty and struggle. It’s the perfect environment to forment craziness.
Here, the dream mansion that any Hollywood star would drool over, sits a five minute drive from shantytowns where shacks are constructed of cardboard and plastic. Remember that great sci-fi flick, District Nine? Well, no movie set was created. The impoverished squalor was a pukka South African the township.
As for Hong Kong, a city I recently visited for research, I reckon it’s an equally appealing setting for sci-fi as high density living sees apartment buildings touch the heavens. Not even my photos can capture the sense of the unreal. Demands for living space on this small section of land has meant building up, up, up. Fat fingers of concrete stretch up and disappear into a misty sky.
On Thursday March 8, internet users around the globe woke up to a rebel African leader named Joseph Kony pasted across their facebook walls, tilting the trends on Twitter and kicking up a virtual activist storm over an issue few had ever heard of: The Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) and the strife of children in the jungles straddling east and central Africa.
Within hours, the online world was seemingly fit to burst at the seams with righteous indignation over Kony and his alleged war crimes, with users beating the war drums over the possibility of social media ushering in an international movement to bring Kony to justice.
The social media soiree and the fact that the campaign has brought attention to an otherwise obscure topic nothwithstanding, the organisation behind the campaign group “Invisible Children“, co-founded by Jason Russell, has since drawn severe criticism over the financial and ethical underpinning of its ambitions.
Al Jazeera’s Azad Essa spoke to Firoze Manji, the editor of Pambazuka News, a pan-African online news magazine, about the intrinsic value of the #Kony campaign exploding across the internet – and why it has drawn such scathing criticism.
Azad Essa: What are your impressions of the #Kony2012 campaign? Is it driven with the ‘right’ ambitions to forward meaningful change?
Firoze Manji: Like all seemingly charitable initiatives, the #Kony2012 campaign uses emotional appeal and a characterisation of Africa as somewhere that can only be redeemed by the West (and in this case, a white man). It presents the situation not as a political one, but one that plays to all the prejudices of white people about Africa and Africans.
Most importantly, it is based on the assumption that the people of Uganda have no agency, as if they have been silent and have done nothing but await the call of the white saviour to rally the troops. Far from being an act of solidarity with those who have engaged in years of struggles against both the LRA and the Ugandan state’s militarisation of the northern Uganda, it is premised on the ideology that Africans have no agency.
What meaningful change will this bring about, other than reinforcing prejudices about “the African savage”, someone who needs to be civilised by the white man?
What difference will it make to those villagers and farmers who have been locked up in protected villages? What meaningful change will this bring about to the grabbing of vast territories of land for oil exploitation by multinational corporations?
What this story will legitimise is the greater presence of US troops on African soil seemingly to deal with the LRA, an already defeated entity.
And I have little doubt that the US intelligence community know exactly where to find Kony: but he serves their interests greater by being free, since that justifies greater intervention.
An estimated 100,000 Hindus left the valley after the start of the insurgency, but what happened to those who remained? Azad Essa reports for Aljazeera:
Sanjay Tickoo remembers it well. It was a warm summer’s day in 1990, when he found a poster pasted to the outside wall of his home in Srinagar, the capital of Indian-administered Kashmir. It was written in Urdu, which Sanjay could not read, so he took it to his grandfather and asked him to translate it.
“As he read it out to us, tears rolled down his cheeks … it basically instructed our family to leave the valley or die,” Tickoo tells me as we sit in a café at the foot of Jhelum River in Srinagar.
But, unlike the estimated 100,000 Hindus from the valley – known as Kashmiri Pandits – who embarked on a mass migration south to Jammu following the start of the insurgency against Indian rule in 1989, Tickoo’s family refused to leave.