What fresh hell is this? ‘The Princess of North Sudan; more scary tale than fairy tale’

Originally posted on Media Diversified:

by Samira Sawlani

Bir tawil Bir tawil

Between Sudan and Egypt lies Bir Tawil an area which is simply desert, rocks and mountain under the scorching sun. Both states neither claim nor desire Bir Tawil, preferring to focus upon their dispute over the nearby territory of Hala’ib which is situated by the Red Sea. As with many regions which more than one state lay claim to, the interest in Hala’ib and disinterest in Bir Tawil are a result of two different treaties drawn up by the British while they were getting their kicks out of colonialism.

Without delving too much into history, in 1899 the Anglo-Egyptian Condominium established a joint British-Egyptian rule over Sudan (in reality the British were running the show). Under this treaty a straight border between Sudan and Egypt was drawn however in 1902 the boundaries were amended by the British. The 1899 split places Bir Tawil in Sudan…

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Tourism, White Privilege and Colonial Mentality in East Africa

Originally posted on Media Diversified:

By Samira Sawlani

We walked into the police station in Uganda. My white British friend who wanted to file a complaint had asked me to accompany her. The three officers behind the desk stood up immediately, one giving her his chair, the other rushing to take notes and the third, with a great deal of concern on his face asked her what had happened.

Sat in the waiting area were a pregnant woman and an elderly gentleman, both were black Ugandans. The lady had been waiting over two hours for the police to attend to her while the gentleman had spoken to them regarding his issue and been told to wait. He’d been waiting for almost three hours. My friend on the other hand was dealt with immediately and within thirty minutes all procedures had been carried out and her complaint both logged and addressed.

Two years prior to this…

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Dieselpunk: Myth and Metaphor

Originally posted on Media Diversified:

Editors note: Dieselpunk is shorthand to describe a fantasy society with an industrial level of development, informed by Cyberpunk sensibilities, The dieselpunk narrative is characterized by conflict vs the undefeatable (nature, society, cosmic), strong use of technology, and Grey and Gray Morality. The protagonists are often Heroic Neutral and have low social status.

Black Empire: George Schuyler, Black Radicalism and Dieselpunk

by Phenderson Djeli Clark

Sometime in the 1930s, a black journalist is kidnapped in Harlem by the charismatic Dr. Henry Belsidius, leader of the Black Internationale–a shadowy organization determined to build a Black Empire and overthrow the world of white racial hegemony with cunning and super science. Journalist George S. Schulyer’s fantastic tale was written in serials in the black Pittsburgh Courier between 1936 and 1938 under the pseudonym Samuel I. Brooks. It quickly found a loyal following among African-American readers, who saw in Dr…

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The ‘N’ word through the ages: The madness of HP Lovecraft

Originally posted on Media Diversified:

By Phenderson Djeli Clark

When, long ago, the gods created Earth
In Jove’s fair image Man was shaped at birth.
The beasts for lesser parts were next designed;
Yet were they too remote from humankind.
To fill the gap, and join the rest to Man,
Tåh’Olympian host conceiv’d a clever plan.
A beast they wrought, in semi-human figure,
Filled it with vice, and called the thing a Nigger.

–H.P. Lovecraft, On the Creation of Niggers (1912)

H.P. LovecraftH.P. Lovecraft

I had come to believe that by now the racism of H.P. Lovecraft, the celebrated author of horror and fantasy, was a settled matter–like declaring Wrath of Khan the best film in the Star Trek franchise. Arguing against such a thing should be absurd. I certainly thought so after the matter was thrust into the spotlight in December 2011, when author Nnedi Okorafor won the esteemedWorld Fantasy Award–whose statuette is…

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Fantasy’s Othering Fetish, Part 1

Originally posted on Media Diversified:

By Phenderson Djeli Clark

This is Part 1 of a three-part series.

Over the years demands for more meaningful diversity in our fantasy realms have grown increasingly louder–a clarion call that echoes from the mundane world to haunt our usual lands of elves, dragons, orcs and whatnot. Back in 2010 when local New Zealanders were told they were “too dark to be a Hobbit” (no one’s ever too dark to be an Orc, it seems) in the new Peter Jackson films it caused a stir, highlighting the at times “unbearable whiteness” of the heroes of Tolkien’s masterpiece. Both Pixar’s Brave and Disney’s Frozen were criticized for their similar ode to all things vanilla, without even attempting a hint at color.

Diversity in fantasy has been thrust into the spotlight due to author George RR Martin’s popular A Song of Ice and Fire saga, which has been adapted as the…

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Fantasy’s Othering Fetish, Part 2

Originally posted on Media Diversified:

By Phenderson Djeli Clark

This is Part 2 of a three-part series. Part 1 is here.

In modern fantasy, with its fascination with medieval Europe, it seemed almost fated that acts of “othering” would take root. Some of Western Europe’s founding notions of non-Westerners trace back long before colonialism, as early as the medieval era, where xenophobic fears (rational and irrational) of Muslim, Tartar or Mongol enemies were part of popular, religious, state and academic culture. We know this in part from the literature of the time, where non-Europeans (and non-Christians) are depicted as less than human and prone to wickedness.

Roland battles Marsile, black “heathen” Saracen king in the Song of Roland.  (Courtesy of Grandes Chroniques de France, Bibliothèque Nationale) Roland battles Marsile, black “heathen” Saracen king in the Song of Roland.
(Courtesy of Grandes Chroniques de France, Bibliothèque Nationale)

The 12th-century Frankish epic The Song of Roland describes the Saracen king Marsile as “cankered with guile and every felony” and who “loves murder and treachery.” As a…

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Fantasy’s Othering Fetish, Part 3

Originally posted on Media Diversified:

By Phenderson Djeli Clark

This is Part 3 of a three-part series. Part 1 is here, and Part 2 is here.

In the 1970s, African-American (now Afro-Canadian) writer Charles Saunders began publishing short fantasy stories in small magazine presses. From the beginning, his stories pulled on African history, as opposed to, as he put it, “the usual Celtic, Arthurian and Scandinavian underpinnings” that dominated (and continue to dominate) the modern fantasy shelves of bookstores. “I saw a need,” Saunders claimed, “and believed I could fulfill it.” This would lead to the now famous and groundbreaking Imaro saga. Set in a pre-colonial African-based world of spears, monsters and magic called Nyumbani, Imaro tells the tale of an outcast warrior and his larger-than-life quest for his unknown origins.

Saunders, who had grown up reading the likes of Edward Rice Burroughs Tarzan novels and Robert E. Howard’s Conan, struck upon the idea of writing fantasy during the…

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I don’t know what to call this; hence this

Sauti Sol dropped a single featuring Amos and Josh called Nerea, which is, according to their facebook, about males taking responsibility for pregnancies instead of not doing so and contributing to abortions being undertaken by females. Most people are lauding this song as a great push to have males take said responsibility. They say it’s feministic; it’s awesome.

I say it’s bullshit.

Okay, not entirely bullshit, but it’s far along enough to be within sneezing distance of it.

Most of people against, or unsupportive of the song point out the flaw in the message as attempting to shame females who have abortions, or have had abortions, and triggering those who did it under duress. They point out how the song doesn’t hold the contributing factors leading females to have abortions. I agree, it doesn’t. I have other problems with the song; mainly, the subject-non-subject off the song: the baby.

A few days before the song was released, my sister was informing me of the Medical Dept. of the govt having approved measures that would make access to safe abortions easier for females. She explained that she was neither pro-choice nor pro-life because neither teams thought of the baby/fetus involved. She is pro-prevention. Prevent unwanted pregnancies from happening, prevent unnecessary abortions from being carried out. It’s a supreme position, I must say. I didn’t bother telling her my stance; the talk wasn’t about that by that point. The talk was about how the fetus/baby isn’t centred in the argument/war about abortion. It’s control of a female’s body that is centred. So, when Nerea was released, and I listened to the lyrics, I had the ideas in mind. And therein my problems with the song.

The song doesn’t care for the baby no matter what Sauti Sol, Amos and Josh, and the marketers say. The child in question is an idea; it’s an icon, which begs the question, why are you even having a baby if all you want is an icon? Have a baby, not an icon. Don’t have Nelson Mandela, or Wangari Maathai; have a human.

Additionally, what sort of parent are you that you want your child to be brutalised? Good parents don’t want their children to have to fight for rights, to be beaten by police; to be exploited by governments that promote goodwill using their experiences and profile, but do nothing to implement and operationalise that which the icons were fighting for. They want their children to live in a world that practises the ideals of such icons.

Secondly, this song has nothing to do with men save making people sympathetic to their pain when they want children the female subject doesn’t want to have, or can’t have. The song talks solely about the female, and what they want their child to be; which is annoyingly normative. The song asks the female not to got through with the abortion because the man will raise it but says nothing about what it will take. Who will nurse the baby? Who will hold it when it needs be? What if its cholic? What if it’s disabled? What if it’s autistic, or albino? How will it be raised? What if it’s transgender or genderqueer? What if it’s non-heterosexual? What if it has a mental disorder, or illness? What if that child is boringly average? What then? Will they still want to have their non-Mandela child? None of these is addressed. What is addressed is the yearning of the men to raise this child they will neither carry, nor birth; nor really have a plan to raise. Thy just want this child who will be an icon. Ole wako when you you’re not an icon, baby.

It’s good to bring to attention the need for males to take responsibility for an unwanted pregnancy. It’s good to highlight that some men want children that their female counterparts might be unwilling to carry to term, and birth. What’s not good is doing so superficially. Centring the pain of a man without thinking of the other subjects involved. Desiring a child to make them great instead of have them human.

Nerea fails because it doesn’t do much beyond the superficial, and the patriarchal. It’s not all about you, men. It’s about so much more, for which you should be prepared when you decide to go imploring a female to carry a baby you want too term. Have a human, not a project.

Hi, You’re Not Nice Either

This is what I had planned for this entry.

Pointing out how displeasing it is for people to hide their truth, their real personalities to be agreeable, and pleasing too other people. To lie, and make it such that people know one side of them, and that isn’t nice. It is exactly what nice people do. And it’s not pleasing, or appealing in the long run. One of the parties involved will end up leaving the acquaintance, the relationship because they can’t keep up with the farces put forward for everything to be okay.

Then, this past weekend happened, and I hung out with people. I experienced, once again, why people do what they do, why they present one side to themselves, and aim for the niceness effect. People want friends, and family. They want connections that last beyond an hour, or a day. They want illusions of deep, strong connections if they can’t have more than one day. People, in general, play at being nice to have people around them. It’s not nice, but it is necessary.

More mammals than not are social animals in the core of their existence. We are wired to seek community; to create one, and run with multiple entities around them. It’s why despite epically deplorable conditions, some communities manage to thrive. And why despite epically amazing living conditions, some people living alone don’t live long; and those who feel lonely or rejected even if they are surrounded by loving community members commit suicide. Too many of us need communication, connections that feel tangible inside our psyches to risk alienating people by acting in the manner we feel is natural to, or nurtured within us. This is one of the major reasons people act in whatever way society decides is nice.

Because society decides what is nice when it feels like it. When I was under eighteen, nice girls sat primly, spoke softly, were always polite, and never flamboyant. Nice boys were assertive, ambitious, wore baggy trousers, and jackets. Nice people went to places they were told to go like clockwork: church, school, work, home, to sleep. I am hoping my nieces/nephews grow up in a time where nice people are those who look to the positivity of an existence. People who acknowledge their flaws, and apologise for them, even when they know they won’t change. Accept apologies, and save themselves harmful things that are repeatedly thrown out into the world, and declared acceptable. Nice people shouldn’t have to sacrifice their heath, their personal care and regard when it’s positive, and healthy, for things that harm them. For things, ideas, and actions that take away from their goodness.

I’m idealistic, though. I fear that it will harm them if the world remains with ideologies spread about the world by European imperials.

The same ideals have me disliking nice people, because I know eventually they will reveal their true selves; and it won’t be pretty, or acceptable. Because they’ve hidden it for too long, instead of allowing me to know them gradually. The weekend hang-out lent me a few acquaintances, but no one I will be making a friend; because there was alcohol, and a.m. arguments that implied what was being hidden.

Hi, I’m not Nice.

I really am not.

When I was growing up, the idea was put into me to be a nice person. Nice people don’t talk back, they don’t yell, they don’t sit hunched over or with their legs spread if they are a girl. Nice people don’t question authority, they don’t sneer, they don’t resent anyone. Nice people help everyone. Nice people don’t talk to strangers. Nice people raise money for charity. Nice people don’t give away their parents’ hard earned money. Nice people believe in God, but not every God otherwise they won’t go to Heaven, and Nice People want to go to Heaven.

It got to a point where I started hating the idea of being nice. Nice people did nothing if they followed everyone’s rules, and ended up not being nice when they did try to follow everyone’s rules because at some point, you’ll give away money that your parents will deem a waste. But that wasn’t the only reason. I just couldn’t like myself enough to be nice.

So, I decided to check up the word in the dictionary; try to get to the basics of the word to see if it would help me embrace it. Nice, initially meant gullible, naive, foolish. It came from the Latin word for not to know, ignorance. Declare me displeased. It evolved to its present meaning of pleasant, agreeable, and/or satisfactory in general. Knowing the original meaning, I can’t help but feel the current meaning is in line with the original to some extent. And that the current meaning doesn’t mean one can in fact, counter anything put forth to them even if they’d be right.

I don’t like myself enough to be nice; be it in the original sense or the current one. People are generally displeased when you point out something off about them, or their ideas and opinions. This irks me because I still want to be a nice person. Old habits are hard to kill; or leave behind. But moreso for the people around me, than myself. I want them to experience having niceness in their lives; or in hanging out with me. But I don’t want to be the nice that is taken advantage of. I don’t want to be the nice that agrees with everything, questions nothing, and doesn’t set people straight on whatever wrong, or one dimensional idea they put forth as the only thing to be. I am not satisfactory, not to myself, not to the general public, not to my family. I don’t feel enough.

So, I’m not nice; and I wholly accept the displeasure that comes with it, no matter how hurt I am by it, or frustrated. Sometimes I don’t even care.