by Liv Barnett
Barbershop Chronicles is a ride which buzzes with energy from the first shaves to the final fades. It is written by Inua Ellams, UK-based poet, playwright and performer, and is an exhilarating play that identifies various aspects of black men’s experience through snippets of stories and interactions in barbershops that Ellams overheard as he travelled throughout Africa. Like hairdressers or taxi rides, barbershops can be intimate spaces for banter, storytelling and confession. With generosity and patience, this play does a good job of allowing audience members to step momentarily into the world of men’s chats. We become part of the warmth and banter between sensitive characters and appreciate the feelings and analyses that come with post-colonial politics, experiences of cultural change, complex family dynamics and making a living amongst love and friendship.
by Josh Doble
The unassuming small parish village of Southrepps, twenty-two miles north of Norwich, is the surprising location for a memorial to the former pariah state of Southern Rhodesia/Rhodesia – now Zimbabwe. This is not necessarily a well-known site – it was stumbled across during a summer cycle – yet it represents an important space to demonstrate the wider political environment in rural Norfolk, and the area’s connections to right-wing pressure groups further afield. The memorial itself is opposite Southrepps Hall and is made up of an avenue of Tilia Cordata – small-leaf lime trees – and three flag poles hosting the Union Jack, the Rhodesian flag and the original Southern Rhodesian flag. The Sladden family are the ‘Lords’ and ‘Ladies’ of Southrepps Hall and have a close history with Rhodesia, historically being settlers themselves. It would appear that the Sladden family built the memorial to commemorate their connections to the former country and to celebrate its memory.
by Stu Lucy
Last time we met I penned a reflective piece that acknowledged not only my privilege but also the de facto situation of millions of people across the planet, not least in Africa, forced to make the difficult decision to leave all they know behind, hoping for a better life in alien and often hostile lands many thousand of miles away. I’d like now to rewind to the very beginning of that process to try and suggest why it is so many end up making such a choice.Continue Reading
by Scott McLaughlan
Israel’s population is 74.7% Jewish, 20.8% Arab and 4.5% “other”. According to the latest population statistics, “those of European and American ancestry make up about 2.2 million (36%) of the Jewish population, while Africans fill out another 14.5% and Asians are 11.2%.”
That being said, there are also currently around 50,000 African Migrants in Israel, most of whom are from Eritrea or Sudan. Under the UN Refugee Convention (signed by Israel in 1954) no migrant can be forcibly returned to their country of origin. Israel currently abides by this convention, but systematically refuses to grant asylum to refugees, irrespective of their status and the potential danger and persecution they have fled.
Israel’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Emmanuel Nahshon, recently spewed out the reason for the impasse: Asylum seekers threaten Israel’s identity. The Israeli cabinet has now approved the morally repugnant Holot migrant detention centre, in Israel’s Negev desert, for closure. As a result, two options were laid on the table: step up deportations or jail those who refuse to leave Israel.Continue Reading
by Stu Lucy
As I mill around town needlessly purchasing disposable junk to wrap in trees so I may conform to the widespread Western orgy of consumption that is Christmas (sorry), I can’t help but notice that they’re everywhere. Costa, Nero, Starbucks, Coffee #1, it seems you can’t walk more than 100 metres before passing one of the acceptable narcotic dispensaries so many of us rely on to get through the day. It’s time to close this short series of food, and now drink, related pieces with a quick overview of coffee and its long and eventful relationship with Africa.Continue Reading
by Scott Mclaughlan
Despite being considered one of the “seven wonders of the world”, the Taj Mahal was bizarrely absent from a tourism booklet produced this summer by the state government of Uttar Pradesh (UP). Completed between 1631 and 1648, the Taj Mahal is perhaps the finest existing example of Mughal architecture, considered ‘the jewel of Muslim art in India’, in 1983 it was designated a UNESCO world heritage site.
Its international prestige notwithstanding, a storm has been brewing around the famous monument: it has been the scene of regular protests and the focus of an increasingly prominent political campaign to marginalise its national and cultural significance.Continue Reading
By Scott Mclaughlan.
Content warning: ethnic cleansing, genocide, racial violence.
Recent mainstream media coverage of the Rohingya crisis in Myanmar has followed an all too familiar pattern of reporting on ethnic violence. The focus is on ethnic “passions” and unique “cultures”. Ethnic violence is framed as a remote and alien force that belongs to a bygone era.Continue Reading