Monday, August 25, 2014

Death of an Iconic Film Director: Lord Richard Attenborough 1923–2014

Lord Richard Attenborough
Source: The Times UK 
Back in my late teens in Southern Africa, my classmates and I had a rare opportunity. We had the chance to meet and interact with the director Richard Attenborough and his wife Sheila for at least an hour. He was a patron of our school which had a long history of a strong stance against apartheid South Africa. He was visiting the school for a meeting of the school board. In hindsight, we did not use our time well. Here we were given the opportunity to talk with the director of the iconic masterpieces Gandhi and Cry Freedom but all we wanted to talk about were seemingly petty school politics. Lord Attenborough was patient with us. He listened to our concerns and assured us that he would express our concerns to the powers that be. Nearing the end of the interaction he asked humorously "So there are no questions about movies?!!". The whole room erupted with laughter. If I had not been so shy, I might have had the courage to tell him that 'Gandhi' was the very first VHS tape that went into our freshly purchased VCR way back in the early 1980s. Of course I never did have the guts to say that but I did get an autograph from both him and his wife.

Thinking back, this was my first interaction with anything close to Hollywood movie-making glamour. Both Lord Attenborough and his wife did not fit the Hollywood stereotype. They were both warm, kind, down to earth, patient, wonderful people who seemed very much in love after decades of marriage. It was with a heavy heart therefore that I heard of Baron Attenborough's passing this morning. My thoughts are with his wife Sheila and the rest of his family at this difficult time. In the obituaries and chronicles of his life, may he also be remembered for his brave and strong stance against apartheid.  

Lord Attenborough, you touched many more lives than you may have imagined; Rest in Peace. 

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Ghanaian Political Lexicon for the Aspiring Politician: Challenges

'Challenges': The way politicians in power describe the economic meltdown of a country. It is important that if the aspiring politician is part of a ruling party, the economic crisis showed be described only as temporary and just as a series of small challenges. It is also imperative that the people in power take no responsibility for causing any of these challenges. If the aspiring politician is in opposition, it is vital to play up the economic crisis. Words such as 'hopelessness', 'abyss', 'incompetent' and 'clueless' must be emphasized. The aspiring opposition politician should continue to incessantly jab the people in power from the sidelines. For both sides, it is imperative to remember that obtaining political power or remaining in power are key. No need to worry about getting the country out of the economic crisis.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

16th June1976: 38 years on

The iconic photograph that symbolizes the Soweto uprising. Hector Pieterson (13 years old) being carried by Mbuyisa Makhubo after being shot the first person to be shot by a South African policeman with live bullets.  Source: wikipedia   
Today marks 38 years since the Soweto Uprising of 1976 in which ordinary high school students in the South Western Townships of Johannesburg started a series of protests in response to the forced introduction of Afrikaans as the language of instruction in their schools. Approximately 20,000 young people took to the streets in protest to ensure their rights under the oppressive apartheid regime. The uprising was brutally crushed by the apartheid government and between 176 and 700 young people died. Like the Sharpeville Massacre of 1960, the Soweto Uprising had a poignant impact on the fight against apartheid. It was a defining moment that demonstrated the brutal inhumanity of the apartheid regime. Although the apartheid regime was only completely confined to the dustbin of history 18 years after the events of 16th June, it had a lasting impact on South African history. The sacrifices made by these brave students for the generations of South Africans who have come after can never be forgotten.