brad brace contemporary culture scrapbook

June 28, 2007

Filed under: Film,General — admin @ 12:30 pm

June 27, 2007

Filed under: Film,General — admin @ 6:17 am

June 26, 2007

Filed under: Film,General — admin @ 6:18 am

India quietly ringing Bangladesh with barbed-wire, cutting off former neighbors

Filed under: bangladesh,General,global islands,india — admin @ 4:28 am

SUJATPUR, Bangladesh: Everyone knew it was out there somewhere, an invisible line that cut through a cow pasture and, at least in theory, divided one nation from another. But no one saw it as a border.

It was just a lumpy field of grass, uneven from the hooves of generations of cattle, and villagers crossed back and forth without even thinking about it.

Today, no one can ignore the line.

In a construction project that will eventually reach across 3,300 kilometers (2,050 miles), hundreds of rivers and long stretches of forests and fields, India has been quietly sealing itself off from Bangladesh, its much poorer neighbor. Sections totaling about 2,500 kilometers (1,550 miles) have been built the past seven years.

In Sujatpur, a poor farming village, the frontier is now defined by two rows of 3-meter-high (10-foot-high) barbed wire barriers, the posts studded with ugly spikes the size of a toddler’s fingers. A smaller fence, and miles of barbed wire coils, fill the space in between. The expanse of steel, set into concrete, spills off toward the horizon in both directions.

“Before, it was like we were one country,” said Mohammed Iqbal, a Bangladeshi farmer walking near the border on a windy afternoon. “I used to go over there just to pass the time.”

As he spoke, a cow wandered past, brass bells jangling around its neck. “But now that’s over,” he said.

In the United States, the decision to fence 1,100 kilometers (700 miles)of the Mexican border triggered months of political debate ranging across issues from immigration reform to the environmental impact. When Israel announced it would build a 680-kilometer (425-mile) barrier around the West Bank, an international outcry erupted.

But there has been barely a ripple over India’s far larger project, launched in earnest in 2000 amid growing fears in New Delhi about illegal immigration and cross-border terrorism.

The Bangladesh government made a few complaints — the fence felt like an insult, as if their country was a plague that needed to be quarantined — but soon gave up.

India has become enamored with fences in recent years.

First it started closing off much of its border with Pakistan, trying to stop incursions by Muslim extremists. Then it turned to its other Muslim neighbor, Bangladesh, and has been building the fence intermittently ever since.

There’s no clear completion date for the US$1.2 billion project, which when finished will nearly encircle Bangladesh — leaving open only its seacoast and its border of about 320 kilometers (200 miles) with Myanmar.

India believes some Indian militant groups are based in Bangladesh, a charge the Bangladeshi government denies.

But the larger fear in New Delhi is that illegal immigrants will flood out of Bangladesh, one of the world’s most crowded countries. Its 150 million people, about half the U.S. population, jam an area the size of Wisconsin, and the low-lying land is prone to devastating floods and typhoons. Scientists also warn that rising sea levels from global warming could force millions of Bangladeshis from their homes.

India already has millions of its own citizens living in desperate poverty, despite an economy growing at more than 8 percent annually. Its population is approaching 1.2 billion and what little is left of its once-vast wilderness is being chewed up rapidly.

It is nearly impossible to judge how many residents of India are actually Bangladeshi. Particularly among the poor, many people have no identification showing their nationality, and residents of the frontier region tend to be similar in language and ethnicity. But some experts estimate as many as 20 million Bangladeshis are in India illegally, most crammed into large cities or in shantytowns just over the border.

“You’ve got an increasing population (in Bangladesh) with a shrinking land mass,” said Ajai Sahni, head of the New Delhi-based Institute for Conflict Management who worries the Indian government is not building the fence quickly enough. “India has enough nightmares of its own without adding to them.”

In villages like Sujatpur, India’s fears have changed everything.

It began about a year ago, when Indian soldiers and construction workers arrived on their side of the border without warning and announced the frontier was closed.

Until then, people from this village of thatch-roofed huts, barely 200 yards from India, crossed the border daily to graze cattle, see friends or — since this part of India is one of the few that remains heavily forested — cut firewood and bamboo. Indians came to shop in Bangladeshi markets.

For Bangladeshis, particularly, the open border was a lifeline. India’s US$730 per capita income looks pitifully low by Western standards, but it’s a decent income to many in Bangladesh, where some 60 million people live on less than US$1 a day.

In a place like Sujatpur, where most families live hand to mouth, the cheap Indian grazing land and extra income from harvesting bamboo were economic godsends.

“Look at this place, we are poor,” said Iqbal, gesturing around him. “Selling that wood earned us money that we needed.”

The fence is being built on Indian soil, though, and there’s nothing that can be done about it on this side.

“They’re big and we’re small and so they can do this to us,” said Sulaiman, a Bangladeshi border guard with only one name. “It’s insulting.”

But it’s also easy to see why India is nervous.

Sujatpur may reflect a picturesque side of poverty, with its Technicolor-green fields and gentle-spoken farmers, but a glance at the border makes a stark statement.

On the Bangladesh side are huts and roads, rice paddies and cattle. There are families whose sons have fled to the cities, or to India, because there is no land left to farm. It’s a rural area, but people are everywhere.

On the Indian side, sealed off behind the barbed wire, there is nothing but silent forest.

June 25, 2007


Filed under: belize,General,kenya,nicaragua — admin @ 10:17 am

Identification. Rastafarianism is a Black-nationalist religious movement; founded in Jamaica, which affirms that the late emperor of Ethiopia, Haile Selassie, is the returned messiah, Jesus Christ; that God is Black; and that like the children of Israel, all people of African descent in Jamaica and throughout the Americas, live in enforced exile. Repatriation to the ancestral home will bring redemption and freedom from the system of White oppression, which Rastafari identify as “Babylon.” The majority of Rastas are highly visible owing to their matted hair, or dreadlocks, which they hold to be sacred and which they sometimes cover under woolen caps colored red, gold, and green (representing blood, gold, and land). They regard the herb ganja (Cannabis sativa) as a special gift of God—first found on the grave of King Solomon—and smoke it as part of their sacred ritual discussion, using a hookah, or “chalice.”

Location. Although it maintains its highest concentration of adherents in Jamaica, Rastafarianism has spread to all islands of the Caribbean and to Black populations throughout the hemisphere and in Europe. Rastafarians are also found in many African countries, including South Africa, and in Australia and New Zealand. It would appear, however, that the belief in Haile Selassie is not as pronounced in countries outside Jamaica, although the focus on an African identity remains.

Demography. There are no reliable estimates of the number of Rastafarians in Jamaica or elsewhere. Official Jamaican censuses so far do not recognize Rastafari as a legitimate religion. Even if they did, however, the results would still be uncertain, owing to Rastafari hostility toward cooperation with Babylon. Nevertheless, rough estimates put adherents in Jamaica at between seventy thousand and a hundred thousand, or 3 percent to 4 percent of the population.

Linguistic Affiliation. Dread talk, an argot of neologisms, homonyms, and inversions, is used to express certain basic philosophical concepts, the most prominent example being the use of the pronomial I to express one-ness and divine immanence.

Creoles of Nicaragua

Filed under: belize,General,global islands,nicaragua — admin @ 10:11 am

Identification. The Creoles of Nicaragua are an Afro-Caribbean population of mixed African, Amerindian, and European ancestry, most of whom live in Nicaragua. The Nicaraguan Creoles’ distinctive culture is strongly influenced by its West African and British roots, as well as by prolonged interaction with North Americans, Nicaraguan mestizos, and the Miskito (a Nicaraguan Afro-Amerindian group). “Mosquito” is the name given to the region and the latter people by early European visitors to the area. The name “Miskito,” currently used to designate this people and their language, is apparently a twentieth-century ethnographic innovation that more closely approximates the Miskito people’s name for themselves, in accordance with the phonetics of their own language.

Location. The bulk of the Creole population is concentrated in the market/port town of Bluefields, located at 12°00′ N and 83°50’W, and in a number of small communities scattered north and south of that town along Nicaragua’s southern Caribbean coast, part of a region known as the Mosquito Coast (or Mosquitia). The terrain is low-lying tropical rain forest, with an average annual rainfall of 448 centimeters and a mean temperature of 26.4° C. This coastal plateau is crossed by large rivers and fringed by brackish lagoons, on the banks of which most Creole settlements are located. Smaller numbers of Creoles reside in the large towns of the northern Caribbean coast, and a substantial number live in Managua (Nicaragua’s capital), in other Central American countries, and in the United States.

Demography. In the early 1990s the approximately 25,000 Creoles who resided in Nicaragua represented less than 1 percent of that country’s total population. The national census does not enumerate Creoles separately; during the 1980s, however, estimates of the size of the Creole population were made by an array of government institutions and in the course of various ethnographic studies. These estimates vary substantially. The most reliable approximations place 10,000 Creoles in Bluefields, 11,400 elsewhere on the Caribbean coast, and perhaps 5,000 in other areas of Nicaragua.

Linguistic Affiliation. Most Creoles speak, as their first language, Miskito Coast Creole (MC Creole), an English-based creole closely related to other creoles spoken in the Anglophone Caribbean, particularly in Belize and Jamaica. By the 1990s, all but the oldest Creoles were fluent Spanish speakers as well. MC Creole is described by Holm (1982, 3) as characterized by a “… very African syntax organizing sentences out of words from a variety of sources: most . . . from English . . . but . . . [also] from Miskito, African languages, and .. . New World Spanish.” There is evidence that MC Creole is being influenced at the syntactic and the lexical levels by Central American Spanish.


Filed under: belize,General,global islands,nicaragua — admin @ 10:09 am

Identification. The term “Garifuna,” or on Dominica, “Karaphuna,” is a modern adaptation of the name applied to some Amerindians of the Caribbean and South America at the time of Columbus. That term—”Garif,” and its alternate, “Carib”—are derivatives of the same root. The label “Black” derives from the fact that during the sixteenth to eighteenth centuries considerable admixture occurred with Africans whom they captured, or who otherwise escaped being enslaved by Europeans.

Location. Modern-day Garifuna live mostly in Central America, in a series of villages and towns along the Caribbean coastline of Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua. Many have emigrated to the United States, where they live in large colonies in New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, and several other cities. Small groups survive in Trinidad, Dominica, and Saint Vincent. Although all of them recognize a distant kinship, the Central American and Caribbean groups are virtually distinct today.

Linguistic Affiliation. In spite of their name, their language is basically of the Arawakan Family, although there is a heavy overlay of Cariban, which may once have been a pidgin trading language for them. Linguists term their language Island Carib to distinguish it from Carib as it is spoken among groups ancestral to them still living in the Amazon area of South America.

Demography. Historical sources indicate that only about 2,000 Carib survived warfare with the British to become established in Central America in 1797. Because they reside in so many different countries, and because they are not counted as a distinct ethnic group except in Belize, it is difficult to state how many there may be today. Estimates vary from 200,000 to 500,000; high fertility rates and the absorption into their communities of many other Blacks in the Americas helped boost their population over the last 200 years.

Filed under: Film,General — admin @ 6:26 am

African Twig Toothbrush Offers Day-Long Dental Carec

Filed under: General,global islands,kenya — admin @ 5:41 am

Brush your teeth every day, dentists say. In Africa, that can mean keeping your toothbrush in your mouth all day long.

Across the continent south of the Sahara, many people go about their daily business with a small stick or twig protruding from their mouth, which they chew or use to scrub their teeth.

Cut from wild trees and shrubs in the bush, this is the African toothbrush. Its users swear it is much more natural, effective – and cheaper – than the prettily packaged but pricey dental products on sale in pharmacies and supermarkets.

“It cleans your teeth more than plastic brushes, with the liquid that comes out of the wood,” said Mr Marcelino Diatta, a stick twitching from his mouth as he sought handouts from foreigners in downtown Dakar.

In Senegal, the chewing stick is called “sothiou”, which means “to clean” in the local Wolof language. In east Africa, the stick is called “mswaki”, the Swahili word for toothbrush.

Their users say the sticks are also medicinal, providing not just dental hygiene but also curing a variety of other ills. Dental experts agree they seem to clean teeth well and some up-market health stores in the United States have been selling chew-sticks as a natural form of dental care.

“It’s good for your stomach and your head … it whitens your teeth and gets rid of bad breath,” said Abedis Sauda, a Senegalese street vendor.

Traders in Dakar and other Senegalese cities sell neat bundles of the pencil-sized sticks – usually about six inches long -on the pavement, offering a variety of different types of wood at different prices.

Mr Elimane Diop, 70, dressed in a blue boubou robe and white bonnet, extols the virtues of his wares with all the pride of a salesman for a multinational health care company, explaining the advantages of a new design of brush or type of dental floss.

“This is the Dakhaar … It cleans really well,” said Mr Diop, holding up a slender, knotty twig with a dark brown bark.

Another bush toothbrush, the Werek, is cut from the branches of the gum tree, while the thicker Neep-Neep helps ease toothache. “If you’ve a bad tooth, it’s a medicine,” said Mr Diop.

The Cola, cut from a soft, whitish wood, is prized for its sweet taste.

If chewed, most of the twigs fray into finer strands, which have the effect of “flossing” between the teeth, or if rubbed up and down, can scrub tooth enamel clean as well as any brush. But they can taste bitter compared with commercial toothpastes.

“There are several documented studies which suggest that the cleaning sticks are at least as effective as normal toothbrushes and paste in maintaining routine oral health,” Christine D. Wu, Professor and Associate Dean for Research at the University of Illinois College of Dentistry, told Reuters.

She said some laboratory studies indicated plants from which some of the sticks in Africa are cut contain protective anti-microbial compounds that act against the bacteria in the mouth which cause tooth decay and gum disease.

“And if these sticks do contain fluoride, as plants do, then this would be beneficial for caries prevention,” Wu said, although she stressed much more research needed to be done on the sticks and their use by humans.

The World Health Organisation has encouraged the use of chewing sticks as an alternative source of oral hygiene in poor countries where many cannot afford commercial dental products.

In mostly Muslim Senegal, people say there is religious precedent for the use of the chewing sticks.

In holy Islamic writings known as the Hadith, the Prophet Muhammad recommends their use as part of cleaning rituals that are an essential element of daily prayers.

“For prayers, you have to get really clean, and that includes the teeth,” said Diop, an invalid whose left leg is deformed – a childhood injury sustained when a sharp twig pierced his bare foot in the bush and the wound became infected.

Although commercially made toothbrushes from leading international brands are available in Dakar supermarkets and pharmacies, many people say they prefer the chew sticks. “It’s better because it’s natural. I used to use a brush, but it made my gums bleed,” said Allissane Sy, an off-duty police officer, stopping to buy a stick from Diop.

Price helps too. While a manufactured toothbrush can cost upwards of 300 CFA francs (60 cents), a chew-stick costs only 25 or 50 CFA.

Mr Diop said each type of stick had different stories and origins associated with them.

For example, the one named Matou-kel was believed to bring luck. It is named after the tree it is cut from where bush deer – prized in Senegal for their tender tasty venison – like to feed and rest.

Another wood variety, Soumpou, was traditionally used to provide a liquid used to cook a fortifying dish, Laakh, which is made with millet. “It gives energy,” Mr Diop said.

But Wu had a word of warning for stick chewers: don’t overdo it, as too-vigorous scrubbing can push back the gums, causing gum recession exposing teeth roots to damage and decay.

June 23, 2007

Filed under: Film,General — admin @ 11:01 am

Older Posts »

Powered by WordPress