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A new poetry collection: “Crushing His Head with the Stone of Memories”

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The Lebanese poet Bilal Al-Masry published a new poetry collection entitled: “Crushing His Head with the Stone of Memories” as part of a series that presents Arab poetic voices.

Correspondent -Beirut

The Lebanese poet Bilal Al-Masry published a new poetry collection entitled: “Crushing His Head with the Stone of Memories (and other texts)” as part of “Ishraqat,” a series that presents Arab poetic voices, whose texts are chosen by the iconic Arab poet Adonis.

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Iconic Arab poet Adonis

It is a “closed” series, issued by “Dar Al-Takween” within a limited period of time, which may not exceed one year. Supervised by: Arwad Esber. The cover was designed by the artist Ahmed Mualla, a graphic designer and photographer, who is in contact with poetry, with much experience. In his enthusiasm for this experiment, he suggested returning to the basic square, to the most austere minimum, to formulate a graphic character for the poetry collections’ covers. A precise chess game, engineered in the imagination to draw the names of collections and poets, and the letters and their connections or transitions move in proportion to the available space, or as dictated by the artistry in shaping the body of the word.

The series is published with a special grant from the Ghassan Jadid Foundation for Development. It will include about 30 names, and these names will be celebrated upon the completion of the series, through a group of events and activities, and selections from the collections published in French and Spanish will be published.

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Lebanese poet Bilal Al-Masry

About this series, Adonis says: “A travel that rids poetry of the traditional cultural dualism: body/spirit, and opens up the space of indivisible being. You think and write what you feel, dream, and imagine.  And you feel, dream, and imagine what you think and write: that is the horizon of the project embodied by this series of poetry collections, which appear today after a long struggle…

Thus, the reader, the creative reader, will see that the poem on this horizon is a rich, diverse field of energy, that words are living beings, and that poetry changes the world, creating new relationships between words and things that in turn create a new image for this world: another beauty, another love, another depth, and other truths…

Read also: The dead are many inside me – Poetry from Lebanon

Readers will see poetry that goes beyond the simple or naive emotionalism that is usually described in poetry written by women. It is usually called “female poetry,” which is emotional, to distinguish it from male poetry, which is described as strong, durable, or virile. These are, in depth, characteristics that come from “society”, from outside poetry, and not from poetry itself, strictly speaking.

If it is necessary to describe, we can describe the poetry presented in this series as radiant, lively, ardent, explosive and solid, especially aesthetically, it is dazzling and charming. It awakens all feelings, and allows many things that are dormant in us to wake up and move. Thus, this series represents a historical turning point in poetic language, and in the poem alike. This turn is based on two principles: The first is to gain insight into the body, and to become deeply acquainted with its conditions, revealing them and their horizons. The second is writing in this light, and in complete isolation from the prevailing culture in its two aspects: the retrospective – traditional, coming from the traditional past, and the metaphorical – traditional also coming from a foreign outside through translation, in particular.

Also read: Contemporary World Literature: Poetry from Lebanon

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Meet the Waste Queen of India

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Amitabh Bachchan and Hema Malini were the face of Swatch Bharat but the real hero is the waste queen of India

By Jyoti Bachani

Adventures in an Ancient Land: Swatch Bharat

As a Silicon Valley-based professor on a sabbatical to distant places, I get privileged access to places, ideas, and people that many other travelers might not have. This is the first in a series of articles on my sabbatical travels to India to offer a glimpse into some of what I discovered

On 2nd October 2014, the Prime Minister of India launched a national movement to fulfill Gandhi’s vision of a clean and hygienic India, inviting everyone to join the Swachata Abhiyan. Many NGOs, celebrities from sports (Sania Mirza, Sachin Tendulkar, Mary Kom, etc.), and cinema (Amitabh Bachchan, Hema Malini, Priyanka Chopra, etc.) joined the campaign to inspire action for a clean nation, in time for Gandhi’s 150th birth anniversary.

Celebrities such as Amitabh Bachchan and Hema Malini famously wielded brooms in public displays of cleaning up streets, as a way to motivate citizens to be better involved in this worthy mission. In the years following, on every visit to India, I saw signs for the Swacch Bharat on public-facing walls everywhere in Mumbai and Pune.

It was to be a befitting gift to the memory of the Father of the Nation who devoted his life to earning freedom from British rule.

Fast forward a few years, and sadly, on my visit in 2024, many public spaces remain as dirty as before. Sometimes dirt piles lay in heaps under signs with signs of Gandhi’s signature round-rimmed glasses announcing the Swatch Bharat campaign.

Yet, in some of the rural and remote parts that I visited this time, I found a clean Bharat. I also found hope in the story of one amazing woman, who is less visible, but who has single-handedly done more to clean up India than anyone else. A few years ago, she had her moment of fame on Amir Khan’s SatyamevJayate TV show where she was introduced as the waste queen of India.

The waste queen of India

Years before any public programs tackled India’s waste problem, Almitra Patel had traveled to many countries to find solutions to keeping cities clean, by literally visiting their garbage dumps.

When Almitra found that Indian cities did not have similar plans for disposing of waste, she filed a Public Interest Litigation, as a concerned citizen to hold the government accountable. She won landmark judgments that led to many cities adopting waste management systems.

Years later, India benefits from her efforts. Patel’s work is recognized among the rare individuals who work patiently behind the scenes to do the right thing. But her less known story. Her less-known story is inspiring to me and I was awed by my time spent with this octogenarian. Even in her retirement, she keeps more active than many other folk.

An inspiring hero

Almitra Patel was the first Indian woman to graduate from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in Boston. She was a successful businesswoman who, with her husband, set up and ran a complex industrial manufacturing business. She also founded a school for disadvantaged children.

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I slept on a bed by the window with a tall Gulmohar outside (image courtesy: Jyoti Bachani)

My favorite discovery about Almitra is the farm she created on the outskirts of Bangalore when she relocated from urban Mumbai more than fifty years ago to raise her two daughters, surrounded by nature. She still lives there, even as Bangalore expands, and her farmland shrinks, because she has less capacity to care for it.

I visited her lovely home. A private forest with giant trees towers around the small farmhouse I slept on a bed by the window where a tall Gulmohar grew outside – so close, I might as well have woken up in a tree house.

Also read: Sindh burns 0.350 million ton banana waste annually

The home is filled with art that appealed to me because it also served a utilitarian purpose. A door handle made from a tile by Badrinath, side tables with carvings, and inlay work by unknown artisans. The beautiful craftsmanship that surrounded me offered aesthetic delight at every moment I spent there.

Patel is a storehouse of knowledge about these crafts and artisans who created them in different parts of India. One item was literally a piece of wood that once served as a chopping board in a roadside dhaba that she asked the dhaba owner for.

Also read: Plastic Waste Major Cause of Urban Flooding

The crafts reflect the commonplace lives of millions of India who create beauty, but who will never be a Wikipedia entry. India is an ancient land of living traditions, where history keeps alive by being reinvented in a relevant way for each generation. This is how India’s spirit and eternal wisdom are reflected in the practicalities of everyday life.

Almitra’s story

Almitra’s story too carries the weight of 800+ years of history. She is a Parsi, whose Zoroastrian ancestors were displaced from Persia and found shelter in India and blended with the local population. Tatas, Godrej, Boman Irani, Sam Manekshaw and Sam Bahadur of the recent film, are a testament to the Parsi community’s assimilation in India.

I loved my time with her. As I bid her farewell, she handed me a homemade lunch to carry on my onward travels. This endearing gesture was exactly like how my own family sends me off with homemade food as our dominant love language.

Almitra’s website offers resources for waste management that ordinary citizens can use. , For fun, you will find a book of poems she wrote over her travels.

https://www.almitrapatel.com/

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dr-Jyoti-Bachani-120x120 (1)Dr. Jyoti Bachani is an Associate Professor of Strategy and Innovation at Saint Mary’s College of California. She is a former Fulbright Senior Research Scholar, with degrees from London Business School, UK, Stanford, USA, and St. Stephen’s College, India. She translates Hindi poems, and has edited a poetry anthology called “The Memory Book of the Poetry of Diaspora in Silicon Valley.”
Courtesy: India Currents (Posted on Feb 27, 2024)

Role of anthropologists against rising socio-economic challenges in Pakistan highlighted

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An interactive session on “Anthropology in Pakistan: Challenges and Perspectives,” was organized by the Department of Anthropology and Archeology, University of Sindh

From Correspondent

Jamshoro, Sindh

Role of anthropologists against rising socio-economic challenges in Pakistan was highlighted at an interactive session titled “Anthropology in Pakistan: Challenges and Perspectives,” organized by the Department of Anthropology and Archeology, University of Sindh Jamshoro on Monday.

Former professor at Quaid-i-Azam University Islamabad & renowned anthropologist Prof. Dr. Syed Anwar Iqbal Shaheen was the keynote speaker.

Anthropology-SU- Sindh Courier-2Engaging with a large number of participants comprising students & faculty, Dr. Shaheen underscored the holistic nature and scope of anthropology, spanning cultural, linguistic, physical, archaeological and applied dimensions.

This interdisciplinary approach, he said, provided a diverse perspective crucial for comprehending and resolving the complex issues facing our society.

Highlighting the global and local need for anthropologists, he stressed their role in offering recommendations amid escalating societal challenges marked by increasing intolerance and radicalization.

Anthropology-SU- Sindh Courier-3Addressing the post-COVID economic landscape, he noted observable changes in human behavior, attributing them to economic fragility, political instability and social polarization where anthropologists could play a critical role through producing quality research.

Dr. Shaheen highlighted the significance of anthropology and development in Pakistan, citing examples from his own experiences of working with various development projects.

He shared his experiences by highlighting his involvement in development projects such as rural electrification and socioeconomic development, forestry, acute respiratory diseases and garbage management.

He drew attention to the career-oriented fields of medical anthropology and clinical anthropology.

Anthropology-SU- Sindh Courier-4Dr. Shaheen announced establishing the computer lab for the students in the department of Anthropology and Archaeology and donating books for the seminar library of the department.

Chairman, Department of Anthropology & Archeology Dr. M. Hanif Leghari warmly welcomed the guest, highlighting the department’s progress.

Also read: World Anthropology Day Celebrated at University of Sindh

Dr. Abdul Razaque Channa presented Tote bag made of traditional Ajrak and Lungi to the guest.

Prof. M. Mukhtiar Kazi and Prof. Dr. Agha Asad Noor lauded Prof. Dr. Syed Anwar Iqbal for his dedication to the profession and decorated him with the Ajrak.

They urged students to focus on research and technology, asserting that anthropology and archaeology thrive on robust research.

The department’s faculty, including Dr. Rafique Wassan, Dr. Muhbat Ali Shah, Ali Taqi, Suneel, Ms. Umbreen Soomro, Ali Taquai Shah, Ms. Quratullain, Sadaf and Hamid Gadahi, actively participated in discussions with students.

Read more: Linguistic Anthropology and Memoni Language—Tracing Roots, Embracing Sindhi

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Kazakhstan, Turkmenistan and Russia to create new Transport Company

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Kazakhstan, Russia, and Turkmenistan are joining efforts to develop the transit potential of the “North-South” transport corridor

Astana

Kazakhstan, Russia, and Turkmenistan are joining efforts to develop the transit potential of the “North-South” transport corridor and will establish a joint venture to optimize logistics on this route, the press service of the Ministry of Transport of Kazakhstan informed.

The primary goal of the new company is to enhance service, reduce delivery times for goods, and implement a “single window” principle for document processing.

What are the routes of the “North-South” transport corridor?

The eastern branch of the “North-South” corridor passes through the Mangystau region of Kazakhstan. In 2023, the volume of freight transportation on this route reached 2.1 million tons, an increase of 4% compared to the previous year.

By 2027, the plan is to increase the capacity of this route to 10 million tons per year, providing a lucrative alternative to traditional “East-West” directions.

Another important transit project of the three countries is the Trans-Caspian International Transport Corridor. In 2023, its capacity increased to 2.76 million tons of cargo, a 65% increase from the previous year.

It was previously announced that Yerevan wants to join the “North-South” corridor.

Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan stated the readiness to provide a land corridor through the country, connecting Azerbaijan and Nakhchivan.

It is worth noting that the outcome of 2023 for the countries of Central Asia and Kazakhstan was the establishment of transport flows, including through Georgia and Iran, as well as the expansion of border crossings with China, using the “North-South” project.

During a recent meeting of the transport business dialogue of the CIS countries, experts discussed the prospects for the development of two key transport corridors in Central Asia, closely related to this project.

The discussion focused on the multimodal route “Kabul Corridor” (Uzbekistan – Afghanistan – Pakistan) and the “China – Kyrgyzstan – Uzbekistan” corridor.

The new routes will facilitate direct communication between Kyrgyzstan and Uzbekistan with the countries of the Asia-Pacific region and significantly reduce the time and cost of cargo delivery.

Thus, Central Asian countries are actively increasing cooperation to realize the transit potential of the region.

In turn, the creation of a unified logistics operator for Kazakhstan, Russia, and Turkmenistan will elevate these processes to a new level.

The North-South Multimodal Transport Corridor is 7200 km long, connecting Europe, countries of the Persian Gulf, and the Indian Ocean through the Suez Canal. Currently, the main cargo flow passes through the Iranian port of Bandar Abbas.

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Courtesy: Central Asian Light (Posted on February 27, 2024)  

UAE focuses on child protection and rights

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Kanaf, the first-of-its-kind child protection center in the UAE and the region, established in 2023, offers specialized legal, psychological, and social support to young victims of physical and sexual abuse and their families

Abu Dhabi

H.H. Sheikha Jawaher bint Mohammed Al Qasimi, wife of H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, and Chairperson of the Supreme Council for Family Affairs (SCFA), reiterated Sharjah’s unwavering commitment to child safety and rights during her visit to Kanaf, the UAE’s foremost child protection center.

Accompanied by Shamma bint Suhail Faris Al Mazrui, Minister of Community Development, Sheikha Jawaher underscored the depth of Sharjah’s approach to child safety, emphasizing the integration of various entities, frameworks, programs, and initiatives aimed at shielding children from all forms of abuse.

mebusiness.ae_1709045173She highlighted the imperative for communities to adapt to evolving challenges, particularly in safeguarding children, as they play a pivotal role in shaping the future of nations.

The visit to Kanaf, the first-of-its-kind child protection center in the UAE and the region, established under the directives of Sheikha Jawaher, marked a significant step towards reinforcing the safety net for vulnerable children. Kanaf, operational since 2023, offers specialized legal, psychological, and social support to young victims of physical and sexual abuse and their families, uniting the efforts of various legal, medical, and social entities under one roof.

Welcomed by Handai Al Yafei, Director of CSD and Head of Kanaf’s Higher Committee, along with Ameena Al Refaei, Director of Kanaf, Sheikha Jawaher gained invaluable insights into the center’s operations. Addressing the management and staff, Sheikha Jawaher urged them to treat each child seeking assistance at Kanaf as part of their own family, stressing the center’s pivotal role in nurturing a resilient and productive society.

Sheikha Jawaher emphasized that Kanaf’s success hinges on raising awareness about its crucial role in nation-building. She stated, “The Sharjah community serves as a nurturing environment for every child, ensuring their protection and safety. We aim to transform Kanaf into a robust hub for collaboration and partnerships, expanding our reach to safeguard children wherever they may be.”

She continued, “Prevention, care, and safety are paramount in our approach. Together, leveraging our rich cultural heritage and noble values, we can achieve this objective.”

Acknowledging the evolving social landscape and the constant advancement of knowledge, Sheikha Jawaher stressed the importance of staying abreast of global experiences to enhance expertise, particularly in the realm of child protection. “We aspire to lead in championing child protection and upbringing on ideal foundations,” she added.

Also read: UAE sends thousands of food and medical parcels to Palestinians in Gaza

During the tour of Kanaf’s departments, Sheikha Jawaher gained insights into the comprehensive process for assisting children, from initial contact through to full recovery. Kanaf’s collaborative efforts with ten partnering entities, including the SCFA, the Federal Court of First Instance Sharjah, and the Sharjah Police General Directorate, among others, underscored a unified commitment to prioritize child safety and well-being.

A leading child safety model in the region, the center includes a number of facilities contributed by the Sharjah City Municipality, supporting entity of Kanaf, and collaborates closely with 10 partnering entities. These include the SCD, the Federal Court of First Instance Sharjah, the Public Prosecution in Sharjah, the Sharjah Police General Directorate, the Emirates Health Services Establishment, the Emirates Schools Establishment, the Sharjah Social Services Department, the Sharjah Private Education Authority, the Forensic Medicine Department, and the SCFA’s Family Development Department Branches.

Published under the International Cooperation Protocol with Middle East Business | Life Magazine

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CAJ urges Ethiopian Authorities to release French journalist

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The journalist was unfairly arrested and detained on Thursday, 22 February according to reports

Abuja

The Congress of African Journalists (CAJ) has called out the Government of Ethiopia to release French journalist Antoine Galindo with immediate effect.

The journalist was unfairly arrested and detained on Thursday, 22 February according to reports.

Antoine Galindo works for African Intelligence, a news portal based in Paris. Security officials in plain clothes accosted and detained the journalist in the Ethiopian Capital, Addis Ababa.

Giving voice to the journalist’s arrest the International President of the Congress of African Journalists (CAJ), Mr. Michael Adeboboye said: “the arrest is condemnable and urged for the immediate release of the journalist. Arresting a journalist for carrying out his duties as a journalist must be resisted”

According to Galimdo’s lawyer, he was detained at the Ethiopian Skylight Hotel while interviewing Bate Urgessa, a political officer with the Oromo Liberation Front (OLF), a party legally recognized in Ethiopia.

According to the Committee for the Protection of Journalists (CPJ) :” Ethiopia is the second-worst jailer of journalists in sub-Saharan Africa, with at least eight journalists behind bars on December 1, 2023. The eight are still jailed, with four of them detained as a result of a state of emergency declared on August 4 in response to the conflict in Amhara state and have never been charged or brought to court.”

The Congress of African Journalists (CAJ), is a unique network of African journalists with a presence in the diaspora and across the globe. (PR)

Also read: Congress of African Journalists launches CAJ TV

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A Panel Discussion: 2023 Outstanding African Creative Books

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The Panelists Discussed Outstanding African Creative Books Written in English of Novels, Drama, Poetry, and Children’s Books

By Ashraf Aboul-Yazid

The Toyin Falola Interviews recently had a Panel Discussion on 2023 Outstanding African Creative Books Written in English of Novels, Drama, Poetry, and Children’s Books, on February 25, 2024.

This session was co-organized by Pan-African Writers Association (PAWA), whose Secretary General Dr. Wale Okediran addressed the participants: “I want to thank Prof Falola  for another collaboration. Am happy that we writers are gradually warming up to Literary Webinars which we believes go a long way in improving their literary skills. I also want to thank the Panelists and members of the audience who have given of their time and efforts to be here today. It is my hope that at the end of this very important discourse, we would have been able to chart a proper way forward for African Literature”.

African Books - Discussion-Sindh Courier-4The Pan-African Panel Discussion had the panelists Fadwa Ashraf (Egypt), Abubakar Adam Ibrahim (Nigeria)  Bill Ndi (Cameroon)  and Nthabiseng JahRose (South Africa) who shared their expertise on “2023 Outstanding African Creative Books Written in English “.

First Panelist, Abubakar Adam Ibrahim is most recently the author of the novel, When We Were Fireflies, currently on the longlist for the Dublin Literary Award. His debut novel, Season of Crimson Blossoms, was awarded the 2016 Nigerian Prize for Literature, the most lucrative prize in African literature. The French translation was shortlisted for several prizes, including the prestigious Prix Femina. It has been translated into several other languages, including Tamil. The novel followed on the successes and critical acclaim of his debut short story collection, The Whispering Trees, which was shortlisted for the Caine Prize for African Writing and the Etisalat Prize for Literature. He is also the recipient of the Michael Elliott Award for Excellence in African Storytelling, the BBC African Performance Prize and has received several international fellowships and residencies.

African Books - Discussion-Sindh Courier-5Second Panelist, Professor Bill F. Ndi, is poet, playwright, storyteller, critic, translator & Fellow of The Booker T. Washington Leadership Institute is an American-Southern Cameroonian who was educated at the University of Yaoundé, Nigeria: ABSU, Paris: ISIT, the Sorbonne, Paris VIII & Cergy-Pontoise where he obtained his doctorate degrees in Languages: Translation and Languages, Literatures and Contemporary Civilizations. He has held teaching positions at the Paris School of Languages, the University of the Sunshine Coast at Sippy Downs, the University of Queensland, Brisbane, St Lucia and Deakin University, Melbourne, Australia. He is presently Professor of Modern Languages, Communication and Philosophy at Tuskegee University, Alabama, USA. He has published well over 40 books in various genres.

Nthabiseng JahRose Jafta, an Artpreneur and Creative Strategist born in South Africa’s Free State, is a dynamic force. As an author of children’s books like Mantlwane ‘Mollo lekeisheneng.

In the full video recording readers are invited to watch both speeches and the conversation with moderator, Dr. Toyin Falola; the Nigerian historian and professor of African Studies. Falola is a Fellow of the Historical Society of Nigeria and of the Nigerian Academy of Letters, and has served as the president of the African Studies Association.

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The new generation was presented by two young voices from South Africa and Egypt. Third Panelist Jafta was one of them; she serves as the Publishing Coordinator at the University of the Free State’s African Languages Press, enriching the African Languages catalogue. Founding Sun Peo with 40 publications spanning poetry, prose, and translated works, she’s an International Performing Poet, Writer, and Festival Curator. Armed with a Master’s in Creative Writing, she’s a Dream Girl Scholarship ‘AWE’ recipient and a Euracian silver medalist at the “LIFFT – 2023” festival in Egypt.

African Books - Discussion-Sindh Courier-8We could read her full paper of the books she had reviewed in her speech: “it’s a truly a privilege to be part of the panels reflecting and putting spotlight on African Literature, it is only us indifferent parts of Africa That we can highlight and introduce these works to one another but moreover build profiles of authors within the continent. A Fractured Path is centered around this book “Nyaope Ruins Young lives” written by Marcus Maphile.” This book delve into the intricate themes of youth, drugs, and their profound impact it has in our communities.

Book Title: Nyaope e bapala ka rona batjha by Marcus Malope Maphile. Children’ Book (Paperback) in Sesotho (Language spoken In South Africa and Lesotho). The Author portrays challenges faced by young people in South Africa when confronted with the allure of drugs. Charles, the protagonist, becomes entangled in a web of addiction, leading to consequences that reverberate through his family and community. Charles addiction escalates to health challenges, criminal activities and ends up getting arrested. A young life ruined. I found the depiction of Charles’s inner turmoil particularly compelling. His internal conflict between succumbing to the temptations of drugs and striving for a better future reflects the struggles of many young people caught in similar circumstances. It highlights the complex interplay of personal agency and external influences.

Charles’s journey serves as a microcosm of the larger systemic issues at play. The lack of access to education and opportunities, coupled with the pervasive presence of drugs in communities, sets the stage for a cycle of despair. How do you perceive the role of community support in addressing these challenges?”

African Books - Discussion-Sindh Courier-3The second book presented by Jafta was Nna ke Monna(paperback) – Sesotho Edition| (English also available)by Author: Jerry Mofokeng(248 pages:)

“In “Nna ke Monna | I am a Man,” Dr. Jerry Mofokeng wa Makhetha offers a profound reflection on manhood, identity, and the complexities of family. One poignant moment from our discussion centered on Jerry’s revelation about his upbringing, particularly his discovery of being raised by a stepfather without his knowledge until later in life.

Jerry shared with us the deeply personal journey of learning about his biological father at the age of 58, despite already being a husband, father, and elder himself. It was a revelation that shook the very foundation of his identity, prompting him to embark on what he describes as a treacherous journey “To Himself.”

What struck us most was Jerry’s nuanced approach to reconciling his newfound knowledge with the reality of the man who had raised him – his stepfather. Despite the shock and upheaval caused by this revelation, Jerry showed immense grace in acknowledging both his biological father and the man who had played a paternal role in his life.

His story serves as a powerful reminder of the complexity of familial relationships and the resilience of the human spirit. Through his own experiences, Jerry challenges us to confront our preconceived notions of manhood and the importance of embracing both our wounds and our triumphs as integral parts of our journey.

As we reflect on Jerry’s journey of maturity, healing, and self-discovery, we’re reminded of the importance of embracing our own stories – scars and all – and using them as stepping stones towards becoming better versions of ourselves. “Nna ke Monna | I am a Man” challenges us to move beyond the confines of societal expectations and forge our own path towards authentic manhood.

The third book presented by the third panelist was (Friends of Shangala: A Lesson in Friendship and Integrity).

Shongi the springbok. I live in the beautiful village of Shangala. I love my cousin Basi the bushbuck. I play with her every day. One day I told her my little secret. ‘Basi my cousin, I want to enter the beauty pageant. All the friends I meet at the waterhole say I am beautiful. I know it too. ‘I said.’Great news! Yes, you are pretty! Go for it Shongi!’ she replied.

In “Friends of Shangala” by Dr. Babane, the intricacies of friendship and the consequences of spreading rumors and telling lies are vividly portrayed through the experiences of the characters. The story delves into the repercussions that arise when trust is betrayed and the importance of honesty and empathy in maintaining healthy relationships.

The narrative unfolds with Shongi, a character falsely accused of disparaging her fellow villagers by claiming superiority in beauty. However, it becomes evident that Shongi’s innocent statement about participating in a beauty pageant was misconstrued and blown out of proportion by her peers, leading to hurtful gossip and rumors.

African Books - Discussion-Sindh Courier-7In conclusion, “Friends of Shangala” is a heartwarming tale that resonates with its audience through its universal themes and timeless wisdom. Dr. Babane’s narrative prowess and insightful storytelling make this book a compelling read for anyone seeking to explore the intricacies of human relationships and the power of redemption.

Some of the books that were a highlight includes: Culture and Liberation Struggle in South Africa: From Colonialism to Post-Apartheid, edited by Dr Lance Nawa, Won’t be there forever, Stan Montsho, What’s Your Money Personality, Vangile Makwakwa, In Every Mirror She’s Back, Lola Akinmade Akerstrom, ⁠Sunshine & Shadows, Busisekile Khumalo, The Girl Who Survived Her Mother, Moshitadi Lehlomela.Lucky Girl, Irene Muchemi-Ndiritu.For Black Girls: Who Have Yet to Forgive Themselves, Tlhalefo Moagi, The Attic Child, Lola Jaye, The Thing With Zola, Zibu Sithole, Ma’am, Jessica George.

The acclaimed seminal book, Culture and Liberation Struggle in South Africa: From Colonialism to Post-Apartheid, casts a spotlight on the mantra, Culture as a Weapon of Struggle, in and for South Africa and beyond through how music, drama, dance, literature, film, photography, visual art and other arts genres formed the inspiration that fostered the spirit of rebellion and elevated the level of national political consciousness during Colonialism, Apartheid and beyond towards a liberated South Africa.

This is an anthology of articles, biographies, interviews, personal memoirs, photo essays and tributes compiled by twenty-eight (28) South African and non-South African authors over thirty-three (33 chapters), and edited by Dr. Lebogang Lance Nawa; himself a scion of the liberation struggle.

Making the most of the influences from international struggles against cultural domination, especially in Africa and the Diaspora, the trailblazers, profiled herein, mobilized and guided their people – in villages, townships, suburbs, towns and cities – through the injustices of Colonialism into the light of the post-Apartheid era, by rediscovering their voices and reclaiming their uniquely African culture by means of magazines, newspapers, stages, screens, and the airwaves.

This book paints a vivid picture of a rich and diverse history and heritage that shaped the new South Africa and endeavors to plot the continuation of the Cultural Revolution that seemed to have become dormant in its embryonic stage since the dawn of a new political dispensation gradually turning into a nightmare.

African Books - Discussion-Sindh Courier-9Finally, the panelists concluded with Fadwa Ashraf, who was born in 2008, and has been grown up in a library, with active parents in the field of culture and literature. Her father is an author, and her mother is a TV director in the official cultural Nile TV. Fadwa and her sister Hoda have their own library, and Fadwa was much interested in comics, and created her own cartoon Facebook page with more than 18 000 fans. Fadwa is a first grade students at Horus language school, Cairo. She published some of her stories online, and she is a daily narrator, noting school and travel diaries. She got the chance to spend sometimes in Kuwait, China, Vietnam and India. She is clever at drawing as well.

Fadwa presented three books, and the first one was her father’s novel for young readers “My Cat Writes a Book”, by Ashraf Aboul-Yazid, which won 2023 Sawiris Award of Children Literature for its author. From the core of reality came the idea of “My Cat Writes a Book”. The author sums up his novel published by Shajarah in Cairo:

“My family got a cat that gave birth to another, and there were two cats at home. My wife goes to work, my two daughters go to their school, and the two cats remain in my company, taking turns sitting at my desk, looking politely at what I write, so the spark of the idea came to me. As I believe that there is no children’s literature without science, I had to use the capabilities of science and technology to convince the readers that the cat was the one who wrote the book.”

The book came in two parts; the first presents the adventures and the second documents the cats’ messages to the main character cat, which are letters that mix experience and coexistence with research and reading. Cats – from another angle – are beings that share life with us on this planet, and teach – those who own them -many good lessons. Cat breeding offers lessons in love, cleanliness, understanding those who cannot express themselves, belief in everyone’s abilities to think, and acceptance of difference.

The writer’s previous experience in children’s literature was poetry, and he was pleased that some of his poems were included in school curricula, whether in Lebanon, or in India for students of the Arabic language, or in East Africa. So he hope his book My Cat Writes a Book could be one of the school books someday.

The second book Fadwa chose to introduce was “The Perfect Muslims”, a novel by Onyeka Nwelue. The author Onyeka Nwelue, born in 1988, is a Nigerian scholar, jazz musician and filmmaker, who has had esteemed positions in academia in African studies at two of the world’s most prestigious universities, University of Oxford and University of Cambridge. He is currently the director of Africa Center Mexico.

African Books - Discussion-Sindh Courier-2His novel “The Perfect Muslims” is a story of tolerance, love, modern slavery and human trafficking. Filipino Christian woman Corazon Silang lives with an upper class Qatari family the Al-Musallams – at The Pearl-Qatar in Doha. She has been employed by them, as a nanny. She is paid well, she is happy. The Al-Musallams, who are Muslims, love her dearly.

The novel starts by introducing Corazon Silang and her life as a girl living in Batanes Island in Philippines with her grandmother (Mama Ligaya). The first third of the novel narrate the details of her tough life. Her mother was killed in an earthquake. Her father was killed in a raid by police against drug criminals. Despite the warnings of her grandmother to stay away strangers, especially of the other sex, whether boys or men, she fell in love with a stranger, and later was kidnapped by a mob to sell her body. From there, Madam Diwata, business woman of illegal company, Good Maids, arranges a work for her in Qatar.

In the upper class Qatari family, the Al-Musallams, she loved them, as they treated her well. She could read books in the son’s library. The author told us about his readings through her of two examples: Khaled Hosseini’s novel “A Thousand Splendid Suns”, a sensational story set against the combustive events of Afghanistan’s last thirty years-from the Soviet invasion to the reign of the Taliban to post- Taliban rebuilding that puts the violence, fear, hope, and faith of this country in personal, and human terms. Naguib Mahfouz’s novel “Adrift on the Nile, is about ten young professionals who spent their evenings sailing in a houseboat on the Nile until a catastrophe split them apart. The group’s master of ceremonies, Anis Zaki, was a widower at the Ministry of Health whose addiction to smoking kef was so severe that he could write out and submit a long- winded document at work without glimpsing that his pen had run out of ink. Anis marked time from night to night when he and his middle-aged friends a translator for the Foreign Ministry, an accountant at the Ministry of Social Affairs, a lawyer, an art critic, and a noted writer of short stories. This novel narrates the defeat of Arabs in 1967 war.

Also read: Pan African Writers Association announces poetry prize winners

The other woman was another servant from India, and alike she suffered bitter life, as a gang killed and burnt her child to force her to be subject to their plans to send her to work in Qatar and get her salary through the illegal company.

Filipino Christian woman Corazon Silang became a friend with Njeri’s, who was a Dalit; a member of the lowest class in the traditional Hindu social hierarchy having in traditional Hindu belief the quality of defiling by contact a member of a higher caste. The Dalits were also formerly referred to as untouchables, a term that is now understood as offensive.

By chance, as they talk together about their life in Philippines and India, the Qatari Mother hears the stories. While the two women expect they would be kicked off, the author shows the tolerance the Muslim family has by forgiving their past. They also helped the Dalit Njeri to find the killers of her child. Thanks to Mr. Al-Musallam and detective Mr. Hassan. By the end, the two women decide to continue their lives at Al- Musallam’s house, serving them, as it is the new safe home for both of them.

African Books - Discussion-Sindh Courier-6The third book chosen by Fadwa Ashraf was her most favorite one. Art of Over the Garden Wall is the book inspired by the series she used to watch when she was younger. The episodes take us on an adventure, brothers Wirt and Greg get lost in the Unknown, a strange forest adrift in time; as they attempt to find a way out of the Unknown, they cross paths with a mysterious old woodsman and a bluebird named Beatrice. Fadwa was eager to read the stories beyond the series and the secrets of the TV work itself.

She was showing the three books as she was talking about them, and similar to some other books in the talk show, they were of different languages; Arabic an English.

Finally, the president of the World Organization of Writers WOW, Margarita Al, saluted audience in her Russian speech, translated by Russian poet into English” Colleagues, friends! It is a great honor for me to greet you at this panel discussion and it is a feast of poetry and literature. Please accept my sincere congratulations and wishes to achieve success and a high level of creativity. I hope your books and works will find the way to the hearts of the readers.  So that your words have a great impact on the minds of our contemporaries and so that each of your books carries the idea of peace and solidarity between the people of our small planet Earth. Margarita represents the World Organization of WOW Writers. And very soon we will fly to the most mysterious and attractive continent Africa. And I’ve already fallen in love with Nigeria, just because people like Wale Okediran live and work and create there. It will be a great pleasure for us to accept your creative works for the competition. There’s not much time left, until March the 1st, but I’m sure you’ll make it. WOW has an anthem and it will be played on April 4-6 in Abuja, Nigeria. And there are very important words. We are people of the same planet and poetry unites us.

Read also: Congress of African Journalists’ International Magazine Feb issue released

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Ashraf Aboul-YazidAshraf Aboul-Yazid is a renowned Egyptian poet, journalist, novelist, travelogue writer and translator. He is author of around three dozen books and Editor-in-Chief of Silk Road Literature Series.

Ghassan Kanafani – Remembering a Rebel Palestinian Journalist, Writer and Political Activist

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Ghassan was 36 years old when he died along with niece in a bomb explosion planted in his car in Beirut on July 1972

In Beirut, on July 9, 1972 – Ghassan Kanafani climbed into his Austin 1100 car with his 17 year old niece Lamees, switched on the ignition and triggered a bomb planted by the Israeli Mossad. He and Lamees were killed instantly. But who was Ghassan Kanafani and why was the Israeli state so determined to kill him?

Ghassan was an iconic Palestinian writer, journalist, artist and political activist whose life was inextricably linked to key moments in the Palestinian struggle. At the time of his birth in Akka in 1936, Kanafani’s father was an active participant in what became known as the Palestinian Arab Revolt from 1936 to 1939. Palestinian Arabs were resisting the British Mandate occupation of their land and British complicity in the Zionist colonization of Palestine. The goal of establishing a “Jewish National Home” had been promised to the Zionists in the 1917 Balfour Declaration. The Arab revolt included a seven-month long general strike and an uprising that was brutally suppressed by the British military. Ghassan’s father, who was a lawyer, was imprisoned by the British on several occasions while Ghassan was still a child.

Ghassan Kanfani - A Palestinian Revolutionary Writer
Ghassan Kanafani in the Beirut offices of the PFLP.

Life in Exile

When the 1948 Arab-Israeli War broke out news of the Deir Yassin Massacre reached the Kanafani family. Zionist militias had murdered 254 villagers on the 9 April 1948, the day that Ghassan turned twelve. He never celebrated his birthday again. The family fled to Lebanon and then Syria joining hundreds of thousands of other Palestinians exiled from their homelands during the Nakba.

The family settled in Damascus where Ghassan completed his secondary education, like many refugee Palestinian children, in an UN Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) school. He gained a teaching certificate in 1952 and was employed as an art teacher for some 1,200 children in the refugee camp. It was at this time that he began writing short stories to help himself, and his students, make sense of their situation. In fact it was Kanafani who later coined the term resistance literature to describe a genre of writing that encouraged its readers to recognize their oppression, to resist and fight together for a better future.

Ghassan’s higher education was at the University of Damascus in the Department of Arabic Literature. However, before he could graduate, he was expelled and exiled to Kuwait for his political ties with the Movement of Arab Nationalists (MAN), a pan-Arab nationalist organization inspired by Gamal Abdul Nasser’s ideas of national independence. The Movement of Arab Nationalists was founded by Dr. George Habash in the 1950s and would later, after the 1967 Six Day War, develop into the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

Ghassan Kanafani with his nephew and niece in Beirut
Ghassan Kanafani with his nephew and niece in Beirut

Ghassan moved to Beirut in 1960 where he deepened his interest in socialist philosophy and revolutionary politics. It was in Lebanon in 1961 where he first met his wife Anni Høver, a Danish journalist who wanted to find out more about the plight of the Palestinian people. She had been given the telephone number of a newspaper editor – Ghassan Kanafani – and was told he would be her best guide to the Palestinian cause. She met with the tall, lean 25 year old Kanafani and asked if she could visit the Palestinian refugee camps. He famously replied, “My people are not animals in a zoo,” adding that, “You must have a good background about them before you go and visit.” Two months later, they were married. Anni began teaching at a kindergarten in a refugee camp and Ghassan continued to write.

Turning point in Ghassan’s writing and political career

The 1967 Six-Day Arab Israeli War, and subsequent Israeli occupation, was a turning point in Ghassan’s writing and political career. Immediately after the war George Habash founded the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. In 1969, Ghassan became its official spokesperson and editor-in-chief of the weekly newspaper Al-Hadaf. Although Ghassan was not directly involved in it, the PFLP had a military wing and was committed to armed struggle. Today we have to see this commitment in the context of the shock waves created in the refugee camps by Israel’s brutal occupation of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem. And in the historical context of anti-colonial struggles for national liberation sweeping across the world: including Cuba, Algeria, Mozambique and Vietnam. Even in the West, during the 1960s, there was talk of revolution in the streets of Chicago, Berlin, London, Paris and Tokyo.

The Israeli state saw the Palestinian resistance movement as an existential threat and moved to silence its leaders. It began implementing Operation: God’s Wrath, under the command of Prime Minister Golda Meir’s Special Adviser on Security Affairs, General Aharon Yariv. The aim of the operation aim was to eliminate Palestinians capable of providing leadership to the movement.

“I write well because I believe in a cause, in principles”

Ghassan-Book-Ghassan was close to and wrote several poems and stories for his beloved niece Lamees. The day before his assassination Lamees asked him to concentrate more on writing stories rather than his revolutionary activities. She said to him, “Your stories are so beautiful.” He answered, “Go back to writing stories? I write well because I believe in a cause, in principles. The day I leave these principles, my stories will become empty. If I were to leave behind my principles, you yourself would not respect me.”

When he died Ghassan was 36 years old, Lamees was just 17. Today, his writings remain among the most influential in modern Arab literature. His works have been translated into 17 languages and published in 20 countries.

Ghassan’s obituary in the Lebanese Daily Star described him as, “…a commando who never fired a gun, whose weapon was a ball-point pen, and his arena the newspaper pages.”

His wife Anni still lives in Lebanon and heads the Ghassan Kanafani Cultural Foundation that runs kindergartens, children’s libraries, centers for children with special needs and other children’s activities in six of the twelve Palestinian camps in Lebanon.

On the literary life of a rebel

Ghassan-BookAt first thought, the assassination would seem absolutely horrific, but when a reader starts to go through his novellas and short stories, as well as, of course, his articles on politics and the situation of the Arab and Palestinian cause, it would make perfect sense that he was a great threat to the Mossad with his fearless thinking, free of any shackles or boundaries.

In an interview, answering a question regarding the relation between his political life and being a novelist, Kanafani had replied: “My political position springs from my being a novelist. In so far as I am concerned, politics and the novel are an indivisible case, and I can categorically state that I became politically committed because I am a novelist, not the opposite.”

Kanafani’s love to his home was so clear and vivid. One time he said: “Do you know why most writers love Paris? Because they never lived a day in Haifa.”

Indeed, his novellas and short stories, almost all of them, had something to do with the notion of ‘home’ and the idea of patriotism and war. Many of his works also focused on the Palestinian struggle through life, even when immigrating and living outside of their country.

This is what the novella “Men in the Sun” discussed. The idea of this work revolved around the illegal ways of fleeing the country and the struggle immigrants go through. The shocking ending of this novella makes you want to scream out loud.

What distinguished Kanafani’s works is that their endings always carry something either extremely heartbreaking, or extremely unfamiliar and bizarre. There is always a guessing that the writer wanted so much thinking from his readers. He never wanted them to be just readers; he wanted them to literally live the Palestinian struggle as it is written through his painful words.

Palestines-ChildrenOne of the most well-known novellas for Kanafani would be “Returning to Haifa”; it revolved around the idea of home, and the way that being raised in a family will make you who you are now or later, an idea that resonates in any mind, to think that it is not we who shape ourselves, but life. It talks about the very desolate and melancholic side of war, like most of his other stories. But this one, this one in specific will not be just a book a reader reads and places back on the shelf for dust. It is different, and this is the further one can go with spoiling. Perhaps one of the most mind-blowing quotes a reader reads within the book would be:

“Do you know what home is, Safiyya?

Home is where all of this wouldn’t happen.”

When you read too much for Kanafani, the notion of ‘home’ will not leave you for a second. It’s true that home is where all of this wouldn’t happen, where all of this shouldn’t happen. It wouldn’t possibly be that easy to know what home really is, but you’d know that home really isn’t the place where you see this too much suffering and hear all these depressive stories on war and defeat or occupation.

A few days before his assassination, Kanafani wrote what was soon-to-be his last article on the political situation in the Arab world. Here is one of the strongest lines in the article:

Ghassan“There must be something in the way Arabs were created that would make them so different from foreigners, especially Zionists. The reason for this is that David Elazar, Chief-of-Staff of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) at that time, was very polite when he expressed his regret for the death of civilians during an Israeli air raid on Lebanon, because this cannot be avoided. These words, in fact, were a complementary part to the Israeli motto raised so high saying that ‘a good Arab is a dead Arab’.”

Also read: Fugitive Dreams – Chronicles of Occupation and Resistance

Reading these words, a reader would not make a second guess as to why Kanafani’s life was a cause of threat to all politicians, not just Israel.

Kanafani’s last words on the article were that “what we now hear from Arab officials is only bleating”.

So, after all of this, do we know what home really is?

Also read: Jesus of Palestine. Jesus of the Gaza Strip

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Source: Justice for Palestine, Daily News Egypt 

Iran defeats Belarus to bag FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup bronze in Dubai

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Iran’s commendable display at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup UAE 2024 in Dubai culminated in a resounding 6-1 victory over Belarus, securing them the bronze medal.

Abu Dhabi

Iran’s commendable display at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup UAE 2024 in Dubai culminated in a resounding 6-1 victory over Belarus, securing them the bronze medal.

From the very outset, Ali Mirshekari capitalised on an overhead kick deflection and Movahed Mohammadpour added an acrobatic effort of his own to establish a quick 2-goal lead.

Related news: UAE hosts FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup

This bronze medal marks Iran’s second consecutive third-place finish in major tournaments, following their success at Bahamas 2017. Belarus, meanwhile, can be proud of their best-ever performance at the FIFA Beach Soccer World Cup.

Published under the International Cooperation Protocol with Middle East Business | Life Magazine

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Dubai International Boat Show to begin on February 28

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Dubai International Boat Show is set to display an extensive array of international marine attractions from over 1,000 different brands

Abu Dhabi

The 2024 Dubai International Boat Show, the region’s largest and most established marine lifestyle show, is set to begin its 30th edition at the Dubai Harbour, bringing together the maritime community from enthusiasts to experts around the world.

Taking place from 28th February – 3rd March, the nautical show is set to display an extensive array of international marine attractions from over 1,000 different brands, including 400 new companies, from leading yachting companies including Ferretti, Azimut, Sunreef and Cranchi Yachts.

With 200-plus crafts expected to be berthed at the event, Dubai International Boat Show continues to underline its commitment to supporting leading superyacht manufacturers with nine Super Yacht Builders Association Members (SYBAss) in attendance.

UAE-based super yacht builder Gulf Craft is set to present more than 10 vessels, ranging from leisure boats to award-winning super yachts, including a global first reveal.

In addition to the impressive array of launches brought by leading yacht builders, the popular annual Dubai event promises to mesmerize visitors with events and activities that will take place across the five days.

Visitors can also enjoy the Hypercar Avenue, designed for car enthusiasts and collectors to see rare and exceptional automobiles at the show. The multi-million-dirham exhibition provides a unique glimpse into automotive magnificence, blending luxury with innovative design. Some of the rarest cars in the world will come together in one location including a Bugatti Chiron, McLaren Speedtail and Pagani Huayra.

Also read: Promotion of Art: Dubai organizes Light Art Festival

Adrenaline lovers can get their fix of thrills at the Watersports area with a variety of displays including jet skiing and fly boarding, with professionals ready to demonstrate their talents.

Dubai’s International Marine Club holds the finale of its hotly contested fishing competition at the show, while mini maritime fans can enjoy the designated Kids’ Area with fun and educational activities themed around the love of the ocean, including face painting.

The show offers numerous culinary options catering to all cravings. Taste buds can be satisfied with an array of options from food trucks available ranging from refreshing poke bowls to savoury pizzas, with a selection of vegetarian and vegan offerings, as well as premium coffee for caffeine lovers.

This edition will once again, welcome the Nikki Beach Resort Lounge to wow visitors with its delectable and diverse menu of ocean inspired meals, healthy salads, creative sushi rolls, appetizers, and variety of refreshing cocktails, alongside a lively atmosphere with the renowned beach club’s resident DJs.

‘Proudly UAE’ will celebrate local boatbuilders and supply companies while Dive MENA will showcase the cutting-edge underwater technology and equipment, and discuss and innovations in diving tech. It will entail an exciting agenda of entertaining activities such as underwater games, exciting scuba diving experiences, and fun water-based competitions, offering the only event of its kind for UAE and GCC diving communities, both professional and keen amateurs alike.

Published under the International Cooperation Protocol with Middle East Business

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