1.0. SAD NEW YEAR.
Notice the conspicuous absence of the word “Happy”.
A small Sri Lankan girl, clad in white, planting a candle in the sand for compatriots demolished by the sea monster of a tsunami that is still throwing up new victims as the death toll climbs past one hundred and fifty thousand children, men and women;
An elderly Indian woman, clearly devastated clutches desperately to memories of her departed grand daughter destroyed along with hundreds of other sons, wives, husbands, cousins, friends, neighbours, co-workers and former adversaries;
An Indonesian man donning a gas mask as he joins a team of volunteers confronting the grim prospect of dealing with rotting remains of thousands of fellow Indonesians who were laughing and chatting less than ten days ago, completely unaware of the sudden slap of death that would rise so cruelly from the sea to claim way more than eighty thousand Indonesian lives.
A motley bunch of Thais, armed with yellow flowers gather at Patong Beach to remember the dead ones…
In a suburb in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia more than 1,000 Muslims, Hindus, Sikhs Christians and Buddhists earlier today (Saturday, January 01, 2005) attended a service organized in a temple by a Buddhist group in an ecumenical coming together of spiritual reflections on the tsunami catastrophe.
The Germans showed their generosity of spirit and another manifestation of their progressive internationalist humanist consciousness(so often overlooked because of names like Hitler and Nazi) by transforming New Year’s Eve parties
into FUNDRAISING EVENTS for the victims of the tragedy in Asia, the Pacific, the Indian Ocean and east African coast. This simple gesture of global solidarity netted 330,000 euros (approx $448,900) when 300,000 Berlin revelers gathered at the Brandenburg gates decided to fork out muthendi instead of quaffing another quart of pilsner.
In Paris, France those
famous trees on that most famous avenue in the world
were draped in
BLACK, to symbolize mourning(and today we will FORGIVE the Europeans for morbidly associating the colour of millions of African, Caribbean, South Asian and Latin American and even European skins with darkness, sadness and sorrow)…
Here is an overview of what was happening elsewhere around the world even as an Irish media portal informed us that aid pledges for the tsunami victims had already topped 2 billion US dollars.
The real question is this:
What fraction of those billions of dollars will actually assist the average Sinhalese or Tamil villager who has lost his or her entire family? What portion of those billions of dollars will actually help Indonesian fisher people climb back to their feet? What segment of those billions of dollars will assist the Thais, the Somalis, the Indians and other direct victims of the disaster?
On the other hand, what fraction of those billions of dollars will go to pad the salaries, per diems,perks and other so called "operating costs" of those well meaning vultures otherwise known as the world’s leading relief agencies who rub their fingers in glee every time there is a genocide in Rwanda, ethnic cleansing in Bosnia, a bombing in Afghanistan, a famine in Mogadishu, a hurricane in Jamaica or a drought in Mozambique????
Call me an ingrate bastard but let me be among those few, frank, blunt and honest “ingrate bastards” like David Rieff (open this link as well) and Alex de Waal when I demand greater transparency and accountability from these money eating non-profit bureaucratic godzillas who feast on human misery and help to sustain the booming poverty industry. Yes, there is in fact a poverty industry and it has its well known non-corporate, multi-million dollar budgeted octopuses.
There is an alternative way of supporting the tsunami victims and survivors. Consider this email that was sent to many of us who are part of this mailing list that is coordinated from Colombo, Sri Lanka by Kris & May, a progressive Sinhalese/Chinese Canadian couple who are veterans of many social justice struggles in Toronto before they relocated to South Asia close to a decade ago now:
Dear friends & family (& family/friends of friends/family - or we r a
growing 'family of friends'):
First, thanks for all your responses and donations so far ($2000) &
IMPORTANT: ***Our intention is to acknowledge directly & individually
each & EVERY donation of any kind, even w only a short note when we r
too busy. Beyond this being appreciation for all response, this is also
crucial IN CASE YOUR REPLY WAS LOST (ie in cyber oblivion, or since we
r getting the usual spam - they never give up? - so tho we try to check
carefully, we may also delete by mistake esp. new people to the list).
So always 1) give a relevant SUBJECT title; and 2) WRITE AGAIN & CC to
sympatico-server emails sometimes never get to us here).
Also, since we will soon be posting updated detailed lists of donors,
as well as recipients: Please in your emails detailing donations tell
us if you or any others listed want to remain 'Anonymous', or how u
want to be identified etc. Since this appeal is now being fwd'd by many
of u incl. to large group lists, a 2nd group list has been created for
general donors whom we don't know - so u may also specify whether u
want certain co-donor to be placed on that list, or this 'family of
friends' one. We also have a list of updated urgent needed items & info
for all involved in providing emergency material relief.
created by Yapa, our SL friend in Ecuador, to inform his group list about
>>Our good friends in Colombo, Kris and May are taking part in a
long-term community-centred initiative for victims of small, isolated
and overlooked villages in the southeastern coast of Sri Lanka.
Currently they are involved in also providing donations for valuable
direct individual emergency relief, as well as organizing a 1st trip
east with a group of people to set up the rebuilding initiative, and
want to know before setting out, how far donors or groups of donors can
commit in terms of promising $1000 donations toward each sponsored
family for rebuilding. Once the commitment is offered, the donations
could be made monthly or so, since the project is long term. The
donations can also be made by direct deposits in specified accounts in
Canada or US banks. For further details, they can be reached at
early next week, before the 1st trip goes out to deliver emergency
supplies to the area and meet those out east to set up this initiative.
(some of u were not on our earlier email list; if this is the 1st email
from us u got on the tsunami & u want the earlier updates, please
email us) **Note:
'^' at the beginning of the paragraphs below.
community-centred rebuilding initiative for a badly hit area on Sri
Lanka's east coast, around Panama (paa-nuh-mer), in Ampara district,
just north of Yala Park. The initial step is a first trip in a few days
to the area to deliver any needed medical/emergency supplies but also
to discuss with friends/contacts there to set up this initiative for a
number of families from nearby villages & find out exactly what their
needs are that we can help to meet in extended & cooperative way.
Panama town is on higher ground, so many may have also taken refuge
^This area was also chosen because it is an isolated part of one of the
worst affected regions (near the Yala corner of island really took the
brunt is clear), including long-impoverished coastal villages made up
of all 3 main communities (Tamil, Muslim, Sinhala) living together for
centuries, where in fact intermarriage has meant many are bilingual &
most do NOT identify themselves as of one group or the other. It
represents a unique & crucial yet increasingly overlooked part of Sri
Lankan history (will ask Kris, Tilak or any familiar w this to write
more abt this, a better description, hopefully even photos to come
director here, who last year set up Uva Community Radio in Bandarawela,
one of the country's first & certainly most successful community radio
stations, which we also visited twice and travelled around Uva province
to the linked-up knowledge societies then set up. They also worked with
community links in Uva's neighbouring Eastern province including in
Panama. These are the local contacts Tilak wants to go to locate now to
set up this community rebuilding initiative. Two participating Uva
Community Radio broadcasters have spoken on phone with NGO-level
contacts in Pottuvil, the largest town north of Panama. The group
planning to go in few days east to the area will include these two
broadcasters (Tamil & Sinhala speaking), Tilak, a woman to assess
particularly the women's needs, Kris, & a couple of others. A large
(10-seater) 4-wheel-drive van needs to be rented w driver (unless
someone knows where this can be donated from).
^We have already raised the funds to cover this initial trip, but still
need further donations to buy emergency supplies to distribute. We are
currently compiling lists of what is needed from contacts in the
general area and friends who are in Ampara, a very bad-hit (& now
flooded, tonight impassable, as we heard at state pharmacy when we were
buying some relief supplies) area just to the north. It should be made
clear we are for the next days also focusing on channelling donations
that have come in toward many emergency requests that have come from
friends in Akkaraipattu, Ampara, as well as other areas, incl.
Payagala, close to Colombo where one friend, Dhammika collected food
from neighbours to feed very hungry tsunami victims (also plan to
quickly compile reports of this & other amazing efforts many unsung
individuals we know have made).
out in a few days, is to have a general idea of how much people can
donate or raise over there in Toronto, San Francisco, NY, Melbourne,
etc, as well as here in SL; mainly because when they meet with
villagers there they need to know what they can promise vs false
expectations. We are hoping that a commitment can be made by as many
people or organizations as possible to sponsor families to rebuild
their lives after losing everything. With an estimated Rs100,000
(US$1000) needed for each family, we are hoping we can receive a
commitment from enough individuals, groups of friends, families, as
well as organizations including other community radio stations. Please
let us know ASAP, if you think you can commit to raising enough money
(& this is not right away necessarily but could be over weeks) to
sponsor one family. It would be good if the group could go to the
Panama area next week with a commitment to be able to provide at least
10-20 families with rebuilding assistance; and hopefully it could keep
growing from there.
some of you being sent this. Another option is individuals can commit
to a regular monthly donation of whatever they can afford: $10, $25,
$50. Some of you have responded you will be collecting donations at
temples, social gatherings, or from your colleagues, etc. Certainly
what would also be
individual initiatives still taking place by friends & others
known/trusted by us to fill in the gaps in this initial period, as well
as for the trip out east next week (also, every day we have also been
helping to provide requested items or funds to many friends now
delivering emergency supplies to many other areas - flooded
Akkaraipattu, earlier deliveries to Matara in south, incl. transport
and clothes, and 100 individual bags of requested women's needs to a
friend's hometown in Ambalangoda on the west coast).
contribution would be appreciated
want it to go toward anything specific (eg my nieces, including one in
university, the 1st to donate, $200 to assist children, as well as a
10-yr-old nephew who cleaned out his piggy bank).
(international, govt) is the main stress here is on going directly to
the people and 1st finding out exactly what they need, and also on
people-to-people continuity, so that the village won't be abandoned
after the headlines abandon this tragedy in a couple of weeks. The plan
is to support the most affected communities to ensure their own
expressed needs are priority, and that they maintain as much control as
possible on the rebuilding process of their own livelihoods - working
together with Uva Radio & others like Tilak who have built connections
with those communities. Our role is to coordinate the collection of
funds & be responsible for, incl. accounting for the use, & be the
initial link for communication between those families & donors both
local & international. Reports on this 1st trip, & progress reports to
be regularly provided.
similar organizations in places like Toronto (CKLN, CHRY, CUIT), Montreal(CKUT) SF, NY
or Australia, etc. who may be able to also help coordinate donations,
esp. if they can provide charitable tax receipts for people wanting to
make larger donations (we have already been asked about this). * CKLN
has just offered to do this for us in Toronto - more details to come.
If any of you with contacts or part of such stations/groups could give
us an expressed interest or even commitment in the next day or so, that
would be really helpful.
^I am willing to accept individual donations right away from Toronto or
anywhere in Canada at a TD Canada Trust bank into my TD savings account
(same as details given earlier: branch 1160, account no. 103801; my
full name: May Yee). please check, & keep receipts, & of course:
email us with full details, for accounting purposes, even if u don't
other countries like
no-fee deposits into this account
details for depositing into my Metro Credit Union account (ie if you
can transfer from a similar account or can conveniently make a deposit
at the Bay&College, York University or any other branch). Those in NY
or US can also write Vasuki (VNesiah@ictj.org), who can pass on the
funds. For now easy access through international withdrawals from bank
machines here is the most direct way that also avoids transfer fees.
Ranil (firstname.lastname@example.org)is also trying to set up a more organized website and group link in San Francisco, to coordinate transfer of funds for initiatives like this.
Are there other ideas how this can be simply facilitated (eg people
coming to SL from those places in next while)? There will be a separate
account set up in Colombo for the long-term rebuilding initiative
Please give feedback quickly - & of course any donations or promises
(or just hopeful attempts or suggestions) you can spare. Any kind of
offers of assistance will be appreciated, & our creative & practical
ideas, further related info, are also valuable. Pass this onto other
friends & families you think will be interested in this kind of direct,
independent, long-term people-to-people community initiative. We look
forward to hearing from you, even if it's just to say you support the
idea! (cos we know many already donated lots or involved in other
Please fwd the email below to any of your friends or family & ask them
to either reply directly to this address if they want to join our main
list, or to you if you think you can coordinate a sponsoring group.
2.0 It is Year 46 of the Cuban Revolution.
Cubans and friends of Cuba around the world are today celebrating the 46th edition of the triumph of January 1, 1959 Revolution that overthrew the brutal, racist, neo-colonial US puppet regime of dictator
Fulgenzio Batista who fled with his rich elitist friends to fester and brood about a fascist restorations from their dens in Miami and other parts of that notorious Republican vote stealing state.
Check out these
Young COMMUNISTS in Cuba
who still say, “Socialism or Death” even as some graying Kenyan donkeys online bray and pray as they pay homage to Ronald Reagan, Richard Nixon and both Bushes for their hostile anti-Cuba policies.
Ironically, Cuba had a nice Xmas day present when they struck oil. You can read more about the Cuban oil discovery from this mainstream petroleum trade rag. For additional info on the new foreign exchange regulations that went into effect today (January 1, 2005) click here.
Another good piece of news about Cuba has to do with the recently signed agreements between Cuba and Venezuela and growing cooperation with Brazil.
Guess who is the real pharmaceutical giant in Latin America?
3.0. It is Yiyou, the Mwaka of the Jogoo
to KANU Life Members
going dizzy and giddy online as they read this:
Please put away the chilled muratina, the warm busaa, the brand new changaa and the iced mnazi.
It is not YOUR year you
victims of the Unbwogable 2002 electoral bulldozers, you
pathetic kleptocratic throwbacks!
Yes, it is the
Year of the Rooster in the CHINESE calendar oh, you adorable, goofy, gullible KANU dimwits.
you really thought this section and this entire essay was about YOU, didn’t you?
4.0. It is the Kenyan Year for Mass Democratic Action
I have made it an annual tradition.
For the last couple of years I have made it a habit to unleash a digital on the very first day of each brand new year.
In 2003, literally hours after Mwai Kibaki was having his first self-indulgent ndoto filled usingizi over at the Ikulu, I penned the following lines delineating what I felt were
Demoratic Tasks of The NARC Government. I was quite hopeful and optimistic back then, about the reform potential of those jokers so I was not exactly stingy with my effusive appreciation of their collective capacity to attempt a clean break with the Nyayo nightmare decades.
Exactly a year later, on New Year’s Day, 2004, the scales had fallen from my eyes and I turned my entreaties to my fellow compatriots,
Kenyans with a Progressive Conscience.
2004 offered an interesting terrain of collaboration and struggle within and among left leaning Kenyans with a democratic, patriotic, reformist or even revolutionary agenda. The Bomas of Kenya national constitutional conference revealed deep cleavages within these ranks as one wing of the reform movement who had been in the trenches opposing the KANU dictatorship remained wary of delegates who were seemingly harvested from KANU zones or through Moi gerrymandering. A big chunk of Bomas Delegates including veteran leftists like
Wahu Kaara, Oduor Ongwen, Odenda Lumumba and Mwandawiro Mghanga were on the contrary at the forefront of the Bomas campaign for a new democratic constitution that culminated in the adoption of the Zero Draft on March 15, 2004. Charges and counter charges of opportunism flew back and forth- to ideological strangers let me tell you this:
It takes only TWO leftists to form five political movements, all from the original ONE movement.
A bizarre fifteen seconds of infamy occurred sometime mid year when a leaked confidential letter from Prof. Makau wa Mutua revealed that the former student leader and exile was calling on Moi’s former vice-president Mwai Kibaki to dump three time political detainee Raila Odinga.
The rapprochement of the broad democratic Kenyan Left was triggered in my opinion by two related events:
(a)the Anglo Fleecing scandal that implicated NAK insiders like Mwiraria and Murungaru and
(b)the cabinet reshuffle that saw the entry of former ethnic cleansing hawks like William Ole Ntimama and Kipkalya Kones and well known comprador fat cats like Njenga Karume and Simeon Nyachae join the so called “Government of National Unity.”
For instance Makau suddenly changed tack and tactics and started lambasting Kibaki and all the same NAK people he had been wining and dining with ideologically, if not actually. By year’s end, both the NCEC which had taken the Bomas process to court, and the LSK that had trashed the Zero Draft were so disgusted by the emerging
that the LSK chair was making a very big deal of stepping down from a sinecure appointment.
All of these realignments took place against the backdrop of ongoing war in Iraq, the machinations of the IMF and the carrot and stick strategy of the gang of very organized donor missions in Nairobi.
By year’s end one could see that the arrest of
KANU Kapenguria MP Moroto was supposed to serve as a warning to the Mwandawiro Mghangas and other like minded parliamentarians that the Kibaki-NAK neo-colonial state would not content itself with suppressing, delaying or watering down the Ndungu Land Report- it was prepared to use the same coercive weapons its Moi predecessor employed not too long ago. At around the same time the brazen rejection of Ngilu’s National Health Insurance scheme boomed with echoes of Hilary Clinton’s fate even as it revealed the true neo-conservative mean spirited essence of the Othaya MP who often hides behind a fake avuncular veneer while in reality he protects and projects the exclusive golf club members mentality of the ruling bunch in Nairobi although one would be to naïve not to detect behind the scenes pressure being exerted perhaps by the US diplomatic mission in the Kenya capital.
Not reported in the public domain are the series of informal contacts being made between Kenyans inside and outside the country to discuss the kind of Kenya we want.
For obvious reasons, I will NOT detail the contents of some very interesting interactions that I have made with certain Europe and Kenyan comrades and friends.
Suffice to say this:
Mass Democratic Action NEED NOT conjure up this cataclysmic, once in a lifetime massive uprising in the streets of Nairobi, Mombasa. Kisumu, Nakuru, Eldoret, Kitale and elsewhere.
Rather, Mass Democratic Action for me implies the following:
6. Wananchi based Activities predicated on the goal of building a new Kenya.
If you are still nattering and muttering about what this is all about, perhaps a familiarization with the history of the
South African United Democratic Front may serve as a pointer for the actually clueless.
Kwanza nani, jump in with this historical overview of the UDF.
Follow that with this statement that launched the UDF.
Next see if you can identify any potential Kenyan equivalents to the UDF component groups.
Halafu, next soma this editorial and ask yourself, kwani how come Katiba Watch cannot transform itself into a Kenyan UDF?
Kisha usonge mbele to this 5 year assessment of the UDF issued by the National Executive Council of the ANC in August 1988.
Na usikomee hapo. Endelea kusoma this brilliant look back at the 20th anniversary of the UDF penned by
Dr. Blade Nzimande, the General Secretary of the South African Communist Party.
Compare the UDF experience with the structures in the Occupied Territories by getting an insight from Palestinian progressive leader
Dr. Mustafa Bargouthi speaking about the rise of
Mubadara aka the Palestinian National Initiative. If you go to this Democracy Now link you can listen to an interview where the presidential candidate for the upcoming Palestinian elections talks about his humiliating and racist experience at the hands of the Israeli forces.
But hey, listen:
...if we leave it there for today?
Many netters are too drunk to stagger out of bed, yet here I am, my usual nerdy self, writing long political essays on New Year’s Day for goodness sake!