Monday, May 27, 2019

Photo by Ian Espinosa on Unsplash

The sclerosis eviscerating the UK is accelerating. The PM Theresa May has resigned. The charge is she had cloth ears, inadequate social skills and political capital to bring together a majority of people to accept her terms to leave the EU.
Her last speech at Downing Street, a eulogy for historian’s first draft, was so skewed with references of her generosity that you coughing back into your pint wouldn’t be unbecoming.
She failed, but in her mind she was smited. Forces on her own side did her in. What happens next? An SOS call sign is being lit.
A new tory to be PM is being sought. The field is widening. Old adversaries will face one another e.g. Gove vs Johnson and the tories’ 100, 000 members will close the deal. What a deal it is?
The mood now is towards Brexit by any means necessary. On October 31st deal or no deal, a majority of all the contenders for the game of thorned thrones are in unison. But the chances of a deal seem so slim from any of the UK’s vantage points.
That’s not the half of it, political guru John Curtice’s analysis or not. Conservatives flocked from Ukip to Brexit to leave the EU. Once the UK leaves ( is this a given?) they’ll flock back into the Tory ranks ( sorry Fge) where age old policies bind them. The next PM will have to be as calculating and the rest as Daenerys to win back the faithful.
The thinking from those ready to pull away the harness on the parachute is Great Britain can fly without the help of a canopy. Britain like the Marvel’s Hulk can land with aplomb and ram its way to whatever it pleases.
In Britain many are patriots. I could say all, but you’d ask me for evidence? “Many’ is a safe estimate. The issues scaring the bejesus out of many is what happens to economy, when Britain severs ties with the EU and its 69 partners? Britain will cope, is the response.
What happens to doctors and nurses believing they’re no longer welcome. There’s already in nurses a drop by 87% from 6,400 in 2016/17 to 800 in 2017/18 coming from the EU.
Britain will cope, is the response.
The police force suffering cuts over the years and facing a surge in crime looks to a response post-Brexit, for which there’s no panacea in sight. An officer writing in the Guardian explains his anxieties and fears. 20,000 cuts to front line policing has the force teetering on well-being.
Britain will cope.
Writing in the Observer columnist Nick Cohen says
The right has nothing to say about tariffs destroying the car and steel industries and wiping out agricultural exports. Nothing about the service sector, which comprises 80% of our economy, and will find leaving the single market hard enough, let alone a fall into the fire.
Supposedly too Britain will cope.
Britain will regain its fishing territories with staunch defence by officials policing waters. The farming industry, however, will be seeking from government the shortfall in EU subsidised budgets.
So here’s the scenario, worst case, which looms closer. October 31st Britain leaves. The reigning PM banishes the back-stop, N.Ireland holds its breath. What happens next as the PM and cohorts batten down for a cup of tea with their best china does not bear thinking.
The service industry finds itself overwhelmed. Goods and produce in the shops face acute shortages. Health service might only see essential patients, but lack of funds means they’ll be asking for money (pre-privatisation).
The press, having done their job, now really come into their own without readers sensing the rich irony. All that is going wrong is helping to sell more newspapers. Tensions loom between generations of Black, Asian, Minority and Ethnic — who are British — as coarsened nationalists, what with the pressures of the police force, see themselves as taking the law in their hands.
Anyone who would rather have physically done nothing e.g.intervene for those in distress, confront the ugliness in public attitude, make a stand, will now find themselves facing their conscious and having to take sides.
My God What have we done! will be a common refrain. How did we get here? What could we have done to prevent it? And how do we safeguard the next generation, just how?
The warped thinking from commentators advocating a hard leave is, things might get worse, but they’ll get better. That might be the case, but for how long, and how deep?
But no worries. Leave means Leave is the rallying cry and so it’s likely to be so. Great Britain will leave, and then the a reality unrealised will unfold.
So yes Britain needs help my friend. How, we’re not quite sure yet.

Monday, May 06, 2019

Twenty five years ago, the world held its breath; one country in the palm of the human-verse

Photo Award winning photojournalist, Yannis Kontos - for more of his amazing photos go here
Twenty five years ago, a generation or so ago, we watched, some chewed their nails, others cradled their heads in open palms. Was this it? Was this the moment that humanity would be the victor?
A pariah state, South Africa, that had been ostracised from the world because it legally and plaintively viewed non-whites, black people in particular, as sub human had its chance to put the past behind it.
Apartheid, the word does not easily trip of the tongue today alongside other inequities, but it was ugly, fearsome, and real. To socialise, to challenge, to be, to walk down the road and dare hold the hand of someone white incurred wrath, abuse and assaults from white, even sometimes blacks trying to figure out what they were witnessing.
This, the tail end even of Apartheid (1994). I was walking behind a friend; a Londoner, a model, who’d had a child with a South African. They were nonchalant as they strode downtown Joburg. Me, six paces behind could see the orbit of red emotions flaring towards them.
I’d been in South Africa now for little over 18 months, a strategic attempt on my part two years earlier to get a front row seat to the biggest international story of the decade thus far.
I’d left London, part direct thought; other, escaping the toxicity of a climate in which a mini UK recession meant if you were a young reporter searching for work, if you were a young black reporter searching for work expect lean times ahead.
I had spent eight years previously in Ghana, growing up under a regime that festered corruption, counteracted by coups. This clip here was heard live.
In the late 1990s when I did a job for Ghana TV and they asked me how they could pay me, I asked for the Jerry John Rawling’s recording (above) of the coup on that day.
South Africa was closing in on the eye of the prize and there were many forces, hidden and some known, politicking and threatening all sorts. I was fortunate in my education.
My sojourn to SA prompted by an on-air exchange with its ambassador led to a triumvirate friendship with different figures: a leading theatre director and his friends which included diplomats, a cadre of young progressives black and white, and ANC activists and journalists. Something that would help in creating a raft of programmes in 1992, such as this for the domestic broadcaster, “Through the Eyes of a Child”.

I got to know a world which was uniquely complex, but I could navigate by how I opened my mouth. Shut, I could be any black South African, though many took me for coloured. Open with a London accent I was British. Open with my Ghanaian accent I was an African foreigner. I could, with the help of my friends like Milton Nkosi, get in and out of Townships, and if the feeling overcame me engage in Kwame Nkrumah’s ideals of African empowerment.
Every student, at least in my college in Ghana, was taught about Nkrumah and history told us about Mandela and many of his colleagues whom either schooled in Ghana or had a great affinity with the country.
Strangely, South Africa’s ultimate story was one that precluded others. An irony of mega proportions. Perhaps, it being the catch of any foreign news outlet, and everyone who was anyone was in South Africa, meant the big guns only were allowed in town.
At a Mandela press conference when I was working for ABC News as a producer, and terrifyingly asked the first three questions, this was evident. I was the only black british broadcast journalist, or one of a handful on the ground. If you were there too, please ping me, I’d like to apologies and correct my myth. Diversity wasn’t a badge of note back then, but think today about looking through the archives and how the world is shaped by narratives.
I earned my spurs reporting South Africa from the 1980s on BBC Radio Leicester, attending various Wembley live band conferences, opened by (Sir) Lenny Henry and British pop.

The narratives weren’t a wrongun, but nuance is something you need when reporting, otherwise translated as a having a different world view. Five years later when I produced and directed Africa’s first co-production under the exec production of Edward Boateng, then head of CNN Africa, now Ghana’s Ambassador to China, we looked to at how each country could report through the lens of its own culture, language and historicity.
Twenty-five years ago then, South Africa’s gathered in long unwinding queues to vote in their first election. The day before violence threatened captured below in reports to the BBC World Service.
The day before, a 40 minute documentary would air on BBC Radio 4. A fitting honest tribute, I think, to a country and people anyone could easily fall in love with. It stands as one of the only international documentaries played on domestic South African radio.

Twenty five years ago we held our breath. The elections passed. Nelson Mandela became president and South Africa titled the earth’s axis to humanism.

But as I would find out from many South Africans five years later in a Channel 4 News videojournalist piece, there had been a political transformation, but not a social one. Today, South Africans go to the poll. The world again is watching, thought with less scrutiny around race, but wealth; wealth, its distribution connected to race, nepotism, corruption and class.
And looming in the distance, less we dare not speak its name are the forces that are wanting to tilt the Ukraine, UK, Europe and US away from humanism. Twenty five years ago they South Africa held the world in their palm. Where will they be in another twenty five years?
Dr David Dunkley Gyimah is an international award winning journalist and the first Brit to win the coveted Knight Batten Award for Innovation in Journalism. He’s an artist, creative and technologist; a former artist in residence at the Southbank Centre, and was one of the younger members in the 1990s to join Chatham House. He’s been a journalist for thirty years and is currently based at te Cardiff School of Journalism. He’s behind the Cinema Journalism movement. More here