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on the politics of blaming history...
02:40:11 PM Wednesday Oct 22, 2008

I really liked this cartoon by Gado, a brilliant Tanzanian cartoonist, featured in the current issue of Farafina magazine. We Africans (north, south, east west, white black, arab berber, zulu, and yoruba too) come from a world burdened and shackled by its own history. As an outsider, who never lived in Africa aside from a few visits, I wonder if my own ambitions and dreams to "help my country someday" stem from a naive POV, or if distance can make the will grow stronger. Does being mired daily in the effects of historical tragedies cloud one's vision and will to overcome?? How can Africans shake off that negativity and cultural tendency to blame history, and look to the future and continue to hope, build, and grow, and not just apathetically "survive" the daily hardships?

note to self: must get a copy of his collections of cartoons in The End of an Error and the Beginning of a New One! and Democrazy!...
soo... anyone want to buy my xmas gift a little early this year? :o)

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3:29 am    October 26, 2008

Salem message
"The wicked leader is he who the people despise. The good leader is he who the people revere. The great leader is he who the people say, We did it ourselves".



3:07 pm    October 24, 2008

Blooming Warda message
good point, Adnane Ben. It is about finding leadership within us, and believing that we are part of the system. if the system is wrong it's because we have our share of the blamet.

I remember studying about Public Sphere and how it developed in France and England and the United States in late 1700s and early 1800s. Public Sphere refers to the political and social discussions that gather both leaders or presumptive leaders with followers. Participants in the public sphere used to be common educated people, and these public discussions of issues of concern used to take place in public arenas. Now we call these gatherings "town hall meetings" "presidential debates"... Common people used to have a say in the political direction they choose. Today, the public is excluded from any political discussions because ....??? Is it the public's choice or is it the leaders' greed to monopolize decision making? I can not answer for sure but there are a few supporting arguments to both suggestions.

the Public prefers to watch Grey's Anatomy or Dancing with the Stars, rather than listen to some "boring" political discourse. Believe it or not, More people voted in American Idol than they voted in the presidential election. In the last legislative elections in Morocco a disappointing number of people voted. Why do not we make our voices heard when we have a chance to? Again, there are plenty of supporting argument to answer to this question

But one thing is for sure, we can explore our leadership by chosing leaders that we see fit.


2:42 pm    October 24, 2008

Blooming Warda message
Apologies accepted :) peace

2:17 pm    October 24, 2008

hudhud message
speaking of followership... it never ceases to amaze me how badly people really want to love and believe in their rulers (or leaders, if you will..). During this election year, I've been watching the campaigns and always find myself intrigued at those who support their candidate so strongly, and get so emotionally connected to the idea of them becoming their future leader/ruler.

It's fascinating.

I watch all this from the back seat, cynic though I am, I still can't help but watch and wonder...

what makes them tick? what gets them so emotionally fired up about their political leaders? how do they convince themselves to keep believing in them?

and after all that emotional rush is over, and the years go on with their candidate of choice ruling at last.. do they remain faithful followers?

curiouser and curiouser are those who shred each other to pieces then claim to turn and be "friends" and shake hands and say things like "let's unite" and together we can overcome our mutual opponent, etc. etc. etc.

(sorry for the ramble.. I'm mildly food comatose.. but the questions are genuine. :o)


1:59 pm    October 24, 2008

Adnane Ben. message
When talking about policies, we can invoke two main players among others: leaders and followers. How about the quality of leadership in our countrymen and women. Were we brought up in a way that introduces the quality of leadership to our behavior, in a way that makes us explore the leader in us, and experience this quality and nurture it? Did our families contribute to this teaching? did our school system? did the mosque? On the other hand, were we brought up in a way that makes us the best followers we can be? in a way that we encourage good leadership when we see one, and criticize bad leadership?

isn't the secret of a great nation in reaching a balance of great leadership and great followership?


1:28 pm    October 24, 2008

Rasta Gnawi message
My apologies. I didn't mean to attack you through your comments. If I questioned your point, it wasn't because I thought it was not a good one, rather the opposite. It's a critical issue to me, because much of my research is done on development policies in Africa. So if I hear something interesting, I like to pursue it as far as I can. Perhaps 'disturbing' was the wrong choice of words.

I apologize again for any misunderstanding.


1:05 pm    October 24, 2008

Blooming Warda message
Ok, so according to your steamy response, we have to go on blaming others for our shortcomings and non-deliverance. When I say shortcomings and non-deliverance, I do not mean that we were inherently born with these deficiencies but we acquired them thourought our upbrining. We are part of it and our goverment is part of it too, but let's not throw all the blame on the other and exclude our selves from the equation.

In my comment, I never insinuated that some people have "inherent ineptitude", your impressions are very wrong. I said in the last line that we are all born equal no matter what color is our skin. What I meant is that before we blame others on our miseris, we have to challenge ourselves before we challenge others, and that's what I meant by looking at the mirror, we need to fight our won demons first.

I hope others can participate and take the steam away from me. I do not want to butthead with Rasta Gnawi who is taking it very seriously.

P.S. Nothing in my previous comment is disturbing. you need to cool down. hot shwiyat lhamed 3la dik ras skhouna :)


11:43 am    October 24, 2008

hudhud message
and to all that, all I can say is.. Rasta G for President!



10:48 am    October 24, 2008

Rasta Gnawi message
Blaming others is not common only in third world countries, but in all countries. Just look at the financial crisis in the US and check out the blame game. It's human nature. You have to understand that people have intrinsic abilities to learn and grow. Those abilities go to waste if they are not afforded an environment that fosters them. Government failure can be seen at several levels, the most obvious one is in education and the high levels if illiteracy seen in third world countries. So JFK can afford to ask that question because his country provides more than a minimum level of support for its people and youth in particular. Others don't have that luxury.

I will ask Warda to explain this statement, because I find it disturbing: "When are we going to face ourselves in the mirror and see our true selves?" What is our true self? How have we acquired this self (culture, biology?) What will we see in the mirror that is different from what we think we are?

My impression from the statement is that you wish to transfer the blame from others into the people themselves (some inherent ineptitude.) How about we set our sight squarely on the body that makes decisions that impact people. Then we look for the rational behind the decisions. If the decisions were well-meaning and well thought out, then we move down to the second level; the one that is in charge of execution, and see if they've put forth best effort, and we keep moving down the chain, making adjustments along the way. There will be plenty of blame going around, but blame is just another way of asking why something is not as it should be.


10:27 am    October 24, 2008

Blooming Warda message
the politics of blaming others rather than ourselves is a common factor in third world countries. Such phrases as "the goverment is to blame, the western world is to blame, ect..." is very popular among common people as well as our "scholars". When are we going to face ourselves in the mirror and see our true selves? There is a a statement that JFK said in his presidential campaign that still marks me a lot: "ask not what your country can do for you, ask what you can do for your country". Unfortunately, that is not part of our colletctive mindeset.

Going back to the secondary discussion of cognitive or biological inferiority of certain groups of people's compared to other groups of people is embeded in our daily culture. What strikes me is that some scientists believe they can prove it based on scientific findings.

Early this year, James Watson made an explosive interview with a British magazine in which he claims that black people are less intelligent compared to white people and that all government policies that aimed at helping black people and african countries failed because these policies considered black people as equally intelligent.

By the way, James Watson is a DNA pioneer and Nobel Prize winner. After his statements, he was sent to early retirement from the laboratory where he conducted his scientific research.

I think that we were all created equal regardless of the color of our skin.


3:21 pm    October 23, 2008

hudhud message
"biological evolutionary issues"

that instantly made me wonder if he takes an environmental determinist pov.. but then I googled him/his book..

"Gregory Clark, an economic historian at the University of California, Davis, believes that the Industrial Revolution — the surge in economic growth that occurred first in England around 1800 — occurred because of a change in the nature of the human population.
The Industrial Revolution, the first escape from the Malthusian trap, occurred when the efficiency of production at last accelerated, growing fast enough to outpace population growth and allow average incomes to rise. Many explanations have been offered for this spurt in efficiency, some economic and some political, but none is fully satisfactory, historians say.

Dr. Clark’s first thought was that the population might have evolved greater resistance to disease. The idea came from Jared Diamond’s book “Guns, Germs and Steel,” which argues that Europeans were able to conquer other nations in part because of their greater immunity to disease. "


on a side note, Diamond was quite the sensation when he joined my department at ookla. he's a rather eccentric character. seeing the two names together here makes me wonder if Clarke is an eccentric too.

something about people who devote their entire lives to theory and academia, and attempting to solve the mysteries of history..


2:42 pm    October 23, 2008

Rasta Gnawi message
Are Africans really blaming their history? I don't see that when I'm there. What I see is a continent frustrated by its lack of responsiveness to development policies. In that environment, you need to find answers anywhere you can.

I recommend you read a book called "Farewell to Alms" written by Clarke. Really interesting. Even suggests there might be some biological evolutionary issues... Anyway, won't go into that.

Most of the issues in the cartoon have had something to do with creating an unresponsive environment. Sometimes, you can move forward unless you look back and fix the old foundations.


5:20 pm    October 22, 2008

Suzy Cameleon message
Good question. I don't have an answer. Everything that I think of could also be applied here in the poor minority communities - education, cultural awareness events, support groups to elevate people's minds - etc etc.
My other idea is to put an end to racism and tribalism which continues to limit people's ability to move and function to their full potential in the world.

Good luck getting your Christmas gift.


3:18 pm    October 22, 2008

hudhud message
more brilliant gado humour.. madonna



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