Saturday, November 22, 2008

On a White President in South Africa


Taken from Article by: Sandile Memela

The ANC’s commitment to non-racialism is unquestionable but it may need another 100 years to deliver a white president. This is not a problem of the organisation’s principles and ideals per se. Instead, it is the legacy of colonialism and apartheid.
Of course, when it first started out in 1912, the ANC was an exclusive African liberation movement. Its primary purpose was the total liberation of African people. So, whoever joined the organisation later was required to put the interests of African people, first.
What that means is that if you were Indian, coloured or white who joined the ANC, you accepted that you were part of the family because you truly believed that Africans had a right to self-determination, especially the leadership of their own indigenous organisation.
Significantly, in the late 1950s, the ANC experienced an ideological split when Robert Sobukwe suspected that non-Africans exerted too much influence and thus were taking over the leadership of the ANC. According to him, this compromised the rights of Africans to fight for the return of their land and for political self-determination. As far as Sobukwe was concerned, this South Africa was, essentially, a black man’s country and whoever chose to live and die here would do so under the terms of African people.
In the 1950s the ANC would not budge from non-racialism and thus Sobukwe was allowed to leave with those who did not buy into the notion of non-racialism. Thus in 1959 the PAC was launched.
The ANC survived it first major split and grew stronger because of its unwavering commitment to non-racialism. In fact, it was African nationalists in the ANC who suggested that Indians, coloureds and whites should organise themselves (along racial lines,) first, to join what later became known as the Congress Alliance. But this was a partnership that would, primarily, work towards African liberation and political liberation.

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Those almost Jewish Puritans


by Ted Roberts

Why is it important for us American Jews of 2008 to know that in 1649, a Puritan couple, asked for a repeal of Edward I's Act of Jewish banishment - in effect for 350 years?The key fact is their Puritanism - a form of Christianity - that accented the Old Testament and drove them to sympathy with Judaism. It was the core of the faith of those who founded our America.All this reminds me of the best theological secret of the past millennium - especially to Jews. It concerns those wandering, persecuted Puritans. Strange people. Revolutionary in their religious beliefs. They loved the Old Testament - our Humash - unanimously swear to it.Before you slice into your traditionally rare, half-done turkey, next Thanksgiving give a thought to those strange birds, the Pilgrims. What a rare breed they were - typical of the exotics who stand the world on its head. Hacking, sniffing, trembling with chills in the late New England Fall, they sat down to the first Thanksgiving. They gave thanks, as we do, before every meal. More prayerful than usual because it was their Seder equivalent. And so what if half of them had fluttered skyward that year? Those celestial beings were happier than the earthy survivors, since they were wrapped in warm clouds and dined to their full at heavenly tables. So, laugh and dance like the Chasids. You see, they believed in Heaven.The secret of their Jewish leanings is not widely known to most rabbis and their flock. These alienated folks left the 17th Century urbanity of London for the stone-cold wilderness of savage North America. The "New Zion", they called it - does that give you a clue? "The Puritans' mania for the Old Testament developed directly out of their experience of persecution by the established church." So says the renowned historian Barbara Tuchman in her 1957 book Bible and Sword.. She verifies my vague suspicions that our American forefathers were SO Jewish that you wonder why the old pictures don't show them in yarmulke and tiffilin.

According to Tuchman, fleeing persecution, the Puritans saw themselves as 16th Century Israelites; named their kids Abraham, Sarah, Isaac, and Rebecca. Did you know that the seal of Yale and Harvard is in Hebrew of all things. "They paid a respect to the Hebrew language that they refused to the language of their gospels...." Tuchman tells us. Even McCauley, the greatest of English historians, rants about their "Hebraic leanings". It was no secret - they flew the flag of Moses and metaphorically, culturally waged war with episcopal Christianity. Another historian, Cunningham, sums it up neatly: "The general tendency of Puritanism was to discard Christian morality and to substitute Jewish habits in its stead".

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A Quick Look at Piracy

Taken from Source:

Pirate is a forgiving word. Thanks to at least two centuries of British and American romanticism - Lord Byron to Johnny Depp - it implies a man (or in two famous instances, a woman) who is not wholly bad and many moral levels professionally above footpads, rapists and serial killers. For instance, is there an epoch known to historians as the Golden Age of Rape? No, but sometimes in books about buccaneers you will find the Golden Age of Piracy, which in British terms lasted from the 1650s till about 1725.
In some respects, the pirates of Somalia are behaving in the classic tradition. According to reports, they are spending millions of dollars of ransom money on imported food, alcohol, drugs and prostitutes, just as predecessors debauched and befuddled themselves whenever possible with tobacco, rum and whoring. In other ways, though, their behaviour (so far) matches the romantic ideal rather than the brutal reality.
More than 200 kidnapped sailors are being well looked after on a dozen hijacked ships that have been moored at the fishing port of Eyl; or, in the case of the Sirius Star, their biggest prize, a few hundred miles down the Somali coast at Harardheere. No harm has been done to them. What their captors want are dollars from the ships' owners, not the blood of their crews. With this in mind, a Somali pirate with historical leanings might scoff at the outrage of David Miliband and consider the case of Thomas Avery, whose old exploits in the present Somali hunting ground, the Gulf of Aden, make modern piracy look like peacetime manoeuvres by a marine branch of the Fabian Society.
According to the historian David Cordingly's account, in his book Life Among the Pirates, Avery was a typical British pirate - "of middle height, rather fat, with a dissolute appearance". He was born in Plymouth in 1653, served in the Royal Navy, and then seized command (the captain was drunk at the time) of an English privateer - a privately owned ship licensed by the government to attack the state's enemies. By 1695, he was prowling at the entrance to the Red Sea waiting for the pilgrim fleet that sailed every year from India to Mecca, filled with valuables, because pilgrimage was also an opportunity to trade, and protected by the heavily armed ships of the Great Mogul in Delhi. Avery got lucky. One of his cannonballs dismasted the Great Mogul's flagship, which was not only carrying piles of gold and silver but also many slave girls and, it was said, one of the Great Mogul's daughters. What Cordingly calls "an orgy of rape, torture and plunder" lasted days and Avery's crew got away with the equivalent of £1,000 each.
The English government was embarrassed - it needed to preserve the East India Company's relationship with the Mogul emperor - and eventually caught six of the pirates and had them hanged. Avery himself vanished; rumour suggests he died in poverty in Devon, rather like Ben Gunn at the end of Treasure Island who spent a thousand pounds in 19 days and was "back begging on the twentieth". Like most pirates, Avery was an amoral opportunist who switched easily among the blurred divisions between privateering, buccaneering and sailing as a navy or merchant seaman (by the end of the 17th century the average age of a pirate was 27 - roughly the same as Somalia's modern pirates - and almost all had begun their working lives in the Royal Navy or on cargo ships).
Still, his legacy was profound: you might even argue that he began the process that enabled the careers of Byron's Corsair, Long John Silver, Captain Hook and Errol Flynn, and has brought us to the recently announced Pirates of Caribbean, Part IV. A now obscure dramatist, Charles Johnson, took the story of Avery's barbarous raid in the Gulf of Aden and turned it into a play, The Successful Pyrate, in which all the horrid facts were left behind.
Avery, now King Arviragus of Madagascar, became the first of piracy's noble outlaws. A captured ship is brought to him. It contains the Mogul's granddaughter, the fair Zaida. Arviragus falls in love, but Zaida loves another: one of her fellow captives, the young Aranes. Disaster! Revelation! Aranes turns out to be Arviragus's long lost son.
The play opened at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, in 1713, the first in a succession of pirate melodramas that went on being produced well into the 19th century, until Gilbert and Sullivan's satirical The Pirates of Penzance put an end to them. But where did writers do their research, supposing any were needed? The answer comes from the same period in a book by a Captain Johnson, who in 1724 published A General History of the Robberies and Murders of the Most Notorious Pyrates, which ran to several editions and was translated into French.
Nobody knows who Johnson was: a theory that Daniel Defoe was the author has now been discredited. But his book became the seminal text. Out of it came the public's first appreciation of Blackbeard and Captain Kidd and the two women pirates, Mary Read and Anne Bonny. Robert Louis Stevenson consulted it, when, in a Highland cottage during the wet and chill summer of 1881, he began to devise an entertainment for his stepson. Nobody in Johnson's book says "yo-ho-ho and a bottle of rum" but there is a vivid description of "a fellow with a terrible pair of whiskers, and a wooden leg, being stuck around with pistols ... swearing and vapouring on the quarter deck".
By the time Stevenson invented John Silver, real pirates were at best a folk memory in the western world. A few might survive in the South China Sea, but efficient navies had destroyed them elsewhere. Motivation had also been reduced. Pirates often fenced their stolen cargoes to smugglers, but free trade had dramatically lowered import duties and smuggling died as an occupation.
The way was open for the pirate as an antihero, the rebel against society, or simply a comic character as in Captain Hook. As Pieter van der Merwe of the National Maritime Museum says: "Blackbeard was a terrible man - a psychopath - but piracy had been effectively wiped out in the 18th century. You forgot the fact that it was a curse.'
It became a hobby. Philip Gosse, the son of litterateur and memoirist Edmund Gosse, was a doctor who collected nearly 500 books on piracy and in 1932 published an authoritative history of the subject (his library is now the Gosse collection at the National Maritime). And next it became a study, with historians anxious to revise or enlarge our previously simple ideas. Some pirates were proto-feminists and others gay (Sodomy and the Pirate Tradition, 1983). In The Many-Headed Hydra, Peter Linebaugh and Marcus Rediker define pirate ships as "multinational, multicultural and multiracial" institutions - fine little democracies - that resisted the oppression of the capitalist merchant shipping industry. Pirates were "egalitarian, class-conscious and justice-seeking" and always shared their spoils.

For the rest gp to the source