Wednesday, 30 September 2020

International Translation Day 2020 : Finding the words for a world in crisis

International Translation Day is observed on September 30, every year on the feast of St. Jerome, the Bible translator who is an epitome and known as the patron saint of the translators. The day aims to celebrate the work of language translation professionals which facilitates dialogue, understanding, and cooperation, contributing to the development and strengthening of world peace and security, and raise the awareness of the importance of their work and express solidarity with the fellow translators worldwide.
Translators play a significant role in diplomatic engagements that not only prevent border disputes and foster peace but also help in the growth of the economy through globalization. St. Jerome was a priest from North-eastern Italy, who is known mostly for his endeavor of translating most of the Bible into Latin from the Greek manuscripts of the New Testament. He also translated parts of the Hebrew Gospel into Greek.
 The International Federation of Translators (FIT) organise the day ever since it was set up in 1953. The first official celebration of ITD was held in 1991. In May of 2017, the United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution and adopted 71/288 on the role of language professionals in connecting nations and fostering peace, understanding, and development, and declared 30 September as International Translation Day.
 The theme of International Translation Day 2020 is “Finding the words for a world in crisis”. – the title seems well-chosen and doesn't need comment. Translators, terminologists, and interpreters provide crucial services both on the front line and behind the news in crisis situations, so the celebration of the day aims to contribute and provide the general public with information about the work.
The idea behind this theme was to bring focus on the use of indigenous languages whose existence is in danger to the extent of extinction. The day was primarily focussed on the role and important work of translators, interpreters, and others who are in the service of the language industry.
The modern, digitalized and technologized world is marked by the swift and dramatic changes of the ways we communicate. The exchange of information has never been faster, the world has never been smaller, but the need for professional human translators has never ceased.
On the contrary, the role of translators in the globalized world is essential. While the communication is flowing in a heartbeat, it is the task and the duty of translators to make sure it is flowing in the right direction and that the precise meaning, intent and style of the message remain intact.
The way the things work has changed and it is going to change even more, but the essence of the translation profession remains the same – to facilitate the exchange of ideas between different languages and cultures in various ways and on different levels. This is exactly what we do at all times, regardless of what it is that we translate – a poem, a novel, a movie, an instruction manual or a website.
Translation is a essential literary endeavour, a means of access into the language, thinking and stories of other cultures, histories and experience.
 This evening on International Translation Day, a digital event will be held to celebrate the success of the winners of the Translation Challenge 2020 competitions, Grug Muse and Eleoma Bodammer. 
This year's challenge was to translate a sequence of short poems by the poet Zafer Şenocak in German entitled 'Nahaufnahmen’.
A prize of £200 each is presented to the two winners and the winning translations will be published on the websites of O’r Pedwar Gwynt and Poetry Wales. The Her Gyfieithu Staff for the best translation into Welsh is also presented to Grug sponsored by Cymdeithas Cyfieithwyr Cymru.
The competition was organised by Wales Literature Exchange, Wales PEN Cymru and Literature Across Frontiers at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David in collaboration with Swansea University, the Association of Welsh Translators, O’r Pedwar Gwynt, Poetry Wales and Goethe-Institut. 
11 entries received in Her Gyfieithu, and the Welsh competition's adjudicator Mererid Hopwood, Professor of Languages and Welsh Curriculum at the University of Wales Trinity Saint David, says that Grug's work was the "translation that caught my imagination more than one of the others and best succeeded in creating the feeling of a 'poem'."
Professor Elin Haf Gruffydd Jones of the Wales Literature Exchange said: “We are delighted that we have been able to hold the Translation Challenge again this year despite the concerns and challenges of the pandemic. The competition is going from strength to strength and this is the twelfth / 12th year that we have held it in collaboration with a number of partners. It is a very important time for us in Wales to celebrate the links between ourselves and other countries, languages and cultures. WLE’s motto is Translating Wales, Reading the World, and this is a very suitable event for International Translation Day.”
During the event we also hear from Eluned Morgan MP, Minister for International Relations and the Welsh Language; Menna Elfyn, President of PEN Cymru and Professor Emerita of Creative Writing University of Wales Trinity Saint David; Gosia Cabaj of Goethe-Institut along with representatives from our other partners. The event is sponsored by the Presiding Officer, Elin Jones MS.
The event will be held at 7pm this Wednesday evening and you can register to be part of the evening by clicking on the link below:
“In the profession of translation, there is no such thing as an ideal, perfect, or correct form of translation. A translator always strives to extend his knowledge and to improve the means of expression; he always pursues the facts and words”
“Without translation been in existence, we would be probably living in provinces bordering on silence”
"If we are talking to a man in a language he understands, that will go to his head. But If we talk to him in his own language, that will go to his heart”
“As per UNESCO, about 40 percent of the 6700 languages spoken around the world are in danger of disappearing."
"Writers make national literature, while translators make universal  literature "Jose Saramago
"Translating from one language to another is the most delicate of intellectual exercises; compared to translation, all other puzzles, from the bridge to crosswords, seem trivial and vulgar. To take a piece of Greek and put it in English without spilling a drop; what a nice skill! " Cyril Connolly"
"The translator is a privileged writer who has the opportunity to rewrite masterpieces in their own language." Javier María

Monday, 28 September 2020

James Berry (28 September 1924 – 20 June 2017) - Outsider

James Berry was born  in Boston, Jamaica on 28 September, 1924 . One of six children. his parents were subsistence farmers, and he enjoyed an early life of rural rhythms and experiences. By the age of ten, however, the young writer began to feel frustrated by what his village could offer. “I began to be truly bewildered by my everyday Jamaican life,” he remarked in a Horn Book piece quoted in Authors and Artists for Young Adults. “I felt something of an alien and an outsider and truly imprisoned.” 
Indeed, rural Jamaica provided Berry with few opportunities. 
Though eager to learn about the wider world, the boy had access to few books. He had to share his single school text with all the other members of his family. But, through Bible stories and traditional folk tales, the young writer began to nurture what he described in the Horn Book as an “inner seeing,” who had “an inner life that could not be shared.ranged from the lyrical to the caustic, but almost all of them intimately caught the speech patterns of his native Jamaica. Berry helped to enrich and diversify the capacities of the English language, making conversational modes of West Indian expression, which a previous generation would have considered exotic or barely literate, normal and easily understood. In doing so he gave literary respectability to forms of language increasingly heard in the streets and playgrounds of multicultural Britain”
When he was 17, during World War II, Berry went to work in the United States. But he resented the treatment of blacks there, and returned to Jamaica after four years. After  opportunities in the West Indies had not improved, in 1948 , as past of the Windrush generation Berry decided to try his luck in London. Working and attending school at night, Berry obtained training as a telegrapher, and worked in that field for more than two decades. At the same time, he began to write short stories and stage plays. and became involved over the years with  many social and cultural organisations in North London, including being sessions organiser for the Carribean Artists Movement.
He  became a much loved poet , helping to  enrich and diversify the capacities of the English language, making conversational modes of West Indian expression, which a previous generation would have considered exotic or barely literate, normal and easily understood. In doing so he gave literary respectability to forms of language increasingly heard in the streets and playgrounds of multicultural Britain.  In 1976 he compiled the anthology Bluefoot Traveller and in 1979 his first poetry collection, Fractured Circles, was published. In 1981,  he then  won the Poetry Society’s National Poetry Competition, the first poet of West Indian origin to do so. He also edited the landmark anthology News for Babylon (1984), which was considered “a ground-breaking publication because its publishing house Chatto & Windus was ‘mainstream’ and distinguished for its international poetry list”.
A pioneering  writer and activist,  his powerful  poem ' Outsider’  was influenced by his own experiences of racism and urgently seeks action for equality. Each stanza questioning ‘If you see me’ is direct criticism and evoked pathos at the lack of education, acknowledgement, and action against the racism embedded in the UK. Sadly so relevant to this day. Black li
Outsider - James Berry
If you see me lost on busy streets
my dazzle is sun-stain of skin,
I'm not naked with dark glasses on
saying barren ground has no oasis:
It's that cracked up by extremes
I must hold self together with extreme pride.

If you see me lost in neglected
woods, I'm no thief eyeing trees
to plunder their stability
or a moaner shouting at air:
it's that voices in me rule
firmer than my skills, and sometimes
among men my stubborn hurts
leave me like wild dogs.

If you see me lost on forbidding
wastelands, watching dry flowers
nod, or scraping a tunnel
in mountain rocks, I don't open
a trail back into time:
it's that a monotony
like the Sahara seals my enchantment.

If you see me lost on long
footpaths, I don't set traps
or map out arable acres:
it's that I must exhaust twigs
like limbs with water divining.

If you see me lost in my sparse
room, I don't ruminate
on prisoners and falsify
their jokes, and go on about
prisons having been perfected
like a common smokescreen of mind:
it's that I moved
my circle from ruins
and I search to remake it whole.

Friday, 25 September 2020

Paulo Freire's Pedagogy of the Oppressed

Born on Septermber 19. 1921 in Recife, Brazil, Paulo  Freire was a philosopher, educator and activist who developed a radical approach to transforming how we approach education. While he was born into a middle class family, Freire’s father died during the economic depression of the thirties, and as a young child, Freire came to know the crippling and dehumanizing effects of hunger which ad a radicalising and transformative effect upon him. Freire saw himself being forced by the circumstances to steal food for his family, and he ultimately dropped out of elementary school to work and help his family financially. It was through these hardships that Freire developed his unyielding sense of solidarity with the poor. From childhood on, Freire made a conscious commitment to work in order to improve the conditions of marginalized people.
He recalled in Moacir Gadotti’s book, Reading Paulo Freire, “I didn’t understand anything because of my hunger. I wasn’t dumb. It wasn’t lack of interest. My social condition didn’t allow me to have an education. Experience showed me once again the relationship between social class and knowledge”  Because Freire lived among poor rural families and laborers, he gained a deep understanding of their lives and of the effects of socio-economics on education.
Freire became a grammar teacher while still in high school. Even then his intuition pushed him toward a dialogic education in which he strived to understand students’ expectations. While on the Faculty of Law in Recife, Freire met his wife, Elza Maia Costa de Oliveira, an elementary school teacher and an important force in his life. They married in 1944 when Freire was 23 and eventually had five children, three of whom became educators  Gadotti asserts that it was Elza who influenced Freire to intensely pursue his studies, and helped him to elaborate his groundbreaking educational methods.
Between 1947 and 1962 he developed effective dialogical methodologies for educating adult illiterates; Freire developed his thinking during a long career teaching Portuguese in secondary schools and literacy campaigns. Later he was appointed as the director of the Department of Education and Culture of the Social Service in the Brazilian state of Pernambuco. It was here that he started working with illiterate poor people. His results were so impressive that he was invited to become director of the national literacy programme. He set out to establish 20,000 cultural learning circles throughout Brazil, for which he planned to import 35,000 slide projectors from Poland. However he was  forced  to flee his native Brazil following a military coup in 1964.
 Freire drew upon Catholic liberation-theology and Marxist ideas to forge a concept of popular literacy education for personal and social liberation. So formidable was his work that the Harvard Educational Review published a recapitulation of his formative essays in 1999.
Freire wrote  his seminal book Pedagogy of the Oppressed while in exile in Chile  while working with the democratically elected Allende government which fell to a CIA-manufactured coup. He spent the next 15 years in what he called exile, working at Harvard  University and for the World Council of Churches in Geneva, organizing and writing books for social justice and he remains a touchstone figure for social justice and equality activists in the global North and South. after a military coup in April 1964, Freire after being imprisoned  as a traitor had to flee from Brazil.  He returned to Brazil in 1979, joined the Workers’ Party and became Sao Paolo’s Secretary for Education in 1988.
Over a lifetime of work with revolutionary organizers and educators,  Paulo Freire created an approach to emancipatory education and a lens through which to understand systems of oppression in order to transform them. He flipped mainstream pedagogy on its head by insisting that true knowledge and expertise already exist within people.Pedagogy of the Oppressed. which was originally published in 1968 (in Portuguese, in 1970 first English translation) but has been reprinted and translated numerous times and has become a source of inspiration for people throughout the world.  It is a profound statement of faith in humanity and a challenge for us all to consider our place, our responsibilities and our actions on the humanisation-dehumanisation spectrum. His philosophy, compassion and commitment inspire real (but searingly realistic) hope for the oppressed in all societies. Freire's work has taken on much urgency in the United States and Western Europe, where the creation of a permanent underclass among the underprivileged and minorities in cities and urban centers is increasingly accepted as the norm.
Paulo Freire was highly critical of traditional formal models of education which he argued made people dependant in much the same way as a commercial bank does. Students are treated as if they were empty bank accounts in which the teacher can make deposits. Under this `banking concept` of education, "knowledge is a gift bestowed by those who consider themselves knowledgeable upon those whom they consider to know nothing". This results in a dichotomy between teacher and students: the teacher talks and the students listen. As a consequence, both are dehumanized. Freire’s analysis of traditional education is similar to the critique developed by Ivan Illich in his book Deschooling Society (1971). Freire asserted that education can never be neutral. Either it is an instrument for liberating people or it is used to dominate and disempower them. To avoid being a tool of oppression, education needs to involve a new relationship between teacher and students as well as with society. The difference is not to be found in the curriculum contents or the enthusiasm of the teacher, but in the pedagogical approach. He found that people were more motivated to learn how to read and write if the experience gave them insight into the power networks to which they are subjected. Freire urged teachers to identify and use key political words, which he labelled as `generative themes` because they generated discussion. 
A key concept in Freire`s approach is conscientization, meaning the ways in which individuals and communities develop a critical understanding of their social reality through reflection and action. This involves examining and acting on the root causes of oppression as experienced in the here and now. This goes beyond simply acquiring the technical skills of reading and writing. It is a cornerstone to ending the culture of silence, in which oppression is not mentioned and thereby maintained. Existentialism was another significant influence on Freire’s philosophy. Freire believed that human beings are free to choose and thus responsible for their choices.
While on one hand, Freire did very much take into account the historical context created by the legacy of slavery in Brazil, he never believed the historical conditions determined the future for him, his students, or Brazilian society. On the contrary, Freire espoused the existential belief that humans need not be determined by the past. When Freire taught literacy classes, he not only taught his students how to read and write. Freire shared conscientização and, with this, the awareness that his students were free to choose the life they created for themselves.
In what he referred to as the `archaeology of consciousness`, Freire identified three different levels of political awareness: magical consciousness, naïve consciousness and critical consciousness. It was the role of the educator to foster a process of dialogue and liberation that would enable citizens to reach critical consciousness.
Whilst the unpacking of the relationship between the oppressor and the oppressed is at the core of his work; his related concepts of dialogical (or problem-posing) and anti-dialogical (or banking education) are also crucial. His warnings regarding oppressive traits such as cultural invasion, false generosity and manipulation explain,  the cultural disconnect and distrust that typifies many student-teacher relationships.
Whereas Freire saw both humanization and dehumanization as real choices for mankind, he saw only the former as man’s true vocation. Thus, he saw the relationship between the oppressor and the oppressed (in all contexts) as dialectical contradictions that must be resolved if liberation (for both) is to occur. The “lovelessness which lies at the heart of the oppressors’ violence” can only be defeated by acts of love from the oppressed. 
However he warns that the values of the oppressor can instead become housed in the oppressed, which may, in turn, lead them to aspire to become oppressors themselves. In the oppressor, the oppressed see the very model of manhood, to which they should aspire. Thus they view themselves in purely individualistic terms, fail to see their position as part of a group and have a “fear of freedom”. For Freire, the resultant false consciousness meant that the “great humanistic and historical task of the oppressed: (is) to liberate themselves and their oppressors as well”. 
One way in which the oppressor-oppressed relationship is maintained is through the use of prescription. This is where one ‘man’s choices or opinions are forced upon another, thus depriving him of a voice and forcing him to accept the oppressors worldview. This can lead to self-deprecation where the oppressed feel that they do not have opinions of value and have low feelings of self-worth. The oppressed feel unable to act against the oppressor but all too frequently practice horizontal violence instead against their neighbours.. In time, the oppressed may come to evict the negative self-concepts that they house within them. 
 Freire was recognized worldwide for his profound impact on educational thought and practice. He received numerous awards including honorary doctorates, the King Balduin Prize for International Development, the Prize for Outstanding Christian Educators in 1985 with Elza, and the UNESCO 1986 Prize for Education for Peace . In 1986, Freire’s wife, Elza died. He remarried to Ana Maria Araújo Freire, who continues with her own radical educational work. On May 2, 1997, Paulo Freire died of heart failure at the age of 75.
Friers influence is still hotly debated in Brazil.  Having been posthumously made a Patron of Education in 2012, an ally of far-right president Bolsonaro, tried (and failed) to have the title stripped from Freire in 2018 (Lima, 2019).  Pedagogy of the Oppressed was banned in apartheid South Africa, parts of Latin America and, in 2010 in Tucson, Arizona by right-wing policymakers who prohibited texts that ‘promote the overthrow of the US government’ (Rodriquez, 2018).  ‘Pedagogy’ was one of the texts used on an ethno-studies programme taught to Native Americans and Chicanos, and the books ‘were seized  from classrooms right in front of students’, who learned first-hand about oppression (Bernstein, 2012).  
Friere's methods, which used critical dialogue and consciousness-raising are not only applicable in his country of origin (Brazil) but  are widely used by a whole generation of social and development workers working in deprived neighbourhoods across poor and rich countries alike, and  continues to wield enormous influence on research and educational practice across the world as a tool for social change.
 More important than all of the recognitions Freire received and the scholars he influenced, Freire’s life was his most significant legacy. His life’s example continues to inspire. He created the conditions by which thousands of people, the children and grandchildren of former slaves, could learn to read and write, learn about their agency and freedom, and learn to love.

Here is a link to a pdf annivesary od Frier's acclaimed book :- 

Sunday, 20 September 2020

Poor old Boris Johnson

My heart truly bleeds Boris Johnson who has "misery etched upon his face" and is reportedly worried about money according to embarrassing reports recently.
 Close allies of the Prime Minister have described an unhappy Number 10 as Mr Johnson attempts to deal with endless crises - claims dismissed by Downing Street.
 They also claim  Johnson 56, and fiance Carrie Symonds, 32, are "worried about money" and fear they will not be able to afford a nanny.
 Prior to taking the top job, his combined wages as an MP, his £275,000 per year Daily Telegraph column and lucrative speaking engagements, he was earning more than £350,000 a year.
The Prime Minister's wages amount to around £150,000 per year, far above the average UK salary but seemingly not enough to keep the pair happy.
A source told the Times newspaper "Boris like other prime ministers, is very very badly served. He doesn't have a housekeeper, he has a simple cleaner, and they're worried about being able to affoed a nanny. "He's stuck in the flat and Downing Street is not a nice  place to live. It's not like the Elysee or the White House where you can get away from it all because they're so big. Even if he or Carrie want to go into the rose garden they have to go through the office."
Another "friend" said "He's always worried about money, he has a genuine need to provide for his family, all of them, and I think that does worry him,"Johnson is thought to be concerned about supporting  four of his six children through university, while also affording childcare costs for his youngest son, Wilfred, born on 29 April this year."
Whether he has really been grumbling or not, it doesn't hurt to point out how ridiculous and over privileged and out of touch from  society he actually is, he is just a shameless arrogant pampered egomaniac. Boris Johnson is not skint just a brazen hypocrite, who has been spoilt throughout his entire life, all he and the Tories only really care about  are themselves and their rich friends and backers. I care as much for him as he does for the majority of the hard working people of this country, which is nothing. 
He sold a £3.75m home in September  last year which would have seen him making £700,000 in profit. He still owns one property with his ex wife and he and Carrie own a £1.3m house outight and has a net worth of £3,1m.  As our country faces the possibility of another lockdown due to his incompetence, lets not forget this is a  prime minister who has spent more time on holiday than any of his recent forerunners, possibly than all of them put together, if you average it out for a single year, setting of for his many jaunts at times of national crisis.
I have no sympathy or appreciation for him, after all  still gets lots of benefits thrust upon him, by his friends in big business, unlike the low paid, unemployed, state pensioners, single parents, disabled, unpaid carers or asylum seekers who have to face undue hardships every day of their lives. And lots of others can't afford to pay a nanny either, and after ten years of Tory austerity can't afford  to put food on the table, and as winter approaches let alone put the heating on.

Wednesday, 16 September 2020

Victor Lidio Jara ( 28/09/32 - 16/09/32) - A Martyr Remembered

What follows is a tribute to Chilean Political Singer and activist Victor Jara murdered by brutal dictator Augusto Pinochet's troops on  this day 16th September 1973. This followed the military coup on 9/11/73  which overthrew the democratically elected government led by Salvador Allende.

For the next 20 years, Pinochet suspended democratic rule in Chile, presisding over an oppressive, sadistic military junta that completely reversed Allende's  socialist economic programs, banning unions and privatizing state programmes such as social security, hunting down all manner of dissidents and imprisoning tens of thousands.

 Víctor Jara was born to a peasant family. His mother taught him to sing, but by age 15 he was orphaned and on his own. After a brief sojourn in seminary and a stint in the army, he turned to a career in music and theater. He became a director, putting on plays ranging in style from the classical to the experimental. Eventually, his love for music drew him away from the theater, and by 1973,  was one of Chile’s big music stars. A cross between Bob Dylan and Woody Guthrie, he was unashamedly left-wing; writing popular protest songs about social inequality and the plight of the working man. He was an integral part of the  Nueva Canción movement (New Song) movement, a movement of Latin American musicians who blended Spanish and indigenous folk music to create a genuine music of the people.

With the folk boom in full swing in the United States, markets around the world were being flooded with commercialized versions of "protest music." Nueva Canción was a conscious alternative, folk in the truest sense. Among people increasingly angry about their country's rising poverty and subjugation to US interests, Nueva Canción found home. Jara himself summed it up the best: "US imperialism understands very well the magic of communication through music and persists in filling our young people with all sorts of commercial tripe. . . . The term 'protest song' is no longer valid because it is ambiguous and has been misused. I prefer the term 'revolutionary song'."

 So when the right-wing Pinochet regime seized power in a bloody coup, they made sure Jara, 40 at the time, was one of the first to be detained.  Transported to the Chile Stadium, Jara found himself in a vision of Hell. One of 60 torture centers that sprang up around Santiago in the days following the coup, the Chile Stadium was notorious for its cruelty. Detainees were forced to sit in the bleachers without food or sleep, watching as people were randomly pulled out and executed on the pitch. Occasionally, guards would turn their machine guns on the crowd and unleash a random spray of bullets, sending bodies tumbling down onto the playing field.

A lifelong rebel,  Jara responded to his incarceration by composing new songs and singing them to his fellow prisoners to keep their spirits up. Unsurprisingly, he soon came to the attention of the camp commander, who made a seemingly magnanimous gesture: Placing a guitar on a table in the middle of the stadium, he invited Jara to come down and play to the crowd. Naively, Jara agreed.

What happened next would be etched on the minds of those who saw it forever. The moment he sat at the table, Jara was pinned in place by the nearby guards. The commander then cut off his fingers and mutilated his hands to mush. Some witness claim he used an axe, others the butt of his rifle. The outcome was the same. With Jara’s hands a bloody pulp, the commander screamed at him: “Now sing, you motherf—er, now sing!”

In response, Jara pushed himself to his feet. With infinite calm, he reportedly walked to the nearest set of bleachers and said, “All right, comrades, let’s do the senor commandante the favor.” Then he began to sing.

He sung unsteadily, with a wavering voice, the anthem of the UP—the political party whose members lay in piles at the bottom of the bleachers. As his voice began to steady, an incredible thing happened. Across the stadium, prisoners who’d had no food or sleep, prisoners who’d been tortured or threatened with death, all rose to their feet and began to sing with him. For a fleeting moment, the guards could only watch in amazement as their charges joined in with Victor Jara for his final song. A volley was fired and Jara fell dead. Then another was aimed into the bleachers at those who’d accompanied him in song and bodies tumbled down the inclines.”

Allende was last seen on the 15th of September when he was left abandoned by a roadside , only for his body to be discovered a day later. When his wife Joan went to identify his dumped body, it was riddled with 44 bullets.  Over 3,000 other political prisoners would suffer a similar fate, during Pinochet's murderous, CIA - supported tenure, Chileans suspected of being dissidents would be similarly rounded up and "disappeared" never to bee seen or heard from again.

 Such was Victor Jara's power though  his voice will never die. It resonates through the ages, a beacon, that we should not forget, standing strongly against oppression. In his lifetime, the Chilean folksinger Victor Jara became the voice of Chile's dispossessed. He became a symbol for their aspirations of equality and a figure of hope to progressive movements worldwide.

 He has also been remembered not only in Latin America's folk tradition,  but by artists the world over. The Clash, U2, and even 80s popsters Simple Minds who have paid tribute to Jara in their songs.  Here in Wales  there has been a festival (El Sueno Existe) of music and dance every two years in memory of Jara.  Whose incarceration, mutilation, and brutal murder has come to symbolize the tragic cruelty of the Pinochet regime.

And faced with the emnity of the world, and the unending resistance of the Chilean people, Pinochet's distatorship withered away in the late 1980's and with democracy  restored to Chile, Victor Jara, could finally be properly remembered by his compatriots, which  saw  the stadium in which he was murdered being renamed after him  and on 3rd December, 2009, Jara,  at last given a full funeral in Santiago.  

Chile’s junta might have silenced Jara’s voice, but not his music or legacy. He has been remembered not only in Latin America's folk tradition,  but by artists the world over who have paid tribute to Jara in their songs. Only recently James Dean Bradfield, the former leader of the band Manic Street Preachers, dedicated his new album, Even in Exile, to the life of Victor Jara. If you just focus on his (Victor Jara) death, you ignore the journey, you ignore the ambition, you ignore the songs, and you kind of ignore Chile”, said the Welsh artist in a long and informative interview with BBC CultureBradfield discovered the Chilean artist through the music of The Clash and the movie The Missing, but when actually listening to Jara´s songs, he was struck by the way he delivered a political message. Here in Wales there has also been a festival (El Sueno Existe) of music and dance every two years in memory of Jara. 

  His wistful, Manifesto, the last song he wrote, released posthumously, feels like an eerie premonition of his death:

My guitar is not for the rich, no,
nothing like that.
My song is of the ladder
we are building to reach the stars.
For a song has meaning
when it beats in the veins
of a man who will die singing,
truthfully singing his song

The song is considered his testament, the manifesto of what it means to be a revolutionary artist.
 As tyrants fall away, history remembers the heroes and the martyrs. The military burned many of Jara’s master recordings, but Jara’s wife Joan Jara took some recordings out of the country.
American folksinger Phil Ochs, who had met Jara in Chile, was devastated by the killing.  He helped organize a memorial fundraiser called “An Evening With Salvador Allende” in New York in 1974. The same year, a Soviet astronomer named an asteroid after Jara.
Others paid tribute to Victor Jara, including Pete Seeger and Arlo Guthrie  who wrote and recorded a tribute to the singer-activist with the song, “Victor Jara,” from the 1976 album Amigo.  Guthrie wrote the music and Adrian Mitchell provided the lyrics with each verse focusing on Jara’s hands that officials would break:-

Victor stood in the stadium,
His voice was brave and strong.
And he sang for his fellow prisoners
Till the guards cut short his song.
His hands were gentle, his hands were strong.

What was so dangerous about Jara was that his songs were such a integral part of a struggle of millions who were fighting to win their basic human dignity -- the very same people over whom Pinochet ruled with an iron fist until his deposition in 1990. Scottish folk musician  Dick Gaughan said it very frankly: those who say that "music and politics should not be mixed . . . [should] tell that to the CIA and their thugs who murdered Jara because his repertoire didn't suit their interests."

Along with those killed by Pinochet's military rule which finally came to an end  in 1990,  and the thousands murdered,  28,000 people had been tortured. The details of Jara's torture and death were finally revealed by a Truth and Reconciliation Commission created by the new government of Patricio Aylwin. But it was not until July 2018 that eight former military officers were sentenced for killing Jara,  to just 15 years each.

 Pinochet  would  be cremated for fear of his grave becoming vandalized. With his remains, the notion of Pinochet as anything other than a ruthless tyrant were scattered to the wind, his  legacy that of a brutal dictator; Jara's,  though is that of  a people's troubadour. Pinochet ground thousands into poverty; Jara sought to lift them up. Pinochet's legacy  reminds us of just how vicious the force of reaction can be.  Victor Jara though is remembered  as an artist, martyr and hero  whose music has and will continue to inspire us to fight against it.  

Though Víctor Jara died a brutal death under a brutal regime, his songs are not all about the horror he witnessed. They are also about the hope and courage of people who stand up to those who use violence to sustain injustice. He said, Song is like the water that washes the stones, the wind which cleans us, like the fire that joins us together and lives within us to make us better people.  

 Here is Jara’s last poem, Estadio Chile/ Chile Stadium which was  smuggled out in the shoe of a friend.

Chile Stadium

In this small part of the city.
Five thousand.
How many of us are there in all
In the cities and in all the country?
Here we are, ten thousand hands
Who plant the seeds and keep the factories running. So much humanity,
hungry, cold, panicked, in pain,
Under moral duress, terrified out of their minds!
Six of ours lost themselves
In the space of the stars.
One man dead, one man beaten worse than I ever thought
It was possible to beat a human being.
The other four wanted to free themselves of all their fear.
One jumped into the void.
Another beat his head against the wall.
But all had the fixed look of death in their eyes.
What fear is provoked by the face of fascism!
They carry out their plans with the utmost precision, not giving a damn about anything.
For them, blood is a medal.
My God, is this the world You created?
Is this the product of your seven days of wonder and labour?
In these four walls, there is nothing but a number that does not move forward.
That gradually, will grow to want death.
But my conscience suddenly awakens me
And I see this tide without a pulse
And I see the pulse of the machines
And the soldiers showing their matronly faces, full of tenderness.
And Mexico, Cuba, and the world.
Let them cry out this ignominy!
We are ten thousand fewer hands that do not produce.
How many of us are ther throughout our homeland?
The blood of our comrade the President pulses with more strength than bombs and machine guns.
And so, too, will our fist again beat.
Song, how hard it is sing you when I have to sing in fear.
Fear like that in which I live, and from which I am dying, fear.
Of seeing myself amidst so much, and so many endless moments
In which silence and outcry are the tragets of this song.
What have never seen before, what I have felt and what I feel now
Will make the moment break out...

Christy Moore - Victor Jara

I think I am passionate because I am full of hope.
Víctor Jara

Sunday, 13 September 2020

End Of Summer


We fear for our lives
For our children and our lovers
For our country and our friends,
As the wind dies slowly
It's pale murmour calling,
And sun drenched blossom closes weary eyes
The mourning drone of flies cluster by the trees,
And swooping swallows whisper in the skies
The once golden apples lie fallen on the ground.
The old thrush sings his solitary song
And summers no longer by his side,
Though its memory keeps calling
Among the haunting sadness that envelopes us
Shadows fusing, clouds drifting by,
As Autumn makes way, words still outpour
And Birds fly to warmer climes,
Close the window, fasten the door
As the days grow cold, sit by the fire,
When the morning comes tumbling down
Don't forget to keep wearing your masks.

Thursday, 10 September 2020

World Suicide Prevention Day

Today, most of us are aware, that we are currently in the grips of a mental health crisis. An epidemic. killing indiscriminately, especially the young .One in four people in the UK will experience a mental health problem each year. Every year organisations and communities around the world come together to raise awareness of how we can create a world where fewer people die by suicide. 10 September 2020 marks 17 years of World Suicide Prevention Day. 

This day observes the commitment to remove the social stigma that surrounds discussions on suicide This year it is focusing on the theme of connection and working together to prevent suicide. For people who are feeling vulnerable or distressed, having a strong sense of connection is an important part of suicide prevention. Connection can come in many forms, we can connect with friends and family, have connections through activities, or with nature and the arts.

Being distracted from suicidal thoughts and engaging in activities to take time away from the difficulties can also help to lift the mood for those with suicidal thoughts at whatever level or intensity. For those of us not feeling distressed, being able to make connections with someone we think may be struggling, to give someone the opportunity to share with us how they are feeling, can really help. 

 The most challenging conversations to have are usually the ones we need to have the most. Talking about suicide makes it more real, but choosing silence is not the answer. Approximately eight hundred thousand individuals commit suicide globally each year.. Every life lost to suicide is a tragedy.And we know that suicide is preventable, it’s not inevitable. In 2019, suicide numbers reached a 16 year high in the UK after experiencing a steady downward trend since 2003. With more people both attempting and committing suicide each year, it is more urgent than ever that we keep the conversation open and honest about suicide. 

Suicide is a human issue. When we start to look at it as such, it opens the door for better conversations and the normalisation of treatment in society. Suicide can affect anyone regardless of race, ethnicity, religion, socio-economic background, gender and age. No-one is immune. 

It is a hard number to swallow, but around 81 per cent of suicidal people tell someone what they are going to do and when they are going to do it. It is time to get honest about suicide prevention. If many who attempt suicide give some clue or warning, then we need to look out for the signs. Statements like "You'll be sorry when I'm gone," "I can't see any way out,"- no matter how casually or jokingly said - may indicate serious suicidal feelings.Too often, suicidal people are left at the mercy of these thoughts; they seek help too late and then need to wait even longer for an appointment.

If you are worried someone is suicidal, it is okay to ask them directly. Research shows that this helps - because it gives them permission to tell you how they feel, and shows that they are not a burden.

Once someone starts to share how they are feeling, it is important to listen. This could mean not offering advice, not trying to identify what they are going through with your own experiences and not trying to solve their problems.

But not being okay is still widely stigmatised. And governments can still make better, more ambitious plans to prevent suicide.We should not  forget that mental illness doesn't discriminate, touching the lives of people in every corner of society - from the homeless and unemployed to builders and doctors, reality stars and footballers. and within the monopoly-capitalist nations, mental-health disorders are the leading cause of life expectancy decline behind cardiovascular disease and cancer. In the European Union, 27.0 percent of the adult population between the ages of eighteen and sixty-five are said to have experienced mental-health complications.

 Recent estimates by the World Health Organization suggest that more than three hundred million people suffer from depression worldwide. And it is important to note that most of the medications currently available  fail to manage symptoms at all.
Suicide and suicide attempts can have lasting effects on individuals and their social networks and communities. The causes of suicide are many, and it is important to understand the psychological processes that underlie suicidal thoughts, and the factors that can lead to feelings of hopelessness or despair.  

Suicide behaviours are complex, there is no single explanation of why people die by suicide. Social, psychological, and cultural factors can all interact to lead a person to suicidal thoughts or behaviour. For many people, an attempt may occur after a long period of suicidal thoughts or feelings, while in other cases, it may be more impulsive.

 Despite some excellent media guidelines produced by Samaritans and Mind, journalists often still revert to outdated language and stereotypes when reporting suicide. There is a difficult balance between reporting known facts and introducing elements of the story into the public domain which may encourage others to emulate what they have read, as is described in the Werther effect - so called because of the spate of imitational suicides that were said to have taken place after the publication of Goethe’s novel The Sorrows of Young Werther. Research carried out across the world over the last five decades shows that when specific methods of suicide are reported – details of types and amounts of pills, for example – it can lead to vulnerable people copying them.

Young people in particular are more influenced by what they see and hear in the media than other age groups and are more susceptible to what is often referred to as suicide contagion.
We should not describe a suicide as ‘easy’, ‘painless’, ‘quick’ or ‘effective’, and we should remember to look at the long-term consequences of suicide attempts, not forgetting the significant life-long pain for those left behind when someone does take their own life.

It is also important to bear in mind that reports of celebrity deaths carry greater risk of encouraging others to take their own lives, due to the increased likelihood of over-identification by vulnerable people. A recent study, which examined news reports covering the suicide of US actor Robin Williams, identified a 10% increase in people taking their own lives in the months following his death. This emphasises the responsibility that we all have when it comes to talking about suicide.

We often read speculation about the cause of suicide, linking a death to a previous event such as the loss of a job, the break-up of a relationship or bullying. It is impossible to say with any certainty why someone takes their own life. As the Samaritans state: ‘there is no simple explanation for why someone chooses to die by suicide, and it is rarely due to one particular factor.’Suicide is often the culmination of a complex set of factors.

 Covid-19 has affected us all in different ways and brought new or increased challenges for many. But there has also been a positive impact of new connections, often with neighbours and within communities. I hope that exploring connection on this World Suicide Prevention Day will help us all think about how we can reach out and offer connection, helping ourselves and others who may be we would like to share some helpful tips and information for those who might need it. Together we can work to raise awareness of suicide prevention and how we can create a world where fewer people die by suicide.

 If you are worried someone is suicidal, it is okay to ask them directly. Research shows that this helps - because it gives them permission to tell you how they feel, and shows that they are not a burden. Once someone starts to share how they are feeling, it is important to listen. This could mean not offering advice, not trying to identify what they are going through with your own experiences and not trying to solve their problems.

Let’s all make a habit of checking on each other. Check on your strong friends today. Check on your struggling friends. Don’t be fooled by smiles or tough exteriors. Pain can manifest itself in many ways and have many different faces.  Check on yourself too. If you are struggling, please know that there are resources available. And, know that there is no shame in needing help. The world needs you to stay. The world needs us to help each other find our way back to being okay.

 Here are some useful helplines :-

  • Samaritans: 116 123 (free, for everyone, 24/7)

  • Somewhere To Turn ( free, online peer support and signposting service)

  • CALM: 0800 585858 (free, for men, 5pm-midnight)

  • PAPYRUS: 0800 968 4141 (free, for young people, 9am-10pm Mon-Fri, 2pm-10pm at the weekend)

  • Crisis Text Line: text SHOUT to 85258

Tuesday, 8 September 2020

Teresa Wilms Montt - In the Stillness of Marble

On September 8, 1893 Chilean writer, modernist poet  and anarcha feminist poet Teresa Wilms Montt is born in Viña del Mar, Chile, the second of six daughters of Federico Guillermo Wilms Montt y Brieba and Luz Victoria Montt y Montt, both of whose families were members of the commercial and political elite of Chile during early first years of the 20th century, Teresa Wilms' education was at the hands of a strict governesses, who trained her in all the subjects and duties necessary for a search for a suitable husband.
However, since early childhood, she rebelled against the values and teachings of her class, which did not accommodate her free and creative spirit. A talented pianist, singer and writer of lyrics, skills that she was drawn upon the exhibit at the endless round of social gatherings of her class, it was at one of those events, held in the family mansion in the summer of 1910, where she met the young Gustavo Balmaceda Valdés – a family member of the late president José Manuel Balmaceda, who was  eight years older than her and worked for the internal revenue service.
 Despite opposition from both families – Teresa being only seventeen years old and her parents had refused her permission to wed – she married Gustavo Balmaceda, later giving birth to two daughters. However, her free spirit and intellectual pursuits, which brought her into contact with other men, provoked Balmaceda's jealousy, marital tensions and ultimately its breakdown. Balmaceda's work also took the family to far-flung parts of Chile such as Valdivia and Iquique from 1912 to 1915, and led to periods of prolonged loneliness for Teresa that nevertheless proved very fruitful for her creatively.
 It was during these years she turned to the writing of  intimate diaries and sustained close friendships with a number influential artists and intellectuals, such as the poet Victor Domingo Silva. It was during her stay in Iquique that she was published for the first time under the pseudonym 'Tebac', and it was there that she first encounter feminist and anarchist ideas, inspired by the speech of the Spanish feminist Belén de Zárraga and the Chilean Luis Emilio Recabarren, and her meeting with anarchists and syndicalists.
The discovery in 1915 of her affair with Balmaceda's cousin, Vicente Zañartu Balmaceda, led to the men of the Balmaceda Valdés family deciding to have her confined to the Convento de la Preciosa Sangre which was more of an asylym / prison . There, she continued to keep her diary and, depressed, made her first suicide attempt on March 29, 1916. In June 1916, the Chilean poet and anarchist Vicente Huidobro helped her escape from the convent and together they fled to Buenos Aires where she found freedom, both as a woman and as a writer. She began collaborating on the magazine 'Nosotros' (We) along side the like of fellow poets Gabriela Mistral and Ángel Cruchaga Santa María and joined the circle around writers such as Victoria Ocampo, Jorge Borges, and the feminist-fashionista 'Pele' Pelegrina Pastorino. In 1917 Wilms Montt published her first two books – 'Inquietudes Sentimentales' (Sentimental Concerns), a set of fifty poems that enjoyed overwhelming success among the Argentine capital's intellectual circles, as did her second book, 'Los tres cantos' (The Three Songs), in which she explored eroticism and spirituality.e with the magazine Nosotros, which also published work by Gabriela Mistral and Ángel Cruchaga Santa María.
 In August 1917, her 20-year-old lover Horacio Ramos Mejía, committed suicide in front of Wilms Montt, and she left for New York City to collaborate with the Red Cross during World War I, but, after being accused of being a German spy, she was refused entry and was deported to Spain. There, she joined Madrid's bohemia and intellectual circle, befriending writer such as Joaquín Edwards Bello, Gómez de la Serna, Enrique Gómez Carrillo and Ramón del Valle-Inclán, going on to become the muse of the artist Julio Romero de Torres. In Madrid, which was to become her base from then on, she published a further two works under the pseudonym Teresa de la Cruz, which were widely praised by Spanish literary critics: 'En la Quietud del Mármol' (In the Stillness of Marble; 1918) and 'Anuarí' (1919). The first is an elegy of lyrical tone, composed of 35 fragments, with death as the central motive. Written in the first person, she focused her interest in the mediating role of the love of life. 'Anuarí', meanwhile, was a tribute to her dead lover Ramos Mejía.
During a visit to Buenos Aires, in 1919, she published her fifth book, 'Cuentos para hombres que todavía son niños' (Tales for Men Who Are Still Children), in which she evoked her childhood and some of her later relationships, in stories of great originality and fantasy.
She was a very very beautiful woman and a poet of the highest calibre. Unfortunately, this is news to much of the world Described by fearful right-wing critics as "embodying sexual aberrance and social prophesy", she embraced the anarchist ideas that were sweeping through the industrialised world in the late 19th and early 20th centuries and took part in the aggressive anti-capitalist discourse that advocated full social revolution.
She continued to travel through Europe, visiting London and Paris, and it was in the latter in 1920 that she was reunited with his daughters after 5 years of separation, through the efforts of her diplomat father. However, shortly after their departure, she plunged into a deep depression , her soul broken and  became seriously ill and during this crisis she consumed a large dose of Veronal,and after a long period of agony, died on December 24, 1921. She was  only twenty-eight years old ,leaving behind a life full of intense and painful experiences, but also a writer who  lived a tumultuous , rebellious life who refused to conform to societies rules and the expectations  of her time and surroundings and left behind a great body ofwork that deserves to be recognized, but sadly her life is mostly forgotten. in her country and in the world, but at least is remembered in the 2009 film "Teresa: Crucificada por amar" by director Tatiana Gaviola.
In the last pages of her diary, she wrote:"Morir, después de haber sentido todo y no ser nada..." (Dying, having felt everything and being nothing ...)  

Teresa Wilms Montt - In the Stillness of Marble 

And when the sun spills out diamonds upon the world,
then I breathe in all the flowers, I see you in all the trees,
and I possess you tumbling, intoxicated with love,
on the lawns of fragrant grass.

And when the moon gives its humble blessing to men,
I see you gigantic, silhouetted by the sharp edges of a
lightning bolt; I see you enormous, confused with the immortal, scattering your indulgence over the world, soothing the desperation of so many suffering castaways;

I breathe you in the atmosphere, I imagine you in the mystery,
I extract you from nothingness.
It seems to me that the world was only made to help me evoke you,
and the sun to serve me as a lantern over the rugged path.

Sunday, 6 September 2020

Redressing The Manipulation

Shadow boxing in a daily wasteland
Ruled by conglomerates and monopolies,
That steal and feed on our dreams
Wllfully with ideological mission.
Murdoch's laughable beacons of free press
Destroying wisdom, mocking aloud,
Relentless  manipulators of truth
Scapegoating minorities, and refugees,
Spreading toxic words of poison
About those fleeing poverty and war,
Keeping the public enslaved, on a diet of lies
Propelling deceptive  propaganda,,
Five billionaires own 80 % of the UK press
To serve their own right wing agendas,
Try to keep society divided
Fooling credulous victims of bias,
Slinging smears and mud on anyone
Who dare challenge the chicanery,
Others demand a revision of values
Wake up and choose to light a fuse,
As paradigm shifts perception
Rejecting now what they fear,
Time to overthrow the media oligarchs
Among rustling, leaves of change,
Creating a culture that feeds on empathy
Freedom triumphs and democracy awakens,

Thursday, 3 September 2020

Sabra Hummus Alert

Sabra صابِرة is the Arabic word for patience, forbearance. It's also a Palestinian name for the prickly pear cactus that was used as hedgeing round village homes and gardens, as well as food in hard times.The name was adopted in Hebrew by early Jewish settlers in the land that became Israel, in 1948.It then became sobriquet for those hardy frontiersmen themselves - some content to co-exist with Arab neigbours, some more predatory.
 One of the oldest known prepared foods in human history, hummus is claimed by multiple Middle Eastern nationalities.For Israelis, Lebanese, Syrians, Egyptians, Jordanians, Palestinians, Turks and Iraqis, hummus is a culinary icon and a staple of their diet. Hummus has also become a global food commodity, manufactured and sold everywhere. The Sabra Hummus that can be found on the shelves of Tesco, Waitrose, Sainsbury's etc was founded in 1986 by Zohar Norman and Yehuda Pearl[9] as Sabra-Blue & White Foods.The company is now owned jointly between PepsiCo and the Strauss Group, a multinational corporation and Israel’s largest food and beverage company.
While it may taste good, I personally love hummus, the Strauss Group materially supports and sends care packages to the Golani Brigade of the Israel Defense Forces, a fact that was once stated on the company’s website  but has since been removed due to pressure from pro-Palestine groups. Even by the abysmal human rights standards of the IDF, the Golani Brigade is particularly brutal: since its inception, the Brigade has carried out countless human rights violations against Palestinians — particularly in Hebron and in the siege on Gaza (Operation Cast Lead) from 2008-2009 — including arbitrary murders, assaults, detentions, home invasions, and arrests of children.Their members have been known to use horrific imagery on t-shirts, such as a pregnant Palestinian woman in a sniper's cross-hairs, with the slogan “one shot, two kills”. 
Furthermore, the Brigade’s role as an occupying force violates international law: Israel’s occupation of the West Bank and Gaza, the construction of Israeli settlements in the West Bank, and its 1967 annexation of East Jerusalem are all illegal according to the United Nations.
Simply put, when you buy Sabra hummus you are supporting war and oppression. For many Palestinians, the Occupation is a painful and constant reality, in light of this the campaign to boycott Sabra  is situated within a broader international movement to hold Israel accountable for human rights abuses and abolish its “three-tiered system of oppression: colonialism, occupation, and apartheid.” In 2005, Palestinian civil society called for the boycott of, divestment from, and sanctions of Israeli state institutions as a nonviolent strategy to pressure Israel to comply with international law and universal principles of human rights. Modeled after the successful South African anti-apartheid campaigns of the last century, the BDS movement aims to highlight the immoral and illegal occupation of Palestinian land, and to stigmatize the many human rights violations that continue to be an everyday reality for many Palestinians. Since 2005, dozens of companies, university student governments, workers’ unions, churches, and other organizations have publicly joined the BDS campaign by changing their institutional policy and practice to adhere to its goals, and to encourage  boycotting products such as Sabra hummus and raise awareness of other companies like this that are complicit in Israel's continued human rights violations in Palestine. Boycotting brands is one of the easiest ways to convince retailers across the world to stop selling products from companies profiting from Israeli occupation.. A full list of what to boycott  can be found here.
The connection between Sabra hummus and human rights abuses is not weak ; is is as plain as day. Support the boycott of Sabra hummus. There are other cheaper, more ethical alternatives. The movement worked with anti-apartheid South Africa it can work again today.