Butcher, Baker, Dictator, Liberator

.NEW. Robert Gabriel Mugabe, the former president of Zimbabwe, has died at age 95 in Singapore, while receiving medical treatment there over the past few months. Just as he was in life, Mugabe in death is a highly controversial political figure, with a legacy that is as much celebrated as castigated, as much praiseworthy as unworthy.

Among leaders of various nations, Mugabe’s credentials as a freedom fighter are being touted and memorialized as part of the wave of independence of African nations from European colonialism during the last century. “Under President Mugabe’s leadership, Zimbabwe’s sustained and valiant struggle against colonialism inspired our own struggle against apartheid and built in us the hope that one day South Africa too would be free,” Cyril Ramaphosa, the current South African president, said upon Mugabe’s passing.

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Banned in Japan: The Little Statue that Roared

Welcome, dear readers, to Aichi Trienniale 2019, one of the largest Japanese contemporary festivals in the country. Held every three years since 2010, this festival attracts artists from around Japan and the globe, while promoting such lofty goals as “contributing to the global development of culture and art” and “bringing culture and art into people’s daily lives” as its mission.

The exhibitions for year’s Aichi Trienniale are being held at several major art venues in the cities of Nagoya and Toyota (home of the famous Japanese Toyota cars), in central Japan, under the theme of “Taming Y/Our Passion”. The festival is running 75 consecutive days from 1 August to mid-October 2019.

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Hamba Kahle to a South African Son

Hamba kahle in the Xhosa and Zulu languages of South Africa is a commonly expressed heartfelt wish for a deceased person to “go well” on their spiritual journey in the Great Beyond. Another commonly heard English phrase at South African funerals is that someone “ran a good race” during his/her lifetime on Earth, having lived a life worthy of praise.

Such terms of endearment are among the many now being expressed throughout South Africa for renowned musician Johnny Clegg, who passed away at his home in Johannesburg a few days ago at the all-too-young age of 66. He had succumbed to pancreatic cancer.

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Meet the Neo-Fascist Leader’s Long-Lost Twin Brother

You can always judge a person by the company he/she keeps, as the old saying goes, and nowhere does that hold truer than in the world of global politics. The fake president of the United States (FPOTUS), Donald Trump, for one, has never met a right-wing extremist leader of a nation or a military strongman he didn’t like, and these dangerous leaders have returned the love to the American fake president in kind.

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The Ghosts of Tiananmen, Thirty Years On

Like many around the world, I sat glued before the television set, transfixed by the scenes of thousands of people jamming a public square in the Chinese capital of Beijing for weeks on end as they demanded democracy and a more honest, open form of government from their political leaders. It was the spring of 1989, and I was living in a tiny one-room apartment in downtown Osaka, Japan and working as a journalist.

It took my breath away, watching these scenes unfold in a nearby Asian country. My reporter’s instinct kept on nudging me, and for a time, I thought seriously of getting on a plane and trying to file stories from the heart of China’s growing grassroots democracy movement to the outside world.

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All Power to the Peaceful

Both tragic events happened on the 15th of the month, one on a Sunday morning before church services inside a Christian Baptist Church and the other on a Friday afternoon during open worship inside two Muslim mosques. One of the events resulted in the deaths of four young girls of the congregation, the other in the deaths of 50 young and old faithful followers.

Both events were cold-blooded, calculated acts of murder committed by believers in the supremacy of the European race and the inferiority of dark-skinned “others”, with the added hope of sparking a race war between them. Both tragedies shocked the conscience of people around the world, jolting them out of any sense of complacency they may have been in regarding the deadly violence of white supremacists.

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Don't Say the Dreaded I-word!

A reigning right-wing president of the United States of America becomes increasingly unpopular among the people, as poll numbers show. His economic policies at home and his foreign policies abroad — especially concerning war and the threat of war — spur on public calls that this boy-emperor of a president be impeached and be punished for his illegal and immoral crimes while in office.

Articles of impeachment are introduced into the U.S. Congress in an attempt to permanently remove this maniac from the White House and see that justice is done. But the impeachment attempt is essentially stopped in its tracks — not only by the unpopular president’s own party, the rightwing Republican Party, but also by the so-called opposition party of Democrats. A powerful leader in the Democratic Party, Nancy Pelosi, in particular, stands in the way of the natural impeachment process.

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Then the Women Spoke, and the Tide Turned

The dust is still settling from the 6 November midterm elections in the United States, but one thing is clear: It was women — especially women of color — who made the difference in this election. And not only that: Women, as a bloc, asserted themselves as the primary force of resistance against FPOTUS (Fake President of the United States) Donald Trump and his neo-fascist political agenda. And just in time, too.

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The Sound of a Tidal Wave Coming

Word has just arrived that United States Court of Appeals judge Brett Kavanaugh has been approved by the U.S. Senate and officially sworn in as the newest justice on the U.S. supreme court. The contentious, three-month-long confirmation process of Kavanaugh was watched around the world and protested and opposed by women everywhere.

What emerged from those unprecedented hearings was a clear picture of a supreme court nominee who was supremely unqualified on just about every count. Kavanaugh, a staunch Republican, was exposed as having a problem in his younger years with sexually abusing women and with alcoholism. He may well have also perjured himself under oath by denying and lying about that. He was not being charged with a crime before the U.S. Senate, true, but he was being interviewed for one of the highest public-service jobs in the nation. He failed the job interview miserably.

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One Hundred Years of Madiba

Nelson Mandela, in his lifetime, had a way of getting people’s attention. Whether it was living up to his African childhood name of Rolihlahla — “one who shakes the tree” or stirs up trouble — or serving as the first chief of a liberation army connected to his political party, the African National Congress, or going to prison for nearly three decades for his beliefs, or emerging from that prison hell to become the first elected president of a free and democratic South Africa, he commanded people’s attention and could not be ignored.

The same holds true in death. Mandela died at age 95 in December 2013, but less than five years later, South Africa and the world this year are celebrating the centenary of Madiba, the tribal clan name by which most South Africans affectionately know Mandela, their beloved former leader.

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