Blood Gold

Reading one of our weekly magazines (BKA) a week ago, I saw this picture that inspired me to write a blog about Blood Gold

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Translation: Where gold loses its shine.

Democratic Republic of Congo, South Africa, Nigeria, Niger, Zambia, Namibia, Mozambique, Guinea, Tanzania, Ghana and Botswana. Apart from that these countries are all in Africa, what else do they have in common? They are rich in natural resources and minerals.

Democratic Republic of Congo: Gold, Copper, Diamond, Tantalum, Cobalt, Oil, Tin

South Africa: Gold, Diamond

Nigeria: Oil

Niger: Cement, Gold, Uranium and Coal

Zambia: Emerald, Copper

Namibia: Diamond, Copper, Sulphur, Zinc, Lead, Uranium

Mozambique: Aluminium

Guinea: Bauxite

Tanzania: Gold, Diamond, Silver

Ghana: Gold, Diamond, Salt, Silver, Petroleum

Botswana: Diamond, Copper, Coal

Despite all this resources, only a handful of citizens in the above mentioned countries gain from the minerals.

Corruption, mismanagement, violence and war has torn some of these countries apart such that there is almost no recognised governmental body responsible to control how the resources are extracted. In Nigeria, the wealth gained from oil barely touches people`s lives.

The Democratic Republic of Congo has some of the richest mineral deposits in the world.  It produces 20-50 percent of the world`s supply of Tantalum. Unfortunately, the country has been destroyed by war which has made it difficult to control extraction of the minerals legally.

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Wars have been sponsored by selling gold and diamonds. There are children as young as 11 years old working in gold mines. Many parents who are unable to send their children to school prefer to send them to the mines where they can earn money and help their families with. Parents have lost their children in the mines due to poor working conditions.

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Another issue here is, those working in the mines, those doing the physical work, are the ones that gain the least from these minerals.

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In some areas, mine diggers, mostly underaged children, get an income of 3 dollars a day. That is, if they manage to find any mineral at all. If not, they leave with nothing…

Many of the mine fields in war torn countries are controlled by war lords who use the money they receive from selling minerals to sponsor their wars.

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Some countries in the west have invested millions in order to comply with the requirements that will enable them to disclose minerals from conflict zones in their supply chain. Unfortunately, this is not the case every where. Many companies that fulfilled these requirements said they could still not determine if their products were conflict-free. Of course tracing the origin of these minerals is not an easy task but it is not impossible.

Dubai is one of those countries that sells diamond products with diamonds from the Central African Republic, a country that has suffered from civil war and is still politically very unstable.

Yes, the problem lies solely in Africa, but we are all responsible to join in the fight against blood gold and blood diamond.

A smartphone, a lightbulb, an underwire bra, a pair of earrings. These every day items contain minerals that human right groups say help fund one of the worlds bloodiest dilemmas.

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Being dark among light skinned people

 

TO YOU

I am me

And I will always be me

You are you

And you will always be you

Your beautiful shiny silky ebony skin

The definition of beauty

Yes you are beautiful

You carry yourself around like a goddess

A goddess you are

Your beautiful curly hair

Protects you from the sun

mirrors your heritage

mirrors your pride

and mirrors you

You are you

And you will always be you

 

Camouflaged racist slogan in Switzerland: “Only Obama-brown, Please do not go darker”

‘The concept of race is not founded in biology, but in history and society.’

I read this sentence a year or two ago somewhere, I do not remember exactly where, but it made me think a lot.

Once it hit me that despite the number of dark skinned people living in Switzerland, one rarely sees an advertisement with a coloured person in it, be it on a poster or on television. Once in a blue moon, we see some advertisement with dark skinned people but, mostly in the background and never on focus. Unless you are a footballer or a successful athlete.

I decided to ask an acquaintance of mine who works in advertisement. The answer he gave me shocked me to the core. He said, many companies have this phrase they use when doing a poster or a television commercial, which basically excludes dark people from appearing in commercials:

“Only Obama-brown, not darker”

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This is a shame if one considers that out of the 1.9 million foreigners living in Switzerland, 84,000 are people of African origin, not including those who have become Swiss nationals. We should not forget that not only African migrants are dark skinned, there are also Tamil migrants from Sri Lanka with a population of 50.000 living in Switzerland. Fortunately for them, they are accepted and more tolerated here than people of African origin.

Being dark skinned in Switzerland is not a bed of roses. The skin colour plays a very big role in many sectors of life, be it in the labour market, in looking for an apartment, going out to have a meal with friends and family. Most of the time, one is treated with mistrust. One in every two dark skinned person living in Switzerland has been insulted or discriminated because of the colour of their skin.

So, when big companies who could actually make a huge difference in the fight against racism, systematically promotes it by using such slogans like ‘Only Obama-brown, not darker than this’, one begins to wonder what kind of example they are setting.

Migration is a reality, globalisation is happening right in front of us and we are a part of it whether we like it or not. I reckon it is time we involve people of all skin-colours and of all race and social background in all works of life (of course with the right qualification). It is time we stop judging people by the colour of their skin, the sound of their names, or their sexual orientation.

Many people of colour in Switzerland are treated as second class citizens. This does not exclude people with a higher education. I know of a situation where a dark skinned nurse goes into the room of a patient to administer treatment and on entering the room, the patient tells the nurse ‘You do not have to clean this room because a work mate of yours just cleaned it about 10minutes ago’. The nurse was judged by the colour of her skin.

There is another situation where a lawyer was recommended to a lady, to represent her in a case. When they met the first time to talk about the case, the lady, on realising that the Lawyer is a man of African origin, told him bluntly that she needs a lawyer who is of Swiss origin. Unfortunately, today in the 21st century, many of us still think that dark skinned people are best suited in doing cleaning jobs and helping out in kitchens.

Racism is something that helps the offenders to feel better about themselves.

There are so many forms of racism worldwide. We also have racism among dark skinned people. Many who were born here believe they are superior to those who migrated here. Then there is racism between different migrant groups.

Dark skinned people are not the only victims of racism. Though a minority,  they are sometimes the culprits too. Racism is a tough fight and we can only hope, it is a fight that will be won, through sensitisation and awareness.

If we need change to happen, we have to start with ourselves. I think, there is a bit of racism in us all.

 

 

 

 

 

Are our skin tones just black and white?

 

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If this hand is black, what is the colour of this cloth?

 

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And if these hands are white, what is the colour of these sheets?

 

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What about this hand? What would you say: Black? White?

Has the human race with it’s rich diversity been reduced to Black, White or something inbetween?

I reckon there is more in us than just black or white, and I know you know this as well.

BREAK THE SKIN COLOUR BARRIER!

For different skin tones, visit Angélica Dass‘ Humanae (work in progress).

 

My favourite quotes from some famous people

IMG_2066.jpg   Bob Marley: Some people feel the rain and some just get wet.

IMG_2058.jpg   Mark Twain: Time heals wounds but it is a lousy cosmetologist.

IMG_2059.jpg   Michael Schumacher: 100% is the optimum, what goes beyond is already less.

IMG_2073 (2).jpg   An old saying from Transnistria: Many right decisions are taken because the way to the wrong ones are blocked.

Unknown.jpeg  Wole Soyinka: Power is domination, control, and therefore a very selective form of truth, which is a lie.

 Wole Soyinka: The greatest threat to freedom is the absence of criticism.

IMG_2060.jpg   Manfred Rommel: Sometimes in life one is faced with the decision of either cutting the toenails or buying bigger boots.

IMG_2061.jpg   Johann Wolfgang von Goethe: You believe you are pushing, but you are being pushed.

IMG_2062.jpg   Jean Paul: Wine supports the qualities that are attached to it. It makes the stupid more stupid and the clever more intelligent.

IMG_2063.jpg   Jacques Tati: Doctors have the best of all professions. Their successes are walking about and their failures are being buried.

IMG_2064.jpg   Arnold Schwarzenegger: I do not find money so important. I don’t care if I own 50 or 70 million.

IMG_2065.jpg   Albert Einstein: I never think of the future. It will come soon enough.

IMG_2067.jpg   Winston Churchill: We are all worms, but I believe I am a glow-worm.

IMG_2056.jpg   Anonymous graffiti: You can own all the money in the world. Still, you can never buy a dinosaur with it.

IMG_2070.jpg   Fredric Jameson: It is easier to imagine the end of the world than the end of capitalism.

IMG_2071.jpg   Bette Midler: Give a girl the right shoes and she will conquer the world.

 IMG_2074.jpg   Manfred Heinrich: Success only goes to one’s head, when the required hollow space is available.

IMG_2072.jpg   Clint Eastwood: What I have learned about women over the years  is, when a woman doesn`t speak, under no circumstances should she be interrupted. 

*Feel free to add  your own favourite quote(s)*

Window display Bern, Switzerland

Last evening, I went for a stroll in the old town of Bern, and owing to the fact that it was raining, I decided to walk under the beautiful medieval arcades of this charming town.

Suddenly, some moving figures caught my attention. I went closer to the window display, and could not stop laughing when I saw several plastic figures of Einstein and of some dancing women.

I could not help myself but, film it to share with you.

Below are some photos of the beautiful city of Bern!

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Books

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How many of you out there still love to turn pages over, when reading a book?

Holding a book in my hand, turning the pages, being able to smell the book, see the progress I have made and, see how many pages are still remaining, are what I need to experience when reading a book. One cannot compare this with pixels on the screen. Nothing matches the smell of an old book.

Since the introduction of ebook, more and more bookshops are closing down due to tremendous drop in sales.

I have tried reading an ebook, but that did not go down well. It felt shallow. I was not able to build a relationship with the book, something that happens when I read a print book. It bothered me that I could not feel the pages in my hands. More so, I needed an extra sheet of paper to jot down notes. I had to tell myself over and over that I was reading a book. It felt different, it was unsatisfactory.

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Ebook has its countless advantages:

One gains space, saves money from not having to buy a bookshelf, no more dusting of books, it is portable, it has capacity, over a hundred books in one electronic device, it is discreet.

No offence to ebook readers, I just need a physical book in my hand. Maybe it is nostalgia, I do not know.