I’m back!

Hi everyone. I’m sorry I dissappeared for a while. Where was I?

 

I dropped off the radar just before Zimbabwe’s elections. A lot has happened personally since then, but like most other Zimbos, I got a little depressed. I got so caught up in the country’s politics I couldn’t focus on much else. At the same time, I got was getting a bit of radio time because of articles I had written on both Zimbabwe and other issues.

 

I have pretty much come to terms with the fact that change in Zimbabwe is not going to come about through a political process but a social movement. There will come a time when people just decide that enough is enough and we want to build something better. That may happen before or after Bob (Mugabe) goes, but the truth is tht he is just part of the problem.

 

The biggest issue in Zimbabwe is the same one that gets in the way of progress in Ireland, in the United States, in China,… everywhere. Self interest. And not just the self interest of the ruling classes. All of us. We are all so consumed with getting an iPhone or a Macbook (I’m an Apple fan), or a new car or house or just protecting our persona space and security. We are all so concerned with our own issues that we don’t fight for others. So much so that we allow injustice to reign.

 

In the words of Matin Niemoller:

When the Nazis came for the communists,
I remained silent;
I was not a communist.

When they locked up the social democrats,
I remained silent;
I was not a social democrat.

When they came for the trade unionists,
I did not speak out;
I was not a trade unionist.

When they came for the Jews,
I remained silent;
I wasn’t a Jew.

When they came for me,
there was no one left to speak out

 

I think that when people start sacrificing heir personal interests for the sake of the general good, then things will really start to change. Otherwise, the changes will only be superficial.

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Mugabe and Zimbabwe’s elections

Today, Zimbabweans are voting in presidential and parliamentary elections. It is true that the country is now on its knees and few would disagree that a radical change of direction is one of the few things that can turn things around. Withought a very significant change in government, I don’t see how that can happen.

Again, given the reality of Zimbabwe’s current political climate, there is no way this can be called a fair election. So far it is more fair than previous ones, but that’s not saying much. I don’t know… I hope it all goes well and there isn’t any violence.

At the end of the day, the Mugabe regime has shamed the entire continent. They have come to represent the very worst of Zimbabwe and Africa. Shame on you

On the Radio?

One of my articles was in the paper the other day. It was received pretty well. So much so that a couple of things have happened as a result.

First of all, it looks like I’m going to be on the radio. A producer got in touch with me and wants to have me as a guest on a relatively popular radio show to debate the contents of my article. I was shocked when I got the email. It definitely came as a surprise. I guess part of me wasn’t convinced that people actually read my stuff.

There are so many interesting articles on any given day in a good newspaper that I always assumed that my stuff got lost in the bigger news. It’s really flattering to think that not only did someone influential read what I wrote, they have decided to act on it and have a debate around my ideas. It’s a very gratifying thing to have happen.

The other thing is that an executive of a pretty big organisation emailed to congratulate me on the same piece. I got chatting to his assistant, and I might even get to meet him. I wonder if I should mention that I’m not formally employed and that if he offers me a decent job I will probably take it. Nah…I’ll play it cool, dress up for the occassion, and pretend that I’m in my element and that things are going very well for me, thank you very much! Just meeting someone of that caliber will be an fantastic.

All that out of an article that I wrote in the library. Maybe I should go to the library more often. Who knows, next time I write something there, someone might offer to buy me a car! If that’s you, my contact details are available on this website. Everybody is allowed to dream, right?

Thank God for the big and small things that make life so worth living.

Charlie Byrne’s Bookshop

Charlie Byrne's Bookshop

I had heard about Charlie Byrne’s for a long time but just never bothered to look for it. Until today.

I decided to go and check it out because my newly discovered book club is reading Atonement and I didn’t want to buy a new copy. I was hoping I would find a second hand one at Charlie Byrne’s.

I found a little more than I bargained for. It is a beautiful place. It is a difficult place to describe. There are times and places in which Galway seems like a throwback to the nineteenth century. Charlie Byrne’s epitomises that side of the city. It is really very quaint. A book lover’s paradise. A place that I am sure is going to drain me of the little money I have.

When you walk in, you are stunned by the old school decor and the books that are literally falling off shelves. Ireland as a whole feels cramped for space, but this little bookshop takes it to another level. There are rows and rows, tables, stacks on the floor, stacks on shelves, and even books that almost appear as though they are suspended from the ceiling.

It is very definitely what a book shop should be. Don’t get me wrong, I like the well ordered, neat, sterile, more commercial places. I spend a lot of time in Easons and Dubrays. They are great, but they don’t have the magic of an independent, small time outfit.

I can see why it is such a popular place. If you are ever in Galway city, you need to check out Charlie Byrne’s. The only issue I have with them is that the section on African books (history, literature, biographies and current affairs) is dismal and extremely disappointing. That is a real shame considering Galway’s growing African community. Hopefully they will improve in that department.

Other than that, it’s a fantastic place. And no, I’m not being paid to endorse them – but that might not be such a bad idea…

Sanity

Where I come from, people are very tolerant of each others’ religious beliefs, generally. The only exception is the outright ridiculous or immoral – everything else that leads to ‘love, peace and happiness’ is at worst tolerated.

 

In the ‘free world’ though, people seem to be really sensitive about religion. For example, I am not a Muslim, but back home I would always know when it was Ramadan. Muslims didn’t feel a need to keep it quiet or be discreet about practicing their faith. And this is in a country with a small Muslim community.

 

At Easter, yes there would be hot cross buns on sale just about everywhere, and the supermarkets would have Easter eggs of all types on sale. But the overriding theme would be the crucifixion of Jesus. It would be shown countless times on television, be enacted at junior schools and on the streets, be on billboards outside churches, and just about everywhere you can imagine. Christians would make a big deal about the time, and everyone else would munch the chocolate eggs and either indulge those believed or engaged them in religious debate.

 

Here though, times like Easter and Christmas are kept as purely commercial occasions. In return, Muslims who choose to wear the burka, and all those who publically display their faith are frowned upon. It seems as though the ideal is to have evolved beyond the need for a creator and be rational enough to move past God.

 

That said – I am grateful for Easter. It has been a time to reflect on my sinful nature, thank God for redemption, and be reminded not to judge others (people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones). For those who don’t see things like that, indulge me, after all, you had chocolate.

A different form of activism

I love The Onion. It’s their creativity that does it for me. Why rant and rave and get all hot and bothered when you can just joke about an issue? Nice one guys.

Race

I’m still digesting Obama’s speech on race and the comments that have come in its aftermath. I am filled by so many strong, sometimes conflicting emotions that I am not yet able to put it all on paper coherently. Roger Cohen

Having said that, it is such an important issue and it would be a shame if we all didn’t take this opportunity to thrash out the issue of race. I think this article by Roger Cohen is fantastic.