Archive for the ‘the places I would like to go’ Category

Patriarch Sako writes to Ban ki-moon: Help us   no comments

Posted at 12:56 pm in the places I would like to go

(Vatican Radio) The Patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church in Iraq has written to the United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon asking him to put pressure on international community to step up assistance to  Iraq’s Christians and minorities targeted by Islamic militants.

Below the text of the Patriarch’s letter 

His Excellency,

I am writing to you about the current situation in Iraq and the Middle East, which is of big concern to me and I know it is for you and the United Nations.  Let me also take this opportunity to thank you and the United Nations Security Council on the issued statement of condemnation against ISIS.  The instability in Iraq threatens the entire region.  Diplomatic pressure is sought to address the  growing instability in the Middle East. The instability in the region is worrisome because of the increasing attacks mounted on Christians and minorities.

We, as the Christian community, appeals to the United Nations to put political pressure on the international community, the Security Council cannot stand by and be a witness to the ongoing atrocities committed against Christians. We were happy when your statement acknowledged that the crimes committed against Christians constitute crimes against humanity, we therefore urge  you to put pressure on all to respect human rights.

Excellency, we Christians are peace-loving citizens  caught up in the middle of a clash between Sunnis and Shiites, as well as attacks from Military groups. Our community has suffered a disproportionate share of hardship caused by sectarian conflicts, terrorist attacks, migration and now even ethnic cleansing: the militants want to wipe out the Christian community.

We appeal urgently to the United Nations to pressure the Iraqi government and put into practice every effort to protect the ethnic and religious minorities. The new government, once established, should engage in the protection of minorities and the fight against extremism.

We urge the United Nations to accelerate humanitarian assistance, ensuring that aid reaches those communities and those vulnerable groups who are in need of urgent help. In view of the current situation, this need for assistance might take longer than a year. The displaced Christian community needs water, medicines and basic services.

We urge the United Nations to develop a plan or strategy to protect and preserve our heritage, looted and burned by the militants. They continue to burn churches and ancient monasteries. The old churches and monasteries will be difficult to rebuild.

+ Louis Raphael Sako

Patriarch of the Chaldean Catholic Church


(Emer McCarthy)

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Written by enfoquec on July 24th, 2014

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UNESCO World Heritage Sites: The 9 Must-See Spots   no comments

Posted at 12:56 pm in the places I would like to go

View from Battery Park near the Ritz-Carlton New York Battery Park. (

July 23, 2014

By Jane Reynolds


We have seen some beautiful sites during our travels around the world. But don’t take our word for it (although you should; we are experts) — many of our favorite places are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which means they are “places on Earth that are of outstanding universal value to humanity and as such, have been inscribed on the World Heritage List to be protected for future generations to appreciate and enjoy.” And there you have it — spots that make this list are absolutely stunning. To date, there are 911 sites on the list and we have seen a ton of them. But to make things a tad more manageable, we’ve pared it down to 9 sites that you’ve just got to see. And if you can make it to all 911, then by all means go for it.

1. Statue of Liberty, New York City

We’re starting local — for us, at least. A beacon of hope for travelers to New York City since it was dedicated in 1886, the Statue of the Liberty is one of the most-recognized and beloved National Monuments in the United States. Visitors can walk to the top for sweeping views of the Manhattan skyline from the statue’s crown, and many visit Ellis Island at the same time to round out their historical and cultural trip.

Where to Stay: The Ritz-Carlton New York Battery Park

As expected of the luxury brand, this Ritz property boasts gorgeous rooms, top-notch service and a long list of amenities. Some rooms feature views of the Statue of Liberty.

2. Canal Ring, Amsterdam

It may have celebrated its 400th birthday last year, but Amsterdam’s gorgeous Canal Ring has only been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2010. Creating a semi-circle around Old Center, the Canal Ring is a series of man-made waterways lined by beautiful historic mansions. Though it has expanded over the years, the Canal Ring was first made in the 17th century in order to provide a means of movement for shipping within the city center.

Where to Stay: Hotel Pulitzer, a Luxury Collection

The Hotel Pulitzer is a charming luxury property in the Canal Loop of Amsterdam. The hotel is made up of a block of 25 restored 17th and 18th century canal houses and is full of historic details.

3. Area de Conservación Guanacaste, Costa Rica

Covering a massive expanse of land in the northwest region of Costa Rica, the Area de Conservacion Guanacaste has been a natural UNESCO World Heritage Site for 15 years. With both land and sea, it is home to beautiful rainforests and beaches where a plethora of protected wildlife — like jaguars, hummingbirds, bats and sea turtles, just to name a few — live.

Where to Stay: Reserva Conchal

Located in Guanacaste, Reserva Conchal is comprised of four individual condo villages, each with several buildings clustered around a communal pool.

4. White City of Tel-Aviv, Israel

One of the “youngest” cultural sites to make the UNESCO list, the White City is a collection of over 4,000 buildings (painted white, hence the area’s name) built in the Bauhaus style in the 1930s by German Jewish architects who came to Tel Aviv to escape the rise of Nazis. Not only is it the largest collection of Bauhaus buildings in a single city in the world, but it is considered an outstanding example of 20th-century city planning.

Where to Stay: Alma Hotel Lounge

With just 15 rooms, the Alma is one of Tel Aviv’s best and most intimate boutique hotels, conveniently located in the White City. Rooms come with an abundance of thoughtful extras, including welcome treats, espresso machines, and loaner iPads (upon request).

5. The Pitons, St. Lucia

One of the most naturally stunning sites in the Caribbean, the Pitons are two volcanic mountains that rise out of the sea. The juxtaposition of their lush green color against the crystal-clear blue of the Caribbean Sea makes for breathtaking photo ops, and the pair — nicknamed the Grand Piton and the Petit Piton — have been on the UNESCO World Heritage list since 2004.

Where to Stay: The Still Beach House

This budget-friendly five-room inn along Soufriere Bay has no gym, no spa and no pool — in fact, the only extras are direct access to a public beach and a breezy restaurant and bar. And rooms would be average, if it weren’t for the incredible views they boast of Petit Piton, which appears at arm’s length from every room’s private balcony.

6. Notre Dame Cathedral, Paris

Dating back to the Middle Ages, the Notre Dame is one of the most beautiful, and best preserved, examples of Gothic architecture in the world. Nowadays a museum — but still a place for regular worship — entry to the cathedral is free and is a must-do when in Paris.

Where to Stay: Hotel Le Notre Dame

Within steps of the Notre Dame Cathedral, this hotel is also notable for its chic rooms, designed by Christian LaCroix.

7. Yosemite National Park, California

One of a dozen natural UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the U.S., Yosemite National Park is arguably the most important to visit. Encompassing over 700,000 acres across east central California and the Sierra Nevada mountain range, it draws millions of visitors each year to its majestic cliffs, waterfalls, and canyons. From hiking and biking to climbing and skiing, tourists can enjoy a wide range of outdoor activities in America’s third-oldest national park.

Where to Stay: The Ahwahnee

Nestled deep amongst the pine trees, cliffs, and canyons of Yosemite Valley is the 123-room Ahwahnee Hotel. The impressive stone and wood structure, built in 1927, is considered a National Historic Landmark.

8. Belize Barrier Reef

Belize is considered one of the best spots for diving in the world, in large parts thanks to the UNESCO World Heritage Site Belize Barrier Reef, the largest barrier reef in the northern hemisphere. Indigenous wildlife like turtles, manatees, crocodiles and hundreds of species of fish and coral call its waters home. The site also includes sand cays, mangrove forests, lagoons and estuaries.

Where to Stay: Chabil Mar

Chabil Mar, right on the beach on Placencia Peninsula, has 22 spacious villas equipped with family-friendly amenities: open kitchens, washers/dryers, closet space and one to two bedrooms.

9. Sydney Opera House, Australia

Inaugurated in 1973 and named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2004, the Sydney Opera House is one of the most iconic structures in the country-continent. Not only does it boast breathtaking views of the Sydney Harbor, but its awe-inspiring design makes for top-notch acoustics for the many performances that take place in the space annually.

Where to Stay: Pullman Quay Grand Sydney

These chic one- and two-bedroom apartment-style units look out over peaceful green gardens or the busy but beautiful harbor, and have floor-to-ceiling windows; modern, minimalist decor; big kitchens; dining areas; and cozy living rooms.


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Written by enfoquec on July 24th, 2014

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Borderline. Bye Bye Bruce   no comments

Posted at 12:56 pm in the places I would like to go

Depending what country they come from, the Australian government has offered asylum-seekers in its Manus and Nauru offshore detention centres up to AU$10,000 (R100,500) to go home. Those who don’t volunteer will spend a “very, very long time” in the centres, the Immigration Minister has threatened. Lebanese asylum-seekers are reportedly being paid $10,000; while Iranians and Sudanese get $7,000; Iraqis $6,000; Afghans $4,000; and Pakistani, Nepalese and Burmese asylum- seekers, only $3,300.

Elaine Pearson, Australia Director of Human Rights Watch, said the government had made conditions in the centres “so awful that people are encouraged to go back to active conflict zones”.

All this despite Australia’s being party to the 1951 Refugee Convention, which prohibits the return of asylum-seekers to potential persecution.

What’s the difference between a big O and a little one? A great deal, it seems, when it relates to the occupied status of East Jerusalem. Last year, the Australian government announced it was “rebalancing” its position on the Middle East and abstaining from UN resolutions condemning the expansion of Israeli settlements.

On June 6, Attorney-General George Brandis said that the term “Occupied East Jerusalem” had pejorative implications and was “not useful or appropriate”. Prime Minister Tony Abbott said his government would “refuse” to use the word occupied, instead, referring to “disputed” territories.

Among those who took exception were the Organisation of Islamic Co-operation which represents 57 Islamic countries and – with threats of trade sanctions and a backlash from Australian farmers – rural politicians concerned about the AU$2 billion sheep and cattle trade. It was left to foreign minister Julie Bishop to untangle the mess. According to Izzat Abdulhadi, who was part of a Palestinian delegation that met Bishop, Senator Brandis meant only the capital “O” in Occupied when used as part of a noun or name; the government would continue to use occupied with a small “o”. 

Still on the international front, Unesco’s World Heritage Committee took less than ten minutes to unanimously reject the Abbott government’s attempt to have World Heritage protection removed from 74,000 hectares of Tasmanian native forest, and open up for logging “the tallest flowering forest on earth”.

Mother Dear: Gina Rinehart

While conservationists breathed a sigh of relief on that score, the government’s policy of fast-tracking highly controversial port developments close to the Unesco-protected Great Barrier Reef grinds on. So it was that actor Leonardo DiCaprio used his celebrity clout to highlight the fact that the Queensland reef, where he goes diving, was a wonderland 20 years ago but now is “riddled with bleached coral reefs and massive dead zones”.  

Perhaps Australians, who have inched their politicians slowly to the right, are at last baulking. A Nielsen poll of 1,400 respondents showed that for the first time, 61% judged the federal government’s recent budget “not fair”. Another poll – of 1,145 Australians – on behalf of The Climate Institute, found only 20% were satisfied that the government was taking the climate-change threat seriously. John Connor, the chief executive of the institute, has been quoted as saying that “the dinosaurs in politics and business are roaring across our landscape”.

The planned buy-out of Australian billionaire Solomon Lew’s 11.8% stake in the Country Road clothing business by “the South Africans” (Woolworths) is seen in the Australian media as a “windfall” and “a breathtaking victory” for Smart Solly, to whom Woolworths has “capitulated”. Lew, regarded as a master tactician, is set to make AU$207 million profit from the deal, plus AU$200 million for his 10% of the associated David Jones sale to Woolworths.

Australia’s richest family, the Rineharts, is once again publicly tearing itself apart over who gets control of a AU$5 billion trust fund, a position vacated by the family’s matriarch, mining magnate Gina Rinehart after allegations of misconduct by three of her children. In the Supreme Court in June, daughter Bianca Rinehart said she’d invited none of her family to her wedding in Hawaii last year because she’d wanted it to be “a happy affair”. She had been subjected to repeated threats and intimidation by her mother, her lawyer said.

In the meantime, mother Gina, says Australians have too much of an entitlement mentality and are living beyond their means and she’s worried about the country’s economy in a world where Africans “will labour for $2 a day”.

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Written by enfoquec on July 24th, 2014

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World’s largest roofed bazaar located in Tabriz   no comments

Posted at 12:44 pm in the places I would like to go

The Grand Bazaar of Tabriz, a historic complex located in Iran’s northwestern province of East Azarbaijan, is named the largest roofed bazaar in the world.

The bazaar, situated in the middle of Tabriz, is one of the oldest bazaars in the Middle East and the largest covered bazaar in the world.

It was nominated as a World Heritage site by the UNESCO World Heritage Center back in August 2010. The decision was made in the 34th meeting of the World Heritage Committee in Brasilia, Brazil.

The monument was the first bazaar that the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) World Heritage Center selected as a valuable cultural heritage.

Tabriz Historical Bazaar Complex consists of a series of interconnected, covered, brick structures, buildings, and enclosed spaces for different functions. This spectacular structure consists of several sub-bazaars and has different economic and cultural spaces.

Although numerous modern shops and malls have been established recently, the Bazaar of Tabriz still remains the economic heart of the city and northwestern Iran.


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Written by enfoquec on July 22nd, 2014

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She’s Israeli. He’s Assyrian. They’re Putting on a Comedy Show Together   no comments

Posted at 12:44 pm in the places I would like to go

click to enlarge

  • Photo by Nick Barta
  • Roni Geva and Daniel Younathan

Comedians poking fun of the Middle East isn’t the minefield it used to be. The Axis of Evil comedy tour helped spread post-9/11 humor, and clubs now devote entire nights to comics of Middle Eastern heritage. If all good comedy comes from pain, what better material than war, terrorism and bloodshed?

That’s the idea behind iO West’s new sketch show, The Arab Israeli Comedy Hour, which has upcoming performances on July 24 and 31. Roni Geva and Daniel Younathan run wild like two crazy infidels lampooning not only the political and social upheaval in that part of the world — including that biggest of minefields, the Israeli-Palestinian conflict — but also Arab and Muslim stereotypes, including everything from territorial wars to fetishizing women with guns to the white-washing of ethnic cuisine. (Rosemary in falafel? Scary.)“The Middle East is rife with so many stories,” Younathan says during an interview with Geva at a Hollywood café. “Why not use those and bring those to the forefront and not just focus on one?”

When they enter the stage, Geva and Younathan greet the audience with a loud zaghareet, a high-pitched ululation, which, if you’ve ever heard at a Middle Eastern wedding will have your ears ringing. “Please don’t leave,” Geva says at the start of the show. “Because I strapped a bomb to the back of the door, so if you leave, you die.”

Geva is from Tel Aviv, where she’s done comedy and theater, including performing for Israeli soldiers. Younathan was born in London to an Assyrian-Christian family originally from Iraq. (Assyrians are descended from an ancient civilization that included part of what is now Turkey, Iraq, Syria and Iran.) The two moved to different cities before meeting each other at the Groundlings. They conceived the idea of staging something that explored their seemingly opposite yet very similar backgrounds. (Geva performed a different version of the show at both the iO here and in Chicago in 2003 with another partner, who was of Lebanese descent.) They premiered The Arab Israeli Comedy Hour at iO West’s improv festival in June.

Geva and Younathan zip through more than a dozen skits, putting a comedic twist on even the most heady of subjects. In their hands, conflict over land is akin to fighting over a chair, each booting the other off with props like a dollar bill, dynamite and a machine gun, all set to the soundtrack from Jaws.

“If you boil it down, it can become juvenile and dumb and embarrassing on both sides,” Geva says. “So in my mind I thought of it as two kids fighting over the last cookie or a chair.”

“You could emote more with physicality,” Younathan says. “It’s more intelligent that way, because what could we possibly say that hasn’t been said.”

Other sketches take place at a Syrian voting booth, a Baghdad Holiday Inn Express, a terrorist cell with two, bickering terrorists and a UC Berkeley poetry slam, where two girls — a Jew and a Muslim — bemoan the West’s misappropriation of falafel.

“It doesn’t just represent food, it represents how we treat people,” Younathan says. “We change the food like we’re changing the people.”

Geva and Younathan even perform a couple of musical spoofs, including one in which they change lyrics to Katy Perry songs: “I kissed a girl and I got stoned” and “’Cause, baby, you’re an atom bomb.”

“These songs are super popular and super catchy, and they’re just burned into your psyche,” Geva says. “So when you change the lyrics people are immediately surprised,” Younathan adds. “And for a comedian, that’s what you look for — the element of surprise. We wanted to juxtapose the happiness with the sadness of these characters.”

In another, a West Side Story send-up called “West Bank Story,” they change the lyrics in “Somewhere” to: “There’s two states for us/Right here, two states for us/Peace and harmony fill the air/Drop your uzies and we’ll take you there.” (Though this concept isn’t completely fresh — there’s also an Oscar-winning short film called West Bank Story.)

Geva and Younathan don’t have any misgivings about satirizing such polarizing topics. They hope to — inshallah — take the show to different cities and upload bits onto Youtube, with the exception of one called “Epic Rap Battle” that involves the two dressed as Moses and Mohammed smack-talking each other.

“We got very strong advice against putting it on Youtube, so as to not get a Fatwa on our lives,” Geva says. “And I wanna live.” Younathan says.

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Written by enfoquec on July 22nd, 2014

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Science was rigorous for Tasmanian World Heritage listing   no comments

Posted at 12:44 pm in the places I would like to go

Contrary to a recent assertion, the scientific assessment of Tasmania’s World Heritage area was protracted and rigorous.

IT IS UNFORTUNATE THAT Mark Poynter, in his attempt to establish that politics rather than science has determined the World Heritage decision in favour of the Tasmanian forests, fails to focus on the science and instead attacks the people providing the science. In the familiar sporting aphorism, he plays the man not the ball.

As one of those whose credentials are questioned, I can briefly refer to my lifetime of expertise as forester, conservation scientist and heritage assessor, advising governments, international institutions, the private sector and organisations.

For the record, my 40-plus-year career in forests and conservation has included the past 25 years advising on most aspects of World Heritage both in Australia and in South-East Asia, Papua New Guinea, the Middle East, Japan and South America. It is for this well recognised professional expertise and experience that I am retained, not for any political position.

Now to the science and the detail of the World Heritage processes which Mr Poynter does not seem to understand. All nominations to UNESCO’s World Heritage Committee whether for new sites or additions to sites must be formulated in accordance with the scientifically based ‘Criteria for the Assessment of Outstanding Universal Value’ and in addition must meet the relevant Conditions of Integrity.

The Commission of Inquiry into the Lemonthyme and Southern Forests in the 1980′s, a host of subsequently published papers and more recently the Independent Verification Group all provided valuable scientific contributions to the formulation of the 2013 nominated additions. Scientific data and observations were not limited to the tall forests alone but included documentation on a diversity of attributes including archaeological, Aboriginal cultural sites, karst, fossils, caves, endangered species and rare and threatened plant communities.

Contrary to Mr Poynter’s assertion, the concept for extension of the Tasmanian Wilderness World Heritage Area (TWWHA) to include a continuous tract of tall eucalypt forest and adoption of an appropriate eastern boundary was being progressively formulated long before the Tasmanian Forest Agreement 2012 and was informed by a wide range of proposals, heritage values, documentation and other considerations.

The Forests Agreement, not surprisingly, picked up and included this proposal within its terms. Mr Poynter in this and previous articles, frequently refers to the 2008 World Heritage Centre field mission to Tasmania but omits to note that, notwithstanding the reservations and findings of the mission, the World Heritage Committee, at its meeting in Quebec later in 2008 (32 COM 7B.41) considered that report, but resolved to advise Australia that it “Reiterate(s) its request to the State Party to consider, at its own discretion, extension of the property to include appropriate areas of tall eucalyptus forest, having regard to the advice of IUCN…”.

The rejection of additions proposed by the field mission played up by Mr Poynter actually emerged as a reiterated invitation to Australia to nominate additional tall eucalypt forest. Always better if you get the full story. The Committee takes its scientific advice on natural heritage from International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Australia took up that invitation and by 2013 had assembled a nomination dossier that met requirements, including, importantly, the ‘conditions of integrity’.

Again contrary to Mr Poynter’s contention, the 2013 nominated additions to the TWWHA were not misrepresented as ‘minor amendments’. The Committee’s operational guidelines do not specify a minimum area for what constitutes a minor amendment though IUCN, the official advisory body to the Committee for natural heritage suggests 10 per cent as a guideline. While the nominated boundary change slightly exceeded this guideline, it was accepted because the lands included had been the subject of ongoing scrutiny and deliberation by IUCN and the World Heritage Committee, plus the Committee had invited such additions. It also included an existing national park (Mount Field) that had previously been flagged for addition. The Australian submission was responding to the World Heritage Committee invitation to consider an extension “….having regard to the advice of IUCN…” and that was done.

Longer than 10 minutes

As is the case with all additions, the 2013 nominated additions were subject to assessment and advice to the World Heritage Committee by IUCN and International Council on Monuments and Sites (ICOMOS). In the Phnom Penh World Heritage Committee meeting in 2013 reviewing the Australian extension submission, Committee members were briefed on the merits of the additions proposed and none disputed the Australian case for listing.

Before the Australian request to remove the extension area was considered at the Doha meeting of the World Heritage Committee, it had been scrutinised in detail by IUCN and ICOMOS and in May they recommended refusal.

The test for any removal which the 2014 decision was required to meet is that it must be “[a modification] which has not a significant impact on the extent of the property nor affects its Outstanding Universal Value.” Given the evidence before IUCN and ICOMOS, the proposed delisting had no chance of meeting this test.

The IUCN advice and the World Heritage Committee decision to refuse removal of the extension reflected that it would result in the delisting of outstanding stands of pristine tall eucalypt forest, much of it old growth; loss of ecological connectivity; removal of more than 24 Aboriginal cultural sites, including an ice-age archaeological site; removal of glacial landforms, karst, caves and critical habitat of endangered species – all documented – all of which would have had a serious impact on the integrity of the World Heritage Area.

Tasmanian forests: where politics trumps science

Peter Hitchcock’s article is in response to a recent opinion piece from Mark Poynter. Read the original here.

Similarly, boundary integrity would have been seriously impacted. Many of the values at risk were the same scientifically documented attributes and values that contributed to the case for the listing of the extension in the first place in 2013.

None of the Committee member delegates that I consulted with in Doha in 2014 had any doubts about the World Heritage values of the 2013 additions or that the proposed delisting would have a serious impact on the Outstanding Universal Value of the TWWHA.

While the formal process for the World Heritage Committee to unanimously reject the Australian Government submission was brief, occupying less than 10 minutes of the formal meeting time, it was obviously preceded by the members having already considered and taken into account all the material and advice before them during the preceding weeks, including advice from IUCN and ICOMOS.

In response to comments on his article, Mr Poynter has already conceded he was wrong in his claim that “Further exemplifying the political interference is that the disputed areas of the TWWHA extension were listed before they had been declared as national parks. This is a first in Australia…” Anyone familiar with World Heritage process would be aware that this is incorrect. Any number of land parcels in Australia that were not national parks has been listed as World Heritage and there is certainly no requirement for declaration as a national park.

For example, in the Wet Tropics World Heritage Area there are around 300 freehold properties. The Australian Government’s demonstration that any lands are protected and will be appropriately managed is the relevant prerequisite. Instead of a personal attack on the professional integrity of myself and others involved in this process, Mr Poynter would do well to understand the actual processes of the World Heritage listing and review system which is rigorous and based entirely on science and professional assessment, not politics.

Peter Hitchcock is an environmental consultant and a member of the Order of Australia (AM).

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Written by enfoquec on July 22nd, 2014

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Dumping Afrikaans insults Mandela   no comments

Posted at 12:29 pm in the places I would like to go


South African fans sing the national anthem before an international soccer friendly. Inclusion of the Afrikaans verse was a gesture of the most enormous magnitude in its generosity and forgiveness, says the writer. File photo: Matthew Jordaan

Reeva Forman responds to Mbuyiseni Ndlozi’s call to dump the the Afrikaans verse in Nkosi Sikelel’ iAfrica.

Dear Mr Mbuyiseni Ndlozi,

Your article in The Sunday Independent last week (“Time to dump Die Stem”) refers.

May I, as a proud South African, say that you are suggesting throwing away evidence of the greatest humanitarian gesture mankind has seen.

You belittle factual evidence of the world’s greatest humanitarian activist, our very own beloved Madiba, Nelson Mandela, who with this very verse and other gestures helped to prevent a civil war, to prevent the loss of life, to prevent bloodshed.

Yes, the very type of bloodshed that you see around us in the world today, particularly in Africa and the Middle East.

Equally earth-shaking were gestures of Madiba wearing the “hated” Springbok jersey and cap at the 1995 rugby World Cup. With this one gesture Madiba united hearts and minds in our country, healing his nation.

Surely you understand that to show empathy to a vanquished enemy is the highest expression of victory. To attempt to annihilate proof of their very existence – what can this achieve?

The Madiba genius is evident again in his visit to Betsy Verwoerd, the elderly widow of one of the main architects of apartheid. These actions could be a deemed to be those of a person of such high religious and spiritual calibre that many in the world refer to Madiba as a saint, a term he would never accept. Maybe this is what is meant by the biblical injunction of “turning the other cheek”.

Inclusion of this verse from Die Stem in our beloved anthem was not one of bowing and scraping or giving in to the abhorrent regime.

On the contrary, it was a gesture of the most enormous magnitude in its generosity and forgiveness, emanating from those in the position of the greater power – holding out not only the proverbial olive branch, but saying that in spite of the past, we can forgive through our great ethos of ubuntu.

We can be inclusive and respect your identity, allow you to retain your dignity and welcome you into our nation.

To remove this would be an insult to the heritage of Madiba, an insult to the South African nation of which I am so proud to be a citizen.

The mark of a true democracy is how a country treats it minorities.

Our South African credo, “Unity in diversity”, is a lesson the world could indeed take heed of.

* Reeva Forman is chief executive of REEVA Beauty Health.

** The views expressed here are not necessarily those of Independent Newspapers.

Sunday Independent

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Written by enfoquec on July 20th, 2014

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