‘LOOKING FOR LOVE’ OVERVIEW
‘I took another chance and gave my love so free / After a storm loaded with bad memories / Through the years I haven’t grown / To accept the things I’ve known / So I keep on making the same mistakes again.’ – ‘Faithfully’, Gregory Isaacs
‘Looking for Love’. Dir: Menelik Shabazz. Cert: 15
I bumped into Menelik in summer 2014 and he told me that he was working on a film about relationships in the Afrikan community. It would focus on why so many fail, the lessons we learned from our parents and elders and why it takes so long for people to get to a place where they can truly be themselves in a relationship. It follows on from his documentary about the importance of Lovers Rock music to Afrikan youth searching for love and identity in the 1970s and 80s. One part of me wanted to tell him that I had spent most of the 1990s researching relationship psychology and I could join his team to help frame the issues and questions. Another part of me wanted to tell him to go back to making proper ‘militant’ films such as ‘Blood Ah Go Run’ and ‘Time and Judgment’ and stop wasting his time on all this ‘love business’ as I had come to the conclusion that most people don’t know themselves, don’t truly know who they would be compatible with and their conversation and thought processes are dominated by fairy tales and soap opera clichés. I decided to hold my counsel reasoning that as it was Menelik he would at least make a good attempt to get to the core issues. And anyway it’s everyone’s individual journey.
So, anyway back to Menelik’s documentary, ‘Looking For Love’. I liked it and found it thought-provoking but then I’ve been biased in favour of most of Menelik’s projects since the days of ‘Burning an Illusion’. The documentary was made in conjunction with Psychology News so it takes it above the usual ‘he said-she said’. The structure is individual interviews, group discussions, poetic and singing performances. Contributors include Afrikan-American psychologist Dr Umar Johnson and relationship authors Susan Quilliam and Jackie Holder. Many of the comedians who were also in ‘The Story of Lovers Rock’ appear here giving more heartfelt insights into love, sex, intimacy and forgiveness. So we see Kojo, Eddie Kadi, Slim, Mr Cee, Donna Spence and Glenda Jaxson. I was impressed by Andi Osho’s contribution as she explained how she had to look at herself and change how she interacted with her partner and her issues with wanting to control the direction of the relationship. She poignantly asked ‘What are you bringing to the relationship rather than just focussing on a fantasy of what the other person will do for you?’
There is also footage of a speed dating evening. Dating has now become a commercial enterprise on top of the physical and emotional expectations people invest in ‘a date’. Online dating and social networking are increasingly becoming the norm with the rise of dating websites and apps, like e-Harmony, Match.com, and of course Tinder. However, this means that even more people are incapable of relating or conversing with people they actually meet in the real world unless they have met their possible fake avatars through a computer or smartphone first. Communications technology, more mobile communities and people moving away from their traditional customs mean many people claim they have thousands of online friends but still live a life of loneliness and depression. A recent survey highlighted that many people thought if you walked up and spoke to them in a park you were either a stalker or up to some other criminal purpose. For Afrikan men many people still go around with the notions that they are liars, thieves, lazy, naïve, drug-taking sexual predators. They forgot we are actually human beings who live in the real world with real friends, families, jobs, emotions, expectations, desires and successes.
If you take world history over the last 5,000 years Europeans have made up approximately 15% of the world’s population yet they have committed more murders, rapes, land thefts, resource plundering, tortures, war crimes, forced religious conversion and cultural genocide both in actual total and in relation to their proportion of humanity. Yet people are still likely to see them as trustworthy, good at ‘business / finance’ and their worldview is considered highly evolved to the point that their concept of the white God / white Jesus / saviour is considered the default. The adoption of these concepts and the rejection of the real facts of world history gets in the way of Afrikan relationships due to creating a psychopathology about the behaviour of Afrikans. I don’t see why as an intelligent person I should be subjected to or have to engage with other people’s prejudices and paranoia. As a teenager I realised that I should not spend much time in the company of anyone – Afrikan, Asian, Latino or European, male or female - who denigrate Afrikan men without any justification or factual evidence and I accept them as a ‘friend’ at my own peril. I’m not a Christian so I don’t do redemption and I’m not a social worker so I don’t have to do rehabilitation unless I choose to. I’m fairly honest and humble so I have always tried to take people on the level which they approach or engage with me. I assume everyone is capable of intelligent, rational conversation unless they give me a reason to think differently – although that doesn’t mean I naively believe every half-baked idea they want to push.
I never bought into the idea of ‘the independent woman’. Just because you have a job, car and can go to the hairdresser every fortnight it doesn’t give you intelligent conversation, any more insight into yourself or mean that your opinions are facts that sensible people want to hear. In fact many people can exhibit behaviour they try to project as ‘normal’ when they are suffering from a borderline personality disorder due to their fantasies, their past relationships, childhood trauma or what one of the contributors called Post Traumatic Relationship Disorder. Some people are so scared of being alone that they are in serial relationships without any time for reflection before they rush headlong into the next encounter. People need time to clear their head and the spiritual and emotional toxic remnants of their recently-ended relationship. Forgiveness is important both for yourself and your previous and future partners so the toxic influences do not continue to arise blocking successful relationships. Menelik said; “I came to this film through understanding my own baggage and how it was impacting own my personal relationships. All of us are carrying baggage but how many are willing to go through what it takes to unload?”
Contributors look at the different kinds and concepts of Love / In love / Soft love / Hard love / Self-love / One Love. There is also the question of the role of truth versus lies – do you want to hear or know the truth if it will hurt you and when and how do you tell your partner, prospective partner or rejected individual the truth. Without knowing the truth about a person you are not really able to differentiate where the relationship is at and often even if your partner is normal. I remember a friend saying to me that she had no reference points to call on to inform her if a man who was interested in her was sane, a player or an abuser and she was no spring chicken so had relationship experience but just hadn’t learnt from it. This is quite common with women who grow up with a weak or non-existent relationship with their father and so use a relationship or having a baby as a source of validation. Often they don’t make good partner choices because of the early lack of guidance on what traits to look out for (and to avoid) in their formative years.
‘Now, my woman disrespect me in the presence of my friends and company / Passing all her dirty remarks trying to belittle me / Then she went right home and complained to her mummy / Then she went right home and complained to her daddy / Woman, can’t do wrong and get right / Morning, noon or night / Run come see the light / And don’t try belittle / Come on and tickle me.’ – ‘Tickle Me’, Gregory Isaacs
I’ve never been able to work out how a woman with fake hair, eyebrows, nails, breasts, posterior and conversation whose regularly sitting in a nail bar sniffing nail polish thinks she is going to have a REAL relationship when that style will only attract similarly fake men. Someone must be telling them it works but I don’t know who. A friend of mine said that I like plain women to which I can only reply: Too right, ‘Naturality is the style that I live’. I always loved that song from The Gladiators as a youth. I can’t really balance much else as an adult.
The universal law of attraction and the notion that your partner is a reflection of you, warts and all, are raised. To me that is especially important when you hear people belittling their partner’s supposed shortcomings. Is that what they originally liked them for; are the shortcoming real or imagined; is the person doing the complaining blaming their partner for things they themselves are actually guilty of. It is quite common for unfaithful people to assume that everyone is engaged in infidelities - or would be if they could cover their tracks - as a way of justifying their own behaviour. Not everyone is as fickle as that. Even in those Afrikan cultures where polygamy is common not everyone is partaking or wants to.
During the 1990s I published analytical articles, short stories, poems and designed and conducted surveys on relationships. I had also scripted and directed a radio play on relationships, ‘No Sympathy!’, which was broadcast on my radio show in Jan 1998. By the end of the decade I had actually got bored talking to many people about relationships as I didn’t find much that they were saying educational, elevational or edifying. Very few people, regardless of their wealth or expertise in the other fields of their life, actually provided insights that I would take onboard. People don’t know themselves so what they say and act out is what they think they should say and do rather than an example of their true selves and emotions. Most of their ‘opinions’ and ‘fantasies’ I would leave on the wharf and let the tide take it out! That is part of the reason why we have usually focused on politics, economics, cultural and social issues in Nubiart Diary.
About 20 years ago one of my sisters gave me a copy of John Gray’s ‘Men Are From Mars Women Are From Venus’. She told me he had been on Oprah and everybody was raving about the book and his insights. I gave it a read and personally I was underwhelmed by the content and his analysis. It touched on relevant issues but it just seemed like it was addressing the psychological dysfunctions of white, middle-class Americans. The book has sold millions and he has published follow-ups and conducted many speaking tours and media appearances of the back of it but I’m still not impressed by all the fuss. The book that I read at the start of the 1990s and found to be the most in tune with my life and thought processes was Ra Un Nefer Amen’s ‘An Africentric Guide to a Spiritual Union’. What I read reflected crystallised many of my disparate thoughts and life experiences into a form that I could grow with and get even greater understanding into human psychology and relationships. To top it off someone then gave me an earlier edition of the book so I could compare both of them and get greater insights. Some of the concepts in ‘An Africentric guide were touched on by Nana Ama who discussed the difference between agency which is associated with the left side of the brain and notions of communion and communal / community well-being which is linked to the right side of the brain and is more often associated with Afrikans and other indigenous societies.
The poet Redhed Qi is interviewed and Nairobi Thompson performs the title poem, ‘Looking for Love’. The film ends with ‘Everything Must Change’, a beautiful track from Ayanna Witter-Johnson. Go and see ‘Looking for Love’ if it is screening in your area. It will definitely encourage you to look more holistically at the quality of your relationships and hopefully move you closer to where you need to be in your love quest.
Rico Rodriguez. Photograph: Ray
Stevenson / Rex Shutterstock
EMMANUEL ‘RICO’ (RECO / EL RECO) RODRIGUEZ, MBE (17 Oct 1934 – 4 Sep 2015). Trombonist, singer and percussionist. Rico Rodriguez, the man from Count Ossie’s Rasta camp up in Wareika Hills, on the outskirts of Kingston, Jamaica, has passed away at the age of 80. He was born in Cuba and when he was young his family moved to Jamaica. He was one of the musicians who learnt his craft at the Alpha Boys School being taught trombone personally by Don ‘Cosmic’ Drummond. Those Alpha connections stayed with him throughout his six decades performing and recording career. He was in at the start of the Jamaican independent recording industry in the late 1950s and the development of Ska in the early 1960s. He either played trombone or percussion on all the major milestones such as Theophilus Beckford’s ‘Easy Snappin’, The Folkes’ Brothers ‘Oh Carolina’ (as part of Count Ossie and the Mystic Revelation of Rastafari). Rico is credited as the writer of the rockstone classic ‘Chang Kai Shek’. He worked for all the producers including Sir Coxsone, Prince Buster, Derrick Morgan, Clancy Eccles, Harry Mudie, Lloyd ‘Matador’ Daley, Vincent Chin, Karl Pitterson, Laurel Aitken, Lee Perry, Duke Reid and Edward Seaga.
He left for Britain in 1961 and moved around the growing Caribbean music scene working closely with Dandy Livingstone. He started releasing albums under the name Rico and the Rudies in the late 1960s with ‘Blow Your Horn and ‘Brixton Cat’. In the mid-1970s he played with The Undivided a rotating group of British-based reggae musicians. In 1977 Rico released ‘Man from Wareika’ on Island Records which is considered a classic of roots jazz reggae and influenced a lot of young Afrikan musicians in Britain such as Aswad, Steel Pulse, Dennis Bovell’s Matumbi, Black Slate and Ras Messengers.
At the end of the decade he joined The Specials who were at the forefront of a ska revival that led to chart success with songs such as the cover of Dandy Livingstone’s ‘A Message to You, Rudy’, ‘Gangsters’, ‘Ghost Town’. The Specials’ success gave Rico access to funds to promote and distribute his albums and he released ‘That Man Is Forward’ and ‘Jama Rico’ on their 2-Tone label. ‘Jama Rico’ is one of our favourites and the playing and arrangements are so sublime that we often lost all track of time listening to that album in the 1980s. Rico makes the trombone actually speak a language that needs to be heard.
By the time the first incarnation of The Specials imploded Rico was in even higher demand as a session musician to go along with his duties in Special AKA. He also had growing links to Japanese producers and musicians who had been buying up Jamaican vinyl, distribution rights and studio equipment as the digital era shifted the emphasis away from larger touring bands to individual reggae artists. He toured and released albums with Japanese bands. Ska as its own genre was also big on the college circuit internationally so Rico’s name was always well-received as a man who had been in at the music’s beginning and had stayed active.
Rico recorded many albums with other hornsmen such as on ‘Deadly’ Headley Bennett’s ‘35 Years From Alpha’, and with Roland Alphonso and Johnny ‘Dizzy Moore. Tracks such as ‘Jungle Signal’, the dub workout to Mikey Dread’s ‘Roots and Culture’ and Rico’s ‘Wareika Vibes’ on JA-13’s ‘Heroes of Kingston’ show why he was so well-respected. He worked extensively with Dennis Bovell on the LKJ Productions including Michael Smith’s ‘Mi C’Yaan Believe It’. Rico was a member of Gary Crosby’s Jazz Jamaica and Jools Holland’s Rhythm and Blues Orchestra from 1996-2012. He also worked as a session musician on hits for British pop acts such as Joan Armatrading, Tom Jones, Kirsty MacColl, Ian Dury, The Members, Super Furry Animals, Ocean Colour Scene and Ray Davies of the Kinks. He was awarded an MBE for services to music in 2007. In 2012 he was awarded the Silver Musgrave Medal by the Institute of Jamaica in recognition of his contribution to Jamaican music.
RUSSELL AUDLEY FERDINAND ‘RUSS’ HENDERSON, MBE (7 Jan 1924 – 18 Aug 2015) Pianist, Steelpan player. Russ Henderson is widely recognised as one of the founding figures of the Notting Hill Carnival, having played in the early incarnations of Europe’s largest street festival. Henderson grew up Port-of-Spain, Trinidad and founded the Russell Henderson Quartet in the 1940s. In 1951 he travelled to Britain to study piano tuning at the North London Polytechnic. He founded Britain’s first steelband combo (The Russ Henderson Steel Band) with Mervyn Constantine and Sterling Betancourt in late 1952. He also worked with the calypsonians Lord Kitchener and Young Tiger. Henderson played at the first Children’s Carnival in Notting Hill Carnival in 1964.
He played dances under the leadership of Bertie King, Freddy Grant, George Roberts, Joe Appleton and Leslie Hutchinson, especially for functions organised by Hugh Scotland to coincide with British and Caribbean public holidays. Henderson toured in variety with the steelband, and did theatre and radio work. In 1957 he joined forces with the trumpeter Leslie Hutchinson to form the Hutchinson-Henderson All West Indian Band for a 13-week radio series. From 1962 Henderson played Sunday lunchtimes at the Coleherne, in Old Brompton Road, open to amateurs playing with big names as Joe Harriott, Graham Bond, John Surman, Davey Graham and Philly Joe Jones. From 1971 he had a residency at the 606 Club in Chelsea.
Henderson also lectured on the steel pan in schools and at the Commonwealth Institute in London. He organised workshops and larger percussion ensembles, while remaining in demand for social functions. He travelled regularly to Europe and, latterly, divided his time between London and Spain, returning to Trinidad each year for carnival.
He received an MBE in 2006 for Services to Music. In 2012, just prior to the Notting Hill Carnival weekend, Nubian Jak organised the unveiling of two blue plaques in Notting Hill at the junction of Tavistock Road known as Carnival Square, to honour the contributions to the development of Carnival by Russell Henderson, who led the first carnival parade in 1965, and fellow Trinidadian Leslie Palmer, who helped transform the local community festival into an internationally recognised event. A 22-min film about his life, ‘The Pan Man: Russell Henderson’, directed by Michael McKenzie, was released in 2009. He is survived by two sons, Pablo and Angus, from his partnership with Marie-Germaine Musso, and by a daughter, Alison, from an earlier marriage to Eve Rigby.
FORTHCOMING NUBIART PROFILES
NUBIART: Focus on arts, business, education, health, political developments and the media.
~ ‘LIVE IT TO KNOW IT’ – Jimmy Riley [Pressure Sounds – Out Now] A selection of top-notch roots classics self-produced by Jimmy Riley between 1975-1985. This is the period when he was also working with Gregory Isaacs, Dennis Brown, Sugar Minott, Junior Delgado and The Tamlins to set up Sly ‘n’ Robbie’s Taxi label. The tracks all come with either separate dubs or are extended versions. You know you’re in good hands when the first track, ‘Gunman of JA’, comes with a previously unreleased King Tubby’s dub plate mix. ‘Tell the Youths the Truth’, ‘Give Thanks and Praise’, ‘From the Ghetto’ and ‘Everyone Needs Money’ all make an appearance here. His best known tracks cultural tracks from that period are also here - ‘Majority Rule’ and the album ends with the classic and ever relevant ‘Poor Immigrant’. In the accompanying book he is asked about whether he feels eclipsed by the rise of his son, Taurus, unphased Jimmy just coolly replies: “Taurus has done well. But still anytime I play a show, I will always sell out that show!” This is an essential album for all roots lovers and conscious minds.
~ ‘AFRICAN HARMONIES: SIYABONGA – WE THANK YOU’ - Insingizi [ARC Music – Released 25 Sep] This is the third album from the Zimbabwean acapella trio following on from the success of ‘Voices of Southern Africa Volumes 1 & 2’. ‘We Thank You’ or Siyabonga in the IsiNdebele language is dedicated to their friends and fans who have been there from day one. The songs are in English and Ndebele and unusually the 13 tracks are in alphabetical order which is a quirky touch. The album is full of social and political commentary and kicks off with ‘Africa’: ‘ Africa… beautiful continent… unite… beautiful nation, Africa unite, stay away from wars… we are proud of you Africa Mama, stay away from war and tribalism…’
Imilayo is a gentle plea to children to stay away from wrong influences and wrong crowds. While ‘Sugar Daddy’ is another warning for the youth this time about the dangers of AIDS: ‘Let’s teach our children to respect themselves and to take care of themselves in order for them to live a healthy life without contracting deadly diseases like HIV-AIDS.’ ‘Vuma’ is a reminder to leaders of their duty to revive and move the nation forward so that values can be guided and maintained. On ‘Umkhuleko’ the power of prayer is portrayed as having the ability to change all, no matter how hard the situation may seem.
~ ‘WE ARE IN THE WAR’ - Prince Buju [Makkum Records - Out Now] Prince Buju plays the two-string kologo and sings on this nine-track album with songs about loss, disaster, war and hate and the need for people to change their ways. Most of the tracks had a limited release on a cassette called ‘Roots and Culture’ back in 2011 but the title track was added at the end of last year after Prince Buju met a Dutch distributor who then put this out as a CD. Prince Buju plays the instrument hard and driving and it reminds me of a Gnawa style. The album opens with ‘Afashee’, ‘Festivals’ and is a plea to come together during the festivals. ‘In The War’ is the song that points out reality in the world today. “We are all in the war”, and Prince Buju is telling us we would do better if we do not fight but unite. A good coincidence is that in the Dutch language “in de war” means being confused. Prince ‘Bongo Sa-Abodaana’ means ‘I make music for everybody’. ‘Abiire Bongo Akambo-Se’ is a tribute to his mum who has passed on. The album closes with ‘Assala Bo-Lom’ which means the gift of man is in heaven.
NUBIART LIBRARY – SEP MEDIA
We will only review books we have read and DVDs we have seen and that are available at reasonable prices online or in shops or libraries. However, given the nature and current state of Afrikan publishing and film production there may be books and films on this list that are worth the extra effort to track down.
~ ‘PATRIOTISM’ – Patricia Bamurangirwa [Matador. ISBN: 978-1-78462-142-1]
Time can pass
Memories can fade
Feelings can change.
People can leave
But hearts never forget.
Pray that hard time can’t ever knock at your door.
- ‘Hard Time’, p111-113
‘Patriotism’ is a poetry book for readers of all ages, nationalities and walks of life. Touching on subjects including history, nationalism, religion, love and hate. The poems in the first half of the book are presented in both English and Kinyarwanda and are reflective of the ‘Patriotism’ that gives the overall collection its theme and title. It starts off with ‘Rwanda’, where the author is proud to extol the virtues, beauty and industriousness of the country and its people. ‘Rudahigwa’ is a tribute to the King Mutara Rudahigwa III, who was killed because of his resistance to Belgian colonial rule. This poem highlights the concept of Gutanga – sacrifices for our people. ‘Questions’ and ‘We Are One’ address further the iniquities of colonial rule. ‘Don’t Be Fearful I Didn’t Give Up To You’ is dedicated to all the survivors of the genocide who faced trauma, loss and the lasting effects of physical injuries. ‘Struggle’ praises the struggle for survival of the strong and beautiful Rwanda girls and women.
There are some powerful emotions shared here in poems such as ‘Iinkota (Sword)’, ‘I Am Who I Am’, ‘I Had A Mother’ and ‘Journey’. The role of culture are highlighted in ‘What Is Cultural Norm’, ‘Name’ about the power of knowing and holding on to your name. There is also a selection of poems that are tributes to Michael Jackson and his wider role not just as the King of Pop but also as an inspiration to people to achieve. There are topics that are right up to date such as in ‘Who To Blame’, which addresses head on the role of the internet, drugs, drink, knife crime, stress, suicide and teenage pregnancies that are a challenge to the youths of today.
The collection closes with ‘What A Shock?’, Patricia’s response to the harrowing Ebola outbreak in the Mano River region of west Afrika which killed nearly 12,000 people in less than 18 months. The words in Patricia Bamurangirwa’s poetry will show readers that it is possible to achieve your dreams, encouraging and teaching them to have hope for tomorrow. Inspirational in nature, the poems contain a message: that life doesn’t mind if you are rich or poor, that we are all the same and that sometimes people can be happy or sad in the same ways.
~ ‘RWANDA YESTERDAY’- Patricia Bamurangirwa [Matador. ISBN: 978-1-78306-041-2] This is the history book to which Patricia Bamurangirwa referred in her autobiography, ‘My Mother’s Dreams’. Born in Rwanda in 1949 her family fled as refugees to the Congo and Uganda and later to Tanzania and Kenya after the killings of 1959 and the outbreak of the civil war in the 1960s. This ended her formal education but Patricia has become interested in the reason behind the wars and violence Rwanda and its people suffered. She decided to write this book to set the record straight regarding the common myths about the history of Rwanda and its people.
The book is divided into three parts. Starting with the formation of Rwanda it shows how the Tutsi, Twa and Hutu lived together under the rule of a king. But that king was not considered a feudal overlord as there was no excess production for him to accumulate. Instead his role was seen as more ceremonial and for the purposes of dispute resolution and resource allocation. This changes under colonialism when the Belgians seeing a demarcation between cattle herders and agriculturalists devised an ethnic system that first raised the Tutsis above the Hutus then there was a switch as the Belgians and the Catholic Church feared that the Tutsis they had championed may want to throw off the colonial shackles and achieve independence. These power plays laid the groundwork for the future tensions in the country. The last part examines Rwanda as it entered the period of the 1994 genocide when over 20% of the population was killed as the world stood by.
Having grown up in Rwanda and the neighbouring countries Bamurangirwa has steeped herself in both first-hand research and the literature written about the region and the wider implications. The book does not simply narrate events in Rwanda’s history, but seeks to provide some clarity on the cause rather than the effects of the current state of affairs. It is not a book simply about the genocide, but a look at how the country’s history has shaped the events of modern times.
Early on Bamurangirwa addresses the theory that the Tutsis were a separate race, Hamites originating in Ethiopia and Egypt, who had gone to Ruanda-Urundi and colonised the ‘indigenous’ Hutu and Twa. She dismisses it as a European pseudo-scientific concoction and those who still hold on to those views are justifying the genocides and massacres in the region by implying they are engaged in a legitimate revolution against the ‘feudal’ order. What she knows of were castes – the Tutsis were cattle herders, the Hutus were agriculturalists, the Twa at 1% of the population were the earliest inhabitants of the area but not dominant in number or warfare to exercise the right of first ancestors. Bamurangirwa doesn’t like the talk of percentages eg Tutsi were 9% or 15% because the way it was used since the Belgian colonial period was to say you could only get education in that proportion. Thus Tutsis have always been against having the classification ‘Tutsi’ or ‘Hutu’ on ID cards while many Hutus wanted the evidence and statistics to see if they were being discriminated against.
The Germans were the first colonisers of Rwanda arising out of the Berlin Conference of 1884-85 where they also took Tanganyika. Meanwhile the Belgians took the entire Congo and the British colonised the lands to the north and south, eg Uganda, Kenya, Malawi, Zambia, and Zimbabwe. When the Germans lost the First Imperialist World War which lasted from 1861-1919 their colonies were divided between the European victors. That is how Belgium came to inherit Ruanda-Urundi. The Belgians had proved themselves to be brutal overlords in Congo and these attitudes continued in Rwanda. They promoted the notions of Tutsi superiority and some Tutsis bought into it. They were given access to better education and increasingly played prominent roles in the Catholic Church while Hutus were only allowed to go to basic agricultural colleges and seminaries. However, it was this that would eventually be flipped as Tutsis were seen as a feudal, oppressive class lording it over nearly 90% of the population and some church leaders expressed solidarity with the ‘downtrodden’.
As Tutsis started to agitate for more powers within the church and politics it became a big challenge to the Belgians. As the Second Imperialist World War, from 1935-94, ensued, the Tutsi push for independence increased. The Tutsi organisations and activists of the 1940s-1960s, including the puppet king installed by the Belgians, were actually moving closely with the socialist camp and other liberation movements. So there were visits to Nasser in Egypt, the east Afrikan political class based around Makerere University and Nairobi and the bloc around Nkrumah, Lumumba, Sekou Toure, etc. Many of the independence fighters of the period were trained in weapons, tactics and political ideology in China and Cuba. The colonialists, taking an anti-independence, anti-nationalist, anti-communist stance, thus increased their funding and support of Hutus and Tutsis who would not demand independence or at least not the real deal. It was against this background that a genocide against the Tutsis took place starting in 1959 leading to exile for many.
Rwanda gained independence in 1962 as part of the wave that swept through Africa at the time. The French became increasingly involved in the country and the country withdrew from not just the international but also the regional stage as Kayibanda feared the coups, socialists and other liberation movements in the neighbouring countries. For those in the English-speaking world the country was considered in the Francophone sphere of influence. Every now and then it would hit the news but not in any lasting way. The Banyarwandan king Kigeli had been hanging around with the Bugandan king so when Milton Obote first came to power in Uganda he soon found himself in exile in Nairobi. This changed after a British-backed coup brought Idi Amin Dada to power in 1971. King Kigeli was back in favour in Uganda and through the links between Somalia and Burundi, which had a Tutsi-led government, Idi Amin took a dislike to the government in Rwanda. This continued and intensified when Juvenal Habyarimana deposed Kayibanda.
The regional politics got more complicated when the Tanzanians helped depose Idi Amin in 1979 and Milton Obote and Tito Okello were trying to run the country until Yoweri Museveni’s NRM scored a victory in 1985. Museveni was a Banyankole, a nation that are not Tutsi but have a long history of alliances with the Tutsis who had lived and intermarried among the Ugandans for generations. Museveni also happened to find himself as a darling of the American and British governments and it is from this time that the anti-government forces in Rwanda started to move away from the Francophone community and towards the British to the point where Rwanda without any previous colonisation history with Britain now wants to follow the former Portuguese colony Mozambique into the British Commonwealth. The British have been most accommodating and especially in the years since the 1994 genocide and the change of government have increased their aid spending, trade and educational links with Rwanda.
The Rwanda Patriotic Front regime of Paul Kagame that has been in power since 1994 no longer trusts or wants much dealings with the French or the Belgians blaming them for setting the conditions that led to the 1994 genocide, continuing to arm and give asylum to those the RPF consider genocidaires, and to press accusations over alleged RPF atrocities and exploitation not just in Rwanda but also when they entered the mineral fields of eastern Congo to pursue the Interahamwe and other Hutu militias since the summer of 1994.
Bamurangirwa examines several of the possible theories for who was responsible for the joint assassination of Rwandan President Juvenal Habyarimana and Burundian President Cyprien Ntaryamira as they returned from the abortive talks in Burundi - the French, the Belgians, the Americans, the RPF, Hutu extremists, Uganda’s Museveni. She doesn’t accept the evidence of those RPF members she has spoken to who claimed it as one of their successful operations and instead blames Hutus such as Leo Mugesera who were angered that Habyarimana was accepting power sharing with the RPF, although Habyarimana was ‘bush-whacked’ at the conference in Burundi as he thought he was going there to stall and grandstand but Museveni, with a much stronger and better-equipped army, threatened immediate consequences if Habyarimana never agreed to implement the peace deal on the spot. Accepting the peace deal meant that any pre-planned purge of Tutsis and their Hutu allies would not take place.
The claims and counter claims over who is a ‘war criminal’ and who was ‘saving’ the country continue with the Rwanda President Paul Kagame having to fend off claims over his role in the shooting down of the Presidential plane on 6 Apr 1994. Over the summer Lieutenant-General Emmanuel Karenzi Karake, Director General of Rwanda’s National Intelligence and Security Services, was arrested in London on a European arrest warrant in relation to alleged war crimes against civilians. He was prevented from leaving the country at Heathrow Airport by the Metropolitan Police extradition unit. A Spanish judge indicted Karake in 2008 for alleged retributory war crimes in the years after the 1994 Rwandan genocide. He is accused of ordering massacres while head of Rwanda’s military intelligence between 1994 and 1997, and ordering the killing of three Spanish nationals working for the NGO Médicos del Mundo. Karake is one of 40 current or former Rwandan military officials named on the indictment.
President Paul Kagame said the arrest showed ‘absolute arrogance and contempt’ while the African Union called for Karake’s ‘unconditional and immediate’ release. Strangely he had been in and out of Britain several times over the years and he was previously the deputy commander of the UN peacekeeping mission in Darfur, Sudan, which he left in 2009. Humanitarian campaigners Human Rights Watch had protested against his appointment, accusing him of orchestrating deadly attacks against civilians when Rwandan forces were fighting Uganda in the Democratic Republic of the Congo in 2000.
The case against Karenzi Karake was dismissed in British jurisdictions on Mon 10 Aug. Senior District Judge Riddle discharged the case after advice from the prosecutors, said a spokesman for the Crown Prosecution Service. “After careful consideration we do not believe an extradition offence can be established under UK law. The main reason is that the relevant laws on the conduct alleged in this case do not cover the acts of non-UK nationals or residents abroad.” Britain and the Rwandan government have a close relationship: the east African country is a major destination for British aid, and President Paul Kagame has a “close working relationship“ with former British Prime Minister Tony Blair. Karake’s defence team included Cherie Booth, Tony Blair’s wife.
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~ BOOKS OF AFRICA, MUATTA BOOKS & ANCIENT FUTURE PRESENT INTERNATIONALLY RENOWNED AFRIKAN SCHOLAR ACTIVIST RUNOKO RASHIDI. Runoko Rashidi is an anthropologist and historian with a major focus on what he calls the Global Afrikan Presence - that is, Afrikans outside of Afrika before and after enslavement. He is the author or editor of eighteen books, the most recent of which are ‘Black Star: The African Presence in Early Europe’ and ‘African Star over Asia: The Black Presence in the East’, both published by Books of Africa. His other works include the ‘African Presence in Early Asia’, co-edited by Dr. Ivan Van Sertima. His two major forthcoming works are: ‘The Ivan Van Sertima Papers: The Global African Presence’ and ‘Everywhere We Are: The Global African Presence by Runoko Rashidi’.
As a traveller and researcher Dr. Rashidi has visited 103 countries. As a lecturer and presenter, he has spoken in fifty-seven countries. Runoko has worked with and under some of the most distinguished scholars of our generation, including Ivan Van Sertima, John Henrik Clarke, Asa G. Hilliard, Edward Scobie, John G. Jackson, Jan Carew and Yosef ben-Jochannan. In October 1987 Rashidi inaugurated the First All-India Dalit Writer’s Conference in Hyderabad, India. In 1999 he was the major keynote speaker at the International Reunion of the African Family in Latin America in Barlovento, Venezuela. In 2005 Rashidi was awarded an Honorary Doctorate degree by the Amen-Ra Theological Seminary in Los Angeles. In August 2010 he was first keynote speaker at the First Global Black Nationalities Conference in Osogbo, Nigeria. In December 2010 he was President and first speaker at the Diaspora Forum at the FESMAN Conference in Dakar, Senegal.
He is currently pursuing a major work on the African presence in the museums of the world. As a tour leader he has taken groups to India, Australia, Fiji, Turkey, Jordan, Brazil, Egypt, Ghana, Togo, Benin, France, Belgium, England, the Netherlands, Spain, Morocco, Senegal, the Gambia, Vietnam, Cambodia, Thailand and Myanmar. Runoko Rashidi’s major mission in life is the uplift of African people, those at home and those abroad. He is the official Traveling Ambassador for Marcus Garvey’s Universal Negro Improvement Association and African Communities League, currently in its 100th year of service. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.travelwithrunoko.com / www.runokorashidi.com / www.facebook.com/pages/Runoko-Rashidi/41182957367
- On Tues 8 Sep at 6.30pm at ACMC, 339 Dudley Road, Birmingham, B18 4HB. Adm: £5. Tel: 07474 646 030. E-mail: email@example.com Web: www.booksofafrica.com
- ‘African Origins of Classical Civilisation’. On Fri 11 Sep at 6-10pm at Navarino Mansions, Dalston, London, E8 1LA. Adm: £10 / £8 (concs). Tel: 07956 134 370.
- ‘British Museum Tour: Nubia & the Ancient African Diaspora’. On Sat 12 Sep at 10am-12pm. Adm: £12. Tel: 07956 134 370.
- ‘Petrie Museum Tour: Nubia & the Ancient African Diaspora’. On Sat 12 Sep at 2-4pm. Adm: £12. Tel: 07956 134 370.
- ‘African Presence in Museum Collections Around the World. On Sat 12 Sep at 6-10pm at Navarino Mansions, Dalston, London, E8 1LA. Adm: £10 / £8 (concs). Tel: 07956 134 370.
~ MICHAEL WRIGHT PRESENTS HERITAGE OF SKA - HONORING THE LEGENDS. An evening celebrating two foundations ska artists: trombonist Rico Rodriguez, MBE, and singer Owen Gray. Performing on the night will be Neville Staple of The Specials, and Mozez (Zero 7). Music supplied by DJ One Dropper. Compere is newspaper columnist, music journalist, and author Garry Bushell. On Fri 11 Sep at 7pm at 229 The Venue, Great Portland Street, London. [NB: This event was planned before the recent passing of Rico so check details with organisers or artists.]
~ THEE BLACK SWAN THEATRE AND OPERA COMPANY PRESENT ‘BLACK SPARTACUS’. Written by Anthony Maddalena and directed by Joe Charles. Toussaint L’Ouverture is one of the most important figures in world history. He was the subject of numerous books and poems from his death in 1803 until the end of the 19th century. For the Romantics, Toussaint signified the dawning of a new era in the Americas and was an emblem of hope in the slavery abolition movement. Yet he is barely recognised in the west. So who was the Black Spartacus? Toussaint was born in north of Haiti (at the time called St. Domingue) in 1743. The grandson of a captured African chieftain he was enslaved until he was 45. A highly intelligent individual he taught himself to read as a child and was well versed in Caesar’s military writings and the polemics of the French abolitionist Abbé Reynal. Toussaint grew up as a practitioner of vodou a peaceable creed that marries Catholicism with African animism and is still a major religion in modern Haiti.
Haiti’s slave rebellion first began under Boukman, the Jamaican vodou priest. Toussaint did not join the revolution until a few weeks after it had begun but quickly became a prominent leader within the movement. He showed himself to be not only a gifted military strategist but a skilled diplomat. He would go on to lead the only successful revolt against enslavement in modern history defeating the three mighty empires of Britain, France and Spain and liberating enslaved Afrikans in Haiti. Until Sat 12 Sep at 7 & 7.30pm (start times vary on different days) at Main House, The Courtyard Theatre, Thee Black Swan, Bowling Green Walk, 40 Pitfield Street, London, N1 6EU. Tel: 0844 477 1000. E-mail: theeblackswan.co.uk
~ AFRICAN ODYSSEYS PRESENTS ‘CANVAS AND SAND’ FILM SCREENINGS. ‘Mark of the Hand’ is directed by Imruh Bakari and follows Guyanese artist Aubrey Williams a founding member of the Caribbean Artists Movement. ‘Walking Drawings Across the Estuaries’ is directed by Evewright and turns landscape into a canvas in a work of living art , as people ride on and walk the drawings’ lines writeing their stories into the earth. On Sat 12 Sep at 2pm at NFT3, BFI Southbank, Belvedere Road, London, SE1 8XT. Adm: £6.50 Tel: 020 7928 3232. Web: bfi.org.uk/southbank
~ AUTOGRAPH PRESENT ‘THE FIFTH PAN-AFRICAN CONGRESS’. Exhibition or rarely seen photographs by John Deakin documenting the influential 1945 Pan-African Congress that called for millions of Africans to be liberated from colonial rule. Until Sat 12 Sep at Tues-Sat at 11am-6pm (9pm on Thurs) at Autograph, Rivington Street, London, EC2. Adm: Free. Tel: 020 7749 1240. Web: http://autograph-abp.co.uk/
~ SERPENTINE GALLERIES PRESENT ‘LYNETTE YIADOM-BOAKYE: VERSES AFTER DUSK’. Showcase of the artist’s most recent paintings and etchings. Until Sun 13 Sep at Tues-Sun at 10am-6pm at Serpentine Gallery, Kensington Gardens, London, W2 3XA. Adm: Free. Tel: 020 7402 6075. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Web: www.serpentinegalleries.org
~ BRITISH MUSEUM LECTURE: ‘80,000 YEARS OF ROCK ART PRODUCTION IN SOUTHERN AFRICA’. Benjamin Smith, from the University of Western Australia, explores the evidence for the origins of art and spirituality in southern Africa around 80,000 years ago. He follows the story of our understanding of the meaning of southern African rock art from earliest times up until the last painters less than 100 years ago. This lecture is part of the African Rock Art Image Project, supported by the Arcadia Fund. On Mon 21 Sep at 2-3pm at BP Lecture Theatre, British Museum, Great Russell Street, London. Adm: Free (booking essential). Tel: 020 7323 8181. Web: britishmuseum.org/africanrockart
~ BRITISHBLACKMUSIC.COM/BLACK MUSIC CONGRESS PRESENTS ‘MY BOY LOLLIPOP: FROM JA TO UK, A MUSICAL HISTORY‘. Audio-visual presentation on unique relationship between UK/JA and reggae. Q&A chaired by Harrow Mencap CEO Deven Pillay. On Mon 21 Sep at 6.30-8.30pm at Harrow Mencap, 1st floor, 3 Jardine House, Harrovian Business Village, Bessborough Road, Harrow HA1 3EX. E-mail: editor@BritishBlackMusic.com Web: www.BritishBlackMusic.com Web: http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/my-boy-lollipop-from-ja-to-uk-a-musical-history-harrow-mencap-tickets-17915919999
~ AFRIKAN FAMILY WORKS EVENTS
- ‘The Best Jollof Rice Competition 2015’. The UK gets its first ever Jollof rice competition this autumn. Jollof rice is a much-loved staple dish in many West African and Caribbean homes. Every West African and Caribbean cooks thinks that their community’s version of Jollof rice is the best and the most authentic rice recipe. The competition producers The Afrikan Family Works wants to put this to the test and expect a strong turn out from Ghanaians, Nigerians, and Jamaicans. There is prize money of £1,000 up for grabs. Entry is free to anyone interested in Jollof rice. Closing Date: Mon 21 Sep 21. Competition Finals: Sun 27 Sep at 3pm at Brixton Library, Brixton Oval, London SW2 1JQ. Tel: 07783 188 100. Web: www.theafrikanfamilyworks.net
- ‘The Best Caribbean Rum Cake Competition 2015’. Now open for entries. The baking competition was initially established to spread awareness of the Caribbean rum cake baking tradition to a new generation of Londoners. The competition organisers The Afrikan Family Works expects a high level of interest as the prize money has been increased to £1,000 this year. Entry is free to anyone interested in the traditional Caribbean rum cake. Closing Date: Mon 21 Sep. Competition Finals: Sun 27 Sep at 5pm at Brixton Library, Brixton Oval, London SW2 1JQ. Tel: 07783 188 100. Web: www.theafrikanfamilyworks.net
- ‘The Big Adoption and Fostering Tea Party’. Substantial progress has been made in finding permanent homes for white children in local authority care in recent years but for Black and minority ethnic children in local authority care little has changed. The tea party producers The Afrikan Family Works believe that the best way to increase the number of minority ethnic children being adopted is to demystify the progress of adopting. The free afternoon tea party is staged for anyone interested in adopting a child to speak directly to people who have already successfully gone through the process. There will also be a foster care Q&A session at the same time. On Sun 27 Sep at 5pm at Brixton Library, Brixton Oval, London SW2 1JQ. Tel: 07783 188 100. Web: www.theafrikanfamilyworks.net
- ‘Afrikan Food Hall Health and Wellbeing Day’. The free health and well-being day returns to south London this autumn. The Afrikan Food Hall Live is an open day for the general public to take part in health and wellbeing seminars and for people to sign up as members of the not-for-profit supermarket project. The Afrikan Food Hall supermarket is being launched to help tackle the crisis of poor health facing African and Caribbean communities in the UK. The team behind the project will give any surplus profits made at the supermarket chain to good causes. Over the past 5 years many alternative food projects have sprung up to challenge the dominance of the big 4 supermarkets. We have seen the growth in urban farmers’ markets, discount stores, and veg-box home delivery services. The Afrikan Food Hall hopes its membership-discount model will prove to be a winning recipe. On Sat 26 Sep at 3pm at Brixton Library, Brixton Oval, London SW2 1JQ. Adm: Free. Tel: 07783 188 100. Web: www.theafrikanfamilyworks.net
~ TIWANI CONTEMPORARY PRESENTS THEO ESHETU.
- ‘The Mirror Ball Constellation’ exhibition launch. On Thurs 24 Sep at 6.30-8.30pm. RSVP e-mail: email@example.com Since the early 1980s, Theo Eshetu has combined the formal components of film with anthropological ideas to examine the notion of culture itself. His manipulation of time and light leads to work that draws on themes and images from the artist’s dual European and African background. As one of the first artists to work exclusively with video art, Eshetu has contributed significantly to the medium’s recognition within the context of fine art. Eshetu’s long form essay-films and multiscreen video installations have gained him international recognition at numerous film festivals and museums. Tiwani Contemporary will show Eshetu’s acclaimed 2014 work Anima Mundi, an immersive multimedia and video installation, as well as the five-screen video installation Meditation Light (2006) and works from the photographic series The Mirror Ball Constellation (2013-2015). Theo Eshetu was born in 1958 in London and grew up in Addis Ababa, Dakar and London before establishing himself in Rome. He currently lives and works in Berlin.
- ‘Art Connect Artist Talk: Theo Eshetu in Conversation with Elvira Dyangani Ose’. On Sat 26 Sep at 3pm. RSVP e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Theo Eshetu discusses his work with Elvira Dyangani Ose, Lecturer in Visual Cultures at Goldsmiths, University of London, and curator of the current edition of the Göteborg International Biennial for Contemporary Art, GIBCA 2015.
Exhibition continues until 31 Oct on Tues-Fri at 11am-6pm and Sat at 12-5pm at Tiwani Contemporary, 16 Little Portland Street, London, E-mail: email@example.com
~ ‘IMAGES FROM 42 WOMEN OF SIERRA LEONE’. Selection of images from 42 Women of Sierra Leone, by British photographer Lee Karen Stow, paying tribute to the strength and resilience of the women of Sierra Leone. The featured images were taken in 2007, five years after Sierra Leone emerged from a brutal civil war. This was a time of immense hardship, with few economic opportunities and very poor access to education and healthcare, particularly for women and girls. 42 was the average life expectancy for women at the time. Women, such as many of those depicted here, have led this agenda in the search for a better future; as activists, working professionals, community leaders, farmers, teachers, nurses and mothers. Until Sat 27 Sep at the Balcony Gallery, Horniman Museum, 100 London Rd, London, SE23 3PQ. Tel: 020 8699 1872.
~ ‘AT HOME WITH VANLEY BURKE’. Exhibition of the photographic work, archive and the hoardings of the Vanley Burke with a special focus on life around the West Midlands. Until 27 Sep at Tues–Sun at 11am-5pm at the Ikon Gallery, 1 Oozells Square, Brindley Place, Birmingham, B1 2HS. Tel: 0121 248 0708.
~ NZINGHA LECTURE SERIES NO.28: ‘FIBROIDS: WHAT SISTERS NEED TO KNOW’. On Wed 30 Sep at 6.30-9pm at JZ Young Lecture theatre, Anatomy Building, University College London, Gower Street, London, WC1E 6DE. Web: http://www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/nzingha-28-fibroids-what-sisters-need-to-know-tickets-18180558540
~ BP SPOTLIGHT EXHIBITION ‘SPACES OF BLACK MODERNISM: LONDON 1919–39’. In the inter-war period cosmopolitan networks of artists, activists, writers and artists’ models in London helped shape the cultural and political identity of the city. The studios, art colleges and social clubs of Chelsea, Bloomsbury and Soho became places of trans-national exchange. ‘Spaces of Black Modernism’ draws together paintings, sculpture, photographs and archival material from Tate’s collection with others loaned from public and private collections. It follows the interactions between artists such as John Banting, Edward Burra, Jacob Epstein, Barbara Ker-Seymer, Ronald Moody, Glyn Philpot and Matthew Smith with others including the writers Claude McKay and Una Marson, the poet and political activist Nancy Cunard, the model ‘Sunita’ (Amina Peerbhoy) and the singer Elisabeth Welch. The display is a collaboration between Tate Britain and the Equiano Centre at University College London and builds on research from the Arts & Humanities Research Council-funded project, ‘Drawing Over the Colour Line’.
Exhibition runs until 4 Oct 2015 at Tate Britain, Millbank, London, SW1. Adm: Free.
Hula dancers from the Hālau Nā
Kipuʻupuʻu group, Kaʻauea, Hawaiʻi,
Hawaiian Islands, 2011.
Photography: Dino Morrow.
~ BRITISH MUSEUM EXHIBITIONS AND EVENTS ‘SHIFTING PATTERNS: PACIFIC BARKCLOTH CLOTHING’. A selection of textiles from the Pacific used to wrap, drape and adorn the body in a myriad of styles and designs, these garments demonstrate the long history of barkcloth, and its ongoing relevance today. In the islands of the Pacific, cloth made from the inner bark of trees is a distinctive art tradition its designs reflect the histories of each island group and the creativity of the makers. Spanning the region from New Guinea in the west to Rapa Nui (Easter Island) in the east, the exhibition will show a selection of 77 garments, headdresses, masks and body adornments from the Museum’s collection dating from the 1700s to 2014, including those worn as everyday items and ceremonial costumes linked to key life cycle events such as initiation and marriage. Barkcloth is generally made and decorated by women, but garments intended for ritual purposes may be made by men. Until Sun 6 Dec at Room 91 at the British Museum, Great Russell Street, London, WC2. Adm: Free. Tel: 020 7323 8181.
~ ‘NO COLOUR BAR: BLACK BRITISH ART IN ACTION 1960-1990’. Exhibition of the archive of the Guyanese campaigners and publishers Eric and Jessica Huntley. Until Sun 24 Jan 2016 at Mon-Sat at 10am-5pm and Sun 12-4pm at Guildhall Art Gallery, Guildhall Yard, London, EC2V 5AE. Adm: Free. Tel: 020 7332 3700.
~ JENGBA MEETINGS. JENGbA campaigners can deliver lectures to Law, Criminology, Media, Sociology, Youth Studies departments as well as school children. On the second Tues of every month at 7pm at Edward Woods Community Centre, London, W11 4TX. Tel: 07709 115793 / 07725 727520 (Media Enquiries). New office: Office A, Norland House, Queensdale Cresent, London, W11 4TL. E-mail: JointEnterpriseInfo@Gmail.com / JengbaMedia@Gmail.com
~ BUNDU DIA KONGO (BDK). Afrikan cultural and spiritual group working towards the spiritual and psychological growth and development of Afrikans all over the world. Let us make a positive change now. Learn about Afrikan prophets, Afrikan history and Afrikan spiritual practices at our weekly Zikua.
- Sun at 1.30–4.30pm at PSCC, 1 Othello Close, Kennington, London, SE11 4RE. Tel: Makaba - 07951 059 853. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Sun at 12.30–3.15pm at Malika House, 81 George Street, Lozells, Birmingham, B19 1Sl. Tel: Mbuta Mayala – 07404 789 329.
~ THE AUSAR AUSET SOCIETY GI GONG CLASSES. Every Monday at 7.30–9pm at Hazel Road Community Centre, Hazel Road, Kensal Green, London, NW10 5PP. Adm: £5 per class. Tel: 07951- 252-427. E-mail: Tauinetwork.email@example.com
Contact: Kubara Zamani, Afrikan Quest International, PO Box 35165, London, SE5 8WU. Tel: 07811 494 969. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org NB: Nubiart Diary can also be read at www.ligali.org
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