31 OCTOBER 2019
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Director to leave SOAS for Oxford with bittersweet legacy
(Credit: Wikimedia Commons)
Will Durrant, BA History SOAS Director Valerie Amos will step down next summer to take the top spot at University College Oxford. Back in London, the search for SOAS’ next Director has already begun. Baroness Valerie Amos will leave SOAS at the end of this academic year after nearly five years at the School. In her new role at University College Oxford (Univ), she will become Oxford’s first ever black College Head. Amos began her role
at SOAS in September 2015, becoming the first black woman to lead a university in the United Kingdom. Despite the significance of her joining SOAS, the Baroness’ directorship has come under scrutiny by students and union staff on several occasions. Just months after her appointment, the then-Students’ Union co-president Hannah Slydel told The SOAS Spirit that the School’s ‘Refugees Welcome’ campaign amounted to ‘empty words and an opportunity for good PR.’ This is because, in 2004, Amos voted against a House of Lords motion to ‘support the welfare of child detainees’ in the wake of several high-profile reports of mistreatment of refugee
families by the Blair government. In a 2016 Guardian interview, Amos was praised for being a ‘doer’ rather than a publicist. But the paper noted that whilst Amos was sceptical of the controversial Prevent anti-extremism programme, she was not ready to voice her criticism of the scheme. In the same interview, Amos refused to neither endorse nor condemn the famous Rhodes Must Fall campaign in Oxford. Amos’ deflection of the campaign was seen by some students in London as her stepping back from a debate not just about a statue, but about ‘race, … gender and how Continued on page 3
31 OCTOBER 2019
Letter from the Editor
Director to leave SOAS for Oxford with Bittersweet legacy
SOAS Changes with the climate
Zimbabwe: hopes fade as economic p8 crisis worsens News Made Easy: Impeachment Explained
Opinion AFRICONOMICS: ECO and its discontents in West Africa
Modi has played his last card
Boris Johnson: a represetative of p14 the people?
Features Interview with author of ‘The Clapback: Your Guide to Calling Out Racist Stereotypes’
‘The World is Ending’ and Other Dangerous Myths
Humans of SOAS: Notes Edition
Dear Spirit readers, I’m happy to finally introduce to you all Issue #9 of the SOAS Spirit newspaper! As much work as has gone into this issue, it could not have been done without the hard work and effort of our entire editorial team, and all of our contributors. As Black History Month draws to a close, we’ve dedicated some special spotlight pieces to engage with the black news, culture, and presence on campus as well as the global platform. From a brand new Opinion column on African economics, to our recurring Humans of SOAS piece highlighting black musicians on campus, there’s an incredible variety to read about. Our front page features a story vital to our university – the departure of Valerie Amos, from her role as Director of SOAS. As a leader who has made vital strides in representation for BAME self-identifying women in academic leadership positions, our SOAS News editor, Will, separates fact from fiction to uncover the state in which she leaves our institution. The future of SOAS is somewhat unstable, and with unreliable rumours about, our stories provide some much needed clarity. Continuing in News is our News Made Easy breakdown of global politics. This piece addresses the looming impeachment of Trump and what this entails for wider
Syraat Al Mustaqeem Managing Editor of the SOAS Spirit
Your SOAS Spirit Team Syraat Al Mustaqeem • Managing Editor •
Maliha Shoaib• Co-Editor-in-Chief • Hana Qureshi • Co-Editor-in-Chief •
Commerical African Art Fair Review
Maliha Shoaib • Co-Editor-in-Chief
Sport & Societies
‘Western’ politics. This continuing theme of political turmoil and democratic protest is also in our news piece on Zimbabwe and the upset following the change in leadership. In Opinion we have one of my favourite pieces this cycle: a ‘Mean Girls’ style, burn book piece on Iran and Saudi’s ‘Regina’ style feud. This pop-culture perspective brings Middle Eastern politics into an accessible language, which we don’t see enough in academia. This article entertains as much as it informs! Features and Culture have some equally engaging pieces such as an interview on author Elijah Lawal’s novel ‘The Clapback’, and astrological signs as your favourite fresher moments! Our returning illustrator, Gaia, has commissioned a piece of Trump and Johnson that will definitely have you chuckling. Another brand new column we have is by Rihab, where she combines social commentary and film critique to discuss the implications of ‘Joker’ and the place his gratuitous violence holds in our society. As this is my first issue as Managing Editor, I hope my vision, and that of the new team this year has been accurately portrayed – that which allows the most important news to be conveyed to the students of SOAS, by the students of SOAS. With stories reflecting both the O and the A in SOAS, I hope to represent our students from every corner of the world. The experiences and opinions of SOAS students are unique in their perspective, and my goal is to do them justice in the writing and creativity in each issue. To be a part of our independent student newspaper email us your interest at firstname.lastname@example.org and keep supporting us on all of our social media @soasspirit.
Will Durrant • News Editor • Ludovica Longo • News Editor • Sabrina Shah • News Editor • Basit Mohammad • Opinion Editor • Fisayo Eniolorunda • Features Editor • Sasha Patel • Features Editor • Indigo Eve Lilburn-Quick • Culture Editor • Rami Shamel • Sport and Societies Editor • Adekunmi Olatunji • Senior Layout Editor • Maliha Shoaib • Senior Layout Editor •
Conquering the World...While Black
Racism in Football
Adekunmi Olatunji, • Online Editor • Arzu Abbasova • Online Editor • Amaani Master • Social Media Co-ordinator • Hana Qureshi • Co-Editor-in-Chief
31 OCTOBER 2019 https://soasspirit.co.uk/category/news/ News Editors: Will Durant, Ludovica Longo, Sabrina Shah
Continued from page 1
people are represented in academia.’ Amos once led this debate, making the case in 1984 that white civil rights movements have historically thrived on the stereotyping and degradation of black communities and workforces. Only last year, Amos led a School-wide staffing reform under the ‘One Professional Services’ (OPS) banner for which she faced further backlash. Unions at the School threatened strike action over compulsory redundancies for non-academic staff across SOAS. After planning to cut a quarter of the School’s library staff, Amos was criticised again by unions for threatening the library’s near-unique National Research status in the UK. Last year, the Spirit revealed that Amos presided over an unprecedented £7.1 million gap in the School’s budget, and that at previous spending levels SOAS had only eighteen months to survive. But despite the protests which Amos has faced over her tenure in Bloomsbury, many are keen to highlight that her legacy at SOAS could be a positive one. The Baroness made waves in the world of British academia, becoming the first black woman to lead a UK university. As the School’s director, Amos took the conversation around decolonising higher education to a national level, to
the press and the government. The starting point to confronting European colonial pasts, she recommended, is to make universities less hostile to black academics, who are grossly underrepresented in academia; around 1% of UK professors are black.
“Amos led the conversation at the national level around decolosnising higher education.” And whilst it took several years of campaigning from workers’ rights groups across SOAS, Amos finally brought staff in-house in August 2018. There have been some concerning blips in the meantime, but the bulk of the work was completed under Amos’ directorship. The Paul Webley Wing in Senate House was also opened under Amos in 2016. On her departure from SOAS, the Baroness said: ‘I am proud to be Director of SOAS, a university which provides a distinctive academic environment for staff and students. Global is in our DNA and SOAS occupies a special space in
the world of higher education. We challenge, we question and we strive to remain true to our values. In the year ahead, I and the senior team will continue to focus on implementing the reforms which will help SOAS continue to thrive.’ SOAS’ Chair of Trustees, Marie Staunton told students and staff that Amos would be greatly missed, whilst Professor Peter Jezzard, Vice-Master at Univ, said: ‘The Governing Body is excited that Baroness Amos agreed to accept our invitation to take on the role [of Master] from next summer, and we very much look forward to welcoming her to the College and to working with her in the future. She brings a wealth and diversity of experience to the role, including a deep knowledge of the higher education sector, and will help us continue Univ’s outstanding reputation for excellence, access and innovation in Oxford.’ Crisis SOAS, a student activist collective, were less complementary. ‘Valerie’s five-year tenure has been a disaster,’ they said as part of a written statement criticising staffing uncertainties, cuts to courses, and outsourcing. They did, however, acknowledge that ‘this was not all Valerie’s fault,’ praising several important union ‘victories’ over the past five years.
Kashmir event and Pink-washing Mahnoor Chaudhry BSc Hons Economics
settler colonisation and mass plunder of its resources. When the demonstrators entered, panellists requested them to listen to the discussion. Nonetheless, the masked group of five, one of whom was a woman, illegally set off the fire alarm to disrupt the event, after which the entire SOAS building was evacuated.
and Politics An event at SOAS hosted by the South Asia Solidarity Group was disrupted by a group of masked Hindu nationalists chanting ‘Jai Hind’ (Victory to India) slogans. On 5 October, demonstrators stormed the event holding a rainbow flag that read ‘Gay for [Jammu and Kashmir]’ and ‘[Article] 370 is homophobic.’ The event marked sixty days since an increased military presence and barbed wires around the Kashmir valley, rendering the region incommunicado from the rest of the world. The South Asia Solidarity Group held the event to discuss the current conflict in Kashmir which began on August 5, when Hindu nationalist Prime Minister, Narendra Modi unilaterally revoked Article 370 of India’s constitution. This ended Kashmir’s autonomous status and downgraded the valley to a federally administered enclave. As part of the conflict, 900,000 Indian soldiers were sent to Kashmir to impose a siege on eight million Kashmiris and to quell potential unrest. Phone and internet services were cut off, tourists and Hindu pundits were evacuated, and thousands of Kashmiri political leaders, academics and activists remain imprisoned. Movement is limited in the valley. The Modi government also published the National Register of Citizens on August 31 in Assam. It is thought that 1.9 million people are excluded from the National Register,
Panelists at the ‘Resisting Facism’ event held at SOAS
thereby facing the possibility of statelessness, a number thought to be larger than that of the Rohingya in Myanmar, which could signal towards a larger crisis. The event at SOAS, entitled ‘Resisting Fascism, Building Solidarities, India, Kashmir and Beyond,’ discussed these developments, along with strategies for resistance against the Modi government. According to Armit Wilson, one of the organisers, ‘the Hindu supremacist far-right government’s goal is to turn India into a Hindu state. Modi has overseen an epidemic of horrific mob-lynchings of Muslims and Christians, an escalation of atrocities against Dalits and Adivasis, and arrests and assassinations of those who have dared to dissent’ and the revocation of Article 370 as yet another testament to this ideology. They believe that Kashmir now faces Israeli-style
“Modi’s racist and narcissist policies have led to such a lack of intolerance, and extremist tendencies in his followers that they now fear even intellectual discourse and discussion, what is most alarming is that they have now even reached the UK.”
The South Asia Solidarity Group saw this disruption as an attempt to ‘pinkwash’ the occupation of Kashmir, as protestors claimed to be defenders of LGBTQ+ rights. ‘This is all the more ridiculous given the acute and open homophobia and misogyny of the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (leaders, and the particularly
acute impacts of the lockdown in Kashmir (which the disrupters were defending) for sexual minorities.’ Professor Dibyesh Anand also said, ‘I can bet these disruptors are not [part of the LGBTQ+ community]; if they were, they would be in solidarity with all oppressed.’ According to Kavita Krishnan who was speaking when the mask-clad people disrupted her speech, the demonstrators were from a Hindu nationalist group ‘masquerading as LGBTQ activists. This is proved by the fact that their leaflet attacks the Left.’ Some students amongst the audience echoed Krishnan’s comments: ‘Modi’s racist and narcissist policies have led to such a lack of intolerance, and extremist tendencies in his followers that they now fear even intellectual discourse and discussion, what is most alarming is that they have now even reached the UK.’ SOAS confirmed that an incident took place at the event. A spokesperson told the Spirit: ‘this was not a SOAS event, but one held on the SOAS premises by the South Asia Solidarity Group. ‘SOAS supports open dialogue and debate on issues and does not endorse any attempts to disrupt events that are legitimately held on SOAS premises.’ The School added, ‘the security officers who were present on the SOAS campus were not called upon by those holding the event. There were no reports of violence or complaints made to SOAS staff about the event.’
31 OCTOBER 2019
SOAS Lecturer to EU: post-Brexit violence along Irish border a ‘concoction’ Anna Fenton-Jones, BA Middle Eastern Studies SOAS lecturer turned right-wing MEP insists checks at the Irish border will not lead to the ‘resurgence of violent terror in Ireland’ Dr. Gunnar Beck, a lecturer in Law at SOAS and Member of the European Parliament (MEP) for the German far-right party Alternative für Deutschland (AfD), has suggested that introducing customs checks at the Irish border as part of a potential Brexit deal is unlikely to lead to an increase in paramilitary violence. Dr. Beck was elected to the European Parliament (EP) in May, and has since become a member of the Economic and Monetary Affairs Committee. Speaking in the EP on 18 September, Dr. Beck asked ‘But who seriously believes that sporadic or electronic customs checks will lead to the resurgence of violent terror in
Dr. Gunnar Beck. (Credit: SOAS University of London)
Ireland? Not even Michel Barnier, who is trying to use the backstop to keep Britain in a permanent customs union or to force a referendum.’ Dr. Beck made these claims in a speech accusing the EU of ‘resisting an amicable divorce’ with the UK by ‘concocting the issue of an Irish backstop.’ The backstop has proved to be the biggest sticking point in the negotiations between the EU and the UK,
with anti-EU Conservatives citing it as their in Londonderry during riots that broke out main reason for voting down both of Theresa after police carried out raids on suspected May’s proposed deals earlier this year. terrorist sympathisers. The dissident repubHis comments came just days before a lican group the New IRA later admitted new Garda Síochána (Irish Police Force) responsibility for the killing and apologised Armed Support Unit began policing the to her family. border regions in After 3 separate violent the Republic of incidents in August, Ireland. Speaking to including a murder of a “Beck accused the EU the BBC in Septemman with loyalist paraof ‘concocting the issue ber, the police said military links in County it was a necessary Down, the PSNI chief of the Irish backstop.” measure in the run constable Simon Byrne up to Brexit to target warned that uncertainty ‘the increase in cross-border criminality and over the border could lead to a of reanimadissident activity.’ By April 2020, the Police tion of paramiliatry groups. Speaking on Service of Northern Ireland are also expected the BBC Radio 4 Today programme Byrne to recruit more than 300 extra police officers expressed fear over the “tempo and pace” to prepare for Brexit. of recent attack However he also said the Figures released by the PSNI this month current lack of any political leadership in reveal that paramilitary-style assaults have Northern Ireland was creating a “breeding risen in the past 3 years, with the number ground for dissident hate”. of murders trebling since 2016. In April, journalist Lyra McKee, 29, was shot dead
SOAS changes with the climate Rose Sauvage De Brantes
BA English and Japanese
Since 2010 SOAS has been making great advances in taking action against climate change. But there’s still seem to be room for improvement. It is the 20 September 2019. Yesterday, SOAS declared a climate emergency. Today, delegations of SOAS staff and students are assembling in the streets of London to join the Climate Strike, while Unison is holding lunchtime talks by environmentalists in the Paul Webley Wing. But what led to this event, and what does a climate emergency mean for SOAS and its future? A climate emergency had previously been declared by the Students’ Union. In May 2019 the Student’s Union declared a climate emergency. The premise being that there is an ongoing ecological crisis resulting in the mass extinction of many species, water and food shortages, extreme weather, conflicts and displacements. Daniel Selwyn, who proposed the climate emergency motion, noted at the UGM that Britain bears historical responsibility for these crises, as fossil capitalism was financed through the profits of racial slavery and spread through colonialism. Consecutively, he stated that in order to maintain a livable planet for all, it is our responsibility in the Global North to take action and oppose all forms of capitalism, nationalism, militarism, and fascism that profit from ecological and social violence. Following the approval of this motion, the SU, SOAS Unison, and SOAS UCU wrote an open letter to the school’s Trustees appealing for SOAS to declare a climate emergency and thus take responsibility for its historical complicity in producing social and ecological harm under the service of colonial and imperial power. SOAS started taking initiative in reversing climate change in 2010, putting in place its Carbon Management Plan.
Through this plan, by implementing several carbon reduction projects, the school has exceeded its original target of 48% by 2020. In 2015 its emission reduction reached 58%. And after an extensive student-led campaign in 2015, SOAS has also
“Through this plan, by implementing several carbon reduction projects, the school has exceeded its original target of 48% by 2020. In 2015 its emission reduction reached 58%.” agreed to divest from investments in fossil fuels. From now on, SOAS will work towards a net-zero emissions target by continuing the renovation of its facilities with more energy-efficient infrastructures. A Climate Action Group will be set-up and led by environmental change experts closely cooperating with the SU, UCU, Unison, and SOAS estates team to oversee the implementation of policies and initiatives. The group will focus first on carrying out a climate risk analysis and producing a new action plan, which includes banning single-use plastic on campus, reducing business-related flights, and ensuring green investments. Secondly, on including education about climate justice and sustainability across SOAS curricula. In concert with the climate emergency declaration, SOAS joined Global Research Alliance for Sustainable Finance and Investment to collaborate with researchers from other institutions. Consecutively, a SOAS Centre for Sustainable Finance was established in Spring 2019 to develop knowledge on sustainable finance in both the Global North and South. The goal is to understand how to align financial systems with sustainable development for a smooth transition into a low-carbon era.
(Credit: Will Durrant)
But student Narjiss Seffar wants SOAS to go even further. Seffar proposed a motion for the SU to join the Earth Protectors, a global collaborative movement to protect the Earth by setting different goals and guidelines, hoping that the school will follow in the SU’s footsteps. While some are concerned about this being just a greenwashing campaign, Seffar’s union believes that attaching a title to the School’s name would embed a spirit of duty in SOAS’ words.
31 OCTOBER 2019 Nonetheless, this amazing progress is not met without remarks. SOAS did commit to a zero-carbon emissions plan, however, it didn’t set itself any time frame. And even though it was requested in the open letter, SOAS didn’t mention in its 2020 plan divesting from institutions profiting from massive exploitation of natural resources, climate and ecological crisis. Furthermore, since SOAS is yet to collect data on scope 3 emissions (like food waste or business travel), and since constructing a new curriculum is a complicated process, the implementation of these steps will likely take time. ‘That’s why, meanwhile, we are trying to put in place workshops through the Students’ Union’, says Prachi Singhal, the proposer of the motion for mandatory environmental education. ‘It is important to continue lobbying SOAS for changes. Some things, like better waste management, could be done quite easily, without having to wait for data. We are in an emergency after all.’
SOAS leads in mental health intervention Destiny Adeyemi, BA African studies SOAS is being praised for having short response times for its student mental health care, with students waiting 1.2 days for support on average. A study on the quality of university mental health services by Sir Norman Lamb has revealed that most universities have long waiting times for counselling services. This study used information
“Almost all students are contacted within 6 days of first getting in touch.”
such as waiting times and funding as its main criteria for how effective services were. The data is based on replies by UK universities
to Freedom of Information (FOI) requests. Universities were asked for their average (median) waiting times for students to be seen by the counselling service. SOAS is able to provide such a fast service by offering initial drop-ins where students are seen, with almost all students being contacted within 6 days of first getting in touch. When asked for a response to this story, SOAS said, ‘Student feedback on the quality of our counselling is very positive. We think engaging with students quickly when they contact us is the right and appropriate thing to do. We offer students a range of options to support them, such as online options and an increasing range of groups and workshops. We think having these range of approaches to choose from is a good and effective way to support our students.’ However, the use of waiting times as a criterion can be misleading and may not present a full picture of how effective services are, according to The King’s Fund. Student feedback may also provide a more accurate
representation, due to the variety of services offered to students.
(Credit: Creative Commons)
Goldsmiths Racism Report criticised by students
Ruth Wetters, BA Chinese (Modern & Classical) After a long-running anti-racism campaign at Goldsmiths, University of London, a report released by Goldsmiths University has revealed widespread experiences of racism among students of colour. Roughly 45% of Goldsmiths students are
“The struggle of Goldsmiths University is a universal struggle” - GARA” from minority backgrounds. Within this group, 26% of students surveyed reported experiencing racism from students or staff. A further 43% experienced racialised microaggressions, and 37% of students felt excluded from university life due to racial discrimination. The 57-page report was commissioned by Goldsmiths’ students’ union and is the first investigation by a higher education institution into racism. However, the report is facing criticism by members of Goldsmiths Anti-Racist Action (GARA), who claim that a foreword written by a student was pulled last-minute for being ‘too political’. Mona Mounir, Welfare and Liberation Officer at Goldsmiths Students’ Union, also claimed that the report ‘toned down and covered up’ experiences reported by students in order to save face.
A spokesperson for Goldsmiths said: ‘The college offered to support this important research when it became clear that otherwise it would not be completed or published and the voices of the BAME students who took part would not be heard. The students’ union were offered the opportunity to contribute a foreword along with an additional 12-pages of responses from individuals and groups about their experiences. ‘When offering to support the completion of the report the college understood it to be a joint publication with the students’ union. The students’ union asked for their logo to
be removed from the report shortly before publication.’ As well as highlighting racist attitudes, the report also revealed the impact of institutional racism. It highlighted a staggering attainment gap of up to 25% between white students and students of colour, a lack of BME representation among academic staff with only 5% of students believing it is ‘diverse’, and a Eurocentric curriculum which only 27% of students said they felt represented by. Students also reported feeling the need to change aspects of their identity to avoid harassment, and seeing racist language
go unchecked in classrooms from staff and students. The experience of Goldsmith’s students in encountering racist attitudes is far from a standalone case. In December 2018, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) launched an inquiry into racism in higher education following a series of incidents on campuses around the UK. Following the Rhodes Must Fall campaign in 2015, some awareness has been raised of the impact of Eurocentric curricula which focus on white academics and authors. And the attainment gap at Goldsmiths is unfortunately consistent with national trends: between 2007 and 2017, 81% of white students achieved a 2:1 or higher, compared with only 57% of black students. GARA began organising in March 2019 in response to racist attacks on a candidate in the students’ union elections. This proved a lightning rod for students to share experiences of racism on campus, and on the 12th March, GARA occupied Deptford Town Hall in protest over the failure of senior management to demonstrate a meaningful commitment to tackling racism on campus. GARA remained in occupation until July, when a series of talks finally culminated in commitments by senior management, which include mandatory race awareness training for staff, local access to Deptford Town Hall, the creation of a number of new staff appointments, and an audit into racism as a first step towards decolonising the curriculum.
(Credit: Facebook/Goldsmiths Anti-Racist Action)
31 OCTOBER 2019
No-Deal Brexit: will All Hallow’s Eve really be a dark and stormy night?
Credit: Creative Commons
Samar Fatima Ali, BA Economics and Politics No-Deal poses problems based on possible legal backlash for the government, the question of the Irish border, and the socioeconomic implications for UK/EU nationals. Britain’s withdrawal from the European
Union is scheduled to take place on 31 October. Prime Minister Boris Johnson wrote in the Sun on 5 October, ‘We will be packing our bags and walking out on October 31st. The only question is whether Brussels cheerily waves us off with a mutually agreeable deal, or whether we will be forced to head off on our own.’ The question then is how messy the prospect of ‘heading off on our own’ at the end of October will be. No-Deal poses problems based on possible legal backlash for the government, the question of the Irish border and the socioeconomic implications on UK/EU nationals. Moving forward with No-Deal Brexit on the 31st could mean legal consequences for the government. On account of the Benn Act, passed on 9 September, if MPs are unable to agree on a deal, PM Boris Johnson must ask the EU for an extension to the Article 50 negotiating period, to 31 January 2020. Therefore, if MPs do not agree to a deal on ‘Super Saturday’, 19 October, then, PM Boris Johnson is left with few options. However, Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, stated in an interview on Sky News that ‘we must leave
come what may’ by the end of October, and that the government will be looking at all lawful courses of action to avoid extending
“ASDA and Sainsbury’s have also begun stockpiling nonperishable goods imported from the EU, due to concern regarding food shortages.” the negotiation period. No-Deal Brexit is currently regarded as the worst-case scenario. Reports have been circulating regarding its possible catastrophic impact on the lives of everyday citizens in both the UK and the EU. Many of these concerns have in fact been outlined by the government itself in its contingency plan for a potential No-Deal Brexit, Operation Yellowhammer. Supermarkets such as ASDA and Sainsbury’s have also begun stockpiling non-perishable goods imported from the EU, due to concern regarding food shortages. Furthermore, according to an article in the Lancet from February 2019, No-Deal Brexit ‘is expected to have an immediate and drastic effect on supply chains’ for medicine imports from the EU thus leading to shortages. There is also the key issue of the border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. If the UK were to leave without a
deal, it is unclear as to how the ‘soft border’ currently in place could be maintained. This is because free movement between the two countries would interfere with the EU Customs Union, as the Republic of Ireland would continue to be an EU member state. Other consequences include tightening of border control at all airports and more checks for EU nationals entering the UK, the question of health insurance validity for EU nationals in the UK and vice versa, as well as legal issues, such as data protection policies for businesses. Senior leadership has maintained that while No-Deal Brexit is not ideal, leaving the EU on 31 October is imperative and will not have the ‘doomsday-eque’ aftermath it is being associated with. In his Sky News interview, the Foreign Secretary continued urging that with or without a deal, Brexit would follow through with the benefits promised, including more spending on security, healthcare and education. Moreover, preparation steps are being taken by the government, including a £87m contract with ferry companies to ensure medicine supplies in case of No-Deal. PM Boris Johnson’s talks with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar on 10 October have also been labelled as ‘promising’, perhaps offering a cautious glimmer of hope. Ultimately, however, Brexit with or without a deal is unpredictable; downplaying the possible impact of No-Deal is just as dangerous as exaggerating the potential aftermath.
BBC overturns complaint against Naga Munchetty over Trump’s racist Twitter comments When pressed by Walker, Munchetty continued, saying that it made her ‘absolutely furious’ that Trump, in his position, ‘feels it’s okay to skirt the lines with using language like The BBC has overturned a complaint against BBC Breakfast that.’ Walker added: ‘It feels like a thought-out strategy to host Naga Munchetty after she denounced Trump’s racism strengthen his position’, to which Munchetty replied, ‘And it in a series of tweets stating is not enough to do it just to that four congresswomen get attention…he’s in a responshould ‘go back’ to the sible position.’ “An open letter signed by several ‘totally broken and crime The corporation’s cominfested places from which plaints unit, the ECU, issued a prominent media figures was they came.’ The tweets complaint against Munchetty, also published by The Guardian, referenced US politicians on the basis that her remarks Ilhan Omar, Alexandria broke their editorial guidelines describing the verdict as ‘racially Ocasio-Cortez, Rashida on impartiality. discriminatory treatment’ and Tlaib and Ayanna Presley The ruling resulted in public stating that the BBC should not — all four of whom are US outcry. #IStandWithNaga citizens, and three of whom became a trending topic on ask its BAME journalists to remain were born in America. Twitter. An open letter signed impartial over issues of racism.” Munchetty’s comments by several prominent media were made during an figures was also published by interview with her fellow The Guardian, describing the presenter, Dan Walker. verdict as ‘racially discriminaResponding to the ‘go back’ statement, Munchetty said, tory treatment’ and stating that the BBC should not ask its ‘Every time I have been told, as a woman of colour, to go BAME journalists to remain impartial over issues of racism. back to where I came from, that was embedded in racism. The letter predicts that this decision will have a ‘profound Now I’m not accusing anyone of anything here but you know effect on the future diversity within the BBC’, and calls for what certain phrases mean.’ the ECU to ‘address their own levels of diversity and increase
Louisa Johnson, MA Global Creative and Cultural Industries
Munchetty (Credit: the BBC)
transparency as to how they reach their decisions.’ Among the signatories were actors Lenny Henry, Adrian Lester and David Harewood, presenters Krishnan Guru-Murthy and Gillian Joseph, and journalists Afua Hirsch and Angela Saini. The BBC responded to the letter, explaining that ‘while Ms Munchetty was entitled to give a personal response to the phrase ‘go back to your own country’ as it was rooted in her own experience, overall her comments went beyond what the guidelines allow for.’ In a letter further clarifying their reasoning, the BBC said: ‘Due impartiality does not require absolute neutrality on every issue or detachment from fundamental democratic principles. And the president’s remarks were widely regarded as racist and condemned in the UK across the political
31 OCTOBER 2019 spectrum.’ The letter continued: ‘Ms Munchetty had been pressed to comment by her co-presenter and had a legitimate, personal reason for feeling strongly on this issue. She was therefore in our view entitled to give a personal response to the phrase ‘go back to your own country’, as it was rooted in her own experience of racism and in a generally accepted interpretation of that phrase.’ However, the statement added: ‘But it is also evident that Ms Munchetty, despite at the end of the exchange acknowledging “I am not here to give my opinion”, did comment directly and critically on the possible motive for, and potential consequences of, the president’s conduct, which by their nature were a matter for legitimate discussion and debate. This, in our view, went beyond what the Guidelines allow for under these circumstances, and on those grounds I am therefore upholding your complaint.’ The public continued to support the presenter. Thousands signed a change.org petition calling for the BBC to reverse its decision. On 30 September, BBC Director-General Lord Tony Hall, said that he had reviewed the complaint against Munchetty and decided to overturn it. ‘Racism is racism and the BBC is not impartial on the topic,’ Lord Hall told staff. ‘There was never a finding against Naga for what she said about the President’s tweet’. He continued: ‘I don’t think Naga’s words were sufficient to merit a partial uphold of the complaint around the comments she made. There was never any sanction against Naga, and I hope this step makes that absolutely clear.’ Lord Hall added, ‘She is an exceptional journalist and presenter and I am proud that she works for the BBC.’
On Friday 4 October, Buckingham Palace confirmed claims that Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, is suing both News Corp UK and Mirror Group newspapers over alleged phone hacking.
“The cases come in the wake of long-running hostility towards the Duchess, some of it expressly racist.” The claimed interception of voicemails is thought likely to be historical, occurring at the same time as incidents relating to the 2011 News International phone hacking
Chung Man Leung, MSc International Politics
(Credit: the BBC)
Protestors reminded the British Government that they have the responsibility to monitor China based on the SinoBritish Joint Declaration. Hong-Kongers in the United Kingdom have held demonstrations and rallies to show their support and solidarity with those on the streets in Hong Kong. Most recently, a humanchain was formed across Tower Bridge on the 5 October. It was, however, only one of the many protests across the country since June. The movement has since been recognised on an international platform, particularly in the UK. Over the past four months, places like London, Bristol, Sheffield and even Edinburgh, have witnessed and heard the chant ‘Liberate Hong Kong; Revolution of Our Times’, ‘Stand with Hong Kong; Fight for Freedom’. This has been identified by many as one of the leading slogans of the whole anti-ELAB (Extradition Law Amendment Bill) movement. The result of the Amendment Bill was predicted only by some pro-democracy figures, as the most serious political crisis since its return to China from the United Kingdom. The initial purpose of the Bill was to plug an existing legal loophole in the current law allowing the extradition of political activists to Mainland China, Macao and Taiwan. The political differences and distrust between the British colonial government of Hong Kong, against the Mainland has only exacerbated the unrest. Although Carrie Lam, Hong Kong’s leader, insisted that the Bill would not erode the
region’s autonomy and judicial independence, the majority of Hong-Kongers have shown a suspicious and negative attitude towards it. This attitude is particularly due to the fear that the Chinese government can use the Bill to legitimise the extradition process of political dissidents and opposers, and judge them under the questionable Chinese legislative system . The Bill has thus provoked the movement, into a pan-democratic movement, in which the protestors now target to investigate police brutality and push for a constitutional change with universal suffrage. One of the main rhythms in the movement is to gain worldwide support from an international perspective, in fact, not just in the UK. Hong-Kongers all over the world have held similar protests in many other countries and major cities as well. But due to its historical connections, the UK has always been arguably the most popular destination for Hong-Kongers to study, work or even emigrate to, causing a huge community to form to support the movement. On 9 June, in London, thousands of protestors first had a rally in front of the China Embassy, followed by a march to the Hong Kong Economic and Trade Office, as an echo to the giant demonstration that happened in Hong Kong at the same date. On the 29 September, rallies and demonstrations were being held in Edinburgh, Manchester and London as part of the anti-totalitarianism campaign, targeting at the Chinese Government. Additionally, there have been similar rallies in Bristol, Glasgow and Cambridge. Protesters were trying to gain attention and support from the public as well as MPs and government officials, in an effort to remind the British government that they have the responsibility to monitor China based on the Sino-British Joint Declaration. As Joshua Wong, a Hong Kong activist said, the West and in particular the UK, could play a vital role to resolve the current chaotic situation, by means of ‘imposing individual sanctions against the senior officials…freezing their assets…and revoking their British citizenship.’ Further upset from critics lies in the irony of families of many Hong Kong government officials being British passport holders, including the families of Carrie Lam and her colleague Paul Chan,the current financial secretary. On the one hand these officials are introducing bills that will encroach the freedom in Hong Kong, and on the other hand they have an alternative route to escape.
Royal court case against tabloid press is uncharted territory
(Credit: Sky News)
Ellen Taylor Bean, LLB Law
Hong Kong residents UK organising marches in support
scandal. Harry’s civil suit follows the Duchess of Sussex filing her own claims against the Mail on Sunday for breaking General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) rules, the misuse of private information, and infringement of copyright after it published edited excerpts from a letter she had written to her father, Thomas Markle. Writers of letters maintain ownership of copyright even after those letters are no longer in their possession. It is upon this legislation, which Megan Markle’s claim rests. This comes in the wake of a long-running campaign of hostility towards the Duchess by much of the British tabloid press, some of it expressly racist. The Daily Mail published in November 2016 an article entitled ‘Harry’s girl is (almost) straight outta Compton.’ the sole common denominators between Megan and NWA ostensibly being skin colour and
country of birth. Even in coverage seemingly absent of overt racism, the difference in treatment between Meghan and Kate Middleton, for instance, has been stark. The Duchess of Cambridge has rarely come under fire for the cost of an outfit. Her and Prince William’s Diamond Jubilee Tour of Asia and the South Pacific, in which the couple were photographed being carried in palanquins on more than one occasion, went largely unreported. Both Sussexes’ legal actions were referred to in a statement issued by Prince Harry on his website. The first of its kind, the statement directly criticises ‘a British tabloid press that wages campaigns against individuals with no thought to the consequences,’ in particular for their treatment of Princess Meghan. He also states, ‘I lost my mother and now I watch my wife falling victim to the
same powerful forces.’ At the time of writing, pictures of Meghan’s letter to her father remain on the Mail Online website. News Corp UK, however, seems to have taken a different tact. In a departure from its usual criticism of the Duchess, the Sun issued a somewhat farcical Tweet about ‘Baby Archie’s feeding times’ during the Sussexes’ recent tour of Africa: ‘She’s such a good mother!’ Both the pending suits and the online statement seem indicative of a break from royal convention. Members of the royal family have historically been almost entirely non-litigious. As for the sustained critique of the tabloid press by a royal, this too seems like uncharted territory. Neither case is thought likely to come before a court earlier than October 2020.
31 OCTOBER 2019
Zimbabwe: hopes fade as economic crisis worsens Josh Mock, BA Arabic and Persian
Hopes that the President of Zimbabwe, Emmerson Mnangagwa, can bring about economic renewal to the south African nation are dwindling after the country’s annual inflation reached nearly 300% in August, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF). The economic crisis has given rise to a deterioration of living standards, including energy shortages and rapidly rising food prices. The UN estimates that half of Zimbabwe’s population of 8.5 million will be food insecure by 2020.
“The UN estimates that half of Zimbabwe’s population of 8.5 million will be food insecure by 2020”
Confidence in Mnangagwa’s presidency is weak amidst the economic crisis (Credit: kremlin.ru)
Zimbabwe’s economy has seen a difficult year - both in terms of policy and external factors. According to the IMF, ‘severe weather shocks’ affecting the country this year have hampered production, with droughts and cyclone Idai affecting agriculture and electricity generation. Meanwhile, attempts by the government to reduce the deficit through policies known as ‘fiscal consolidation’ have slowed growth. Although the government blames western sanctions for thwarting economic recovery and deterring investment, the weakening of confidence in the government and their policies have increased the pressure on exchange rates. Furthermore, opponents of Mnangagwa accuse the President of
lacking commitment to political reform, and have criticised his use of heavy-handed tactics to clamp down on antigovernment protests, further exacerbating distrust in the government. Mnangagwa acknowledged the economic crisis and the need for reform in an address given to parliament on 1 October. Media outlet, Al Jazeera, reported that this was boycotted by the main opposition Movement for Democratic Change (MDC). Mnangagwa pleaded with the nation for time and patience in order to revive the economy from the ‘dead’. ‘I’m aware of the pain being experienced by the poor and the marginalised. Getting the economy working again from being dead will require time, patience, unity of purpose and perseverance,’ Mnangagwa said. In a controversial move the Finance Minister Mthuli Ncube suspended the publication of official annual inflation data in July, although the IMF continues to publish its data on the country’s economic situation. Led by Mr. Gene Leon in September, a recent IMF mission to review progress in Harare laid out several recommendations for the country to tackle the economic crisis. ‘Policy actions are urgently needed to tackle the root causes of economic instability and enable private-sector led growth,’ reported Leon. Such actions include the containment of fiscal spending, the tightening of monetary policy to stabilise exchange rates and build confidence in the currency, and improvement in the transparency of monetary statistics. The preliminary findings also criticised Zimbabwe’s ‘slow progress on international re-engagement,’ and Leon concluded that ‘efforts will need to be intensified on both economic and political fronts to drive Zimbabwe forward.’
Global Climate Strike : The Youth is leading the march have protested around the world, chanting slogans such as: “What do we want? Climate Justice! When do we want it? Now!” and branding banners tackling the issue with seriousOn Friday 20 September, school students concerned about ness or fun. Some read “System Change not Climate Change” their future took to the streets in cities around the world to while others had written on them “This planet is getting protest against the political inaction around climate change. hotter than my imaginary boyfriend”. Starting in Australia, and This recent mobilization spreading to cities such as Rio of the youth around climate de Janeiro, Mumbai, Nairobi has been triggered by Greta “Less than a year ago, scientists and New York City, where Thunberg. The 16-yearthe first UN Climate Youth old Swedish girl started warned that an increase in Summit was organized. More skipping school in August temperature could cause food than five thousand actions and 2018 to sit in front of her manifestations were recorded parliament with the banner: scarcity and water shortage for on the first day of protesting. ‘school strike for climate’. hundreds of millions of people. The protestors demanded What she called ‘Fridays for for immediate political action Future’ gained momentum from their governments to as school students started tackle the ongoing climate joining her and organizing crisis. They emphasised the need to stop funding fossil fuel themselves around different countries to spread the message. projects, especially in the coal industry and to fully transiThese actions are a response to the many warnings that tion to renewable energies by 2030. However, as Michal scientists have made on the rapidity of climate change and Nachmany from the London School of Economics stated, the disastrous consequences if we exceed the Paris Agree‘political systems are often short-termist in the sense that ment limit of +2°C. Indeed, less than a year ago, scientists they think about the upcoming election’, thus leaving longwarned that an increase in temperature could cause food term challenges such as climate change on the margin of scarcity and water shortage for hundreds of millions of priorities. people. Not to mention today’s victim of climate change It is the first time that so many children and young people due to water scarcity, exposure to toxic chemicals, and
Sebastien Brion, BA Politics and International Relations
desertification of land forcing people, majorly from the ‘Global South’, to move and live in more precarious conditions. Furthermore, increasing temperatures could trigger certain phenomena such as the melting of the permafrost which would create a domino effect and drastically increase temperatures. While these protests show that environmental issues are coming to the forefront of the youth’s political agenda, it is going to take more time for politicians to put their positions in jeopardy in order to genuinely produce change. Yet, the time we have is short and the changes we need are big.
(Credit: Gary Knight - Flickr)
31 OCTOBER 2019
Massive Crackdown following Protests in Egypt Tobias Hochstöger, MSc International Politics In the aftermath of the recent protests, Egypt is undergoing the biggest wave of arrests under President Abdel Fattah alSisi’s rule. Over 3000 people have been detained In the past three weeks. While the demonstrations came as a shock for the Egyptian government, their harsh oppression has ended the short-lived political movement, at least for now. The new wave of protests was marked by a series of videos, which appeared online, accusing al-Sisi and other high-ranking officials of corruption. The man behind the videos, Mohamed Ali, a 45-year old Egyptian who moved to Spain, claims to be a former building contractor, who worked closely with the government. In his videos, Ali exposes corruption within the government on the basis of his own experience; for a lot of Egyptians he is hailed as a whistleblower. Apparently having struck a chord within Egyptian society, his online appearances reached an unexpectedly wide following and Ali became the voice of a new anti-government movement within weeks.
“While the demonstrations came as a shock for the Egyptian government, their harsh oppression has ended the short-living movement, at least for now.” Following the widespread indignation of Ali’s claims, scattered protests popped up on 20 September in several Egyptian cities, such as Cairo, Alexandria and Suez. In Cairo, a few hundred people took to the streets with videos circulating online showing demonstrators shouting anti-government slogans and calling for Al-Sisi’s resignation. In some cities the demonstrations continued even until the next day. In Suez, security forces were firing tear gas and rubber bullets at the protestors to dissolve the demonstrations. Authorities arranged huge forces of security over the weekend in cities affected by Ali’s calls for mass protest across the country, on 27 September. In Cairo several metro stations as well as major streets were closed for security reasons.
Activists in Egypt take to the streets to demand the fall of al-Sisi’s regime. (Credit: Egypt Is The Gift Of The Nile vis Facebook))
Around Tahrir square, which was at the heart of the Arab Spring in 2011, security forces built checkpoints and were put on high alert. Moreover communication services like BBC News, phone signal and Whatsapp were restricted or temporarily disrupted by the government. Aside from the 74th UN General Assembly in New York, al-Sisi strictly denied the claims, calling the allegations “lies and slander“ and blamed political Islam as being behind the protests. The protests subsequently triggered a massive crackdown. Since the beginning of the protests, authorities carried out a campaign of mass arrests. According to the Egyptian Commission for Rights and Freedoms (ECRF), the crackdown that followed the protests led to the detainment of more than 3120 people in the past three weeks. The fact that the arrests were widened to public figures, who were not directly engaged with the protests, among them human rights lawyers, journalists, political activists and politicians, has led to
fierce criticism. ‘President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi’s government has orchestrated this crackdown to crush the slightest sign of dissent and silence from every government critic,’ said Najia Bounaim, Amnesty International’s North Africa campaign director. Furthermore, allegations about missing persons and torture do not fall silent. Alaa Abdel Fattah, a political activist and prominent figure of the 2011 protests, who was detained on unknown charges in the course of the arrest campaign, stated that he was tortured by police men in prison, as his family declared in a press release. Public demonstrations against the government have become very rare in Egypt since al-Sisi has come to power in 2014, after Egypt’s first democratically elected president Mohammed Morsi was overthrown in a military coup. Over the past six years an estimated number of 60,000 people, mainly members of the Muslim Brotherhood, have been arrested.
Tunisian elections show rejection of post-revolution politics Claire Dujardin, MSc International Politics September and October have been politically intense months for Tunisians. They were expected to vote on three different occasions: 15 September for the presidential election; 6 October for the legislative election; and 13 October to choose between two presidential candidates in the second round of the elections. The death of the former President Béji Caïd Essebsi on 25 July caused the two major elections to overlap. In the midst of rushed political campaigns, voters had a large pool of candidates to choose from during the first round of the elections - a total of 26 approved candidates. Results saw a voting turnout of 48.98%, which was 13.9% less than 2014. This election, the second since the adoption of the new constitution of 2014 after the revolution of 2011, was deserted by a lot of Tunisian voters. The legislative election also suffered from voters defection, with a turnout of 41%,
compared to 68% in 2014. In addition to the low turn-out, the results of the elections show a particular rejection of traditional parties and lead-
“In addition to the low turn-out, the results of the elections show a particular rejection of traditional parties and leaders.” ers. Nidaa Tounes, the party who had the most seats in the Assembly of the Representatives of the People in 2014, has lost 83 seats, becoming one of the least popular parties of the new Assembly. The Islamist party Ennahda has lost 17 seats but has become the most popular party, followed closely by
The Carthage Presidential Palace, Tunisia. Photo taken from Sidi Bou Said (Credit: Creative Commons)
31 OCTOBER 2019
Qalb Tounes, the party founded by Nabil Karoui and a newcomer in the Assembly. The results were no less surprising in terms of the presidential election, with two anti-system candidates qualifying for the second round. Tunisian voters had to choose between the constitutional law professor Kaïs Saïed, and the media tycoon and recently imprisoned, Nabil Karoui. Nabil Karoui, owner of the influential Nessma TV channel, is also known for creating the charity Khalil Tounes, which is especially active in rural Tunisia. The Tunisian Assembly tried and failed to vote special amendments to prevent him from running for president. This was after his declaration of candidacy, when opinion polls revealed that
he might be placed first. On 23 August, Nabil Karoui was arrested for money laundering following an accusation from 2017. He was released four days before the election by the Court of Cassation, after claims of being a victim of a political use of justice. Unable to campaign since August, he was still able to participate in the last debate before the second round, though he eventually lost to Kaïs Saïed. The new president of Tunisia is a newcomer in politics. Without any party, Kaïs Saïed expects to govern with the help of other parties. He has officially been endorsed by Ennahda and other Islamist parties for the second round of the presidential election. The rigid professor, nicknamed ‘Robocop’ and who uses literary Arab in his speeches, cultivates the
image of an honest man, as opposed to the corrupt figures of the political class. He appealed to young voters by claiming to follow the revolution’s ideals. However, his conservative ideas are a point of contention - especially his support of the death penalty, his rejection of gender equality concerning inheritance, and his position on the penalization of homosexuality. 8 years after the revolution, Tunisian voters have chosen a President who used to appear on TV to explain the Constitution of 2014 to the public. This result seemingly erases the past 5 years of post-Revolution politics to start again from scratch.
News Made Easy: Impeachment Explained aid package to Ukraine shortly before the phone call. He has been accused of withholding that assistance to pressure Zelensky for information on the Bidens, though this has been denied by Gordon Sondland, the US Ambassador to the EU. Even if Trump didn’t explicitly suggest a ‘quid pro quo,’ using the power of his office to solicit interference in the upcoming election from Ukraine could be grounds for impeachment.
Georgina Kuhlmann, BA Development Studies and Politics In the last few weeks, word has been swirling about the possible impeachment of President Donald Trump. An intelligence whistleblower complaint has been put forward accusing Trump of ‘soliciting interference’ in the 2020 election from Ukraine. Now, Democratic leaders in the House of Representatives have launched an impeachment inquiry.
What is happening now? In September, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi announced that formal impeachment proceedings would begin with an inquiry. This means that six committees are in the process of investigating possible impeachable offenses. On Tuesday, 8 October, the White House announced that it would not cooperate with the inquiry, calling it ‘illegitimate.’ This refusal in itself could be grounds for impeachment. Republican senators have rallied in support of Trump. The House of Representatives has issued subpoenas to members of White House Staff. Two associates of Guiliani have been arrested on charges of campaign finance violations. According to a Fox News poll, 51% of voters support Trump’s impeachment and removal from office.
What is impeachment? Impeachment is when a government official is removed from office, it falls under Article II of the US constitution. Article II says that “The President, Vice President and all civil Officers of the United States, shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other High Crimes and Misdemeanors.” If a majority of the House of Representatives votes to impeach an official, they are tried by the Senate. If two-thirds of the Senate finds the official guilty, that person is removed from office and may be forbidden from holding Federal office in the future. Has anyone been impeached before? 18 people have been impeached by the House of Representatives, most of which were judges. Two Presidents have been impeached by the House of Representatives, but both were acquitted in the Senate and finished their terms. Andrew Johnson (1868) was impeached because he had dismissed an appointed official without congressional consent, violating an Act that was later declared invalid. Bill Clinton (1998) was impeached for perjury and obstruction of justice regarding a sexual harassment suit. Richard Nixon (1974) was nearly impeached after the Watergate scandal, but he resigned before the House of Representatives voted. Why could Trump be impeached? The Phone Call: On 25 July, 2019, Trump spoke with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky. An unnamed CIA officer submitted a report that described their ‘urgent concern’ that Trump was using his office’s power to ‘solicit interference from a foreign country in the 2020 election.’ On the call, Trump urged Zelenksy to
What could happen next? Maybe Trump won’t be impeached: The inquiry could take a very long time, and with the 2020 election coming up, Trump may be ousted from office before the impeachment process is through. While support for the inquiry is strong, it may be more difficult to rally a majority for actual impeachment by the House of Representatives. Like Nixon, Trump might be forced to resign if his support in the House and Congress disappears. Partisan politics in the Republican-controlled Senate might result in an acquittal.
(Credit: Creative Commons)
investigate presidential candidate Joe Biden and his son Hunter Biden. He implicated Attorney General William Barr and his own
former attorney and close associate Rudy Giuliani in the call. Trump had frozen a $400 million security
Maybe Trump will be impeached: The GOP may turn on Trump, convict him in the Senate, and forbid him from running again. In this scenario, Mike Pence would become President. If Mike Pence is found to be involved in Trump’s wrongdoings, he too could be removed, and Nancy Pelosi would become President.
31 OCTOBER 2019 http://soasspirit.co.uk/category/opinion/ Opinion editor: Basit Mohammad
AFRICONOMICS: ECO and its discontents in West Africa The ﬁrst installment in our regular series about economics throughout Africa Umar Rahman, Bsc Developmental Economics Plans are underway for 15 West African states (collective population of 385 million) to adopt the single monetary system Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS), commonly known as ECO. With ECO due to be implemented in 2020, now is as good a time as ever to define the parameters of success for this system. The success of a single monetary system is defined by its ability to deal with austerity. This is because, in a recessionary environment, the two criteria for joining ECO will undermine human development within the region. Essentially, human development will be swapped for profits made from resource industries that are exposed to volatile prices. Here in the European Union, we function under a similar system. On 1 January, 1999, the EU introduced its currency, the euro. Although the euro is not universally adopted by all member states, most peg their currency against it. If we claim that this is all about saving ‘transaction costs,’ it’s easy to jump the gun and say the ECO should go ahead. However, it is necessary to read the fine print and proceed cautiously. Are there lessons to be learnt from the financial crisis in Greece?
We should be mindful of the lessons learnt from the EU’s forceful Franco-Germanic voice regarding austerity measures in the Greek financial crisis. This pursued a mandate established by the banking private sector that undermined collective European prosperity. Simply put, a bank bailout from the ECB funded by the IMF restructured debt onto the European taxpayer. For Greece to make unrealistic payments, they needed a 4% GDP growth (over 10 years) while being subjected to fiscal cuts. Essentially, the Greek people were given an impossible task: the first two bailouts were like putting a plaster on an amputated leg. The Greek government was equipped with a liquidity problem, and with their legs cut off, they were asked to walk towards a false consciousness of propensity through impossible debt repayments. But how does the Greek bailout relate to ECO? Simply put, one county’s spending is another country’s income. The two criteria mentioned earlier restrict the credit powers of member states. Nigeria, Ghana and Ivory Coast will be the primary players in this ‘Game of Thrones’, with the three countries competing to impose dominance over the rest of the region through monetary and fiscal policy. We see an example of the resource curse in Nigeria, who currently have the biggest GDP in Africa. The oil and gas sector makes two-thirds of GDP within the
(Credit: AFP Archive)
Currency throughout Africa - a polemic topic of debate (Credit: Creative Commons via MonetarySovereigntyAfrica)
ECO region, and 86% of all Nigerian export revenue. Since Nigeria is exposed to changes in oil prices, it is crucial in times of prosperity for Nigeria to diversify their systemic risk into long term growth strategies. Profits from oil and gas must be reinvested in technology for sustainable growth. If the ECO region repeats the mistakes made in the Greek financial crisis by imposing unattainable financial loans during moments of austerity, they will risk humanitarian disaster. Do economic gains translate to favourable social development? Economic gain is not just about reinvesting profits in renewable energy - investment should also focus on human capital. This means not only increasing funding for education but also working on reducing the endemic gender literacy gap, particularly in Ghana and Nigeria. A transition from the oil and gas sector to the renewable energy sector must be met with appropriate grants and subsidies to meet the increased demand in skilled human capital. Is the single monetary financial system ‘better’ than the current one? Although deceptively economical at first glance, this is a deeply philosophical concern. Before ECO, 8 countries’ currencies were backed by France. Does West-Africa have the ‘right foundation’ to put an end to neo-colonialism? Or is this a reiteration of an economic ideology from the global-north
being applied to Africa, privileging GDP growth over development and living standards?
“Does West-Africa have the ‘right foundation’ to put an end to neocolonialism? Or is this a reiteration of an economic ideology from the globalnorth being applied to Africa, privileging GDP growth over development and living standards?” With no dramatic structural changes within the ECO region (with the exception of a single monetary system that reduces the financial sovereignty of smaller countries), the economic gains will not translate into human development. We can now pay more attention to the new voices on the world economic table (Ghana, Ivory Coast and Nigeria), as one small step for the ECO region is one giant step towards ending neocolonialism. But at what cost?
31 OCTOBER 2019
Stop trying to make a Saudi-Iran war happen. It’s not going to happen. Or actually it might. But just stop trying to make it happen. I’m looking at you United States. Maya Reus, MA Near and Middle Eastern Studies with Intensive Language Remember when in the movie Mean Girls, a bunch of girls wrote this ‘burn book’? The book was filled with rumours, stories and gossip about all the girls in their high school. One of the writers of the book, Regina George, photocopied all the pages of the book and distributed them around the school. Following this, the school was in mayhem, with girls fighting with each other over all the backstabbing and trash-talking that had been revealed. The United States is totally being Regina right now. They are encouraging mayhem in the Middle East by not-so-gently pouring oil on the fire that is the tensions between Iran and Saudi Arabia. With the United States’ bellicose language directed against Iran, their deployment of more and more troops to Saudi Arabia, and of course, their sanctions against Iran, they are making the situation increasingly flammable. A quick recap of the recent tensions between Saudi Arabia and Iran: On 14 September, there was an attack on Saudi Arabia’s oil fields, for which both Saudi Arabia and the United States named Iran as the culprit, even though Houthi rebels claimed the attack. Then, on 11 October, Iran claimed that two missiles struck one of its oil tankers in the Red Sea, largely interpreted by news agencies as blaming Saudi Arabia.
But asymmetrical warfare between the two has been going on for much longer. This has been the case at least since 2011, with their forces fighting against each other in the civil war in Syria, among other places. Roots of this animosity go way back. When in 1979, the Iranian Islamic revolution took place, the Islamic Republic became a
“Iran is basically Lindsay Lohan’s character in Mean Girls who has to eat lunch alone on the toilet because she does not have any friends.” threat to the model of the Sunni monarchy, most greatly manifested in the Saudi state. The fear of Iran ‘exporting its revolution’ has been ever prominent in the Arab world. This was actually one of the reasons behind the devastating Gulf war between Iran and Iraq in the 1980s. Both Iran and Saudi have been competing for power over the region ever since, with Saudi supporting Sunni monarchies and Iran supporting Shia groups such as Hizb’ullah in Lebanon and the Syrian ‘Alawi regime. Still, to merely see this problem as a Middle Eastern one, or a Sunni-Shia one,
Iran eating lunch alone in the toilet as Lindsay Lohan’s character in Mean Girls (Credit: Maya Reus)
Donald Trump (left) and Mohammad bin Salman (right) (Credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque)
would be reductive. Foreign powers are complicit, with the United States on the forefront. Next to the semi-colonisation and further meddling of foreign powers in Iran, the United States actually engaged in the 1953 coup d’etat which quite literally ended democracy in Iran. Since the revolution in 1979, Iran has had no allies. Iran is basically Lindsay Lohan’s character in Mean Girls who has to eat lunch alone on the toilet because she does not have any friends. Not only was it alone, but it also has had a problematic relationship with the West, especially the United States, as we all know. The latter actually has military bases all around Iran. It is not surprising that the idea of Iran as alone, surrounded and humiliated is deeply ingrained into the psyche of the state. At the moment, the United States is making the situation even worse. After the attack on the oil fields of Saudi Arabia, they were the first to point their finger at Iran. Trump has moreover made a sport out of using the harshest language against Iran as possible. In June, he said that the United States would ‘obliterate’ Iran when they condemned US sanctions. Then, on the 11 October, the United States decided to deploy thousands of extra troops to Saudi Arabia. Of course their arms deal to Saudi Arabia in 2017 was not helping either. And it seems like I am forgetting something… Of course, sanctions! These are hitting Iran’s citizens hard, making basic necessities more inaccessible, especially to vulnerable groups.
In Mean Girls, Lindsay Lohan’s character is being bullied by Regina George. She wants revenge and embarks on a plan to destroy Regina and her reputation. Just like Lindsay Lohan’s character, Iran is vengeant. This explains Iran’s not-so-friendly tactics such as their nuclear programme and bellicose language. For instance, foreign Minister Javad Zarif, who is not known for sugarcoating his statements, has said that any attack by the US or Saudi Arabia on Iran would result in an ‘all-out-war’ and that Iran ‘won’t blink to defend [it’s] territory.’ In spite of media claiming World War 3 is looming, some analysts claim that the US is rather reluctant to start a war. Another good sign is the fact that Iran and Saudi Arabia seem open to talk about defusing tensions. But recent news of the extra deployment of US troops to Saudi Arabia and the attack on Iran’s oil tankers, both announced on 11 October, are still alarming. If the United States would just drop the sanctions already, and stop the intimidation and bullying, Iran would feel less threatened and vengeant. Still, Iran (and Saudi Arabia) could follow LiLo’s advice: ‘Calling somebody else fat won't make you any skinnier. Calling someone stupid doesn't make you any smarter. And ruining Regina George's life definitely didn't make me any happier. All you can do in life is try to solve the problem in front of you.’ If it works for girl world, it might work for the Middle East as well.
31 OCTOBER 2019
Modi has played his last card Hafsah Noor, MSc Middle East Politics Four months ago, India celebrated with a flush of national pride as Narendra Modi of the Hindu nationalist, far-right Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) was sworn in as Indian Prime Minister for the second time. After winning a landslide victory in the May 2019 general election, Kashmir cried silently. Since the BJP’s ascent to power, political trauma across the subcontinent has heightened. On 5 August, the world witnessed the Indian flag sweeping the streets of India as PM Modi made the pressing decision to revoke Article 370 of the Indian Constitution. This was issued to newly independent India in 1947, vowing to give the autonomous region of Kashmir freedom to govern under a constitution separate from the Indian one, together with their own flag. Indian
nationalists raved the decision with glee, mainstream media erupted and cheery dancers crowded the country. The decision followed a deployment of a 45 000-man strong Indian troop being gushed into Kashmir, the most densely militarized region in the world, to counter the so-called terrorists in the region. This is a clear exploitation of the situation as Indian forces continue to exercise terror against innocent citizens, as has been done over the last 30 years. Modi’s violation of human rights has caused an upsurge in tensions between India and Pakistan, after decades of an already boiling conflict. As Pakistani Prime Minister, Imran Khan put it, Modi has “played his last card”. As if that wasn’t enough, the RSS-backed leadership continued with a malicious crackdown on the 7 million Kashmiris now detained behind barbed razor wire in the Muslim majority region. For over 60 days now, Kashmir has been
subject to a ghastly communications blackout. Internet connection, mobile service and telephone lines have been completely cut, political and business leaders are being roundedup, Kashmiri police forces are being disarmed, former chief ministers are being arrested, all while Indian drones fly over the South Asian flashpoint. Modi’s decision to overturn Article 370 guaranteeing Kashmir’s special status, is a pathetic notion of reinforcing the racist Hindu nationalist motive that has been buzzing around India, and a humiliating move, to say the least. Modi undermined a difficult and divisive issue that has been disputed since the British carelessly drew their borders across the subcontinent, and belittled the fate and autonomy of Kashmir by putting aside the unfinished business of partition as though it required no further discussion. He asserted his egotistical and tyrannical demeanour not just on Kashmir, but on the rest of us too as we sit and watch. Stripping them of independence, including the right to their own flag and constitution, Kashmir will now be administered by the BJP, the political wing of the Nazi-inspired and far-right nationalist RSS organisation of 600 000 members. The BJP and their militia volunteers will tighten their grip over institutions in Kashmir, while holding control from the central government in New Delhi. As part of their clamping down on the mainly Muslim territory, Modi heedlessly dissolved Article 35A of the Constitution which gave Kashmiris stewardship of their land. In a neo-colonial project, Indians are now free to buy land, open business, engage in trade and acquire territory in Kashmir, which would mean we could expect to soon see Israeli-style settlement projects in occupied Kashmir. In roistering the freshly open domain, Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar of the North Indian state of Haryana obnoxiously joked that because ‘Kashmir is open… we can bring girls from there.’ How sickly. The next few months are to prove how Modi’s prison camp project plays out as he fuels the fire, setting citizen out against citizen, Hindu against Muslim and Indian against Kashmiri. Modi is not a man of reason, nor of tolerance, but the world listens and awaits. The consequences are looking grim.
An Indian security officer guards a street during a lockdown in Srinagar (Credit: Al-Jazeera)
Endless Arab Spring? Arzu Abbasova, BA International Relations Recently, the Middle East has been convulsed by growing protests in several countries, namely Egypt, Lebanon and Iraq. In Egypt, protests erupted in response to the exile of businessman, Mohammad Ali who accused the government of corruption. This resulted in the arrest of thousands of people, including journalists, activists, lawyers and 111 minors. Similarly, in Lebanon the riots mainly addressed the economic and financial crisis that the country is facing, in Iraq protesters did not only call for the downfall of the leader but they also called for the end of the political system. These protests saw violent reactions from the government as more than 100 people were killed while thousands were wounded, making the demonstrations one of the worst for Iraq in recent years. Interestingly, although the protests
have different contexts, they all have similar catalysts: frustrated youth, unemployed people, corruption, poor public services and financial and economic difficulties. Additionally, the chanting of one of the most famous slogans from the 2011 protests, “Al-shab yurid isqat al- nizam!” ("The people want the fall of the regime”) brought the memories of the past to the surface. These reverberations pose questions about the future and whether we are witnessing yet another Arab Spring. The straightforward answer to that depends on how the protests will turn out. The recent protests seem like a flashback to what we saw before in the Arab Spring; demonstrations both in Egypt and Iraq have been leaderless and spontaneous; social media has played an important role in mobilizing the protestors; finally, the protests had a nationwide character and governments, in turn, aggressively attacked the protesters. Again, we are faced with a scenario akin to the
Arab Spring almost 8 years later but with the new youth. One must draw attention to the fact that as well as the protesters, the governments are also cautious of the memories of the Arab Spring. Indeed, when the protests ruptured, both in Egypt and Iraq the internet and social media was immediately blocked to prevent further communication among protesters, and the respective governments tried to find common ground with the public by offering them concessions. Surprisingly for the very first time since the break out of the protests, the Iraqi military agreed that their use of force was ‘excessive’ and stated that they will hold accountable the commanders who carried out wrong acts against the public. This can indeed be regarded as the government taking a step back. Additionally, this shows that the people in power are conscious of the history behind them. Though some people are hopeful that
these protests might turn into a revolution, whether it will happen or not depends on several factors. If that is the case, then let it be Arab Summer this time because we all saw how ‘the Spring’ ended.
Middle East Eye (Credit: Ahmad Al-Rubaye/AFP)
31 OCTOBER 2019
Happy Birthday China: a year in review Shannon Rayner, BA Middle East Politics China is in a state of flux, with all its power it clings to tradition and authenticity in a way that is unique and often inflammatory. 2019 saw headlines on everything from Xinjiang and Hong Kong to Peppa Pig and the NBA. Whilst celebrations continue to commemorate the occasion, it’s important to look over the turbulent year that the world’s secondbiggest economy and political powerhouse has had.
Internal media representation of China must be polished and show a particular image, which is how Peppa Pig fell out of favour in 2018 when the children’s cartoon character and her friends were used by groups in China to demonstrate rebellion against the Chinese Communist Party (CCP). However, in a seemingly all-forgiving – and forgetting turn of events, Peppa Pig became a star just in time for Chinese New Year corresponding with the 2019 zodiac animal – the pig. Peppa quite literally became an icon, with dubbed episodes and
The Great Wall of China (Credit: Andrew Bell)
a dedicated Chinese New Year film being produced. In reality, both before and after Peppa’s pardon it was undeniable that her popularity was being capitalized on, the design could be found on phone cases, car stickers, shoes and my personal favourite – on the knock off Gucci t-shirts. Although rather comedic, this turn of events demonstrates how rapidly ideas can change and decisions can be made. At the start of the year, the Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region of China began to dominate headlines both domestically and internationally. Domestically, Chinese news outlets such as Xinhua News and China Daily were reporting on the ‘dangerous region’ and making claims of measures taken ‘against extremism and terrorism’. Meanwhile, in the rest of the world, global newspapers were reporting on families being separated and compulsory re-education camps. Turkish newspapers began to speak up on violence as increasing numbers of Uyghur Muslims fled to the country. As the CCP continued to defend actions taken in Xinjiang, on 31 March protests began in Hong Kong. What began as protests aimed at the controversial extradition bill, became a global movement in support of democratic rights for Hong Kong citizens. Then we hit the halfway point of June 2019 and the 30th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square massacre. In the days leading up to the anniversary of the ‘July 4th Incident’ massacre, Tiananmen Square was full of tourists visiting Beijing. There was a notable increased police presence questioning tourists – like myself on what they were doing in
the area. Just as the world thought another anniversary would go by unacknowledged, Defence Minister Wei Fenghe defended the action taken as the best way to stop the turbulence of the time. As Autumn arrives in 2019 as does the NBA drama. The NBA in China was almost an institution. Across classrooms you can find NBA pencil cases or jackets, whilst advertisements and athlete endorsements line East Nanjing Road in Shanghai. At least some credit to the success of basketball in China needs to be given to Yao Ming, who is truly a Chinese hero. Not only in the sporting world also socially, by backing campaigns against the ivory trade leading to the ivory ban. All of this sets the NBA up in a very profitable position in China, until recently. As public attention and support mounts for the Hong Kong citizens, the NBA’s silence has been seen as a measure of how much China’s stake in the industry is worth. In early October Daryl Morey, general manager of the Houston Rockets, Yao Ming’s team tweeted in support of Hong Kong protestors. Despite the deletion of the tweet what followed was a firestorm of sponsors pulling out, the national broadcaster refusing to play the games, merchandise has been pulled and outrage sparked across Chinese social media. All of these headlines were very different but they all showed one common theme. China is in a state of flux. No one can argue that China has huge influence in almost every industry, but with that influence also comes an image that it cannot control.
Boris Johnson: a representative of the people? Chloë Cochran, BA Global Popular Music It’s a trying time to be alive. We are in a climate catastrophe, it seems that violence is more rampant than ever, Brexit is the biggest disaster since the inflation of Freddos and a man resembling a Cheeto in a tupe is sitting in the Oval Office. The British prime minister, Mr Alexander Boris de Pfeffle Johnson is an unelected prime minister, but is this a byproduct of our failing democracy? Whether you think him being prime minister is undemocratic is open to personal interpretation, as democracy doesn’t have a specific set of rules to be followed and doesn’t come with a guide book. Britain's democracy is a representative democracy; we elect people to represent us and vote on legislation on our behalf. But if you examine the way in which he came into office, it does seem strange that 92,153 votes (according to The BBC) can get someone into office in a country that has over 67 million people. Can we really expect a man instilled into an office of power by 0.136% of the population to represent the people? Although, when examining the way in which he became prime minister, it isn’t unlawful. The costs of a general election may not be worth the time invested, hence allowing a new candidate to be elected by the party power is not the worst option. This doesn’t seem illogical and in fact, perhaps
in less politically divided times wouldn’t hold so much baggage. But we are living in a post Brexit referendum era, and everything is loaded with consequences. It’s happened in the past, Theresa May had the same experience, although she had the foresight to call a snap general election and legitimise her appointment to office.
“Can we really expect a man instilled into an office of power by 0.136% of the population to represent the people?” Furthermore, can someone who hasn’t had to run a campaign effectively understand what the people want? He has never had to think about the needs of the general public from a standpoint that transcends party agendas. He ran a campaign during the Tory leadership, but even this, it could be argued was very one-sided. He was up against members of his party and was therefore only concerned with appealing to the party; any challenge posed within the party offered no
Boris Johnson (Credit: Henry Nicols/Reuters)
threat to their position of power. This again poses an issue with a two party system in the focus of competition, rather than attempting to understand what the population needs. But even this is begging to be questioned, as his own brother has resigned from the government and parliament in alleged protest of the prime minister’s leadership, The Independent reports. This illustrates that division within the party, like division within the country, is prominent. Can an unelected prime minister effectively represent the people? Or should we all re-examine our current political system and adopt anarchy?
31 OCTOBER 2019 http://soasspirit.co.uk/category/features/ FEATURES EDITORS: Fisayo Eniolorunda, Sasha Patel
From Girl to Woman Elise Zurstrassen, BA Development Studies
Horoscopes as Fresher’s Moments
wondering if Senate House and Paul Webley Wing are different buildings (hot tip: they’re not)
nicknaming people because you can’t remember real names
‘oN mY gAp YeAr...’
31 Days, 31 Drawings
forgetting your ID card
fire alarm at dinwiddy
Adekunmi Olatunji, MA Linguistics
‘we’re paying 9k for THIS?’
not knowing what ‘BLE’ stands for
submitting a message onSOASk Me Out to hype your friend
going to your first protest
discovering the asian snack vending machine
She finds an unopened letter in a cupboard, holds it in her hands while she thinks aloud: ‘What does it mean to become an adult? Is it throwing a party when you turn 18 or 21? Is it spending weeks in the desert or the jungle in search for yourself? Getting your period? Getting your driver’s license? Getting married? Having a child? Some people consider it a process, others that it is set by a moment of high emotional intensity. But personally, I think I have become an adult before my friends because I went through the extreme suffering of losing my father. Therefore, even though this letter says I should not open it before I’m a proper adult, I feel that I have the right to open it now.’
Every month needs it’s gimmick, from ‘Dry January’ to ‘Movember’, and October is no exception. If you didn’t already know, we’re in the throws of INKTOBER! Every October, for the past ten years, artists all over the world have taken on the Inktober drawing challenge by doing one ink drawing a day for the entire month. Inktober was created in 2009 by Jake Parker as a challenge to improve his inking skills and develop positive drawing habits. It has since grown into a worldwide endeavour with thousands of artists taking on the challenge every year. Inktober started posting official prompt lists in 2016. Prior to that,
She reads the letter. ‘Dear daughter, you are now 18 years old. Soon you will leave home for college where I’m sure you will meet many wonderful people and come into full bloom. Chances are, you don’t talk to your old parents any more because you are probably as rebellious a teenager at 18 as you were when I am writing this letter, on your 16th birthday. I have the privilege to be your father. And I am certain that you, my only daughter, will become a successful woman with a strong person by your side. Now listen to me: going to college is only the first step of adulthood, not the epitome of it. If you can take two pieces of advice from a man who has lived a little more than you: to become an adult, you must step over your parents. Do what you do with a true heart. Good luck, your father.’
Day 1: ‘Ring’ by @bhanupriyashrivastava
artists came up with their own ideas for each day. The rules are simple: 1) Make a drawing in ink (you can do a pencil underdrawing if you want) 2) Post it online 3) Hashtag it with #inktober and #inktober2019 4) Repeat Committing to anything for 31 days is hard, let alone something as labour intensive as a work of art! Feel free to adapt Inktober to fit your schedule - you can do it daily, or go the half-marathon route and post every other day, or do the 5K and post once a week. Whatever you decide, the important thing is just to be consistent with it. Inktober is about growing and improving and forming positive habits, so the more consistent the better! In recent years numerous Inktober spinoffs have started to crop up - from Inktober Magick, Japanese Inktober, Inktober Critters + Beasts to #KidLitober #Hennatober #Mandalatober #Chilltober and even #NerdTober. The point is, anyone and everyone can do Inktober in any way they want. The idea is to just pick up a pen and start drawing!
Day 7: “Frail” by @kpetchock_art
Day 5: “Build” by @shokthecreator
31 OCTOBER 2019
Interview with Elijah Lawal, author of ‘The Clapback: Your Guide to Calling out Racist Stereotypes.’ old grandmother would be out committing knife crime, BARACK OBAMA would be out committing knife crime… (continued online) On the topic of young people shying away from creative industries because of perceived lack of security. I think that can sometimes be a challenge for our parents to understand because their priority was all about making money. One of the things that I've made my priority is to try and see how we can increase our diversity and inclusion efforts and how we can get more people of colour into creative industries. I'd love to try and open the doors for people to
Fisayo (left), Sasha (middle) and Lawal (right) (Credit: Fisayo Eniolorunda)
Fisayo Eniolorunda, BA Politics and African Studies Elijah Lawal is an author and diversity activist who works for Google as PR Manager by day. His book is a definitive guide to combatting racist stereotypes against the black community. A friendly and knowledgeable individual. How would you summarise the contents of this book to someone who has not yet read it? I would position it as a look into the origins of stereotypes aimed at the black community, understanding why they exist, if there's any truth to them and what can we do to debunk that. I sort of challenge them and say, where do you think that came from? Or even in a very practical way, why would the colour of my skin have anything to do with how fast I can run or high I can jump or what food I prefer to eat? How do you define race? Race is a social and political construct. Some things don’t have to be real in order to have an impact on your life. For me, race has been made real by the people who choose to use it to oppress us. You know there is no Black and White DNA, no Indian or Scottish DNA, there is just human DNA. But, people who want to use that narrative in a negative way have made race real. So, we have to acknowledge that even though it's a social and political construct, its real because the effects impact all of us... (continued online) Please outline the source of a few stereotypes that affect black people today. I know that in your book you spoke on the stereotype that all black people love fried chicken. That stereotype originated from the Ku Klux Klan in 1915.
They produced the birth of a nation and basically, they wanted to portray black people as unworthy and animalistic, with no manners and no sense of humanity. So, they had a white person eating their meal with a knife and fork, but they had a white person in blackface eating chicken with their hands and being very messy about it. They wanted to show people their belief system, which was, if you're white you’re civilised and responsible contributing members of society. Whereas, when you're black you were irresponsible with no manners and animalistic. That kind of stereotype just grew and grew from there. So, you see how harmful a stereotype like that is? There was a school in the US where for black history month they just served everyone chicken because they thought that black people all loved fried chicken… (continued online) What is your take on the home office trying to combat knife crime by putting stories on the back of fried chicken boxes? It shows to me: A - a fundamental lack of understanding of a violent crime. B - a lack of understanding of the black culture that they're trying to address. It shows a fundamental misunderstanding of violent crime because, I don't know anybody who has their heart set on committing crime and their mind is changed by reading something on a chicken box. That's just not how violent crime occurs. I saw on Twitter that the agency that advised the home office on this only had one black person on the team, everyone else was white. A friend of mine made a joke because they have two dogs in that office, he said that they literally have more dogs than they have black people... It's a lack of understanding about culture and I want to make this very clear as well, just because you're black doesn't mean you're more likely to commit knife crime because if that were the case, I would be out committing knife crime, you would be out committing knife crime, my 90 year
(Credit: Hodder and Stoughton)
understand that there are roles for them here and places for them here that they can grow and thrive. Toni Morrison said when you get these amazing jobs, these jobs that you’ve worked so hard for, your next mission should be to make it easier for other people…(continued online) Any final words? It's black history month. I just want people who read this article to celebrate black history. Just love your community. I feel like we need to come together as a community to just say, you know what, you're black and I'm black that's a bond that we share you know and let's never call other people's blackness into question...(continued online) Full interview with more questions online...
31 OCTOBER 2019
‘The World is Ending’ and Other Dangerous Myths Maliha Shoaib, BA English and World Philosophies Pick your doomsday headline: climate change will destroy the world in 12 years; authoritarianism is spreading all over the globe; systematic inequality is on the rise; future generations are condemned to unlivable conditions; a nuclear war could wipe us all out. The Earth is on fire and we’re being told that we’re destined for destruction. Total catastrophe. Inevitable apocalypse. Fated doom. One way or another, we’re going down. We all love stories of mythical catastrophe. Yet the end of the world is no longer a prophecy or myth. Gone are the days of fearing alien invasions and robots taking over the world.
The Amazon Rainforest, often described as the lungs of the earth, burning (Credit: Mario Tama/Getty Images via Common Dreams)
These days, we don’t fear one singular catastrophic event that will end us all – in fact, that would be kind in comparison to the agonizing deterioration of our climate since the Industrial Revolution. We have real reason to believe the world is headed for a bleak future. But to push for global change, we need to change the way we talk about disaster. Apocalypse narratives do more harm than good. The highly emotive language used to report global disaster
is supposed to scare us into action – but this fear can be counterproductive. This immobilising apathy is often called ‘apocalypse fatigue’. Science journalist, Jasper Hamill, describes apocalypse fatigue as a phenomenon in which ‘we become so hardened by endless disastrous predictions that
“To push for global change we need to change the way we talk about disaster.” we stop paying attention to them.’ We freeze in the face of inevitable doom and end up dismissing the possibility for change because ‘we’re all going to die anyway’. It’s easier to distance ourselves from the situation by adopting a fatalistic mindset that protects us from the dread of accountability. Hopeless fatalism becomes a cause for celebration, as we surrender to the disaster of the world and choose acceptance over improvement. Ignorance is bliss, and bliss is just what we need to enjoy our final days. Yet, while ignorance protects us from existential burnout, it also prevents us from engaging - it prevents us from pushing for real change. Apocalypse fatigue is also the reason behind so much of the cognitive dissonance we feel when it comes to changing our lifestyles for the greater good. The tension between what we do and what we know is clear – from our views on the meat industry to transport methods to single-use plastic. And even when we take a step in the right direction, it feels like any personal improvements we’ve made are insignificant in the face of the macro-level institutional reform we truly need. It’s completely demoralising. We either feel guilty, powerless or burnt out. All three effects lead to us feeling overwhelmed and often uninspired when it comes to pushing for change. In order to improve engagement and morale over global change, we need to frame ‘disaster’ narratives less disastrously.
Tweedledee and Tweedledumb Gaia Tan, BA Development Studies and Social Anthropology
An imagined image of the apocalypse (Credit: creative Commons/ US federal government)
Believe it or not, it is possible to frame disaster narratives in a positive way that will motivate change. Per Espen Stoknes, a Norweigian Parliament representative with a background in the psychology of reactions to catastrophic climate change, suggests that the easiest way to flip our mindsets when it comes to disaster is by focusing on how global change will improve our lives - both personally and as a society. For example, we can encourage people to improve their carbon footprint in order to improve the health and wellbeing of their loved ones. We can frame sustainable living as an exciting opportunity for technological developments that can only continue to improve our standard of living. Rhetoric is powerful – it can make us feel powerless as an individual, or inspired as a collective. If we adopt a community approach, fighting for radical improvement will become the social norm. By sharing the burden of responsibility, we will all feel less ‘fatigued’ by the apocalypse.
POETRY: the things i’ll do when i love you watch shows i hate because you love them talk less to hear you more eat my lunch slower so we can talk longer wait for you so we can walk home together tell you the whole truth even when i dont want to overthink everything ask how you are when im falling apart message you my dreams when i wake up ask your advice before anybody else do what i can when i cant hold my tongue hold my breath hold your hand hurt myself wondering if you love me too (anon)
31 OCTOBER 2019
Humans of SOAS: Notes Edition
In conversation with Thandeka Mﬁnyongo This story highlights the talent and stories of women musicians of colour at SOAS. Sasha Patel, BA History and South Asian Studies Tell us a bit about yourself My name is Thandeka and I’m from South Africa. I play two indigenous instruments, the uhadi and mhrubhe musical bows, which I’ve been playing for five years. Before SOAS, I was at the University of Cape Town studying African music, where I chose to focus on those instruments because I’m very passionate about indigenous music - especially because I’m Xhosa. There are notions that African music is dying, so as a young black person, it’s very important for me to be part of the people that are preserving this music. So, I took up studying Xhosa instruments at university. Describe your music I play my bows, but I also try to play with other instruments in my band, including piano, vocals, guitar and percussion too. That’s basically my sound - just keeping it more African, you could say. We also practise a lot of call and response, just to root it. But I’m still learning, you never really get there. You mentioned coming back to indigenous music as a way of decolonising. How do you see music as a political tool? I feel it is a tool: it’s not just music, it’s a history and where you come from. There’s so much history - like, during apartheid, people sang as a form of fighting against what was happening at the time. Personally, music is a way of learning more about myself, my roots and my people. We’ve all gone with the western wave, so if more people want to know more about their backgrounds and where they come from, then music is a good force. With more people having an interest in it, we’re also showing that it’s worth studying and knowing more about. Who are your influences? I’m not going to lie, I love the older generations: Nina Simone, I love her, her politics and everything she stood for. Also, Miriam Makeba and Busi Mhlongo. Busi passed away
Thandeka Mfinyongo (Credit: Yousef Abughazaleh)
but she was a pioneer in Maskandi music, which is mostly dominated by men. There’s a message in all of their music, so during times of struggle they’d use song. If you’re told to keep quiet, then you’re going to sing. It was their way of protesting, because it was the toughest time back then. They didn’t have much of a voice. But now it’s different, because we do have a voice and I know my rights. Now, if you’re doing nonsense, it doesn’t matter what colour you are, because I’ll tell you. What’s been your most memorable musical experience? I had the privilege of spending time with Madosini, a legendary bow performer. She encourages young people to come and learn, so that they keep the tradition after she dies. We did an intergenerational conversation and song with her at the YoungBlood in Cape Town. It was mainly improvisation, meaning we had to figure it all out - the bow and the guitar. It was crazy. It felt like a spontaneous thing but so amazing. It felt so great to be next to her because people were engaging and remembering, which is very important. It was beautiful, with a lot of people asking questions, but we felt so s**t about ourselves because of the language barrier. We were trying to translate, and then we realised we didn’t know as much about the language (Xhosa) as we thought we did. The language is deeper - much deeper - than we thought. On that note, how do you navigate this space as a woman?
Thandeka Mfinyongo (Credit: Yousef Abughazaleh)
I guess, in any music, it’s male-dominated. Then you come with a strange indigenous instrument, and it’s like two battles now. When I go somewhere carrying my uhadi, men will feel
“If you’re told to keep quiet, then you’re going to sing.” entitled to touch it - saying, ‘what is this.’ But when it’s a guy carrying it, no one will question it. That just shows you it’s not as normal as it should be for women to be playing. We just need to show up. We have to work extra hard as women, that’s the thing. What would you say to anyone looking to preserve and learn their own indigenous instruments? If it’s your passion, something that you love and want to do, nothing should stop you. I think [the main thing is to] just keep remembering why you’re doing it, otherwise you’d forget and have no motivation. And remember the people you look up to, and know it wasn’t easy for them, and it will be hard for you. With the wave of decolonisation we’re in now, we’re shaking grounds everywhere. People were sure of how life was supposed to be, but now you’re coming and disturbing it. So that’s not going to be easy, because everyone likes their comfort zone. But you can’t come and shake my comfort zone and think I’m not going to retaliate.
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31 OCTOBER 2019 http://soasspirit.co.uk/category/culture/ Culture Editor: Indigo Lilburn-Quick
‘Look, black is beautiful, black is excellent’ Psychodrama Listening Party Amina Ali, BA English and Arabic In honour of black history month, Najwa Urman created ‘Blklisteningparty’. The monthly event is hosted at Peckham Levels, with each one focussing on a different black artist. At a listening party, the audience collectively listens to one artist or album followed by open discussions and commentary. Last month I went to a listening party for British grime artist, Dave’s, debut album, ‘Psychodrama’. Among its numerous accolades, this album won the esteemed Mercury Prize. This album encompasses a number of taboo issues such as domestic abuse and racial inequality. Dave particularly focuses on his struggles with mental illness - namely, depression. The first track begins with Dave talking to his therapist.
The audience at the listening party (credit: Amina Ali)
‘Psychodrama’ is a form of psychotherapy in which patients role-play events from their past to heal and make sense of themselves. ‘Psychodrama’ has been referred to as a ‘concept album’, and has a three-act structure: act one is defined as
“‘Blklisteningparty’ brings back the element of art and the appreciation of different interpretations.”
"environment"; act two as "relationships"; and act three as "social compass". Dave tackles these issues poetically, creating tracks that are relatable, political and danceable. I would describe these listening parties as a safe space to discuss your opinions about an artist that you love, and a space to celebrate black musicians. It’s great to see a platform that honours black excellence. Najwa’s said her vision for ‘Blklisteningparty’ is ‘to introduce a new way of consuming music in a fast-food era of quick consumption, by taking time with albums as a body of work and unpacking lyrics.’ ‘Blklisteningparty’ brings back the element of art and the appreciation of different interpretations. I would definitely recommend the listening party to anyone who wants to learn about a new artist or celebrate an artist they enjoy. You can find upcoming events on Blklisteningparty’s Instagram: @blklisteningparty.
Dave in concert (Credit: Creative Commons)
Top 4 Places to grab a bite near SOAS
Amina Ali, BA English and Arabic 1. House of Morocco, 82 Caledonian Rd, N1 9DN Moroccan owned, this café is a lovely place for breakfast, brunch or lunch - you could even study there! The comfortable, vibrant Moroccan-style sofas and pillows are a great space to unwind, read a book, write an essay or grab a coffee. The hummus and Za’tar dip or Baba-Ghanouj reminds me of my warm childhood summers in the Middle East. With its laid-back atmosphere, House of Morocco provides a great escape from busy, fast-paced London. It’s a place I always find myself going back to.
2. Addis, 40-42 Caledonian Rd, N1 9DT Addis is an authentic Ethiopian restaurant. Most dishes are served with injera - a traditional east African crepe-like bread with a
An array of meat and vegetable stews served on injera (Credit: Creative Commons)
slightly tangy undertone. They do the best freshly made injera that can be dipped into a variety of mouth-watering sauces. With an array of flavourful curries and stews, you’re
spoilt for choice. The menu is packed with options, from slow-cooked meats that melt in your mouth to a variety of fabulous vegetarian dishes, making it the perfect place to bring friends and share a dish or two. 3.Dishoom, 5 Stable Street, N1C 4AB Dishoom is a slightly more upscale option if you're looking to treat yourself, this is definitely the place to be. The nostalgic interior resembles an old railway station - as soon as you enter you feel transported back in time. With high ceilings, wall to wall vintage cabinets, and black and white photographs, the decor is reminiscent of by-gone days. My favourite dish is definitely the Chicken Ruby curry, accompanied by the warm garlic naan. The world stops when it enters your mouth and it feels like a hug from your grandma.
4. Pizza Union, 246-250 Pentonville Rd, N1 9JY Don’t we all crave pizza at least once a week? With its trendy mood lighting, excellent music choices and extensive menu, this cafeteria-style Italian restaurant remains a fail-safe. The long benches and lively, sociable atmosphere make Pizza Union great option for groups. Did I mention, it’s right next to Dinwiddy? Even the most hungover fresher can manage to roll out of bed and grab a slice. Here’s to cheap and wonderful pizza!
The neon-lit exterior of the Pentonville Road pizza bar (Credit: Pizza Union)
31 OCTOBER 2019
Commercial African Art Fair:
Fails to Hit the Mark When it Comes to Representation Indigo Lilburn-Quick, BA History and Politics The sprawling labyrinth of Somerset House set the scene for the confusing and piecemeal show: the 1-54 Contemporary African Art Fair. Spread over several floors and across the East, West and South wings of the imposing 18th-century gallery, the exhibition was certainly vast. The work of more than 150 artists from Africa and its diaspora was presented in 45 international galleries, providing something for everyone to enjoy. Although the variety was exciting, it left much to be
“Although African artists are starting to get their foot in the door, when it comes to recognition it is still a white hand that decides whether to open that door or not.”
desired in the way of curation. As each gallery was in charge of presenting their selection of work as they saw fit, the whole show was incongruent and disorientating. Due to the layout of the building, there were few large spaces that could really do justice to the pieces on display. This disappointment was somewhat mitigated by the overall high quality of the art the vibrant variety of work aptly showcased the talent of an oft-forgotten continent within the art world. There were two parts of the fair that were presented as small stand-alone exhibits amongst the higgledy-piggledy gallery presentations: Mary Sibande’s I Came Apart at the Seams and Aïda Muluneh’s Water Life. Sibande is a South African artist who works from Johannesburg. Her sculpture and photography address South Africa’s recent history and the legacy of apartheid when it comes to modern race relations. Sibande is her own muse and her artistic avatar, Sophie, is present in her work as a way to represent women
of different classes and backgrounds. Her sculptures were extremely powerful testaments to the lasting effects of racial oppression and the importance of human dignity. Sibande’s work was the clear standout of the entire fair. Muluneh’s Water Life was a mesmerising collection of photographs that document the reality of water scarcity across many parts of Africa. The female protagonist featured in these dramatic images suggests the gendered nature of the issue and also, perhaps a gendered solution. The display, with its combination of modern and ancient imagery, left a fascinating impression on the viewer and hinted at an alternative reading of contemporary Africa and the way forward when it comes to tackling these issues. Aside from the excellent presentations of Sibande and Muluneh, there was something missing from most of the galleries’ spaces: people of colour. The vast majority of gallery owners, curators and collectors were white. Although African
The Purple Shall Govern - Sibande’s fever dream of revolutionary struggle (Credit: Indigo Lilburn-Quick)
ņ:DWHU/LIHŇE\0XOXQHKLOOXVWUDWHVWKHUHDOLWLHVRIZDWHU (credit: Indigo Lilburn-Quick)
Events to Look Out For
artists are starting to get their foot in the door, when it comes to recognition it is still a white hand that decides whether to open that door or not. Furthermore, the £25 fare (£10 for students) reinforced the idea that art is only for the rich: a problematic ideal, to say the least. Overall, I enjoyed the fair - it provided a variety and volume of work that is unrivalled when it comes to displays of African art in London. However, there is still a long way to go when it comes to representation in the art world overall, and perhaps a commercial art fair is not the best place to look for it.
Indigo Lilburn-Quick, BA History and Politics
6 – 21 November: The UK Jewish Film Festival This fortnight-long festival has a range of screenings and events that aim to celebrate the best in Jewish Film. The festival programme spans regions, genres and political beliefs so there should be something for everyone! 11 November: Humble The Poet in conversation (Foyles, Charing Cross Road) A viral spoken-word sensation, Humble The Poet’s new book Things No One Else Can Teach Us is an inspiring testament to perseverance, filled with stories of fighting racism and prejudice. The event will give the audience a chance to ask questions and get their copies signed. 16 November: Clothes Swap and Free Clothes Mending (Somers Town Community Association) Want an eco-friendly alternative to a brand new autumn wardrobe? Consider going to this clothes shop upgrade your old clothes but you can learn how to fix beloved but broken items And if that wasn’t enough all the proceeds go to charity. 29 November - Deptford Northern Soul Club’s 3rd Birthday Party (MOTH Club, Hackney) Need to get down and let loose? This venue is the perfect setting for a much-needed boogie as the walls literally shine with gold glitter.
Humble The Poet (Credit: humblethepoet.com)
31 OCTOBER 2019
Joker: A Compelling Yet Fragmented Sad-Clown-to-Mad-Clown Story
From the over-saturated and over-decade long reign of the superhero genre emerges: ‘Joker’. Rihab Attioui, MA Postcolonial Studies Todd Phillips’ ‘Joker’ is a film that, for many die-hard fans, signals a long-awaited (and somewhat holier-than-thou) return to the niche sub-cultural status - where the genre supposedly belongs. From the frenzy of its pre-release praise to the genuine interest in the Pagliacci-esque character study of a welldocumented villain, ‘Joker’ certainly generated a buzz like no other this autumn film season. The loudest strand of commentary,
however, does not come from its ardent fan base, nor from the prejudice of art-house film critics, but from those that have concerns about the type of behaviour this film may encourage. Given that the Joker has notoriously been a figure-head for a very specific ‘nice guys finish last’ archetype, there were worries this iteration of the Joker would build on the character’s misogynistic past – like Jared Leto’s Joker and his penchant for abusing Harley Quinn. After watching Phillip’s version, however, I have an altogether different concern.
Joaquin Phoenix in ‘Joker’ - a clown for hire that transforms into the infamous eponymous super-
villain. (Credit: Creative Commons)
‘Joker’ tells the story of a man named Arthur Fleck (Joaquin Phoenix), a clown for hire and an aspiring yet failing comedian whose oppressively piteous life leads him on a ‘slow ramp up to insanity,’ as Phillips himself described. However, before his Kafka-esque metamorphosis into the supervillain we know today, Fleck is overwhelmingly portrayed as a man who is constantly beaten down by the uncaring monolith that is Gotham City and its billionaire benefactors like Thomas Wayne. The audience feels, from the very beginning, that this is a tale of one man’s neglect and abuse by the institutions that are meant to protect him - for instance, the austerity cuts to the counselling he receives which were crucial to his mental stability. However, the care taken to comment on such social issues is consistently undermined as the film progresses due to the sheer gratuitously graphic nature of the abuse he endures. The constant displays of violence made it difficult to focus on anything but blood and gore, and any hope for a nuanced anti-establishment critique got lost in amidst the overbearing edgy grittiness. Similarly, the didactic direction of ‘Joker is somewhat fragmented. Fleck repeatedly denies having any political motivation behind the burgeoning Gothamite revolution he comes to incite, despite the film seemingly positioning itself
as an advocate of populist anti-one-percenter sentiment (note the scene where the Gotham mob, donned in clown masks, rise en masse in opposition to the wealth of the Waynes). Although the palpable mass rage and plights of the disenfranchised are very real problems that are undoubtedly familiar to today’s audiences, there is a sense that the anti-capitalism of the film was scrounged up as a slightly desperate attempt to ground it in something politically relevant and substantive. It doesn’t quite fit. Despite this, there is an unmistakable compelling quality to the production and tonality of the film itself. As a comicsinspired origin story, it is no ‘Logan’ - but similarly to what ‘Logan’ did for Hugh Jackman, there can be little doubt that this iteration of the Joker provided a deliciously multi-dimensional canvas for Phoenix’s acting range. It is made clear that Phoenix is the fulcrum around which the film revolves. Even if you are not the type to be bogged down by admittedly pretentious filmic commentary, ‘Joker’ is definitely still worth the watch – if only for Phoenix’s performance. His portrayal of an unsettlingly piteous man that transforms into a killer with an indiscriminately exorbitant delight for violence is nothing short of operatic.
Listening to History Outside the Colonial Lens
Sara Khan, MA South Asian Area Studies A set of 5 audio dramas by the theatre group, Tamasha, aims to change perspectives through some painful storytelling. The lights turned down. The audience stopped talking. We all got ready to hear an audio drama that might change our view of history. That was the reasoning behind travelling theatre group Tamasha's very first digital drama project, ‘Decolonising History’, which premiered at SOAS earlier this month. At the start of the evening, Artistic Director, Fin Kennedy, promised to ‘create empathy where it might not exist before.’ Each audio production stirred the audience, even though the story wasn’t visually presented on a screen. ‘It was rather an emotive and stimulating experience despite not having any visual performance, which is usually not easy to achieve,’ said postgraduate student Nyssa Myeda Mirza. What I found most moving was when the program personalized tragedies, like the India-Pakistan Partition, through the haunting, slow words of a grandmother on her deathbed. You could feel her pain as the character lamented, ‘we all should have left.’ SOAS Professor Dr. Eleanor Newbigin commented: ‘All the plays point to the ways in which historical interpretations
Artists from the Tamasha Theatre Company discuss the reasons behind creating teir new audio project, ‘Decolonising History’ (Credit: Tanbir Johal)
stifle and silence groups and individuals, but they also all pointed to the fragility and pain involved in questioning the past, a questioning which always entails questioning who you are as an individual too.’ ‘Decolonising History’ was created after conversations between Newbigin and Kennedy about the ‘emotional labour of history and learning.’ The show’s audio presentation also heightened the drama. In one audio production, the tension was created with the anxious clacking of a laptop before a nervous SOAS student tried to fight for higher marks on her assignment. In another,
it was the sudden cawing of a hawk as it mangles a pigeon, shocking the audience. ‘The experience of listening to a prerecorded acted piece in the company of a crowd meant that you engaged with it in a direct and stimulating way unlike a more traditional podcast experience,’ said recent LSE graduate Aditya Iyer. If you’d like to hear any of the audio presentations for yourself, and ‘decolonise’ your own perspective, Tamasha plans to publish all of the presentations online very soon.
31 OCTOBER 2019
Sport & Societies
https://soasspirit.co.uk/category/societiesandsport/ Sport & Societies Editor: Rami Shamel
Charity Week 2019
Conquering the World... While Black
By Abida Tasnim, BA Economics Charity Week is a volunteer led campaign that the SOAS Islamic society take part in every year. This year we were graced with the best theme: SUPERHEROES! The ultimate vision of the Charity Week campaign is that of unity: in the words of T’Challa (The Black Panther) “We all know the truth: more connects us than divides us. But in times of crisis, the wise build bridges, while the foolish build barriers. We must find a way to look after one another as if we were one single tribe.” Charity Week is focused on the power of unity and we were so grateful for everyone who came through to support this cause. This was a chance to make a difference and help those who need it the most. This year, the projects that will be funded cover crises that expand from Gaza, Pakistan, Niger, Afghanistan, Syria, Sudan and many more. Our pages are still open for donations, so we thank you for your generosity! Peace and blessings – the Charity Week Team
SOAS ACS logo (Credit: @soasacs via Instagram)
Deputy Vice Chair of the Centre for (Trying to) Understand White People (CUWP). He has written numerous successful TV shows, including Good Cops, Good White Folk and Other Wild Fantasies and Scientific Proof: The White Man’s Ice Is Indeed Colder. Since dictating the thesis of Think Like a White Man to Nels Abbey, he has neither been seen nor heard from again. Dr. Whitelaw’s advice is simple; by following the White Man Commandments - namely, that winning justifies anything and everything - you too can achieve success beyond your capabilities. The event will host Nels Abbey, a British-Nigerian writer and media executive based in London and a graduate of Penguin's Write Now scheme. As a writer, his work has been published in the Guardian, London Evening Standard (where he also served as a blogger and occasional columnist), across the BBC and in the British Film Institute's Sight & Sound. He has worked in an advisory capacity for PWC, HBoS and BlackRock. Furthermore, Symeon Brown, a reporter and journalist at
Adekunmi Olatunji, MA Linguistics “I, Dr Whytlaw III, the first and last word on white people, the alpha and omega of the White Man, will usher you safely through the woods. Have no fear. Walk with me.” October marks Black History Month, the annual commemoration celebrating African and Caribbean cultures and histories will take place up and down the country. For many, Black History Month is a way of reflecting on the diverse histories of those from African and Caribbean descent, taking note of the achievements and contributions to the social, political, economic and cultural development. On Monday 21 October, the African-Caribbean Society in conjunction with the Centre Of African Studies will be hosting author Nels Abbey in conversation with Reporter and SOAS alumni Symeon Brown to discuss all things Think Like a White Man, the cutting satirical book dictated to Nels by Dr Boulé Whytelaw III. Dr. Whytelaw is the distinguished Professor of White People Studies at Bishop Lamonthood University and the ‘Think Like A White Man’ (Credit: Canon Gate Books)
Channel 4 News will also be attending one of the society's most anticipated events. Brown has written for a range of publications including Vice, Guardian, Huffington Post, CNN, New Statesman and The Voice. His essay on the commodification of culture in East London is included in the anthology Safe: On Black British Men Reclaiming Space which explores British history according to black British men. Symeon was born in north London where he still lives. He studied Economics at SOAS and received an MA in Broadcast Journalism from City University in 2014. With lessons on the value of shock and awe, putting compassion on the back-burner and pretending racism doesn't exist, the distinguished panel teaches you how to understand, overcome and overthrow the White Man in the whiter-shade-of-pale world of work. We thoroughly urge you to attend this event and hope to see you all for an opportunity to gain insight from our esteemed panel.
SOAS Charity Week Timeline (Credit: @soasisoc via Instagram)
(Credit: @soasacs via Instagram)
SPORT & SOCIETIES
31 OCTOBER 2019
Racism in Football:
When will it ﬁnally be shown the red card? Rami Shamel, BA History No one is sure who first coined the phrase ‘the beautiful game’ to refer to football, but what is clear is that football and beauty are a natural pair. For your normal football connoisseur, the sport is not just as simple as hoofing a ball into a net. It has, at its pinnacle, an aesthetic dimension – it is not just a
“If it happens to one of us, it happens to all of us”. game, but an art. However, in recent times one dark and demeaning issue has tainted the beauty of football and unfortunately is taking headlines for the wrong reasons. Racism has been a core hot topic in modern day football and the rise of racial abuse towards players has increased dramatically. There is a myth that everyone deserves a voice, that there are two sides to every argument. This, however, is indeed false. Racists warrant only hatred and no airtime. Letting them explain themselves only normalises their irrational views. The rise of players fighting against racism in football has increased dramatically, however. England stars Raheem Sterling and Tammy Abraham, alongside Belgium intertional Romelu Lukaku, are just some of the
ever growing list of players who have suffered racial abuse on the pitch and have decided to stand up and fight back. A more central issues surrounds the fact that the players themselves believe not enough is being done to fight racism in football and that there needs to be a rise in the actions taken against racists who are ruining the beautiful game. In particular, Raheem Sterling, 24, has been a vocal and key advocate against racism in football and is supporting a campaign to promote Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) people in positions of power. Sterling has stated that football will never return to the beautiful game it once was with this dark topic surrounding the sport. Speaking on his belief that football is way behind in its battle to root out racism, Sterling stated in an interview with the Times:“It seems crazy that, in 2019, I feel the need to write a piece in a newspaper calling for radical changes to the game that I love. But I do because the racism problem in football is so bad, runs so deep and is nowhere near being sorted”. One of the biggest issues is that Fifa and Uefa are reactive, not proactive. The punishments and consequences given to racists have been routine. The steps they need to take have to be escalated and far more serious as it is clear that their current responses are not enough. It’s simple, if your fans racially abuse players or spectators then the ban on fans visiting your next home games should be increased.
SOAS NapSoc Abida Tasnim, BA Economics Dear Nappers of SOAS, After all the amazing support and love shown at the Freshers Fayre, the team at Nap Society wanted to issue an official thank you piece – we hope you thoroughly enjoyed the pouches of dried lavender and lavender infused sleep masks. What better way to start the academic year than with a good night’s sleep?
NapSoc Logo (Cedit: SOAS NapSoc Society)
Raheem Sterling reacts to being racially abused in Montenegro back in March (Credit: Getty Images)
With the Euro 2020 Qualifiers taking place in the next few months, it seems that national teams are coming prepared to take action against any racist chants directed towards players. England's national team have been very vocal about their views on racism in football and have made it clear that they are willing to take matters into their own hands if needs be. Rising star and England's international forward Tammy Abraham has made it clear that the team are willing to walk off the pitch if any of the
For those who have not heard of us, Nap Society is a brand-new society inspired by the ultimate student struggle – sleep deprivation. The main aim of Napsoc is to highlight the importance of sleep and taking care of your well-being. We aim to provide SOASians with safe and comfortable designated napping areas around the university campus, with some tips and tricks on how to get the best out of your sleep. When the struggles of university deadlines really hit, and you really need to de-stress, you can go take a quick power nap in these designated napping zones.
players feel under racial attack, stating that “if it happens to one of us, it happens to all of us”. It is clear that things need to change and they need to change now. Everyone in football needs to rethink how they deal with racism. The only voice worth listening to is the one that calls out racist attitudes and this is the way forward to fully eradicate racism from the “beautiful game”.
Essentially, we are here to provide a service we wish we had ourselves throughout our years at SOAS. With the support of the student body, we hope to not only facilitate a healthy napping culture, but also provide you with much needed education on the importance of sleep optimisation. If your routine resembles something similar to sleeping throughout the day and waking up either 4 hours or 12 hours later, then this is the society for you. Together, we can help find a healthy balance between the two extremes. Our dedicated team of professional Nappers are here to guide you through the process to fulfill your dreams (not only the ones at night!) and help you achieve the best sleep possible. Stay up to date with our activities so that you do not miss out again! As a heads up for all the Spirit readers…we may have some exam packs filled with sleepy goodness coming your way (but not too fast because we’re still recovering from the last exam season). If you would like to become a fellow avid supporter, request to become a member by sending your student ID number to @soasnapsoc on Instagram or by signing up as a member on our Facebook page @soasnapsoc. We will leave you with the wise words of Mesut Barazany – “Your future depends on your dreams, so go to sleep.”
SPORT & SOCIETIES
31 OCTOBER 2019
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