Issue 0 | December 2012
The Official Student Union Paper of SOAS
Page 4: How SOAS students
Page 13: Exclusive Interview
Page 26: Women's Netball
broke into the Israeli embassy
with SOAS TV superstar Lois
team in winning streak
Cleaners' referendum passes with historic landslide victory Mohammad Tahboub After five years of campaigning, the SOAS cleaners have successfully pushed a referendum that will lead to the union pressuring the SOAS administration into giving in-house status to all SOAS cleaners. The landslide victory came with little opposition in which a fifth of SOAS students voted, approving the referendum 1271 for to 23 against. The in-house status guarantees that SOAS takes full care of its cleaners, giving them better sick pay and better pensions. The co-president of the union Alex Fulton described this moment in SOAS history as an "important step towards the end goal" of providing fairness to all. The education and welfare president also believed that this referendum will make it
harder for the administration to ignore the student's demands. It is notable that the referendum does not mean that the cleaners will instantly become in-house but rather this measure will build up the pressure on the SOAS administration during the upcoming cleaners' contract re-negotiation in February. These comments were reiterated by the SOAS union sports and society's president Keiko Ono who believes that the movement for equal rights for all cleaners and worker must be broadened into an intercollegiate movement. SOAS has always been at the forefront of campaigning for equal workers' rights. It was the first campus in Bloomsbury to pay cleaners the London
living wage of £8.30 with Harrison Coyte, the communication and finance union co-president, calling this campaign a "success". Coyte believes that the SOAS Administration has lost the moral argument against broader rights for cleaners. The SOAS Governing Body, at its meeting on the 27th November 2012, agreed to set up a working group to carry out a review of all outsourced services. Professor Paul Webley, the Director of SOAS, informed SOAS Spirit that the referendum outcome will be part of the evidence considered by that Governing Body working group. Whether this review will be accepted by students or not will be critical for the future of SOAS cleaners in the next few years.♦
Uganda Anti-homosexuality Bill restricts rights As we approach the Ugandan embassy in Central London we wonder if we got the date wrong. There’s no one outside, nothing beneath the large ‘Uganda House’ sign but a window full of old stuffed tropical animals and dusty tourist posters. Nothing above except the Ecuadorian embassy, apparently they share the same building. Eventually a stream of people arrives, mainly campaigners from the civil rights group Movement for Justice along with some SOAS students, carrying with them banners
and megaphones and posters. They’re a small group, as the protest was organised at the last minute, but it’s obvious what they’re here for. The Uganda Anti Homosexuality Bill, often dubbed the Uganda ‘Kill the Gays’ bill by Western media, is expected to be passed into law by the end of this year. The bill, described as a ‘Christmas gift’ for its advocates, seeks to further criminalise same sex relations in the country and at the time of protest stipulated the death penalty in cases of ‘aggravated homosexuality’continued on page 7
SOAS Spirit | December 2012
Letter from the editor Dear readers, We are all The SOAS Spirit: your newspaper is coming back to life. It is my pleasure to present to you the first issue of the newly re-launched SOAS Spirit. I am Mohammad Tahboub and I have been appointed by the student union as the Editor in Chief of The SOAS Spirit. I would like to thank all that were involved in making this publication a reality including the fantastic deputy editors, Peter Yeung and Charlotte England and the whole editorial team; we have had such a great diversity of members that have put a hundred per cent effort. During this year we embark on a journey together to re-create a prestigious newspaper that will represent the voice of SOAS students. We aim to create a creative hub that can be used by students to shine. SOAS students are the most opinionated vocal students in Britain; this must be reflected through this publication. Throughout the past month 'The SOAS Spirit' has gone through a dramatic transformation in its structure, we are trying to achieve a system where a newspaper is not limited to its writing team. Therefore we have offered opportunities such as Marketing and finance, which will allow a wider range of talent to join our newspaper. We are still growing and we want to grow more, include more people, thereby we want more members in all teams. We are all 'The SOAS Spirit' family, we all embody the SOAS spirit, the ideal that no matter who you are, no matter what your beliefs and opinions are, you are accepted in this loving friendly society; no one is neglected. We want our newspaper to be exactly like this, everyone is free to write, to dream, to hope through us; no one is left out. Join us in our journey. Sincerely, Mohammad Tahboub
Editor in Chief
Lights left on for Lois Tom King Third year Japanese student Lois Barnett has become a Saturday prime time favourite on ITV 1’s dating show Take Me Out. Ms Barnett, who also works as a trainee skipper on a passenger ferry, is loved by the show’s fans for her offthe-wall one liners, wacky humour and her ability to make a honking noise. She says she applied to be a contestant on the show “in a sort of fit of madness” whilst at a party with other SOAS students. During the weekly programme, a series of men appear from a lift and pitch themselves for a date in front of a panel of thirty single women. If the women are impressed, they leave their lights on, but if they don’t feel a spark, they switch their lights off. Despite keeping her podium illuminated for a number of men throughout the series, Lois has yet to bag herself a date, but says “never thought that seriously about whether I'd get a boyfriend from it”.
Filming for the fourth series was completed over the summer, so it did not interfere with her studies. Speaking to The Spirit, Lois said she hadn’t been recognised at SOAS after her TV appearance. “It’s not a very SOAS show is it?...it's a shame because ultimately, at the end of the day it's a light entertainment show...it's there to entertain people... give them a good laugh on Saturday night”. Rumours had been published in the papers that producers had influence over who the contestants chose to go on dates with, and encouraged Lois and others to act up for the show, but Barnett says its “there's no scripting at all...it's entirely up to each girl when she turns her light off”. Lois assured The Spirit that her decision to go on the show was no reflection on the quality of men at SOAS.
Read interview with Lois on page 13♦
SOAS Spirit | December 2012
Anger at NUS Demo Tom King Students have expressed their anger at the National Union of Students over their organisation of a national demonstration last month, which ended in a chaotic rally in Kennington Park. Many felt that the national union had deviated from the motion passed at its annual conference, which called for a march on Parliament against fees and cuts. Instead, the demonstration’s route passed Parliament and continued to a rally in Kennington, South London, under what many felt was a less radical banner of “Educate, Employ, Empower”. Stef Newton, a student at Goldsmiths, said “It was clear at the conference that students wanted us to bring this message to Parliament...the NUS bureaucracy has found a way to go around that.” She added, “I don’t think there’s anything that’s symbolic about this student movement in Kennington.” NUS trustee Edd Bauer had criticised the agreed route ahead of the demonstration saying on Twitter “#NUS demo route looking rubbish, misses Parliament Sq, Whitehall & Milbank [sic], the
places where all the Tories are & shit.” and “I think we should deviate from the planned route.” Around 1,000 students broke away from the march to congregate beneath Big Ben. Jack Saffery-Rowe, a Royal Holloway student, was one of those who urged others to remain outside Parliament. He said: “This is where your decisions are made, this is where your parliament is, this is where your democracy is and this is where you protest - you don’t protest in Kennington.” Bradford University student Sabira was also angry about the route. She said that there was no point in being in South London as “Most of the people that are here are working-class. We’re not angry at them, we’re not fighting them. We’re fighting Parliament and the politicians.” Farouz, from the University of Arts, echoed these concerns, saying that marching to Kennington Park was “useless” and claimed it was because “[NUS President] Liam Burns lives in the pockets of all the politicians.” She also described the protest’s slogan as “absolute bollocks.”
don his speech after being egged and protestors storming the stage, underscored the frustrations many felt at NUS. At SOAS, the demonstration has been followed by calls from some for the Students’ Union to disaffiliate from the national body. Whilst no formal process has yet been triggered, the sabbatical officers have indicated that a student-wide referendum may be needed to decide to leave NUS, rather than a UGM vote. However, even among those who are critical of NUS there is dissent over disaffiliation. Some have expressed the view that splitting from the national union would leave SOAS in an isolated position and that weakening the NUS is counterproductive to building the student movement. ♦
The chaotic ending to the rally at Kennington Park, with the national president forced to aban-
The SOAS Spirit Launches own SOAS Radio Podcast The SOAS Sprit has launched its own SOAS Radio podcast, ‘Behind the Spirit’, the podcast takes a closer look at the stories behind the headlines in the SOAS Student newspaper. It will be released online before each publication of a new edition of the Spirit and will be available to listen to on the SOAS Radio website. The first podcast was recorded last week. Guests included an activist in the recent SOAS Occupation of the Brunei Suite, members of the Spoken Word Society who also recited poetry, and the Spirit’s own Sports editor attempted to persuade listeners that SOAS being ‘bad’ at sports is a myth. Faiza Amin, the podcast’s producer and
a SOAS Spirit news reporter, says: “The SOAS Spirit is there for the students as a portal to express their views and opinions, and essentially ‘Behind the Spirit’ gives those expressions a voice. With the great help and expertise at SOAS Radio and the great work produced by the SOAS Spirit family, I am sure it will be a podcast that every SOAS student will enjoy.” If you want to get in touch with Faiza, keep up to date with events affecting you as a SOAS student or you think the podcast should be covering something that it is not, then visit the Facebook page ‘The SOAS Spirit’. Alternatively, you can e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.♦
SOAS Spirit | December 2012
News SOAS Students occupy Brunei Gallery spurring other university occupations By Daphne Mulder From 19th to 22nd November, part of the Brunei Gallery was occupied by a group of SOAS students. Five days after Israel launched operation Pillar Defence by killing Hamas leader Ahmed Jabari, SOAS students voted by a large majority to occupy the Brunei Suite in solidarity with Gaza. On the national demonstration on November 24th Sam Dathi explained the intentions of the occupy movement: ‘What has occupying SOAS has to do
with Gaza? SOAS is still an institution of power. It is still an institution of the system. And as part of that system, they remain silent and neutral. That is why we occupied SOAS.’ After the ceasefire was announced on November 22nd, the occupation came to an end. Although the movement succeeded in two demands (an academic partnership between SOAS students’ union and the al-Aqsa union in Gaza and the provision of additional postgraduate scholarships for Palestinian students, and the demand that no one involved in the occupation would be victimized), SOAS as an institution of power has still remained silent and neutral. SOAS director Paul Webley did not condemn UK’s foreign secretary William Hague’s statement about Hamas being principally at fault for the recent violence, thereby not meeting the third demand made by the movement.
ceived a lot of support from all over the world. American scholar Noam Chomsky, University of Exeter professor IIan Pappé, labour MP Jeremy Corbyn, SOAS UCU and the NUS all issued a statement of support. Public intellectual and activist Tariq Ali argued during his lecture in the occupied Suite: ‘These are hard times and bad times for the
Palestinians but also for the Israelis. (…)Because if the Israelis carry on like this it will end badly for them. (..) So; solidarity with the Gazans, an immediate ceasefire, no prevarication, and come out and march on Saturday.’ Although a lot of intellectuals and SOAS students have been supportive of the occupation, there seems to be a general incomprehension of the third, unmet demand made by the movement: why should Webley, on behalf of SOAS, make a political statement? SOAS is indeed, as Dathi said, an institution of power; but not every institution should take a stand. Especially educational institutions like SOAS should be neutral. As for the students, they should be educated as neutral and objective as possible so they can develop their own opinions. For a lot of SOAS students, just having an opinion isn’t enough, and so they campaign, demonstrate, or occupy. And as the last occupy movement has showed; they are often successful in getting their demands met. ♦
Students demonstrate in Central London
During the days of occupation, the movement re-
SOAS students at forefront of anti-Israel protests Daphne Mulder On the 17th of November, during one of the antiIsrael demonstrations in front of the Israeli embassy, a small group of SOAS students managed to detach themselves from the crowd and approach the embassy very closely. About 15 students gathered at SOAS to join the big protest in front of the Israeli embassy. After they arrived, about nine students decided not to go into the pen area that was set up by the police, but to walk around this area instead. Among these students were SOASians Omar Zaki, Union secretary, and Batoul El Mehdar, member of the Palestinian society. They found the gate next to the Israeli embassy unattended by the police and decided to try and enter through it. Zaki explains: “So
then all of us turned and went right up to the gate close to the Israeli embassy. We tried to get as close to the embassy as possible so our message was heard.” The police, which at that point were still putting on their armour, intervened and pushed back the students. They told them to go to the pen area designed for the protesters. According to Zaki, the police were taken by surprise by the students’ action. They forced the students back onto the main road, but then other police officers told them they were obstructing the road. The crowd responded by shouting “shame on you” to the police. Finally, the SOAS students ended up in the pen area and continued protesting. For one thing, the action shows how involved stu-
dents are in the recent developments in the Gaza strip. They did not just attend the protest; they managed to get noticed during the demonstration and gain support from the crowd. But more importantly, these SOAS students showed that they are thinking ‘out of the box’. Zaki explains: “We’re not just going to stand in this pen, we want to try and get close, you know.” ♦
SOAS Spirit | December 2012
News Students experiencing Autumn of Anger Tom King As the Chancellor George Osborne announced prolonged austerity in his Autumn Statement, SOAS students organised a “carnival of resistance” to highlight cuts to education. In Parliament, Osborne was forced to concede that, despite the harsh spending cuts, the Government will have failed to deliver any growth in 2012 and will miss its target to reduce debt by 2015. James Meadway, senior economist at the New Economics Foundation and a SOAS postgraduate student, said “Osborne is an economic illiterate” and that his statement was “brazen idiocy”. Contrary to Osborne’s claim that “the economy is healing,” Meadway said “a failure of a Chancellor [is] inflicting the consequences of his failure on millions.” At SOAS, the Anti-Cuts Group organised a “carnival” to coincide with the Autumn Statement “to raise awareness and resistance to the Government cuts and restructuring of education”.
Constitutional Crisis causing “Second Revolution” in Egypt Dalia Barsoum
The situation in Egypt is growing more and more acute after President Mohamed Morsi issued his decree on 22nd November 2012. In this document, the president granted himself almost absolute powers and gave himself and the Constituent Assembly drafting the constitution immunity from court decisions. The legitimacy of this assembly in which the majority represents Morsi’s party and Islamist movements is considered controversial and was supposed to be ruled on by the Supreme Constitutional Court on 2 nd December 2012. After postponing the case, it is now officially on strike, like all other courts in response to Morsi’s violation of the sovereignty of Egypt’s judiciary. The announcement of the decree resulted in a wave of mass protests across the country de-
Lectures on subjects at risk of being cut, along with “radical origami”-making and painting JCR pillars with anti-cuts messages took place throughout the day. Students then joined a demonstration planned outside Downing Street to take the message of opposition to austerity to the Government. This protest comes just weeks after the National Union of Students organised a march through London, which saw 10,000 take to the streets despite pouring rain. Along with the substantial rise in the cost of a degree, students have also been angered by the scrapping of the Education Maintenance Allowance, cuts to university and college budgets, the increased marketisation of education and the high levels of youth unemployment. Earlier this week it was revealed by Professor Sir Howard Newby, vice-chancellor of Liverpool University, that 11,500 places were left empty at the UK’s 24 highest-ranking universities, including Oxford and Cambridge, after tuition fees increased to £9,000.
phones everywhere! My fave chant was ‘Rain, rain go away, bring back EMA!’ I thought it was particularly good to see so many FE students and Black students too – it was impressive!” SOAS Student Rosie Hayes says she was marching because “the education system is still being privatised and once people stop caring, it will be even easier for them to push it through”. Agreeing, Emma Brunskill-Powell said that “the privatisation is getting worse, but the protests are getting less.” Co-President of Welfare and Education Alex Fulton, who marched with students from SOAS on the 21st of November, said: “since the 2010 marches, there has been very little in the student movement... this is the first year which £9,000 fees are being paid and that’s a marker of the changes to come.” She added that the higher education system “was not acceptable before and it’s not acceptable what’s happening now. Students need to come together and decide what we want our education to be.”♦
NUS Black Students’ Officer Aaron Kiely said: “The demo was really loud, vibrant and extremely diverse with many on-point chants and megamanding Morsi to take it back. Non-Islamist political forces joined powers and officially condemned the President’s decisions stating that they will not allow him to declare himself a dictator over Egypt. Many of these political forces, including important figures of the revolution like Mohamed El Baradei, are participating in a sit-in in Tahrir Square that started during the week after Morsi’s statement and is going to last until he responds to the demands. During the protests, the slogan of the Arab Uprisings has found its way back to the streets of Egypt as protestors chanted “the people want to bring down the regime” exactly as they did against the ousted President Mubarak. In the meantime, the Muslim Brotherhood has been mobilising its members and supporters to participate in huge rallies in support of the President’s decisions. In an attempt to calm the masses, President Morsi explained that this decree was an emergency measure to achieve the goals of the revolution and is meant to be temporary. He reassured the people that it would not be valid anymore once they vote and agree on the new constitution and he urged the Constituent Assembly to finish
drafting it as soon as possible. Consequently, the assembly hurriedly finished the draft and voted on it on 29th November 2012. Two days later, the president announced that the people would vote on the constitution in a referendum to take place on 15th December 2012. It is still unclear whether or not the judiciary will go out of strike to supervise this referendum. In response, the opposers of the decree and the constitution draft called for Civil Disobedience starting 4th December 2012 as an escalation to force Morsi to take back his decree and dissolve the Constituent Assembly. Accompanying these events, Egyptian students at SOAS and other London universities have organized a meeting to discuss possible actions and decided to make an official statement on behalf of the Egyptians studying in London condemning the President’s actions. Furthermore, they are founding a society for students of all colleges of the University of London. The Tahrir Society will be a platform for all students to get together, discuss and find ways to support the Tahrir (or liberation) movements all over the world. ♦
SOAS Spirit | December 2012
News Respect Campaign failing deeply Tom King In March this year, Respect sent shockwaves through the political class, and left Labour reeling, when George Galloway romped to victory with a majority of over 10,000 votes in the Bradford West by-election. Many in the party believed that the political and economic climate was ready for an alternative to the left of Labour. Some even spoke of emulating the successes of Greece’s Syriza, a recently formed broad left alliance who came within 3% of beating the established conservative party, New Democracy, in the most recent general election. Results in the latest round of by-elections in Croydon North and Rotherham have, however, been distinctly underwhelming for the party. Going into the elections, Respect seemed optimistic about their chances and even suggested in the week running up to the vote that they were on “the edge of [achieving] a political earthquake in British politics”. They claimed that private polling suggested both Yvonne Ridley and Lee Jasper would be the next MPs for Rotherham and Croydon North. At the launch of their Croydon campaign, Galloway predicted Jasper, former race advisor to Labour Mayor of London Ken Livingstone, would come first or second, but in the end he polled just 707 votes - less than the 5% threshold needed to keep the deposit Respect put down to contest the
election. Yvonne Ridley, initially billed as a serious contender after the Labour MP resigned in disgrace, came fifth; 26 votes behind the fascist British National Party. Galloway’s comments in an online video dismissing the rape allegations against Wikileaks founder Julian Assange as merely amounting to “bad sexual etiquette” and saying the women involved were “already in the sex game” sparked widespread outrage and condemnation. A number of “Gorgeous George’s” Bradford supporters have ditched him and Muslim women in his constituency, seen as key to his electoral success, have publicly denounced him. His failure to retract the remarks, or to apologise for them, led the party’s leader Salma Yaqoob to quit Respect all together and saw Kate Hudson, General Secretary of CND, withdraw from the Manchester Central by-election as the party’s candidate - her replacement received just 182 votes. Morale in the party must surely now be at a low ebb. Now, just eight months on from the so-called “Bradford Spring”, ignored by voters and with inner turmoil, the party faces its biggest crisis since the 2007 split, which saw the SWP storm out of the alliance. In their press release following the by-elections, Respect’s National Secretary Chris Chilvers acknowledged that the departure of Yaqoob and
Editorial: Cleaning Up the Crisis (continued on page 7) We are living in trying times. Financial meltdowns. Economic crises. The eurozone. Sovereign debt crises. Bailouts. Austerity. Unemployment. Could things get any worse? Well let’s say for a moment that they could. Imagine that you had no pension scheme or plan for retirement and that you had no sick pay beyond the statutory minimum. Imagine that you were told that your work load will be increased but you will no longer get overtime pay because there’s no money. Imagine that month after month your pay check is screwed up and that you often don’t get paid for work you have done. To compound the problem it is difficult for you to sort out your pay stub because it is in a language you don’t understand. Imagine that you are intimidated by your bosses and constantly threatened and bullied because you want to participate in a union. Where could things be this extreme you might ask? Surely not in the UK, at least not in the 21st century. One might think of factory work-
ers in China, or the UK during the industrial revolution. However, this situation is exactly what is happening to the outsourced workers at the University of London. Like many other universities and businesses, the University of London’s central administrationwhich includes Senate House library and the intercollegiate halls of residence- outsources its cleaning, maintenance, security, and catering services. Aramark takes care of catering, and Balfour Beatty Workplace does everything else. Contracts are awarded to these companies through a competitive and transparent tender process. The University of London therefore does not need to hire managers to deal with cleaning and catering but rather pays the private companies for their services. These companies then have their own employment and wage policies and their own standards about what constitutes fair treatment in the workplace. Unfortunately, this tends to mean low wages, little or no
other senior party figures “did rob Respect of critical experience at a moment when resources were spread too thinly”. Despite this, he said “the Respect party continues to punch above its weight” and claimed that their support across the country was far higher than the latest results suggest. Chilvers hit out at the Communist party and the Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition for splitting the left wing vote, describing them as “ludicrous”, “absurdly sectarian” and “redundant”. The main electoral target for Respect, however, remains Labour and Chilvers says “its task is to shape an organisation that can deliver against the Labour electoral machine”. The two parties of government, the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats, are largely ignored in the Respect statement. As 2012 draws to a close, another big breakthrough for Respect, akin their win in Bradford, looks unlikely. Galloway’s dismissive attitudes to rape have done the party’s reputation severe damage and have left it gripped by internal turmoil, but, despite this, Respect retains its high media profile that is certainly disproportionate to its size. They now concede that for the most part the rest of this Parliament is waiting game and that their real chance to gain ground electorally will be to challenge Labour from the left if they’re returned to power in 2015. ♦
Jason Abraham MOYER-LEE sick pay, pathetic or no pension schemes, major pay problems, and lots of intimidation and bullying. Now if you are an open-minded, reasonable, and objective person, you might think that this is an unfortunate situation for these workers but that surely the University of London has no choice. After all, we are in times of austerity, the Government is reducing universities expenditure, tuitions are rising, etc. You might also think that it makes sense for private companies to be providing these services. The private sector is more efficient, right? And finally, you might think that the University is not responsible for these workers. The University of London is merely hiring a company for a service in the same way that they buy paper or desks from private companies. If the University of London were responsible for the unethical practices of all the companies with who it►
SOAS Spirit | December 2012
News Uganda Anti-homosexuality Bill restricts rights continued from page 1
the most serious charge. More recently however, the death penalty clause has allegedly been removed following a committee meeting in the Ugandan parliament, however the revised document was not available at the time of writing. The proposal has received widespread support in Uganda since it was first introduced in 2009 in a Private Member’s Bill to the Ugandan Parliament by MP David Bahati. In the face of Uganda’s crippling social problems; endemic corruption, poverty, and a population nearly half of which is under the age of 15, it seems that homophobia is one way for otherwise mistrusted officials to gain support. ‘The one thing that’s been the most popular to unite [people] across political factions, regions and tribes has been antigay’ explains Movement for Justice Campaigner Antonia Bright, who organised the protest today. It seems that Uganda’s gay and lesbian population remain an attractive scapegoat for the country’s political officials, a scapegoat which plays comfortably into traditional Ugandan teaching about homosexuality. A Ugandan woman, who spoke to me on condition
of remaining anonymous, told me of the risks she will face if her application for asylum in the UK is rejected by the Home Office. ‘They torture you’ she says, before recounting stories of burning sticks being pushed into ‘offender’s’ backs. Stories of gays and lesbians being burnt alive, tormented and humiliated by anti-gay mobs and ‘curative rape’ of men and women are common. But those facing deportation at the protest today fear not only their government if they are forced to return home, but society as well. ‘Ugandans don’t understand homosexuality’, the woman continues, ‘they don’t understand it’s something you’re born with, they think it’s satanic, even if this bill is not passed I worry.’ However it’s not just the Ugandan politicians who are facing criticism at the protest today but British ones too. As the group makes plans to move their protest down the road to outside the Home Office, Ms Bright tells me how Movement for Justice feels the British government allows and exacerbates the problems faced by Ugandan homosexuals. ‘By not granting people asylum and deporting people back to Uganda the government is letting these people go home and face prosecution.’ Asylum requests are frequently
does business, surely the University would go bankrupt. However, the outsourced workers are not providing temporary services but rather showing up at the University of London premises for work every day. Some of them have been doing so for years – some for decades. Yet they are still not entitled to the ability to buy into a decent pension scheme or the right get sick without being financially penalised like their University employee colleagues. In terms of the University of London being too broke to afford dignity in the workplace, this seems hard to tally against the University’s operating surpluses of £4.1 and £2.8 million in the 2010/11 and 2009/10 academic years, respectively. Furthermore, as of end of July, 2011 the University of London had £93.2 million in reserves.* One solution would be to bring the workers back in house, and have them work directly for the University of London, as the University appears to have a
rejected by the British government on the basis that the applicant has failed to sufficiently prove his or her sexuality to the British Authorities, leaving them unable to determine the legitimacy of the asylum request. The only problem with this as Ms Bright points out is ‘how do you prove you’re gay?’ Campaigners on this issue frequently criticise what they perceive as a myopic approach to sexuality issues by the British government, stressing that it views homosexuality in purely sexual terms. ‘It’s homophobic’ she continues ‘as it ignores the individual’s right to determine their own sexual identity and be trusted in that’. A further issue is that the burden of proof in Uganda is far lower than what is expected by the British authorities. Individuals deported for not adequately proving their sexuality are considered gay back home in Uganda. Asuman Kabugo is one such individual. Kabugo, who spoke on the issue at a SOAS UGM last year, was detained having been refused asylum in the UK. As an openly gay man and promi-
moral compass when it comes to exploiting its direct employees. However calling for the workers to be brought back in house as the solution misses the fundamental point of this campaign: it is irrelevant who signs the pay check- anyone who shows up to work every day at the University of London should be entitled to the same pension scheme, sick pay policy, and holidays. If the University of London wants to outsource because it’s more efficient, but we should not allow our University to hide behind the façade of increased efficiency while washing its hands of any moral responsibility in the treatment of university workers. We need your support in getting this message across to the University!
*For more detailed information see University of London 2010/11 annual report, accessible on University of London website: http://www.lon.ac.uk/.
nent gay rights activist at Movement for Justice, he might face considerable danger if forced to return to Uganda. He claims he has already been the victim of torture on account of his sexuality. Opinion to the SOAS reaction to the issue seems to have centred on the fact that this particular news story has received markedly less publicity than other’s. One protester told me of her frustration that this particular protest had only been publicised in the LGBT society emails and not the Student Union updates, suggesting that while ‘Gaza is a legitimate human rights concern, so is this one, so I think that SOAS needs to do more to increase exposure, it shouldn’t be left to campaigners to do with LGBT. That sends the wrong message that this is just a gay issue.’ ♦
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SOAS Spirit | December 2012
Dear SOAS, Welcome to the new SOAS Spirit.
When we imagine a SOAS identity; sincere critical thinking, unprecedented diversity, and a certain eccentricity, there is nothing that does more to dictate this image than the events that
We've had a pretty hectic three weeks throwing this-old-thing together for you. Not that I'm entitled to much sympathy; in the process of creating this month’s features section I've been to the opera courtesy of the ENO, to the circus at Winter Wonderland and to Silent Night: Unholy Night at Old Vic Tunnels. As well as this I've been able to meet and speak to numerous interesting people- not least, Lois from Take Me Out.
happen around us. That is to say, how we react to these events in
Along with the lighter side of features our writers have worked hard to cover the occupation for Gaza from our own angle, and to explore a different perspective by speaking to some of SOAS’ Israeli students. We have also spoken to Turkish author Elif Shafak, and have considered the potential for actual change in Xi Jinping’s China.
tainty regarding our past - we are fully aware of the challenges
We envisaged a features section that was both intellectual and ‘fun’, and I hope we've achieved this.
the world, what issues we believe need to have a voice, how we interpret them, and how we go on to represent them. There is a burden of deciding what constitutes news, what deserves to be news, according to the beliefs we hold. The SOAS Spirit may have lofty objectives, but there is no uncerbefore us. Yet, it is with an eagerness and ambition that I look forward to the academic year ahead. As a student newspaper, we wield the potential power to explore, investigate, and upturn issues in a way that can yield very material results. The news content of the SOAS Spirit will be not only relevant to students and campus life, but it will be a way for us to extend our beliefs to outer society, to process and comprehend global events in our
I'd like to take this opportunity to reiterate that this is the SOAS Student Union's official newspaper, which makes it your official newspaper; we have room on board for anybody who wants to become involved, whatever your skill set. We want the Spirit to be accessible to everyone.
unique way. However, none of this would be possible without the
I'm lucky to have a really dedicated team of regular writers— Catherine O'Reilly Boyle, Aerie Rahman, Shehryar Nabi, Nadine Makarem, Cristiana Moisescu, Hugo Brennan and Jennifer Bottomley—as well as having had some brilliant contributors this issue- Victoria Brown, John Giammatteo, Luna Cottis, Faiza Amin and Anna Feuer. If you'd like to fall into either category next time, please apply or pitch an article to firstname.lastname@example.org.
I am also keen for feedback on the section and anything included in it, and hope to begin publishing this in a letters page next issue. If you have anything to contribute to this please email the same address.
input of students, so we need you to make this newspaper your own. Peter Yeung
Contribute now! The Soas Spirit is a paper for students, by students.
Thank you, Charlotte
We welcome all submissions and ideas for articles! Email: email@example.com
SOAS Spirit | December 2012
Features January 2000: SOAS was closed for a few days following an occupation of the management suite and the SCR over tuition fees. After receiving dissatisfactory results from petitioning and letter writing, activists became occupiers upon the approval of the Student Union on January 25th. The action bequality of library services and the introduction of came subject to much media attention and evoked overdue fines, the Student Union voted in favour of feelings of both respect and irritation among the stua student occupation of the Main Building library on dent body. January 11th. After three days of a library sit-in, positive talks with the administration resulted in January 2009: A British military exhibition in the the postponement of the occupation until a later Brunei Gallery sparked its occupation on January vote. Even though SOAS was able to bring in 13th by activists showing solidarity with Gaza. The £24,000 to improve the library, dissatisfaction still occupation ended the next day when the school ran high the following school year and talk of occuagreed to meet the students’ demand to condemn pation resumed. Israeli aggression towards Gaza. ( Source: The Bea-
SOAS: A History of Protest Shehryar Nabi In the early years of SOAS, students often ended up maintaining the British occupation of overseas territories. Now, student activists participate in the occupation of SOAS itself.
Occupation has become perhaps the most dramatic statement of protest in recent SOAS history. Usually after the culmination of complaints and demonstrations, students appealed to the Student Union to vote on whether an occupation was necessary. These often went in favour of occupation. This meant that the library, the Brunei Gallery, or the management suite had to brace itself for a settlement of activists. Until a resolution was negotiated with the management, the functions of the area under occupation were disrupted to bring the students’ cause to urgency. But what were the kinds of issues that compelled SOAS students to call for an occupation? To answer this question, The SOAS Spirit compiled a chronology of major occupations in SOAS within the last two decades.
January 1994: In response to frustration over the
November 1996: On November 19th, most of SOAS was closed due to the picket line formed by students, teachers and staff on the steps of both the Brunei Gallery and the Main Building in response to the lacking government investment in higher education. Although not a typical occupation, the picket line discouraged many from trying to use either of the buildings. November 1997: A twelve day occupation of the Main Building library began on November 19th after the Student Union approved taking “direct, nonviolent action” against restricted access to the Senate House library. Despite the massive inconvenience created for library users, the occupation successfully assured students future access to the Senate House library free of charge.
An ‘Israeli Response’ month to occupy the Brunei gallery in solidarity with Gaza, I interviewed students who were either Israeli or had close family in Israel–not many volunteered to give interviews, but the responses I got in each interview were fascinating. There was not one collective consensus or feeling, but rather completely different reactions to the Brunei Gallery Occupation (BGO) and to the Palestinian support coming from the SOAS student body.
viewees felt the Occupation was to be expected; as one student said, “there is a strong current of solidarity with the Palestinian people” Another interviewee said that the best thing about SOAS was its respect for freedom of expression. They also felt that although the UGM voted overwhelmingly for the BGO, it is only a small percentage of students who attend UGMs and are “regularly involved in political actions”, therefore some felt that the BGO was not supported by everyone at SOAS, such as by the Palestinian Society.
Regarding the UGM’s vote, there were mixed feelings of surprise and expectation – some felt the overwhelming vote was odd because SOAS is such an “open university” with students from many countries with “lots of different views and opinions”. However, the majority of inter-
There was a strong feeling, however, amongst some interviewees that many political activists at SOAS were not seeing the “bigger picture” and in some cases were not sufficiently knowledgeable regarding the complexities of the conflict, acting perhaps on automatic political loyalty
Catherine O’Reilly Boyle As the UGM motion passed this
November 2010: Students occupied the Brunei Suite on November 21st in protest of government cuts to higher education and increased tuition fees. The occupation lasted nearly three weeks, transforming the Brunei Gallery into an event hall for subjects pertaining to activism. (Source: SOAS Occupation
Conclusion: All of these took place from November to January so . . . cold weather makes people angry. (Note: Special thanks go to Dr. Konrad Hirschler, Peter Baran and Harrison Coyte for the information they provided about SOAS history. A big big thanks also goes to the SOAS archives for their enormous help in pointing me in the right direction of good source materials.)♦
without considering the “other side”... although none of the interviewees considered themselves as “pro-Israeli” or came across that way in any of their political views. One interviewee, in fact, pointed out that the Israeli government also puts his family and friends in danger, and being Israeli does not mean automatic loyalty to the government and its decisions. Two students, unfortunately, did feel that they were being discriminated against by other SOAS students during the BGO and the campaign at SOAS surrounding it. They told me they had often heard Israelis being referred to as “Nazis” and “murderers” both collectively and individually. They believed this discrimination to be the result of where they come from and the fact that their views are different to those of most other SOAS students. Some told me it had reached the point where they and other members of the Jewish society did not want to come into SOAS and had been avoiding class,
waiting for the ceasefire to come as quickly as possible. When they had come in, they felt they were not able to express their opinions in class or out of class, feeling “alone”. One student confessed to feeling that it was “not my university anymore.” In contrast, some did not feel victimized at all - one Israeli student said on visiting the occupation, people were “pleased to have me there”, although he admitted that many were surprised, assuming that Israeli students would be against it. Although I would have liked to speak to more students, I found these opinions interesting. They show that even when a common identity is shared, everyone has different experiences, particularly in a place like SOAS.♦
SOAS Spirit | December 2012
What is it like to occupy? Cristiana Moisescu your way in?
of students out there – the library lovers, the party lovers, the popular and the sporty. But among the easier to spot are the activists, the ones you always hear passionately debating a current issue in class, or who hand you leaflets on the steps of your university, come rain or shine. SOAS is particularly known for the level of commitment its students have to certain causes. Current events always spark action. One such event was the recent Israel-Gaza conflict, in response to which students decided to occupy the Brunei Suite. On the last day of the occupation, we talked to some people who had organized it, to some who had slept in the Brunei Suite every night, and to others who had been in and out. In 2010, a similar thing happened when the Brunei Suite was occupied in response to university cuts and the fee cap being raised. So what does it mean to ‘occupy’ a building? Do you go in with weapons, with tents, do you force
It all started with the Union General Meeting (UGM) on the 19th of November, where a motion was put forward for the occupation, and quickly approved by a packed JCR. Mya Pope- Weidemann, who helped organize the movement, explains that immediately after the UGM, there was an open announcement and the students interested moved towards the Brunei Suite. However, “we couldn’t get in there, they knew we were coming and had the door locked”. Later that night, a fire door leading into the Suite was found to be open and the students moved in: ”the security just gave up because once you’ve lost the space, you’ve lost the space”, says Mya. Physical presence, then, is all it takes to gain control. There were about 25 students there that night, a number that decreased for night stays as the days progressed. So how did they all manage? Where and how do you sleep in an occupied building? what do you eat? and how do you continue with your daily routine? Patrick- a South East Asian studies fourth year- who
was there for several nights, says “I personally slept on the floor with a bean bag as a pillow and a sleeping bag; some were more fortunate, they had two beanbags or they had camping mats”. In terms of food, money was collected from everyone to buy in bulk; students contributed to a donation box. Patrick also explains that, on the penultimate night of the occupation, “we went skipping, which is when you go collecting unsold food stock from sandwich outlets. If they believe in your cause, and they’re willing to donate some food, they will. It wasn’t great food but it was sustenance. Paul’s gave us their unused ingredients rather than unsold stock, and we had to turn these into food”. People continued to do their readings and essays, and to socialize with fellow activists, and when lights went out, most people went to sleep; in terms of hygiene, the SOAS showers were used, and the toilets in the Brunei Suite. It all sounds like an extended party so far, but as well as a reason for the activists living in an occupied space, there are real-world implications. Sam Dathi, who studies Human Rights and Law at SOAS, says that staging an occupation means “you don’t have any time during the day except to literally organise it; I’ve only made one of my lectures this week”. There are other serious issues at hand, such as difficulties with the management, who “closed off electricity in [the Brunei Suite], we’ve had to negotiate with them to put it back on. SOAS management also gave us a letter threatening legal
action yesterday; that didn’t really worry us, I’m a lawyer and I’ve written hundreds of these letters, they don’t mean anything... We were going to occupy until the end of the situation in Palestine. They could have tried to have had us forcibly removed, but it would have damaged the school to try and remove activists in such a manner”. As for the party feeling? Maybe not so strong. As Sam describes, sleeping under such conditions means that you are constantly hyped up and stressed, you can’t really sleep at night because you’re thinking about the next say, and you’re worried that if anything goes wrong it will damage the mo v e me nt . A s P at r ick say s, "Occupation is very controversial and not everyone agrees with it. But the reason we decided to do it is because SOAS, as a University, is part of the establishment which supports these wars, and as a student, if you want to challenge the system, the first place to do so is at your own institution". As for the activists, according to Patrick, the best part of being one was the feeling of solidarity, which “brings together students who wouldn’t otherwise get a chance to meet. We came together because we have this shared interest and that way we all bond and we create a communal vibe”. On the other hand, activism can be a lonely activity, separating you from the main of student body, which might not necessarily understand/approve/know about what’s happening. Like the occupation of a building, physical presence is all it takes, and once you’re in, you’re in.♦
True Journalism Faiza Amin On Wednesday 14th November 2012, an eleven month old baby- Omar- was killed in Gaza by Israeli military bombing. Omar was the son of Jehad Mashhrawi, a video editor at BBC Arabic. Despite this, it took nearly two weeks for the BBC to report Omar’s death.
and balance, choose to portray Israel as justified in its actions?
In an article published on Media Watchdog‘Reporting on Gaza is about keeping the Viewers at Peace’- Asif Sheikh makes a valid argument in that ‘news’ is essentially a ‘product’ and that, to be successful, it has to appeal to its viewers.
The death of civilians on either side of the recent Israeli-Gaza conflict- especially the death of children- is tragic. But the delay in covering Omar’s death is just one example of the Western media’s biased portrayal of the conflict.
In a recent poll conducted by BBC Sunday Morning Live, 44% of people who responded said ‘Yes, Israeli military actions are justified’. This means that nearly half of British BBC viewers are more inclined to sympathise with stories highlighting the ‘plight’ of Israelis- living under threat of Hamas rocket strikes- than the death of civilians in Gaza.
So, why did the Western media, who present themselves as upholders of objectivity, fairness
Although the BBC is a not-for profit organisation,
it does value its ratings. This makes the eventual response of BBC Journalist, and colleague of Jehad Mashhrawi, Jon Donnison, significant. Donnison told his viewers the ‘other side’ of the story. In his article, ‘Gaza baby only knew how to smile’, he tells Omar’s story and, in doing so, demonstrates that in a world of corporate aims, ‘true journalism’ is not entirely dead. Although real objectivity is impossible to achieve, every journalist intending to be honest and to strike a balance in their stories is a goal to strive for. It is not completely naive to hope that many journalists still aim to present the ‘truth’, regardless of the views of those who choose whether to believe it.♦
SOAS Spirit | December 2012
Features Debate: Will The Leadership Change in China Mean Real Change? There is a belief that Hugo Brennan now the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) have started their once in a decade leadership change, the new leaders will enact some sort of fundamental and radical change; this view is naive and lacks an understanding of Chinese politics. It seems highly unlikely that there will be any major change at all in the first two years under the new leadership. The cultural concept of mian zi, or face, restricts their flexibility; it is seen as a slight against the previous administration if new leaders are too quick to specify a change in direction or express a new ideological vision.
Xi Jingping may be the young(ish), smiling face of modern Chinese Communism but there is nothing in his record to suggest that he is preparing to steer China towards fundamental change. He is a “Princeling” of the
CCP and had the privileged Party upbringing and career that this entails. His father Xi Zhongxun was a top official in the first generation of CCP leaders and had the dubious honour of being a PLA general in the CCP’s invasion of Tibet in 1950.
The days of strong leaders such as Mao and Deng Xiaoping are over. Instead, they have been replaced by a secretive, conservative committee rule. The seven-man (there are no women) CCP Politburo Standing Committee has a slightly older average age than the one it replaced, and is an example of the requirement to balance the competing interests of the many CCP factions. Two leading reformers missed out on promotion to the top tier. This leaves China with a leadership of men who have rigorously stuck to the Party line, and not expressed any radical views that could jeopardise their rise to the top. Those who expect change will be disappointed. ♦
Homophobia in Uganda: A Western Import? Editorial byCatherine O’Reilly-Boyles In a bill being proposed values. Silvia Tamale, a Ugandan people was to this year, Uganda is making “aggravated homosexuality” punishable by death. Along with the imposition of draconian legislative measures, magazines such as the “Rolling Stone” are now helping to demonize homosexuals by exposing them to the law. Did this rise in homophobia come from something deep rooted in Ugandan culture? The facts suggest otherwise. In a recent documentary, a Ugandan pastor admits considering homosexuality to be “un-African” and an imposition of Western
law professor in Uganda, begs to differ, rejecting the view that homosexuality is “un-African”, suggesting that homosexuals have always lived in Africa and were neither vilified nor praised. She argues that “homophobia comes from outside”, as does Ales Nkabahoona of the Makerere University, stating that there were gay relations in precolonial Ugandan society, based on a study carried out in 22 districts across Uganda. It is interesting to see that it was British Colonial officials who legislated that “deviant behaviour” amongst the
be punished. A century later, it doesn’t seem to be all down to colonialism – rather to a cross-partnership between the Christian right in Ugandan politics and the Christian right of American Evangelism. This may still be too simplistic an explanation but it seems to be what has mainstreamed homophobic attitudes in the last two decades. David Bahati, the Ugandan MP who drafted the anti-Homosexuality bill, began his political career in the United States and has huge ties with Ameri-
What was the differJennifer Bottomley ence between the US election and the National Party Congress of the Chinese Communist Party? At the Chinese congress, we already knew what the outcome would be. As expected, Xi Jinping is now General Secretary of the CCP, set to become president of China next March.
many have been dissatisfied with the presidency of the technocrat Hu Jintao. Unlike his predecessor, Hu has resigned as Chairman of the Central Military Commission at the same time as surrendering his presidency. With this position, and the support of highly influential former president Jiang Zemin, Xi Jinping will be better able to consolidate his position, and may yet prove to be a more vigorous leader.
And yet we have relatively little idea what this outcome means. Will this make any difference to China’s political and economic agenda, or has the man at the top merely been replaced by a younger version?
Xi’s inaugural speech showed his rhetoric to be less formal and his personality more likeable than Hu's. Under his new style of leadership, his government now faces a multitude of economic and political challenges. Reform of state-owned enterIt would be naive to the point of prises is an urgent priority, and a foolishness to expect radical change crackdown on corruption has aland steps towards democracy. The ready begun. political report by outgoing president Hu Jintao emphasised that Such reforms will entail changes in China had no interest in ‘copying a China’s politics. Over the next ten Western political system’ and would years, China will not change in continue on its own path of ways the West hopes for, but in the ‘socialism with Chinese characteris- ways its economy or political system tics’. demand. It may be hostile towards change, but this rapidly developing But there have been indications of nation is determined not to be left change ahead. Talk of a ‘lost decade’ behind.♦ and of a lack of meaningful political or economic reform suggests that can right-wing Christian groups such as “The Fellowship” and the “Family Research Council”. He also has links with Scott Lively, an individual who in his book “Pink Swastika” professes that the Holocaust and the Rwandan genocide were gay conspiracies. Yet it is not just Bahati who has links with these sorts of people. In 2009, a conference held in Uganda’s capital, Kampala, was dominated by Exodus International (an Ameri-
can “cure the gays” Christian group) and was host to all sorts of homophobic propaganda – and attended by both Ugandan religious figures and many mainstream MPs. In one of the many American Megachurches in Kampala, Pastor Lou Engle said to his congregation "You are the new front line in this battle. In America, we’ve lost the battle, but in Uganda, this is ground zero.” These evangelicals and their supporters seem to
believe that Uganda is ripe enough to support their battle against what they see as some sort of worldwide gay agenda, but as Paula Akugizibwe puts it, “homophobia creates a culture of intolerance and that has no place in our continent.” As protests and international pressure against the homophobic bill grow, perhaps the battle is not lost for the Ugandan and African LGBT campaigners just yet.♦
SOAS Spirit | December 2012
Koffi’s Song Jennifer Bottomley Justice for Cleaners had found unexpectedly melodic support in a Whitehall cleaner. Koffi Konan has written a song calling for a living wage, and will be performing it at a carol concert outside Whitehall, at 5pm on 13th December.
Originally from Ivory Coast, Koffi used to make his living as a musician. But after a coup d’état, he fled to England with his pregnant wife. Working as a musician hasn’t been easy here: he writes his songs in French, but feels he would need to write in English to have any chance of success. In order to support his
family and make ends meet, he works as a cleaner. I sit in on a practice session to see how the song is coming on. Koffi is a demanding musician to work with: he repeatedly alters the melody, leaving everyone slightly confused – but when the pianist stops to protest, he just laughs and flaps his lyrics sheets at her. To me, the song sounds great, with an effortlessly melodic tune as a background to his impassioned lyrics. But at the end of the session, he’s not quite happy with it. He
wants it to be perfect, and apparently it doesn’t yet live up to his creative vision. Koffi believes that being a musician is about more than the music – musicians are ‘the people defending people. When something is difficult, the song can make you think.’ He wants his song to be heard by ‘directors, managers, ministers’, and for them to stop and think about cleaners and the wage they live on – a very ambitious goal. But his individual response humanises the problem in a way a political campaign cannot.♦
Overheard at SOAS
"Look, I don't have time to be racially sensitive"
Person 1: "I'm surprised SOAS doesn't have a paper" Person 2: "It does, it's printed each month I think" Person 1: "Fuck off"
“I was told this week that the only maths that soas students could do would be ‘2 divided by Istanbul’”
“'Unmarried women are like Christmas cakes: they're no good after the 26th”
(On the plague)
“You mean the UK has seasons?! It doesn't just rain all the time?" “"What IS quinoa? I thought it was just the colonial way of saying Kenya." "You don't know the difference between Kimchi and Kim Jong-Il" "Can I use a gun whilst I am doing fieldwork"
SOAS Social Column Aerie Rahman Divali Party, 20/11/12 Hindu Society, Nepali Society, South Asian Film Society and Krishna Consciousness Society Divali is the festival of lights. SOAS’ Divali Party lived up to its name by setting Bloomsbury alight with fireworks. This is the first event on which the Hindu, Nepali, South Asian Film and Krishna Consciousness Societies have collaborated, each contributing their own unique elements to the event. The Krishna Consciousness Society melodiously performed the entrancing Bhajan Harmonium; the Nepalese society brought in their UCL and Queen Mary counterparts to perform traditional folk music, and the Hindu society provided captivating Indian dance. Did I mention the food? The Nepalese and Indian food was delicious, although rather lukewarm.
The dishes were all vegetarian and reasonably priced, which, while perfect for the karma conscious wasn't so great for meat lovers. Despite some technical issues and delays the JCR was fully packed and everyone seemed to enjoy themselves (especially those who set off the fireworks). This was, overall, a thoroughly successful event celebrating the triumph of good over evil. Grand SOAS Video Game Tournament! SOAS Video Game Club It was a nerve-racking game, too close to call between Fei Loong and Sakura. Fei Loong was eventually substituted for another player (after a glitch caused a much needed interval) who finished off Sakura in the final round; David Tamraz was crowned winner in the Street Fighter category! This is was the first SOAS video game tournament. The games played were Street Fighter, Halo, Super Smash Bros and FIFA, all on Xbox 360.
Person 1: "it spread because of poor hygiene right?" Person 2: "Well sort of, through rats." Person 1: "So how did that spread to mouths?" Person 2: "What?" Person 1: "I mean, they didn't have the advancements that we do today. Like, listerine. That reduces plague right?" Person 2: Plaque. It reduces plaque.♦ Participation was impressive, with around 50 people taking part in the tournament. There was even substantial female representation, except in FIFA, which was male dominated. The format varied from category to category, with a double elimination for some and round robin for others, depending on the game involved. Unfortunately the tournament seemed to be rather an internal affair and did not attract much of an external audience. Nevertheless, those that were present had fun, the participants displaying skills that would put most gamers to shame. The prizes awarded to the winners included honour, bragging rights and a photo with the leader of the club, Ibrahim Adaci. Words Apart, Poetry Night Spoken Word Society Electrifying. This word sums up the third Spoken Word Society poetry slam event. A good poem must contain more than just rhyming words, it
must also have meaning beneath these. Most performers at this Spoken Word event expressed deep meaning eloquently and passionately. Poems such as “Sons of Liberty” and “Moses” conveyed messages about politics and life to a charmed audience. “The language is difficult for me to understand, but the emotional display is impressive. I can feel the energy,” says Liu Changzi, a SOAS student. The stars of the evening were poets Indigo Williams and Ziad Al Hadi, who captivated the audience with their powerful words, but the event also incorporated an exciting open-mic competition, where amateurs performed for 3 minutes. This event is popular among Londoners, and the crowd contained a good mix of SOAS and non-SOAS students. “It’s really good. I’m into poetry. I found this out on Facebook and have been coming ever since,” says Samira from Birmingham University.♦
SOAS Spirit | December 2012
Take Me Out's Lois: The Gossip My interview with Lois began awkwardly. After a morning of communication problems a distinctive profile caught my attention at the SOAS gates; an upward-tilted chin, perfect posture and very long, very straight, blonde hair- wait, wasn't this Lois walking into university, in front of me?! Shamelessly I moved in, explaining quickly that I was from the SOAS Spirit and that we’d been speaking on facebook- I wasn't just a weirdo. Polite and friendly- although a bit bemused- Lois quickly agreed to go for coffee. I'm not the most avid Take Me Out viewer, but Lois is memorable. She stands out among the wannabe models and presenters who make up the mass of contestants, and has become one of the faces (and wits) of the series; show after show Paddy turns to Lois, to deliver spot on, no-nonsense one-liners. Combine this with the fact that she loves dragons, plays eleven musical instruments and has recently started to speak Japanese on the show, and it shouldn't surprise anyone to learn that Lois is a SOAS student, representing us beautifully, albeit outside our usual arenas.
and everything- drinking blue WKD, doing the Gangnam style dance and suddenly everyone recognised me and wanted pictures.
Do you get recognised around SOAS at all? Not very often. I'm wondering if it's the fact that obviously a lot of people don't have TVs, or whether it's just that people don't watch it... It's not a very SOAS programme is it?!
Yeah, quite a few people haven't heard of it... Oh really?!
Maybe they’re lying.. At the end of the day, it's a light entertainment show... If people feel a little bit ashamed of it, they shouldn't be- It's good fun!
Why did you apply for the show? I was at a party with some of my friends from SOAS and we were all messing about, laughing about what TV shows people would be good on, what would be really funny, and- in a sort of, fit of madness- I actually sent off my application form and totally forgot that I'd even done it. Months later, I was at the boat company I work for and I was physically pushing a boat out and my phone rang and I was like ok... I can't really answer that... slightly dangerous, I'll leave it. (Afterwards) I looked at my answer phone and it said they wanted to call me for an audition.
Did you really want a boyfriend, or just the Take Me Out experience (and free holiday)?
While still funny, quirky and forthright, in 'real life' Lois is more reserved and less eccentric than on the show; It is understandable that she has slipped under the radar at SOAS, remaining almost entirely anonymous despite her regular appearance on a Saturday night show that averages about 3.5 million viewers per episode.
As I said, I did it on a whim and I never really thought I'd get on it, so I never thought that seriously about whether I'd get a boyfriend from it or whether I'd get to go on holiday or anything, I just wanted to go for the experience. I'm really interested in television and I thought it would be nice way to experience that.
This is what she had to say for herself:
So it wasn't because there's anything wrong with SOAS boys?
Hi Lois! Could you tell me where you come from and what you study at SOAS?
No, not at all- not at all!
-In her best game-show voice- I'm Lois, I'm from
There's no scripting at all. We do have rehearsals but they're just to do things like costume checks (and to) check that all the girls know how the format works.
Windsor in Berkshire, and I study Japanese studies.
How does it feel to be everyone’s favourite Take Me Out girl? If I am anyone's favourite I'm really happy about that! It's really nice that people have warmed to me.
How real is the show?
My mum's boyfriend- who is a massive fan of the show... Awwwww
Do you ever get mobbed in London?
...wants to know if you've ever considered doing stand up. Have you?
I get recognised quite a lot, usually in awkward situations!
Yeah, if the opportunity came up I don't see why not.
I was at a halloween party with one of my friends from work and I was dressed as a vampire- complete with really dark lipstick, this massive dress
Do the producers encourage the most entertaining girls to turn your lights off, so that you stay on the show longer?
No, not at all! It's entirely up to each girl when she turns her light off and why.
What's Paddy like in real life? Paddy's absolutely lovely. He's a total gentleman, he looks after all of us. If one of the girls gets a bit upset because she has a particular guy she likes Paddy will go over and be like 'are you ok... are you alright?'.
If you were a guy whose light would you leave on? I couldn't possibly tell! I love every single one of those girls. Before I went on the show I was so nervous- [i thought] it's a lot of girls in a small, confined space for a long period of time, you've got to have this friction. It never happened, we got on like a family; It felt like Miss Congeniality!!
You seem really confident on the show. Do you ever get nervous? I felt nervous for a fair while... When you first come out on to the set it's really overwhelming but as the series goes on you get used to it and see it as the fun that it is, and you crack on with it really.
Are you nervous about being recognised around SOAS more now? I come across in a way that I like. I think if I had been cut in a way I didn't like I'd be more nervous about it.
Are you glad you went on the show? I'm definitely glad!
... And am I allowed to ask if you got to go to Fernandos? I'm not allowed to answer that, I'm sorry!
Take Me Out is on ITV on Saturday nights at 7.05pm♦
SOAS Spirit | December 2012
To All the Global Souls An Interview with Elif Shafak Cristiana Moisescu Thirty people queued in the KLT, all clutching books to their chests. The lights of clicking cameras never ceased. Elif Shafak, the Turkish author, had just finished giving a talk, at the invitation of Women for Women International. Shafak has been to SOAS before, and loves it here: ‘it’s a special place with a special energy, which encourages us to look deeper at things’. Shafak's books deal a lot with ‘minorities- people on the periphery, not in the mainstream’, and very little with herself, because ‘I think that’s a bit boring... it’s becoming the other that’s interesting’. At SOAS she spoke of leaving our ‘mental ghettoes’, and venturing into the unknown, and of ‘lame birds’- souls which do not fit with the flock but will eventually find themselves in the company of other ‘lame birds’. To find out more, I asked her some more questions about herself and her writing.
Can you tell me a bit about how you grew up and how/if that has influenced your writing? I was born in Strasbourg and raised by a single, working mother. Part of my childhood I spent in Ankara with my remarkably superstitious grandmother, part of it I spent in Madrid. Then I have been in Amman, Cologne, Istanbul and then Boston, Michigan, Arizona and now London. Life has always been quite nomadic. I often thought of my imagination as my only suitcase and writing fiction as the existential glue that holds the pieces together.
going to learn anything, we will learn it from people who are different than us. Cities and countries that have lost their multicultural fabric lose a lot, culturally, morally, philosophically, financially- in all respects. Creativity thrives upon diversity and pluralism rather than upon sameness and uniformity. The early Turkish elite thought that in order to modernize they had to turn their back to the past. I think this was very problematic. It created collective amnesia. I think it is healthier to have a sense of continuity and at the same time be open to innovation, change, new ideas.
In one of your talks, you mentioned the separation between fiction and identity politics; Should good story- process in a way. I love not knowing As a writer, how do you perceive this telling not draw parallels with reality what I am doing and letting my char- responsibility? Are you ever afraid of and incorporate contemporary issues? acters lead me, letting the story guide it? Non-Western authors are expected to write primarily, if not only, about the countries and cultures they are coming from. A function is attributed to fiction. The literary establishment wants non-Western authors to have “authority” and talk about “reality.” Let’s say if you are an Afghan woman novelist, can you write science fiction or crime fiction? You should be free to do so. But the expectation is that you write about Afghan women, because that is what you are. I am critical of the way we are constantly pigeonholed. Literature is not about identity, it is about imagination and imagination cannot be reduced to contemporary political boxes.
How does the process of writing begin for you? Always with a feeling, an image, an intuition. I see my characters in my dreams, I talk to them, I am curious to get to know them, I become each and every one of them.
Your life so far has been cosmopoliWhile writing, do you feel in complete tan, and yet your writing is infused control of your characters, or does the with the supernatural and the power story have power and create itself? of beliefs. Can you explain this?
As a storyteller, what angers you?
I always experience an existential fragmentation. There is an author in me and there is the writer. The author does public events, book signings, gives talks, likes to comment on society and politics etc. The writer is entirely different. She is shy, introverted, asocial, if not antisocial, and just wants to live in her imaginary cocoon and write without any public appearance. How to balance these two completely different personalities is an ongoing struggle for me. Perhaps other writers feel it too.
The arrogance of the cultural elite annoys me. Just to give you an example, once I was criticized in Turkey by a critic who said “but even housewives read her books!”. That word, “even” is so problematic; how he thinks he is better than “housewives”, how he looks down upon people concluding “well if housewives read that book, it means it’s not “highbrow literature.” This distinction between “highbrow literature” and “popular books” belongs to the past century. Frankly I How would you like your books to be am not fond of this elitist, self- read, understood? assuring, and often sexist hubris of I like to think of my novels as chathe cultural elite in my country. teaus with many doors, many halls, What power do you think a story can hundreds of rooms. Two readers enter the same book, read it at the same have on the human mind and soul? time, yet they spend time on different Books can change their format, but floors in different rooms, and leave the art of storytelling is here to stay. through different doors. Millions of Our need for stories is universal and people can read the same book but no so, so very old. Without stories we are two readings are the same. That is only names, numbers, statistics . We because the reader is not passive. connect, understand, empathize Every reader brings their own gaze through stories. Stories challenge the into the text. I don't try to teach anyartificial gap between “us” and “them” thing to my readers. Instead I connect and the presumption that “us” is with them through words and silencbetter than “them.” Without stories es, which are universal and ancient this would be a darker world. and belong to all humanity regardless of race, class etc.♦
I don’t plan the entire book in my I am a big supporter of cosmopolitanhead like an engineer. Rather I am a ism and diversity. I wholeheartedly bit drunk while writing fiction. It is believe that in this life, if we are not a rational process, it is a mystical As an author, you are a public figure.
SOAS Spirit | December 2012
Features Around Town at Christmas:
Zippos Cirque Berserk: Winter Wonderland Aerie Rahman They say:
“For the evening crowd Zippos Winter Wonderland is a cliché, but it is a perfect one. Even before seeing anything, the rest of your senses are enthralled. The sweet scents emanating from the various food-stands immediately ignite appetite. There is an amusing blend of Last Christmas and rock ‘n’ roll playing in the distance and the cold London weather is interrupted only occasionally by waves of heat from operating stoves and grills. Further on inside, you can find just about anything. Anything! From jewellery and strange hats, to wooden ties and ceramics, it would be tempting to splurge whether or not it was Christmas! If you’re not much of a shopper, how about some excitement? The rollercoasters and (scary) rides are enticing, and an ice-rink exists for those
who prefer something more sedate (for those who can actually skate, of course). One ride in particular lifts you way up high then spins you in the air, like a gravity-defying merry-goround floating above London. It is inevitable that you will encounter extremely long queues – we are in England after all – and joyous stampeding crowds, but you’ll probably be too busy scanning your surroundings to notice. Relax for a minute with hot wine, a gingerbread man, live music, and screaming passengers plummeting from vast heights around you… it is the perfect Christmas cliché.♦
returns with a brand new show, Cirque Berserk which follows a beautiful gothic storyteller and her extraordinary travelling band of fairy-tale freaks. Cirque Berserk takes its inspiration from the dark and twisted fairy tales of the brothers Grimm.”
At Cirque Berserk the audience are treated to motorcycle riders circling at high speed inside a spherical cage and outrageously risky high-wire feats that will keep them on the edge of their seats. Beside this many more circus skills are executed to perfection, leaving any adrenaline junkie feeling thoroughly fulfilled. The theme of the performance is Grimms' fairy tales, but the acting necessary to portray this is slightly lacking.
We say: For those who enjoy adrenaline, Zippos Cirque Berserk is definitely a must. Cirque Berserk is the evening portion of Zippos Christmas Circus. The Christmas Circus features clowns, jugglers and aerialists - it is family oriented. At the Cirque Berserk daredevil performers and dim lighting create a gothic atmosphere - it is for the thrill-seekers.
The performance lasts 45 minutes and tickets are a reasonable £8.50/ £9.50 (off peak/peak) to students. There is also a VIP box for 4 persons with champagne and chocolates that is priced at £90/£100. Shows are at 7pm and 8pm and, on selected days, also at 9pm.♦
Around Town at Christmas: Time Out Live and 33 Events present):
Silent Night, Unholy Night
bar. As the crowd increased and people began to stage but listening to something different. acclimatise to the silent disco concept, the party beThe spooky atmosphere in Old Vic Tunnels Beforehand, it was hard to determine exactly what gan! DJs controlled the blue and red channels, comwas conducive to the “unholy” theme, and the venue this event would entail. However, I gathered that it peting with each other for the audience. The music contained all the different elements of this event comprised a silent disco in a tunnel, and- with an was excellent. well. Overall, this is a unique and brilliant night. indoor pine ‘forest’ and boating lake- I imagined it It was surreal to dance with someone who was It’s suitable for groups, couples (especially) and even would be a sort of Winter Wonderland for adults. listening to a completely different type of music. It the lone ranger. It is well worth the £20 ticket. On arrival we were given large, comfortable was even more surreal to take off the headphones Silent Night, Unholy Night is happening at Old Vic wireless headphones by a woman dressed as a nun. and see people dancing and screaming to nothing! Tunnels on Saturday 15th December. Tickets can be She explained, briefly, how to turn these on and how The silent disco is a brilliant idea because it gives purchased in advance at http:// to change channel. The signal is broadcast through you control over what you listen to and how loud. It www.oldvictunnels.com- Hurry, they sell out fast!♦ an FM-transmitter. There were 3 channels, and a is ideal for those who often find the music in nightlight on the side that changed colour to indicate clubs deafening. which someone was listening to. The blue channel Early on, as everyone was dancing their socks featured a lot of jazz music, red was pop and green off, there was announcement that a cabaret perforvaried, from radio shows to a live band and finally mance was about to begin. This turned out to be to erotic fiction(!). There were no loudspeakers. more of a burlesque performance. There was a level of ambiguity to it that some found disturbing. Later we were treated to a gypsy-jazz band, Franky and On our way in we passed by the ‘lake’, inside the the Jacks, who performed live but almost silently tunnel, and the indoor pine forest. Some people and were broadcast on the green channel. It was were dancing, while others also seemed a bit beinteresting to see people gathering in front of the mused. The natural choice then, was to head for the
SOAS Spirit | December 2012
The Rain Room
Death: A Self-Portrait the Wellcome Collection, Euston Road Nadine Makarem 'Death.' : The stigma associated with the word struck me immediately when I first saw the advertisement, otherwise blending in with those around it. The poster showed a Skull, harboring inside it a couple, leaning intimately towards each other.
Hugo Brennan Urban Dictionary definition: Chirpse; to chat up, or flirt with, someone.
through a torrential rainstorm without getting soggy. Or if you are not feeling quite that brave, you can simply watch the amazing spectacle. Cheap Chirpse gives this winning interactive experience the thumbs up as this editions cheap date option. Well worth the queues!
Looking for a first date option that is a little bit different? Or searching for somewhere to romance the special someone in your life? On a tight student budget? This is Cheap Chirpse Cost: Free! Location: Barbican, Central London. idea of the month… www.barbican.org.uk Ever wanted to control the rain? Well Pros: Fun, interactive and a little bit now you can at the latest Random different. International Exhibition! Walk Cons: Be prepared to queue, especialthrough the Rain Room whilst stay- ly at the weekend. ing completely dry! Some clever tech- Time: Open daily 11am - 8pm; Thu nology senses where you are and al- until 10pm lows you and up to 4 friends to walk Cheap Chirpse score: 8/10♦
‘Death: A Self-Portrait' is a free exhibition currently running at the Wellcome Collection on Euston Road. Just across from Euston Station, the Wellcome building’s exterior is quaint and inviting, but it conceals within it a dark exhibition, its theme portrayed through paintings and figurines. Among others, the categories at this exhibition include 'Contemplating Death', 'the Dance of Death', and 'Violent Death’. The art pieces commemorate both the dead and the force of death itself. Almost everything on display contains a skeletal figure of some kind. The various artistic techniques used highlight tragic, comic, cultural and peaceful conceptualizations of death and its causes. Keep an eye out for the huge Skull Collagemade from scratch of playdough like clay- and the less artistic statistical
graph in the hallway showing the causes of death and approximate number of deaths each year. If this becomes too dark for you, the bookstore and gift shop are slightly more gleeful with a large number of unique books and knick-knacks.
All in all, exploring the exhibition is a meaningful experience not to be misconstrued as being gloomy or sorrowful. What better way to depict the complex concept of Death than through the complex realm of art?
Death: A Self-Portrait runs until the 24th February 2013 at the Wellcome Collection on Euston Road, and is free.
The Wellcome Collection says: Our
major winter exhibition showcases some 300 works from a unique collection devoted to the iconography of death and our complex and contradictory attitudes towards it. Assembled by Richard Harris, a former antique print dealer based in Chicago, the collection is spectacularly diverse, including art works, historical artefacts, scientific specimens and ephemera from across the world.♦
Visit In Your Lunch Break...
London: An American Perspective
Kerouac's 'On The Road' Manuscript Scroll, the British Library Nadine Makarem Allen Ginsberg, a pioneer of the Beat Generation, referred to Jack Kerouac’s writing as “spontaneous bop prosody” which means a rhythmic, almost musical way of writing or speaking. You probably won’t be able to understand what he meant by this until you witness the 120 -foot-long manuscript scroll displayed at the British Library in Euston… spontaneous is putting it lightly! To avoid interrupting his creative stream, Kerouac typed on
rolls of tracing paper and then taped them together into a longer scroll. He began writing in April 1951 and completed the novel On the
Road in only 3 weeks, though it wasn’t published until 1957. There is something intriguing about seeing a work in progress that enhances
one’s appreciation of the final product. Notice the exceedingly long paragraphs and tiny font, it will probably make you feel better about having to write a long paper for class! The scroll is on display until the 27th of December. Visiting the British library adds to the originality and appeal of the experience and a published copy of the book is available for purchase. It won’t be signed, but hey… you can always say you’ve seen the unpublished original!♦
John Giammatteo Last January, I was walking up Edgware Road with several Americans as they hunted for flats. I had picked up this gig as a guide for American college students, and one of the main tasks was ensuring they found a place to live without being exploited by landlords. I could see one girl, “Susie,” becoming wideeyed and worried as we worked our way past kebabs and hookahs. After a couple of minutes, she ►
SOAS Spirit | December 2012
Features Live in:
Manor House Another option is the over-ground, with Harringay
Cristiana Moisescu Since moving to London, I have always lived south of the Thames, through chance and choice. I always saw the South as greener, more suburban and more diverse. Crossing the river each day becomes a daily ritual for me, I love watching the rising form of the Battersea Power Station, and look as it disappears behind me as the train pulls into Victoria Station. Crossing the river each day was something I always looked forwards to. I love following the approaching form of the Battersea Power Station, and watching it gradually disappear as the train pulled into Victoria Station. So what am I doing in Manor House? I moved here by chance, out of need and without really knowing where it was, let alone what it had to offer. I have a feeling this might be the case for many student renters, so below you’ll find the things I think you should know about Manor House, which might come in handy if you’re looking to move here. A different part of London will be featured in each issue, to provide students with handy tips about the area. What’s with the name? Manor House takes its name from the tube station, which in turn is named after a public house. How do I get there? Several ways. You could cycle, and many do: if you cut through Finsbury Park it takes about 20 minutes to Vernon Square and 30 to Russell Square; you could take the bus: route 29 heads off to Trafalgar Square dropping you at SOAS’ doorstep on Gower Street; route 141 takes you towards London Bridge and 341 towards Waterloo. If you feel there’s nothing quite like the Tube, you’re in luck, as the Piccadilly line takes just 15 minutes between Russell Square and Manor House. Manor House tube station is still in zone two. looked over to me. “Is every street in London like this?” she asked. The question caught me off-guard. I quickly realized what she was asking, but played dumb: “You mean busy? Yeah, London’s pretty hectic.” “No, not busy. Quite so, you know…” She squished up her nose. “Arabic.” Two points. First: never underestimate the sheltered lives of Middle America. But, more importantly: never un-
Green Lanes station just up on the main road, aptly named.... Harringay Green Lanes. Ok, I’m here, what now? Well, are you hungry? Manor House and Green Lanes high street is home to a vibrant Turkish, Greek and Polish community, with the consequence that you have window after window of mouth-watering food, just waiting for you to dig in. It’s like a mini-Istanbul, just without the guy selling fruit and veg at the corner of every street. Oh wait, you do have that. The fresh produce is well priced, with good offers and a lot of choice. A steaming dish from the Turkish (and one Bulgarian) restaurants will set you back anything between 4 and 8 pounds (the main dish always comes with salad, rice and hot flatbread). For dessert, if you can walk past the Turkish baklavas and boreks staring at you from shop windows without giving in, I salute you. If Turkish food isn’t your thing (but how can it not be?), there are always the more mainstream options of McDonalds and Pizza Hut on the main street. In terms of shopping, there’s a big Sainsbury’s, a Tesco’s and an Iceland, as well as a big Homebase, which, if not necessarily affordable, will give you something to aspire to. If the shops here get too boring, there’s always Finsbury Park (1 tube station/5 bus stations down) to spend your money in.
derestimate the diversity of London’s streets. This was the second lesson I learned quickly when I moved here. From afar, London always seemed pretty buttoned-up. My family had spent a week here when I was ten as it was a place where my parents could show us the joys of travel without straying too far outside of our comfort zone. It was easy, we could speak English, and hey, I liked castles and Mom loved Shakespeare. Win-win.
After middle school, Britain never broke the top twenty in my travel bucket list. I spent long stretches outside of the States, but never in Europe. It was only when I started to look seriously at grad school that London became an attractive option. And then, I arrived and found a different type of city than I had imagined. According to the Mayor’s office, one third of the London population was born outside of the United Kingdom. (In con-
I’m not hungry, what about leisure time? If you’re into walking, Finsbury Park will provide a good place for you to stretch your legs; there are sports fields all around it (with an American Football club), a small lake up the hill, magnificent views of London and two nice Park Cafe’s where you can enjoy lunch. Oh wait, you’re not hungry. Maybe a cup of coffee/tea then? If the park isn’t enough, there are always the East and West reservoirs to walk around and once you’re there, you could always pop into the castle. What, you didn’t know there was a castle here? That’s because it’s actually a former water pumping station which looks like a castle taken out of Monty Python’s Holy Grail scenes. Nowadays, it headquarters the Castle Climbing Centre, one of the best in England, and their concession rate for students is 7.50 a session during off-peak hours; for more information on prices, check out their website http:// www.castle-climbing.co.uk/index.php. For night time entertaining, Harringay Green Lanes is peppered with pubs and snooker clubs, including the ‘Salisbury’, where you’ll probably get your pint’s worth just by looking at the classic Victorian decor. Not much for the die-hard party student, I’m afraid. Can I live here? If you’ve taken the decision to move here, there are plenty of agencies willing to show you around; as always, the best way is to find (nice) housemates and share the price of a nice looking house: a 2-bedroom house shouldn’t cost more than 1200 pounds. The more people, the less you pay. Safety wise, no worries; the Turkish shops stay open until very late, and there always seem to be people on the street, while in the more residential parts, everything’s quiet and calm. So tell me again, what am I doing in Manor House? You’re here for the spirit: the place is a melting-pot of different languages and food and cultures; think SOAS, just expanded onto a street. It’s more like a real community than anything else, and once the shopkeeper starts recognizing you, you can expect tea invites and maybe even discounts.♦
trast, the same demographic makes up just over a fifth of New York’s and Chicago’s populations.) With that diversity comes a remarkable mix of cultures and cuisines, lifestyles and language, perhaps disorienting to those who arrived expecting a different city. You can come here as an American, drink tea, comment on the funny little ways people pronounce words and miss what London is. Really it is: diverse, cosmopolitan, and
multicultural. Somewhere where each neighbourhoodb evokes a different world (albeit all with the same, shitty weather). Later that winter, I bumped into Susie. I hadn’t seen her since she moved into the flat she had finally settled on, located a few blocks from our first conversation. And, apparently, she loved it.♦
SOAS Spirit | December 2012
Features Onedishcloser@SOAS: Food around Bloomsbury Victoria Brown I caught the last Bloomsbury Farmers’ Market quite by chance as I happened to be passing through on my way from UCL (where I work) to the Post Office at Russell Square. Given my student budget, I was supposed to be making do with some day old bread, a few slices of salami and a lettuce leaf, so it is easy to see why I paused a little longer than planned.
HIT I was tempted by a number of things, but in the end I have to admit I was rather unimaginative. I had a slight hangover from a midweek dinner (shh, don’t tell) and I simply couldn’t resist the smell of sausages and fried onions emanating from The Giggly Pig. For £3 you get two awardwinning sausages in a bun with onions and as much sauce as you can handle. Sometimes I find gourmet sausages a bit flavourless. I’m the type of person who will eat a £1 sau-
sage roll because it tastes good; you can scream “ears, noses, lips and arseholes” as much as you like and I’ll still turn a blind eye. But The Giggly Pig sausages manage to be both gourmet and tasty, quite a feat.
as well. Perhaps the key is competition – they have none. They don’t just sell, they fly out the door. Not only was I disappointed, I waited 15 minutes to be so. It did not make me giggle, that’s for sure.
MISS I was not so impressed by their hog roast. Earlier this year I stopped by the same stall, drawn in by the sight of a spit-roasted pig splayed across a hot grill and a sign reading “pulled pork sandwich - £4”. There was potential, and lots of it, but sadly it was unfulfilled. Firstly, it was overcooked; I am sure when it came off the bone it was juicy and succulent, but it then spent the rest of its undigested life on a hot plate losing every last bit of moisture. Plenty of sauce might have saved it, but a stingy dollop of apple sauce didn’t cut it and where was the rest? At Borough Market there are at least 3 stalls selling sandwiches like this and each offer not just a range of sauces, but – heaven forbid – salad
So who am I to pronounce on pig meat? And why should you take any notice of what I have to say? I am studying the Anthropology of Food at SOAS. It’s fun to be studying something I’m passionate about. Well, I call it a passion. My friends and family say I'm obsessed. My Dad is a chef and good food was a core part of our family life. I was exposed to all sorts of foods from a young age and learnt to cook young too, later working as a kitchen hand in my Dad’s restaurant. Growing up in multicultural Sydney also contributed to my appreciation and understanding of food from different cul
A queue forms at the SOAS gate, in front of a tree. The line is long and appears to part the main building and the Brunei gallery. At 12.15 a man arrives on a trishaw, pulling a wagon. All eyes are on him. The man, who is dressed like a monk, starts to distribute food to the crowd. Today’s meal is rice with vegetable gravy. A banana and a slice of chocolate cake are given as dessert. The monk asks no money for the food, although there is a small donation box, more suited to coins than notes.
Victoria’s blog is: www.onedishcloser.com Bloomsbury Farmers’ Market is open every Thursday from 9am-2pm: http://www.lfm.org.uk/markets/ bloomsbury/ The Giggly Pig: http://www.gigglypig.co.uk ♦
tures. I decided a long time ago that I didn’t want to be a chef – I was
Religion: The Hare Krishna - Free Food, Indiscriminately Aerie Rahman
worried it would take the joy out of cooking for me – so I started a food blog, One Dish Closer. In doing so I realised that I love writing about food as much as cooking and eating it. This column will look at places to eat around Bloomsbury – the good and the bad. The focus will mainly be on lunch time fare and I will try to stick to a student budget. But I don’t like rules and every now and then I will break them.
brothers and sisters; everybody of all race and religion. We are one universe” says Hari. Hari is from Croatia. After witnessing war and conflict between religions, he has a strong desire to help others. The Hare Krishna have developed an ingenious way of sustaining their 'Food for All' programme; they collect perishable items from supermarkets 7 days before they expire. Other ingredients are donated by farmers.
The Hare Krishna movement also operates a day centre on Caledonian Road called Matchless Gifts. This is a charity shop that helps homeless people. “The food is good- it’s vegetarian and I like it” says Preben, a SOAS student studying Politics. The food has always been vegetarian because of the Hare Krishna principle of respecting all life, even animal life. This is part of karma. The food stall might be a novel option for some, but for poor students and for homeless people, it is an oasis: “I come here almost every day,” says Michael (not his real name). By 2.15 the main meal is finished, despite many people still queuing. Some lament their bad luck, others leave in silence.
The food is given to everybody irrespective of race, religion, gender and class. It draws people from numerous different institutions and backgrounds; there are university students, the employed and the homeless here.
Hari apologises profusely. He offers them cake and bananas instead, and promises that there will be more food tomorrow. And he does bring more food the next day, and the day after that. He doesn't mind the repetitive life he leads, altruistically distributing food.
This man is Hari (his European name is Dominic) and he is a Hare Krishna. He has been giving out food in front of SOAS for the past 7 years.
“I enjoy sharing. Life is short. And I do believe that I am doing something that lasts for eternity” he says. ♦
“The Hare Krishna give out free food because we believe in helping people. Everyone is considered
The food is cooked at a farm outside London, donated by one George Harrison. It is then distributed at SOAS and LSE, in Kentish Town, Camden Town and at King’s Cross.
SOAS Spirit | December 2012
Features Umpatacum, Concert Series concert ended with more than half the audience standing up and dancing.
Luna Cottis The Brunei Gallery Lecture theatre is currently hosting the Concert Series, a set of World Music events organised by the SOAS Music Department and taking place between October and May. On the 14th of November the Concert Series invited Umpatacum, an Afro-Brazilian group, to fire-up the lecture hall. Umpatacum impressed immediately with the sheer number of instruments they had onstage, which greatly exceeded the number of people. These consisted mainly of the many different percussion instruments used in Brazilian Folk Music. Despite this the concert proved difficult. The public were cold; sitting comfortably in their seats they were not exceedingly enthusiastic. Umpatacum are accustomed to inspiring shouting, shrieking and dancing, to the extent of triggering all sorts of bodily reactions in their audience (one being sweat). As the leader of the band, Adriano Adewale, pointed out “it’s not fair - we are really enjoying ourselves up here and you’re all quiet down there, we have to share a bit - so let’s all clap the clave!”. After this it all went uphill; the
Umpatacum is a big band and includes many exciting components: a great mixture of interesting percussion, on the spot picking of the mandolin and the charango (an instrument which highly resembles the fashionable ukulele), groovy acoustic base and three singers to spice up the sound with sweet harmonies and salty melodies. Umpatacum offer audiences around the world a taste of little heard Brazilian Folk Music, playing songs from several different regions of the country alongside well-thought out original pieces, which accentuate their ties to African music; if they don’t impress you with their vast range of sounds and accurate execution of traditional music, they will instinctively satisfy your need to move and physically feel the beat. If you are interested in World Music, the remainder of the Concert Series can be caught at the Brunei gallery on selected Wednesday nights over the next six months. The series is completely free which makes it a rare pearl of pleasure in our expensive city - and will feature quality performances from internationally renowned artists. For a
Tinariwen Tinariwen is a Tuareg desert blues
I saw Tinariwen play at the Songlines Music Award on the 23d of November at the Barbican, where they received the 2012 Best Group Award. When Tinariwen played they took their audience to the desert, invoking vast, open spaces. At first the repetitiveness of the songs sometimes bored me; it takes letting go to appre
Brunei Gallery, which hosts regular jam sessions every Wednesday night. Next in the Concert Series: Guy Shalom and the Baladi Blues Ensemble The Baladi Legacy of Sheik Taha 12 December 2012, Brunei Gallery, Brunei Gallery Lecture Theatre, 7:00pm – 9:00pm For a programme of up-coming events see: http://www.soas.ac.uk/music/events/concerts/ ♦
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The northern Malian region of Azawad is currently occupied by Islamic extremist militias linked with Al-Qaeda. The National Movement
band from the North of Mali. They have been playing their music for 30 years and are very much the founders of a style (assouf). The band sings about the divisions and struggles of their people, and has been linked to blues, and songs of suffering. Rising to international acclaim 11 years ago, Tinariwen represent their nomadic people and desert life all over the world.
night of cheap drinks and free music move afterwards to the SOAS Junior Common Room - opposite the
ciate repetitive music. However the atmosphere was soon lifted with uptempo songs which gave us more to nod our heads to. We were called upon to to clap and participate. The singing was passed between the four different guitarists like a thread that was being woven communally. Tinariwen seemed a manifestation of manly serenity, weight and wisdom. I wondered where women would have fit in this picture, wondering if they could have. Notably, their leader was absent. Because of the terrible situation in the north of Mali at the moment, leader and emblematic figure Ibrahim Ag Alhabib has stayed in the Sahara to look after all the people who depend on him. There was a severe sadness about the band as they walked in.
for the Liberation of Azawad (MNLA) - an organization said to be fighting to make the region an independent homeland for the Tuareg people- has taken control of the region, backed by the Islamist group Ansar Dine. Although the Tuareg, as a minority in Mali have been fighting since at least 1916 to be heard politically, there are many Tuareg groups who do not agree with the actions of the MNLA. After the Malian military were driven from Azawad, Ansar Dine began imposing strict Sharia law. Since then, the MNLA has been fighting against Ansar Dine and another Islamist group called the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MOJWA), which is a splinter group of Al-Qaeda. In Azawad music has now been banned.
Email for more information: firstname.lastname@example.org
Yadou, Tinariwen’s bassist explained that they “don't know where these people come from, they have appeared out of nowhere”. The members of the band feel that the Tuareg were led into a trap, as the “coup” was financed by the Middle East; the desert in this region is rich in uranium and oil. In a question and answer session prior to the concert the band were asked if they had any solutions to what was happening in their land. Yadou responded that if they had a solution they would have done it. They feel abandoned by the world. Not all the Tuareg support violence and they feel misrepresented by what has happened. Tinariwen believe they have been caught in a fight for oil. As Yadou pointed out, one of the leaders of the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad used to write songs with them, now they have banned music. Pressed further on this subject, Yadou stated that, “The Tuareg sing every night, they can't make that die”. ♦
SOAS Spirit | December 2012
Features Carmen, English National Opera, London Coliseum John Giammatteo
The women behave badly; the men, more so. But the opera’s edge has dulled through the years — by In my grandparents’ house, Sundays were always now, the music is so ubiquitous that the fraught opera days. They were first generation Italian- passion of its content is easily masked. God, even Americans, and before they made good they would Sesame Street has covered the “Habanera.” sit in their kitchen and listen to broadcasts from New York’s Metropolitan Opera. The tradition continued even when they could afford to take in the occasional show. I first listened as I waited for my grandmother to cook; the arias of heavy sopranos became my grandparents’ music, quaint and several generations removed. If the latest production of Carmen at the English National Opera can be praised for anything, it’s the unabashed attempt to bring a classic out of the ossified world we youngsters associate with the art. If it can be faulted, it’s because it never quite gets there. It’s easy to forget that opera was once populist entertainment, attended by kings and plebes alike. Bizet’s Carmen, filled with sex, violence, and seduction, caused controversy when it debuted in 1875.
molest each other throughout; Carmen strips and smolders. By the time the second half opens on a fully naked solider dancing in the moonlight, the message is clear: this is not your grandparent’s opera. But the production embraces neither the 18thor 21st centuries fully. Instead of bare burlesque or trite convention, we’re given characters in various stages of undress singing odes to their mothers. We’re stuck uncomfortably between two poles. Ruxandra Donose‘s Carmen suffers a similar fate. She is neither callous seductress nor tragic heroine. Either would have been fine, but the audience feels nothing for her if she’s straddling the middle. Adam Diegel, as Don José, sings well, but he appears stiff. Luckily, Elizabeth Llewellyn’s performance carries the production; her aria lamenting José’s disgrace in the second half is evocative.
Opera directors must always face the question: how much do we cater to the younger crowds? When done well, opera remains as relevant today as in the Calixto Bieito’s staging tries to bring back the 1870s. This production of Carmen falls short of the show’s sordid nature. His Carmen is thoroughly right answer, but it’s not because it doesn’t try. ♦ modern: the set is bleak, the audience is quickly greeted by a soldier, dressed only in underwear running laps. The chorus members hump the air and
Jab Tak Hai Jaan, Cineworld, the Trocadero, Shaftesbury Avenue Yash Chopra's Last Offering It wasn’t glamorous, it wasn’t alternative and it certainly wasn’t that elusive thing, ‘cool’... And that was just Cineworld.
After this we were propelled into a sporadically snowy London. Here we learned how Meera- the
The premise for this feature was to transcend a film review and to cover the entire cinema experience, encapsulated in that popcorn smell. I anticipated visiting the Renoir, the Ritzy and the secondoldest continuously running cinema in the UK, the Phoenix: cinemas to get excited about. Instead I found myself lost in the Trocadero wailing at a friend who was several levels below me and concealed behind arcade games and escalators. Five minutes earlier the big, loud Bollywood event that is Jab Tak Hai Jaan had begun three floors further up in Cineworld’s small screen 3. We sneaked in across an expanse of sparkly water. Akira- Anushka Sharma's equally sparkly and ever -so-slightly-annoying second female lead- dived in from a rock. I shuddered; the lake is Pangong Tso in the Ladhaki Himalayas- at 4350m is always really, bloody cold. Samar- Shah Rukh Khan’s split personality hero, in his smouldering Heathcliff incarnation- deigned to fish Akira out, leaving her in his jacket and forgetting the life story confided to a journal in the pocket.
insipid, dithering heroine of JTHT- had made herself and her lover, Samar, unhappy for ten years with no tangible excuse. We watch as she grapples to find a reason why their love must be illicit and tragic, and- when a fiancé and a doting father prove insufficient- settles on a hasty and unsolicited promise to God. It is possible that after directing more than fifty films, Yash Chopra simply ran out of reasons why the characters in his final film had to be apart; I prefer to think that at eighty years old he simply decided to get with the times and
portray an unprecedentedly believable scenario in his last Bollywood film: a relationship suspended indefinitely not because of death, religion, family or caste, but simply by reasons built from air and time to make one party believe they can’t be with the other anymore. JTHJ is a film that, for all its flaws, sweeps you along on rapids of romance and trauma. It is absorbing, entertaining and as beautiful as Katrina Kaif’s hair. The professionalism and experience of cast and director are ever apparent (‘It must be really hard to be a Bollywood star’ you think, as SRK slips between two almost irreconcilable characters as smoothly as Samar and Meera switch from street to Bollywood dancing) but, despite being dazzling JTHJ lacked anything that lingered; like Akira, I walked away and didn’t fall asleep thinking about it.
Price: 7.40 (with NUS) (Mon-Thur, before 5pm Fri) Cinema: 5/10 Film: 7/10 ♦
SOAS Spirit | December 2012
Features Visit: Gue Monk What? Gue Village, in the Indian Himalayas, is home to a 550-year-old self-mummified monk. Less than thirty of these exist around the world and most are in Japan. Gue's is one of the oldest, best preserved (currently) and least visited. He is thought to be the only sitting mummy in the world. According to local legend, 550 years ago this almost inaccessible corner of Spiti Valley- which is in itself a bleak and isolated part of Himachal Pradeshexperienced a plague of scorpions. When Gue's monk died meditating the scorpions vanished and a rainbow spread across the valley. Gue's monk is uniquely well preserved because he began the process while still alive. He restricted his diet in increments, to achieve the minimum possible amount of body fat before he starved. He also ran candles along his skin to dry it out. Entombed by his followers Gue monk lay undiscovered for centuries. The cold, dry climate of Spiti Valley helped to preserve him. In 1975 an earthquake disclosed the tomb, and eventually the monk was excavated.
He sits now in a small glass case in the tiny village of Gue, behind a line of plastic flowers and candles, and partially buried beneath rupee notes. His face is shriveled and twisted with pain but his skin is unbroken and his hair and teeth are still intact. Why now? Gue's monk has mould; fungal growth is causing him to slowly decompose. Where? The tomb sits above the village of Gue, about 75 km east of Kaza, the capital of Spiti Valley in north-eastern Himachal Pradesh in the Indian Himalayas. The Indo-Tibetan border police heavily patrols the area and travel is restricted. How? From New Delhi take a bus to Manali in Himachal Pradesh. From here buses run to Kaza when the weather permits it, otherwise you will need to charter a jeep to traverse the nail-biting mountain roads and high-altitude fords around the mouth of the valley. From Kaza a bus runs to Gue about three times a week, but it arrives late in the evening; in Gue there is nowhere for outsiders to stay or to eat and no other buses frequent the village. If you get back on the bus from Kaza you we will be taken south-east and cross illegally into neighbouring Kinnaur district. The ITBP will be angry; you will be detained and then sent back again. Instead take a bus to Tabo, the only other town in Spiti valley, which is 45km west of Gue.
Reading Around the World: Burma
Bones Will Crow Anna Feuer Bones Will Crow, a new anthology of Burmese poetry edited by ko ko thett and SOAS research associate Dr. James Byrne, celebrates Burma’s recent emergence from its isolation under a military junta that ruled from 1962 to 2011. The junta’s censorship office leaked red ink onto the pages of every book, article, poem, illustration, or cartoon – even the yellow pages of the phone book – before they were printed. Today Burmese poets enjoy unprecedented access to the international literature scene. However, the memory of cultural and intellectual alienation is the prominent theme in Bones Will Crow. Mung Yu Pi, in a poem included in the collection, describes junta-era Burma as “a great country which has been buried alive…a great museum of culture, dilapi-
dated and yellowing.” The poem continues: A Stone Age cave sealed by stones. Under the Stone Age Regressive evolution. The renowned poet Tin Moe offers reflections on the junta years in a piece titled “The years we didn’t see the dawn.” The poem is ostensibly about his retreat into old age, but its political message is explicit and dark. He writes: The way we live now, Submitting reports Loaded with lies. Recording ‘yes, sir, certainly sir’ Onto tapes filled with misinformation. When President Thein Sein’s nominally civilian government took office in 2010, Burma began the process of transitioning from military rule to democracy. The censorship office
Hire a car and return the same day. In Gue don't forget to 'ask for the key' with sweets, incense and rupees. ♦
was dismantled and the censorship regime was formally abolished, although the state’s propaganda machine, the Ministry of Information, remains intact. Freed from the “Stone Age cave,” the poets included in Bones Will Crow look optimistically to the future of poetry and democratic governance in Burma. In a poem titled “You Will Read,” Aung Cheimt imagines a future beyond the fragile Thein Sein government. “In the future,” he writes: Things will be enigmatic and profound, exclamations will be used onomatopoeia will be used But Aung Cheimt also qualifies his predictions. He adds that in the future, “if need be / brakes will be used.” Today, Burmese writers seem poised to enjoy new-found freedom of expression and integration into the international literary community. But the transition toward a government that will tolerate dissent is slow. As international readers, we should keep our eyes trained on the
new Burmese government to ensure that it does not take up its red pen again.
Anna Feuer is currently writing and producing a new series for SOAS Radio titled ‘Between The Lines’. This article is based on an excerpt from her first show. Between the Lines examines new work by writers and artists around the world who seek to challenge the political and social status quo in their home countries, often at great personal risk. The programme aims to honour the courage of those writers who speak up in the face of oppression, explore censorship regimes, and celebrate international literature and literature in translation. The first episode of Between The Lines will be available as a podcast from the SOAS Radio website in the new year. ♦
SOAS Spirit | December 2012
I Write I write for the bitter fruits fallen from the green tree of hope. I write for the acrid waters that trap themselves inside a contrived embrace. I write about things that exist: about the wind that misery gives its branches to, or the puddles that elude the hardened paths of language. No, I don’t write for the beating of distant wings, but about real things, things that I see with my heart and feel with the body of my sadness. I write into the reluctant corners, and emerge like a silhouette finding its candle.♦
your cheese on Christmas day and with the cold meats that are leftover afterwards. I am serving mine with a chicken liver parfait on Christmas eve.
Pear and Ginger Chutney, a Recipe for Christmas Victoria Brown
Get your head out of the … snow. It’s not just going to go away. No, not your end of term essay, although the same applies. I mean Christmas. Buying Christmas presents is even more of a chore if you’re not just stuck for what to buy, but stuck for cash too. That’s why I’m making mine. I love cooking and people always appreciate something homemade so whenever I’m unsure what to get someone or money is tight, I get out the preserving pan. Now is the best time to make this chutney for Christmas; the flavours
really start to develop after a few weeks. The first time I made it I thought it was too sweet at first, but after a few weeks there was a good balance of sweet and spicy. If you think it’s too sticky and sweet, you could add more apples and pears for something fruitier and/or up the ratio of vinegar to sugar. I used muscovado sugar because I like the thick, nutty, caramel flavour; you could swap this for light brown sugar for a lighter touch. Even if you don’t want to give it as a gift, the flavours are quite Christmassy so it is a good one to serve with
4 firm pears, e.g. conference 2 cooking apples, e.g. Bramley 1 onion, halved and finely sliced 2 shallot, halved and finely sliced 1 clove garlic, finely chopped 2 lemons, zest and juiced 500ml cider vinegar 500g brown sugar 100g jam sugar 3 tbsp stem ginger, diced 1 tsp ground ginger ½ tsp cayenne pepper Salt and pepper, to taste Method Peel, core and slice the pears lengthways. Peel and dice the cooking apples. Put the pears and apples in a large heavy bottomed saucepan with the onion, shallot, garlic, lemon juice and half the vinegar.
Cover and simmer over a low heat, stirring occasionally, until the fruit is soft (but not brown). Add the rest of the vinegar along with the sugar, stem ginger, ground ginger and cayenne pepper and continue to simmer uncovered over a low heat, stirring occasionally, for approximately 2 hours or until it becomes thick and sticky. Season with salt and pepper, to taste. Spoon the chutney into warm, sterilized jars while it is still warm and seal. Label when cool.♦
SOAS Spirit | December 2012
Sport Can Freddie skittle the opposition to become a cross-over champion? James Appleby In a test career spanning over 10 years, the enigmatic, larger-than-life Lancastrian Andrew ‘Freddie’ Flintoff became the embodiment of a people’s English sporting hero, going on to be one of England’s greatest all-rounders ever in a glittering double Ashes-winning career. He was, however, also an iconic figure in the eyes of cricket fans for his off-the-wicket antics, such as the infamous ‘Fredalo’ incident at the World Cup in the West Indies in 2007, almost literally ‘drowning his sorrows’ in a drunken incident after a defeat to New Zealand. It’s hard to be surprised by anything Freddie does these days, but he’s managed to shock the sporting world again: for Freddie is turning his hand to boxing.
The move to grant Flintoff a boxing license caused uproar among some of British boxing’s most powerful promoters, with Frank Maloney calling it ‘a scandal’, and Frank Warren
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deeming it ‘car crash television’, in reference to the TV documentary that is following Flintoff as he makes his first steps as a professional fighter. Understandable views, as Flintoff is jumping straight into combat with all of ...Flintoff after. three months training behind him, but the SOAS Spirit can cite previous examples which show athletes can make the ultimate step, into being combatants, with plenty of success… Curtis Woodhouse Woodhouse started out as a promising footballer, playing for clubs such as Sheffield United and Birmingham City, earning himself four England under-21 caps in 1999. Despite this promising start, Woodhouse was beset by disciplinary problems and consequently, in his own words, ‘fell out of love’ with football. He then came out in interviews stating that as a child he actually preferred boxing to football, and promptly began on the road to switching sports. After 17 professional fights, Woodhouse is currently the English light-
welterweight champion. Sonny Bill Williams Williams is perhaps the ultimate example of how great athletes can become great fighters, as he manages to play rugby for the most feared international rugby team in the world - the All Blacks of New Zealand, and he is also New Zealand’s heavyweight boxing champion, with a record of five wins in five fights. Some might say these two roles go hand in hand – even Williams himself, as he describes boxing as ‘good off-season training’ for his rugby. So perhaps there is hope for Freddie yet. Even in his prime as a cricketer he hardly had the physique of a Sonny Bill Williams so there are great role models for him to emulate. His first opponents can only hope he doesn’t still aim for middle stump! ♦
The Drunken Ship of UEFA James Appleby These days in England, when you take your 11year-old son to a football match, you don’t expect him to bear witness to incidents such as stabbings, or, say, one-sided police brutality. You’d be unfortunate for him to experience that even if you took him on a day trip to London during the riots last summer. But this was football in Italy, and this was what my father had to deal with in 2006 when Middlesbrough played AS Roma. As good as it felt to leave Rome on the flight home with a glorious (if I may say so) aggregate victory, one of the greatest in our clubs history, the images of violence have never left me to this day. So to say the recent events that marred Tottenham Hotspur’s recent Europa League clash with Lazio don’t surprise me is an understatement. In fact, the clear similarities between my experiences and those of the Tottenham fans are absolutely repulsive. The first hideous fact is that the ‘Drunken Ship’ pub, in the Campo de Fiori area of Rome, was the scene of both attacks. There exists a minority, albeit a significant one, in the fans of the two great Roman football clubs who are fanatics of a much more despicable kind, who think that to take part in acts such as ‘puncicate’ (Roman slang for knifing the buttocks of opposing fans) and, as Tottenham found
out only too well, Fascist and anti-Semitic acts, is to show support to their club. Add to this awful mixture a brutally heavy-handed police and disturbing events arise that should remain in football’s past. At least 11 Spurs fans have found to be injured by the hooligans who came in wielding knives, baseball bats and knuckle dusters. As in my personal experience in Rome, fans came out with stab wounds to the body, and baton wounds to the head, the police
and fans dealing out violence at an appalling rate.
The second hideous fact is that this sort of violence has broken out in Italy’s ‘eternal city’ between English and Italian clubs in Rome nearly every time an English club has visited the city in the last 10 years, and nothing has been done about it. It’s fair to say that if violence on such a mass scale against European fans occurred even just once on British soil, the team in question would be thrown out of the competition. So why has UEFA not taken action against Lazio or Roma? The same zero-tolerance towards violence and prejudice across Europe is the only solution to keep it out of football.♦
SOAS Spirit | December 2012
Sport Another Year, Two More Titles for Red Bull Will McDonald group of three-time world champions at the close of the F1 season in Interlagos. That list is small enough, but when you bear in mind his record is three from three, it becomes an immense achievement- one that only Juan Fangio and Michael Schumacher have previously achieved. This level of success should undisputedly be enough to elevate Vettel to the top of the current crop of F1 drivers but a small level of doubt still remains. It is a fair question to wonder whether Vettel or Adrian Newey, Red Bull’s talented design chief, is really Sebastian Vettel joined an elite responsible for their ongoing success.
The quality of machinery is always important and F1 is a sport prone to dominance (without even mentioning the 2004 Ferrari/Schumacher combination). Whatever the reasons for his success, it was an impressive recovery drive from Vettel to secure the points needed for the title after a first lap spin. However it wasn’t as impressive as the winning drive from Jenson Button who, once again, proved the master of changeable conditions as even two safety cars could not prevent him from winning by a 20 second margin. The season may have been disappointing for the Brit, but he must have gained immense satisfaction from pipping his departing team-
mate to the most points across their three year partnership (672 to Hamilton’s 657). This brings us nicely to Lewis Hamilton, who signed off his McLaren career in disappointing style after being bundled off in a racing incident with Hulkenberg’s Force India. Next year, he faces a huge challenge in his move away from his childhood team to his new club Mercedes. Though It should be an entertaining season for the fans, with the top drivers competing in teams focused around them; Vettel at Red Bull, Alonso at Ferrari, Button at McLaren, Hamilton at Mercedes and the irrepressible iceman Raikkonen at Lotus♦
Tennis Round-up Will McDonald As most Londoners are tennis to players not drawing
My Sporting Hero Jonathan Craig In the last few years, the sporting degeneration of my childhood hero, Michael Owen, has for me been a little like witnessing, day by day, the steady but undeniable fading of a muchloved family pet. You know deep down the kindest thing is to take the poor bugger to the vet and put it out of its suffering, but delusional devotion to the miserable sod stops you. Friends and onlookers struggle to conceal their concern, wincing at the shaking legs and sad After leaving Liverpool in 2004, the striker enexpression, subtly imploring you to do the sen- joyed progressively less effective spells at Real Madrid, Newcastle, and Manchester United, sible thing, the humane thing. before scraping a contract at Stoke from the The same irrational, misguided devotion oper- bottom of the barrel. Despite credible goalates (pretty much identically) in my continued scoring records for Liverpool and England, Owbelief in Owen (31) as a force in professional en has been consistently dogged by injuries: football. hamstring, metatarsal, knee-ligaments, thigh, My obsessive fandom started in 1998, when the hamstring again, other thigh, abductor muscle, fresh-faced teenage prodigy tore up Argentina’s ankle. The list goes on but you get the picture defence in the last 16 of the World Cup. With and I don’t want to upset myself. The most caslightning pace, mesmeric dribbling ability and ual observer will acknowledge this tragedy of an ice-cool finish, Owen announced his pres- unfulfilled potential, which epitomizes Owens ence on the world stage. More importantly career. though, he announced his presence as my un- Yet the deluded devotion lives in me – I still disputed all-time life hero. believe, against all common sense and all reaNowadays, my undisputed all-time life hero son. I still yearn for Owen’s return to the Engspends most weekends on the bench for Stoke land set-up, in lieu of younger players with City – or else on Match of the Day 2 sofa, doing promising futures and working legs, while others look on, wincing at the sad, irrevocable déhis best Alan Partridge impression. nouement of his footballing life♦
probably aware, we have just had a pretty phenomenal summer of sport. The Olympics have undeniably quietened the doubters and were a huge success for the GB team who were memorably led by Wiggins, Farah, Ennis and the rest. Sadly, it’s now officially over and the ATP World Tour Finals at the O2 reinforced the sense that the long and cold wait till football doesn’t dominate every sports bulletin has begun.
a pension. Then, in September, it finally happened.
Andy Murray stepped up to follow his Olympic success with a win in the US Open to end the UK’s 76 year wait for a major win. For fans of pub quizzes and sporting coincidences (guilty) the tenth of September has to be a special date with Murray’s win coming on the same date as Perry’s 76 years ago. An Olympic Gold won in an emphatic style What a year for Tennis against Federer and a major fans though. The 4 majors win is undeniably a terrific saw 4 winners as momentum year for Murray. flowed back and forth beBut before we get tween the top four. Novak ahead of ourselves and start Djokovic started the year as eying up the number one he left off with an imperious spot, let’s go back to the ATP win in the Australian Open. finals. It wasn’t a beautiful Rafael Nadal reminded us all London finale for Murray, as that despite injuries he is Novak recovered his form still a monster on clay, by and reminded us that it may beating Bjorn Borg’s record still be slim pickings for with a seventh French Open Murray as long as the powertitle at Roland Garros. Wim- ful Serb is around. This, at bledon, eternally disappoint- 25 and exactly a week younging for British fans, saw er than Andy, could be a Federer silence those of us while ♦ that thought he should’ve hung up his racket and left
SOAS Spirit | December 2012
Sport BBC African Footballer of the Year SOAS Men’s Candidates Revealed Will McDonald
Rugby Match Report Rory Frost
Warriors come from behind to beat Royal Holloway
Demba Ba Started the last season sensationally for Newcastle and played an integral part in their shock 5th place finish in the Premier League. Ultimately though his goals didn’t actually win anything and dried up after the turn of the year. Younes Belhanda Perhaps a less-recognised name for Premier League fans. Key member of the French Ligue 1’s surprise winners Montpelier with 12 goals and generally being one of their best performers. Belhanda was also a key part of the Moroccan team at the African Cup of Nations and has continued to perform despite Montpellier’s disappointing start to the new season. Didier Drogba The only former winner on the list who was a key part of a poor Chelsea squad which rallied from a troubled start to the season to win a FA Cup and Champions League double. Drogba will have doubtless enjoyed scoring the winning goal and penalty in both finals before departing for China. Failed to score a penalty in the African Cup of Nations though, losing out to our next candidate. Christopher Katongo At club level few people will have heard of Katongo. In his ten year career he has played for a host of small clubs in several countries. Started his career in his native Zambia, before moving to South Africa, then off to Denmark, followed by Germany and Greece, before finally signing for his current club Henan Construction, in China. His claim to fame here is heroically leading Zambia to an unlikely Africa Cup of Nations win in 2012. Yaya Toure Midfield destroyer who played for Barcelona before joining Mancini’s Manchester City revolution and has been terrorising Premier League midfields ever since. A key player in their title win, but unable to prevent City from consistently crashing out of the European competition, and with Drogba, part of the defeated Ivory Coast team in the Cup of Nations. So who should win it? Demba Ba is undeniably a brilliant player but seems out of his depth here along with Belhanda, who at 22 perhaps remains one for the future. Almost impossible to pick between the others but, missed penalties aside Drogba is one of the true stars of the modern game who deserves it for a terrific farewell season at Chelsea. The Ivorian was also recently named the club’s greatest player ever in a fans’ poll.♦
blighting the team. Hopes remain high, however, and, at least for the moment, The SOAS Rugby team went into the SOAS keep posting the victories. match against RHUL on the 21st hoping to remain unbeaten and stay top of their league. They managed this feat despite Warriors held to a draw by a spirited conceding an easy try in the first five Queen Mary side minutes. The Warriors didn’t let their heads drop and produced the kind of A cold Wednesday saw these two teams form they’ve been improving each game pitted against each other for a cup and answered the home teams converted match that ended with a 7-7 draw. Both try with one of their own in the space of teams did not really play to their full five minutes. The Warriors then picked potential with a score apiece being up the pace and posted four unanswered posted in the first half. The Warriors try tries through forwards Josh France came through a turnover scrum won by (scored three) and hooker Oliver (one) a powerful shove from the tight five and before Holloway managed to take fought over the line by number eight advantage of a wayward pass to score in Daniel Plant. This came in answer to a the corner for the last move of the well worked try from a cross field kick game.. The Warriors remained collected by Queen Mary’s inside centre undefeated winning 29-12 but faced and placed down under the posts. sterner opposition next week against second placed Portsmouth. There was some controversy surrounding the score as it was believed a not straight throw at the lineout by Warriors show their class against Queen Mary should have been taken Pompey back after being called by the referee. The scrum was not given and a resulting penalty led to the try for the visitors. On a dreadful day at the Hub in Regents Park, SOAS took on their closest league rivals and returned with an unexpected Being a cup match, it is uncertain how result. Five unanswered tries in the first the result will be decided, so the SOAS half gave the Warriors a commanding cup journey is yet to be stopped and the lead, a lead they never looked like giving Warriors still remain undefeated. away, despite one well worked try from Hopefully hopes of the double victory in the visitors. This was swiftly answered the cup and league this season will be by a sixth try for SOAS and the win. given further chance to flourish and This means the Warriors are still SOAS will rediscover their winning form undefeated after six games and nearly against LSE next week♦ all opposition played once, with just LSE to play. They hold a powerful position at the top of the table with 18 points with their closest rival, the defeated Portsmouth, on 9 with a game in hand. All signs look good for the Warriors and the season is there for the taking, but it is a long season and injuries are already
SOAS Spirit | December 2012
Sport Remarkable Results for SOAS Girl’s Netball James Appleby
Men’s Tennis Top of league after 4 wins from 4
The SOAS Netball team, led by both the BUCS and the LUSL Lau Martinez and Caitlin Rafferty, leagues, with matches every single have been on a run of impressive re- week on Mondays and Wednesdays. sults, increasing hopes of promotion. With this hectic schedule, one might have figured that consistent line-ups The season started with a 93-0 annimay have been an issue, but the two hilation of Greenwich, followed by captains are full of praise for their similarly astounding thrashings of 83 squad. Unlike in previous years, a -5 and 65-23 against Canterbury solid, committed group of 18 girls are Christ Church and Royal Holloway contributing to the team this season, respectively. As netball matches only and as can clearly be seen, this is last 60 minutes, their over a-goal-aparamount to their current success minute streak saw them threaten to and future progress. obliterate the rest of the league. Setbacks in the form of defeats have fol- With this excellent turn-out, naturallowed, but the team’s captains are ly a better team-bonding atmosphere still confident in raising the platform has been created, with the netball of SOAS netball to the lofty heights team having organised many socials, such as an animal kingdom-themed of promotion this season. party for all of the sports teams, The team have to put in double the which was successful and wellcommitment this season, playing in attended♦
Why Initiations Just Aren’t SOAS Rory Frost Arriving at SOAS as a fresh-faced first-year hoping to join a sports team, my mind was filled with fears of the dreaded initiations I would have to face if I wanted to become an acknowledged part of the team. These fears were mercifully allayed when I was ushered into the team at the first training session and felt none of the ritual humiliation, sadism or homoeroticism that have come from many of my other first team debuts. But why is it that SOAS does not conform to the norm that has seen a young man die in Exeter after drinking a pint of mixed spirits on a sport social?
Tennis is a sport played the world over, with Grand Slam winners having come from every continent on Earth, so we at SOAS, who pride ourselves on having expertise from all over the world, should be able to form a strong tennis team. This point has certainly been proved the guys at men’s tennis in SOAS, who are currently riding high at the top of their league, with 4 wins from 4 matches. The team, which consists of Tomoaki Murosawa, Jorik Fritsch, Faraan Sayed, Ellery Aruldoss, Shun Ito and their proud captain Alex Elletson, play their home matches at Clissold Park, Stoke Newington, and these matches see the team competing in both singles and doubles against rival universities. Their 4 consecutive triumphs have come against St Mary’s, Canterbury, Middlesex and RUMS respectively. The last match with RUMS was a thriller, coming down to the point when SOAS had to win both doubles matches to win and maintain their top-of-the-league status and 100% record. SOAS continue to be too good for the opposition♦
bourgeoisie of these universities. It may also be because sports, and all that entails, are generally undervalued at SOAS. We still do not have guaranteed seminar-free Wednesday afternoons, and the funding allocated to them are nothing compared to the teams SOAS play on a weekly basis. This lack of interest from the governing bodies carries over into the general populace and I believe initiations would merely be seen as a noisome irritation rather than something integral to the university sporting experience.
I would claim firstly that initiations might just be a bit too “rah” for SOAS with its “leftier than thou” mentality. Initiations remain the cornerstone of ancient institutions of York, Durham, Oxbridge and UCL, and the majority of SOAS students want to distance themselves from these places, as they still resent the fact they didn’t get in and But then again it may be that the because their newly adopted average SOASian merely cannot ‘shabby’ persona clashes with the handle their drink♦
Norwegian Class Inspires SOAS winning form in Women's' football The team’s captain Precious Mealia has personally contacted the Spirit to thank two Norwegian players, Ingunn and Helen Gjaerde for their contribution to the team, and to say it’s been a pleasure to have them for this term. It certainly appears the two Norwegians have helped Precious lead her team to success in the short time they have been here, as three marvellous results have been attained this term. First to face the music from the stars of SOAS were Goldsmith’s, who were humbled 7-1. As if that victory wasn’t comprehensive enough, in their next game, they dissected the defence of King’s Medics time and time again as they romped home to a 9-0 triumph. Another further 5-2 success over St George’s ensured the SOAS women’s perfect start to the season. Only time will tell how they fare without the contribution of the two Norwegian players, but results as convincing as this surely bode well for the future. Precious and her team are representing SOAS with success and distinction, and with results like these, why not go along to their next game and cheer them on to glory?♦
SOAS Spirit | December 2012
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SOAS Spirit | December 2012
Contribution of the month ‘Mitrovica: The emblem of an ethnic quarrel’ David Leone Suber The recent events in Gaza have re-brought the tragedy of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict under the emotional eye of the public opinion. This conflict, based on the claim of possession of a territory that is for both parts fundamental in their survival as nations, is a conflict where a peaceful and bilateral resolution seems to be getting progressively more unreachable. If from the shores of the Near East we move our discussion in the heart of the Balkans, a similar symphony, played however in a different key, can be listened everyday among the crumbling houses and the newly built glass-buildings of Prišhtina and Mitrovica, two of the most populated cities in Kosovo. Not everyone knows that Kosovo, from the end of the war in 1999, despite having proclaimed itself as independent Republic in 2008, still has not received international recognition. This doesn’t surprise us in the case of the old Serbian nation, but it becomes side to the other, no one will guarantee for you: viocontroversial considering that even the so close and lence is always behind the corner. Serbs and Albaniinfluential European Union has not jet managed to ans do not live peacefully in Mitrovica. reach a common agreement on how to relate to Kosovo. Negotiations between Belgrade and Pristina have started years ago, but foreseeably they are very inGiven that no one today writes or speaks about Ko- constant: they start, get interrupted and then resovo any more, the only way to have an idea of what started again, on different terms, by different peois really happening is to go there. In this sense, Mi- ple. In Kosovo, more than on the work of the governtrovica is the place where you want to be. Less than ment, people rely mostly on hard working local and an hour away from Prišhtina, on roads that still international NGO’s , which, in most of the cases, show signs of speed limit for tanks, Mitrovica is the really make a difference in the lives of people. These largest city in the north of the country. In Kosovo, organisations predispose social care for orphans; the great majority of the population is of Albanian run kindergartens and schools; canteens for the ethnicity. This proportion tends to even up in the homeless; put up environmental programs in renorth of the country, especially from Mitrovica to gions where the collection of garbage is usually left the northern border with Serbia. There, ethnic divi- to alley dogs. By doing so, they are also the primary agents of ethnic reconciliation, given that most of sion is more evenly counterbalanced. them do not look at ethnicity when implementing The end of the war started an exodus of the Serb their programmes. Ethnic integration is the basic population, counterbalanced by a gradual but sus- goal for most of these organisations, whether considtained Albanian repatriation. This movement of peo- ering Turks and Roma minorities or bigger and ple has contributed to the creation of a complex situ- more complicated relations such as the ones beation that today shapes a paralyzed country. tween Serbs and Albanians. Mitrovica is the emblem of this division. Ethnic conflict is evident in the urban split of the city. If the Russians had to build a wall in order to separate Berlin in two halves, in Mitrovica no wall is needed. A natural division is situated along the river Ibar: south of the Ibar live the Albanians, north of the river only Serbs. There are no rules that grant this status quo. The situation holds on unwritten laws, symbolized by the barricade of rubble and stones that has been piled on the main bridge that connects the two halves of the city. If you want to go from one
It is impressive to see the role that Civil Society is playing in the struggle for a solution to this ethnic rivalry. Particularly when compared to what both the executives from Kosovo and Serbia have instead achieved. As a young man I met sitting in front of what remained of a bar now turned into an occasional shelter for homeless Serbs in the north of Mitrovica: “Until when Prišhtina will ignore and marginalize the Serbian minorities from the dialogue, there will be no prospects of a better future for us Serbs. Our only solution is to leave everything and go to
Serbia. What awaits us here is only struggle and misery.” Kosovo, together with being the region with the lowest average age in Europe, also boasts the highest unemployment rate among young people (close to 73% according to Unicef report of 2010), with a total unemployment rate of 45%. The social meaning of these data is even greater if considering what it means for the Serb minorities. The lack of jobs brings young Serbs to join illegal cartels that traffic goods (from apples to weapons) from one side to another of the border frontiers of Jarninje and Brnjak. The high rate of unemployment is linked to the increasing criminality, particularly in Mitrovica. These issues, summed up to the ethnic conflict that characterized the region, are among the reasons for continuously growing tensions between the Serb and Albanian population. Presently the situation is quite stuck. No major change can be foreseen in the closest future. However, differently form the situation in the Near East, where these kind of problems are dealt mostly militarily, Kosovo has already suffered and is still suffering from the wounds of war. The road of dialogue might seem long and complicated, but if this dialogue will be opened up to all the actors involved, it is not utopian to think of a peaceful and bipartisan resolution. Despite the many difficulties that this process is encountering, the direction it has taken seems to be the less costly for the population. And in times like ours, where taking up arms is always the first and apparently only choice, this is not of little account.♦
The official student union newspaper of the School of Oriental and African studies