Friday, Dec. 10: I will be leaving on a plane is less then 24 hours, catching a 18-hour flight to gather with close to 60,000 students and youth in Pretoria, South Africa, for the 17th World Festival of Youth and Students (WFYS) from December 13 to December 21.
On the weekend the 2010 FIFA World Cup ends here are a few reflections...
Four years ago, Canadian viewers of the Soccer World Cup were treated to colour commentary on how the Togolese might struggle with 26 Celsius heat of Northern Germany. Although sports commentary frequently has such inanities, coverage of this World Cup, in South Africa, has had more insidious issues particularly regarding the portrayal of African nations. Canadian media coverage is damaged by continued ignorance of Africa, stereotyping and double-standards which are at times dehumanizing.
The myth of one Africa
Nelson Mandela's passing last week at the age of 95 has been met with a global outpouring of remembrance and reflection. A giant of modern human history has died. Mandela is rightly remembered for his remarkable ability to reconcile with his oppressors, and the political prescription his forgiveness entailed for the new South Africa. "Never, never and never again shall it be that this beautiful land will again experience the oppression of one by another," Mandela said in his inaugural speech in Pretoria, on May 10, 1994.
Just this Wednesday, someone who'd returned from Myanmar was asking if the time of the Great Ones has passed. He was referring to the indomitable persistence of Aung San Suu Kyi, who was imprisoned there in 1989, just before winning a huge election victory -- at nearly the same moment when Nelson Mandela was released from his 27 years in three different apartheid-era hellholes. "Is it because of social media?" someone else wondered. Do they effectively diminish everyone on the planet with their intimate scrutiny and presentation of personal minutiae? Can there be Mandelas in the future?
Nelson Mandela has died at the age of 95 at his home in Johannesburg. In 1994 he became the first democratically elected president of South Africa. Watch his inauguration speech here.