So much for saying you want a quiet life, Meghan Markle | Stuff.co.nz

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COMMENT: ​So Meghan Markle is reportedly attending the Met Gala in May. Because where better to celebrate your newfound privacy and “space” than at “the Oscars of the East Coast”, “the Super Bowl of red-carpet events”?

What could be more perfectly suited to anyone fleeing “intense scrutiny” and “commoditisation” than a mega-bash to which anti-commodification activist Kim Kardashian once turned up dressed in a nude-effect wet-look dress? A celebrity Pavlova, where the 225 photographers will take an estimated 50 shots a minute, before blasting millions of images out into the ether? Although why this is more appealing than a royal visit to the Mumbles Lifeboat station in South Wales is anyone’s guess.

Anthony Devlin
Has Meghan Markle lost the sympathy of the public?

According to sources at the weekend, Markle is to leave Prince Harry at home for the night, so “she can establish herself once more in Hollywood”, apparently attending the Met Gala with Vogue’s editor, Edward Enninful. This makes about as much sense as a woman who craves the quiet life asking her LA agent to find her a leading role in a superhero film, “something that pays big” – which is exactly what one Sunday paper claims Markle has done.

As the Sussexes fly back to Britain to complete their final engagements as working members of the Firm – and face the Royal family for the first time since The Statement, the petulant Instagram post from a fortnight ago in which they whined about being made to drop the “SussexRoyal” brand despite there being nothing legal to stop them using it – the pair may have no choice but to brazen it out.

I’m not sure the Sussexes will understand just how colossal a miscalculation that statement was. After all, you have a young man and his wife turning on a 93-year-old grandmother at one of the toughest moments of her life. You have them disregarding the pain and sadness prompted by Prince Philip’s ill health, Prince Andrew’s involvement with a paedophile and her beloved grandsons falling out – all because they have a brand to promote. Is there any way back from that?

Had you asked me a month ago, I would have said yes. Despite the acts of clumsiness and the missteps we’ve witnessed over the past two years, I would still have said yes. So they invited a bunch of A-listers that they’d only met once to their wedding. How many of us would do the same if we knew George and Amal would actually come? Was their dispensing of certain royal traditions really so bad? The insistence on Archie’s christening remaining private and the setting up of their own “breakaway” website?

Harry has always been his own person. At this point, one could still push a convincing narrative that these two were “breathing new life” into an outdated institution.

But the precise moment the couple began to lose the public’s sympathy wasn’t when they chose the hospitality of a billionaire in Vancouver Island over that of the Queen at Christmas, or indeed when they decided to make the desired “break from royal duties” permanent. No – that moment can be charted back to a lament the misty-eyed Duchess of Sussex made in the ITV documentary charting the couple’s African tour last year: “Not many people have asked if I’m OK.”

Because that single sentence managed to eclipse everything the couple were in southern Africa to highlight – from the 1,000 minefields that have yet to be cleared in Angola, to the abject poverty in Malawi and HIV-hit children in Botswana – and make it all about Markle.

Prince Harry Meghan Markle met with crowds when they visited Auckland.

It may be unfair to blame Meghan any more than Harry for these recent missteps. But one thing is certain: neither the words nor the sentiments in The Statement appear to be those of a happy young couple, revelling in the joy of each other and their nine-month-old baby.

And I worry that something is unravelling behind the scenes. Because if their intention were really to enjoy a quiet life, why would they care about a title that can only ever be used for professional profit and status?

Why would the team of LA-based agents, lawyers and publicists be necessary and the showbusiness parties and blockbuster film roles so appealing?

You don’t need those things or grand branding to live a serene and peaceful life. But solid family relationships? They’re essential.

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Ripples over mechanic allegedly fortured to death by Rivers policemen

By Rosemary Nwisi, Port Harcourt and Nicholas Kalu, Abuja

Nigerians are demanding justice in the case of a Port Harcourt mechanic , Chima Ikwunado, said to have been falsely accused of robbery and tortured to death by the  police.

Four other young men described as Chima’s friends who were similarly arrested and slammed with the same allegations are languishing in prison.

The police denied killing Chima.

They said autopsy showed that he died of ‘high sugar level.’

The five men were arrested on December 19, 2019 ostensibly for driving against traffic in the city by officers  from Mile One police station.

The police ,according to a man who claimed to be the owner of one of the cars being test driven by Chima,demanded bribe from the boys who said they had no money on them.

He said that the police proceeded to search the boys only to find various sums of money.

His story which was shared on Twitter had generated over 11000 angry reactions as at 4pm yesterday.

His account: “I gave my car to my usual mechanic to fix AC Gas on the 19th of Dec 2019. Called him several times on the 20th and did not get an answer. I decided to visit his shop physically at Ikoku to find out that my car and the mechanic are nowhere to be found. I asked fellow mechanics around and one said he saw when the mechanic was driving one way and he suspects that he might have been apprehended by the Police. My mind came down a bit after hearing this.

“I started visiting Police Stations in Port-Harcourt one after the other making enquiries until I got to Mile 1 Police Station and I saw my car parked in front of the Eagle Crack Police Division(a.k.a E-Crack). I felt relief thinking that the Police is my friend, I was totally wrong. I presented myself quickly at the front desk to say that the car belongs to me and I want to know the reason it got to this place. I was shocked to be pointed a gun by one of the officers and I was asked to leave before I get shot. Wow…. I wondered what crime I could have committed to present myself as the owner of my car. But I had to leave before I get shot.

“I got to my house and was drafting a strategy to attack this issue. It was exactly 2hours later when I noticed a knock on my gate. I opened my gate to see a young man who introduced himself as ‘Obinna the brother to Chima’. Chima is the name of my mechanic. He asked me my name which I told him and that he was directed by his brother to meet me. So I asked him quickly if he knew the reason for the arrest. He said Chima told him that he and his boys were testing two cars, 3 boys in a Camry and 2 boys in my car, after doing some work on them. The traffic in Port-Harcourt around that time was terrible and they decided to drive one way.

“The police apprehend them and asked them for money. They offered an amount which was not comfortable for the Police officers. The eyes of the Police officers were completely red looking for money to solve their Christmas matters as this usually happens during the Christmas festive period in Nigeria. The police officers immediately changed the case to robbery, accusing the boys of robbing the two cars.

“The officers asked the boys to raise their hands and searched their pockets. They found money in each of the pockets of the boys. According to Obinna, N97,000.00(ninety seven thousand naira) was found on Chima, N50,000.00 (Fifty thousand naira) on one of them, N16,000.00(Sixteen thousand) on another etc, totally over N150,000.00(one hundred and fifty thousand naira) in their pockets. In the minds of the Police officers; (we cannot afford to loose this money we have seen physically in their pockets. Our Christmas is guaranteed a success if we can obtain all the money). Which indeed they achieved.

“Hand cuffed all of them, took their money and their telephones and arraigned them to the Police Station. Getting to the station, hung this boys upside down in fan hooks and started brutality on them with various weapons. The youngest of them which is only 19yrs was almost at the point of death and accepted to confess whatever they ask him to say. He started making false confession about my car, he agreed that my car was rubbed and that, the car belongs to a lady and that, they jumped into the ladies compound, broke the glass of the car, opened the door and used a master key to start the car. Broke the gate and drove off.

“This was the information I got from Mr. Obinna. At least I know the reason why my car is there. So I made contact with the Nigerian Air force Base who sent 2 soldiers to accompany me in my next visit. The two soldiers arrived my residence and accompanied me.

On arrival at the Mile 1 E-Crack Division, the IPO in charge of the case was very rude to the air force soldiers, insulting them saying that this is purely a civilian case and a case of robbery. The soldiers got angry and asked me if they can start beating up the police officers, I calmly told them not to do so as it will make matters worse for the innocent boys in police custody. So I left with the officers. I then called the Air force Commander and updated him on current status, he asked me if I had copies of my car papers, I told him I would get them and revert to him accordingly.

“I searched in my house for the car papers and did not find. But I remembered that my driver was the one who renewed the papers not up to 2months back. So I asked my driver for the papers and he informed me that he forgot the original and photocopies inside my car. I asked him to call the man at Inland Revenue to print copies. I got the copies and contacted the Air force Commander again to let him know that I have the papers.

“The Commander joined me to the Police Station on 23rd of Dec 2019. We met the Commander of E-Crack, I noticed the name on his uniform as Benson. The Air force Commander introduced himself and introduced me as his brother. Mr. Benson called the IPO of the case to come and narrate the story. The IPO explained how the boys jumped into a lady’s compound, broke the glass of the car, used master key to start the car, broke the gate and drove off. That they, the police officers apprehended the boys at the point of sale. That the boys were communicating with the buyer from Aba and that one of the boys has already confessed to the crime.

“After hearing this, at first I was wondering if it was some Nigerian movie the man was narrating or was he talking about my car? The E-Crack Commander now asked the IPO to bring the boy who made the confession. The boy was brought in after 2mins limping seriously with smelling wounds. The E-Crack Commander now asked the boy to tell the truth that no one would torture him. The boy now started talking by saying that he is only an apprenticed under his boss ‘Chima’, that the car belongs to Chima’s customer, that he made the false confession because he was tortured almost to the point of death, at this point, he stretched his arms with handcuffs towards the commander showing him the smelling wounds.

“The E-Crack Commander now asked the IPO to return the boy. I now told the E-Crack Commander that I have copies of my car papers here which I got from the Inland Revenue today as my driver forgot the original papers as well as the photocopies in my car, is it possible for the IPO to check my car, get all the papers in it and we compare with what is in my hands. The E-Crack commander agreed and sent the IPO to get the papers.

“After 3mins, the IPO came back and said there were no papers in the car. Well, I have copies right in front of us, I asked the commander if the copies I am presenting can be verified, and he concurred. I left the station with the Air force Commander.

“On the 30th of December 2019. I returned to the police station and met the commander to verify if my presented documents have been verified. He called the IPO and the IPO confirmed that the documents are authentic. The commander now asked me my full name and I told him. He says that the name on the papers bears the same surname but different first name, why is this so? I explained that, the first name and second name on the car papers belong to my younger sister. He insisted that I must bring her to the station. So I called my sister and picked her up at her office and brought her to the station. I presented her to the commander.

“The commander asked how long she has been using the car and she confirmed that it is over 2yrs. He asked the IPO to release my car as well as the second car which was an old model Camry. Before leaving his office, I asked about the boys because I still have an unfinished business with my mechanic. He asked me how long I have known the mechanic, I told him that I have known the mechanic for more than 4years and that the mechanic fixes all my cars. The Commander now told me that he is investigating a case of cultism against all the boys. I wondered in my mind how a case of charged “Robbery” could change to cultism. I had no choice other than to leave the station with my car. On the 2nd of January 2020, I got a call from a barrister saying that he was engaged by the families of the boys in custody. That he has spoken with the Commander with regards to the case. That he was shocked to know that the commander was now working as a commander in that division as he has long known him. That in fact the man is his friend. He continued by saying that the commander told him that the case is a bad one, his boys have over worked. Speaking in pigeon saying “de case don spoil, my boys don over work” The Barrister did not understand. The barrister kept on insisting until the man opened up to say that my mechanic ‘Chima’ is dead. He was tortured to death.

‘The barrister now asked him where the corpse is. The Commander says that he does not trust him enough to reveal that kind of classified information. That the best thing he can do for the remaining four boys, is to look for a small charge to charge them, so that as soon as they get to the court, bail will be granted easily. He asked the barrister to come the next day. According to the barrister, as soon as he left the police station, the Commander immediately charged the boys to court that same day on the charge of my car robbery and cultism. After hearing this from the barrister I again thought, the police had released my car to me after verifying that it is my car and I never told them that my car was ever robbed, why did they still charge the boys for my car robbery? I later found out the answer which I will say shortly after. As I write this story, the remaining four boys are in prison custody with wounds getting rotten and smelling. Chima that the police killed is tagged as ‘At Large’. The answer to my question came out when the families of the deceased visited the court to see a copy of the charge sheet confirming that the police wrote on it that the owner of the car, which is supposed to me, confirmed to them that his car was stolen as described. I have never made such a statement anywhere. My car was never robbed.

Read Also: Family petitions police over attack on disputed land in Ogun community

“The families of the boys visited the prison in Port-Harcourt to see their loved ones and insisted to take photographs after seeing the wounds of some of them excreting water and decayed substances. The prison warders said each photograph will cost them N15,000.00 (Fifteen Thousand Naira) each. The families not being able to afford the money, left the prison sobering.

“At this moment of my life, I and my family members are very scared of the police. I wanted to send my brother out with my car, immediately I realized that his drivers license is in process. I got scared and did not engage him anymore, because if police can take a life because of “one way driving”, then it means they can take a life for not having Drivers License and many more.

“As I write this message, my wife is beside me shivering and saying that I should make the message anonymous, for fear that I could get killed by the police for making it public.

“Please if I get any mosquito bite, you know who is responsible.

“I came to know that the deceased mechanic got married just six months ago and that his wife is a few months pregnant.

“Again, the families of the 5 boys are in abject poverty and could not even afford lawyer fees to follow up the case. What a shame.”

The complainant gave the names of the other boys as:Victor Ogbonna,Osaze Friday,Ifeanyi Osuji and Ifeanyi Onyekwere.

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“Nollywood Is Filled With Envy” – Actress Grace Ama

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Veteran Nollywood actress, Grace Ama has spoken up about her reason for keeping a low-profile and staying off social media.

Nollywood actress, Grace Ama
Nollywood actress, Grace Ama

The actress, who has graced our television screens for over a decade now, had a chat with Saturday Beatz.

The actress revealed how envy has become the order of the day in the movie industry.

Ama said;

“I’m glad that I’m still in the minds of people. I still get people that ask me, ‘what happened to you?’ It is unfortunate that Nollywood is full of envy and all sorts.

Sometimes, social media could be helpful and at times, it should not be a go-to place to talk about one’s problems. There are times in one’s life that one has to deal with so many things.

Many people are used to social media that they want to put out everything about themselves for the world to know. You don’t even know where those challenges are coming from and the moment you go public, you make the culprits know that their plans have worked and they have succeeded.

Read Also: You Will Not Exit Poverty If You Started Your Life With Borrowing – Reno Omokri

You either get the attention you want or it becomes worse for you. When you put it out there and the people you think should have come to your aid didn’t do that, it becomes a problem.

As for me, I deal with my problems differently. I am not a social media person, I guard my private life and try as much as possible to tackle my problems privately. I have close people that I can reach out to but I pray it never gets to the stage where I would have to go on social media to let people know that things have gone bad for me.

 A lot of things are happening but it takes the spirit of discernment to understand what the world is all about. The world does not want to know that you are doing well. Leave social media. All those things are rubbish; once the chips are down, the people you think are your followers would turn their backs on you.”

The post “Nollywood Is Filled With Envy” – Actress Grace Ama appeared first on Information Nigeria.

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Omo Sexy remakes Nollywood, music industry into money machine | P.M. News

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Omotola Jalade Ekeinde

Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde is trying to reorganise Nollywood and Nigeria’s music industry to become a money making machine for all the stakeholders as she staged an entertainment fair TEFFEST. Will she succeed?

International Business Times zeroes in on her effort in this feature by AFP:

Fake eyelashes fluttered, bespoke suits were on display and slick music videos played at the inaugural edition of The Entertainment Fair and Festival in Nigeria’s economic hub Lagos in late November.

But behind the glitter, the reality of the film and music sectors in Africa’s most populous nation can often be far less glamorous: wages are low, there are no social protections and copyright law is rarely enforced.

That comes despite the country boasting the second most productive film industry in the world and some of Africa’s biggest pop stars.

Hits by singers like Burna Boy, Wizkid and Davido play non-stop on stations across the continent and Nollywood churns out some 2,500 movies each year.

Despite the successes, revenues from Nigeria’s entertainment and media sector in 2018 lagged well behind that of the continent’s other leading economic powerhouse South Africa at $4.5 billion compared to $9.1 billion, PwC said.

That difference is not down to output or demand as Nigeria produces more, exports more and has a domestic market of some 200 million people, four times bigger than South Africa.

Instead industry insiders insist it is a problem of organisation.

South Africa has better systems for ensuring royalty payments for artists, stronger legal protections and more modern facilities such as film studios, concert venues and cinemas.

In a bid to help remedy the issues facing the industry, veteran Nollywood star Omotola Jalade-Ekeinde came up with the first entertainment business fair, known as TEFFEST.

It is aimed at bringing together actors, singers, producers, insurers, lawyers and managers to better organise the sector.

“The entertainment industry has grown without structures, without a roof,” Jalade-Ekeinde, nicknamed “Omo Sexy”, told AFP.

“For decades, we were not taken seriously and the big corporation companies didn’t consider us.”

The situation has changed as the industry has grown and now companies like Netflix are looking to step up their involvement in Nollywood and international labels attempting to tap Afropop stars.

“We produced, we grew, we became something suddenly and now the corporate world is trying to understand how we work and how they can deal with us,” Jalade-Ekeinde, AKA “the Queen of Nollywood”, said.

But the problems riddling the industry means it is often difficult to invest.

“There is nothing to celebrate here,” said Efe Omoregbe, manager of singer 2Face and former board member of the Copyright Society of Nigeria (COSON), which was dissolved by the government due to an internal conflict.

“We should be fixing and addressing major structural issues (…) We live in a culture of abuse when it comes to copyrights.”

PwC estimates that 80 percent of the pirate CDs globally can be found in Nigeria and singer Brymo says that in almost 20 years performing he has never received any money from his songs playing on local radio stations.

“Internationally, we make money through digital distribution platforms that have taken over rapidly, but locally it’s mostly with gigs or endorsement deals,” he said.

Lawyer Simeon Okoduwa said he tries to insist on artists signing a contract with producers before working with them.

“Too many film shoots or recordings are still done based on promises and handshakes,” he said.

This is an issue that leading actor Michelle Dede knows only too well.

The star always demands a written contract before starting her next film — and says the largest production companies now do offer written contracts as standard.

“Before producers thought I was being pretentious,” she said.

Despite the improvements she still decries the lack of protections for performers or a minimum wage for actors and others involved in the industry such as make-up artists, cameramen and technicians.

Nollywood is a vast employer in Nigeria — with some estimates saying it offers jobs to one million people — but much of that is very precarious.

“We make more money on building a brand than acting,” said Dede.

“But I shouldn’t be focusing on how many likes I get on Instagram, I should be working on my roles.”

Despite the drawbacks, the entertainment industry is still a major draw in a country where almost half the population live in extreme poverty.

But Dede said she still has no regret of leaving her job in marketing in London to launch herself in Nollywood.

“Nothing makes me happier than acting,” she said.

“Even though the pay is not good, there is no way I would give up on that.”

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Collapses: The Venice Biennale and the End of History | Art Practical

Collapses: The Venice Biennale and the End of History

The 2019 Venice Biennale feels like the end of everything: the end of art tourism, the end of vacations, the end of the beach and the climate of pleasure. With bad news about the climate crisis worsening every day, the nationalistic turn of governments from the U.S. to Britain to Italy to India and Brazil, it’s unclear whether the liberal ideology that produces world-scale cultural events like the Biennale can hold much longer, or whether the economic or ecological structures of global tourism can continue to support it. The liberal democratic order of free markets and free will is undermined around the globe by violent nationalism and economic protectionism. The Biennale exhibition, May You Live in Interesting Times, offers little but a hollow scream in opposition. The whole thing feels a bit like buyer’s remorse, a magnum opus from a lapsed believer in Francis Fukuyama’s promise that we’d reached the End of History.1

Arthur Jafa

Joint Italy-EU military vessel with helicopter, Piraeus Port, Greece, August 2019. Photo: Anuradha Vikram

Both the main exhibitions and the various national pavilions feature more women and artists of color this year than any previous. Diversity is manifest with respect to types of work, interests, materials, biographies, and ages of the artists on view. Curator Ralph Rugoff states that “[the artists’] work grows out of a practice of entertaining multiple perspectives: of holding in mind seemingly contradictory notions, and juggling diverse ways of making sense of the world.”2 Diversity and multiplicity appear here to be set up as counternarratives to universalism, the ideology that has historically governed the international contemporary art discourse. But is this in fact the case? Fukuyama says, “The spectacular abundance of advanced liberal economies and the infinitely diverse consumer culture made possible by them seem to both foster and preserve liberalism in the political sphere.” If, as Fukuyama suggests, there are  “fundamental ‘contradictions’ of human life that cannot be resolved in the context of modern liberalism, that would be resolvable by an alternative political-economic structure,”3 diversity is not one of those contradictions. Rather, pluralism reinforces the “common ideological heritage of mankind,”4 while fascism’s resurgence around the globe and the popular embrace of nationalist identity are more of a contradiction in light of the realities of international markets. This is the turn of events that market utopians like Fukuyama failed to anticipate.

Rugoff never comes off as a utopian, given his pervasive air of weary detachment. Rather, the exhibition transmits how it feels to watch the ascent of Donald Trump and the unfolding catastrophe of Brexit from the “all-knowing,” cool remove of the contemporary art insider—omniscient, yet impotent, and unable to divest from toxic habits. George Condo, Sun Yuan and Peng Yu, Christian Marclay, and Arthur Jafa channel an anxiety bordering on panic. Construction, shipping, air travel, commerce, monuments, the body, gender—all once fixed as concepts in the Western imagination, with clearly associated positive values, are now invoked by artists such as Yin Xiuzhen, Nicole Eisenman, Slavs and Tatars, and Martine Gutierrez as hazardous, unstable, and volatile. Nowhere is this instability more evident than in the work of Mari Katayama, a Japanese artist whose self-portraiture tableaus tease the boundary between agency and objectification. These artists, more than the comparably straightforward representation advanced by artists like Zanele Muholi, Njideka Akunyili Crosby, or Gauri Gill, capture the zeitgeist of not just the show but the present time. Our historical moment is monumentally catastrophic, and the usual serious response to extremism doesn’t seem to be working. Instead, the images range from abject to absurd.

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Indios antropófagos: A Butterfly Garden in the (Urban) Jungle. Peru Pavilion, Venice Biennale 2019. Photo: Anuradha Vikram

Especially relevant are the artists who toy with the fetishization of Indigenous bodies and cultures for Western consumption. Within the main exhibition curated by Rugoff, Gutierrez situates her U.S.-born Latinx, trans body within a series of photographic landscapes, Body in Thrall, that challenge touristic notions of indigeneity, cultural authenticity, and romanticized poverty around non-white people. She occupies diverse personas, from a film noir femme fatale to the terrifying Aztec deity Tlazolteotl, “Eater of Filth,” always negotiating the high fashion aesthetics of desire with a subversive decolonial aggression. Similar themes and tactics appear in Indios antropófagos in the Peruvian Pavilion, curated by Gustavo Buntinx, in which historical artifacts from the Spanish colonial era and large mosaic tile works by Christian Bendayán depicting frolicking Indigenous youth come together in a scathing critique of cultural tourism. In the French Pavilion, curated by Martha Kirszenbaum, artist Laure Prouvost references the oceans and the sea life projected to die out by 2048, only 29 years into the future, with a number of glass animals seemingly cast into the sea floor, strewn across a landscape of refuse and discarded technologies.

Back in the real world, there’s no way to excise or sequester the beautiful parts into a future that can outlast the very real catastrophes happening now. The overwhelmingly urgent need for a complete lifestyle change played in my head over the week following my visit to the Biennale, as I recuperated from a difficult personal and professional year on a seven-day Greek Islands cruise with my young children, partner, and parents. Looking over the waters where thousands of migrants have drowned, from the top deck of a massive, yet outdated, luxury vessel, I considered how the looming climate crisis creates a condition of simultaneous enjoyment of the modern world that is all around us, and a mourning for its obvious and inevitable loss. Is this the end of curating? The traditional role of the curator as guardian of the world’s collected treasures seems as irrelevant as the contemporary job of mounting resource-heavy exhibitions for an international crowd of jet-setters. Conceptualism has begun to rot from the head, as when Rugoff controversially chose to include Christoph Büchel’s installation of a salvaged boat that, in 2015, sank in the Mediterranean with more than 800 people aboard. I reflected on this watery tomb, recommissioned as a tourist attraction, while looking out across Piraeus port. In the distance, a military troop (jointly operated by Italy and the European Union) performed exercises atop a warship in a city where anti-immigrant attacks are on the rise. In the seventeenth century, the Venetians gained and lost control of Athens in a rivalry with the Ottomans. Today, it seems the EU’s primary objective in the Mediterranean is to sever thousands of years of interconnection between these three regions. Two years ago, the regenerative promise of art as a universal cultural good was undermined when documenta 14 recreated the financial dynamics of German austerity policies in Athens, Greece afresh. Debts went unpaid, workers uncompensated, all in the name of “fiscal responsibility” that nearly shuttered the sixty-year-old event for good. What better outcome ought we to expect this year from an art event born out of universal nationalism?

Christine Wertheim

Halil Altindere, Space Refugee, 2016. May You Live in Interesting Times, Venice Biennale 2019. Photo: Anuradha Vikram

An explicitly utopian impulse is fugitive in May You Live in Interesting Times, but it manifests in the intersection of art, science, and technology. Margaret and Christine Wertheim’s Crochet Coral Reef raises awareness about preservation of the oceans through a crowdsourcing practice that combines mathematical learning with environmentalism and craft. Tavares Strachan’s meditation on African American astronaut Robert Henry Lawrence, Jr., locates metaphysical discourse about the afterlife within a scientific conversation about space travel—where elsewhere Halil Altindere complicates this view with the tale of Syrian cosmonaut Muhammed Ahmed Faris and his persecution by the state. Ryoji Ikeda bathes us in cleansing white light and describes a massive, thunderous universe of data that takes breathtaking shape before our eyes. Hito Steyerl’s This is the Future is a post-internet pastorale in which computer vision is applied to the Venetian landscape to depict a state of perpetual, dreamlike futurity in which the present persistently refuses to resolve into view. The protagonist of Steyerl’s installation seeks out a garden that she had previously hidden in the future in order to protect it from the ravages of the present.

The song of the Lithuanian Pavilion Sun & Sea (Marina) still rings in my ears:

“When my body dies, I will remain,
In an empty planet without birds, animals and corals.
Yet with the press of a single button,
I will remake this world again”

The finale of Sun & Sea (Marina) details the 3D printing of facsimiles of species in widespread collapse, taking comfort in their simulated resurrection as one would in the cold rays of a dying sun.

Greek Islands

Sun & Sea (Marina), Lithuanian Pavilion, Venice Biennale 2019. Photo: Anuradha Vikram

The gentle tenor of the apocalyptic visions in Sun & Sea (Marina) perfectly encapsulates the feeling of living at the outside edge of the story of the human species on planet Earth, with the knowledge that history as we know it may well be about to end because our species is one of millions undergoing collapse. The emptiness of our endeavors is invoked by Shilpa Gupta, whose wildly swinging metal gate hammers an effigy of national borders into a gallery wall. Otobong Nkanga’s drawings in acrylic on crayon reference the mechanical, industrialized nature of exploitation in the 21st century. Unlike the bees, whose society is organized around abundance, we humans have engineered systems to maximize our suffering. If humankind can truly lay claim to a common ideological heritage, as Fukuyama once argued, we have only ourselves to blame for our impending end.

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Female Victims Of Sex Trafficking Relieve Heart-rending Experiences Of Their Near-death Journey To Get Greener Pastures Overseas – Motherhood In-Style Magazine

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Every year, thousands of women and children become victims of sex trafficking in their own countries and abroad.

Nigeria is a source, transit, and destination country for women and children subjected to trafficking in persons including forced labor and forced prostitution.

Trafficked Nigerian women and children are recruited from rural areas within the country’s borders – women and girls for involuntary domestic servitude and sexual exploitation.

The quest to make it big in life coupled with the harsh living condition in the country forced these women to jump into the prospects of travelling abroad at any single opportunity not minding the consequences.

Many of these distraught and sometimes desperate Nigerians believe that the streets overseas are paved with gold, pounds and dollars that once you step into those countries it will be bye-bye to poverty and hardship.

Unfortunately, as it is said, not all that glitters is gold. To escape the hardship at home, many take great risks to travel abroad only to enter into a more harrowing experience.

Some die in the process while others escape with scars that may haunt them for the rest of their lives. While some were victims of circumstances, having been tricked and deceived into such journey, others take the risk of opting to travel abroad by land and sea routes knowing that they cannot afford the normal process of getting visas and honouring several embassy appointments. Some of the girls deceived into this route end up as sex slaves with so much regret and consequences.

reporter encountered two young women in Anambra, Amarachi Ojene, 23, and Tobechukwu Igboeri, who shared the chilling experiences of their near-death journey to get greener pastures overseas. Years after such ‘journey to hell’, their lives have never been the same again.

Amarachi, from Nibo, Awka South Local Government Area of Anambra State was an SS2 student in 2012 when she encountered a devil in human skin who not only took advantage of her naivety and innocence, but also exploited her poor parental background to trick her into a sex slavery trip abroad.

Having lost her dad when she was seven years, Amarachi relied on her mother who eked out a living by hawking cooked Okpa (a local delicacy) around the Awka metropolis. They also augmented the proceeds by engaging in manual labour in local farms for people at a fee.

So, she was so excited when she met her friends who told her that their aunt was looking for a house help that would live with her overseas. She reasoned that going abroad with the woman would ease a lot of load for her suffering mother as she would be paid in dollars, which she would send home to alleviate the family sufferings.

Hear Amarachi’s gory story:

“I vividly remember the day that two girls in my town, Chioma and Miracle, met me at the Eke Awka market, where I had gone to buy palm fruits for my mum’s Okpa business. They asked if I would like to travel abroad; they said their relation living in a foreign land was looking for a house-help to take along.

I was excited as I thought that a bright prospect for higher education and escape from poverty had come not knowing that I was walking into a death trap. They told me that the same relation was also taking them with her, so that they could be fixed into money-yielding ventures over there.

When I went home, I didn’t tell my mum immediately because I was afraid of her reaction, but when I eventually told her, she was also excited more so when she heard that the woman taking me abroad is from Awka. One week later, they came back and told me that we would leave in a few days.

They never told me the main thing we were going to do there and it was later that I realized that those girls were her agents who recruit unsuspecting ladies for her in the organized sex pimp business she does.

They took me to the woman called Aunty Ebube and I was surprised when I got there and saw many young girls there too. She asked me probing questions, wanting to know if I was aware of the business I had come to do and said no. We slept that night and the next morning she took us to a shrine at Umubelu Awka to take oath of allegiance and commitment.

The native doctor welcomed us saying that the expected guests had arrived. We were 19 girls in all and I was the youngest and the most immature among them, barely 16 years old then. Everything started happening in a jiffy as the man gave us white cloth to tie on our body.

The native doctor warned Ebube when we got there that I was going to spoil things for her, but I didn’t understand what was going on. I fainted there and they sprinkled water on me, but that didn’t deter them from administering the oath of secrecy.

Ebube said that we were going to pay her N450,000 each when we get to our destination and the native doctor warned us of the dire consequences of reneging in the deal as he told us that the deity of the shrine would strike any defaulter dead.

With a shaking body yet lacking the requisite courage to extricate myself from their grip, we got initiated there. We drank and chewed some substances there and were given a small calabash each. We danced round the shrine to complete the ritual.

The next day, we moved to Onitsha and boarded a luxury bus travelling to the North. She told us to tell any policeman we see on the road that we were going on holidays in the North to see our parents based there.  She told us never to accept that we were together in the journey and that if we implicate ourselves, she would not hesitate to disown us.”

Hijab for all of us

“When we reached the northern part of the country, she told us to change into hijab and pretend that we are northern Muslim girls. A vehicle, which she had pre-arranged, was already waiting for us by the time we arrived. We were squeezed into the vehicle.

She kept picking more people on the road, which showed that a syndicate was involved. We slept in Zendel and by 3:00a.m we left for another route until we got to a place they called Agadez. She told us to stay there for the meantime and find our destiny pending when those who will take us overseas arrive.”

‘Business’ begins

“When she told us that we should stay and test our destiny briefly, I never knew that it was a kick off for the prostitution business until I was handed over to some clients in a hotel. She forced us to wear skimpy dresses and singled me out having seen my demeanour.

She told me that I’m now in a no-man’s land and I should cooperate if I still wanted to remain alive. I was crying knowing that I had walked into a trap that would take divine intervention for me to wriggle out of it. I was deep in thought when she landed me a deafening slap.  She told me to be ready to die if I won’t allow men to sleep with me.

My first time was a man old enough to be my father. The man was given option to make a choice among the bevy of girls quartered there and he picked me knowing that I was a fresh virgin. I told him that it was over my dead body that he would sleep with me. I stubbornly refused to succumb to their threats.

Short time sex there goes for 5,000 CFAs while full time is 10,000 CFA. We kept on arguing and she told me that I should not join issues with her. I was made to know that our batch of girls was the fourth trip for her while the final destination is Libya.  Usually she would just sell the girls at Agadez and return to the Southeast to recruit more for the same purpose.”

How my Igbo dialect saved me

“On that fateful night, two men came to look for female companions. She spoke with them in the local language, which I did not understand. As I was about to be handed over to them, I exclaimed in Igbo language, ‘Ewooh, o kam si jee (Is this how I have ended up)?’  When the supposed sex customers heard my exclamation, they became more interested in taking me to their home at all costs that night. They offered Madam Ebube 15,000CFA and took me.

On our way, they started asking me probing questions and I opened up and told them my predicament and identity. They were shocked and also told me they were from Enugu State. Instead of taking advantage of me that night, they treated me like a sister.

One of the boys, Anayo, told me that perhaps God made them come to the brothel that night for my sake because they had already retired after the day’s business, but on a second thought decided to stroll to a happening joint.

The two boys kept me safe, took pity on me, refused to sleep with me and offered me a mattress where I slept in the sitting room and they retired to the bedroom. They took me back to the hotel the next morning and Madam asked me whether I enjoyed my night with those boys and I said yes.

I told her that I want to go home and she started another round of threats. She told me that I could go if I repay her N450, 000. She sold one girl there and told me that I would be the next; she also reminded us that the oath we took spelt out death or madness on anyone who attempted to leave the place secretly.”

At the crossroads

“At this point, my heart was pounding and I excused her and ran back in the direction to Anayo’s house, but he was not in. I wrote a notice on their gate telling him that if he doesn’t come to rescue me immediately, I would be either dead or sold off into slavery the next day.

As God would have it, I was apprehensive that night knowing that time was ticking away for me when suddenly Anayo showed up and told our madam that he needs me for another night again. Madam thought I treated him well and handed me to him, but he took me to the house of one of the villagers and hid me there.

I was hidden for three days and madam had to suspend her trip and kept searching for me. Anayo gave me a phone and was relating all that was happening to me until the fourth day that he took me to the park. If not that he hid me, I would have died in the desert en route Libya.

Of all the 19 girls, I was the only one who returned home. I have not set eyes again on Ifunanya, who she sold first. (Begins to sob). I don’t know their fate till today. Whether they eventually reached Libya, died of hunger or were devoured by wild beasts.

“Anayo and his brother bought a ticket for me, took me by 3:00 a.m from Zendel and landed in Kano.  I boarded a vehicle to Abuja, but I didn’t know anybody there.”

Ran into kidnapper’s vehicle

“In Abuja, I entered a cab that promised to take me to Kuje where some of our brothers resided, but I never knew I had boarded the wrong vehicle. The man took me on a wrong route and headed towards a thick bush. I raised the alarm, but nobody could answer me.

The man showed me his undies and I saw all manner of weapons, guns, knife and other things he had on him. He told me to say my last prayer because he would kill me and take my body parts. He used the short knife to slash my clothes to pieces and I was stark naked.

He raped me and wanted to take my body parts fresh and I ran and he gave me a hot chase. I saw a vehicle laden with tomatoes and lay flat for the vehicle to crush me. The driver stopped abruptly, picked me naked like that and I passed out. When I regained consciousness, I saw myself in the military barracks, Abuja.”

She never knew I was still alive

Under the custody of the military, Amarachi was taken to the scene where she boarded the evil man’s cab, but the man could not be traced. The army later handed her to NAPTIP who documented her case and made efforts to rehabilitate her and also seek ways of punishing her trafficker.  She was later sent home in Anambra where she reunited with her family. She later saw her trafficker and got her arrested.

“The day I saw her at Eke Awka, she was shocked because she thought I was dead. Because we reported to DSS and NAPTIP when I came home, they gave me a number to call them any day I sight her and that was what I did. When I called the phone line, she was picked up. They raided her home, detained her and the native doctor (he is dead now) and were also charged to court.”

Picking up the pieces of her life

Settling down to a normal life after the harrowing experience for Amarachi has not been easy. Though she managed to go back to school and finally wrote her senior school certificate exams, Amarachi’s problems are far from being over. Her mother suddenly collapsed and died from high blood pressure leaving her and the siblings as orphans.

She also fell in love with a man who is not financially buoyant. The uncle who now acts as her father insisted that all the traditional rites of marriage would be completed before she is pronounced married. Along the line, she got pregnant for the fiancé and had to give birth in her home. Now nursing a 10-month-old baby boy, life has remained tough and harsh for her.

“My uncle refused to allow the man take me home because he couldn’t fulfill the long list of requirements presented to him. My mother died heartbroken for all these shocks and now without both parents, we find it even difficult to feed,” she lamented.

Appeal and words of advice

“I still thank God I’m alive today.  My advice is that people should not allow anybody deceiving them with fairy tale promises about travelling abroad.  I need urgent help presently. Helpless without mum or dad and also nursing a baby, I desire to go back to school and upgrade my life, but now even to feed is a serious problem. Government and public-spirited individuals should help me,” she pleaded.

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Dust over death penalty proposal for hate speech

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A groundswell of opposition is building up against the death penalty proposal for hate speech.
The bill, which is sponsored by Deputy Chief Whip Senator Aliyu Sabi Abdullahi (Niger North), passed the first reading in the Senate yesterday.
Titled: “National Commission for the Prohibition of Hate Speeches (Establishment, etc) Bill, 2019”, the bill also proposes the setting up of a Commission on hate speech.
Last week, the Senate introduced a bill to regulate the social media to punish what it termed “abuse of social media” with a three-year jail term or N150,000 option of fine or both.

The Social Media Regulation Bill titled: “Protection from Internet falsehood and manipulations bill, 2019” is sponsored by Senator Mohammed Sani Musa (Niger East).

Minister of Information and Culture Alhaji Lai Mohammed has said that the Federal Government is poised to regulate the social media.
The Peoples Democratic Party (PDP) caucus in the Senate has vowed to oppose any proposed legislation that would unduly infringe on the rights of Nigerians.
Minority Leader Enyinnaya Abaribe said this while reacting to concerns on the Social Media Bill raised by members of the Leadership and Accountability Initiative, who visited him at the National Assembly.
Abaribe said the PDP senators would oppose the bill if it threatened the fundamental rights of Nigerians guaranteed in Section 39 of the 1999 Constitution as amended.
Abaribe noted that there were already laws that dealt with issues the proposed law seeks to regulate.
He urged Nigerians to ensure mutual respect while freely expressing their views.
Abaribe said: “There is no speed with which this Bill is being passed. The first reading of a Bill is automatic. We can’t make a comment on what is still on the first stage.
“What I can assure you is that this Senate can’t be a party to removing the rights of Nigerians under any guise. Section 39 of the Constitution talks about our freedom as citizens. The 9th Senate will not abridge your rights.
“I don’t think Nigerians who fought and paid the supreme price to entrench this democracy will easily give it away and make us go back to the dark days.
“Rest assured that when we get to that point, we will stand for the people. Every Bill that passes here must pass through the rigours to ensure that it protects the rights of over 200 million Nigerians.
“We have a plethora of laws that can be used to drive the question of driving a free society. While social media can be good, it can also be bad. I am a victim of social media.
“As much as there is freedom, yours stops where another person’s own starts. We urge Nigerians not to propagate falsehood or fake news. Our job is to guarantee the freedoms and rights of both sides.”
Leader of the group, Nwaruruahu Shield, insisted that since there were already existing laws dealing with Defamation, it is superfluous to introduce a fresh anti-social media Bill.
Former Vice President Atiku Abubakar described the introduction of the Anti-Hate Speech Bill by the Senate as abuse of legislative process and called on the federal lawmakers to “stop the folly”.
In a statement by his media adviser, Mr Paul Ibe, the former Vice President said the bill sought to violate the constitutionally guaranteed right to freedom of speech of Nigerians.
“It is prudent to build upon the tolerance inherited from those years and not shrink the democratic space to satisfy personal and group interests.
“Freedom of Speech was not just bestowed to Nigerians by the Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, 1999 (as amended), it is also a divine right given to all men by their Creator.
“History is littered with the very negative unintended consequences that result when this God given right is obstructed by those who seek to intimidate the people rather than accommodate them.
“We should be reminded that history does not repeat itself. Rather, men repeat history. And often, to disastrous consequences”, Atiku said.
He added: “We are now the world headquarters for extreme poverty as well as the global epicentre of out-of-school children. Our economy is smaller than it was in 2015, while our population is one of the world’s fastest growing.
“We have retrogressed in the Corruption Perception Index of Transparency International, from the position we held four years ago, and our Human Development Indexes are abysmally low.
“It therefore begs the question: should we not rather make laws to tackle these pressing domestic challenges, instead of this Bill, which many citizens consider obnoxious?”.
Senator Abdullahi sponsored the same Hate Speech Bill during the Eight Senate but it attracted widespread condemnation from Nigerians. It never returned for second reading before the eighth Senate elapsed
The Bill proposes that the establishment of a Commission to enforce hate speech laws across the country, and ensure the “elimination” of hate speech.
For offences such as harassment on grounds of ethnicity or race, the Bill had proposed that the offender shall be sentenced to “not less than a five-year jail term or a fine of not less than N10 million or both.”
The Billproposes that, “A person who uses, publishes, presents, produces, plays, provides, distributes and/or directs the performance of any material, written and/or visual, which is threatening, abusive or insulting or involves the use of threatening, abusive or insulting words or behaviour” committed an offence.
It added that the charge would be justified if such a person intends to stir up “ethnic hatred”.
The Bill makes provision that any offender found guilty under the Act when passed would die by hanging.
“Any person who commits an offence under this section shall be liable to life imprisonment and where the act causes any loss of life, the person shall be punished with death by hanging,” the Bill said.
The Bill provides that “A person who uses, publishes, presents, produces, plays, provided, distributes and/or directs the performance of any material, written and or visual which is threatening, abusive or insulting or involves the use of threatening, abusive or insulting words or behavior commits an offence if such person intends thereby to stir up ethnic hatred, or having regard to all the circumstances, ethnic hatred is likely to be stirred up against any person or person from such an ethnic group in Nigeria.
“Any person who commits an offence under this section shall be liable to life imprisonment and where the act causes any loss of life, the person shall be punished with death by hanging.
“In this section, ethnic hatred means hatred against a group if person’s from any ethical group indigenous today Nigeria.
On discrimination against persons, the Bill also provides that: “For the purpose of this act, a person who discriminates against another person if on ethnic grounds the person without any lawful justification treats another Nigerian citizen less favourably than he treats or would treat other person from his ethnic or another ethnic group and/or that on grounds of ethnicity a person put another person at a particular disadvantage when compared with other persons from other nationality of Nigeria.
“A person also discriminates against another person if, in any circumstances relevant for the purposes referred to in subsection (1) (b), he applies to that person of any provision, criterion or practice which he applies or would apply equally to persons not of the same race, ethnic or national origins as that other.”
On harassment on the basis of ethnicity, the Bill further provides that “A person (who) subjects another to harassment on the basis of ethnicity for the purposes of this section where on ethnic grounds, he justifiably engages in a conduct which has the purpose or effect of: a) Violating that other person’s dignity or b) Creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating, or offensive environment for the person subjected to the harassment.
“Conduct shall be regarded as having the effect specified in subsection (1) (a) or (b) of this section if, having regard to all circumstances, including in particular the perception of that other person, it should resonably be considered as saying that effect.
“A person who subjects another to harassment on the basis of ethnicity commits an offence and shall be liable on conviction to an imprisonment for a term not less than ten years, or to a fine of not less than ten million naira, or to both.”
The objectives and functions of the proposed commission on Hate Speech, according to the Bill includes to facilitate and promote a harmonious peaceful co-existence within the people of all ethnic groups indigenous to Nigeria and more importantly to achieve this objective by ensuring the elimination of all forms of hate speeches in Nigeria, and to advise the Government of the Federal Republic of Nigeria on all aspects thereof.

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Church In Abuja where Pastor charges ₦50,000 to swim in pool with healing powers (Photo) – YabaLeftOnline

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A social media activist has shared satirical tweets about a church in Abuja that allegedly charges it’s members N50,000 to swim in a pool and receive miracles.

Read his tweets below ;

There is this church in Abuja with a weird flex. The Pastor built a swimming pool in the church premises and called it “pool of bethsheba” or something.

The pool has healing powers. Enter and your problems disappear. If you want to enter the pool, you have to pay 50K per swim

For those who are too poor to pay 50K, there is a anointed bottle water sourced from the “pool of Bethsheba.” It goes for 10K.

I am not sure it has as much healing power as paying 50K to submerge yourself in the pool itself.

I mean, you cannot cheat God. It issa Pay as you go.

One certain Sundays, the Pastor does spiritual promo. That means he will let you bath in the pool, all expense paid by God. Even God Sabi do promo.

And of course God is blessing the members of the church who are already rich because they work hard. No shortcuts to heaven dear

The Pastor of this Church is, or course, eccentric like the average Nigerian Pentecostal Pastor. Fire for fire Ministry.

The man got another woman Pregnant while he was married. I think some fine ass South African woman.I mean, even Pastor like big bum bum.Cherish God’s creation

After plenty scandal, he divorced his wife and settled down with his fine ass South African Queen with big bum bum.

Of course the Church is still marching on, the gates of hell shall not prevail. People still troop in.

I mean, who can battle with the Lord? Not some sex scandal

I will like to mention the name of the Church and the Pastor but I don’t want the wrath of God to finally descend on me. I am a God-fearing man!

But hey, anyone who tells you religion is not too 2 the biggest problem of Nigeria is deceiving you. Religion is our own CANCER!

Just a hint: The Church is located somewhere around Kubwa. I think after Kubwa or so. Religion loves Poverty. Yeah

If Jack Thanos my account again, I will pay 50K, strip naked and enter that pool with his name in my mouth.

Btw, if you need Bethsheba water, I sell at a discount

A very nice Brother finally shared an image from the pool of Bethsheba. I kid you not, this is the pool. I think it is inside the Church gan gan. The most high God dwells in our midsts.

You can check out YouTube for videos of his healing sessions. Or Facebook. Just as a snippet pic.twitter.com/P71Gxjss4Q

— Kelvin Odanz (@MrOdanz) November 7, 2019

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Desperate to fill teacher shortages, US schools are hiring teachers from overseas

Algorithmia AI Generated Summary

 

(CNN)When Joevie Alvarado became a teacher, she never expected to teach American students 7,600 miles away.

“For the first year, it’s a little bit of a struggle because I’m the kind of person who misses family that easily,” said Alvarado, who taught for a decade in the Philippines before moving to Arizona. com/cnnnext/dam/assets/191004143748-01-international-teachers-us-shortage-super-169.


 

(CNN)When Joevie Alvarado became a teacher, she never expected to teach American students 7,600 miles away.

“For the first year, it’s a little bit of a struggle because I’m the kind of person who misses family that easily,” said Alvarado, who taught for a decade in the Philippines before moving to Arizona.
But “in terms of pay, let’s just say my previous pay was multiplied by eight or 10 when I got here,” she said. “So having that kind of pay, it enticed me to be here.”
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Some parents may be surprised to learn their children are now being taught by international teachers.
Tom Trigalet, who was principal at Casa Grand Union High School when Alvarado was hired, said there’s not much choice.
“When you really don’t have any other applicants, how are you going to fill those spots?” Trigalet said.
But hiring teachers from overseas is only a temporary fix to a widespread problem.

A nationwide crisis

Across the US, schools are hemorrhaging teachers while fewer college graduates enter the profession.
In 2018, the US had an estimated shortage of 112,000 teachers, according to the Learning Policy Institute.
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Arizona alone had 7,000 teacher vacancies going into this year, said Joe Thomas, president of the Arizona Education Association.
Some of those vacancies are filled by people who don’t have a standard teaching certificate, he said. Others are being plugged by long-term substitutes, contracted agencies or teachers who must add an additional course to their day.
So schools like Casa Grande Union High have hired several Filipino teachers using J-1 visas. Those visas allow teachers to stay in the US for up to five years.
Alvarado is one of several Filipino teachers in their fourth year at Casa Grande teaching science — a notoriously hard subject to fill with US teachers.
“People that have math and science degrees can make so much more money in research and in analytics and in other areas that their degree opens doors to,” Thomas said.
“The average starting pay (for teachers) in Arizona is about $36,300.”
While that salary may seem paltry for many Americans, Filipino teachers like Noel Que say their jobs in the US are much more lucrative, allowing them to live better.
US schools are hiring teachers from overseas - CNN
“You can buy anything here — not like back home,” said Que, who teaches high school biology and biotechnology at Casa Grande
“We can eat whatever we want. We can buy whatever we want of the salary that we’re getting. … We just need to budget that salary that we’re getting.”
The Casa Grande Union High School District says its international teachers are on the same pay scale as its American-born teachers.
Que, like other Filipino teachers at his school, lives with roommates to cut down on expenses.
While teaching in America has brought financial rewards, there are also emotional costs.

Leaving his family behind

Que said he made the difficult decision to move from the Philippines to Arizona about four years ago.
“The economic condition in the Philippines is very different … it’s not really enough,” he said.
“There is always a trade-off in everything that you want to get. I want this job (for) my family, and then the trade-off of that is I need to leave them there first.”
Desperate to fill teacher shortages
But ultimately, Que said he made the right decision.
“I’m a family man, so it’s like my responsibility to provide for my family, for my parents, also for my mom most especially,” he said. “Half of my money goes back home and then half stays with me.”

‘We are not just certified, we are very qualified’

Que and Alvarado came to the US through one of several placement agencies that connects foreign teachers with American schools in need.
It’s a booming business. In some cases, Filipino teachers pay an upfront fee, and the agency sets up the online interviews, tests and paperwork.
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“The whole process just took two months for us to complete everything,” Alvarado said.
Over the past decade, the number of Filipino teachers coming to the US to teach on J1 visas increased from 21 to almost 800, according to the US State Department.
But why do many Filipino teachers get selected to go to the US?
“Filipinos are very known to be patient and hardworking, and that’s probably one of the reasons why mostly Filipinos are the participants of the J1 (visa) teacher program.,” Alvarado said.
And unlike some teachers in the US who aren’t certified in the subjects they teach, both Alvarado and Que have years of expertise in science.
It’s a win-win scenario, Que said.
“It’s a very good opportunity for the Filipinos to come here in America, to experience the life that we have here rather than the one that is being told to us or the one that we look at (in) the movies,” he said.
“I think it is also beneficial for the state (where) the number of teachers are lacking, especially on subjects like science, math, special education, things like that,” Que said.
“And they look into the Philippines, because many of our teachers are actually qualified on the subjects that they are teaching. … We are not just certified, we are very qualified.”

Learning to adapt in the US

When Que came to America, he experienced culture shock — but in a good way.
“This is the first time that I notice that every person that you will pass by, they will ask you, ‘How are you? Good morning!’ Things like that,” he said.
“I don’t know you, why are you asking me how I am?” he joked. “We’re not used to that back home.”
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The cultural differences were obvious in the classroom, too.
“Our students in the Philippines [are] quite different from the students that we have here,” Que said.
In the Philippines, “they are very disciplined in terms of education because they look into education as how they are going to escape poverty,” he said. “Discipline-wise, we don’t really have a problem.”
Alvarado said she also noticed more of an initial challenge when some students pushed back.
“When I came, they were like … ‘Why do (you) have to make us do this, do that?” And I was like, ‘Well my dear, I am here to teach you to make you learn. I am not just here to babysit all of you.’ So that was part of my struggle, classroom management,” Alvarado said.
“But slowly, I get the hang of it, and I was able to adjust it and show that hey, I’m the teacher, not you. What I say, you do,” she said.
Alvarado now makes all her students sign a contract on classroom policies, including cell phone use and requiring everyone be seated and ready to learn before the tardy bell rings.
“You need to get the respect, and once you do that with them, it’s easy to teach American kids,” she said.
Alvarado said she loves hearing students tell her she’s made a positive impact on their lives.
“They come back to you and say, ‘Miss, can you please be in my graduation?’ Or, ‘Miss can you please be in my quinceanera?’ … And I find it so sweet,” Alvarado said.

Inspiring a new generation

Marissa Yap, another Filipino teacher in Arizona, said she also had challenges with some students who weren’t as well behaved as those she taught in the Philippines.
Despite her small frame, she commands attention in the classroom where she teaches chemistry and AP physics.
But the secret to making students behave isn’t just about being strict. It’s also about listening to students.
US schools are hiring teachers from overseas - CNN
“I have observed that kids over the world … they have common thing(s). They want to be listened to, and they want to be stay motivated and be interested,” Yap said.
“Some of the kids are actually working (jobs), so in my case like when the student is sleepy, I just talk to her: ‘So, how are you doing? So did you work last night?’ “
The drowsy student responded: “I just arrived at home at 12 a.m.”
That’s when Yap turns the problem into a moment of positive reinforcement:
“So you’re very sleepy, but you’re still doing your work. I really appreciate that,” she told the student.
Desperate to fill teacher shortages
Since then, “I have (had) no problem with her.”
“Whenever I talk to the kid(s), they feel like a connection that I care for them, and I realize that’s … way back home, also the same time. It’s actually just the same,” Yap said.
“When you talk to the kid and you establish that good relationship, the kids will actually also give you the respect that you deserve.”
Elizabeth Vitela said Yap has made a profound impact on her daughter, Genevieve, who was in Yap’s chemistry class last year. On some days, the teacher stayed late to work with Genevieve until 6 p.m. or later.
“My daughter didn’t know what she wanted to do. Because of (Yap), she’s choosing science as something she wants to do for a career,” Vitela said.
She said Yap “just has the passion and the love to teach kids … to bring something out of them that they didn’t even know they had.”

The clock is ticking

Regardless of how much the Filipino teachers love their students, or how much student and school districts love them, everyone knows their time in the US is limited.
Yap, Alvarado and Que all have less than two years before their visas expire.
“That would probably be a sad day for us,” Yap said. “One kid already told me, ‘Oh, Miss Yap, how long are you going to be here? Are you going to be in my graduation?’ “
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Alvarado said some of her students know she has to go back to the Philippines. They make it a point to tell her how grateful they are.
“It makes me feel so good when they would say, ‘Miss I am very happy that you are one of my teachers because I’ve learned a lot from you.’ ” Alvarado said.
“When it comes to that point, when they would say thank you, it’s a reward to myself that I have touched probably some lives of these people. But it’s just so sad that we have to say goodbye.”
Vitela, whose daughter didn’t know what she wanted to do before she met Yap, started crying when she learned the Filipino teachers at Genevieve’s school had to leave in two years.
“I think we need to change that,” Vitela said. “Seriously.”
“Because if you don’t change that … we’re going to be doomed with education here in Arizona.”

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Naomi Klein: ‘We are seeing the beginnings of the era of climate barbarism’

The No Logo author talks about solutions to the climate crisis, Greta Thunberg, birth strikes and how she finds hope

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Why are you publishing this book now?
I still feel that the way that we talk about climate change is too compartmentalised, too siloed from the other crises we face. A really strong theme running through the book is the links between it and the crisis of rising white supremacy, the various forms of nationalism and the fact that so many people are being forced from their homelands, and the war that is waged on our attention spans. These are intersecting and interconnecting crises and so the solutions have to be as well.

The book collects essays from the last decade, have you changed your mind about anything?
When I look back, I dont think I placed enough emphasis on the challenge climate change poses to the left. Its more obvious the way the climate crisis challenges a rightwing dominant worldview, and the cult of serious centrism that never wants to do anything big, thats always looking to split the difference. But this is also a challenge to a left worldview that is essentially only interested in redistributing the spoils of extractivism [the process of extracting natural resources from the earth] and not reckoning with the limits of endless consumption.

Whats stopping the left doing this?
In a North American context, its the greatest taboo of all to actually admit that there are going to be limits. You see that in the way Fox News has gone after the Green New Deal they are coming after your hamburgers! It cuts to the heart of the American dream every generation gets more than the last, there is always a new frontier to expand to, the whole idea of settler colonial nations like ours. When somebody comes along and says, actually, there are limits, weve got some tough decisions, we need to figure out how to manage whats left, weve got to share equitably it is a psychic attack. And so the response [on the left] has been to avoid, and say no, no, were not coming to take away your stuff, there are going to be all kinds of benefits. And there are going to be benefits: well have more livable cities, well have less polluted air, well spend less time stuck in traffic, we can design happier, richer lives in so many ways. But we are going to have to contract on the endless, disposable consumption side.

Quick guide

Covering Climate Now: how more than 250 newsrooms are joining forces this week to spotlight the climate crisis

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Hundreds of newsrooms around the world are banding together this week to commit their pages and air time to what may be the most consequential story of our time: the climate emergency.

As world leaders descend on New York for the UNClimate Action Summit on 23 September and millions of activists prepare for a global climate strike on 20 September the media partnership Covering Climate Now is launching its first large-scale collaboration to increase climate coverage in the global media and focus public attention on this emergency.

The Guardian is the lead partner in Covering Climate Now, which was founded earlier this year by the Columbia Journalism Review and the Nation. The partnership currently includes 250 newsrooms representing 32 countries with a combined monthly reach of more than a billion people.

The network represents every corner of the media including TV networks (CBS News, Al Jazeera), newspapers (El Pas, the Toronto Star), digital players (BuzzFeed, HuffPost, Vox), wire services (Getty Images, Bloomberg), magazines (Nature, Science), and dozens of podcasts, local publishers, radio and TV stations. You can learn more about the initiativehere.

Do you feel encouraged by talk of the Green New Deal?
I feel a tremendous excitement and a sense of relief, that we are finally talking about solutions on the scale of the crisis we face. That were not talking about a little carbon tax or a cap and trade scheme as a silver bullet. Were talking about transforming our economy. This system is failing the majority of people anyway, which is why were in this period of such profound political destabilisation that is giving us the Trumps and the Brexits, and all of these strongman leaders so why dont we figure out how to change everything from bottom to top, and do it in a way that addresses all of these other crises at the same time? There is every chance we will miss the mark, but every fraction of a degree warming that we are able to hold off is a victory and every policy that we are able to win that makes our societies more humane, the more we will weather the inevitable shocks and storms to come without slipping into barbarism. Because what really terrifies me is what we are seeing at our borders in Europe and North America and Australia I dont think its coincidental that the settler colonial states and the countries that are the engines of that colonialism are at the forefront of this. We are seeing the beginnings of the era of climate barbarism. We saw it in Christchurch, we saw it in El Paso, where you have this marrying of white supremacist violence with vicious anti-immigrant racism.

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A fire near Porto Velho, Brazil, September 2019. Photograph: Bruno Kelly/Reuters

That is one of the most chilling sections of your book: I think thats a link a lot of people havent made.
This pattern has been clear for a while. White supremacy emerged not just because people felt like thinking up ideas that were going to get a lot of people killed but because it was useful to protect barbaric but highly profitable actions. The age of scientific racism begins alongside the transatlantic slave trade, it is a rationale for that brutality. If we are going to respond to climate change by fortressing our borders, then of course the theories that would justify that, that create these hierarchies of humanity, will come surging back. There have been signs of that for years, but it is getting harder to deny because you have killers who are screaming it from the rooftops.

One criticism you hear about the environment movement is that it is dominated by white people. How do you address that?
When you have a movement that is overwhelmingly representative of the most privileged sector of society then the approach is going to be much more fearful of change, because people who have a lot to lose tend to be more fearful of change, whereas people who have a lot to gain will tend to fight harder for it. Thats the big benefit of having an approach to climate change that links it to those so called bread and butter issues: how are we going to get better paid jobs, affordable housing, a way for people to take care of their families? I have had many conversations with environmentalists over the years where they seem really to believe that by linking fighting climate change with fighting poverty, or fighting for racial justice, its going to make the fight harder. We have to get out of this my crisis is bigger than your crisis: first we save the planet and then we fight poverty and racism, and violence against women. That doesnt work. That alienates the people who would fight hardest for change. This debate has shifted a huge amount in the US because of the leadership of the climate justice movement and because it is congresswomen of colour who are championing the Green New Deal.
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib come from communities that have gotten such a raw deal under the years of neoliberalism and longer, and are determined to represent, truly represent, the interests of those communities. Theyre not afraid of deep change because their communities desperately need it.

In the book, you write: The hard truth is that the answer to the question What can I, as an individual, do to stop climate change? is: nothing. Do you still believe that?
In terms of the carbon, the individual decisions that we make are not going to add up to anything like the kind of scale of change that we need. And I do believe that the fact that for so many people its so much more comfortable to talk about our own personal consumption, than to talk about systemic change, is a product of neoliberalism, that we have been trained to see ourselves as consumers first. To me thats the benefit of bringing up these historical analogies, like the New Deal or the Marshall Plan it brings our minds back to a time when we were able to think of change on that scale. Because weve been trained to think very small. It is incredibly significant that Greta Thunberg has turned her life into a living emergency.

Yes, she set sail for the UN climate summit in New York on a zero carbon yacht …
Exactly. But this isnt about what Greta is doing as an individual. Its about what Greta is broadcasting in the choices that she makes as an activist, and I absolutely respect that. I think its magnificent. She is using the power that she has to broadcast that this is an emergency, and trying to inspire politicians to treat it as an emergency. I dont think anybody is exempt from scrutinising their own decisions and behaviours but I think it is possible to overemphasise the individual choices. I have made a choice and this has been true since I wrote No Logo, and I started getting these what should I buy, where should I shop, what are the ethical clothes? questions. My answer continues to be that I am not a lifestyle adviser, I am not anyones shopping guru, and I make these decisions in my own life but Im under no illusion that these decisions are going to make the difference.

Some people are choosing to go on birth strikes. What do you think about that?
Im happy these discussions are coming into the public domain as opposed to being furtive issues were afraid to talk about. Its been very isolating for people. It certainly was for me. One of the reasons I waited as long as I did to try and get pregnant, and I would say this to my partner all the time what, you want to have a Mad Max water warrior fighting with their friends for food and water? It wasnt until I was part of the climate justice movement and I could see a path forward that I could even imagine having a kid. But I would never tell anybody how to answer this most intimate of questions. As a feminist who knows the brutal history of forced sterilisation and the ways in which womens bodies become battle zones when policymakers decide that they are going to try and control population, I think that the idea that there are regulatory solutions when it comes to whether or not to have kids is catastrophically ahistorical. We need to be struggling with our climate grief together and our climate fears together, through whatever decision we decide to make, but the discussion we need to have is how do we build a world so that those kids can have thriving, zero-carbon lives?

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The Malizia II, with Greta Thunberg on board, arrives in Hudson Harbor, New York. Photograph: Bebeto Matthews/AP

Over the summer, you encouraged people to read Richard Powerss novel, The Overstory. Why?
Its been incredibly important to me and Im happy that so many people have written to me since. What
Powers is writing about trees: that trees live in communities and are in communication, and plan and react together, and weve been completely wrong in the way we conceptualise them. Its the same conversation were having about whether we are going to solve this as individuals or whether we are going to save the collective organism. Its also rare, in good fiction, to valorise activism, to treat it with real respect, failures and all, to acknowledge the heroism of the people who put their bodies on the line. I thought Powers did that in a really extraordinary way.

What are you views on what Extinction Rebellion has achieved?
One thing they have done so well is break us out of this classic campaign model we have been in for a long time, where you tell someone something scary, you ask them to click on something to do something about it, you skip out the whole phase where we need to grieve together and feel together and process what it is that we just saw. Because what I hear a lot from people is, ok, maybe those people back in the 1930s or 40s could organise neighbourhood by neighbourhood or workplace by workplace but we cant. We believe weve been so downgraded as a species that we are incapable of that. The only thing that is going to change that belief is getting face to face, in community, having experiences, off our screens, with one another on the streets and in nature, and winning some things and feeling that power.

You talk about stamina in the book. How do you keep going? Do you feel hopeful?
I have complicated feelings about the hope question. Not a day goes by that I dont have a moment of sheer panic, raw terror, complete conviction that we are doomed, and then I do pull myself out of it. Im renewed by this new generation that is so determined, so forceful. Im inspired by the willingness to engage in electoral politics, because my generation, when we were in our 20s and 30s, there was so much suspicion around getting our hands dirty with electoral politics that we lost a lot of opportunities. What gives me the most hope right now is that weve finally got the vision for what we want instead, or at least the first rough draft of it. This is the first time this has happened in my lifetime. And also, I did decide to have kids. I have a seven year old who is so completely obsessed and in love with the natural world. When I think about him, after weve spent an entire summer talking about the role of salmon in feeding the forests where he was born in British Columbia, and how they are linked to the health of the trees and the soil and the bears and the orcas and this entire magnificent ecosystem, and I think about what it would be like to have to tell him that there are no more salmon, it kills me. So that motivates me. And slays me.

Naomi Klein will be in conversation with Katharine Viner at a Guardian Live event on 15 October.

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