Saturday, May 8, 2010

Ach Shame, Another Warrior Dies

Sheena Duncan, a leader of The Black Sash, has died. A small number of the least likely warriors, middle class white South African women, took up civilian, non-violent action against the inhuman machine of the Apartheid Regime in South Africa. These women (as mentioned in my post of 3 Jan 2009 in memory of my mother, Shirley Singer), stood vigil demonstrating against the pass laws requiring non-whites to carry their identification papers with them at all times (gee, sound familiar?), against "forced removals, detention without trial, inequality and repression. Then, at last, the transforming years of the 1990s brought the organisation back to constitutional issues once more, celebrating the prospect of a Bill of Rights and arguing for the right to administrative justice to be included" (see the link to Black Sash history above). These women refused to bow to the authorities, stood still while being pelted with rotten tomatoes by unsympathetic whites, and used their position of white-skin-privilege to campaign for the rights of their fellow countrymen and women.

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Land of Green Plums The Land of Green Plums by Herta Müller

My rating: 5 of 5 stars
Herta Muller won the Nobel Prize a couple of years ago. She writes about a particular group: German speakers living in Romania. This particular book is about the rise of totalitarianism and the subversion of humanity under Ceausescu. It is a very painful read and a look at a particular group that has not had much attention paid to it outside of a small set of borders. The situation of these German-speaking Romanians has interesting parallels with ethnic Germans in Ukraine who no longer speak German but "feel" German; Russians who had been exported to the Baltic nations during the Soviet era.
A good book/play to read in conjunction with this is Mad Forest by Carol Churchill, which looks at the unraveling of the Ceausescu regime and how that affected people's personal relationships, language, and thinking abilities.