Looking from the outside in - people, place and practice

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The faces of Mugabe's victims

Photographer Brent Stirton is an amazing visual activism, specialising specifically on African political hardships. In this reportage, called: Mugabe's Victims, he captures the horror and turmoil many suffered at the hands of their ruling party, Zanu PF and its lawless and feared dictator, Robert Mugabe. Below, the photographer speaks about his work in Zimbabwe: 

July 2009: Robert Mugabe, President of Zimbabwe and leader of the ruling Zanu PF party, has been waging a war of the armed against the unarmed for the last 26 years. It’s a war his party wages against any Zimbabwean who does not go along with their brutally oppressive regime. Since 1983, when 30 000 Ndbele people were massacred by Zanu in Matabeleland to the present day, Mugabe’s rule is one of ruthless impunity and oppression. Today Zimbabwe is a failed state, 3 to 5 million Zimbabweans have fled to South Africa and a further million have sought a better life abroad. 

There is 90% unemployment in Zimbabwe; HIV rates stand at a conservative 25% with zero state health system for all but the wealthy. Many thousands of innocent people find themselves victims of rape, torture, destruction and mayhem at the hands of Zanu PF thugs. All large scale commercial production farms, most white owned and employing over 1.8 million Zimbabweans, have been taken over and occupied and through ineptitude brought to a production standstill. Once the breadbasket of the region, Zimbabwe now finds itself in dire need of emergency food aid, which Zanu PF uses to further control a devastated population.I met blind and physically disabled people who made epic journeys crossing illegally into South Africa because it is no longer possible to beg sufficient funds or food for their own survival in Zimbabwe’s failed economy. I met traumatized senior leadership of the MDC who had to flee Zimbabwe for fear of their lives. I met Xenophobia victims who lost everything in Zimbabwe then lost it again in South Africa.

I encountered hundreds of people in Zimbabwe living with full blown Aids who can never afford the $20 it requires for testing to get into the one ARV program that exists in Zimbabwe. I met a man who spoke of torture as bad as anything I have heard in ten years of reporting on African conflict. He held his gang-raped wife and daughter in his arms as horror stories spilled out of him in the small one roomed shack in which he was hiding. He tells me he knows of many others with similar stories. I met a man who showed me where his leg used to be and told how a Zanu PF gang hacked it off with an axe and left him to die in the bush behind their camp. Everywhere I went I met frightened, traumatized people, victims of Mugabe and his Zanu PF thugs. 

Zimbabweans are literally dieing for change. The regional destabilization Mugabe has brought about is likely to get worse. Xenophobia is a bitter reality in South Africa with its own unemployment rate estimated at 35%. Civil strife is a genuine continuous possibility, with impoverished, disappointed South Africans taking out their frustrations on a refugee Zimbabwean population with nowhere else to go. The 2010 Soccer World Cup is supposed to be a shining beacon of African success embodied in the shining new stadiums of South Africa. They barely mask the tensions right under the surface, tensions which must boil to the surface sooner rather than later. Until Mugabe and his henchmen are removed from power this will continue to be the situation. Mugabe has exhausted the wellspring of goodwill which flowed from being one of Africa’s longest ruling post-colonial rulers. In the words of the common Zimbabwean, “It is time for the Old Man to go.” 

Published by UK Sunday Times Magazine and Newsweek International. More @ Brent Stirton

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Mormons for Prop 8

Watched this yesterday, The Mormon Proposition. I cannot believe how hateful and disturbingly hypocritical some people can be! This is so disgusting, especially for those who say they are Christians but leave their children to live on the street when they tell their parents they are gay...This is just the trailer, but try to watch it, really opens your eyes!

Tuesday, May 17, 2011

Cover banned

This cover was banned in the U.S. Barnes & Noble and Borders have censored the latest cover of Dossier Journal featuring the androgynous Andrej Pejic. Huffingtonpost spoke Dossier who explained that the bookstores asked for all copies of the magazine to be placed in "opaque poly bags. According to them, even though they knew Andrej was a man, he looked too much like a woman, basically," a move that she suspects will limit sales, but that's not really the issue here. "It's a naked man on the cover of a magazine, which is done all of the time without being covered up, so I definitely don't think it merits this, but I understand what it is," Parrott told HuffPost Style. "It's not a coincidence that it's only the giant U.S. chain stores that are asking us to do this....It's only the American copies that are being censored. It seems that it probably made people uncomfortable. But that's part of what's interesting about the cover, I think, is that it's playing with those ideas of gender roles. He's topless, you can see that he's a man, but if you look at his face, he looks like a woman and he's so beautiful, he's both in that picture, in a way. I think that's what's interesting about it." - Huffington post

Why are people so afraid, what will happen to you if you look at this cover?

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Burma's ray of hope: Aung San Suu Kui's release

Aung San Suu Kui is such an inspiring woman. Being a woman in Burma is already difficult, but being a leader and fighting for a position in Burmese government on top of that seems almost impossible. Yet, she has many followers, those who are hungry for a free and democratic Burma...

The Burmese military authorities released the pro-democracy leader, Aung San Suu Kyi, from house arrest in August of lst year. Appearing outside her home in Rangoon, Ms Suu Kyi told thousands of jubilant supporters they had to "work in unison" to achieve their goals. The Nobel Peace Prize winner has been detained for 15 of the past 21 years. US President Barack Obama welcomed her release as "long overdue". UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon said Ms Suu Kyi was an "inspiration", and called on Burma to free all its remaining political prisoners.

Ms Suu Kyi, 65, was freed after her latest period of house arrest expired and was not renewed by the military government. Her release comes six days after the political party supported by the military won the country's first election in 20 years. The ballot was widely condemned as a sham.

 What is to become of Burma? 

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Giving birth in rural Africa

Supermodel Christy Turlington, has made a documentary film about the struggle of giving birth in parts of rural Africa.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Crime on the streets of Johannesburg

In this clip we see the public and private security forces that try to combat crime on the streets of a very dangerous Johannesburg, South Africa. The whole vibe I got was of the complete lawlessness that operates here daily...

Monday, May 9, 2011

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Boy or Girl?

Does it really matter whether we are boys or girls? Andrej Pejic is a 19-year-old Serbian-Australian model  who recently did the spring 2011 Marc by Marc Jacobs, as well as Gaultier, shows.He has also done numerous editorial shoots with leading fashion photographers for i-D magazine, WWD Japan, Vogue Paris, and Zeit Magazine.

He has been very successful as a 'female' model, but says when asked whether he'd have a sex change, "Yes, if I was offered a Victoria's Secret contract. You'd have to, wouldn't you. I couldn't imagine doing it any other way. But, at this point I'm comfortable with who I am now."

So if it doesn't matter to some fashion photographers and designers that Andrej is actually a 'boy', should we care about whether someone is a boy or a girl? And should this influence us in the choices we make and should it ever determine how we treat people?

Friday, May 6, 2011

Corset piercing


The newest form of body modification is quite bizarre. It's called corset piercing. Corset piercing, a fad that involves piercing multiple metal loops into the skin and threading zig-zagged ribbon through them like a corset. Why? To make a fashion statement maybe, or perhaps it slims your back-fat...