Winnie Madikizela-Mandela died Monday at age 81. As she is eulogized, there will be many who point to her perceived failures. They will call her a “firebrand” and point to her “radical” political views. Most damning, they will say she was a convicted kidnapper, a corrupt politician and an adulterous, violent woman. Many will compare her with her ex-husband, Nelson Mandela. He will be cast as an angel, while she will be painted as the she-devil who almost took him down.
Hers was a life marked as much by racism as sexism. That she was able to meet both head-on is a testament to her fierce spirit.… Seguir leyendo »
I spent a lot of time in Zimbabwe in the mid-2000s, as the head of a human rights organization that worked across Southern Africa. Even at the height of the political turmoil in 2008, when opposition figures were assaulted in the aftermath of a stolen election, I was often struck by how deeply respectful Zimbabweans were of their president. Many people were obviously unhappy with Robert Mugabe’s leadership. Still, it was not unusual to hear people reference his role in the independence movement, to point out his clear intellectual gifts and his efforts to advance education.
They had no such respect, however, for his wife.… Seguir leyendo »
In 2012, as a fellow at Yale University, I met an earnest and articulate American graduate student. I found her guileless patriotism touching; she regularly used phrases to describe America as “the greatest democracy on earth,” with “the best political system on the planet.”
Initially, I discounted the hyperbole. But it became clear she really meant it. One afternoon, this young Californian was reduced to tears when others in our program pushed her to explain why she believed America was the greatest nation on earth.
I was suddenly struck by the fact that no one else in the class felt the need to assert their country’s greatness or the superiority of its political system.… Seguir leyendo »
In 2012, just before Fatou Bensouda began her tenure as the International Criminal Court’s chief prosecutor, she addressed a large forum of African activists and academics in Cape Town. As she spoke to a room packed with highly educated skeptics — many of whom claimed that the I.C.C. appeared to have “an imperialist agenda” toward Africa, you could have heard a pin drop.
She confronted the critics head-on, arguing that accusing the I.C.C. of having an Africa bias was offensive. She pointed out that those making such accusations tended to be powerful, influential and deeply invested in making the world “forget about the millions of anonymous people that suffer from their crimes.”
And she insisted on naming names: “Our focus is on individual criminal behavior against innocent victims.… Seguir leyendo »
A few weeks ago, as I was leaving my office, I stopped at a traffic light and watched a young woman cross the street in front of me. She wore a pair of jean shorts cut fashionably high, and I could see the crease of her left buttock extend each time she took a step. She wouldn’t have been out of place in London or New York or Tokyo. Except that this was Johannesburg, the biggest city in a country known for its high levels of violence against women. As I pulled away, I worried that she might be assaulted.
I’m not suggesting that she was inviting trouble.… Seguir leyendo »
En 1988, el mundo celebró el septuagésimo cumpleaños de Nelson Mandela en el estadio de Wembley. Yo tenía 15 años de edad y vivía en Kenia. De hecho, nací fuera de Sudáfrica y para cuando el mencionado estadio estalló con Tracy Chapman y Hugh Masekela yo ya había pasado toda mi vida en el exilio. Que naciera donde nací se debió en gran medida a una decisión de Mandela mucho antes de que yo naciera.
Mi padre fue un luchador por la libertad y pertenecía a uno de los primeros grupos de jóvenes que abandonaron Sudáfrica cuando el Congreso Nacional Africano (CNA) acordó crear un ala armada revolucionaria en 1962.… Seguir leyendo »
El Fondo Mundial de lucha contra el SIDA, la tuberculosis y la malaria celebra su décimo aniversario este año en un contexto de crecientes protestas contra la desigualdad global. En todo el mundo se ha puesto atención al movimiento “Ocupa” que se ha rebelado contra el 1% de la población global que ejerce una influencia desproporcionada en la política económica y social. Sin embargo, esta semana muchos activistas de países en desarrollo –los mayores beneficiarios del Fondo Mundial- se centrarán en los esfuerzos para mantener viable a la institución más allá de sus diez años de vida.
Cuando el Fondo Mundial inició actividades en 2002, se anunció como una institución nueva y novedosa –una organización impulsada por la idea de que las personas no tienen que morir por enfermedades que se pueden tratar y son prevenibles simplemente porque son pobres.… Seguir leyendo »