Buzkashi Boys

buzkashi

“Buzkashi Boys” is a 2012 short film from Afghanistan, that – with a budget of only about $4,000 – is in the running for an Academy Award at Sunday night’s Oscar ceremony.

“The film (…) is part of a new initiative to help get film making off the ground in the war-torn country.” (1)

“‘Buzkashi Boys’, which runs for just 28 minutes, is the first film to be produced by the Afghan Film Project, a non-profit group that aims to train filmmakers in Afghanistan.”

This is the story:

“Rafi is the son of a blacksmith and is expected to carry on the honorable trade. His best friend Ahmad is a fatherless beggar in the streets. Ahmad comes asking if Rafi can go to a game of Buzkashi with him later that day, and Rafi gets a two hour break from his father to watch it. They marvel at the sportsmanship, and Ahmad tells Rafi that someday he is going to be a Buzkashi champion. Rafi doubts him and says that you need a horse to ride Buzkashi.

Later, they go to an abandoned Afghan castle, where Ahmad climbs a rickety ladder and proclaims, “I am Ahmad, son of Abdullah, and I will ride Buzkashi!” Rafi, however, is afraid to climb up, and Ahmad tells him that he will be nothing more than a blacksmith for his whole life. Rafi realizes that it has been long after his two hour limit, and he has to go home. Before that Ahmad gives him a scarf from a Buzkashi rider to make him brave. His father makes him sharpen axe heads and denis him dinner. That night, Rafi’s father remarks that he was Rafi’s age when he first started learning the actual trade instead of just sharpening axe heads.

The next day, Ahmad says that he has something to show Rafi. They go to where a horse is waiting. Ahmad says that now he has a horse and can therefore ride Buzkashi. He jumps onto the horse and begins riding to show Rafi, but the horse throws him off and he dies of injuries in an abandoned yard. Rafi and his father hold a short funeral for him, and then Rafi’s father begins to show Rafi how to hammer. He does not do it correctly, however, and so his father gets angry with him.

Rafi runs away and climbs the ladder in the Afghan palace. He ties the scarf from the Buzkashi rider to a pole and proclaims Ahmad’s name. He then goes back to his father and begins to hammer correctly. His father praises him for his good work.” (2)

For more information about the movie and the trailer please visit its website http://www.buzkashiboys.com

 

(1) http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-21556020

(2) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buzkashi_Boys

 

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Let’s Take a Look at Rape Culture

rape1_350_122912110755- image source (7) -

23-year-old student Jyoti Singh Pandey gang raped to death in New Delhi, India;

17-year-old Anene Booysen gang raped to death in Bredasdorp, South Africa;

“For years, Egyptian women have put up with sexual harassment, simply for walking down the street. Now they are coming out into the open to say ‘enough is enough’. At a rally in Tahrir Square last month, female protestors came under attack. Water was thrown into the crowd in an attempt to repel the mob of men who were groping women and trying to remove their clothes. An anti-harassment demonstration became itself a target for harassment. What used to be a silent shame has now been thrust into the open, with exhibitions and events.(1)

These are just recent events of the past three months that have gone around the world; shocked the world; and made people wonder – what is it that drives men to behave like this? What makes them turn into molestors? Into monsters?

The first two horrific events cannot be viewed as single, extraordinary deeds of disturbed individuals. Just like mass happenings in Egypt they are symptoms of “rape culture”.

“Rape culture is a concept used to describe a culture in which rape and sexual violence are common and in which prevalent attitudes, norms, practices, and media normalize, excuse, tolerate, or even condone rape.” (2)

But how does such culture develop? And, more importantly, how can it be changed?

Amaka Okafor-Vanni wrote an article for http://nigerianstalk.org in which she calls Nigerian culture a “rape culture”. She sees the underlying problem in her country’s “modesty culture”:

“The modesty culture we preach is a rape culture because of our insistence on female purity and modesty. Why is it the sole responsibility of the female to remain chaste? Why isn’t the male tasked with chastity? By focusing on the female, we reduce the woman to mere flesh and place control over the female body and sexuality in male hands.” (3)

Jyoti’s and Anene’s murders triggered countless outcries in India and South Africa. Social networks were and are filled with people voicing their shock and outrage at the crimes; but will this make a difference? Will this change anything? South African constitutional law scholar Pierre De Vos doesn’t think so.

On the contrary – he even thinks it “might do more harm than good.

The expression of outrage is a distancing device and ultimately self-serving. I fear the smell of self-congratulatory self-indulgence clinging to the enterprise. Expressions of outrage position us in opposition to the evil that we rush to condemn. Rapists are evil but unknown people ‘out there’. They are not our friends, our brothers, our fathers, our teachers, our sporting heroes”.

When we express our outrage about the prevalence of rape in society, I fear that we seek to affirm that we are not complicit in the (often violent) subjugation of women. Our expressions of outrage – well-meaning as such expressions might be – absolve us of our responsibilities.” (4)

“This allows us to continue with our lives without having to change what we think and how we live. We can express sentimental support for the survivors of rape, without having to problematise masculinity. We do not need to confront sexism. We do not need to become feminists. We do not need to confront the destructive power and dominance of patriarchy and how we continue to benefit from it. We do not need to give up anything.” (4)

South African columnist Bruce Gorton takes a similar stand in his article “Rape Shows There Are No South African Men”. He writes: “We do not get to proclaim ourselves men because one third of our brothers rape. One third of our sons rape. One third of our fathers rape.

We do not get to proclaim ourselves men because the two thirds of us who do not do this, we have allowed that one third to continue. A man is an adult with a penis, an adult is someone who stands up and takes responsibility for their greater society and we have not acted as adults.” (6)

So, what needs to happen for rape cultures to change positively? Ultimately the answer will be different for every affected country.

Amaka Okafor-Vanni believes that “we need to do away with this system that espouses the idea of woman as a possession and develop instead a society that sees the woman as human with rights, consent and abilities. A society where ethical sexuality is promoted and supported. Instead of telling the woman she is at fault for getting raped, we should teach our sons the importance of consent, that no means no and a woman can withdrew this consent at any time. Instead of telling the victim of sexual assault not to speak up so as not the shame her family, we should create a society were victims are helped to overcome the trauma of the assault. Instead of telling the young girl she ‘asked’ for it because of the way she dressed, we should punish severely and publicly shame rapists. We should consciously make the effort as consumers not tolerate music videos and home movies that objectify the female body form in the name of art.” (3)

Anand Soondas, author of the blog The Times Of India agrees that “the change will have to come first at home, from the family. Boys, as they grow up, will have to be taught that their sisters are not there to get the leftovers – the one piece of chocolate that couldn’t be eaten, the tricycle with a broken wheel that couldn’t be driven, the school with expensive fees that couldn’t be afforded.” (5)

According to De Vos, “rape is ultimately about power and domination. Men who feel threatened by the changing world in which they cannot automatically assume that they will be respected merely because they are men, will often take steps to try and re-assert their dominance and power over women and over other threatening groups like gay men. Some will do so by raping a woman. Others will do so by assaulting a girlfriend or a wife. Others will do so by sexually harassing women or denigrating them.” (4)

Many factors in society will have to change. The problem will have to be addressed from the very core of society – the family; where parents instill the right values and a proper sense of gender equality into their children as well as where boys learn self-confidence that does not come from dominating over anybody else, but from within.

This solution is at the same time a problem, because how can children learn this from parents who don’t know any better themselves?

I suppose all we can do is our best within OUR own family, set a good example and do our best to raise awareness.

We can also take Anand Soonda’s anecdote (5) to heart and resolve to never stand by and watch and never accept any kind of discriminating comments or jokes.

Bruce Gorton (6) also reminds us that we must get informed and become aware of what actually ARE dangerous beliefs and actions, because many of them are so inbuilt and deeply rooted in our upbringing and society that we don’t even recognize them anymore.

 

(1) http://news.linktv.org/videos/egyptian-women-fight-back-against-sexual-harassment

(2) http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rape_culture

(3) http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jan/14/nigeria-rape-india-culture

(4) http://www.dailymaverick.co.za/opinionista/2013-02-09-sas-rape-epidemic-the-limitations-of-outrage/

(5) http://blogs.timesofindia.indiatimes.com/onefortheroad/entry/why-indian-men-rape

(6) http://www.timeslive.co.za/opinion/columnists/2013/02/14/rape-shows-there-are-no-south-african-men

(7) http://indiatoday.intoday.in/story/damini-dead-why-was-delhi-gangrape-victim-shifted-to-singapore/1/239948.html

 

 

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Kumbh Mela 2013

kumbh_mela

“Tens of millions of Hindus are expected to gather for the holiest day of the Kumbh Mela, the largest religious festival in the world. Devotees will bathe in the Ganges River to wash away their sins.

Thousands of buses and special trains were ferrying people from across India to the city of Allahabad in the northern Uttar Pradesh state on Sunday, where they will participate in the holiest day of the Kumbh Mela pilgrimage.

Some 30 million Hindu devotees are expected to bathe in the Ganges River, which is worshipped as a god and considered the giver and taker of life. Hindus believe that bathing at the confluence of the Ganges and Yamuna rivers washes away their sins and breaks the cycle of rebirth. Some also believe that three billion Hindu deities will be bathing in the river to bless mankind.”

read the whole article:

http://www.dw.de/hindus-dive-into-ganges-for-kumbh-mela-religious-festival/a-16589024

For some beautiful pictures of the festival visit:

http://www.tagesschau.de/multimedia/bilder/indien962.html

kumbh_mela2

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Stealing Africa

“Rüschlikon is a village in Switzerland with a very low tax rate and very wealthy residents. But it receives more tax revenue than it can use. This is largely thanks to one resident – Ivan Glasenberg, CEO of Glencore, whose copper mines in Zambia are not generating a large bounty tax revenue for the Zambians. Zambia has the 3rd largest copper reserves in the world, but 60% of the population live on less than $1 a day and 80% are unemployed. Based on original research into public documents, the film describes the tax system employed by multinational companies in Africa.”
Director Christoffer Guldbrandsen
Producer Henrik Veileborg
Produced by Guld­brandsen Film

 

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Africa from Above

In 2006 I had the opportunity to experience two intense months in the most remote areas of Northern Namibia. During that time I was very lucky to have the opportunity to view the spectacular landscape from a microlight.

This unforgettable trip as well as the last six years that I have lived in Cape Town, South Africa make this photographer and his projects particularly interesting for me.

http://mediastorm.com/publication/african-air

african_air

It is nevertheless worth checking out for anyone who appreciates photography and is interested in the African continent and its people as well as challenges.

“Flying in a motorized paraglider over one of the most diverse continents in the world, George Steinmetz captures the stunning beauty of Africa’s landscapes and people. His pictures show not only the spectacular patterns of the land, but also the potential and hope that the continent encompasses.”

 

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Does it have to come to this?

I was driving in my car the other day listening to the radio when an ad came up promoting  a trip to Bejing with a small travel group.

It all sounded so tempting, exciting and exotic, but I couldn’t help picturing Bejing and thinking that this is one of the last places on Earth that I would want to travel right now.

I have been following the situation in Bejing over the last couple of weeks and keep wondering – does it really have to come to THIS until people wake up and see that something is wrong and they have to make a change?

http://www.scientificamerican.com/article.cfm?id=beijings-record-smog-poses-health-nightmare&WT.mc_id=SA_DD_20130205

bejing

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Documentary Site!

We don’t have TV at home. In fact I haven’t had TV at home ever since I moved out of my first single household apartment about 10 years ago.

That doesn’t mean we don’t watch anything on screen though. All whole family enjoys certain shows and good movies that we either rent or download. So I have never really missed TV.

But I do miss one thing on TV and that’s documentaries!

I simply love leaning back and learning about wild life, other countries, cultures, science and other topics that interest me.

That is why I was so excited today when – while researching for a good animation/video on the birth of Earth – I stumbled across this super cool site with hundreds of great, FREE documentaries on super hot topics!

documentaries

So here it is for YOU:

http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/

(Oh, and this is the GREAT documentary of the birth of Earth that my son and I enjoyed today and will probably watch again soon: http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/birth-earth )

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