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26 janvier 2008

Biko is at the Apartheid Museum

An exhibition at the Apartheid Museum traces the life and death of Black Consciousness leader Steve Biko, to show what is behind the icon.

It was revealed at the Truth and Reconciliation Commission (TRC) that Black Consciousness proponent Steve Biko died because he wanted to sit on a chair. As a result, he was brutally beaten by the security police and died from his injuries.

To commemorate the 30th anniversary of his death, the Apartheid Museum has put together an excellent exhibition on Biko. Through about 50 panels filled with text and graphics, the viewer can read the words of Biko, taken from his book I Write What I Like.

But there are also many other things to read about the man, and how he died a lonely death at the hands of the brutal security police. There is unique footage of Biko from a 1977 BBC interview; and then minister of police Jimmy Kruger's infamous comment after Biko's death:

"I am not glad and I am not sorry about Mr Biko. His death leaves me cold. I can say nothing to you. Any person who dies … I shall also be sorry if I die …" he said, laughing at his own joke.

There is also footage of Kruger. Initially, the security police said that the cause of death was a hunger strike. Several months later, when it was acknowledged that Biko had died of brain damage, Kruger said dispassionately: "A man can damage his brain many ways. I have also felt like banging my head against a brick wall many times, but realising now, with the Biko autopsy, that may be fatal, I haven't done it."

Born in King William's Town

Bantu Steve Biko was born in King William's Town in 1948, a tall, handsome man with a charismatic personality. He was a founder member of the South African Students' Organisation, from which the Black Consciousness Movement developed, with the slogan "Black is beautiful".

Biko said in his book: "When you say 'Black is beautiful' you are saying, 'Man, you are okay as you are; begin to look upon yourself as a human being.'"
A number of umbrella organisations were formed, one of which was the Black People's Convention, which played a role in the Soweto riots of 1976.

In 1973, he was banned and confined to Eastern Cape. After the riots he was arrested repeatedly; by his final arrest on 18 August 1977 he had been in and out of jail frequently, including spending 101 days in solitary confinement.

He was held naked and manacled at the Walmer police station in Port Elizabeth, says human rights advocate George Bizos in No One to Blame. On the morning of 6 September he was taken to the security police offices in the Sanlam Building and interrogated until 6pm, when he was again handcuffed and shackled.

Long journey to Pretoria

He was examined and transferred to the prison hospital; he was given a lumbar puncture, which revealed blood in his spinal fluid. It was decided to transfer him to Pretoria, a 1 200km journey that took 11 hours, with Biko lying naked in the back of the Land Rover. He died on 12 September 1977 in the Pretoria prison hospital later that night. He was just 31 years old.

His death caused a worldwide outcry which temporarily stopped the deaths in detention, but they resumed a year to two later. In all, 115 people died in prison between 1963 and 1990.

Biko's wife, Ntsiki, says of his death in detention: "I think Steve expected to die in the hands of the security police. I think all of us expected it. But Steve was prepared to sacrifice his life for the black cause. He felt his work was so important that even if he died it would be worth it."

And Biko himself said of dying: "You are either alive and proud or you are dead, and when you are dead, you don't care anyway. And your method of death can be a politicising thing." The chair

The story about the chair was recounted when those responsible for his death testified at the TRC, in a bid to obtain amnesty for their actions. They made a half-hearted effort at an apology, but were denied amnesty because they had not told the truth.

Bizos has a different interpretation of why the security police had to get rid of Biko: "The state considered Biko dangerous, not because he had ever taken part in violent activities, but because of his formidable intellect."

The exhibition traces Biko's birth and education, his spells inside jail, his relationships, and his death in detention. There is a section, right at the top end of the exhibition, which, says curator Emilia Potenza, attempts to record details of others who died in detention. A video broadcasts images of them and their families, and any other details that researchers have managed to accumulate.

Says Potenza: "It is an extraordinary story which moves beyond the icon on a T-shirt to what's behind that icon."
Besides the repeated recordings of Biko and Kruger, the constant refrain of Peter Gabriel's song, simply entitled Biko, first released in 1980, echoes hauntingly around the museum.

The exhibition was put together at the request of the national Department of Education, with assistance from the Steve Biko Foundation. It makes use of many original photographs, documents and audio-visual clips, and draws on interviews with a range of his contemporaries.

It will travel around the country and go overseas, says Christopher Till, the museum's director. "The Biko story is one that needs to be told." His philosophy has won over the minds of many. "Many of the BC [Black Consciousness] ideas have triumphed."

The exhibition will run until the end of June 2008. The Apartheid Museum is on the corner of Northway and Gold Reef roads, Ormonde. It is open from Tuesdays to Sundays, from 10am to 5pm.

Written by Lucille Davie Monday, 21 January 2008

"Nous voulons remettre l'artiste au coeur du débat"

Dominique Leguern, Dir. du Midem : "Nous voulons remettre l'artiste au coeur du débat"

Le Palais des festivals de Cannes accueille du 27 au 31 janvier prochains la 42e édition du Marché International du Disque et des Editions Musicales (Midem). Cet événement, qui réunit chaque année ...


R : Peter Gabriel est présenté au Midem comme l'homme de l'année. Pourquoi avez-vous choisi de consacrer cet artiste ?

D.L :
Peter Gabriel rassemble un nombre de facettes incroyables pour un seul homme. En tant qu'artiste, au sein d'un groupe avec Genesis ou en solo, il a contribué à la richesse et la diversité de la musique mondiale. Mais Peter Gabriel n'est pas seulement le chanteur et compositeur que l'on connaît, c'est aussi un pionnier, un entrepreneur. Cofondateur de la plate-forme de distribution musicale OD2, il a aussi lancé en 2007 un nouveau site de distribution musicale baptisé We7. Très impliqué dans le modèle économique digital, il s'est aussi mobilisé à maintes reprises dans des oeuvres associatives, notamment à but caritatif.

42e édition du Midem
Du 27 au 31 janvier 2008
A Cannes
Site officiel du Midem :

Youssou N'Dour en concert le 28 mars à l'AB Bruxelles

Le chanteur et musicien sénégalais Youssou N'Dour se produira en concert le 28 mars à l'Ancienne Belgique à Bruxelles. Pour le public occidental, Youssou N'Dour est surtout connu pour sa collaboration avec Peter Gabriel, Neneh Cherry, Wyclef Jean et Axelle Red. Il a aussi joué et enregistré avec Sting, Paul Simon, Bruce Springsteen, Dido, Tracy Chapman et bien d'autres encore.

Il a débuté très jeune sa carrière, à l'âge de 12 ans. Après quelques années de concerts avec le "Star Band", le groupe le plus populaire de Dakar au début des années 70, il forme son propre groupe, "Étoile de Dakar", rebaptisé plus tard "Super Étoile de Dakar". Trois ans après son disque "Egypt", qui lui a valu un Grammy Award, Youssou N'Dour revient avec "Rokku Mi Rokka".

Il s'est, pour cet album, à nouveau associé aux musiciens de la "Super Étoile de Dakar" et a en outre pu compter sur les contributions exceptionnelles d'une partie de la vieille garde de l'Orchestra Baobab. L'album comprend également un nouveau duo avec Neneh Cherry, avec qui il avait enregistré, il y a 13 ans, le succès mondial "7 Seconds". (belga)

20 janvier 2008

Riding the rollercoaster on a magic mountain

It's the time of year that the great and good from politics and business get together in the Swiss Alps to put the world to rights. If it's January, it must be Davos. Once again, this year, as every year, there is only one place to be next week for the movers and shakers of the global elite. (...)

Having initially wowed even the corporate moguls who cough up millions in backing for most of the forum's activities, the high-wattage Hollywood personalities' appeal began to dim. Davos regulars, and the organisers themselves, seemed to feel that the superstars were eclipsing the agenda and, perhaps, hogging their own annual place in the global limelight.

This year Klaus Schwab, the forum's formidable founder, executive chairman and global éminence grise seems to have banished the Hollywood hangers-on from the select Davos circle, returning the event to its bedrock of top leaders from business and government. The glitziest cultural figures gracing the icy pavements of Davos next week appear to be Emma Thompson, the actress, Yo-Yo Ma, the cellist, and Peter Gabriel, the musician. Thus in more sombre times for the world economy, this year the forum itself seems to be sobering up, just a little...