Remembering South African writer Peter Abrahams: 1919 – 2017

first_imgSouth African writer Peter Abrahams died on 18 January 2017. An early pioneer in the exploration of race identity in South Africa, he was a literary giant who was at the forefront of capturing the injustice of apartheid.Writer Peter Abrahams was born in Vrededorp, Johannesburg, in 1919. He lived in London and Jamaica, and his extensive collection of fiction and non-fiction focussed on pan-Africanism and race identity in South Africa. (Image: Wikipedia)CD AndersonPeter Abrahams, who died aged 97 at his home in Saint Andrew Parish, Jamaica, was one of South Africa’s most distinguished writers. His fiction and non-fiction work challenged and dissected the complexities of the black South African identity. His biting criticism of the early days of apartheid and his exploration of pan-Africanist philosophy were fuelled by the need to tell the world of the injustice of racism and colonialism.Abrahams will be remembered best for his Mine Boy, which was added to the South African school curriculum in the early 2000s.First published in 1946, Peter Abrahams’ Mine Boy exposed the condition of black South Africans under a white regime. It presents a portrait of labour discrimination, appalling housing conditions and one man’s humanitarian act of defiance. (Image: Justseeds website)Mine Boy, a brutal story of South African urban migration, became the first novel by a black South African to be published internationally. It was the third book by a black South African to be published, after Sol Plaatje’s Mhudi in 1930 and RRR Dhlomo’s 1928 novel, An African Tragedy.“I am emotionally involved in South Africa,” Abrahams said in 1957. “If I am ever liberated from this bondage of racialism, there are some things much more exciting to me, objectively, to write about. But this world has such a social orientation, and I am involved in this world and I can’t cut myself off.”During his most prolific years, 1946 to 1966, Abrahams wrote eight novels, as well as memoirs and political essays. His 1948 novel, The Path of Thunder, inspired the ballet piece, İldırımlı yollarla, by Azerbaijani composer Gara Garayev.Abrahams’ early yearsAbrahams was born in Vrededorp, Johannesburg, in 1919 to an Ethiopian father and coloured mother.According to his obituary in The New York Times on 22 January 2017, Abrahams was inspired to read and write at a young age when he heard Shakespeare’s Othello. A prodigious student, he began contributing poetry and short fiction to so-called bantu publications after completing his basic education. As a young budding writer, he consumed literature, particularly the works of black American writers.“I read every one of the books on the shelf marked American Negro literature,” he wrote in his memoir Tell Freedom: Memories of Africa in 1954. “To (these) writings of men and women who lived a world away from me … I owe a great debt for crystallising my vague yearnings to write and for showing me the long dream was attainable.”This knowledge also inspired his political thought and his desire to capture the black South African psyche in words.Ship to LondonAfter a stint as the editor of a Durban socialist magazine in 1939, Abrahams found work aboard a ship bound for London. In the British capital, he worked as a journalist on the British Communist Party’s Daily Worker newspaper.Peter Abrahams’ 1956 novel A Wreath for Udomo was inspired by his friendships with with African intellectuals and revolutionaries in exile in the UK. The novel deals with the complex realities and conflicts between duty to nation and ideals. (Image: Justseeds website)He lived in London’s African immigrant community, meeting exiled political figures and intellectuals, including future Kenyan leader Jomo Kenyatta; Kwame Nkrumah, who would go on to lead Ghana to independence from Britain; and Trinidadian pan-Africanist George Padmore. The experience inspired his most multifaceted work, the 1956 novel A Wreath for Udomo, about political and social transitions in postcolonial Africa through the eyes of the continent’s political exiles. Renowned English literary scholar Harvey Curtis Webster called the book “the most perceptive novel … about the complex interplay between British imperialism and African nationalism”.During the 1950s, Abrahams travelled across Africa, including a return to South Africa to observe the rise of postcolonial, pan-Africanist political movements. These essays, long considered the most authoritative work on the era, were later published as Return to Goli.Settling in the CaribbeanAfter being commissioned by the British colonial office to research and write a comprehensive history of Jamaica, Abrahams wrote of the island and its people: “…in the stumbling and fumbling reaching forward of its people, is dramatized … the most hopeful image I know of the newly emerging underdeveloped world”.With his wife Daphne and their three children, he made Jamaica his home for over four decades.South Africa, however, remained foremost in his writing; in particular, it was the setting of his 1965 novel, A Night of Their Own, about the anti-apartheid underground. This inspired his 1985 magnum opus, The View From Coyaba, a detailed transgenerational novel about black struggle movements in Africa, America and the Caribbean.As he got older and the postcolonial era reached its pinnacle with the end of apartheid in the 1990s, Abrahams felt less obligation to capture the zeitgeist of black African political thought. Instead, he let new, younger literary voices speak about the evolving movement.Speaking to Caribbean Beat magazine in 2003, Abrahams said: “I became a whole person when I finally put away the exile’s little packed suitcase. When Mandela came out of jail and when apartheid ended, I ceased to have this burden of South Africa. I shed it.”Abrahams never returned to his country of birth.Overdue tribute?The Daily Maverick’s J Brooks Spector observes, in his lovingly detailed obituary of Abrahams on 25 January 2017, the often overlooked connection between South Africa and the writer, and begs an important question: “Surely there should be a (South African) library named in his honour, an endowed chair in African literature at one of the nation’s premier universities, and a publishing effort reprinting his output in a standard, uniform edition?““Embracing his memory as an early literary pioneer and impact as a writer must also take into consideration the eclecticism of his political thinking, his influence on the pan-African idea, and an ethnicity that embraced the near-totality of South African experience,” Spector concludes.Source: New York Times, Daily Maverick, South African History OnlineWould you like to use this article in your publication or on your website? 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Earn Gems by playing your part

first_imgGEM volunteers not only help uplift the communities for which they work but also earn Gems that can be redeemed for airtime, data, pre-paid electricity and movie tickets. (Image: GEM Project)GEM Project, an app that links volunteers to good causes, has partnered with Play Your Part in charitable events that aim to uplift disadvantaged communities.GEM – which stands for Go the Extra Mile – has the potential to curb unemployment. In many cases, volunteers are unemployed people who spend their time contributing to their communities. And with GEM’s reward system, the volunteers are guaranteed to earn something for their good deeds.When volunteers complete a good deed, they are eligible to receive a reward via the app, which is called a Gem. These Gems can be redeemed for products such as airtime, data, pre-paid electricity and even movie tickets. But co-founder David Shields makes it clear that Gems are not a means of financial support. “Rewards are to be seen as a gesture of goodwill, not payment.”The GEM app is a call for all South Africans to become active citizens and play their part in improving the lives of fellow South Africans, says Brand South Africa’s general manager of marketing, Sithembile Ntombela. “We hope that the nation will continue to contribute to positive change because a nation of people who care deeply for one another, and the environment in which they live, is beneficial for everyone.”GEM has partnered with Play Your Part on many occasions since the two began working together in July 2015. Most notable were the events for Nelson Mandela Day, visits to Ethembeni Children’s Home and cleanups at Akani Primary School in Diepsloot and Ark Animal Centre in northern Johannesburg.To find out how you can volunteer for one of GEM’s projects, check out the GEM website. Find out more about GEM’s activities below.GEM GETS DOGS’ TAILS WAGGING AGAIN12 May 2016 – Few people can resist the cuteness of a puppy, which may be why volunteers thronged to GEM’s activation at Ark Animal Centre, where dog lovers from around Johannesburg spent time caring for the lovable canines.GEM PROJECT GOES THE EXTRA MILE ON MANDELA DAY3 September 2015 – GEM Project, the app that gets people to volunteer for good causes, spread their footprint across Gauteng this Mandela Day. With a presence at 10 events, the app got South Africans giving more of their time and energy.GEM VOLUNTEERS SPLASH COLOUR ON MANDELA DAY20 July 2016 – On Mandela Day this year, volunteers from across Johannesburg joined GEM and Play Your Part to give Sparrow Schools a little face-lift and a burst of fresh colour.GEM LOOKS TO BRING HOPE TO VULNERABLE CHILDREN13 May 2016 – A children’s home in the heart of Johannesburg that offers refuge for children infected or affected by HIV/Aids is getting a helping hand from a group running a mobile app for volunteers.VOLUNTEERS BRING A SMILE TO ETHEMBENI4 February 2016 – GEM volunteers spent some time at Ethembeni Children’s Home in Doornfontein, helping to clean the home and spending quality play hours with the babies and toddlers.CHILDREN THE FOCUS FOR JANUARY ACTIVATIONS13 January 2016 – Make 2016 your year for doing something for others – and start as you mean to carry on. Already there are several volunteering opportunities planned at which you can earn GEMs for playing your part.ACTIVATION GALLERY – DIEPSLOOT29 October 2015 – Play Your Part was at Akani Primary School in Diepsloot for a clean-up campaign that taught pupils about the importance of keeping their environment free of litter.DIEPSLOOT SCHOOL GETS A SPRING CLEAN27 October 2015 – When teaching children, repetition is important, the principal of Akani Primary School stressed during a Play Your Part clean-up. Pupils were reminded of the importance of keeping their environment free of litter.VOLUNTEERS LEND A HAND AT REFILWE27 November 2015 – Every Saturday, children from the townships around Lanseria, in Gauteng, can spend the day at the Refilwe Community Project, learning and having fun. Through Play Your Part partner GEM, a group of volunteers helped to make and serve the food, and with the workshops and play time.EARN GEMS BY PLAYING YOUR PART FOR MADIBA10 July 2015 – To mark Mandela Month, Brand South Africa has partnered with the exciting new Gem project, an online platform where people get real rewards for their good deeds. The partnership forms part of the organisation’s Play Your Part for Madiba campaign, launched at the Nelson Mandela Foundation today.last_img read more

Microsoft Builds Team For New Kinect And – Maybe – Augmented-Reality Glasses

first_imgIT + Project Management: A Love Affair Related Posts 3 Areas of Your Business that Need Tech Now markhachman Cognitive Automation is the Immediate Future of… Two recent Microsoft job postings suggest that Microsoft is building a team to design what could be the next generation of its Kinect technology: the rumored “Fortaleza” augmented-reality glasses.Kinect IncubatorsIn the first job listing, Microsoft claims that the “team that incubated Kinect” is designing a new consumer device, and is seeking a new director of electrical engineering to lead it.“Microsoft is working on revolutionizing consumer electronic devices,” the listing states. “The team that incubated Kinect and profoundly changed the way people interact with technology is forming a product development team to change the world again! We are a growing team of experienced device product developers, working in a startup environment on redefining experiences by making technology disappear. We are developing ground-breaking hardware, software and experiences across computer vision, machine learning, human-computer interaction, image and video processing, networking and graphics. We will transform our ideas into reality through shipping a first-to-market product.”The team will work within the Interactive Entertainment Business unit at Microsoft, led by ex-Electronic Arts exec Don Mattrick, and includes the development and marketing of Xbox 360, Xbox LIVE, the Kinect, music and video services, TV and Mediaroom partners, and PC and mobile interactive entertainment. Massive Non-Desk Workforce is an Opportunity fo… Tags:#enterprise#gaming#Microsoft Given anotherMicrosoft job listing, the division will likely also include the Microsoft Surface tablet team as well.The fact that Microsoft is building a next-generation Kinect device isn’t that much of a surprise; after all, the Guinness Book of World Records listed the motion-sensing peripheral as the fastest-selling consumer tech device ever – until the Apple iPad 2 bested it 15 days later. The combination of features Microsoft cites – hardware, software, computer vision, machine learning, et cetera – also lends itself to the Kinect peripheral.Not surprisingly, Microsoft declined to comment. “We’re always looking for talented people to join the Interactive Entertainment Business to innovate now and in the future,” a spokeswoman said via email. “We don’t have any further comment on this or any other job posting.”If Microsoft was working on a next-generation Kinect peripheral, it could be based on the “holodeck” patent it recently applied for, although there’s really nothing in the job listing that indicates that.Small-Form-Factor Consumer Electronics?A second key job listing at Microsoft would also seem to confirm the Kinect conclusion, especially since the mechanical engineer listing seeks someone experienced in designing small-form-factor consumer electronics. But wait: the candidate Microsoft is seeking for this position must also have experience in displays, batteries, antennas and acoustics. Only the latter is Kinect-specific, as the powered Kinect peripheral lacks a display or antenna.Microsoft could be staffing up on more than one project, of course, or working on designing an integrated Kinect. Another scenario is that this mechanical engineer would be asked to work on a future revision of a Surface tablet, which would use a battery, antenna and display. Microsoft could also be working to integrate Kinect into notebook PCs, a future already envisioned by Intel.Rob Sanfilippo, an analyst with Directions on Microsoft, said it’s tough to read the tea leaves. “That’s a tough one to speculate on since it’s such a general description,” he said of the job listing.“Certainly Microsoft will continue to advance Kinect and it will probably develop related technologies. I expect the next Xbox console to have integrated Kinect hardware which will likely be more capable than today’s Kinect, although this job position probably isn’t related to that since it’s very late in that product’s development cycle.”But there’s another intriguing possibility, that Microsoft could be finally putting a team together to design the “Fortaleza” augmented-reality glasses.“Fortaleza” Augmented-Reality Glasses But there’s another intriguing possibility, that Microsoft could be finally putting a team together to design the “Fortaleza” augmented-reality glasses.In June, a document titled XBox 720-9-24 Checkpoint Draft 1 was posted to Scribd, and later removed at the behest of the law firm Covington & Burling LLP, which has represented Microsoft in the past.According to the document, the first generation of Fortaleza is a pair of Wi-Fi enabled glasses set to debut in 2014, with the rumored next-generation “Xbox 720.” The leaked slide appears to show a player in her living room “seeing” an imaginary desperado projected on her glasses. Future revisions would get 4G connectivity and a connection to the console to project movies and TV shows on them, a sort of portable version of the Xbox 720, and one that would be different take on Google’s own Google Glass. It seems reasonable, on the surface, that a hardware team could put together a Fortaleza-type device in the slightly more than two years before the 2014 holiday season.A couple of job postings certainly leave room for a great deal of speculation. What we do know is that Microsoft is working on its own next big thing, and we’ll just have to wait and see what it is.Fortaleza images via PCMag.com.last_img read more

Patnaik flays Centre for stopping welfare schemes

first_imgAs rich tributes were paid to Biju Patnaik on his 101st birth anniversary of Sunday, Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik criticised the Narendra Modi government at the Centre for stopping many welfare programmes ignoring the interests of the people living in tribal and backward regions of the State.The State government, however, continues to implement those schemes using its own resources to safeguard the interest of the people, and would continue to do so, said Mr. Patnaik said while addressing a gathering at the Biju Janata Dal headquarters here.Progress in many sectorsWhether one admits or not due to political reasons, but the State has achieved significant progress in various sectors since the BJD started ruling the State in 2000, said Mr. Patnaik. “There is a huge difference between Odisha of 2000 and today’s Odisha,” he said.Besides faring better than the national average in infant mortality rate, Odisha has also seen infrastructure development, investment flow, growth in employment opportunities and increase in food production and people’s income, said Mr. Patnaik. Stating that the BJD has remained No. 1 in the recently held panchayat elections and will remain in the same position in future, Mr. Patnaik urged the gathering of party leaders and workers to stay in touch with the people. Observing that BJD doesn’t believe in slogans, but in service, the Chief Minister called upon his party workers to continue on the path shown by Biju Patnaik to serve Odisha.Birth centenaryMr. Patnaik also attended a function organised at port town of Paradip to mark the closing of the year-long Biju Patnaik birth centenary celebrations. He also flagged off a mini-marathon in Bhubaneswar to mark the occasion.The Chief Minister also highlighted his government’s achievements at a function organised to mark the celebration of the Panchayati Raj Day which is observed on the occasion Biju Patnaik’s birth anniversary every year.last_img read more