Adonis Diaries

Archive for April 24th, 2012

Spoil the kids: Puck out the thorns and lick the wounds…

My youngest teen age niece (15) is practically dyslexic or “Focus Dyslexia Syndrome” (my medical term): She cannot focus on anything but Harry Potter movies.  She hate to read, hate to study history, geography…She abhors math, physics, chemistry, religion…She cannot stand learning French and Arabic…You name it: She hate anything related to studying, and her mother ends up doing her homework, preparing her “study schedule”, fetching her books, going through her notebooks, coloring her drawing…and fixing her sandwiches and buying her all the chips and candies she likes…While my niece is sprawled on the poof or curled up on the bed, faking to study…

Do you know of anyone doing math or physics problems and exercises while lying down? My niece hates to sit down on a chair, facing a steady desk…All she wants is to go to Hollywood and become an actress?

I am very suspicious: This private school is passing her on purpose.  As long as she is not violent, coming on time, not carrying in a dangerous weapon…doing good in sports, dancing, acting in the school plays, and volunteering painting and drawing for ceremonies…And her five other siblings who had studied there, a few were bright and the remaining lovable and cooperating…This private school needs the money.

You think that my youngest niece is daydreaming: She is not! Her brain is not normally structured to focus longer than microsecond. The only time she seems focused is getting ready for a birthday party. The entire day is not long enough to be ready for the exciting event: And as long as the time for the party is about 15 minutes away, she is still changing and doing her face, and harassing everyone around, particularly her mother and her available sister, for feedback on how she looks and how the countless little pieces of cloths match…And what pair of shoes she should be wearing.  By the time she is gone, two large closets are to be re-arranged…

My other niece (18) is doing fashion design at a university. She is apparently bright, but totally lacks the sense of initiative. Can you believe that during the 12-day vacation, she spent it sitting put on the computer watching an old series, which ran for eight years? Why? Because her elder brother did it for two straight weeks until he felt better, and out of “depression phase”.

And as her dad asked her to relinquish the computer because he has work to do she got into a mad fit of anger. Why was she so hysteric? Because her dad should have used the computer while she was sleeping her blessed 10-hour night! She was so crazy mad that she cursed her dad several times and slammed the computer. This time around, the computer didn’t break, so many other times were not that lucky, and expensive equipment were chattered…

And their mother is still doing the beds, feeding them watching movies or chatting on the computer, “mom, hey mom…are you deaf? Bring me the water bottle”, taking them errands several times a day, taking them to school, preparing their homework, buying them gifts for the countless birthday events… everything must be new from head to toe…and the closets are bursting and the pairs of shoes getting outmoded by the week…and their is no money to satisfy the whims of these totally spoiled kids who are never satisfied or contented…

And they blame me for not getting married and with children! I would have committed murder, the sooner the better: I would have saved plenty of money and gotten rid of rotten fruits early on…I doubt that I would be in jail: My violent acts would be categorized as self-defence, pleading insanity for brutal and consistent assault, father’s right to chastise incorrigible brats…

Like this 4-year-old Saudi kid who shot his dad because he refused to buy him an iPhone?

I hear: “kids are curious by nature…” Curious my ass. They are curious about physical games and playing roles.  Everything else must be coerced in their throat.

Nurture is the key term: Nature and genes are the “black Box” we throw every imaginable causes of our failures in, failing doing our due diligence in coaxing and coercing our kids to doing their jobs and daily tasks…

What about this other kind of spoiling kids. You have this mother living in Paris most of the year. Her 40 year-old got married, and never lived in Lebanon. She married her son in Paris and four months later, she returned to town in Lebanon.  Through third and fourth intermediaries, she disseminated the news that her son is coming for a week to receive congratulations. Nothing wrong with accepting congratulation, mind you.  The hicks is that all her close relatives and cousins and elder aunts and uncles are at walking distance, but she preferred not to pay them any visit and tell them the “great news”. Most of the aunts and uncles cannot even get out of their homes, and they are supposed to hire ambulances so that they pay their “respect” to her, as if she is a big shot and running for any kind of election…

A 40 year-old not daring confronting his mother for basic common sense…


Africans shocked by uncivilized antics of European savages

Africans say they have little hope that Europe will ever become civilized.

Spain’s King Carlos spent a week on elephant-killing spree and the Swedish Culture Minister was entertained by a racially offensive cake, designed to look like a racist caricature of an African woman.

“You can take the European out of the jungle, but you can’t take the jungle out of the European,” sighed one resident of Kinshasa.


August Mwanasa, of Libreville in Gabon, said the latest atrocities didn’t surprise him as Europeans were still “savages”.  Mwanasa said: “I don’t want to sound racist, and some of my best friend are white, but let’s be honest: violence is hard-wired into their DNA. I mean, Europeans killed over 20 million other Europeans in the 1930s and 1940s. That’s barbarism on a scale unprecedented in history.”

Jenkins Odumbe, a Nairobi milliner, bemoaned ingrained attitudes of entitlement in Europe. Odumbe said: “If they’re not going on the dole they’re asking for bail-outs. Why can’t they just get up earlier and work harder, that’s what I want to know?

Liberte Aidoo,  a Ghanaian travel agent, said she had been “shocked and disgusted” by what she found on her first trip to Spain: “The brochures promise sea and sun, but they’re still incredibly backward in Spain. Basically they all live in mud huts called haciendas, and they sleep for two hours in the middle of the day. In Europe they call it a ‘siesta’. In Ghana we call it ‘being fucking lazy’.”

She added that this kind of “depressing inertia” was to be expected in a country with more debt than most of Africa combined.

Meanwhile, most Africans have dismissed calls for Swedish Culture Minister Lena Adelsohn Liljeroth to resign following the debacle in which she was photographed eating a cake designed to look like a racist caricature of an African woman.

Burundian sociologist, Descarte Tugiramahoro said: “The only people calling for her to resign are European liberals hiding behind a thin veneer of civilization. We Africans are not shocked in the slightest. All she’s doing is engaging in two ancient European rituals: giggling at people who look different, and symbolic cannibalism, as introduced by the Catholic Church. It’s all completely normal.”

Women And Seeds For Resistance

Gabriela De Cicco posted an article from AWID International Forum published on April 4:

FRIDAY FILE: The onslaught of transgenic food production, the advance of agribusiness driven single-crop farming, and the exploitative economic development model, are putting food sovereignty at risk.

Those supporting and reinforcing these practices, including transnational corporations, are more focused on profit than caring for food and natural resources.

Women and Seeds for Resistance[1]
AWID spoke to Chilean peasant activist Francisca Rodriguez[2]about a campaign to defend seeds as a resistance practice in the face of corporate power.

This article is part of a series examining some of the issues and discussions related to the theme of the 2012 AWID International Forum that makes connections between women’s human rights issues and economic power. More information on the private sector and corporate power is available here.

Gabriela De Cicco wrote:

“In 2001, women from Coordinadora Latinoamericana de Organizaciones del Campo (CLOC, Latin American Coordination of Peasant Organizations) met in Mexico for the 2nd Continental Assembly of Peasant Women “Peasant women sowing a millennium of life, justice and equality”.

Following this meeting, the women submitted the idea of launching a global campaign to defend autochthonous and indigenous seeds to the 3rd CLOC and La Via Campesina (LVC) Congress.

In 2002, during a Forum held in parallel to the World Food Summit, La Via Campesina and Friends of the Earth International together with other organizations launched the global campaign, initially called “Seeds as the Common Heritage of Humanity”.[3]

The Campaign is based on the multiple forms of indigenous and peasant knowledge about seeds, agriculture and biodiversity as valid in and of themselves, requiring no validation from outside sources, scientific or other. It seeks effective ways to involve and engage society as a whole, including requesting the support of technicians and scientists when the processes of biological and cultural erosion deem it necessary.

Leadership and final decision-making rests with LVC, peasant and indigenous organizations and communities. The Campaign is part of the struggle to defend, reinforce and/or recover peoples’ political, cultural, economic and food sovereignty, and its actions are framed within a broader struggle against the capitalist system and its neoliberal phase.

It is therefore also part of the search for alternative peoples’ projects and is closely linked to the defense of peasant and indigenous lands, territories and cultures.

In each country, the Campaign is conducted according to local realities, through biodiversity fares, local markets and seeds exchanges.[4]

AWID: Why did you choose seeds as the campaign?

Francisca Rodríguez (FR) said: “We were discussing food sovereignty (FS) in Mexico, and we reached the conclusion that we were doing food sovereignty in all its dimensions and while men were talking about it they were not fully taking it on.  We realised that FS was going to be at risk because even if agrarian reform happened, if we did not defend the seed, the reform was going to be left to the will of transnational seed corporations. It was therefore not an emotional, heart-driven identity; it was a political decision to propose the Campaign”.

AWID: Why did the name for the Campaign change?

FR: At Rio +10, in Johannesburg 2002, the transnational seed corporation Monsanto agreed that seeds were humanity’s heritage because in that case all of us would have a right to them, including the company. We almost had a heart attack! And we questioned our strategy, so it was in our second meeting in Caaguazu, south of Paraguay. We said: “No, they are not the heritage of humanity, they are the heritage of our indigenous and peasant people, of women who created and placed them for the good of humanity.”

The key to food sovereignty is in the seed – everything begins there. There can be no food sovereignty without the seed. There can be no agrarian reform without seeds. We cannot be sovereign people if we don’t have our own seeds.

We lost everything and now we are subjected to what the food industry – that took over our seeds – wants to offer and sell to us, influencing how we eat and also how we live.

AWID: How are women involved in the Campaign?

FR: With great conviction. We say the Campaign is magic because not only does it call us but it makes us visible again; it raises our self-esteem; we feel women are finally acknowledged as having wisdom.   To some extent we recovered the notion that we were the first farmers, the discoverers of seeds and we have kept taking care of them for centuries, reproducing them.

The Campaign empowers us. We are no longer mere housewives but those who take care of the vegetable garden, preserve the seed, reproduce the seed and reproduce life.

AWID: How is the Campaign contributing to women’s economic rights?

FR: It was a battle for recognition, but today they are much more visible. Nowadays, the very existence and survival of the peasant world has a woman’s strength, because many rural households are held together by women’s labour and agricultural practices.

This is why recovering and sharing our knowledge in the face of agro-ecology, not as a fad, but as indigenous and peasants’ own production systems, is integral to the campaign.

AWID: Why are you in disagreement with the notion of food security

FR: We are against it because the notion of food security, both that of Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and of governments, is related to people’ ability to acquire food and not to their need to produce food or their ability to establish solidarity and horizontal relationships between peoples to guarantee the basic right to food.

We want healthy, culturally adequate food, produced by peasants themselves to be accessible to all. Food is a right, not a business. And so our claim is for governments to invest. That is where we need to have resources available, because it is their obligation and duty to guarantee people’s access to food.

Today people are not aware of what they eat and there is less access to information for most of those at the grassroots. This is why we are going to defend agro-ecology, so it does not become just another business. Urban agriculture is found at the middle classes, it is elitist, for those who can pay more for their health. We want to bring our production to people at the local markets; bring the country produce to town and get rid of the chain of intermediaries.

So that people know where their vegetables came from and who and what conditions produced them. To the extent that people in cities understand this, peasant agriculture will be saved. Agrarian reform is not a social process, it is a life process, guarding people’s right to food

AWID: Could you give us an example of a specific action that made a transnational company back down?

FR: In Chile, we demanded to be informed where the transgenic seedbeds were. By law, there can be no transgenic food production in Chile but still transgenic are all around. Monsanto argued they could not reveal it because there was a vandal organization, affiliated with La Via Campesina – that is, ANAMURI – that was ‘placing humanity’s advancements at risk’.

When the Tribunal ruled in our favour and Monsanto was forced to reveal the location of seedbeds, the company appealed but our claim against the UPOV Agreement was so strong that Monsanto withdrew the charges against us. In Paraguay, women along with the Agriculture and Plants Department went around plucking the clandestine transgenic fields of crops.

Having food sovereignty recognized as a right and the protection for our seeds included in the Constitutions of Venezuela, Ecuador and Bolivia is a step forward. As is having food sovereignty and security laws including the issue of seeds in Uruguay, Paraguay and Nicaragua!

The notion of food sovereignty and the concern about the seed is no longer the peasants’ only; it is also a concern for environmentalists and ecologists.  It is growing in the awareness of grassroots people and it will be discussed in Rio +20, it is already in international fora.

AWID: What are the future challenges?

FR: Today we need land and seeds, because the market has appropriated the seeds. Our campaign to multiply seeds is urgent. We don’t need a vegetable garden we need fields.  We are willing to take risks and break the laws that recriminalize the production of peasant seeds. This means resisting State agricultural policies to build sovereignty in our fields. Food sovereignty goes beyond merely preserving the seed or securing food; it is our rights that are at stake, it is peasant survival.

It is hard work, demanding strong commitment, because it is not only about recovering the seed but also everything associated with it. And those are the values: spirituality, solidarity and camaraderie among us. Those value elements behind the Campaign allow it to be well received by the people we can relate to and can reach out to.

And because we are an organization, there is a huge demand for women to go out and talk about this. And the more we do it, the more we get committed and passionate about it. You mention the seed and I lighten up. You mention women and the same happens. Because I think the seed comes together with us, and we come together with the seed; they are seeds of freedom, seeds of autonomy, seeds of justice and seeds of dignity; seeds of resistance and we are women in resistance.

Note [1] “Seeds: Heritage of the People for the Good of Humanity” Campaign. This is the name by which it is currently known; its earlier name, as stated, was “Seeds: Humanity’s Common Heritage”.

Note [2] Belonging to ANAMURI (National Association of Rural and Indigenous Women) and to Coordinadora Latinoamericana de Organizaciones del Campo (CLOC-VC, Latin American Coordination of Peasant Organizations)

Note [3] Final document, CLOC-V.C. Seed Campaign meeting, Quito, July 22-24, 2010, drafted by Francisca Ramirez. We thank FR for sharing this document with us.

Note [4] In Chile there are seed curators’ schools. The purpose of these schools is not to lose this ancient knowledge. “The curator is who watches over, who guards, who protects the seed”. In Ecuador, there are huge food sovereignty tables, held in parks.




April 2012

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