FN beder Belgien undskylde for koloni-fortid

FN har bedt Belgien om at undskylde for sin kolonifortid, og kritiseret landets ny-renoverede Afrika-museum, for ikke at gøre nok for at forklare om landets udnyttelse af Congo. Dette burde også gælde for andre tidligere kolonilande som Danmark.

En arbejdsgruppe under FN, Working Group of Experts on People of African Descent, opfordrede mandag Belgien til at ”undskylde for de grusomheder, som blev begået under koloniseringen”, og tilføjede, at et eventuelt erstatningskrav for fordums grusomheder, ikke var uden for lovens rammer. Read more of this post

Mulighedernes land

Mine oldeforældre elskede det Kina de kaldte ”mulighedernes land”. De måtte dog flytte, da Maos røde hær vandrede forbi i 1936. Men inden havde de lært, at egoisme intet har med kultur at gøre, hvilket er en erfaring som vi godt kunne lære af i dagens Danmark.

”Fra alle verdens lande kom der rejsende til kejserens stad, og de beundrede den … og de rejsende fortalte derom, når de kom hjem, og de lærde skrev mange bøger om byen, slottet og haven”. Read more of this post

Selvstændighed, skaldyr og sociale udfordringer

De vigtigste temaer i den grønlandske valgkamp er selvstændighed, fiskekvoter og socialpolitik. Valget står til at blive en tæt kamp mellem socialdemokratisme og socialisme.

På tirsdag er der valg til det grønlandske landsting. Her siger meningsmålinger, at venstrefløjspartiet Inuit Ataqatigiit (”folkefællesskabet”) kan tage landsstyreformandsposten og regeringsmagten fra det socialdemokratiske Siumut (”fremad”). Read more of this post

En dansker i krigsherrernes Kina

Frederik (med overskæget cirka midt i billedet)afbilledet sammen med sin kone Sofie, sine to døtre Kirsten og Anna-Lise (henholdsvis syvende, femte og første fra venstre i nederste række) , samt kinesiske venner og bekendtePå grund af den kraftigt øgede danske samhandel og samarbejde med stormagten Kina, er der en stigende interesse for at forstå Kina og Kineserne. Det gjorde mine oldeforældre, der boede og arbejdede i KIna mellem 1900 og 1936, i en tid med røverbander, krigsherrer, borgerkrige og europæisk samhandel og imperialisme.

Danmark investerer og eksporterer i stigende grad i og til Kina. 4000 danskere arbejder i dag i Kina og over 250.000 kinesere arbejder i de cirka 6000 danske virksomheder Read more of this post

Hjertets kultur

Christian Matheisen med kinesiske bekendte (2)”Vi taler så meget om kultur i verden, og ofte mere end klogt er om vor egen kultur i Danmark i dag. Det går under tiden så vidt, at man næsten får kvalme af det. Forfængelighed, magtbrynde, havesyge og enhver form for egoisme har intet med kultur at gøre, ligeså lidt som ’magt har ret’. Alle disse uheldige egenskaber har over alt i verden taget et kolossalt opsving og slet ikke mindst i Danmark.”

Disse ord kunne sagtens have været skrevet i og om nutidens Danmark. Men det er de ikke. Read more of this post

Culture of the heart

Christian Mathisen med kinesiske bekendte“We talk a lot about culture in the world today. What we say about our own culture in Denmark is often nonsensical and sometimes downright nauseating. But vanity, lust for power, greed, the belief that ‘might is right’ and all other kinds of selfishness have nothing to do with culture. Nevertheless, all of these traits are gaining ground throughout the world today, not least in Denmark”.

These words could easily have been written today, but they are not. They are written after WWII, as part of an autobiographical report on the life of my Danish great-grandfather Frederik Christian Mathiesen in China between 1900 and 1936. A report that I was given after the death of Frederik’s son recently. Read more of this post

Pre-colonial Africa

Before Africa was colonised, the continent was characterised by a large degree of pluralism and flexibility.

The continent consisted not of closed reproducing entities, equipped with unique unchanging cultures, but of more fluid units that would readily incorporate outsiders (even whites) into the community as long as they accepted its customs, and where the sense of obligation and solidarity went beyond that of the nuclear family. Read more of this post

African communalism

Before Africa was colonised, the continent was characterised by a large degree of pluralism and flexibility. The continent consisted not of closed reproducing entities, equipped with unique unchanging cultures, but of more fluid units that would readily incorporate outsiders (even whites) into the community as long as they accepted its customs, and where the sense of obligation and solidarity went beyond that of the nuclear family. An example of such inclusiveness were the South African Xhosa who limited Xhosadom not along ethnic or geographical lines but along political. All persons or groups who accepted the rule of the paramount chief became Xhosa. Pre-colonial African societies were of a highly varied nature. They could be either stateless, state run or kingdoms, but most were founded on the principles of communalism in that they were self-governing, autonomous entities, and in that all members took part, directly or indirectly, in the daily running of the tribe. Read more of this post

Neo-colonialism

The deeply embedded nature of colonialist discourse in the colonial period meant that the psychological transcendence of colonialism was not simple and straightforward. Much of the complexes and tendencies of the colonial period continued after the de-colonisation period, in Africa as well as the West, proving the need for psychological liberation on top of the (partial) physical liberation achieved at independence.

Post-independence African rulers, most of whom had Western university degrees, might have condemned the West publicly but they secretly admired it, denigrating African history, culture and indigenous institutions in much the same way as had the colonialists, eagerly modernising their countries along Western lines. Along with the “obsession with grandeur” that most of these leaders showed, this demonstrated both a lack of psychological liberation from colonial discourse and an inferiority complex. Kenya’s former president Moi’s claim (in 1991) that Kenya was “at least 200 years behind the West”  exemplifies this. Moreover, many of these leaders were seemingly as elitist as the colonisers, dismantling little of the oppressive colonial administrative machinery and employing the same instruments of coercion and tyranny that colonialists had widely used. Read more of this post