Saturday 31 January 2009

Zambia calling

I am in Lusaka Zambia in southern Africa after what seems like a very torrid time in eastern Congo and Rwanda. While I was in Congo two people were shot dead by security forces which led to a day of violence and unrest. Every day occurence in Goma, Democratic Republic of Congo. Hard place. Back in Shepherds Bush after this deployment next week. Cant wait.

Wednesday 28 January 2009

in praise of Andy Slaughter MP

l_2afd9674-0973-dab4-b9ef-92d4d826c93f Andy has just resigned from the government over Heathrow. Now I am probably one of the worst carbon emitters in Hammersmith & Fulham because my job entails regular travel to Africa and Asia but even I can see the short sightedness of continually expanding the airport.

Lets face it Heathrow is crap. In fact its a national embarassment. Given the choice I would use Luton or Stansted but they dont take long haul. And there is the point - expand yes but not at Heathrow all the time. Even though I live in West London the route from Stansted or Gatwick is just as convenient and if I was going to central London would actually be better.

Andy supported our local campaign to stop TFL ruining our local street. His actions today are clearly those of a politician with his eye on local opinion, but he deserves a huge vote of appreciation for making the sacrifice he has today.

Andy's letter to local constituents is here

Tuesday 27 January 2009

A legacy of genocide

I was talking to a group of 15 female genocide survivors in Rwanda today. One of the women, who was a captivatingly impressive and strong woman who heads up a womens organisation in Rwanda was trying to explain that the trauma of the genocide would be felt by generations to come. Its something that reoccurs without warning. She gave the example of a marriage - the parents not being there because they were killed.
When you consider how they were killed, and in many cases in front of their children, (plus worse) you can begin to understand what that must be like.
And we let it happen.

Monday 26 January 2009

Hello Sweden!

A number of visitors to this blog at the moment seem to come from Sweden, including those who have actually translated the blog into Swedish! I've no idea who you are but you're very welcome! Is there a Shepherds Bush equivalent in Sweden?

Back in Rwanda

I have just crossed back into Rwanda over from Congo again. What a place. 900,000 people inhabit refugee camps, the town is utterly chaotic, and to make matters worse the black ash from a volcanic eruption that almost destroyed the place gets absolutely everywhere. Quite hellish. Imagine living there.

Permitted smugness

since I was chased off an online discussion forum 2 weeks ago, for having the temerity to have my own blog, may I be permitted to smugly observe that there has not been one posting on the forum for the last 11 days?!

Saturday 24 January 2009

Greetings from Rwanda

I've spent the last week or so here in Rwanda.

I spent most of today at the genocide memorial centre in Kigali. The cetre is built ona  hill overlooking Kigali and was the site of several massacres. Over 50,000 people were killed and put in a mass grave there by the Interahamwe militia that carried out the killings, with the connivance of the Rwandan military and, lets just say relaxed approach of the French.

There are mass graves throughout Rwanda being uneartherd almost every month which is not surprising. Over a million people were murdered and its a small country. What is most striking is the similarity of the propaganda and speeches that were given by the previous regime to those from 1930’s Germany. Its not just a passing semblance, even down to the phrases that were used.

Most of the trouble on the border with Congo is caused by the legacy of that genocide. The French shepherded the perpetrators to safety and allowed them to cross into Congo where they still are. Now that the rebels there seem to be close to ending their current campaign many of them will inevitably return to Rwanda. What happens then is a challenge. Equally those low level foot soldiers who killed and received 15 year sentences automatically are going to be released having served those sentences next year. Another challenge.

Yesterday I was talking to a group of 15 women about the moments that the trauma comes back to them. Events like marriages when obviously parents are not there if they were orphaned. Little things like that. I’m probably coming back here to Rwanda in March to do some filming for the 15th anniversary of the genocide.

And to think we don't appreciate what we have. I trust Shepherd's Bush is keeping well!

Monday 19 January 2009

Off to Congo & Rwanda

The  day has arrived .. well almost.

I go tomorrow to one of the most beautiful yet tragic parts of Africa.

Rwanda's genocide is well known, as indeed is the fact that we stood by and let another Holocaust happen in front of us.

What is less well known is that Congo's ongoing civil wars have cost more lives than all of the other conflicts in the world. Put together.

Watching the terrible scenes in Gaza and the media and political focus that they brought and continue to generate, well I'll let you make the obvious comparison. We are all equal, but some more so than others.

Anyway thanks for reading, but for now dear reader, goodbye. From our Bush back to the African Bush...

Saturday 17 January 2009

small-town minds

are you on OUR community forum?!?I came across some small-town minded people on a local community site today.


Not a pretty sight!


Sad that even when online people can exhibit that sort of behaviour, but human nature is what makes us human I guess.


Ho hum.

Thursday 15 January 2009

The Rats of the Green

picture-ratCaptured this morning - proof if any were needed of the thriving rat population on Shepherds Bush Green!

Look at the base of the tree - the shining eyes are a give away!

Saturday 10 January 2009

W12's David beats Goliath

Read this

It took us over 6 months to force TfL to back down.

But it can be done. Power to the people!

Friday 2 January 2009

Mosque on the Bush?

Strange goings on on the Green. Yesterday morning two large flags were put up on the disused Pavillion on the North side of the Green next to the Bush theatre and the Post Office.

Then this morning a bizarre looking large Arabic sign was strung up along the side of the building. You can see pics of the developments below.

Are we getting a mosque? And if we are will it be a nice one?! Personally I think any use of that building, which at the moment is a decrepit embarassment to the area would be a really good thing, and if it is to be some kind of Islamic building all the better because they get really well taken care of!

Anybody understand what the arabic says?[gallery]