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Thursday, April 29, 2010

Bridges: Mythical and Real

Bridges are present in all mythologies. Bridges symbolize a passage from one world to the next. Mythical bridges, spiritual bridges and real bridges can be frightening, and at the same time so attractive. It is a passage, a beginning, a connection between what you know and the unknown. It is what you want, fear, pursue, or escape. It is life, death and survival. The architectural beauty of some bridges is astonishing. Even if they are manmade, they are entities because we risk our lives by crossing them.

In Islam, there is "the Straight Bridge" also called Al-Sirat al-Jahim (As-Sirāt : الصراط).It is the bridge that we must cross on the Day of the Judgement to enter paradise. It is described as thin as a hair and as sharp as a sword, below the fires of Hell. “People who performed acts of goodness in their lives are transported across the path in speeds according to their deeds leading them to the Hauzu'l-Kausar -the lake of abundance". In Iranian religious literature, there is Cinvat Bridge also a symbol for admission to paradise. And the Pope is known as the ‘sovereign pontiff’, which comes from Pontifex Maximus, the ‘greatest bridge-builder’. The Pope is compared to "the guardian" of the catholic heaven…

In this world, until that day, we have fantastic bridges that have to resist time and nature. In California, the Bay Bridge is competing against the time to become earthquake resistant. According to 60 minutes, “Scientists call the Bay Area a tectonic time bomb. Earthquake faults crisscross the region, pushing up mountains and creating the bay itself; the Bay Bridge sits between two of the most dangerous.” However, until next earthquake, with an economic crisis, and political blah-blah, there is one “in construction” sign. 
May the Bay Bridge win the race but Mother Nature is unpredictable...

One of my favorite--the Rialto Bridge,Venice because I like Venice. And Antonio da Ponte did compete against  Michelangelo and Palladio for the contract!!


Tuesday, April 27, 2010

The Simpsons are going Green

The Simpsons: The Squirt and the Whale
I did learn academic English in classroom. However I have to give credit to the Simpsons. In order to improve my speaking skills, I watched four episodes a day my first month in the USA.  And thanks to Lisa Simpsons I could distinguish proper English from slang.
So I had to share this episode, a little cheesy but a funny critic of eco-activism. The crazy part is that I did learn the lyrics of the French song “La mer”(it is played at the end) my first year in France when I was nine years old. I do remember this poem because I was homesick. And I realized that I could not replace my beloved Indian Ocean but the Mediterranean Sea had its charm.
And I grew to love her.

La mer  de Charles Trenet (1913 – 2001).

La mer The Sea
Qu'on voit danser le long des golfes clairs
That one sees dancing along the clear gulfs
A des reflets d'argent  Has silver reflections
La mer  The Sea
Des reflets changeants Changing reflections
Sous la pluie  Under the rain

La mer  The Sea
Au ciel d'été confond  In the summer sky merge
Ses blancs moutons  Its white sheep
Avec les anges si purs  With such pure angels
La mer bergère d'azur  The sea, shepherdess of azure
Infinie  Infinite

Voyez See
Près des étangs  Close to the ponds
Ces grands roseaux mouillés  These large wet reeds
Voyez  See
Ces oiseaux blancs  These white birds
Et ces maisons rouillées  And these rusted houses

La mer  The Sea
Les a bercés  Has rocked them
Le long des golfes clairs  Along the clear gulfs
Et d'une chanson d'amour  And with a song of love
La mer  The Sea
A bercé mon cœur pour la vie  Has soothed my heart for life

Monday, April 26, 2010

Youth activism and Union of students

The International Union of Students (IUS) is a worldwide nonpartisan association of National Union of Students with a focus on university students. The objectives of the IUS are stated in the 1946 preamble to the organization's Constitution: “The purpose of the International Union of Students, which is founded upon the representative student organizations of different countries, shall be to defend the rights and interests of students to promote improvement in their welfare and standard of education and to prepare them for their tasks as democratic citizens.” According to records at UNESCO, the priority work areas of the IUS are: "Exchange of information, defense of students' status, peace, environment, development, human rights".

I am happy to find out that there is an international Union of students.This global education crisis is the result of our global economic downturn.We all know that this crisis could or would create lost generations of children without a fair education. We kind of know why, they are children left behind. No matter how many reports are done, nobody cares until we see them or someone talks for them. Youth activism and student activism are indispensable to global awareness. So I am really inspired by 1,000 Burundian students that were protesting  after six weeks off. They have that urgency to succeed. And we know that they know- this is it!
“BUJUMBURA — About 1,000 schoolchildren in Burundi on Thursday blocked one of the country's main roads for several hours in a protest against a teachers' strike, now in its sixth week, an official said..... Many of the 50,000 teachers at primary and secondary schools in Burundi went on strike on March 8 over non-payment of salary arrears.....The central African country's government walked out of talks with the unions on April 16, accusing the teachers of intransigence.... On Tuesday, six schoolchildren were arrested by police in Bujumbura's Musaga district because they "attacked several private schools with stones," the local administrator, Desire Simbizi, said.Since Wednesday morning, dozens of police in anti-riot gear have been deployed around private schools in Bujumbura.”

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Ecological economics after Island Volcanic ashes

In The Time, Europe's biggest tour operator reported that Iceland's Eyjafjallajokull volcano has cost the firm $30 million. Each day did cost about 9 millions. Five days later the airfares are high. International airfares were pricey now they will be probably spicy, despite the Directorate General of Civil Aviation warning airlines against high fares. Globalization without airplanes is painful. For example Kenyan farmers have lost about $2 million a day on exported flowers for Europe. In contrast hotels, boats and buses benefit from this natural disaster. Worldwide airlines were facing a $2.8 billion in loss. Now they have to add 60,000 canceled flights.

On top of this, research scientists are telling us that global effects are unlikely. But at the same time, Icelandic Volcanoes can be unpredictable and dangerous. And if we use history has an indicator, Island’s volcanic activity in the 1783 caused major global climatic changes. It will be interesting to see what will happen.UCS climate scientist Brenda Ekwurzel said  that “Climate change isn’t just about the Earth’s thermostat. It’s about rapidly shifting our climate in ways we might not even be able to fully anticipate. The prudent thing to do is dramatically reduce our emissions to avoid finding out just how bad climate change could become."So let’s pray, then try to deal with the emission of released carbon dioxide, and find a way to balance our ecological economics. By the way Eyjafjallajokull means “the island's mountain glacier”

Please go to
Another point of view:
Great article about " a No Fly day".
(JOHANNESBURG, 26 April 2010 (IRIN) - Iceland's Eyjafjallajökull volcano - unlike Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines in 1991, the 20th century's second largest eruption - will not contribute to climate change; on the contrary, by grounding flights over Europe for almost a week it helped save thousands of tonnes of greenhouse gas emissions....The SO2 is converted into sulphate aerosol - droplets of highly concentrated sulphuric acid - which has a "long lifetime and reflects solar radiation". Reduced solar radiation lowers temperatures and changes atmospheric circulation patterns, but the "Icelandic eruption emitted 5,000 times less SO2 than Pinatubo, so there will be no detectable climate effect", Stenchikov said.)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Book of the week:The Black Book of Capitalism by ed Le Temps des Cerises


The Black Book of Capitalism (French: Le Livre Noir du Capitalisme) is a book published in 1998, in reaction to The Black Book of Communism (1997), by editions of Le Temps des Cerises.[1] It is written by a variety of individuals, notably historians, sociologists, economists, trade unionists and writers, and covers crimes allegedly committed by capitalist countries. The book covers subjects such as third world exploitation, imperialist, colonialist and counter-revolutionary wars, repressions of workers and trade unionists, genocides, massacres and so on. It concludes that capitalism has killed approximately 147 million people between 1500 and 1997.This includes 70 million Indians during the colonization of the Americas, 10 million due to slavery, 10 million due to World War I, 50 million due to World War II, 3 million due to the Vietnam War, and 1 million due to the Biafra War. While other scholars agree that the European colonization of the Americas caused about this many deaths, most of this is usually seen as the result of new diseases, such as smallpox, to which the native inhabitants of the New World had no resistance.[1] RJ Rummel additionally argues that while nondemocratic capitalist nations have caused many deaths, democratic capitalist nations have caused very few compared to dictatorships.[2][3] On the opposite side of the political spectrum however, Noam Chomsky -- noting Nobel prizewinning economist Amartya Sen's observation (in regards to infant mortality rates) that "India seems to manage to fill its cupboard with more skeletons every eight years than China put there in its years of shame" (1958-61) -- concludes that "democratic, capitalist" India "has caused more deaths than in the entire history of...Communism everywhere since 1917 -- over 100 million deaths by 1979, tens of millions more since, in India alone."[4] Economist and proponent of capitalism Milton Friedman notes that India was socialist in its orientation and under the strong influence of Soviet model.[5] Since independence India's government is constitutionally defined as socialist, and it plays major role in the economy as a central planner.[6] On the other hand China can be compared to Taiwan and Hong Kong. Or North Korea to South Korea. After 1965, life expectancy began to plateau or even decrease in the Soviet Union and Eastern Europe, while it continued to increase in Western Europe..

If by Rudyard Kipling

If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don't deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don't give way to hating,
And yet don't look too good, nor talk too wise;

If you can dream - and not make dreams your master;
If you can think - and not make thoughts your aim;
If you can meet with triumph and disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same;
If you can bear to hear the truth you've spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to broken,
And stoop and build 'em up with wornout tools;

If you can make one heap of all your winnings
And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
And never breath a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
To serve your turn long after they are gone,
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
Except the Will which says to them: "Hold on";

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,
Or walk with kings - nor lose the common touch;
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you;
If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
With sixty seconds' worth of distance run -
Yours is the Earth and everything that's in it,
And - which is more - you'll be a Man my son!

Si tu peux voir détruit l'ouvrage de ta vie
Et sans dire un seul mot te mettre à rebâtir,
Ou perdre d'un seul coup le gain de cent parties
Sans un geste et sans un soupir;
Si tu peux être amant sans être fou d'amour,
Si tu peux être fort sans cesser d'être tendre
Et, te sentant haï, sans haïr à ton tour,
Pourtant lutter et te défendre;

Si tu peux supporter d'entendre tes paroles
Travesties par des gueux pour exciter des sots,
Et d'entendre mentir sur toi leurs bouches folles
Sans mentir toi-même d'un seul mot;
Si tu peux rester digne en étant populaire,
Si tu peux rester peuple en conseillant les rois
Et si tu peux aimer tous tes amis en frère
Sans qu'aucun d'eux soit tout pour toi;

Si tu sais méditer, observer et connaître
Sans jamais devenir sceptique ou destructeur;
Rêver, mais sans laisser le rêve être ton maître,
Penser sans n'être qu'un penseur;
Si tu peux être dur sans jamais être en rage,
Si tu peux être brave et jamais imprudent;
Si tu sais être bon, si tu sais être sage
Sans être moral ni pédant;

Si tu peux rencontrer Triomphe après Défaite
Et recevoir ces deux menteurs d'un même front,
Si tu peux conserver ton courage et ta tête
Quand tous les autres les perdront,
Alors les Rois, les Dieux, la Chance et la Victoire
Seront à tout jamais tes esclaves soumis
Et, ce qui vaut bien mieux que les Rois et la Gloire,
Tu seras un homme, mon fils. 

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Going Green but how Green?

It is the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day. We are grateful and extra nice today.I do love the documentary “Dirt! The movie”. Gimmicky or not, it is interesting and fun.I like the metaphor of humans as viruses attacking “dirt-a living breathing matrix of microorganisms”. And the passion of Vandana Shiva, Wangaria Mathai is contagious. One day I will grow my own vegetables like our mother did. And like Voltaire said in "Candide: or, The Optimist" we must cultivate our garden to be happy.

On the other hand, Oh No, I will not buy “a Bahama Umbrella specially designed to drain so that water can be stored, reused and recycled.” I am sorry but I will not purchase soy made toy like “Peat the Penguin from Greenzys line”. By the way, I am not eating all organic. The reason is that my wallet is not that green! I am going green as much as I can. I will keep on walking, going to the farmers market, recycle, drink tap, and do as much as I can. I love goodwill and thrift stores. As long as I remember we always purchased second hand clothes, and used everything.

In the New York Times, Denis Hayes, national coordinator of the first Earth Day says “This ridiculous perverted marketing has cheapened the concept of what is really green”. My favorite remark is from an independent documentary filmmaker, Robert Stone stating “Every Earth Day is a reflection of where we are as a culture” and “If it has become commoditized, about green consumerism instead of systemic change, then it is a reflection of our society.” Well we should go green by consuming less, to produce less, to pollute less, and preserve more. Earth is changing no matter what but we are not ready to change.

So I am going green as much as my wallet can go. I went to the thrift store and got 3 books “Diary of a Wimpy Kid: 1, 2, 3”for $5.97 instead of $32 online. I am recycling and keeping it real. I am not giving up all my ideals for “productive practicality”. Like Candide, I am aware of our imperfections. I will do what I can. Then I will pray because “everything had its purpose and things were made for the best.”

Going green should not be a trend. It should be a lifestyle. I do what I can. Happy 40th Anniversary! At 4.5 billion years old, Mother Earth is cracking up!

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Earth Day:“DIRT! The Movie” on PBS by Bill Benenson and Gene Rosow

(Staring Vandana Shiva, Wangaria Mathai)
 The premier was last night on PBS’ Independent Lens. It is the best ecological documentary ever! The documentary is interesting and scientifically fun. It is perfect for everyone. The animations make it playful and interactive.  And the characters give a wide scope of all our communities. Dirt is us, we are dirt. Dirt is earth’s skin. “This is a living breathing matrix of life on terrestrial earth.”

The Kenyan Nobel Peace laureate, Wangari Maathai pleas for action regardless how small it is. She tells a story about a fire in the forest, where only a humming bird rushes to get water while others larger animals just stand and look at the growing fire. When asked why such dedication regardless of the devastation. The humming bird answers because I do what I can. It brings awareness of farmers struggle for survival. Global warming does not scare us because we go to the supermarket for everything. However, the small farmers know the urgency. And the correlation between soil, floods, drought, desertification, genocide, famine, and civil war is real. What touched me the most is that Indian farmers committed suicide by drinking the pesticides they cannot afford to sustain their families.

The documentary personifies dirt and microorganisms. And ask the question, what if humans are the viruses that earth has to kill. It is time to cooperate and humble ourselves.It is time to change. It is time to think like the humming bird because we are dirt.

DIRT! The Movie TRAILER from visionOntv on Vimeo.
DIRT! The Movie--directed and produced by Bill Benenson and Gene Rosow--takes you inside the wonders of the soil. It tells the story of Earth's most valuable and underappreciated source of fertility--from its miraculous beginning to its crippling degradation.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

James Brown-Maceo Parker “ Soul of a Black Man”

 James Brown-Maceo Parker “ Soul of a Black Man” 
This is one is for my father and  my mother for teaching us resilience and soul.This one is also for all the immigrants, expatriates, travelers, refugees, exiles, asylums, illegals, clandestino, sans papiers, locals, all the people all over, in the cities,in the streets, in the ghettos, up, mid, and downtown.
“To know how, it is like and how it feels.”


James Brown Quotes:
I only got seventh-grade education, but I have a doctorate in funk, and I like to put that to good use.
The one thing that can solve most of our problems is dancing.
It doesn't matter how you travel it, it's the same road. It doesn't get any easier when you get bigger, it gets harder. And it will kill you if you let it.
Sometimes you struggle so hard to feed your family one way, you forget to feed them the other way, with spiritual nourishment. Everybody needs that.
My son don't have to say it loud, I'm black and I'm proud. He don't have to be called those crazy names.

International Creativity and Innovation Day is April 21.

Well I never knew about this one! It is tomorrow! So we still have time to be creative and innovate. It did start in 2002; communities in over 46 countries encourage their creative spirit from April 15 to April 21. It begins on Leonardo da Vinci’s Birthday. One slogan, I did find is “Imagine the world united through its creativity; where everyone takes a moment, a day, or the week to generate new ideas to create a brighter future wherever they are.” My plea is for a better, creative, innovative education. In order to created a sort of union. Creativity is an excellent approach. Here a great article on education, 21st-Century Skills: Evidence, Relevance, and Effectiveness by Scott Aronowitz. The opening quote is “The 21st century isn't coming; it's already here.... Public schools must prepare our young people to understand and address global issues, and educators must re-examine their teaching strategies and curriculum so that all students can thrive in this global and interdependent society. Dennis Van Roekel, president, National Education Association, April 2010”.

 School undeniably recreates and highlights the inequalities so creating a better education addressing global issues might help better the world. Then may be the students will be better citizens. And they may have a better stewardship of our global community. Let’s not forget that even our renaissance man, Leornada da Vinci himself, had teachers some moons ago. They exposed him to a vast diversity of techniques and approaches which help him unleash his creative genius. In conclusion I will use an African proverb"It takes a village to raise a child."Until next time be creative because it is about creating ourselves.

Monday, April 19, 2010

Dreams of our souls

According to Wikipedia, Oneirology is the scientific study of dreams. Dreams are defined as a succession of thoughts, images, sounds or emotions which the mind experiences during sleep. Many argue that dreams are illusions fructified by our imagination to escape reality. Others believe that they are only the manifestation of our secret desires. Dreams being based on memories and experiences, they created an alternate dimension that balances the intensity of the reality. In my opinion the purpose of dreaming is to rest our mind, and to connect our body and soul. I do not believe that it is an escape. It is a creative space to connect with our real self. Where, we are in control of the space and time. Where, abstracts can be defined in realistic notions. In his treatise De Anima, Aristotle defines the soul “as that which animates the body, that which quickens it to life. The soul is that which also directs the process of the body’s growth and survival. So the soul is the blueprint that directs the purpose of the material side of human nature.”  I believe that our dreams are ways to fulfill meaningful lives and connect our bodies and souls. And our memories shape our experiences as well as our experiences shape our memories. On 18/04 Paulo Coelho's  facebook status, you could read “Important meetings are planned by the souls long before the bodies see each other (encuentros importantes son planificados por las almas antes que los cuerpos se vean)”! It is so nicely said! Aristotle was the first to argue that we have some sort of lucidity in our fantastic journeys in Dreams land. His point is that asleep we cannot differentiate the real from the unreal. However he says “often when one is asleep, there is something in consciousness which declares that what then presents itself is but a dream”. It is that faculty of lucid dreaming that makes us establishes realistic goals to live our dreams. Dreams are possibilities with different probabilities and the most crucial variable is dedication.

Most people never run far enough on their first wind to find out they've got a second. 
Give your dreams all you've got and you'll be amazed at the energy that comes out of you.
Objective evidence and certitude are doubtless very fine ideals to play with, but where on this moonlit and dream-visited planet are they found?
The greatest achievement was, at first and for a time, a dream. The oak sleeps in the acorn; the bird awaits in the egg; and in the highest vision of the soul, a waking angel stirs.

Dockside Dreams "The docks are a perfect place to launch your dreams. This painting was based on Lake Tahoe's shores but can easily evoke memories of other waterside retreats."

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Global voyeurism and ignorance

My definition of global voyeurism is a set of  guilty glances that we poor mortals have when looking at others's misery. Those glances that we process with our socio-cultural and emotional standards bring empathy, sympathy, fear, pity, hate, anger, happiness or sadness. We are often compelled to do or say something. We want to help, accuse and criticize. I understand the need of sensational photographs to coerce common people into donate and help. It is all about effective marketing. I do not support it because I am African, and I do not want my child to be blinded by them. As a child I was the first Black African in my elementary school. All the silly and annoying questions were not caused by hate but by stereotypes and ignorance. All they knew about Africans was starvation, death, lack of infrastructures, and folkloric clothing. One teacher told the class that where I am from, families live in one room, and we all do voodoo. I did answer that we have houses too and we do black magic. Just in case! Nobody ever bullied me! For the longest time I was trying to impeach our son to watch sensational images of poverty and misery. I did not want him to have  distorted views. Although after Tsunami, Katrina, and Haiti, I did let go. Sadly global natural disasters are equalizers, we are all connected. Floods, earthquakes, fires, droughts, and tsunamis remind us that we all play games of hide-and-seek in economical and political boudoirs. And global voyeurism is a way to alleviate our moral burdens with quick fixes. Before I became a mother, I did read about the Great Chinese Famine, parents were exchanging children so they will not see theirs die. It made me understand that as much as we act like political animals we are humans. And the degradation of a human being struggle for life hurts me deeply because that dying child could be mine. And as much as I would love to receive help when in need. I would love more dignity and decency. At the end, we are all the same.

Some great links:
The Aid Watch blog is based on the idea that more aid will reach the poor the more people are watching aid.
The End of Poverty?, "a feature-length documentary directed by award-winning director, Philippe Diaz, which explains how today's financial crisis is a direct consequence of these unchallenged policies that have lasted centuries. Consider that 20% of the planet's population uses 80% of its resources and consumes 30% more than the planet can regenerate. At this rate, to maintain our lifestyle means more and more people will sink below the poverty line"

Exploration by Clement Kodjo Deyono

Clement Kodjo Deynoo is a Ghanaian British writer,
 more at Poetry in Emotion.
My picture from CSUS pedestrian bridge.
I confess, I like bridges.
Here it is Exploration!

In little feet’s of dwarf..
In my adolescent youth..
In Locomotion,..
Through yards of unexplored worlds..

Anticipation and trepidation..
Glued on pavements of red sand..
On my feet, evidence of tango danced..

Every day I go a step further..
From the nest in which I cradle in comfort..
Addiction of a buzz, for new conquest I venture..
Dis-virgined by visions in healed..

Verbal chants made loud in ears in caution..
Like unwelcome trumpets, of kings parade..
“Do not enter into the dark forest”..
Deterring me not, I am a rebel determined..

And I am edged on by passions of solicitation..
To whisk into unseen worlds of enigma..
It is an adventure, I seek on my quest..
To be enlighted through paths I walk..

Monday, April 12, 2010

From handwritten letters to emails and Vice-versa.

I vividly remember when I signed up for my yahoo account. A friend of mine went far away and calling was becoming too expensive. Besides I was too impatient to wait for letters via air. It was twelve years ago at the National Library of France, located in Paris in Jean François Mitterrand site. I just moved from Toulouse to Paris for a summer job. I did not know Paris that well and I had to find a free computer lab. So I decided to apply for a library card just to be able to freely use the computer labs. I was astonished by the view from the Simone-de-Beauvoir footbridge, and the trees inside the building that you can see trough the window-walls. I always loved libraries.  As a kid, it was the perfect way to escape our French suburb with the blessing of our parents. And libraries were cooled in summer, heated in winter and of course free. When I finally got to the computers, I registered for a yahoo mail account, emailed my friend and waited for an answer. And right there in a wink I had instant news. It was magical. Today I am teaching my first grader to type on the computer like my dad did teach me how to use a typing machine. I miss handwriting letters but I never mail anything on time. Once I wrote a letter to my parents, never mailed it and I handed it one year later when they came to visit.
 I knew that my love of spectacular handwriting was over when I let go of my desire to possess a Mont Blanc pen. I still believe that handwriting is more thoughtful, especially with a cursive handwriting. I love to receive those emotionally charged notes because it is a proof that someone just took time to share something meaningful, even if it is five sentences. It is something from the old days, when we were collecting stamps and running to the mail box hoping for distant news. A time when you were nice to the mailman so he will come early. Today I often send back emails that I try to light up with exclamation points and smiley faces. We all prefer handwritten letters but we are too busy becoming neurotic multitaskers; we want to save that so precious time that we lack, and do not waste money on stamps. By the way if you plan on writing to Mr.Obama use your pen because he prefers handwritten letters according to the Daily Herald Newspaper. So I might get my Mont Blanc pen after all. I do not want to miss such opportunity. And I will take my most beautiful cursive handwriting for the occasion. Who knows!

Links for more:
Uploaded on February 24, 2010by romvi

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Moonlight serenade of the week

“When a finger points to the moon,the imbecile looks at the finger"    Chinese Proverb
    “Everyone is a moon, and has a dark side which he never shows to anybody" Mark Twain

    “The moon, like a flower In heaven's high bower,
         With silent delight sits and smiles on the night.”
         William Blake

        For Children:
        1/ A website all about the Moon:
        The Lunar and Planetary Institute is a research institute that provides support services to NASA and the planetary science community, and conducts planetary science research under the leadership of staff scientists, visiting researchers, and postdoctoral fellows.
        2/ A short story
        The boy who gave life to moon..
        By Malin Enbom (Stockholm Sweden) dedicated to "Simone Consolazione"

        Once upon a time there was a boy who often went out to walk alone. Sad and lonely he tried to walk along every path. Maybe the friend of happiness would take his hand and walk beside him one day. His tears made every flower want to bloom and reach towards his warm heart.

        Mother Sun who had been following him felt a deep pain over his sadness because she loved him as her own son. One day she decided to pick all of heavens stars for turning them into a long shiny stair. She wanted to take him in her arms and kiss away all his sorrow. One night she woke up the boy and told him to walk upon the stairs of the stars. When he was so high up in the sky that the dark night was the only thing that surrounded him Mother Sun took him in her arms and kissed him sweetly. Mother Sun knew that she had to bring him back down to earth but before she let him go she gave the boy the name of Moon. And then she took out one half of her own heart to create heaven's moon which would for all time remind her about the boy...

        Links of Pictures used
        Uploaded on April 5, 2010by catsmlk

        Friday, April 9, 2010

        First update of Kirundi-French-English Challenge.

        According to our dear “Bescherelle, a French grammar book”, a mother tongue is acquired orally, and the graphic transcription is taught several years later. Well it took me only three decades! And all I have to say is that it is HARD!!!!!!! Now that I said it I can pretend that I am in control. French grammar was hard, Spanish was manageable, and English was less complicated but required me to thing differently.I shamefully dropped Spanish because conjugation was overwhelming. Orally I could understand Kirundi until I left home. And being far from home and not speaking Kirundi,I lost a lot of it.
        And going over grammar exercises,I am proud to say that I understand plenty of the vocabulary and recognized some of the rules. However the vocalic system, contractions, diphthongs, phonetics, syntax and the vast diversity of articles specific for each group of nouns made me realized that Kirundi is a really rich and complex language.That is probably why it is almost impossible to find an updated book. 
        But I find some fabulous links online, even Spanish-Kirundi lessons; I got to love globalization for this. Thank you for the mighty internet!Besides I am currently forced to learn all the English phonetics to teach them to my favorite first grader. To be honest he is teaching me proper English pronunciation. And I love to see him being so proud to correct me. Priceless!My mother is taking the Kirundi-English part of the challenge and she doing great.So I am dedicating  this kirundian love song “Kidumu - Amosozi y'urukundo” to my mother for reading my blogg even in English.
        Thank you Maman.
        And Thank you Papa.
        I promise to write few sentences in Kirundi as soon as possible.
        For a start Ndagukunda/ Je t’aime/I love you
        Have a great Friday whoever is passing by this page.

        Here below the full pages of Kirundi by Betty Cox:

        Wednesday, April 7, 2010

        Cultural blend: African Kimono by Serge Mouangue

        Causes of migrations are divided in two categories: push and pull factors. “Push and pull factors are those factors which either forcefully push people into migration or attract them to an area.” So regardless of  who you are, you will be pushed or pulled into migrations. Civil wars, better educations, global warming and all the rest will make you migrate to some extend. And the beautiful result is multiculturalism, fusion and melting pot. I did found something that perfectly symbolizes fusion. It is a blend of Japanese and African culture and it is beautiful, African kimono!!!. A Tokyo based Kimono retailer Kururi and Serge Mouangue create traditional Japanese kimonos in African prints from Nigeria to Senegal.
        Links for more pictures:

        Here a video of Mbilia Bel for her classy style !!

        Monday, April 5, 2010

        "The Cry of the Sea” by Aïcha Thiamin-Le Cri de la Mer (Barca walla Barsakh)

        This is a beautiful documentary about clandestine immigration in Africa. Aïcha Thiamin in "The Cry of the Sea” exposes the feelings of survivors of the 2006 trip that killed 85 persons attempting to reach Spain by sea. They succumbed to harsh days at sea without food and water. Despite the loss of their children and men, these women offer hope and optimism without disregarding reality. They are working together to survive; furthermore to thrive for a better future for themselves and their community.

        Quotes of Aïcha Thiamin from
        "Aïcha Thiamin: The loss of their children in these appalling conditions already makes the lives of these women too hard. But today life goes on because there is a time to fight, also a time to laugh, dance and drown her pain and sadness. As long as there is life, there is always hope"

        Il s'agit d'un beau documentaire sur l'immigration clandestine en Afrique. Aïcha Thiamine dans "Le Cri de la mer» expose les sentiments des survivants d'un  voyage maritime de 2006 qui a tué 85 personnes tentant de rejoindre l'Espagne. Ils ont succombés à des jours difficiles en mer, sans nourriture et  sans eau. Malgrés la perte de leurs enfants et de leurs hommes , ces femmes donnent de l'espoir et l'optimisme sans oublier la réalité. Elles travaillent ensemble pour survivre;  et en outre se développer pour un meilleur avenir en tant que  communauté.

        Citation d' Aïcha thiamine sur
        "Aïcha Thiamine: La perte de leurs enfants dans ces conditions épouvantables fait déjà la vie de ces femmes trop dur. Mais la vie d'aujourd'hui qui se passe parce qu'il ya un temps pour combattre, aussi un temps pour rire, de danse et de noyer sa douleur et de tristesse. Tant qu'il ya vie, il ya toujours de l'espoir "

        Immigration culture and survival.

        In a wildlife documentary about survival on PBS, I did learn that lions tend to prey on weak and sick animals. Cheetahs prey on those that venture far from their herds. In the animal kingdom survival increase if you stay with your herd.  However it does not change anything for the unfortunate one that has to fight for his life or protect his family. Life and death depend on him alone.  And of course I did the parallel between immigration and survival. Immigration, migrations are often made to assure better, easier, safer life or just survival.  Immigration is a gain of opportunities, experiences but also an emotional loss due to distances. From culture shock, acculturation, integration, assimilation to multiculturalism, it is a stressful process of survival and adaptation.  As a child in the South of France I did meet gypsies. I am fascinated by their philosophy. They are travelers from there, everywhere and nowhere. Regardless of their burden, they are to an extend  at peace about not belonging anywhere. I always admired their resilience but the sadness in their flamenco remind us the pain, sacrifices, suffering and a beauty not always glamorous. In this global community, immigration culture is a culture in its own with its dreams, pains, codes, stress, joy and successes. If you spend one day looking at people around you, you can see it is not about race or ethnicity, not even about developed countries and developing countries. It is about survival of the fittest from lions, cheetahs to us.

        Interesting to read:
        Ethnicity, immigration, and psychopathology
        By Ihsan Al-Issa, Michel Tousignant
        “While most studies of the stresses experienced by minorities, migrants, and refugees focus on North America, this work assumes an unusually broad scope. African-Americans, Latin Americans, Hutterites, Southeast Asians, and Native Americans are all considered in the context of the U.S. and Canada. However, separate chapters also discuss North Africans in France, Turks in Belgium, native culture in New Zealand, Jews inside and outside Israel, Gypsies in Europe, and Germans migrating west in their newly united nation. This unique look at the stresses facing such groups is an important resource for researchers, practitioners, and graduate students in clinical psychology, counseling, and psychiatric social work.”


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