So I'm just doing my part to spread the word before the December petition handover - which will mark one year since Madiba's passing!
Have you signed the petition? --- www.legocy.co.za
If you haven't already heard, a marketing firm called Quirk is planning to petition the Lego Co. to make a Nelson Mandela Freedom Fighters set to tell South Africa's best story. So why am I blogging about it, well I actually have a vested interest in this... sort of. My sister work's for the marketing firm in question and she came home all excited about it, before it was broadcast before the nation on prime-time news.
So I'm just doing my part to spread the word before the December petition handover - which will mark one year since Madiba's passing!
It does seem that Lego is taking over the world, especially in pop culture, from famous movies - The Avengers, The Justice League, Star Wars etc. to other famous films and even TV series'. Even the Beatles have Lego caricatures. So, it kind of feels right that Madiba should get one too - and this is one series that will transcend markets and industries and commercialism, heck, it already has. Quirk may have started this with convenient publicity benefits and a greater message, but its already become bigger than them because it involves so much more; its about continuing immortalizing the Legocy and conveying SA's greatest story to the next generations, in one of the most popular mediums yet.
Have you signed the petition? --- www.legocy.co.za
The trailer for The Lego movie, released earlier this year. (read ITK's review HERE) This film also transcended a story simply about toys and actually managed to be allegorical of quite a few issues in society. If you haven't seen it i highly recommend it.
Here's the link to the LEGO Youtube Channel, to take a firm step into the world of stop-motion.
It may seem pointless to review an award winning film such as this, one that is part documentary, part tribute, part sports film and part ‘love letter to skiing’ – but it warrants a watch even from a neutral observer that has never seen snow in their entire life. Plainly stated, this offering from Sherpas Cinema is fine film all on its own and a complete feast for the eyes, and most of your other senses too. Up front it’s a record of the unparalleled power, majesty and inimitable call of nature and man’s unrelenting spirit, ever willing to answer that summons.
Yes there is a vague plot to this film despite it being a real-life sports film with no actors. Its divided into 12 chapters all chronicling various stages within the cycle of being a skier or simply an extreme sports adventurer, though many elements are quite relatable because it tackles issues on a human and even spiritual level. The plot line though is merely to have some kind of central mechanism around which to form the film, so that one doesn’t just have a bunch of random ski experts performing cool tricks and slaloms for over an hour. The true strength of this film however, lies in the truly spectacular cinematography and photography with an innovative cyclic theme running throughout, mastered with technical brilliance.
This film is way more than a ski film, in fact it’s just so happens to ‘also’ be a ski film, because it transcends such conventions by delivering something artful and exhilarating; and in doing so, Sherpas Cinema have provided a window into the skiing world that appeals to anyone. I recommend this film to anyone.
As a layman myself – having not skied once in my short life (which will soon be rectified) – I can say that what immediately appealed to me was the mountains and the climbing (featuring top climber Renan Ozturk – one of the few names I knew, along with photographer Jimmy Chin) and of course the crisp imagery, but soon I found myself lured by the notion of skiing. This of course is one of the goals, to draw more people to the sport, and it does so effortlessly.
Another seemingly effortless achievement is the way they portrayed the link between the simplest of things, like old rattle toy, and how its likened to time, the turning clock, the spinning earth, the tides of the oceans, and even man – our cycle of living, dying and rebirth, whether spiritual rebirth or that which exists in nature. It does all this without too much though, but simply by connecting a stream of breathtaking images and footage, all amidst the multi-generational journeys undertaken on the slopes of many a snow covered mountain.
Into the Mind is easily a technical achievement as much as it is an exciting and thrilling adventure sports film. For what felt like the first time, you actually feel like one of them as a few of the athletes wear head mounted cameras, waking up in a windswept tent, hiking up a frozen mountain and then waving at death as you ski down – made it all the more personal.
There’s plenty of danger, and the tragic elements form a central focus, but it only serves to add another deeper dimension to this portrait, along with a stellar soundtrack.
It makes for a well timed exploration of a rather exclusive sport, as the world is currently focussed on the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi – so that if you didn’t have an appreciation for it before, then you will after watching this film. Everyone, whether on a ski slope or in everyday life, goes on their own journey, but our paths are forever interlinked and entwined, it’s part of what makes us human – the personal connection, and another, perhaps final added dynamic to Into the Mind, is camaraderie between all these people, bound by a vision and similar passions, willing to go to extreme and often dangerous lengths to satisfy them… It’s also why (another Winter Olympic phenomenon) why all the athletes tend to get along so well – its more often not so much about the competition, as it is about the ride, or ski, itself.
It’s about men and women, the spirit of freedom and adventure, and the endlessly varying echo of nature.
(My rating, for what its worth: 90% )
*Apologies, due to technical difficulties beyond my control or prevention, this post is delayed by a week, so the Sochi ref would've made more sense then, but I left it there anyway... Russia has won, and congrats to them, for that and also owning that Olympic logo faux par.*
Here's the second trailer for this breathtaking film. For the first trailer and my original preview of it in a post from last year, click here: "Mind Blowing - Into the Mind Film Teaser", along with a bonus trailer.
[Image and trailer credits: Intothemindmovie.com]
I thought of posting this video/song simply because its cool, but as so often happens, it does tie in well with a broader message and theme permeating in South Africa today, Madiba has been laid to a much deserved rest, but a huge part of his legacy remains within us - a part he fought and was prepared to die for: FREEDOM. Additionally, mandela always said that music and Dancing put him at peace with the world...
The 'free' sung about in this video (by Rudimental featuring Emeli Sande) is complete in its openness - its the freedom we yearn for but so seldom exercise.
We have been liberated, so don't live like you're still oppressed... it all starts in the mind.
An African Myth
A poem by Steven Benjamin
From humble hills
A heart starts to beat
From humble teachings
Breaking a branch
“Troublemaker” is born
A mind grows
No boundaries found, but what he sees.
of blood and bone, and of the earth.
A tormented land, thirsty
Quenched, only with the blood of its own people.
Within the division, He grows
He is armed
The land knows his name
Shackles now, and resolve
In the dungeons kept
Land and frigid sea, between
His blood, from youth, and love
Reformed in the cold of night and blinding heat of day
Behind high walls and in rocky quarries
A brotherhood is sealed.
And through the wire and the stone, his voice grows
His spirit remains.
But the body withers
His name is known
Bullets fly, bodies fall
A nation walks to the edge
The bloodied hand of the Abyss beckons
The gates open with the chant of the people
for the cage must be unlocked
The man steps forth
The world takes a breath.
One last brother falls
The Abyss steps closer...
But, the boundaries seen are broken,
My heart beats as yours
To kill you, is to kill me
His heart beats
For his people, and rampant land.
He broke a branch once
Perhaps from an Olive tree
And extended his hand gracefully,
To his fearful enemy
- Years pass
That fearful day nears
When the land will reclaim a man
The people will cry tears to soak the once bloodied ground
And the heavens will cry too
An old man’s heart stops beating...
And the world stops,
for a moment.
He is sent back
His body taken,
Back into those humble hills
- This is the story of a boy, a man, a husband, a father, a Chief, a lawyer, a leader, a soldier, a freedom fighter, a prisoner, a peacemaker, a reconciler, a liberator, a president, a humanitarian, a King, a legend, a hero, an icon… the father of a democratic nation, the son of an African land... the closest incarnation of that ancient African myth, where all hope, is in but one, an incorruptible one.
Nelson Rolihlahla Mandela 1918 - 2013
[God Bless all, 2013 is marks the first full year of publication of this blog, here's to a waaay bigger 2014. I'll be a little preoccupied in this end of year festivities and travels. Be safe, be blessed, hug your family and friends, and keep on reading and writing. thanks to all my first time visitors as well as dedicated loyalists, Cheers - I take my proverbial hat off to you!]
For a moment, let’s put the Israeli-Palestinian condition aside. (This is not to say we’re absolving anyone for human rights violations/atrocities and simple injustice and lack of human decency though, just taking a step back.)
The lay of the land:
So, here is this little sliver of a country, the only Jewish state in the Arab world – it truly is remarkable that they are still around when you think of the Arab and Islamic sentiment towards them. To put it in perspective; land mass wise, Israel makes up roughly 21 000 km2 – compare that to my home province in South Africa, the Western Cape, which is 129 000 km2.
Let’s be honest, the vast majority of the Arab world wants Israel gone. Former Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad went so far as to call Israel’s existence “an insult to humanity” and quoted Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini, the leader of the Islamic revolution, saying “wipe Israel off the map” – or rather, alternatively translated, “that Israel would collapse”. This sentiment is nothing new…
“Israel, a small country of less than eight million people, looks out at a world where leaders of much larger nations threaten to wipe it off of the map.”
In 1935, when Hitler introduced the Nuremberg Racial laws, he reportedly received congratulatory telegrams from all corners of the Arab world. An Arabic translation of Mein Kampf found its way to Palestinians in East Jerusalem where it was reportedly a bestseller.
So, in many ways its admirable that Israel has remained so steadfast in their beliefs, so unshakeable, because to them (and if you look at things from a Jewish perspective) Arabs are plainly the self-proclaimed enemy, and to withstand assaults and not buckle under international pressures is an indication of their unwavering resolve.
Yes, atrocities to Palestinians have been committed, ill treatment of innocent civilians are still occurring today, but when considering the alternative – a one country solution – means to absorb the Palestinian-Arab population, along with their considerable extremist factions (within Hezbollah and Hamas to name two).
Biblically this is the route to go – to overcome hate and evil with good, but I can’t help but imagine that if this route were taken, it would only hasten a civil war, which would then open the door for countries that share Iranian sentiment – Egypt, Syria… to come knocking. The global situation is made more interesting when you consider the US’s strained relations with Israel, the fact the Obama (US) and Putin (Russia) cannot come to terms regarding nuclear arms, that Russia is on good terms with the Arab world, as well as several Latin American countries, not to mention China. If all these countries are indeed aligned, in whatever capacity, it only further highlights the precarious position of that sliver of land called Israel.
What of democracy? The dawn of the Arab spring has appeared to bring about a bright new age of democracy to many Arab nations, but will that necessarily change anything – will international sentiment and policy making be in any way altered? Since these are Arab states, I salute the idea that it opens the door to many changes to laws which promote discrimination and bringing about a greater equality, specifically regarding women. However, this then brings Sharia Law into light;
Here is a short list of some of those laws:
• Criticizing or denying any part of the Quran is punishable by death.
• Criticizing or denying Muhammad is a prophet is punishable by death.
• Criticizing or denying Allah, the moon god of Islam is punishable by death.
• A Muslim who becomes a non-Muslim is punishable by death.
• A non-Muslim who leads a Muslim away from Islam is punishable by death.
• A non-Muslim man who marries a Muslim woman is punishable by death.
• A man can marry an infant girl and consummate the marriage when she is 9 years old.
• Girls' clitoris should be cut (per Muhammad's words in Book 41, Kitab Al-Adab, Hadith 5251).
• A woman can have 1 husband, but a man can have up to 4 wives; Muhammad can have more.
• A man can unilaterally divorce his wife but a woman needs her husband's consent to divorce.
• A man can beat his wife for insubordination.
• Testimonies of four male witnesses are required to prove rape against a woman.
• A woman who has been raped cannot testify in court against her rapist(s).
• A woman's testimony in court, allowed only in property cases, carries half the weight of a man's.
• A female heir inherits half of what a male heir inherits.
• A woman cannot drive a car, as it leads to fitnah (upheaval).
• A woman cannot speak alone to a man who is not her husband or relative.
>>> of course the list goes on
It comes together in a fascinating and somewhat disturbing melting pot, depending on whose side you’re on. And for the West, this is central to "the FEAR" experienced there - in addition to the stereotypical terrorism rhetoric.
Let’s get even deeper here for a second, real deep. Since this is Israel we’re talking about, God’s beloved nation, let’s look at some of what the Bible tells us – because as mentioned on this blog earlier, see Bible Book Review, this book has proven its accuracy in 80% of predicted events (the other 20 is yet to occur, into the future).
The Bible clearly states in 1 John 2:22 – that whoever denies Christ as the son of the living God, is the Antichrist. Logically, it is anyone who denounces Jesus as the son of God. Islam, and the Shariah Law advocates and are directly opposed to Jesus as being part of the holy trinity - despite many claiming that he shall return; how is he supposed to return if he was only a man, after so many years after his death, if his existence is NOT in some way divinely conceived? People following this train of thought plainly contradict themselves.
“the cancerous tumor called Israel must be uprooted from the region.” “the goal is not the military destruction of the Jewish state but “the defeat of Zionist ideology and the dissolution of Israel through a ‘popular referendum.’” – Imam Khamenei (2000) [of course that is one man’s sentiments, albeit a very powerful man in Iran]
Another issue which is often neglected in the media is the persecution and treatment of Jews and Christians in Arab states – I bring this up alongside the treatment of Palestinians by Israel, yet the latter state seems to get the most flack, why?
And with that ‘why’ comes this ‘why’; why is all this relevant to me?
Well, we do like to pretend that the world is a largely safe place and that the world leaders know what they’re doing – I mean we elected them, sort of. However, the world as we know it is very easy to put to an end. Only buttons need pressing, certain triggers need to be pulled to spark off World War III. Yes, I mention that, because it is unfortunately a stark reality, one we normal folk living our everyday lives, refuse to face, because it seems so far-fetched, money-making fodder for Hollywood movies. The truth is that things, countries, are a lot more closely related, the world is a much smaller place. A man can have a profound impact on the world from the relative comfort of his living room. You can see 360 degree streetview shots of places/houses/people’s backyard’s with simply a few taps on your laptop. It doesn’t take much to topple that first domino, so in some respects its admirable that we haven’t seen countries go war on the scale and cost of the two World Wars, for whatever reason. The truth we must face is that there is so much Hate out there, between cultures, people’s, countries.
Some Arabs still target Jews because of their betrayal of Isa (Jesus). It speaks volumes that the very empire that killed Jesus Christ, then adopted Christianity as their official standard religion.
Russia hasn’t dismantled any of its nuclear bombs (and has even developed some more) because its unhappy about the US building more bases (weapons) in Europe. These nuclear weapons number in the thousands… and in all this we haven’t even considered the might of China’s military power (who are also consistently on the side of Russia – furthermore, there’s the unpredictable North Korea to consider too.
- French Second Lieutenant Alfred Joubaire wrote in his diary about WWI just before he died that “Humanity is mad! It must be mad to do what it is doing. What a massacre. What scenes of horror and carnage! I cannot find words to translate my impressions. Hell cannot be so terrible! Men are mad!” (1917) [best we remember these sentiments, to remind ourselves what we don’t want to happen ever again]
So, when one looks at the world from this view (because it will inevitably go that route once you tackle foreign policy and relations), one might begin to see Israel a little differently. They’re not innocent by any means, but then again, who is; I’ll tell you: Switzerland!
Strange how we are - people - carrying grudges; even though your neighbor has never wronged you, you hold animosity because of disagreements generations old - sometimes the root source of that animosity may be forgotten, but somehow the hate remains.
For a look back at Part 1 of this article follow the link - An Objective look at Apartheid Israel
In the thorns and the cross-hairs:
Liberation movements – strange thing about them – labelled outlaws, terrorists, revolutionaries, enemies of the state….
Ideals change, men change, so do politics and thence, perhaps most of all, people… people are the most fickle.
“I choose God before man” – Rev. Beyers Naude
People are complex, forever in a struggle to find out who we are, what we’re here for. And so now, in the modern quest for globalization – although it has been an idea for quite some time now, since the inception of colonialism – making the world one country, seeking integration, unity, solidarity, love and all that good stuff, in a world getting ever ‘smaller’ – are we not discarding ourselves? We constantly (without reward) seem to be seeking answers in each other.
I made an earlier post about heritage, and remembering where we all came from; to not discard our past and to preserve our culture, yet this means to oppose the concept on globalization on some level.
Of course a part of the concept of the global village is to accept each and all equally, flaws and imperfections included, and unite under the banner of humanity. However, as is very easy to surmise and gather when looking at the world today; things are becoming ever more superficial, run by capitalistic ideas and motives. Thankfully, certainly from my perspective, the larger portion of society is waking up to see that ideals are not as black and white as they assumed it was – there was never the simple ‘good guy bad guy’ complex in world politics – we were just led to side with certain nations over others, when in fact guilt can be laid equally on all sides.
Propaganda. Humanity. Opinion. Belief.
Strange hey? Although it is our differences that make us unique – through all the beauty – it is those same differences that has been the cause for so much conflict.
Many would support the idea of maintaining traditions – the good ones at least – to retain some notes of cultures from all corners of the globe, for it is that which weaves such a colorful and diverse tapestry.
As we move headlong and with gaining momentum into an uncertain future, we should always reflect, remember, pause and breathe new and perhaps better life into one of the few certainties of this life – our past. To briefly shed the complexities and distractions of today.
I had such a moment a few weeks back while visiting Freedom Park in Pretoria. The center piece of the park is the wall of names (S'khumbuto - meaning, among other things "place of remembrance") with all those who died in the eight major conflicts that shaped the nation, with particular emphasis on honoring those who died in the name of peace, human rights and the freedom and liberation of South Africa.
Those conflicts are:
In total, up until 1994, the nation of South Africa had been at war for over 500 years.
However, it’s not just about recognizing those souls, but also laying them to rest. Something which should be mimicked in every country, in some way, is the concept of Isivivane (derived from the word “viva” – in this instance carrying the meaning of “commitment to solidarity”, “unity of purpose” and “coming together”) – the place of healing and rest. This is the symbolic burial ground for all those who died. Isivivane is crucial to Freedom park, built to enhance awareness and inspire commemoration. Arriving at the site, one is required to remove your shoes as a sign of respect. This was also the site where a host of religious leaders held ceremonies and rituals to lay to rest those fallen heroes. No matter your belief, it is hard not to be moved by this experience which is concluded (after receiving an in depth explanation as to the relevance and meaning of the surrounds) by washing your hands and face in a rock pool of fresh water. Everything here holds some meaning; even the type of trees planted, and the method for entering and exiting (through separate pathways).
The actual burial ground – some would liken it to the tombstone of the site – is the ring of boulders. In addition to the two boulders denoting National government and the International community, there are 9 other boulders from the 9 provinces in South Africa, all with Historical significance.
For example, the boulder from the Limpopo province is from a site once ruled by one of the earliest kingdoms on the sub-continent who traded gold with India and Egypt. The boulder from the Western Cape is from the Table Mountain range – one of the oldest mountains in the world. The biggest rock is from Mpumalanga province, a piece of green Verdite from the recorded 3.5 million year old Barberton Green-stone belt (yes, one side of the rock really does have a green hue to it).
If you ever get the chance, I recommend visiting this rich place, to get away from our usual everyday ebb and flow.
For those unable to visit the park, feel free to visit the website at Freedom Park.
[Banner illustration by Joel Kanar]