RafahKid Kid from Rafah, Palestine, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons
More than 200 Palestinians and 17 officers were wounded on Friday 7th May when Israeli forces attacked worshippers in occupied East Jerusalem near the holy Al-Aqsa mosque. Violence between the Israelis forces and Palestinians have since continued. The forced evictions of Palestinian families, in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbourhood, that sparked the protests are currently being appealed in court. However, the Israeli justice ministry has further postponed the hearing for 30 days.
While the Al-Aqsa mosque attacks captured the world’s attention and shed spotlight on Palestinian oppression, the incident is just the tip of the iceberg. When uncovered, we find a deep history of Palestinian persecution.
Asal Almazloum is an 18-year old Palestinian-Canadian with family currently residing in Gaza.
With recent events unfolding in occupied Jerusalem, she lives in fear of what might happen to her family.
“I have friends of friends who’ve been sending videos of what’s happening there and it’s just been horrifying,” Almazloum said. “There’s people lying on the ground with blood, dead people and others rushing to get them to the hospital.”
Through a phone call to her family, she learned on Monday that Northern Gaza was hit by an Israeli air strike, not far from her family home.
“Praise be to God, my family is safe and sound within their home but there’s still a fear that another airstrike will come and hit them,” said Almazloum. The fear also comes from a traumatic memory of Almazloum’s seven-storey family home being demolished by an Israeli airstrike in the 2014 Gaza War. The airstrike left her family scattered across the city, hoping to find rentals or generous civilians to live with until their house was rebuilt last year.
Almazloum’s family home was destroyed by an Israeli airstrike during the Gaza War in 2014. (Courtesy of Asal Almazloum)
Early Tuesday morning, Gaza was once again attacked by Israeli forces and at least 24 Palestinians, including nine children, were killed.
“There have been many air strike missiles going down on them all night,” Almazloum said. “[My family] says it’s been very hard to sleep through the noise and of course [it’s] terrifying, they’ve all packed a bag in case they get evacuated.”
The UN has acknowledged that the allegations of war crimes against Israel during the Gaza War are credible in the face of evidence. The UN is also deeply concerned about ongoing assaults in occupied East Jerusalem . Although, take note that, it was the UN General Assembly that approved Resolution 181 (Partition Resolution) in 1947. This resolution split former Palestine into a Jewish and Arab state, and marked the beginning of rising tensions between Israelis and Palestinians.
Ayat Ibrahim Qunibi, a Palestinian-Canadian and mother of three, says her grandparents would often recall the peaceful times in former Palestine before the creation of Israel in 1948. However, in 1967 her parents were forcefully evicted by Israeli settlers in Jerusalem. Without anywhere else to go, they fled to Jordan.
“They kept the keys to their house because they thought they would be back,” Qunibi said. In reality, Qunibi was born in Jordan and it was only in 2013 that she was able to see her homeland for the first time.
Qunibi’s family was one of thousands that was evicted in 1967. That year, the Israeli government began making civilian establishments on Palestinian territory, according to Penny Green and Amelia Smith in Evicting Palestine, with approximately 300,000 Palestinians forced to flee.
“Our dream was to visit Palestine,” Qunibi said. “Although Jordan and Palestine are so close, like one hour, we couldn’t go to Palestine. So we came [to Canada] to get passports to visit our country.”
Qunibi poses inside the Al-Aqsa mosque when she visited Jerusalem for the first time in 2013 with her husband and three children. (Courtesy of Ayat Ibrahim Qunibi)
Forced Palestinian evictions only got worse after 1967. Today, Palestinian families in Sheikh Jarrah are being forced to give up their homes to Israeli Jewish settlers and pay 70,000 shekels ($20,000) to cover the settlers’ legal expenses, according to Al Jazeera.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rejected international criticism regarding forced evictions of Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah. “Jerusalem is Israel’s capital and just as every nation builds in its capital and builds up its capital, we also have the right to build in Jerusalem and to build up Jerusalem,” said Netanyahu on Sunday. “That is what we have done and that is what we will continue to do.”
Rema Hammami described her life in Sheikh Jarrah as a “penniless” graduate student in her 2012 tribute, The Exiling of Sheikh Jarrah. She wrote, “The settler master-plan for the neighborhood envisages evicting more than five hundred Palestinians from Sheikh Jarrah and building three hundred settler homes in their place.” Hammami, associate professor of anthropology at Birzeit University, wrote an account of her life in Sheikh Jarrah since the 1980s which describes the harassment faced by Palestinian families on a daily basis. “Heavily armed forces” appeared at her doorstep demanding 83,000 shekel for a hospital or eviction, her neighbours’ homes were broken into by settlers followed by unfair trials and Israel launched explosions around her neighbourhood. These are just a few incidents symbolizing the reality of being a Palestinian in occupied Jerusalem.
In 2020 alone, the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) estimated that approximately 200 families, which include 800 adults and children, have pending eviction cases in the occupied West Bank. Further, Israelis destroyed 848 Palestinian structures and justified the destruction by declaring the buildings were in forbidden military zones or lacked Israeli-issued permits that are generally “virtually impossible for Palestinians to obtain,” according to an Amnesty International report on the Israel-Palestine conflict 2020.
While unrest in occupied Jerusalem and Gaza may have the world’s attention for now, time and time again, we see the stories of innocent Palestinian civilians fade away — either by the media’s suspicious removal of Palestinian activism or governments’ lack of action despite their wordy statements that “condemn” Israel’s actions.
Western countries take pride in their values like “democracy” and “liberty”. When they see an oppressed population, the world witnesses their “humanitarian missions” in African countries or the Middle East, but where are their supposed “humanitarian interventions” now?
The fact is, Palestinians have and will continue to suffer under the Israeli government whether or whether or not #FreePalestine is trending on social media, unless the international community takes serious action to defend them.
The current situation in Palestine gives rise to chilling echoes of the evil persecution faced by certain religious and ethnic groups during the 20th Century. The fact that Western nations continue to stand aside as the Palestinians suffer at the hands of the Israeli authorities, perhaps reflects their own continued guilt at having allowed for millions of innocent Jews to suffer such a cruel fate at the hands of Hitler during the Second World War. As the writer Omair Ahmad recently tweeted: “At some point the Americans and Europeans have to honestly ask themselves how much Palestinian blood is necessary to overcome European guilt, before they can say ethnic cleansing and calls for genocide are not okay”.
Today, the few fortunate survivors of the Holocaust visit schools and share their stories with students to encourage them to stand up for justice so that no people suffer like they and their loved ones did. And if they do, we — the students, human rights organizations, media and governments — will do what we should’ve done during the holocaust: we will stand up for the oppressed demanding their freedom.
But what about the Palestinians?
Qunibi says with grief in her voice, “History is repeating itself again.”
Hijab-Wearing Muslim Women Face Discrimination in Hiring Practices
Muslim women around the world find themselves in the middle of heated political and social debates, because of their choice to wear the Muslim veil.
Muslim women around the world find themselves in the middle of heated political and social debates, because of their choice to wear the Muslim veil. Their Hijab is a barrier towards their participation in a western society, not because of any barrier the head covering presents, but because of the discrimination and prejudice surrounding it.
A new report from a group of researchers at the University of Oxford, Utrecht, and Berlin revealed that Muslim women in the Netherlands and Germany are less likely to get hired for high customer-contact jobs if they wear the Hijab. The field experiment also included Spain, where they found less discrimination compared to the other two countries.
In an interview with Analyst News, senior University of Oxford researcher, and co-author of the paper, Mariña Fernández Reino said that the funding and reason for publishing this paper comes from a push from the European commission “to assess and measure discrimination against ethnic minorities.”
The paper reports that the average callback rate for native women in the Netherlands who did not wear the Hijab in their application photo, was around 70%. But for women who did wear the Hijab in their photos the callback rate was only 35%.
For a country like the Netherlands, known as one of the more accommodating nations towards religious minorities, these statistics are concerning. This shows that employers take Hijabi women at face-value, in a country that is normally known for its progressive practices towards people of all backgrounds.
The ongoing politicisation of visible Muslim women has prejudiced people — customers and employees alike — against those that choose to wear the veil. The Netherlands, despite its otherwise progressive stance on religious freedom, has policies in place that discriminate against Muslim women, such as the burqa ban. But the discriminatory practices that have been proven to exist in employment fields further ostracize Muslim women who wear the Hijab from participating in society.
Germany had a similar, albeit, less staggering, difference than the Netherlands: 53% of native German unveiled applicants received a callback for their job applications, whereas the veiled applicants received callbacks at a rate of around 25%.
Khola Hübsch, a German journalist known as the “face of Muslim women” in Germany tells Analyst News that, “In Germany we had public discussions on the hijab for years.”
In these discussions, however, she points out that Hijabi Muslim women were never included themselves. This meant many prejudices were perpetuated through one-sided dialogue. She says, “As a consequence, we had hijab-bans for teachers and public servants.”
Although these bans were later rescinded, they left their impact, ostracising Hijabi women in society — and thus, the workplace.
Spain which was described in the paper as a country with “high competition for jobs in a context of high unemployment” had a 25% average callback rate for non-Hijabi native Spanish women compared to 15.8% for Hijabi applicants.
Reino says that in addition to competition and unemployment, the lack of discussion surrounding the Hijab on a political level in Spain as compared to Germany and the Netherlands could be a reason it didn’t matter much in employers’ decision for callbacks.
The study further looked at the difference in discrimination in callback rates between non-Hijabi Muslim women and Hijabi Muslim women, to see at what extent employers consider the veil as a barrier to a job.
For high-contact jobs, such as front desk reception, the average callback rates among non-Hijabi Muslim women were 42%, 52%, and 14% for the Netherlands, Germany, and Spain. These rates are still less compared to the native majority callback rates, perhaps showcasing a general discrimination towards Muslim women.
But for Hijabi women, the callback rates for these jobs were 18% for both the Netherlands and Germany, and 10% for Spain, showing an even greater disparity.
Reino tells Analyst News the logic they put behind the numbers is that human resource officers during the hiring process consider that, “women that wear a Hijab will be seen and contacted by customers.”
Due to negative societal beliefs surrounding the Hijab in countries like the Netherlands and Germany, she says, “customers might discriminate against employees, and thus businesses, so having public Hijabi employees might be considered bad for business.”
Reino says, “The main take of all this discrimination study is that what happens in the labour market reflects what happens in society.”
To change the inequality and discrimination in hiring practices, the change must start at a societal level. The larger anti-Islam narrative in the West must be studied and addressed.
To do that, Hübsch says “It is important to give those a public voice who are affected. Hijab-wearing women must be involved in the debate.”
Both Reino and Hübsch say that in addition to training employers to remove their prejudices, educational work to debunk the myths surrounding Islam and the Hijab must also be implemented.
The change in the labour market will have to be in tandem with the change in society.
I am a student from Ontario, Canada, and an aspiring journalist. I enjoy reading, writing and learning about the world around us - the issues with it and how we can make it a better place.
Kiwi Farms: Far right extremist website blocked over harassment
Kiwi Farms, an internet forum that facilitates online discussion and harassment particularly of neurodiverse and trans personalities, came under scrutiny for doxing people.
Earlier this month Kiwi Farms, an internet forum that facilitates online discussion and harassment particularly of neurodiverse and trans personalities, came under scrutiny for doxing people. Notably it targeted a trans Twitch streamer, Clara Sorrenti who as a result had to flee the country. At first, the content delivery network Cloudflare, refused to stop providing its services. However, after a while, on 3rd September Cloudflare stopped protecting the website.
Sorrenti was just one of the victims of this far-right website that caused at least three suicides. Kiwi Farms was launched in 2009 as CWCki dedicated to referencing the online presence of Christine Weston Chandler aka Chris Chan aka Sonichu. It officially changed its name in 2015 and soon gained a lot of popularity. The format of the website is simple – identify a victim, label them a “lolcow” – an online slang term for someone who can be exploited and made fun out of – and then stalk them to the point of harassment.
Some recent victims of the trolling website:
The far-right Georgia Republican Marjorie Taylor Greene became a target of this website when she became a victim of a swatting incident. In this, a fake call was made to the authorities to bring them to her house in August of this year.
A caller connected to Kiwi Farms called police officers and told them that a man was shot five times in a bathtub at the address of Greene. According to the police report, the police later received a computer-generated call that stated she was targeted because of her stance on “transgender youth’s rights.”
In response, Greene stated: “There should be no business or any kind of service where you can target your enemy. That’s absolutely absurd.”
In late August, there was a bomb threat at the Boston Children’s Hospital after which they had to contact the authorities. The threat was anonymous but luckily no bomb was found. The hospital was attacked for providing gender-affirming hysterectomies to children. The bomb threat resulted after a week-long cyber-attack on the hospital as one statement read:
“(the hospital) has been the target of a large volume of hostile internet activity, phone calls, and harassing emails including threats of violence toward our clinicians and staff. We are deeply concerned by these attacks on our clinicians and staff fueled by misinformation and a lack of understanding and respect for our transgender community.”
Children’s National Hospital in Washington DC was also subjected to similar harassment for the same reasons. As a result, the hospital had to release a statement.
The Trevor Project’s Hotline is meant to help LGBTQ+ kids who are battling suicidal thoughts. The users of Kiwi Farms tried to clog up the hotline with fake calls in late August so that the real kids could not access it. They failed to succeed but the Kiwi Farms website was filled with users proud of what they had done.
The most recent victim was Clare Sorrenti who opened the door to a barrel of a gun pointing at her face on September 5th. The police were called to her house by Kiwi Farm users in a swatting incident after months-long harassment.
She was accused of sending violent emails to local politicians which led to her being arrested temporarily. As a result, she and her fiancé moved to a local hotel only to be doxed again after the users found the hotel by a picture that she posted of her cat sitting on the bed.
Realizing the severity of the situation, she moved to Northern Island to evade the stalking and harassment. However, the users again found her in no time and hacked her family members’ mobile phones. This stalking was made worse because she fought back instead of backing down and crowdfunded around $100,000 to “seek justice and make sure something like this doesn’t happen to anyone else.”
She also created a trending Twitter hashtag “#DropKiwiFarms” which was joined by her fans as well as the Anti-Defamation League.
Interference of Cloudflare
Cloudflare is a company that provides security by warding off DDoS attacks and keeping hackers at bay. The company has been under scrutiny for protecting Kiwi Farms but this is not the only controversial website they provided security to. The company also protected the Daily Stormer and 8chan, both websites that were closed down.
Without Cloudflare, the website could be attacked by hackers and shut down before it leads to a bigger incident. The company refused to stop providing services to this controversial website by stating:
“Just as the telephone company doesn’t terminate your line if you say awful, racist, bigoted things, we have concluded in consultation with politicians, policymakers, and experts that turning off security services because we think what you publish is despicable is the wrong policy.”
A while later, on September 4th, the company did decide to terminate its services to Kiwi Farms for “unprecedented emergency and immediate threat to human life”.
However, similar sites that are dedicated to doxing people still exist such as The Lolcow.farm imageboard which has been around since at least 2014, and the Pretty Ugly Little Liar forum which started in 2015 and still exists.
“Log kya kahenge?”: Is colonialism to blame for the rise in honour killings and honour culture in the South Asian community?
Family reputation has huge implications for many South Asian families and is regarded as a very precious asset.
“Log kya kahenge?” or “What will people say?” in Urdu and Hindi is a common enough phrase heard by many South Asians. No doubt Sania Khan, a Pakistani American may also have had to hear this too many times before she was murdered by her ex-husband whilst going through a divorce. Khan, 29 left her bad marriage as she felt unsafe with her husband due to his long-standing mental health issues. She shared her experience on TikTok recalling how “going through a divorce as a South Asian woman feels like you failed at life sometimes”. However, on 18th July 2022 her ex-husband shot her in the head then shot himself. Sadly, Sania Khan was pronounced dead at the scene.
But why has there been a rise in honour killings in the South Asian community and why is this toxic honour “culture” so important? Family reputation has huge implications for many South Asian families and is regarded as a very precious asset. Analyst News spoke to psychoanalyst Shukriya Mahat about how honour is all about abiding by family rules. “Honour is the highest level of integrity you have. When you are born into a family you have to abide by a certain set of rules and principles that come with that family, so you end up carrying a name of a family, you are not yourself.” That is exactly how the families of honour victims Sania Khan, Qandeel Baloch and Shafilea Ahmed viewed their daughters. For some South Asian families they are more than willing to kill one of their own when they do not abide by these “rules” to preserve their family’s honour.
“For women in the South Asian community, they gain respectability if they get married as their name becomes attached to a male,” says Neha Gill, executive director of Apna Ghar, a Chicago-based human rights organisation working to end gender-based violence. It offers services to predominantly South Asian women facing intimate partner abuse. Gill told Analyst News that divorced women still carry the stigma of unrespectability within the community – they begin to symbolise sexual impurity, leading to their shaming and shunning. The definition of what a “respectable woman” is, continues to be used today, because the community is obsessed with creating a woman who is the “marriageable type”.
Gill goes on to say, “Women like Sania Khan are not trusted to make their own decision of leaving a marriage or not” because, she believes, they are not trusted to uphold their family’s honour. “Many women are expected to ‘compromise’ in their marriage, and this can mean many women are expected to tolerate abusive behaviours solely to preserve honour. That is why we find when abuse victims leave their marriage, that is when the most homicides occur as the abuser loses power and control over their honour,” she explains.
According to the Sri Lankan author and activist Kumari Jayawaradena, the idea of “respectability” is a throwback to colonial times when missionaries who settled in India and Sri Lanka claimed they were bringing “salvation and the light of true faith”. By trying to convert the native populations, the Christians created female missionaries in schools with the aim of providing “good Christian wives and mothers” for male converts to uphold the principles set out in the Bible. A family’s honour was tied to whether their daughter was ‘sexually pure’. Thus rules for what a ‘respectable’ woman was, were rooted in fundamentalist Biblical ideas of abstinence before marriage and sexual purity. But Gill opines that colonialism probably made an already deeply patriarchal society even worse and compounded women’s low status. Indeed when missionaries were first placed in schools in India and Sri Lanka during British rule it was difficult to persuade parents to send their daughters to school as ‘reading and writing were not considered to be traits of a female’.
Gill explains how the culture is steeped in patriarchy. From the beginning of someone’s life “we praise a woman if she gives birth to a boy but then wishes them to receive a boy ‘next time’ if they give birth to a baby girl.” Unfortunately this attitude still exists today. A recent study found that there would be 6.8 million fewer female births recorded across India by 2030 because of sex selective abortions, where a baby is more likely to be aborted if it’s female. This cultural preference exists and is perpetuated through the generations, as a boy means he’s more likely to earn and become a breadwinner and girls are just seen as a “burden from day one” because someone needs to provide for them. And if you’re unlucky enough to have a girl, then the onus is to ensure she’s of a “marriageable type” so she can be married off as soon as she’s of age.
But why are these blatant discriminatory practices perpetuated today? Psychoanalyst Mahat believes that the patriarchal system continues to be upheld by the older generation which “instils these rules because for many of their generation, honour is much more important than life.” The problem then becomes that the community is stuck in a constant cycle of successive generations being taught that these backward-looking, paternalistic standards are the cultural norm.
Is there any way to stop this vicious cycle, change attitudes and restore women’s status? Shukriya Mahat feels one way to cut through is education. She suggests that by simply teaching younger generations that there is no shame in getting a divorce if marriage does not work out and setting better examples for them to follow would be a huge breakthrough. “However, re-educating South Asian adults can be the hardest challenge when they have been taught all their life to abide by these rules,” she says. But it will be women who have suffered at the hands of their partners, who will likely have the courage and agency needed to change the cultural mindset into one which truly values the fairer sex.
‘Stateless and homeless’ – 5 years of Rohingya mass exodus
Nearly one million Rohingya continue to live under squalid conditions in refugee settlements in Cox’s Bazaar and Bhasan Char in Bangladesh, uncertain about their future.
Five years have passed since Myanmar’s military operation against Rohingya Muslims, driving 740,000 refugees into neighbouring Bangladesh. Nearly one million Rohingya continue to live under squalid conditions in refugee settlements in Cox’s Bazaar and Bhasan Char in Bangladesh, uncertain about their future.
August of this year marked the fifth year of the ferocious military operation carried out against the Rohingya Muslim minority in 2017. The state-backed ethnic cleansing in Rakhine saw thousands raped, burnt and killed.
The 600,000 Rohingya who remain in Myanmar are further subjected to systemic oppression and abuse. 130,000 of them are living in internal displacement camps, where they are confined, denied freedom of movement, access to good healthcare and education. Following the military-seized control in the February 2021 coup, conditions of Rohingya in detained camps have become extremely vulnerable. As per reports, 28,000 Rohingyans were left in unfit camps posing ‘life threatening risks’.
According to a United Nations report, the military operations in 2017 were carried out with ‘genocidal intent’. The Myanmar military’s attacks, which lasted weeks, executed targeted killing, sexual violence and the burning of Rohingya houses. Later, in March 2022, the U.S. State Department formally declared the situation as genocide.
Over the years, Myanmar government has strategically stripped the Rohingyan Muslim minority of their citizenship status. Though challenged by historians, Myanmar’s leadership generally maintains the Rohingya community to be descendants from India and Bangladesh. Under the 1982 Citizenship law, Rohingya were denied citizenship, making them one of the world’s largest stateless population. The ethnic-based Citizenship law leaves Rohingya with no legal protection or fundamental rights.
Muhammad Hussein, a 65 year old who fled Myanmar during the attacks says, “My heart longs for our repatriation to Myanmar. Today, we have no country of our own despite being human. We are requesting the world to help us live as humans. My wish is to have rights, and peace.”
As five years pass by, the Rohingya remain in a stateless purgatory awaiting justice and their rights. The international community needs to make a concerted effort to charge the grave crimes committed by the military against the minority. The Human Rights Watch recommends that “the UN Security Council should end its inaction borne of anticipated vetoes by China and Russia and urgently pass a resolution that institutes a global arms embargo on Myanmar, refers the military’s grave crimes to the International Criminal Court, and imposes targeted sanctions on the junta and military-owned conglomerates.”
Furthermore, governments need to impose restrictions on the funding of Myanmar’s military, primarily the gas revenues totalling around US$1 billion in annual profits. Global communities need to support the case filed by Gambia against Myanmar in the International Court of Justice in 2019 to hold the military accountable for its crimes against humanity, war crimes and genocidal acts.
Described as “the most persecuted minority in the world” by United Nations; Rohingyas live
Kibera – How the citizens of the biggest slum in Africa live: “We have tea, but we don’t put milk because that is expensive.”
“Government are politicians and I think you know what politicians are. They just promise you something and at the end of the day, that thing ends in vain….. If you come and see Kibera, you will know that what I am telling you is true. It has not improved, even though we have interacted with the government and dialogued with them since. They don’t help us, they just promise us.”
William Samoi Ruto was officially sworn in to the post of president of Kenya last week, a country which he consistently branded as the ‘hustler nation’ throughout his lavishly funded campaign trail, but exactly what is the cost and struggle of that hustle in reality, especially in Kibera – one of the world’s biggest slums?
It was a pale Sunday morning at the parking lot of Kenya’s Supreme Court and the weekly Maasai Market was in full swing. Every Sunday, sellers of traditional handmade items, such as paintings, clothing, jewellery, and other decorative and practical items spread their wares across the area granted them for a fee-in front of the most important building in Kenya’s justice system. It was here that Ruto’s win was brought into question as opposition candidate and political veteran Raila Odinga- who has tried and failed for the presidency five times- filed a petition at the court questioning the validity of the results. As has happened too many times in living memory, foul play was alleged in the tallying up of votes, but last week after a lengthy battle in the courtroom, chief justice Martha Koome announced the verdict that ostensibly wiped clean Ruto’s past slate of run ins with the International Criminal Court.
But here, in this makeshift moveable market, the atmosphere is much removed from the suited and booted elitism of the country’s judicial and political circles. I come across a seller willing to talk; Daniel, in his forties, who has been selling earrings and brass items for twenty years. The Sunday market is his weekly stint. Talking about the process, he takes me through the dazzling display’s humble beginnings.
“These earrings are made from bone; cow and camel bone,” he tells me, as he stands holding out his handmade display case upon which glitter hundreds of pieces of carefully crafted jewellery.
“The bones we buy from the slaughterhouse, one kilo costs 150 (Kenyan) shillings. Then we take them to the workshop, we shape them according to the sizes with that we want to make earrings, necklaces and bangles.”
Some of the earrings have beautiful white patterns glaring out from the black. Those too have been painstakingly created by Daniel himself.
“This black and white pattern you can see, it is being produced as a result of; we boil the bone with sodium peroxide to make it white. It removes the fats. After it has removed the fat, it becomes white, then we put it in the potassium permanganate, we sit down with it, take a candle, a stove and paraffin. Then we dot the bone with candle wax, dip it in potassium permanganate so it becomes black and where you have put the candle wax, it remains white.”
Daniel does all this in his workshop, located near his home in Kibera, the largest slum in East Africa. He rents his home- made of corrugated iron sheets- which was built, he tells me, forty years back.
“The government has been saying they will upgrade Kibera houses since 2013, up to today they have not upgraded. “
I ask him more about his skills; he also melts and makes jewellery and items out of brass.
“I melt down the brass into any form the customer wants, like for example a triangle. There is someone who taught me to do this, in Kibera. It costs me 20 shillings to make a pair of earrings, without the brass. With the brass, it costs me 50. For now, I sell at 70 shillings for a pair. If someone buys one, I can sell for 100 shillings, those who buy a lot I can give them a wholesale price. I do this selling three days a week- then I’m working at the workshop rest of the week, making them. Tuesday is Kijabe Street.”
President Ruto talked much about his early days selling chickens by the roadside, making his rags to riches story the centre of his bid for president, in stark juxtaposition to Raila Odinga’s old moneyed background-his father fought for the country’s independence from the British and went onto serve as the first Vice President . But hearing the daily struggles of people like Daniel, it is hard to imagine that someone now in the echelons of power can understand the struggle of the everyday hustle. For the truth is, Daniel is not an anomaly in Kenya, nor is he one of the worst cases; poverty remains a pervasive problem as 16 million Kenyans are considered poor and out of these 8.9 million live in extreme poverty, surviving on less than 130 shillings a day. That translates to roughly $1. Daniel pays 1000 shillings for rent at the Sunday market and explains the volatile nature of his work.
“In one day, sometimes you can end up without getting anything, so in a business in one day you can even get 10,000. You have to save a little, so if we don’t sell, you have enough money to cater for your children. “
And it is the latter that he has a full house of- a wife and eight children, including those of his elder brother’s who has passed away. His eldest is in high school, while the youngest is merely four years old. Being the sole breadwinner in the family, Daniel has to calculate the income he receives from his business towards feeding his family and paying school fees; the money he receives from selling jewellery is his sole income.
“This is my only job. For one day, it costs 700 shillings to feed us all. We have breakfast, lunch, and supper. For breakfast, 300 shillings is enough for the family; I can buy two loaves of bread, 140 shillings per loaf. We have tea with that but we don’t put milk because that is expensive.”
For lunch they have Sukuma Wiki, the Swahili name for collard greens that are a staple of the local diet, both cheap and easy to find.
“And for supper, we take the small fish, omena, and cabbage. That’s enough for the day.”
And that’s enough to keep the children well fed?
Daniel shrugs in reply. “Even if they are not full, life goes on.”
Ruto promised as part of his election pledges to bring down the cost of living that has seen everyday staple food items like Ugali, or Maize meal double in price within the space of a few months. Says Daniel, “Government are politicians and I think you know what politicians are. They just promise you something and at the end of the day, that thing ends in vain….. If you come and see Kibera, you will know that what I am telling you is true. It has not improved, even though we have interacted with the government and dialogued with them since. They don’t help us, they just promise us.”
He talks about the poor sanitation at Kibera, especially the toilets, “In the slums, where I live, there is no toilet, you have to walk maybe a kilometre to go for the toilet. Elsewhere in Kibera there are toilets but already the place is congested, people are scrambling for the houses, so where there is space, you need to build a house, the toilet comes afterwards.”
Although life is hard both within and outside of Kibera, Daniel tells me he has seen so many people fall ill by drinking dirty water, the only water available to them- it is not handouts, such as the 6000 package promised by Raila Odinga in his manifesto, which he is asking for[A1] .
“Opportunity is the best, not money, not welfare. Because with money, you can give it to me today, but not tomorrow. However, that opportunity to sell, that is very important. I have people to look after, my children and my brother’s orphans. To a mall we cannot go because they ask for a lot of money for rent, which we cannot afford.”
Here in the parking lot, overshadowed by the Supreme Court in which rich men compete for seats of power, is what Daniel can afford. Although, he tells me he has tried other avenues before.
“I used to sell to a company in Kibera, it collapsed because of Covid, the management was not good and because of the middlemen between us. You cannot talk directly to the customer, but here I am talking to you, and we had to pay them too. We had someone who took a lot more than we artists take. So that is where the challenge is. It’s been a year since I worked for them because the payment was so low.”
Daniel’s sentiments are echoed by another resident of Kibera who talked to me later over the phone. Ismail Kishoma, 31, explained the struggles that residents, especially the youth, faced everyday as residents of Kibera. The first and foremost was unemployment. He said, there is a significant lack of opportunity, and discrimination because of the low income background of potential workers. Despite going to school, he told me that 60% to 70% of them were unemployed and most were dropouts from school due to the inability to continue paying school fees because of high poverty levels.
“I can honestly say the government has done really little to address the issue of unemployment. If the government was serious enough, we have so many young talented men who can do plumbing, welding, mechanics. It is very difficult for a youth to get a job in Nairobi. Some of those who have finished universities but they are still at home, highly qualified but not employed. Those who are employed are very few, but the jobs they are doing are manual labour; most of the women are maids, most of the men are doing security guards in rich places in Nairobi, others are doing masonry.”
Ismail is a good case in point of the hardworking nature and talent of the youth of Kenya; he has a diploma in banking and finance from Mount Kenya university. His father is a deputy teacher at Kibera primary school while his mother owns a small bookshop, so it was possible for them to pay for his school fees. His religious community also helped. According to him, there is no dearth of talent or hard work in Kibera.
“People of Kibera are hard working. You wake up at four and see so many women going to market to buy boga (vegetables), to purchase cloth so they come back to sell. All they need is a little support from the government. Women have business ideas and are struggling because they just need capital to start off their businesses. Many youths have gone down the road of drugs and theft, and this is brought about by unemployment …Everything comes down to one thing, that they need that opportunity, they need to be employed, they need that exposure. I think they (government and employers) should not side-line those people who are coming from the slum but they should be a first priority on the government agenda, because they come from a poor society and informal settlements.”
Talking about Odinga’s promised welfare package and Ruto’s promises to halt and reverse the skyrocketing cost of living, he says,
“Politicians in Kenya, everyone knows they know how to sweet talk people but when you come to the ground nothing has been done. Inadequate housing, poor drainage, we don’t have a government hospital. The clinics here are private or run by charitable organisations…. Raila Odinga has been MP for so long, he was Prime Minister… Kibera residents are still waiting. His promised package of 6000 per month, that’s not enough- a parent has water, electricity fees, school fees to think about, and then on top of that, ongoing inflation in the country.”
On the mood in the country now, Ismail says, “People are hopeful that something will happen. Others know nothing will. According to the politics of Kenya people vote for their tribe. Tribalism plays a major role, which comes about because of poverty. It doesn’t help in anything. People just vote for him who is in their tribe, not because they are qualified for office.”
It is painstakingly obvious then, that the hustle on the ground as seen by Daniel and Ismail is miles away from the struggles of William Samoi Ruto who remembers as a dream his schoolboy days selling chickens by the roadside and now boasts of having 200,000 chickens at his own poultry farm. He sits and makes pacts with giants in Kenyan politics, dodges charges levelled at him by international courts, and helps the country’s inflation soar along with his fellow presidential candidates by spending extravagantly on election campaigns. Thus is the hustle of Ruto, but the question is, can his struggle serve as a moving force for the hustle of the people he has been chosen by to govern?
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi blames Prime Minister Modi For The Hate Crimes In India
Congress leader Rahul Gandhi blames PM Modi for rise in hate crimes in India.
Rahul Gandhi, member of the Indian National Congress, lambasted Prime Minister Modi at a rally at the Ramlila Ground in the capital New Delhi. Speaking to a large crowd of his supporters before setting off on a long march across the country next week, opposition leader Gandhi accused Modi of pursuing big business at the expense of smaller industries, poor farmers and workers and for creating a 2-tier society – where the rich get richer and the poor are unable to escape poverty. He also raised concerns about increased hate crimes being driven by an atmosphere of fear and division created by the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) policy of Hindu-Muslim polarisation, where the main objective seems to be to push a Hindu nationalist ideology.
Gandhi claimed the prices of petrol, diesel, cooking gas and essential food items like wheat, have shot up 40-175 percent since Modi came to power 8 years ago. And rising food and energy prices have pushed inflation to an 8-year high. According to the Centre for Monitoring Indian Economy, unemployment rose to nearly 8.5 percent, with the third largest economy in Asia suffering from several waves of covid outbreaks and nearly half a billion working age Indians worryingly no longer interested in working.
Narendra Modi has overseen a very definite shift to the right since his success in 2014 with the BJP which is strongly affiliated with the fascist-inspired Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh (RSS). In 2019 for instance, the passing of the discriminatory Citizenship Amendment Bill paved the way for legitimization of anti-Muslim sentiment and “explicitly and blatantly seeks to enshrine religious discrimination into law” contrary to the original secular Indian constitution. The impact of Hindutva supremacist policies against left-leaning, socialist and pluralist supporters have begun to be felt in all sections of Indian society including education and universities, police, the media and the judiciary. Violent attacks and lynchings against all minorities including Christians have risen particularly in states ruled by the BJP. And BJP politicians openly engage in hate speech, being responsible for 297 out of 348 incidents since 2014, increasing by a huge 160% in just three and a half months.
These divisive and extreme ideas have even reached UK towns and cities. A recent Hindutva gathering was held in Leicester – an area with a large multi-ethnic population. Speakers attempted to stir up hatred against the Pakistani community by announcing a boycott of their restaurants. And the recent Indian cricket win over Pakistan in the Asia Cup at the end of August, also led to violence between the two sets of fans, with racist anti-Pakistani videos being shared on social media.
Despite Gandhi’s promise to “defeat the ideology of the BJP and the RSS”, Modi – almost Trump-like – still remains vastly popular. A recent poll showed 53% of those surveyed want him to remain PM in 2024 with just 9% supporting Gandhi, signalling either the nation’s approval of extremist and racist policies or its disapproval of the Congress party’s establishment agenda. Since losing heavily in 2014 to the BJP, Congress and in particular Gandhi has “demonstrated a total lack of connection with the public and has not a shred of credibility left” according to Baijayant Jay Panda, a national vice-president of the BJP. Congress will need to ensure that the 5-month long, end-to-end Unite India March through all 12 states, appeals to the masses’ desire for unity and an end to the division “on the basis of religion, caste and language that is being promoted by the ruling party”, Otherwise India could be heading for a distorted vision of its original secularist and pluralist dream where some Indian citizens are more equal than others, purely based on religious identity.
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