Heartening news from eastern Africa: the president of Malawi has pardoned the gay couple who were sentenced to 14 years of hard labor.
The BBC reports that President Bingu Wu Mutharika announced the pardon during a visit by UN head Ban ki-Moon. Mutharika seemed to enact the pardon with a sense of duty and under international pressure, still hewing to his country’s discriminatory culture:
“These boys committed a crime against our culture, our religion and our laws,” he said after meeting Mr Ban.
“However, as the head of state I hereby pardon them and therefore ask for their immediate release with no conditions.”
Whether a political move or out of humanitarian largesse, the release of Monjeza and Chimbalanga is welcome news. Perhaps the win for human rights in Malawi will affect the virulently homophobic culture in other African nations.
On a related note, Current television broadcast a fantastic documentary about the anti-homosexual legislation in Uganda called Missionaries of Hate. A thorough, well-researched piece of investigative journalism that I highly recommend.
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Filed under: africa, gay rights, global justice, world, anti-gay, ban ki-moon, bbc, current, gay, malawi, missionaries of hate, mutharika, pardon, rights, uganda
I had always assumed that they were gang-related.
True or not, the images of sneakers hanging from telephone wires in the neighborhood conjured images of gang territory. In this report from the BBC’s excellent Close-Up Series, filmmaker Ramon Goni seeks the answer. His interviewees have a variety of explanations for the shoes, ranging from memorializing a favorite pair of Chucks to gang violence to modern art pieces. The Murky Fringe offers a first-person explanation.
You can’t help but wonder if this earnest reporter is revealing his naivete–who’s going to admit the real meaning of the shoes, even if they do understand their true purpose? I imagine the reaction of the locals: What’s this reporter–from a news agency outside the Bronx–up to, asking all these questions?
Or, maybe the sneakers dangling from wires across the city aren’t related to gangs at all. Maybe they’re stretched across the sky by kids who want to simply say: We were here. This is our neighborhood. This is ours.
No matter their original design, the shoe couples–tied together by laces, light as air–are things of beauty.
Filed under: art, culture, new york, bbc, bronx, close-up, culture, goni, graffiti, hanging shoes, hip hop, sneakers