Refugee Boy – A Review

March 26, 2014

Originally posted on FocusOnTheHorn:

Refugee Boy By Alpha Abebe

As I stood in line ready to enter the Oxford Playhouse, I overheard the conversation between the staff person collecting tickets and a father and daughter who stood before me in the line. She warned the father that she was advising all guests with children that the play included strong language and difficult situations. Undeterred by the warning, the man smiled politely, lovingly put his hand on the shoulder of his adolescent daughter and proudly proclaimed, “That’s alright, she read the book. And she’s lived in Africa before, she’s seen real refugees”.

Refugee Boy is a theatre production based on the teen novel written by Benjamin Zephaniah and adapted for the stage by Lemn Sissay. The story follows Alem Kelo, a fourteen-year-old boy of Ethiopian and Eritrean descent who is seeking asylum in England. Before coming to England, Alem and his parents were forced to move…

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Dawoud Bey, Stuart Hall, 1998

Dawoud Bey, Stuart Hall, 1998

Stuart Hall was my mentor. He just never knew it, because I never had the privilege of meeting him. However, I don’t think its hyperbole to suggest that I am on my particular career path because I encountered his ideas. I remember my first time reading one of Hall’s essays – a wide-eyed undergraduate student frantically highlighting what must have been every other sentence. Hall had a way of plucking all of my strings at once. He was witty, honest, edgy, and compassionate. He was brilliant. Now, my opinion on the matter means very little, countless people far more accomplished and relevant than I have made this same observation. But today, after hearing of Stuart Hall’s passing, I feel compelled to join others in paying tribute to one of the greatest thinkers of our time.

I have tried on several occasions to ‘serendipitously’ be in the same room as Hall. When I was a Master’s student in Toronto, I sent a fruitless email to a professor who knew him, asking if he would introduce me to Hall over email. After moving to the UK for school, I got in the habit of Google-ing his name every few months to see if there was some seminar or event that he was attending where I might casually swing by. I’m not sure what I would have said had I been successful in meeting him. Probably just, ‘thank you’. Hall’s contributions and accomplishments were many (see his obituary here). He essentially founded and incubated the field of Cultural Studies, brilliantly deconstructed British conservative ideology, and pushed the boundaries of contemporary conceptualization of Blackness. I think Professor Jeremy Gilbert put it best in his recent tribute: “Hall seemed to talk literally the least shit of anyone I had ever come across in any medium.”

On a personal level, Hall convinced me that I had ideas worth sharing to the academic community. He taught me that my musings on culture and identity were more than ‘fluff’. He demonstrated how to draw serious social and political conclusions from the experiences of people others couldn’t be bothered to think about, let alone theorize. Read the rest of this entry »

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Anger is good. It is often the catalyst and fuel needed for change. Even the Bible says, “In your anger do not sin” (Psalm 4:4), suggesting that it is not anger itself but some byproduct of it which is to be avoided. One might even go as far as to say you need anger at the centre of any social justice effort, lest you find yourself complicity maintaining the status quo.

Many of us are involved in some social change effort – be it through community service, academic pursuit, political initiative, business venture, or philanthropic gesture. Often, it was a disturbing encounter with injustice or inequity which drew us to this cause to begin with; whether we experienced it personally, witnessed it around us, or learned of it on a screen or in a book. For those of us who would aspire to a life dedicated to advocacy and activism, this feeling of distress and resentment can become all too familiar, and if we’re not careful, it can quickly become our default setting. After all, how is one to live happily as if the world were not filled with pain, evil and greed?

I believe there is a point where these feelings become counter-productive in the pursuit of a better world. What is the point of fighting the good fight if we begin to embody the very things we seek to redeem others from? Read the rest of this entry »

January 12, 2013

Originally posted on FocusOnTheHorn:

By Alpha Abebe

Screenshot taken from video. Copyright: FOX Inc.

Screenshot taken from video. Copyright: FOX Inc.

As a child of the 80s and 90s growing up in North America, I was rather accustomed to hearing about Ethiopian conflict and famine on the news. However, one afternoon while my mother was watching TheYoung and the Restless in the living room, something caught my ear. A character casually suggested that the couple head to an Ethiopian restaurant for dinner. My adolescent mind was blown. How did the writers hear about Ethiopian food?! And who among them had the gumption to actually try it? Oh, and I sure hope they didn’t see the kitfo! Hitherto, I had only known Western and Ethiopian social spaces to exist separately, and the notion that the two could overlap truly fascinated me.

On November 13, 2011 an episode of The Simpsons aired, entitled “The Food Wife“. It featured a…

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One year in blogging!

January 2, 2013

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It’s now been a year since Farsighted was launched! As far as the blogosphere goes, this blog is a tiny dot on the map. But it’s been a wonderful growing opportunity for me, and a privilege to share my thoughts, rants and reflections with you all. 

In 2012, Farsighted had over 3300 views from 62 countries in the world! Thank you all for your support, encouragement and engagement. Keep reading and sharing your thoughts!

@lpha

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