Global South

1 April 2019News in Brief

Britain must hand the Chagos Islands in the Indian Ocean back to Mauritius – and that includes the largest island, Diego Garcia, where the US has built a massive military base. That is the non-binding advisory opinion of the world court, delivered on 25 February, as requested by the UN general assembly.

In the 1960s, Britain detached the Chagos archipelago from Mauritius and deported 2,000 Chagossians in order to hang onto the islands when Mauritius became independent in 1968, and…

1 April 2019Comment

Workers’ general strike wins eight-hour day

Photo: Auckland Museum [CC BY 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0)]

GOAL: To have a legally enforced eight-hour workday for all workers, and, in the case of the textile workers, a 30–50 percent wage increase.
SUCCESS IN ACHIEVING SPECIFIC DEMANDS: 2 out of 6 points
SURVIVAL: 1 / 1
GROWTH: 3 / 3

Male textile factory workers at El Inca factory in Lima, Peru, walked off the job in December…

1 August 2018Review

Zed Books, 2018, rev ed; 268pp; £9.99

Empowering women is clearly one way in which we may be able to stop climate change: not because women are more nurturing or caring but because more people equals better ideas, and because your success is never sharper than when working with other humans of many different kinds.

As a general overview of what some women have achieved in the field, Why Women Will Save the Planet should be useful to activists and non-activists alike. While there are some inspiring examples of…

1 April 2018Comment

How does one make sense of a self, or the world, when stories of one’s ancestors were of strange barbarians who early Europeans decided were ‘non human’?, asks Oluwafemi Hughes

Writing the legacy of my family history, based on my own experience, has been an illuminating and a painful journey of enquiry. For it is difficult to write about oneself when there’s an emotional turmoil, a disaster that turned upside down, a people, a history and a culture. For second-generation African/Asian/British kids, like our family, we were like branches without a trunk, with no roots, no reference point to the earth or to the four directions, no framework from which to begin a life…

8 March 2017Blog entry

Countries in the Global South have been forced into the large-scale extraction of natural resources (coal, oil, minerals, land) in order to export raw materials. It is corporations based in Europe and North America who generally profit. This 'extractivism' is happening even in Bolivia, where the government once presented itself as the protector of Mother Earth.

At this time of year I am always in Cochabamba, in the middle of Bolivia, in the heart of South America. The first book anyone wanting to understand the structural dynamics of this region's history reads is Eduardo Galeano's Open Veins of Latin America, charting the colonial plunder of the continent's natural resources, from timber to rubber to tin to fossil fuels, and of course in the process…

1 February 2017Review

MFBooks Joburg, 2015; 192pp; South African R220

South African professor Pumla Dineo Gqola’s latest book comes without any trigger warnings. Frank and affecting, it demands more attention be given to reducing the frequency of gender-based assaults and eventually the eradication of such violence altogether. In contrast to publications such as Nina Burrowes’ The Courage To Be Me, which may offer comfort and support for victims/survivors, this book instead challenges the behavioural patterns and ideologies in our societies that…

1 December 2016News in Brief

As PN went to press, North Dakota police were reported to be using rubber bullets, tear gas, water hoses and percussion grenades against hundreds of ‘water protectors’ standing up to the Dakota Access oil pipeline which threatens sacred places, land and water belonging to the Standing Rock Sioux tribe.

On 17 November, representatives of indigenous peoples from Canada, the Marshall Islands, the Arctic and other regions held an action at the COP22 climate talks in Morocco…

6 January 2016Blog entry

An important perspective on last November's 'People's March for Climate, Justice and Jobs'

On Dec. 7th, indigenous activists from across the world kayaked down the river Seine to protest the removal of the protection of indigenous rights as a crucial aspect of the climate treaty being negotiated in Paris. The push back against indigenous rights was led by the U.S., EU, Australia – all states with a rich past and present of colonial exploitation of people and land – who feared that the protection of indigenous rights might create legal liabilities.

The securing…

1 August 2015Review

Verso 2014; 144pp; £7.99

Indian writer and dissident Arundhati Roy’s work has long embodied John Pilger’s belief that a journalist should be ‘an agent of ordinary people, not of those who seek to control them.’ Scathing and lucid, the slim Capitalism: A Ghost Story, is no exception.

Made up of seven short, accessible essays, Roy deftly skewers the hypocrisy and rapacious nature of India’s elite, highlighting the extreme inequality and poverty, corruption and subjugation that are endemic in ‘The…

31 March 2015News in Brief

Reporters from Angola and Saudi Arabia shared the ‘journalism’ Freedom of Expression award for 2015 given by Index on Censorship on 18 March.

Rafael Marques de Morais has exposed government and industry corruption and human rights abuses in Angola despite repeated arrests and threats, including a 40-day detention without charge.

After filing charges of crimes against humanity against seven Angolan generals, Marques de Morais was counter-sued for $1.6m by those same…

25 November 2014Feature

The hidden history of the Global South and the First World War


Late 20th century nyau face mask. PHOTO © Hans Hillewaert

They must have been very pleased when they finally caught him. Desperate to find him, the British had placed his friends and family under surveilliance and – after six weeks of unsuccessful hunting – had even offered a substantial reward for his capture.

Like many other Muslims in the north of Nigeria, he was opposed to fighting in the First World War for fear that he might be deployed against his fellow Muslims in…

25 November 2014Feature

Maori resistance to WW1

Te Puea Herangi, the Maori princess who led the Waikaito tribal confederation’s successful campaign of nonviolent resistance to conscription during the First World War, articulated one of their reasons for not fighting as follows: ‘They tell us to fight for king and country. Well, that’s all right. We’ve got a king. But we haven’t got a country. That’s been taken off us.’

From the war’s outset…

25 November 2014Feature

Opposition to WW1 in the West Indies

Evidence of opposition to the war in the West Indies can be traced in the various countries’ newspapers (which were invariably hostile to such activity).

In British Honduras, calls for men to enlist resulted in an unprecedented exodus of young men from the district of San Estevan in early 1916. Some fled across the border to Mexico, while others, who had heard that the governor was coming to their area on a recruiting drive, disappeared into the bush claiming that they had…

25 November 2014Feature

The 'great soul''s role in WW1

Given his canonisation by mainstream culture as the icon of peace and nonviolence, one might have imagined that Gandhi would have led a strong campaign of resistance to the war. Unfortunately, nothing could be further from the case.

In April 1918, Gandhi gave his unconditional assent to British plans to raise half a million more Indian troops. Attempting to recruit 12,000 men from the Kheda district of Gujarat, Gandhi did not shy away from employing moral coercion, telling them…

21 July 2014Comment

The First World War was not a war for Belgium, it was a war for empire.

The British view of the world, even today, is fundamentally shaped by a 100-year-old lie, a powerful myth that contrasts German aggressiveness with the US-UK defence of small countries and high principles. In reality, it is a documented fact that the sovereignty of ‘plucky little Belgium’ was irrelevant to Britain’s decision to enter the First World War. In reality, it is a documented fact that the military alliances that Britain entered into were born of a desperate need to shore up…