Posts filed under ‘Human Rights’

But what good came of it at last? 36 years after “The Yellow Train”

By Roon Lewald

 Hansina Oktulseja, the young Moluccan train hijacker who diedAs a young staffer of a U.S. news agency’s Bonn bureau in Germany 36 years ago, I was seconded to command the agency’s forward desk in the Dutch town of Assen during the final week of a sensational train hijacking by armed South Moluccan terrorists. In an autobiographical  short story (see “The Yellow Train”) posted on this blog a few years ago, I described the lasting emotional impact on me of the events. (more…)


July 17, 2011 at 6:12 am 3 comments

Martin Luther King of Georgia

January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968

We have flown the air like birds,
השכלנו לטוס באוויר כמו ציפורים
حلّقنا في الهواء كالعصافير

We have swum the sea like fishes
השכלנו לשחות בים כמו דגים
سبحنا في البحر كالأسماك

But have yet to learn the simple act
אך עדיין לא למדנו את המעשה הפשוט….
لكننا لم نتقن بعد، تلك المهارة البسيطة ….

Of walking the earth like brothers
של ללכת על האדמה כמו אחים
أن نمشي على الأرض كالأخوة

Words by: Martin Luther King Jr.
מילים: מרטין לוטר קינג הבן
من أقوال:مارتن لوثر كينج

January 13, 2011 at 10:00 am Leave a comment

Advent: Time for Sowing

By Roon Lewald

Funeral Dirt

Funeral Dirt

It’s the first of the four Advent Sundays, when folks here in Germany light the first of four candles on their Advent fir-branch wreaths and get into the pre-Christmas spirit. Even agnostics can’t help reflecting on the meaning of it all on a quiet Sunday evening when Christmas-minded people take a short break from their gift-shopping labours before plunging back into the seasonal shopping rush again on Monday (illuminations are already up and Christmas markets are booming in the city centers, and Germans are again spending this year as if the recession never happened.)  With new terror scares vying with the global economic crisis for attention, the news is so depressing nowadays it’s hard to believe that there’s any room left in the world for the human love, friendship and compassion we hear so much about at Christmastime. I can only draw comfort from the knowledge that many people like myself are at least linked to other individuals by such bonds.

In this mood, I was reminded of a short story by a South African author named Charles Bosman. (more…)

December 6, 2010 at 3:18 am 2 comments

Coming Strongly

By Roon Lewald

“Frauen kommen langsam – aber gewaltig!” (women come slowly – but mighty strongly.) When this double-entendre refrain propelled feisty singer Ina Deter’s song about “strong women” to the top of the German charts in 1986, it documented the gradually accelerating, finally irresistible onslaught of women against the lofty bastions of male privilege. Just two decades years later, Chancellor Angela Merkel is firmly entrenched as the only female leader of a major western country and scores of other women have captured important seats of power and influence in many areas of German politics, business and society. (more…)

October 19, 2010 at 6:49 am 1 comment

Crossing over – to the “other side”

CalmA sermon on Mark 4:35-41 preached at the Cathedral Church of Saint Mark, Salt Lake City, Utah, on the Third Sunday after Pentecost, June 21st 2009

It is Jesus’ idea, Mark tells us, to cross the lake to the other side as night is falling.  After a long day of teaching on the lake shore, a small flotilla is crossing the Sea of Galilee when there is a sudden, violent, unexpected storm.  If you were going to be in a storm on that particular lake, you’d want to have the likes of  Peter, Andrew, James and John on board.   They had grown up around water; they made their living on this lake. (more…)

July 2, 2009 at 8:05 pm Leave a comment

Obama’s Inaugural Address: reading Zimbabwe between the lines

President Obama, Inaugural Address: January 20th 2009

Robert Mugabe

Robert Mugabe

“To those who cling to power through corruption and deceit and the silencing of dissent, know that you are on the wrong side of history, but that we will extend a hand if you are willing to unclench your fist . . .

“To the people of poor nations, we pledge to work alongside you to make your farms flourish and let clean waters flow; to nourish starved bodies and feed hungry minds.”

Full text of Pres. Obama’s Address here.

January 22, 2009 at 5:24 am Leave a comment

Afro-pessimism: Robert Mugabe

By David Mpanga

“I will never, never, never, never surrender. Zimbabwe is mine, I am a Zimbabwean. Zimbabwe for Zimbabweans.”  Robert Mugabe, December 2008.

If a white fiction writer had dreamt up the Zimbabwe-under-Mugabe plot, he would have been roundly condemned as an Afro-pessimist and a racist. But we have all seen that after ruining the Zimbabwean economy with misplaced policies, purportedly intended to emancipate the downtrodden black man, Mugabe “secured” an 85.51% “landslide victory” by beating his opponents into submission.

Having failed to declare official results for over a month when it looked like the great hero of the revolution was losing, the Zimbabwe Electoral Commission reclaimed its reputation for efficiency by counting all of the ballots and verifying the results of the presidential run-off election in one day. So it is back to business-as-usual in Zimbabwe. (more…)

December 16, 2008 at 3:56 am Leave a comment

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