‘Monkeys use researchers as human shields’


This video is called Samango monkeys (Cercopithecus mitis).

From Science:

28 July 2014

Monkeys use researchers as human shields

A team of researchers in South Africa believes monkeys may be using their presence to guard against predators, according to a paper published online earlier this month in Behavioral Ecology.

From daily The Independent in Britain:

The samango monkeys of South Africa usually have a good reason not to stray too far from the forest. Although they spend much of their time loping through the trees they know to keep within a certain range: climb too high and they’re targets for eagles, too low and they could be a big cat‘s lunch.

However, it seems there is an exception to this behaviour – and that’s when people are around. A new study from the journal of Behavioural Ecology reports that samango monkeys under observation by scientists use the researchers as “human shields”, counting on their presence to avoid being picked off by a leopard.

African harrier-hawk in Cape Town, South Africa


This video from South Africa says about itself:

An African Harrier-Hawk hunting upside down (Gymnogene)

The African Harrier-Hawk, Harrier Hawk, or Gymnogene is a bird of prey. It is about 60-66 cm in length, and is related to the harriers. It breeds in most of Africa south of the Sahara.

From the Sunday Argus in South Africa this week:

Pics: Harrier-hawk’s urban takeaway

A large bird of prey swooped through Long Street, startling pedestrians and motorists alike

Cape Town – Was it a small plane? Was it Superman? No, actually, this time it was a bird in the form of an African Harrier-hawk that swooped around the heart of Cape Town last week, startling motorists and pedestrians and scaring the living daylights out of the pigeons.

And in the case of what appeared to be a young fledgling pigeon, this was literally true, because it was caught and devoured by the raptor that was formally known (and still is to many bird-lovers) as a Gymnogene.

The graceful but highly manoeuvrable raptor was photographed with its prey by Weekend Argus photographer Leon Muller at the intersection of Long and Waterkant streets.

Pedestrians and shoppers also whipped out their cellphones to record the unusual event while anxious Hartlaub’s Gulls squawked raucously as they tried in vain to drive the intruder away. The Harrier-hawk simply ignored them as it polished off its meal before taking off again.

A few days later it was seen alighting on the Methodist Church in Greenmarket Square, sending the local flocks of pigeons wheeling in terrified flight.

This raptor species has the ability to climb, using its wings, claws and double-jointed knees, which allows it to raid nests, particularly those of cavity-nesters such as barbets. It also feeds on alien species, like feral pigeons and house sparrows.

Professor Peter Ryan, director of the Percy FitzPatrick Institute of African Ornithology at the University of Cape Town, confirmed the identity of the raptor.

“They are increasing in the Peninsula and are partial to squirrels, among other things,” he said.

That has to be good news for nature-lovers concerned at what appears to be the rapid population explosion of the alien grey squirrel that, although predominantly vegetarian, also feeds on the eggs and chicks of indigenous Cape birds.

Grey squirrels are native to North America and were among several exotic species introduced to the Cape by arch-colonialist Cecil John Rhodes.

john.yeld@inl.co.za

John Yeld, Sunday Argus

Nelson Mandela remembered in Scotland


This video is called Nelson Mandela‘s first TV interview in 1961 by ITN reporter Brian Widlake.

From daily The Morning Star in Britain:

Mandela‘s granddaughter thanks Glaswegian supporters

Saturday 19th July 2014

NELSON Mandela’s granddaughter had a simple message for Glaswegians yesterday as Scotland marked the late statesman’s birthday — thank you.

Tukwini Mandela last night led a Mandela Day remembrance ceremony on Glasgow’s Nelson Mandela Place, pointedly renamed in 1988 to the annoyance of South African consulate staff who worked there.

Ms Mandela told reporters that it was a bittersweet anniversary.

But she was grateful to the people of Glasgow: “I know that Glasgow was one of the first cities that awarded my grandfather the keys to the city.

“It galvanised a lot of the European cities to pay attention to what was going on in South Africa,” she said.

The icon of black liberation spent nearly three decades as a political prisoner under South Africa’s white supremacist regime before international solidarity campaigns forced his release.

Glasgow’s decision to grant “the freedom of the city” in 1981 brought vilification in the Establishment press, portraying the gesture as consorting with a terrorist.

But Dundee and Aberdeen soon followed suit and by 1990 the Establishment press was hailing his release as the end of a repressive era.

‘Israel supported Mandela, ANC in 1960s, but stopped doing so in 1970s': here.

South African anti-apartheid author Nadine Gordimer dies


This video says about itself:

Nadine Gordimer on racism

3 October 2007

Here, she describes her escape from the racist ideology she had grown up with. Full interview here.

From the Irish Times:

Anti-apartheid author and Nobel winner Nadine Gordimer dies

Many of her stories dealt with South Africa’s segregated system under white-minority rule

Monday, July 14, 2014, 15:11

South African Nobel Prize-winning author Nadine Gordimer, an uncompromising moralist who became one of the most powerful voices against the injustice of apartheid, has died at the age of 90, her family said today.

Gordimer, who was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1991, died peacefully at her Johannesburg home last evening in the presence of her children, Hugo and Oriane, a statement from the family said.

“She cared most deeply about South Africa, its culture, its people and its on-going struggle to realise its new democracy,” the statement said.

Regarded by many as South Africa’s leading writer, Gordimer was renowned as a rigid moralist whose novels and short stories reflected the drama of human life and emotion in a society warped by decades of white-minority rule.

Many of her stories dealt with the themes of love, hate and friendship under the pressures of the racially segregated system that ended in 1994, when Nelson Mandela became South Africa’s first black president.

A member of Mandela’s African National Congress (ANC) – banned under apartheid – Gordimer used her pen to battle against the inequality of white rule for decades, earning her the enmity of sections of the establishment.

Some of her novels, such as A World of Strangers and Burger’s Daughter, were banned by the apartheid authorities.

But Gordimer, a petite figure with a crystal-clear gaze, did not restrict her writing to a damning indictment of apartheid, cutting through the web of human hypocrisy and deceit wherever she found it.

“I cannot simply damn apartheid when there is human injustice to be found everywhere else,” she told Reuters shortly before winning her Nobel prize.

In later years, she became a vocal campaigner on HIV/Aids, lobbying and fundraising on behalf of the Treatment Action Campaign, a group pushing for the South African government to provide free, life-saving drugs to sufferers.

Nor did she shy away from criticising the ANC under President Jacob Zuma, expressing her opposition to a proposed law which limits the publication of information deemed sensitive by the government.

“The reintroduction of censorship is unthinkable when you think how people suffered to get rid of censorship in all its forms,” she said in an interview last month.

The daughter of a Lithuanian Jewish watchmaker, Gordimer started writing in earnest at the age of nine.

A lonely childhood triggered an intense study of the ordinary people around her, especially the customers in her father’s jewellery shop and the migrant black workers in her native East Rand outside Johannesburg.

A teenage naivety was eventually replaced by a sense of rebellion and as her talent and reading public grew, her liberal leanings earned her the reputation of a radical.

Eventually the government censors clamped down and banned three of her works in the 1960s and 1970s, despite her growing prestige abroad and her acceptance as one of the foremost authors in the English language.

The first book to be banned was A World of Strangers, the story of an apolitical Briton drifting into friendships with black South Africans and uncovering the schizophrenia of living in segregated Johannesburg in the 1950s.

In 1979, Burger’s Daughter was banished from the shelves for its portrayal of a woman’s attempt to establish her own identity after her father’s death in jail made him a political hero.

Despite Gordimer’s place in the international elite, she maintained a passionate concern for those struggling at the bottom of South Africa’s literary heap.

“It humbles me to see someone sitting in the corner of a township shack he shares with 10 others, trying to write in the most impossible of conditions,” she said.

Margaret Atwood: Nadine Gordimer: evergreen, ageless and an inspiration to all writers.

Good bird and mammal news from KwaZulu Natal, South Africa


This video from South Africa is called Southern Bald Ibis.

From Wildlife Extra:

Creation of new nature reserve protects important bird habitat in KwaZulu Natal, South Africa

The Endangered Wildlife Trust (EWT) is celebrating the publication of the Notice of Intent to Declare the Beaumont Nature Reserve in the Swartberg region of KwaZulu-Natal.

“The proposed Beaumont Nature Reserve is 1050 ha in size and forms part of the Thule Conservancy, which was created in 2012,” said Cobus Theron, the EWT’s African Crane Conservation Programme’s Southern Drakensberg / East Griqualand Stewardship Facilitator.

“Many of the properties in the conservancy will also be proposed as Nature Reserves or Protected Environments in the near future. Nature Reserve status represents the highest category in the Biodiversity Stewardship Programme and the Beaumont Nature Reserve will become the first declared nature reserve that EWT has negotiated.”

The Biodiversity Stewardship Programme is a national governmental initiative that aims to complement the expansion of protected areas in the country with particular focus on private and communal land. The programme, which is a process that landowners voluntarily enter into, consists of legally binding agreements with government to enter their land into the protected area network and manage it for biodiversity.

The programme also allows for legal recognition, assistance and improved management where landowners are committed to conservation on their land. Currently the EWT is promoting and implementing the programme in the Southern Drakensberg, East Griqualand and Mpumalanga regions with the aim of securing valuable habitat for cranes.

The declaration of the Beaumont Nature Reserve will afford the property the same status and protection as any other national or provincial nature reserve. In addition, Beaumont Nature Reserve may qualify to be incorporated in to the Maluti World Heritage Site.

According to Theron, “The announcement of the Intention to Declare is exciting news for the EWT due to the importance of this reserve. Beaumont Nature Reserve consists mostly of scenic, mountainous terrain and is considered one of the upper catchment sources for the Umzimvubu River – the largest undammed river in South Africa.

“It provides valuable habitat and foraging grounds for species such as grey crowned cranes, secretary birds, southern bald ibis and a variety of antelope including grey rhebok and common reedbuck. Both cape and bearded vultures are regularly seen soaring over the farm and there are unique examples of rock art on the property.”

Furthermore, the property is of strategic importance as it will contribute to conservation efforts to expand the Maluti Drakensberg World Heritage Site in KwaZulu-Natal and Lesotho westwards towards the Eastern Cape Border. It will also safeguard valuable catchment services, feeding many of the wetland systems in the Cedarville Flats and ensure the protection of biodiversity and cultural assets.

FBI still spied on Mandela after release from prison


This video from South Africa is called Nelson Mandela‘s Life Story.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

FBI monitored Nelson Mandela in 1990s over perceived communist threat

Previously classified documents show federal agents continued to monitor Mandela and ANC even after his release from prison

Ed Pilkington in New York

Thursday 10 July 2014 18.10 BST

The FBI monitored the interactions between Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress and leftwing groups in the US through the 1980s and 1990s as part of its ongoing investigations into what the bureau deemed to be the communist threat to US national security, new documents reveal.

The batch of 36 pages of previously classified documents, extracted from the FBI under freedom of information laws, show that federal agents continued to monitor Mandela’s and the ANC’s connections within the US even after the legendary South African leader was released from prison in February 1990. The bureau monitored meetings between Mandela and other world leaders, tracked the movements of senior ANC officials as they travelled across the US, and kept a close eye on the anti-apartheid activities of the Communist Party USA (CP-USA).

The declassified documents are marked “secret” under recognised codes for domestic and foreign counter-intelligence investigations. They include a record kept by federal agents of a meeting in Namibia just a month after Mandela’s release from jail between him and the then president of Yugoslavia, Janez Drnovsek. The record notes that a transcript of the proceedings was sent in Serbo-Croat to the FBI’s Cleveland office.

Another document records the FBI’s decision in June 1990, four months after Mandela was set free, to send an informant from Philadelphia to New York to snoop on a meeting that the bureau thought was about to take place between Mandela and Puerto Rican independence activists. “Information contained in this communication is extremely singular in nature and must not be disseminated outside the FBI or existing terrorism task forces,” it stated.

The newly declassified records are the second batch relating to FBI monitoring of Mandela to be obtained by Ryan Shapiro, a freedom of information expert at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In the first set of documents, made public in May, it was disclosed that the bureau had used a confidential informant to gain an inside track on Mandela’s first visit to America in June 1990.

The new batch suggests that the FBI continued to see Mandela and the ANC through a paranoid cold war lens even after the fall of the Berlin Wall and after Mandela had emerged as one of the great democratic figureheads. The bureau’s obsession with categorising Mandela as a threat to domestic national security reached such a pitch that even elements within the FBI were driven to question the bureau’s prevailing analysis.

In August 1990, the FBI’s Chicago field office wrote a secret memo that highlighted the historical ignorance of its sister branch in New York which had classed the ANC as a “known Soviet front group”. The memo complained that “our description of the ANC as a Soviet front is an over-simplification which fails to recognize the complex and paradoxical nature of that particular organization (which was, of course, founded before the Russian revolution).”

Despite such enlightened interventions, the FBI carried on investigating links between the ANC and anti-apartheid and anti-racist groups in the US over many years. In 1984, federal agents kept watch over a senior ANC official, Makhenkesi Stofile, as he made a tour of the US meeting anti-apartheid groups. It also kept records of the involvement of Democratic Congress representatives in the Free Nelson Mandela campaign.

“The documents reveal that, just as it did in the 1950s and 60s with Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement, the FBI aggressively investigated the US and South African anti-apartheid movements as communist plots imperiling American security,” Shapiro said.

Many of the documents are heavily redacted, and Shapiro said he is now pressing for release of the complete uncensored records. He is also continuing to sue the CIA, National Security Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency for all their paperwork on Mandela and the anti-apartheid movement.

Just 60 years ago, in the summer of 1954, South Africa’s prime minister and architect of apartheid Daniel Francois Malan and his ultra-racist National Party government had a real irritant and they needed to get rid of it. The thorn in their side was Sophiatown, the multiracial cultural suburb of Johannesburg that, more than anywhere else, showed up the barrenness and nonsense of the obscene apartheid system: here.

Nelson Mandela, fifty years after apartheid kangaroo court trial


This video is called Nelson Mandela – Full Speech At Start Rivonia Trial (20 April 1964).

By Peter Frost in Britain:

The men of Rivonia

Thursday 12th June 2014

PETER FROST salutes Mandela and his comrades who were sentenced by the racist apartheid state 50 years ago

June 12 1964, half a century ago today, was one of the darkest days in the history of the liberation struggle in South Africa.

It seemed like the forces of racism and reaction were about to achieve their final victory.

Ten members of the leadership of the African National Congress (ANC) and the South African Communist Party had finished an eight-month trial and had been handed down long jail sentences.

They were Nelson Mandela, Walter Sisulu, Denis Goldberg, Govan Mbeki, Ahmed Kathrada, Raymond Mhlaba, Elias Motsoaledi and Andrew Mlangeni.

Two of the accused, Lionel “Rusty” Bernstein and James Kantor, were acquitted.

Those in the dock covered the entire spectrum of what would become the South African “rainbow nation.”

Goldberg and Bernstein were white Jews, Kathrada was Indian and Mhlaba, Mbeki and Motsoaledi were black from the Xhosa tribe. Sisulu’s mother was Xhosa and his father was European.

Mandela came from the Xhosa-speaking Thembu tribe.

The Rivonia trial was essentially a crude mechanism through which the white apartheid government hoped to destroy or silence the ANC. It failed.

The ANC leaders, including Nelson Mandela, who was already in Johannesburg’s Fort prison serving a five-year sentence for inciting workers to strike and leaving the country illegally, were found guilty and given long prison sentences.

Leading the defence team was the distinguished Afrikaner lawyer Bram Fischer, assisted by Harry Schwarz, Joel Joffe, Arthur Chaskalson, George Bizos and Harold Hanson.

The team of Rivonia defence lawyers were unable to see the accused until two days before the trial opened on October 9.

At the end of October another one of the accused, Bob Hepple, left the dock. Under pressure he had agreed to testify for the prosecution. In fact he never did. ANC comrades smuggled him out of the country.

The charges against all defendants were both broad and vague: recruiting persons for training in the preparation and use of explosives and in guerilla warfare for the purpose of violent revolution and committing acts of sabotage; conspiring to commit these acts and to aid foreign military units when they invaded the republic; acting in these ways to further the objects of communism; and soliciting and receiving money for these purposes from sympathisers outside South Africa.

Mandela and seven other defendants were found guilty and given life sentences, much to the disappointment of the South African government and also many British Conservatives like Margaret Thatcher and today’s Speaker of the House of Commons John Bercow who publicly demanded they all be hung.

The accused were sent to Robben Island Prison. Goldberg was sent to Pretoria Central Prison’s security wing for white political prisoners — the only one of its kind in South Africa. Apartheid’s segregation even applied to prisons. He served 22 years.

Not long after the trial, defence lawyer Bram Fischer was arrested and himself put on trial for “supporting communism.”

Many believe the state went for Fischer because the defendants in the trial had not received the death penalty. He was sentenced to life imprisonment and was only released when he became critically ill.

Mandela, as we now know, served 27 years, was released and became president of the South African nation.

His speech from the dock was to prove an inspiration to a whole generation both in South Africa and the rest of the world as they fought and eventually ended apartheid.

Finally the battle against apartheid was won, the obscene system was cast into the dustbin of history and with it the names, reputations and memories of the government ministers, judges, police spies, prosecution lawyers, prison officers and state witnesses who fixed the trial.

On the other hand the memories of Mandela and the other men of Rivonia still burn bright in all our memories and still inspire all those who are fighting for a better, more equal world today in Africa and beyond.