Rock Against Racism on film


This May 2020 video says about itself:

LIVING ROOM Q&As: White Riot with director Rubika Shah and host Mark Kermode

The 13th in this season does something a little different… As well as a live Q&A with director Rubika Shah, Mykaell Riley (Steel Pulse) and Zak Cochrane (Love Music Hate Racism), hosted by Mark Kermode, we’ll also have a live musical performance from rapper Lloyd Luther.

On 19 September 2020, I went to see the film White Riot. It is about the late 1970s Rock Against Racism movement in England.

There was the racist neo-nazi National Front party. There was police racism. And there was racism by established rock musicians like Eric Clapton.

The film is extensively about Temporary Hoarding fanzine of Rock Against Racism. There was no internet then. It helped bring together fans of mainly black reggae and ska bands, and of punk bands, to fight racism together.

At the very first Rock Against Racism concert, punk band 999 played.

It made Jamaican British reggae musicians feel they were not alone in their fight against police brutality.

Punks also benefited. Many English local councils banned punk concerts. RAR concerts were sometimes the only way for punk bands to play there.

Not only African Caribbean people were targeted by racism. So were South Asian immigrants. Punk was sometimes depicted as a purely white movement. Wrong. There was the Pakistani London band Alien Kulture, featured in the film. Their name was derived from a dog whistle racist quote by Conservative party leader Margaret Thatcher. Alien Kulture played a bit Clash-like songs.

This is their 1979 song Asian Youth.

This is their song Airport Arrest, with lyrics.

Also in the film is Somali British singer Poly Styrene and her band X-ray Spex. Very correctly so, as she played a big role in breaking down racist and sexist prejudices.

I had hoped very much to see the London band Verdict in the film. They played scores of gigs for Rock Against Racism all over London. Two girls in that band had been founding members of the first punk band of France, also the first-ever all-women rock band in whatever genre in France: the Lou’s. These two were Eurasian Dutch drummer Sascha de Jong and French saxophone player Raphaelle Devins. In 1981, in Leiden, the Netherlands, Sascha founded the Miami Beach Girls. Raphaelle became saxophone player in Cheap ‘n’ Nasty.

The film concludes with a big anti-racist concert in London, in which Jimmy Pursey of Sham’69 joined the Clash in singing White Riot.

Dutch daily Trouw wished that the film, about the late 1970s in England, had shown more links to 2020 issues. Though the last lines of the film warn that the anti-racist fight cannot be over yet.

How giraffes, elephants impact the African environment


This 2019 video from South Africa says about itself:

Beautiful interaction between Elephant, Impala, Kudu and Giraffe at a waterhole in Kruger National Park.

From the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute:

How do giraffes and elephants alter the African Savanna landscape?

September 14, 2020

Summary: Through their foraging behavior across the diverse topography of the African savanna, megaherbivores may be unknowingly influencing the growth and survival of vegetation on valleys and plateaus, while preserving steep slopes as habitat refugia.

As they roam around the African savanna in search for food, giraffes and elephants alter the diversity and richness of its vegetation. By studying the foraging patterns of these megaherbivores across different terrains in a savanna in Kenya, scientists from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) and collaborating institutions discovered that these large mammals prefer to eat their meals on flat ground, potentially impacting the growth and survival of plant species on even savanna landscapes, such as valleys and plateaus.

Megaherbivores are more concerned about eating as much food as possible while expending the minimum amount of effort, than about avoiding potential predators. Elephants may consume as much as 600 pounds of vegetation in a day; giraffes, about 75. This drove scientists to wonder about the impact of these megaherbivores on vegetation across a range of landscapes in the savanna.

“Previous studies have demonstrated that megaherbivores adjust their movement patterns to avoid costly mountaineering,” said co-author David Kenfack, STRI staff scientist, coordinator of the ForestGEO network forest monitoring plots in Africa and recently elected Fellow of the African Academy of Sciences. “We wanted to know the extent to which fine-scale variations in topography may influence browsing damage by these charismatic megaherbivores and evaluate whether seasonal shortages in food availability would force the megaherbivores to venture into areas with rugged terrain.”

Their observations conducted within a 120-hectare Smithsonian ForestGEO long-term vegetation monitoring plot located at Mpala Research Center in Kenya confirmed that giraffes and elephants prefer flat ground while foraging. They compared the damage on Acacia mellifera trees, which grow all over the savanna landscape and are a common meal for megaherbivores. They found that the trees growing on steep slopes were taller and had fewer stems than those in valleys and plateaus, suggesting that elephant and giraffes tend to avoid feeding in these less accessible habitats.

This behavior did not change during the dry season, when resources become scarce, indicating that these two species would rather disperse to new areas with more favorable conditions than climb up a nearby slope to feed.

For the authors, these feeding patterns may help preserve steep slopes as habitat refugia, with a greater diversity and density of vegetation than more frequently visited areas. Their findings support this argument: the number and variety of trees encountered on the steep slopes was higher than in the valleys and plateaus.

“This study has broadened our understanding of the role of topography in explaining diversity patterns of plants,” said Duncan Kimuyu, a Smithsonian Mpala postdoctoral fellow, lecturer at Karatina University in Kenya and main author of the study. “Further research is warranted to understand how other factors such as differences in soil properties may interact with topography and megaherbivores to influence the growth and survival of vegetation in the African savanna.”

Members of the research team are affiliated with STRI, Karatina University, Mpala Research Center and Wildlife Foundation and the National Museums of Kenya. Research was funded by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, ForestGEO and the International Foundation for Science (D/5455-2).