Category: Op-Ed

July 5th, 2004 by Hilde Aardal

Vikings settled Iceland in the late 9th century, but the first geographical document describing the northern seas was written by an Irish monk named Dicull, early in the 9th century. He was the first man to locate the isolated island, which later became known as Iceland.

The Vikings came to Iceland because of internal struggles in Norway. King Harald ‘The Fair -haired’ drove his enemies and the former rulers of Norway all the way to the Scottish Isles. Many fled to Iceland, and some of the daring settled in Vik.

To visit Vik you have to take road number 1 from Reykjavik. There are many things to be seen on your way. The scenery of Volcanoes, water falls, rivers, glaciers and mountains will slow your journey, but eventually you will get here.

In one of the houses, you’ll find me. I wasn’t born in Vik. I wasn’t even born in Iceland. Faith brought me here. I met my boyfriend on the Internet and I now spend eight to nine months a year in Vik with him. Together, we have a dog, T√ɬ°ta. Her name means “Little Girl”. Read more of this article »

Posted in Iceland, Op-Ed

June 14th, 2004 by John Dwyer

Camps for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Herat, Afghanistan, have been in existence since the mid-1990s. Because of the long drought that beset Afghanistan, IDPs were flocking to urban areas and it was for those IDPs that the camps were formed. Subsequently, victims of destruction caused by the chronic wars and those who had fled their villages because of ethnic tensions, arrived at the camps. All were poor and most were landless.

In 2002, I coordinated activities within three IDP camps. Our purpose was to enable the IDPs to have a stable and safe environment that provided them life’s basic provisions, while they awaited the time when they could return to their villages of origin.

Surveys were being conducted by international organizations in many of the IDPs villages of origin to determine what was needed to enable returnees to live both peacefully and decently. These surveys investigated the living conditions, security, water availability, land availability, food distribution and other important survival factors. The surveys were not fully completed when I left the camps. Returns, however, were taking place. Rain was falling in many areas, and crops were beginning to flourish again. Read more of this article »

Posted in Afghanistan, Op-Ed

June 7th, 2004 by Elisabeth Davies

This year, on 29 March 2004, an astonishing event took place in Ireland, that sea girt isle off the North West coast of Europe. A law came into effect, which banned smoking in public places. This law has such a wide definition that it even includes your own kitchen should you employ anyone there.

But what is truly amazing is that pubs and bars are included in the legislation. Everybody knows that for centuries these have been the fulcrum and focus of social life in Ireland. From the warp and weft of conversation, story telling, myth and just common gossip that take place in Irish pubs, a vibrant literature has emerged for which Ireland is so justly famous. So just what is the government up to?

Even though Ireland has a stunningly beautiful landscape, it has inspired all too few world-class artists. The irregular hedged and stone walled green fields; the yellow gorse and brown bogs with twinkling lakes and waterways; worn down mountain ranges, glowing with purple heather in the changing light as the clouds scurry across the over arching sky; the shyly placed, moss covered Celtic cross, peeping out from among some ancient ruins… all these mouth-watering sights, which enchant the visitor to Ireland, have been little used by painters as muse and inspiration. Read more of this article »

Posted in Ireland, Op-Ed

May 30th, 2004 by Karim El-Koussa

Inside the Mystery Chamber, I was sitting with an old man, a man who knows the secrets of the Tradition. Outside, the rain was falling so strongly, that it echoed inside. I looked around me, then precisely at him. His eyes grew brighter as he uttered, “You might be wondering about the Tradition, it certainly goes back to Hermes-Enoch. I feel I have to inform you about it.

“It all started with Enoch or Anak, the Canaano-Phoenician seer at Mt. Hermon, in Loubnan. You may notice also that the name Hermes given to him by the Greeks comes from Hermon.

“Tradition says that Angels descended on Mt. Hermon, and taught that seer a great universal spiritual and occult doctrine. He, Enoch, accepted it and called it the Kabala, which means ‘accepting’.

“Enoch is Henoch, Phenoch, the Phoenix, symbolizing the secret cycle and Initiation. It is death, or the end of life’s cycle, and the resurrection from its ashes after three days into eternity. He is the first teacher-initiator, possessor of the true sacred hidden name, linking Humanity through an eternal concordance with the Father, God.” Read more of this article »

Posted in Lebanon, Op-Ed

March 26th, 2004 by Ogo Ogbata

I have a confession to make. I love the Igbo language and I do have an ear for it, but sometimes I do get stuck in the course of a conversation. I usually know what it is I want to say but the delivery of the content becomes amateurish from time to time. My accent is flawed; I don’t have that Igbo drawl that separates the wheat from the tares. And to make matters worse I don’t have a vocabulary that covers some of the words. I have to smear my own mother tongue with words from a foreign vocabulary. Disgusting!

To those who can speak their local dialect with the fluid ease that makes the rest of us cower in disgrace, I say “please don’t weep for me yet. I am concerned enough to work on this deficiency.” And no, I am not about to blame my parents. I also do not regret not spending more of my formative years in eastern Nigeria. If anything, I am about to make a hullabaloo about this vernacular thing, if only for the sake of posterity: the countless Nigerians yet unborn.

Imagine it’s the year 2082. Nigeria is still in one piece (hopefully), but we find that there is an even bigger problem. Nigerians are speaking Queen’s English, French and hard core Pidgin in their homes and workplaces. In the high society weddings we find black men in tuxedos and large hipped beauties in spaghetti strap dresses and ball gowns. There are no ‘aso-ebis’, no caftans, no cliques rattling on excitably in Igbo, Yoruba and the likes. All we find are Hollywood clones: people who are trying to be the best at what they cannot even do. Read more of this article »

Posted in Nigeria, Op-Ed

March 14th, 2004 by Nora Cecilia Navas Aparicio

Colombia is a country with regions very distinct from each other, differing widely in climate, vegetation, topography, and the spoken language and dialect. Geographically, there are five main regions in Colombia: Andina (the central region), Atlantica (bordering the Caribbean Sea in the North), Pacifica (the western region bordering the Pacific Sea) and OrinoquÃŒa (the eastern region bordered by the Orinoco River on the East and by the Amazonian river on the South).

This article is about the OrinoquÃŒa region. This most eastern region of Colombia is a place with only scarce mountains, with vast plains, many rivers, and vegetation consisting mainly of small bushes. It lies at the foot of three mountain chains creating the sensation that the landscape flows out into an enormous green delta.

The population of the Orinoqu√É≈ía region is small, with the main economic activity being cattle breeding with ranches the size of 20 to 40,000 animals. Many of the inhabitants here are so-called Creoles, people who are of mixed Spanish and indigenous blood. The white people, or Blancos as they are called, in most cases own the large terrains on which the Creoles work as cowboys, driving the cattle. Read more of this article »

Posted in Columbia, Op-Ed

March 11th, 2004 by Fionbarra O Dochartaigh

A Flaming Riot

The civil war in Northern Ireland between the pro-British, largely Protestant Loyalists or Unionists and the anti-British, largely Catholic Republicans has largely disappeared from international headlines. However, tensions between the factions continue to erupt, even within the controlled environment of prison life.

On the evening of Wednesday, January 14, 2004, Loyalists erected barricades within the Loyalist wing of Northern Ireland’s top security Maghaberry Prison, in protest of segregation plans. Various areas within the Bann House section of the prison were torched; windows were smashed, and prison facilities were destroyed. The following Monday, 35 prisoners involved in the disturbance were placed on ‘Rule 32′, which restricts a prisoner’s freedom of association. Authorities charged the Loyalists with offences against prison discipline.

It was the latest violence in response to Republican prisoners’ demands for segregation, in line with earlier protests such as the ‘no-wash’ protest or ‘dirty protest’ during the days of ‘The Blanketmen’ [1] (1976-81). Loyalists believe that segregation in the prison system would result in the re-granting of political status to the Republicans (RIRA/CIRA).[2] The Unionists, however, view segregation as an unnecessary weakening of the British Government’s position, and possible dilution of the Unionist’s own power both within and outside and the penal system. Read more of this article »

Posted in Northern Ireland, Op-Ed

March 4th, 2004 by Raymont Clement

There are four major monastic orders: The Benedictine, The Dominican, The Franciscan, and The Franciscan ‘Minori’. But hidden away in the highlands of south central Calabria, Italy, is a monastery complex not belonging to any of these Orders. It has been there for more than one thousand years, and is still virtually unknown to the outside world.

The monastery is called the Certosa of San Bruno. Its Cloister is inhabited by a small Order of monks known as Certosini. At present there are nineteen monks in residence. They are an Order dedicated to contemplation, solitude, and prayer. They are also unusual for one singular characteristic: they are dedicated to carrying out their mission in complete silence. For the majority of time, the Certosini spend their days in a small, spare room or cell where they read, think, and contemplate in silence. At work (in the fields, the library or the kitchen) they are absolutely silent. At Mass, matins, devotions, and meals not a word is spoken.

Sunday is the one day of the week when the monks may converse. It is their community day. But even then, the conversation is limited to the matters of the Certosa-no “small talk.” Orders for the coming weeks are issued by the Priore, Jacques Dupont, who has held the position for the last ten years. Other issues of importance to the entire community are raised and discussed. Silence then resumes. Read more of this article »

Posted in Italy, Op-Ed

February 24th, 2004 by Aliakbar Campwala

Describing myself, I am the thin slim 100,000 rupiah note that was printed years ago in a government workshop. The day I was born, I was transferred to a bank with a bunch of my friends who were one-by-one leaving for the free world.

Having a picture of Sukarno and Hatta on my body, I thought I would be treated with more respect than my other low value friends. I was always proud of my paper quality which was so superior to them and ranking the highest among them gave me a feeling that I would be treated more carefully and with more respect by my owners. But fate had her own plans.

The day came close when I was stripped out from my bunch and was handed over to my first owner who carefully kept me in his wallet. I had no idea of what would be the outside world,but I was ready to face destiny. And from then on, I am being exchanged from one wallet to another enjoying their sometimes stinking, sometimes good leather all the time.

Describing my till today life experiences, I would mention that I enjoy the best hospitality when I am in the pockets of poor people who take care of me like I am their newborn kid. Even though they hide me in clothes and cupboards for a long time, they exchange me only when they are in a really urgent need to get something in exchange for me, and most of the time it’s school fees, or I would enter into a warung(small shop selling household items),or land in one of the stinking wet traditional vegetable markets. Read more of this article »

Posted in Indonesia, Op-Ed

February 21st, 2004 by Yolain St. Fort

My grandmother sang the Lavalas song when Mr. Jean-Bertrand Aristide became Haiti’s first democratically elected president on December of 1990. It was a song of hope, of faith, of love, of redemption. It was similar to a praise song that was known to many Protestant churchgoers in Haiti and in the U.S., except for the fact that the lyrics were slightly modified. The name Seny√É‚Äπ (meaning The Lord) was replaced with Titid (short for Aristide), and “Tonight we are healed” was changed to “At last we are rescued.” This is a translated version of the song:

Oh Titid, Oh Titid,
It was you we were looking for
At last we are rescued!

This song, though few in words, is a depiction of what President Aristide represented to the masses, mainly those without a voice. My grandmother sang the song so much that one day I told her that if she weren’t careful, she would shout out “O Titid” in church, mistaking his name for The Lord’s. Though I didn’t share her optimism, I sometimes prayed that Haiti would be healed somehow. Someday. Read more of this article »

Posted in Haiti, Op-Ed