Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Who is Afraid of Multiculturalism?

The federal treasurer, Peter Costello, has bluntly warned the radical Muslims and other migrants to accept Australian values, respect the laws and liberties of the land or lose their right to citizenship.

And the treasurer’s position is well supported by the Prime Minister, John Howard, who is on record as saying: “I don’t believe you should ban wearing headscarfs but I do think the full garb is confronting and that is how most people feel”.

Come to think of it, the good treasurer (like some of his cabinet colleagues) believes those who want to live under the Islamic sharia law should move to countries where they would feel “more at ease”. He is obviously concerned with the emergence of what he describes as “mushy and misguided multiculturalism”.

Muslim leaders, who came here as migrants and refugees, have accused him of promoting “Islamophobia”; misunderstanding the real meaning of the sharia law.

But there are other points of view on the matter.

Meanwhile, the Federal Health Minister, Tony Abbot, is on moral high ground when he argues that the advocates of sharia law should not be dismissed as un-Australian. And that, by accepting difference, multiculturalism is likely to be the most effective long term antidote to the antagonisms evident in the Australian society.

Essentially though, multiculturalism strives to avoid confrontation of the type seen during the Cronulla race riots in this country. And by stressing harmony and respect, multiculturalism aims to foster the kind of dialogue that diminishes the potential for conflict – a point recently emphasized by Mr. Abbott.

Thus, in the scheme of things, multiculturalism as an organising principle should be seen as an effective solution to the problem of cultural diversity.

It seems to me, quite clearly, that multicultural life is not the main problem. It is the fear of multiculturalism (in all its manifestations) that poses the greatest danger.

In fact, Abbot puts his Christian values into practice when he argued that multiculturalism is an invitation to try to understand others’ ways of thinking and living – he is, absolutely, right on this score.

Now, all hands must be on deck! We must deal with the problem of cultural diversity at the local, state, and federal levels, by building bridges across cultures!

Moderation is the name of the game of politics in the 21st century. There is absolutely nothing to fear but fear itself.

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Housing Refugees in Lyndoch

The angry residents of the South Australian town of Lyndoch have criticized the state government’s initiative to provide affordable housing to low-income earners and Somali refugees.

The $3 million project is, primarily, aimed at building 19 houses in the heart of Lyndoch. But the locals see it as “a betrayal” of the town, according to the Sunday Mail report.

The Minister for Families and Communities, Jay Weatherill, said the negative reaction is based on ignorance of the project, as the refugees will breathe a new life into Lyndoch; providing the much needed labour to the vineyards, and other local industries.


Monday, February 20, 2006

The Midsummer Sun

Under the midsummer sun
The wild rose blooms
In absolute silence.

Then, the antipodean garden
Gives up its secrets; revealing
The spiritual essence of the land.

Suddenly, the lost boy
Finds a new lease on life
Capturing the pulse of summer.

© Lawrence T. Udo-Ekpo

Friday, February 17, 2006

Boom in Refugee Intake

New figures, just released, show quite clearly that Australia is in the midst of the largest monthly intake of refugees this financial year.

African refugees are among the new arrivals. And 10 African families have already arrived in Australia from the refugee camps in Tanzania, after fleeing persecution in Burundi and the Democratic republic of Congo.

They will be resettled in the state of South Australia.

Thursday, February 09, 2006

Tales of Life in Diaspora

Tales of life in Diaspora
Of poverty in the midst of plenty
Of homelessness and despair
Of inner fears and endless tears
Of long wars yet to be won
Of the mystery of survival in times of crisis
Of anger and hope for the future
Of muted cry of the desperate soul
Of lost boys and girls in need
Of the forgotten men in the city of light
Of young mothers suffering in silence
Of memories of the homeland betrayed
Of priceless treasures forgone
Of the exiled dream of good life
Of sadness and joy of self discovery
Of barefoot workers living on the edge
Of joblessness and false hope
Of the restless spirit of the dead
Of love and hate in the spring of life
Of deep feelings of emptiness in the suburbia and
Of absolute meaninglessness of life in exile.

© Lawrence T. Udo-Ekpo

Monday, February 06, 2006

The Bogus Woman takes Centre Stage

The good news is that Kay Adshead’s devastating play, The Bogus Woman, has taken the centre stage in the land Down Under.

It has already been selected as one of the five top theatre shows to see in the upcoming Adelaide Fringe Festival in South Australia, according to The Advertiser newspaper report.

The Bogus Woman
is a powerful political play on aspects of immigration procedures – a highly successful one woman show.

It is a play which speaks to us through a poetic language that is both brutal and beautiful. A commanding moral voice on stage!

Full credits to Sarah Niles who plays over 48 different characters as the story is told of a young African woman who has to flee her country, after the mass murder of her family and seeks asylum in London.

Kay Adshead has effectively used modern theatre to give voice to those who are struggling for justice and freedom under the most difficult circumstances.

A great political theatre!

Thursday, February 02, 2006

The Secrets of Ancient Egypt

The secrets of the ancient Egyptian civilisation have been revealed in an exhibition by the Australian Museum in Adelaide, South Australia (in conjunction with the National Museum of Antiquities, Netherlands).

This excellent exhibition brings together a wealth of Egyptian relics; including hieroglyphs, mummified animals, amulets and jewellery as well as current scientific research on mummies.

More than 160 extremely rare Egyptian objects have been brought to Australia for the first time.

Artefacts include the mummified body of Keku, a wealthy Egyptian woman who died 2,700 years ago.