Posts Tagged ‘colonialism’

Food Sovereignty, Big IF & Naked Cyclists

Thursday, June 8th, 2023

Food Sovereignty, Big IF & Naked Cyclists: Saturday 8th June 2013 was another varied day of protests in London.

Food Sovereignty not Food Security – Unilever House, Blackfriars

Food Sovereignty, Big IF & Naked Cyclists

Friends of the Earth, War On Want and others held a protest outside Unilever House where David Cameron was addressing carefully picked delegates at his ‘Hunger Summit’. They were protesting against the ‘new alliance for food security and nutrition’, a special initiative launched by the G8 in 2012.

Food Sovereignty, Big IF & Naked Cyclists

Cameron’s ‘summit’ and the protest came before a G8 meeting and Unilever’s iconic London offices overlooking the Thames at Blackfriars, was particularly appropriate as Unilever, along with other global agribusinesses such as Monsanto and Cargill are the major beneficiaries of the ‘new alliance.’

Food Sovereignty, Big IF & Naked Cyclists

The G8 initiative will spend billions of dollars to finance the expansion of these agribusiness in Africa but damage existing landowners and farmers, who will either have to sign agreements to land grabs by the giant corporations and replace their traditional plants and seed with GM and other high-tech seeds and supplies or see their markets disappear.

Food Sovereignty, Big IF & Naked Cyclists

The initiative will marginalise small African farmers, driving them from their traditionally owned land, increasing unemployment and the movement to cities. As in India some will be driven to suicide as their only solution. It should increase agricultural output in the short term but most of it will be food for export or biofuels, and hunger will increase – along with the profits of the mega-corporations. Almost certainly all these technological fixes will in the long term fail, leading to further desertification.

African farmers need support that increases their economic, social and cultural resilience, methods to increase their productivity through simple low-tech improvements in land use, that preserve and improve the soil, and increase water retention, that improve traditional crop varieties by proven old-fashioned methods. Various projects have demonstrated the success of these approaches – but they fail to increase the profits of multinational companies so do not attract support from the G8.

Food Sovereignty, Big IF & Naked Cyclists

Almost 200 African groups signed a Statement By Civil Society In Africa which condemned the proposals, describing them as “a new wave of colonialism”, pointing out that they work to the benefit of the corporations and not for Africa.

This was a peaceful and family-friendly protest, with campaigners bringing containers with growing plants and baskets of fruit and vegetables to set up a small garden on the road island in front of the main entrance to Unilever House.

More about the protest and the Statement by Civil Society in Africa at No to G8 New Alliance on Food Security.

Big IF Solidarity Walk – Westminster to Hyde Park

The second protest I photographed was also about global hunger, with thousands marching in solidarity with the one in eight people around the world who go hungry and to demand that the G8 world leaders tackle the root causes of global hunger.

The problem isn’t about producing food as “The world produces enough food for everyone, but more than two million children die every year because they can’t get enough to eat.” The problem is the unfair distribution of wealth and power which means many of those who need food don’t get it, while others have more they can eat.

The walk to send a message to the G8 was supported by a wide range of organisations including Christian Aid, Oxfam, Cafod, Save the Children and many more who work in countries around the world, and many had begun the event by attending a service in a packed Westminster Central Hall in Westminster, the Methodist church where the first meeting of the UN General Assembly was held in 1946.

This wasn’t a march but a walk, with people taking a rather circuitous route and walking in small groups on the pavements, which made it rather more difficult to photograph.

More at Big IF Solidarity Walk.

World Naked Bike Ride – Marble Arch & Westminster

The World Naked Bike Ride is an annual protest against oil dependency and and the negative social and environmental impacts of a car dominated culture as well as a demonstration of the vulnerability of cyclists in traffic and to celebrate body freedom. It began in Spain in 2001 and has spread to London and round 70 other cities in over 30 countries.

In London it has usually attracted around a thousand cyclists, along with a few others on skateboards etc, and provides considerable interest, with crowds of tourists stopping to watch and to photograph, and although everyone around me seemed to be greatly amused, there seemed to be little or no appreciation of the reasons behind the protest.

Not all riders are naked for the event, some riding partially clothed. The dress code is that people should ride ‘as bare as they dare’ and only the wearing of footwear is compulsory for safety reasons. Many riders have some creative body paint, some with slogans on their body to promote the ideas behind the ride, and I’ve chosen images for this post that show these.

In 2013 the ride began at four different points, Marble Arch, West Norwood, Clapham Junction and near Kings Cross, with the routes converging on Westminster Bridge, from where they went on to ride to St Paul’s Cathedral and back through Holborn and Trafalgar Square to Hyde Park Corner.

I went to Marble Arch for the start of the event there and later took photographs on Westminster Bridge where the four groups were intended to meet up, but tho cyclists from Marble Arch were held up and arrived after the others had left.

It’s a ride that attracts considerably more men than women as riders, although my pictures might seem to suggest the opposite. There are several reasons why I find the women more interesting, partly because I think more of them make an effort with body painting and other ways to create an impression. It’s also rather harder to photograph nude male cyclists in ways that many publications would find acceptable, and my selection of images is largely for submission to agencies.

There are many more pictures on My London Diary at World Naked Bike Ride. At the top of each page of pictures I included the statement “These pictures include some nudity – don’t view them if this might offend you” above a long area of empty white space, with two links to either take viewers down the page to see them or back to the main June page.

Nurses, Coal, Art, Biafrans & Sunflowers

Monday, May 30th, 2022

Nurses, Coal, Art, Biafrans & Sunflowers – Saturday May 30th 2015 was another varied day of events and protests across London.

Filipino Nurses tell Daily Mail to apologise – Kensington.

Nurses, Coal, Art, Biafrans & Sunflowers

I began the day travelling to High Street Kensington, just a short walk from the offices of the Daily Mail. It has the largest circulation of any UK newspaper but is also the UK’s least reliable source of information. Recently The Factual analysed 1,000 articles from each of 245 major news sources from around the world although mainly from the USA and including international news organisations such as Reuters and AP. The Mail came out with the third lowest score of any with a Factual Grade of 39.7% compared to the average of 61.9%. In a table listing all the results, even The Sun does a little better, as do the Daily Express and RT News, though all of these are way below average while The Guardian was above average along with the BBC, though neither among the top scorers.

Nurses, Coal, Art, Biafrans & Sunflowers

We don’t have a free press in this country, we have a press largely controlled by a small number of billionaires who, as these figures show, use it largely as a source of disinformation and the promotion of their prejudices – including homophobia, racism and misogyny. Articles are more generally written as click-bait rather than with any desire to inform or educate, and it was hardly surprising when in 2016 it was sanctioned by the International Press Standards Organisation for violating professional norms for accuracy and in 2017 Wikipedia editors decided it was a “generally unreliable” source.

Nurses, Coal, Art, Biafrans & Sunflowers

I was there for the start of a long protest by Filipino health workers outside the Daily Mail over its reporting of the Victoriano Chua case which insulted Filipino NHS workers as a whole despite the vital contribution they make to the NHS. The demanded the Daily Mail apologise for its racist comments and to recognise the contribution that they make, keeping our NHS afloat. As someone who a dozen years earlier had been looked after in intensive care by a Filipino nurse I feel very grateful to them, though angry at the UK government for not training enough nurses and doctors – and in particular for removing the training bursary for nurses which has now made the situation much worse. But I did feel they were asking the leopard to change its spots.

Filipino Nurses tell Daily Mail apologise

Walking the Coal Line – Peckham

Rye Lane

I left the Filipinos as their protest was still building up and journeyed across London to Peckham Rye where we were invited to take a tour of the proposed Peckham Coal Line elevated linear urban park between Peckham Rye and Queens Road Peckham stations as a distant part of the Chelsea Fringe Festival events – something vaguely related to the annual flower show.

The Coal Line was frankly hugely over-hyped, particularly in comparing it to New York’s ‘High Line’, and the walk was largely close to but not on the actual proposed line. The former coal sidings on the viaduct which inspired the project are next to a working rail line and could only be seen looking down from neighbouring buildings.

As I commented: “The walk is essentially an urban linear park that would make a useful short cut for some local walkers and cyclists, and could also be a part of a longer leisure walk from Brixton to the Thames. I hope it comes into existence, as the cost would be relatively low and it would be a useful addition to the area.

But I still enjoyed an interesting walk, visiting both the Bussey Building in the former industrial estate Copeland Park south of the line and the multi-storey car park to the north which now houses a cafe, a local radio performance space and another rooftop bar next to the Derek Jarman memorial garden and has good views of Peckham and central London. And having followed the official route to Queens Road Peckham I walked back a different way vaguely along the Coal Line at ground level, finally travelling more closely along it in an Overground train that took me to Canada Water and the Jubilee Line to Waterloo.

Walking the Coal Line

UK Uncut Art Protest – Westminster Bridge

UK Uncut met outside Waterloo station for their mystery protest taking direct action at an undisclosed location. Police liaison officers tried to find out where they were going and what they intended to do, but nobody was talking to them. Finally they set off and marched the short distance to Westminster Bridge where they spread a large piece of cloth on the roadway and painted a banner telling Parliament that collecting dodged taxes would bring in more than cutting public services.

They lifted up the banner and then ‘dropped’ it over the side of the bridge. It was a long run to take a picture of it hanging from the bridge, and I’m not sure worth the effort. It would have been better to have lowered it on the downstream side so as to get the Houses of Parliament in the background.

Another group of protesters in Parliament Square were protesting against the plans to get rid of the Human Rights Act, and some of the UK Uncut people had joined them before the end of the ‘Art’ protest. In May 2022 the government announced it was getting rid of the act and replacing it with a ‘British Bill of Rights’ which will allow the police to “perform freer functions“, Leading charities concerned with human rights have condemned the changes as affecting “the ability of individuals to hold the government and public bodies to account by bringing cases when their human rights have been breached.” They state “The Human Rights Act has greatly benefited a vast number of people from across society, improving their health and wellbeing; ensuring their dignity, autonomy, privacy, and family life; and overall improving their quality of life.” Many see the changes as yet another move towards fascism and a police state.

UK Uncut Art Protest

Biafrans demand independence – Trafalgar Square.

Biafra came from the Kingdom of Nri of the Igbo people, which lasted from the 10th century to 1911 and was one of Africa’s great civilisations before the European colonisation.

Biafra was incorporated into Southern Nigeria by the colonialists in the 1884 Berlin Conference and then became part of the united Nigeria in 1914. Biafrans declared independence from Nigeria in 1967, but lost the long and bloody civil war that followed, with many Biafran civilians dying of starvation.

Biafrans demand independence

Mass rally Supports National Gallery strikers – Trafalgar Square

After a large rally in Trafalgar Square, National Gallery staff striking against privatisation marched towards the Sainsbury Wing, holding a sit down and short rally outside after police blocked the doors to the gallery. The gallery doors were then locked.

Candy Udwin, a PCS rep at the National Gallery had been sacked for her trade union activities in connection with the plans to privatise gallery staff and the opposition to it by staff. Exhibitions in the Sainsbury wing have already been guarded by privatised staff, and the security there is also run by the private company. After 100 days of strike action the dispute was finally resolived in early October 2015 after the appointment of a new gallery director with terms and conditions of service protected and Udwin returning to work.

Mass rally Supports National Gallery strikers

Robert Frank’s London

Friday, November 29th, 2019

I’ve long been an admirer of Robert Frank’s pictures taken in London, and you can see a fine selection of these in the feature Extraordinary Black And White Photographs Of London In The Early 1950s.

There are at least two videos paging through the book London Wales on You Tube, and I recommend that by Алексей Гуменюк only because I think he is a better page-turner, though his commentary and the sound track perhaps add a certain charm – but you can turn the sound off if it annoys you. Of course if you have read my earlier thoughts on the book or otherwise bought it you can turn the pages yourself. It’s better.

Frank’s London is a city (and City) long lost, with men in bowler hats and men carrying sacks of coal, both enshrouded by the pea-soupers which the coal produced (and in the second part of the book, he goes to photograph the men who mined it.)

Thankfully those days of almost solid air in London are long gone, though I can just remember them. But appearances are deceptive and London’s air is still toxic, leading to huge amounts of miserable illness and an estimated almost 10,000 early deaths each year, with levels of pollutants typically well above the EU legal limits in many streets and schoolyards.

The City too has changed, though still equally toxic. We no longer have an Empire – it had already begun to disappear when Frank coughed his way through those streets, but neo-colonialism has replaced colonialism, and many of the world’s most toxic companies – for example in mining – are still London based, and the City is the money laundering capital of the world.