Monthly Archives: December 2014

Through a Child’s Eyes

Right now I’m home-home… in Malawi for a family Christmas. I’m back in my old room, that repository of my childhood and coming-of-age, surrounded by the bric-a-brac of my life pre-London. There are old trophies, posters, bits of poetry and my diaries, including one that I wrote when I was 11. It has details of schoolwork, friendships, fights (girls love a good bust-up) and adventures, mostly on my bike.

But interspersed with updates on my baby brother’s progress (he’s sitting! He’s grown a tooth! He’s walking!) there is a thin sliver of my country’s story. On my list of things to look forward to in 1994 I had multiparty elections at the the top of my list. In passing, I mention an army strike, the President getting seriously ill, conceding the elections, and our first democratically elected president under a multiparty system. It’s all in the background, the backdrop to a breathless account of an 11 year-old’s life. I don’t remember all of the details, but I remember the tangible feeling of excitement in the air and the sense that voting was an amazing, transformative, special thing. It’s part of the reason that I always do.

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Oh, Nigel.

Can we make up our minds, please?

I’m loving and cheering on the #ostentatiousbreastfeeding hashtag, but I have a problem with the reporting of the issue of Nigel Farage’s suggestion that breastfeeding mums should “sit in a corner” of restaurants. This isn’t the first time he’s said something sexist.

I find it a bit frustrating that the media roundly pokes fun at the outdated or offensive things he or other UKIP members say or do, but treat his xenophobia and anti-immigration rhetoric with deference. Why do we allow him to drive the agenda on that when on *every. other. issue* – the NHS, women, the economy – literally¬†anything else his and his party’s views are roundly derided as asinine?

Oh yeah, because they are. We need to make up our minds and stop using him to legitimise racism and xenophobia in public discourse. No other political leader could be so discredited on all these other issues and still be taken seriously on their one pet hobby horse.

 

 

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