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Migration Means Reinvention – Even to Olympian

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Akwasi Frimpong, Ghana’s Olympic Skeleton athlete. Photo: BBC

By International Organization for Migration
GENEVA, Feb 19 2018 (IOM)

Every Olympian, in their way, is a migrant—undertaking a life-changing journey towards their goal of athletic perfection.

Yet many are more migratory than others, particularly those from the world’s least developed countries who often must leave home to access the resources necessary to transform themselves into world-beating athletes.

Migrants born abroad often become citizens of the country under whose Olympic flags they compete. Others compete for their homelands, but only after training abroad to hone their competitive skills.

Such an athlete is Sabrina Simader—Kenyan born, but mostly Austrian bred, migrating with her mother to Liezen in the Austrian Alps, where she discovered a talent for snow sports. Sabrina is skiing for Kenya this year.

Mathilde-Amivi Petitjean is a 24-year-old cross-country skier representing Togo at the Games. She was born in Kpalimé, north of Lomé, the Togolese capita, moving to France at age four. Petitjean made her Olympic debut at Sochi in 2014; she trains in Canada and is the first Togolese to compete in cross-country skiing, entering both sprint and 10km disciplines.

Then there’s Ngozi Onmuwere, Seun Adigun, Akuoma Omeoga—Nigeria’s bobsled team—three daughters of Nigerian émigré parents, each born in the USA (in, respectively, Texas, Illinois and Minnesota). All three began as track and field specialists, and then individually gravitated to winter sports.

While two already compete internationally for Nigeria in track and field, as a trio they became Nigeria’s first delegation to the Winter Olympics. Eritrea is the other African nation competing in the Winter Games for the first time.

Someone worth watching was Akwasi Frimpong, a Ghanaian national competing in the skeleton event. At the end of his run on Saturday—where he placed last—he broke into a joyous celebratory dance, delighting both fans in Korea and around the world as a joyful video of his antics went viral.

The 32-year-old athlete is the first West African to compete in the skeleton event. Born in Kumasi, Ghana, he started life in a modest home with his grandmother and nine other children. At the age of eight he arrived in The Netherlands, joining his mother who emigrated earlier. Frimpong spent years as an irregular migrant, living without proper documentation until his early twenties.

Frimpong’s journey recalls countless attempts by other West Africans to reach Europe, many of whom fall prey to the hazards of irregular routes, especially through Libya. Lack of information about legal channels puts migrants’ lives at risk as they face detention and abuse by unscrupulous smugglers. Just in 2018, 2,562 migrants from West African countries have voluntarily returned home from Libya.

Led by IOM, the Aware Migrants information campaign aims to inform migrants of the dangers of irregular migration by sharing testimonies of returnees, but also through music. In November last year, Ghanaian rapper and songwriter Kofi Kinaata became IOM’s first Goodwill Ambassador.

As part of the Aware Migrants campaign, Kinaata will release a song aimed at encouraging Ghanaian youth to value their lives and not take unnecessary risks in chasing illusionary greener pastures.

Speaking to CNN, about the many challenges he overcame on his way to the Olympics, Frimpong said, “I hope I can motivate kids in Ghana to chase their dreams.”

The post Migration Means Reinvention – Even to Olympian appeared first on Inter Press Service.

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infini
2 days ago
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Elements of Handpainted Graphic Design and Signage

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The first time I went to Africa, my research companion, a South African designer, very apologetically mentioned the use of handwritten signage in his country. We were there on behalf of Samsung, and our global design research team included members from Seoul, Singapore, and Pretoria.

“Its all rather primitive over here” he said, but I fear my heart was captured.

Look at this signage and graphic design for a radio station in western Kenya. It has its own balance and harmony. It’s primitive only if you believe that fonts must generated by computers, and laser cut in acrylic before it can be used. Mass production is as modern as automation and takes away the unique beauty of the best of the signage that I’ve seen.

There will, of course, always be the aspirational ones, and the ambitious will do their best to satisfy. Some succeed very well indeed.

Look at this set of shops – each has its name written in a unique font, or handwriting style, while the whole still manages to convey the brand being advertised with a semblance of coherence. A true artist at work.

My favourite, however, is this one from the wall of an agro-vet dealer’s store. In a context where language and literacy tends to vary across a spectrum of facility, clearly communicating that you can get your cows artificially inseminated here is a bonus. The use of colour and the ombre backgrounds show the work of an artist.

And finally, this combination of a stencil – used for the desktop computer, and calligraphy – though the letter spacing may or may not have been deliberate, holds a position in its own right. That might not even be a stencil but the whole piece is crafted with care.

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infini
5 days ago
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A Look at the Amazing Expandable "Wax Trucks" of National Ski Teams

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Countries with competitive ski teams have something like Formula One pit crews for their skiers. Teams of technicians apply different types of waxes, powders and chemicals to the bottom of skis to compensate for ever-changing snow conditions, all seeking the perfect balance between grip and glide. The Norwegian team even hauls a 2,000-pound grinder around so they can etch different patterns into the undersides of the skis.

At Pyeongchang each country's wax teams are operating out of on-site cabins provided for them. But when competitions are within driving distance of the home country, each country's ski team fields their own wax truck. Sweden first came up with the idea in 2008 with this beast:

Inside is a workshop kitted out with an air ventilation system:

The sides of the truck expand to create a roomy and well-lit workshop:

When rival Team Norway saw what Sweden had done, they developed their own truck to one-up them. It expands sideways, backwards and upwards, creating a second level. The workshop is downstairs, and upstairs is a freaking observation deck and a lounge for the athletes:

Photo by Noah Hoffman
Photo by Noah Hoffman
Photo by Noah Hoffman
Photo by Noah Hoffman

Here's a tour of the downstairs. Sadly they don't show us the lounge:

In 2013 Team Canada wanted in on the action, so they purchased Sweden's original truck and gave it a new paint job:

Here's a tour inside the now-Canadian truck:

Sweden upgraded to a newer model that I couldn't find exterior shots of, but here's a tour of the interior of their wax truck 2.0:

The U.S. Ski Team finally got a wax truck last year. And for once, we Americans actually went small.

Image by Matt Whitcomb

"The Team US one went to cost around 600,000 U.S. dollars," writes the Daily Skier website (based in Germany, to explain the odd English), "and, while quantum leap for the US team, it is a relatively modest affair compared to the others in use. Some models are reputed to be much, much more expensive."

I think we can all agree that Norway wins this one.

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infini
7 days ago
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“I always sat in the first row. I always had the highest rank...

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“I always sat in the first row. I always had the highest rank in class. I wanted to be a teacher, just like my teachers. But when it was time to enroll in grade seven, my mother told me we couldn’t afford it. I cried and begged but she just stayed silent. My teachers were so sad that they offered to pay half of the tuition. But it wasn’t enough because we’d still have to pay for the books and exams. So my mother made me understand that school was not in my luck. I’m still seventeen, but now I’m married and I work as a maid for a family. I wash their clothes, wash their dishes, clean their bathroom. Their house is near a school. So every morning I have to watch the children walk by in their uniforms.”

(Dhaka, Bangladesh)

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infini
14 days ago
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angelchrys
23 days ago
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Overland Park, KS
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The American “Empire” Reconsidered

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A. G. Hopkins

Cross-posted from Not Even Past

Whether commentators assert that the United States is resurgent or in decline, it is evident that the dominant mood today is one of considerable uncertainty about the standing and role of the “indispensable nation” in the world. The triumphalism of the 1990s has long faded; geopolitical strategy, lacking coherence and purpose, is in a state of flux. Not Even Past, or perhaps Not Ever Past, because the continuously unfolding present prompts a re-examination of approaches to history that fail to respond to the needs of the moment, as inevitably they all do.

This as good a moment as any to consider how we got “from there to here” by stepping back from the present and taking a long view of the evolution of U.S. international relations. The first reaction to this prospect might be to say that it has already been done – many times. Fortunately (or not), the evidence suggests otherwise. The subject has been studied in an episodic fashion that has been largely devoid of continuity between 1783 and 1914, and becomes systematic and substantial only after 1941.

There are several ways of approaching this task. The one I have chosen places the United States in an evolving Western imperial system from the time of colonial rule to the present. To set this purpose in motion, I have identified three phases of globalisation and given empires a starring role in the process. The argument holds that the transition from one phase to another generated the three crises that form the turning points the book identifies. Each crisis was driven by a dialectic, whereby successful expansion generated forces that overthrew or transformed one phase and created its successor.

The first phase, proto-globalisation, was one of mercantilist expansion propelled by Europe’s leading military-fiscal states. Colonising the New World stretched the resources of the colonial powers, produced a European-wide fiscal crisis at the close of the eighteenth century, and gave colonists in the British, French, and Spanish empires the ability, and eventually the desire, to claim independence. At this point, studies of colonial history give way to specialists on the new republic, who focus mainly on internal considerations of state-building and the ensuing struggle for liberty and democracy. Historians of empire look at the transition from colonial rule rather differently by focussing on the distinction between formal and effective independence. The U.S. became formally independent in 1783, but remained exposed to Britain’s informal political, economic and cultural influences. The competition between different visions of an independent polity that followed mirrored the debate between conservatives and reformers in Europe after 1789, and ended, as it did in much of Europe, in civil war.

The second phase, modern globalisation, which began around the mid-nineteenth century, was characterised by nation-building and industrialisation. Agrarian elites lost their authority; power shifted to urban centres; dynasties wavered or crumbled. The United States entered this phase after the Civil War at the same time as new and renovated states in Europe did. The renewed state developed industries, towns, and an urban labor force, and experienced the same stresses of unemployment, social instability, and militant protest in the 1880s and 1890s as Britain, France, Germany and other developing industrial nation-states. At the close of the century, too, the U.S. joined other European states in contributing to imperialism, which can be seen as the compulsory globalisation of the world. The war with Spain in 1898 not only delivered a ready-made insular empire, but also marked the achievement of effective independence. By 1900, Britain’s influence had receded. The United States could now pull the lion’s tail; its manufactures swamped the British market; its culture had shed its long-standing deference. After 1898, too, Washington picked up the white man’s burden and entered on a period of colonial rule that is one of the most neglected features of the study of U.S. history.

The third phase, post-colonial globalisation, manifested itself after World War II in the process of decolonisation. The world economy departed from the classical colonial model; advocacy of human rights eroded the moral basis of colonial rule; international organisations provided a platform for colonial nationalism. The United States decolonised its insular empire between 1946 and 1959 at the same time as the European powers brought their own empires to a close. Thereafter, the U.S. struggled to manage a world that rejected techniques of dominance that had become either unworkable or inapplicable. The status of the United States was not that of an empire, unless the term is applied with excessive generality, but that of an aspiring hegemon. Yet, Captain America continues to defend ‘freedom’ as if the techniques of the imperial era remained appropriate to conditions pertaining in the twenty-first century.

This interpretation inverts the idea of “exceptionalism” by showing that the U.S. was fully part of the great international developments of the last three centuries. At the same time, it identifies examples of distinctiveness that have been neglected: the U.S. was the first major decolonising state to make independence effective; the only colonial power to acquire most of its territorial empire from another imperial state; the only one to face a significant problem of internal decolonisation after 1945. The discussion of colonial rule between 1898 and 1959 puts a discarded subject on the agenda of research; the claim that the U.S. was not an empire after that point departs from conventional wisdom.

The book is aimed at U.S. historians who are unfamiliar with the history of Western empires, at historians of European empires who abandon the study the U.S. between 1783 and 1941, and at policy-makers who appeal to the ‘lessons of history’ to shape the strategy of the future.

A.G. Hopkins, American Empire: A Global History













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infini
16 days ago
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Mort Walker Passes Away at 94

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The creator of BEETLE BAILEY and HI & LOIS.

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infini
18 days ago
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angelchrys
24 days ago
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