I just watched How Not To Write About Africa. A couple of things leapt out at me:|
1) "Make sure you show that Africans have music and rhythm deep in their souls." My thought process: I wouldn't say that about Africans, specifically, but I do kind of believe it about all humanity. Especially rhythm. Rhythm is one of the deepest things in the brain - by which I mean it's something that it's almost impossible to lose, through brain injury and the like. It's also one of the things that makes us stand out. Most animals have no sense of rhythm.
And rhythm is part of the general human tendency to perceive patterns - which, to me, is what's behind an awful lot of what takes us to the place of being human - to crib from Terry Pratchett (in Soul Music), to being the point where the falling angel meets the rising ape. Science, art, literature - our most rigorous critical analysis and our wildest and greatest creativity (and sometimes those are the same thing) all, ultimately, start with the rhythm and music that are deep in our souls.
Obviously, though, the comment people make about Africans is patronising, racist crap.
2) "You also need a nightclub called Tropicana..." I've been to a place in Africa called Tropicana. It was a restaurant. A nice one.
3) I am realising that I have a curious confluence of capacity for travel. I can enter the United Kingdom on United Kingdom ancestry, if I go to the trouble of application; I have not one but two grandparents born there. Australia is reasonably well-liked in Europe; I don't have to get special visas to go anywhere I'm planning to visit.
In that video, Binyavanga Wainaina talks about a stereotype of Westerners on their way to trying to Save Africa being denied visas - but if I wanted to go to any part of Africa, I suspect I could do it easily, because I could just get a South African passport. I was born in South Africa and left it as a young child; as of a couple of years ago, this meant that I retain the right to citizenship under South African law.
I don't have a South African passport, because I have yet to plan travel anywhere where I won't be far more welcome on an Australian one, but I could get one.
4) I have long known that I am somewhat chemically sensitive. Today this came to a head when I discovered that my recent mild vertigo isn't as much a byproduct of poor sleep in the course of switching antidepressants as an adverse reaction to fluoxetine.
According to my psychiatrist this is incredibly rare.
This morning, though, I woke up feeling pretty much fine. I had breakfast. I had my medication. A little while later, I headed out towards my appointment at the Perth office of Passports Australia (a division of the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade), and found myself feeling fairly profound vertigo and mild nausea.
I tried to call my psychiatrist's office, but there was no answer, so I called Dean, because, apart from being, you know, my best friend and all, she works in a hospital, and has access to doctors, and even if she didn't, she has about as much medical knowledge as it's possible to get without actually having a degree in Medicine.
I got her voicemail, left a message, and by the time she called me back, mere minutes later, I could barely tell up from down and was in a cold sweat. She assured me that this was an adverse reaction to medication, her office deals with them all the time, and promised to chase up my psych's office for me.
It was established before long that my psychiatrist was to be having lunch between 1 and 2 this afternoon and I could speak to him directly then.
I staggered in to the Passports office, only to discover that in my state of wrecked physical wellbeing I was a few minutes late and had missed my appointment. I was advised to go to the counter and see what they could do.
However, I was feeling so intensely miserable that this was the last straw, and I started crying uncontrollably in the line.
So the woman at the main counter excused herself from the people she was dealing with then, and came out and around to see if I was okay. Through my sobs and apologies I explained that I was having a bad reaction to medication, and I was feeling very sick, and I'd missed my appointment.
They took me into a meeting room where I could sit down (I think I was swaying a little), where I was supplied with cold water and tissues, and someone came and did do my passport application for me.
By then more contact had been made, and Chas was on his way to meet me at the passport office, because I was very very sick. This was fortunate for everyone when I collapsed in the office - not quite unconscious, but unable to stand unassisted, barely able to sit.
A woman who'd just been going up to the counter herself interrupted her own dealings to come and make sure I was okay. She was very nice - and will return to this tale.
Chas arrived to find me lying on the floor of the office of Passports Australia - where the staff had fetched pillows for my head and someone with a managerial air about him to try and look after me and make sure I was okay.
I was turned over to Chas's custody, and, leaning heavily on him and my walking stick, made it to the lifts. There we encountered the woman who'd been concerned before. She asked if we were driving back, and, learning Chas and I were planning to bus home, offered us a lift, as she was going back to Campbell Barracks anyway. (Which is a fair way off, and it's not a huge detour.)
I remain desperately grateful to her, because I was still sick as a dog. We talked a bit on the way - she's military, in logistics and deployment - she spends a lot of time dealing with the passports office on behalf of our soldiers. (She's heading back to the Middle East herself soonish, where, she says, the boys are doing a lot of good that's just not reported in the media - I can believe it.)
She deposited us in our driveway, where Chas helped me to the couch, where I've remained since, drinking diluted juice and playing Yes Minister DVDs to pass the time. I'm feeling much better, comparitively, though still pretty terrible. Chas has been very good to me - fetched me my arrangement of bottles of drinks, made me lunch, even helped me to get to the loo and back.
It's a terrible thing to lose the ability to get from one room to another without someone else's assistance, it really is.
I've cancelled my appointment for a haircut this afternoon, declined an invitation for this evening, and am now planning to spend the rest of the day keeping my fluids up, keeping warm, and avoiding collapsing. It does mean I have to let people take care of me more-or-less completely today, which sucks. Chas and Dean are going out tonight, but our friend Oliver is coming over in the evening and can keep an eye on me then.
May. 6th, 2009 @ 09:42 am
My history tutor and I are going to have words. Words.|
Today's discussion is about the British Empire, and one of the other students suggested that the civilising influence of the British Empire was a good thing, and the subsequent decline of Africa is because the leaders are all corrupt.
Naturally I argued against this, but, by way of acknowledgement that I am not saying that African national leaders are all saints, mentioned that it would be difficult to find someone who hates Nelson Mandela more than I do (and Thabo Mbeki is scum). My tutor queried what I have against Nelson Mandela; I summarised; he suggested I've been brainwashed by white propaganda.
Oh, you did not just go there.
(Long-standing friends of mine tend to avoid mentioning Mandela unless by way of deliberate provocation.)
There shall be a Discussion.