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Truth be told, I never thought I would write another volume of poetry after the last, I will not Dance to Your Beat (2011). The reason was that my previous volumes were reactive to the circumstances of the times. Patriots and Cockroaches (1992) was a reaction to the socio-political corruption that had engulfed Africa and dimmed the enthusiasm that had been built by the years of struggle for independence. Whereas we thought we were stepping into a post-colonial era, what we stepped into was a vicious neo-colonial times. The next collection, Poems on the Run (1995) was a reaction to military autocracy and the repression that followed. The volume was literally written underground. This was followed by Intercepted (1998) all written while detained at Kalakuta Republic of Alagbon Close. We Thought it was Oil But it was Blood (2002) responded to two things primarily – extractivism and the accompanying human and environmental rights abuses in the Niger Delta and elsewhere. The massive erosion of biodiversity and attacks on food sovereignty through the introduction of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) into our agricultural system inspired I Will not Dance to your Beat.
What you have in your hands, or on your screens, is a compilation that is largely more meditative than the previous collections. There are moments of reflection on the colonial and neoliberal foundations that permit a willful disconnection from nature and the resultant destructive extractivism.
Some of the poems came through conversations and poetry writing sessions with Peter Molnar, Maryam al-Khawaja — Rafto Human Rights laureates and Salil Tripathi, a member of the board of PEN International, in August 2017. The sessions held at a beautifully rustic location in Celleno, Italy, were documented on celluloid by the duo of Maria Galliana Dyrvik and Anita Jonsterhaug Vedå of SMAU, a multimedia firm in Norway. Poetic relationship with Maria and Anita has continued over the years and their work continues to inspire more and more poems.
We have also had time to ponder on the criminalization of environmental defenders and the burdening of victims with survival struggles with no life boughs. The poems were written over a wide span of time and require some pondering as poems often demand, of course. Although written over a broad time spectrum, they fall into identifiable themes. The harsh times that birthed the earlier volumes were blunted with doses of humour as poetry is largely therapeutic and contributes to our wellness and well-being.
In our communities, poetry and song are key tools for exposure of ills in our societies, for education and for rebuke. Poetry is an indispensable cultural tool with which we laugh at the wicked and add the needed bounce to our steps as we march on to end ecocide and give our people and other beings a chance to retain our being.
The call of this volume is that we must ensure that we see the invisible and hear the inaudible.
Mother Earth our Teacher
Scarified and sacrificed
The Womb of the Earth
Choked by Convenience
I’m Not Afraid
I come from the future
Recent Ancients Foretold
The Other Side
I like those bridges
There is beauty
I Have Been in Motion
Bumping into the Wind
Rainbows on the Sea
Stilts and Wiggles
The Stump I So Loved
Beads of Inspiration
Seducing the Bees
The lands we fight to own
Tenants of Furious Times
I see the invisible
Portals of Greed
Cast a Vote
This hate does not define us
We Planted a Flag
Welcome to the age of paradox
By Me We Spoke
After Oil We Flourish (The Niger Delta isn’t a ticking ecological time bomb)
A Dirge for Fossil Capitalism
Return to Being
Riding the Waves of Time
When You Clock 6 and 2
Rainbows Through the Tears
Climate Debt Long Overdue
Poetry in the time of pandemic
We must breathe again
Net Zero Comes to Zero
Dreadful Liars On Heartless Shores
We are Seeds
We can plant a seed
In the Shadows of the Future (For Jay Naidoo & Stephen Pittam)
What is in that Barrel?
No More Sins to Confess
Pavements of Shame
Dawn in Celleno
Lago di Bolsena
No vantage points
I Catch Myself
Holding my Peace
Traps Sold on Lies
If the Sun Slept
Postcolonial critique deconstructs global inequality in its epistemic and material dimensions. This collective comic project illuminates everyday life’s coloniality as well as the decolonising potential of everyday struggles in the spaces, discourses and practices of so-called ‘global development’.
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In his introduction to this new edition of From Citizen to Refugee: Uganda Asians Come to Britain, Mahmood Mamdani reminds us that long before 1972, most Ugandan ‘Asians’ had already been disenfranchised by law, both Ugandan and British. Despite a global industry that insists otherwise, Uganda Asians are a poor fit as victims: there was no large-scale loss of life during the expulsion, nor were there massacres of Asians, only of ‘indigenous’ peoples. Asians in Uganda, as in East or Southern Africa, he argues, were immigrants, not settlers: immigrants are prepared to be a part of the political community, whereas settlers ‘create their own political community, a colony, more precisely, settler colonialism.’ Mamdani insists that there is no single Asian legacy. there are several and they are contradictory. The Asian question in Uganda remains, but it is no longer the original Asian question. But it does allow us to think more broadly. Just as US law recognizes African Americans as Americans of African descent, so too must those of Asian origin in Africa consider themselves, and be considered, Asian Africans.
It is in his bittersweet and touching book on the Asian expulsion from Uganda that one can trace the beginnings of author and intellectual Mahmood Mamdani’s world-view.. … In From Citizen to Refugee: Uganda Asians Come to Britain Mamdani offers portraits of people reduced to a vegetative existence in refugee camps, feeling the burden of not being fluent in English and struggling with the uncomfortably cold weather. Not surprisingly, these few months played a pivotal role in shaping Mamdani’s theoretical and political leanings, and it is here that one can locate his preoccupation with the formation of racial, ethnic and class identities during the colonial era and his overarching concern with issues of citizenship.
— Bhakti Shringarpure, Associate Professor, University of Connecticut, Editor-in-chief, Warscapes, Founder, Radical Books Collective
Un sistema alimentario agroecológico no consiste más acerca de alimentos orgánicos que la abolición se refiere a abrir la puerta de una prisión. En este ensayo vital, Maywa Montenegro de Wit entrelaza ideas provenientes de las literaturas políticas y ecológicas más importantes de finales del siglo XX y comienzos del XXI. La pandemia proporciona un foco para estas dos fuentes de iluminación, pero la luz brillante que proviene de unir estas disciplinas brillará mucho después de que pase la sombra de la Covid-19. —Raj Patel, autor de Stuffed and Starved [Relleno y famélico].
El folleto resuena con la pregunta: ¿reforma o transformación? Pregunta: ¿mitigaremos y adaptaremos o revisaremos y cambiaremos nuestros imaginarios? Se nos ha dado un andamio para abordar el bastión del colonialismo y la colonialidad y para reconstruir los sistemas que ya han empujado su rodilla sobre los sistemas alimentarios y socioeconómicos que ya se estaban sofocando. Es hora de librarse de una pesadilla construida deliberadamente. – Nnimmo Bassey, autor de To Cook a Continent: Destructive Extraction and the Climate Crisis in Africa [El cocinar un Continente: Extracción Destructiva y Crisis Climática en África] y fundador de Health of Mother Earth Foundation [Fundación Salud de la Madre Tierra].
La COVID-19 y otros brotes zoonóticos como el ébola son ilustrativos de las complejas interacciones entre la deforestación, la pérdida de biodiversidad, la destrucción del ecosistema y la salud y seguridad humanas. Estos cambios son impulsados principalmente por la agricultura industrial y el sistema alimentario globalizados, respaldados por el ilógico y destructivo capitalismo racial. … Montenegro de Wit presenta argumentos convincentes a favor de cambios hacia sistemas agroecológicos diversificados que reconozcan las complejas interconexiones entre la salud humana y animal, entre las plantas y nuestro medio ambiente y futuro compartidos. De hecho, abordar las pandemias de manera sistémica no puede desvincularse de la construcción de economías y sistemas alimentarios que se basan en las necesidades de las personas, en particular de los pequeños agricultores, y de los ecosistemas prósperos. Para lograrlo, debemos rechazar y prohibir rotundamente la ecocida ilógica de la mercantilización, la financialización y el extractivismo, como fuerzas impulsoras de las fortunas y los destinos humanos y ecológicos. … El fortalecimiento de los movimientos sociales a nivel local es indispensable para forzar la ruta de África hacia un liderazgo político eficaz y democrático. Se necesita una clara ruptura, dejando atrás intervenciones a favor de un desarrollo ahistórico y tecnicista, donde la tecnología y la productividad se plantean como problemas y soluciones, hacia un replanteamiento urgente y drástico para hacer frente a las crisis sistémicas convergentes que enfrentamos hoy.
– Mariam Mayet, directora ejecutiva del African Centre for Biodiversity [Centro Africano para la Biodiversidad]
COVID-19 ha expuesto la naturaleza racializada de los sistemas alimentarios, pero también potencialmente otorga oportunidades para construir de nuevo. Maywa Montenegro explora una serie de averías, desde cadenas de suministro fracturadas hasta infecciones incontroladas entre trabajadores de alimentos esenciales, entre comunidades negras, marrones e indígenas atravesadas por el virus a lo largo de viejos surcos de opresión racial y de clase.
Ella rastrea los orígenes probables de COVID-19 a los sitios de derrame forjados por la expansión agroindustrial en regiones boscosas donde los patógenos brotan libres e infectan a los humanos. La agricultura animal industrial impulsa estos cambios ecológicos que incuban futuros brotes. Las pandemias tienen sus raíces en la separación violenta de las comunidades de sus territorios, semillas, conocimiento y riqueza. El racismo permite tal robo como fundamental para la expansión capitalista.
Para hacer frente a las pandemias y las injusticias alimentarias, Montenegro pide una agroecología abolicionista. Ninguna alternativa anticapitalista puede ignorar el racismo que es central para el sistema alimentario transnacional. Académicos como Angela Davis, Ruth Wilson Gilmore y Mariame Kaba han argumentado que aunque la abolición se ve con frecuencia como una estrategia de oposición, para erradicar, por ejemplo, las prisiones y la policía, la abolición es igualmente proposicional. Una agroecología abolicionista abre múltiples posibilidades que responden a las exigencias de un planeta pandémico: no hay una “normalidad” a la que podamos regresar con seguridad.
Esta es una traducción al español de Abolitionist Agroecology, Food Sovereignty and Pandemic Prevention
COVID-19 has exposed the racialized nature of food systems, but also potentially grants opportunities to build anew. Maywa Montenegro explores a series of breakdowns, from fractured supply chains to uncontrolled infection among essential food workers, among Black, Brown, and Indigenous communities scythed through by the virus along old grooves of race and class oppression.
She traces the likely origins of COVID-19 to spillover sites forged by agroindustrial expansion into forested regions where pathogens spring free and infect humans. Industrial animal agriculture drives these ecological changes that incubate future outbreaks. Pandemics have their roots in the violent separation of communities from their territories, seeds, knowledge and wealth. Racism enables such theft as fundamental to capitalist expansion.
To tackle pandemics and food injustices, Montenegro calls for an abolitionist agroecology. No anti-capitalist alternative can ignore the racism that is central to transnational food system. Scholars including Angela Davis, Ruth Wilson Gilmore, and Mariame Kaba have argued that although abolition is frequently seen as an oppositional strategy — to eradicate, for example, prisons and police — abolition is equally propositional. An abolitionist agroecology cracks open multiple possibilities that respond to the exigencies of a pandemic planet — there is no ‘normal’ to which we can safely return.
This book marks the 25th anniversary of the execution of Nigerian activist and written Ken Saro-Wiwa. The 21 essays, by international contributors, and 42 poems by new and established poets, are inspired by his ideals and activism.
The volume includes contributions by people intimately connected with Saro-Wiwa. His brother Dr Owens Wiwa recounts how his older brother awakened and nurtured his awareness of the tremendous damage Royal Dutch Shell was doing to their homeland, in collaboration with the then Nigerian military government. His firsthand account of the brutality of the military government and its impact; his unsuccessful efforts to save the life of his brother; his time in hiding and subsequent escape, with his family, from Nigeria and his efforts to retrieve the remains of his brother for burial, makes for very moving reading. Likewise, Noo Saro-Wiwa shares her story of growing up in England with strong links to family in Nigeria, and the trauma of hearing of her father’s execution while at University.
Maynooth University, where the editor works as Deputy Librarian, holds the death row correspondence from Ken Saro-Wiwa to Sister Majella McCarron. McCarron provides two personal essays. One, a reflection on the events that shaped her work with Saro-Wiwa in Nigeria and her subsequent efforts to save the lives of the Ogoni 9: the second essay explores her experience as a table observer of the Shell to Sea campaign, which strove to have gas, discovered off the west coast of Ireland, refined at sea rather than inland.
The damage that Shell has caused in Ogoni and the issue of redress are topics addressed in essays by experts including Mark Dummett, of Amnesty International, who investigated how Shell and other oil companies have caused or contributed to human rights abuses through their operations in the Niger Delta. Daniel Leader, a barrister and partner at Leigh Day’s international law department, the firm who have led a number of ground breaking human rights cases, including a series of cases against Shell on behalf of Nigerian communities, explores the issue of legal redress. Architect, environmental activist, author and poet Nnimmo Bassesy’s wide ranging essay presents Saro-Wiwa as activist and writer and creator of the Ogoni Bill of Rights, against the backdrop of the UNEP report of the Environmental Assessment of Ogoniland, which recorded that drinking water in Ogoni had benzene, a carcinogen, at over 900 times the level permitted
I welcome the publication of this volume which highlights the work of Trócaire and other people and organisations
to fight for a more just world. Trócaire campaigned strongly for the release of the Ogoni 9 and continues to campaign for justice in the face of state and corporate violations of human rights. The writings of Ken Saro-Wiwa and those inspired by his work keep the flame of justice lit.
Dr Caoimhe De Barra, Chief Executive Officer, Trócaire.
The publication of I am a Man of Peace: Writings Inspired by the Maynooth University Ken Saro-Wiwa Collection highlights the shift towards peaceful protests as a means to a more sustainable end. It is a justification that one’s dreams for the greater good can still be attained without bloodshed. Ken preached, lived, and practiced peace in his search for justice even in the face of stiff opposition. Years after his death, Ken’s ideologies and philosophies have proved relevant today.
Dr Owens Wiwa, Executive Vice-President, Clinton Health Access Initiative (CHAI).
Sister Majella McCarron’s choice of Maynooth University for this unique donation was particularly appropriate, given the University’s long involvement with issues of inclusion and justice in Ireland and abroad. This deep-rooted commitment is today articulated in our University Strategic Plan, where a strategic goal is ‘to build on our achievements to date and become a model University for equality, diversity, inclusion and inter-culturalism, where social justice, addressing inequality and empowering people are central to our mission.’ This book makes a significant contribution to that goal.
Dr. Gemma Irvine, Vice-President of Equality & Diversity, Maynooth University.
Writing can urge us to pause, to think, and to discover what we really want to say. Sharing that writing calls for courage and support. In this publication, as Jessica Traynor suggests, we see the evidence of a new generation of Irish and new Irish citizens engaging with complex issues through poetry. Reading their poems, we may begin to understand more about each other and ourselves. By bringing together these Irish and new Irish voices the book contributes to building a shared discourse which is essential for trust, community and hope.
Dr Alison Farrell, Founder of the Summer Writing Institute For Teachers (SWIFT) and Co-founder Irish Network for the Enhancement of Writing (INEW)
Edited by Íde Corley, Helen Fallon, Laurence Cox
These letters and poems are invaluable fragments of a living conversation that portrays the indomitable power in humans to stay alive in the face of certain death – to stay alive even in death.
Reading through the treasure trove of the letters and poems compiled here as The Last Writings of Ken Saro-Wiwa evokes intense memories of his resolute struggles against an oil behemoth and a deaf autocratic government. His crusade frames one of the most tumultuous periods of Nigeria’s history; his tragic story evokes anger and demands action to resolve the crises that first led the Ogoni people to demand that Shell clean up Ogoni lands or clear out of the territory.
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La présente publication du Réseau Pas de REDD en Afrique (No REDD in Africa Network) a pour but de démystifier le REDD, les projets de type REDD et toutes leurs variantes, et de montrer ce qu’ils sont vraiment : des mécanismes injustes conçus pour lancer une nouvelle phase de colonisation du continent africain. Les exemples présentés démontrent clairement que le REDD est une escroquerie et que les pollueurs savent qu’il leur permet d’acheter le « droit » de polluer.
The essays here contribute to developing and deepening an understanding of the ecological challenges ravaging Nigeria, Africa and our world today. They illustrate the global nature of these terrors. These essays are not meant just to enable for coffee table chatter: they are intended as calls to action, as a means of encouraging others facing similar threats to share their experiences.
Set out in seven sections, this book of 54 essays deals with deep ecological changes taking place primarily in Nigeria but with clear linkages to changes elsewhere in the world. The essays are laid out with an undergird of concerns that characterise the author’s approach to human rights and environmental justice advocacy. The first section rightly presents broad spectrum ecological wars manifesting through disappearing trees, spreading desertification, floods, gas flaring and false climate solutions.
You can read this book online for free.
The second section zeroes in on the different types of violence that pervade the oil fields of the Niger Delta and draws out the divisive power of crude oil by holding up Sudan as a country divided by oil and which has created a myriad of fissures in Nigeria. The exploitation of crude oil sucks not just the crude, it also sucks the dignity of workers that must work at the most polluting fronts.
Section three underscores the need for strict regulation of the fossil fuels sector and shows that voluntary transparency templates adopted by transnational oil companies are mere foils to fool the gullible and are exercises in futility as the profit driven corporations would do anything to ensure that their balance sheets please their top guns and shareholders. The fourth section builds up with examples of gross environmental misbehaviours that leave sorrow and blood in a diversity of communities ranging from Chile to Brazil and the United States of America.
Section five of the book is like a wedge in between layers of ecological disasters and extractive opacity. It takes a look at the socio-political malaise of Nigeria, closing with an acerbic look at crude-propelled despotism and philanthropic tokens erected as payment for indulgence or as some sort of pollution offsets.
The closing sections provide excellent analyses of the gaps and contortions in the regulatory regimes in Nigeria. It would be surprising if these were not met with resistance on the ground.
These essays provide insights into the background to the horrific ecological manifestations that dot the Nigerian environment and the ecological cancers spreading in the world. They underscore the fact there are no one-issue struggles. Working in a context where analyses of ecological matters is not the norm, decades of consistent environmental activism has placed the writer in good stead to unlock the webs that promote these scandalous realities.