BBC WHYS: Do ancestors hold us back?

31/01/2011 § 1 Comment

Should we continue to worship the memory of our forefathers or is it an expensive waste of time? Devotion to ancestors is widespread across the African continent where many people consult the shrines of spiritual mediums as a way of seeking advice from those that have died.

Religious leaders in the continent are alarmed by the rise in ancestral worship and claim it has no place in today’s society.


How much do ancestors influence your life? Does their memory inspire or scare you? Do you have ancestral duties yourself? Are your ancestors holding you back? Or giving you spiritual guidance?

Read comments on this and listen to World Have Your Say here.

Ugandan spiritual medium sitting by a sacred tree

The beginning of the program:

Presenter: “Abdul, [22yrs old male in the studio] do you identify youself as Somalian or British?”
“To what extent are you Somalian?”
-Ummm, as a person of Somalia, but I grew up in United Kingdom.
-Where were you born?
-Saudi Arabia.
-In Saudi Arabia… – and have you been to Somalia?
-Um yeh, I’ve been twice.
-You’ve been twice… When you go and come back, do you feel a sense of connectedness in a way you havent felt it before or does it just feel like you’ve gone to visit a certain place, that you have a heritage with but are coming back home, to the United Kingdom.
-Ummm. Nah I feel like when i go back i feel like I’ve had a connection because you meet a lot of your family, you see your culture and your heritage first hand and you see what, you know, what good life people are living there, because the media makes it seem that – you know – that Somalia is a terrible place.
-Is there a good life in Somalia? presenter asks very doubtfully.
-Yeh, there is.
-What did you see?
-People living healthy. Ah, you know, even people that dont have that much to eat – the community supports them – where I went. So it shows that its not just that, you know, third world county where its just refugee camps everywhere. People are living quite well. And you get to meet a LOT of your family with is very special.
-Strong sense of community.
-“Sumsa! [18 year old girl in the studio] I can see you smiling!” – the interviewer says chuckling. “Do you feel well percieved by other British young people? – Your peers, here in the United Kingdom… as a, as a young Somali?’
-Like do I feel connected, do you mean?
-Yes do you feel connected?
– Yes!
-Like do you feel accepted?
-You do feel accepted?
-Yes, I do.
Listen to hear the rest.

…”I get  a sense right now as i speak to the young Somalis right now…  there appears to be a gap between the two generations, a different way of thinking and perception I hear the young people, and I could be wrong, saying that well that was then, this is now, that was them, this is us. Would you say you’re getting a similar sence ther in Manisota?”….

This is also interesting because you get to witness a conversation between two radio stations and two studios across the Pacific, the vast space between them have never been so obvious to me. It also becomes obvious how much rests on the attractiveness of the new homeland culture to the individual immigrant.

The young people in the UK studio; 22 born in Saudi Arabia, 21 born in Italy, 23 born in Somalia moved to Holland at the age of 2, 18 born in UK. How can these people own their identity so well – speak with ethnic accents!?


Being Frank and Open

14/07/2010 § Leave a comment

I found myself absolutely captivated by this interview.

Because of how open and positively retrospective Barbara Want is. She doesn’t make it easy, she talks about how angry it made her that people would just say “if there’s anything I can do let me know”, unapologetically informing the world that that wasn’t good enough. She discloses things she had felt she had to keep very secrete in the past, such as having made a list of people she wished death upon because she thought they had behaved badly following her husband’s death. She lets us in to view her raw, hardly censored (- and this is very important, I think) emotional opinions and with that thrown into question what we think we are as human beings. To some degree it is self-sacrificial. Maybe its going a little bit far but to me when raw emotions are offered up to be inspected in such a way they are being surrendered as hugely valuable case studies to psychology, sociology and even philosophy.

Here is a transcribed taster from the interview:

Do you think your anger that you say you felt, to some degree simply exaggerated your personality, that you were quite an angry person and this just brought it out? the presenter asks.

“I think, um, I think that’s a fair question. I think I am probably the kind of person why wears her emotions on her sleeves, I don’t take things lying down, I’ve always been driven to do things, I’ve been a journalist all my life and at times as a journalist anger at injustice has driven me to write stories and to pursue stories. So maybe I was an angry person anyway… um, its interesting that you ask that because again I think, again, that anger is such an ugly emotion that I think looking back over the last three years and seeing my anger and maybe recognising that there had been anger in my life before. I think it is an emotion we perhaps could do with understanding better because it is very motivating, its what drives as human beings, its what motivates us.”

Listen to the program “The Interview” from BBC Worldservice.

Something to Look Forward To

16/06/2010 § Leave a comment

Hurray! BBC is promising another great program: ‘Home from Home’. It is about UK-ers from other countries travelling back ‘home’ to discover their roots.

It will start airing on 26th of June, the times can be viewed here. It will of course appear here in due time as well.

Links Found Between Autism and Migration

19/05/2010 § 1 Comment

Autism and migration. Claudia finds out why leaving your country of birth to live elsewhere could pose a health risk to any children you later have in your new adoptive country. For the first time a large-scale study has shown that the risk of autism could be as much as five times higher in children whose mothers migrated to the UK from the Caribbean, Africa or Asia. She discusses this with Daphne Keen consultant paediatrician at St George’s Hospital in London.

Health Check on BBC World Service 17th May 2010

Listen here

First study to look at more than 400 children.

Following up on sporadic reports over the years, one study from Austialia in mid 1970’s which noticed an increase in autism in children born to German and Greek immigrants.

Looking at 400 children born in UK. Found an increased risk if parents had migrated from the Caribbean, Africa or Asia but not from other European counties.

The size of the increase of the risk, was greatest for the Caribbean population which was at least 5 times. the risk was significant but a bit less for the African population and a much smaller but still elevated fro those the Asian population.

Is ethnicity the factor then?  No. When the children whose parents had migrated from the Caribbean and Africa, were compared to those children who were born also born to parents from Caribbean and Africa but in UK. When analysed together the risk fell considerably, therefore it suggested that immigration is the major factor and ethnicity was just possibly a factor.

An idea to consider: the residual effect is in fact and attenuated risk observed in second and third generation, but has not been studied.

Could it be a by product of the stresses of migration?  – Although it is unkown what causes autism, it is not considered to be linked with adversity or  socio economic factors. However some links have been suggested between those kind of stress factors and social isolations and the on set of schizophrenia.

It was observed in this study that the child with autism was not always the first child to be born in the family following the migration.

A Distinguished Race

18/03/2010 § Leave a comment

Part One. Presented by Evolutionary Biologist Steve Jones
BBC World Service, Programe: Discovery
Aired 11/4/2010 (audio fail no longer availiable)

“if we were to talke a walk , a long walk from England over the channel, though europe into western asia, into eastern asia, and then were to double back on ourselves and to travel though the mediteraninan region into africa. What we would see are gradual changes from one human population to another. So yes, we see diffeneces from one extreme to another but those diffences grade gradually from one another, differences in skin pigmentation and other physical features. And so this clearly indicates that this veriation is like a gradient, its clinal in its distribution and there are very few if any abrupt discontinueties that would allow us to erect any distinct ratial or other named categories.”

Nina Cheblonski, Pincelvania University

“We shade into eachother, its there more or less black and white.”
Melononin is what what is mostly responsible for our colour and there is some eveidence that there has been three populations which have lost this independantly of eachother thoughout our long history.
1. well over 100 000 year ago – an extinct race of humanity
2. western uropeans
3. eastern asians
Why did we go light coloured? – to capture precious uvb to produce Vitamin D  and make us reproductively productive.
Not getting enough Vitamin D has similar affects to rickets in children, bowing of legs and deformation of pelvis. In adults it means softening of bones and longterm depression of immune system and can include hightend suseptability to some cancers.

“Western Europeans clearly had this mutation but equally lightly pigmented eastern asians did not. the conclussion then was: people in aisia had lost pigment independantly, so this has now happned twice then in modern population.”

When talking about eyes, they split into only two groups: blue eye colour and non-blue eye colour. ie. all non-blue eye colours, apart from appearance are the same.
Eyes that appear blue in colour, let in more light than brown or hazel. The idea is, that living up north with long and extremeley dark winter months, populations evolved, one hypothesis is that the amount of sunlight that is able to enter the eye has an influence on the likleyhood of depression, wich seems to have an amazing impact on the natural selection that occured in order to create eyes with this quality, wich appear to us as blue in colour.

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