Since its launch on the Evening of the 8th December 2013, Magellan-Fifteen20 (http://magellanfifteen20.webs.com) has received much positive feedback for its aims and ambitions. As laid out in the proposal, 2014 will be spent promoting and building awareness of the Initiative and garnering support via donations from individuals and groups who share the vision proposed, as well as the passion we have for the project. It is still early days but we are in no doubt we have a mountain to climb in getting that much needed support but don’t feel like losers. There is strength in numbers and the more people who support us, the more we can do to get things moving. We can’t do it without you and it is you who ultimately counts because it is only you who can help us. We look forward to your support.
The passing of Nelson Mandela has dominated the news since the announcement of his passing. This comes as no surprise but what does is some of the news, for all the wrong reasons. The behaviour of the audience and some politicians have drawn criticism without knowing the full facts. Pictures of World Leaders behaving as if they were at a Rihanna concert, were tempered by pictures of a President being a total gentleman to his wife but this last picture was not pushed in the media as much as the pictures of him with two other world leaders. This draws into question the way in which the media reports on such events and the news in general.
The same event (the Mandela Memorial Service,) saw a historic meeting between a current US President and the current President of Cuba. Both men shook hands and exchanged pleasantries. Later on at the Memorial, the US President makes an excellent speech about some world leaders applauding Mandela’s fight for freedom, yet deny the same freedoms to their own people. One BBC camera points to Mahinda Rajapaksa, President of Sri Lanka, while America’s ABC’s Evening News, reported that Barack Obama’s Speech was aimed at Cuba’s President in particular, when there was nothing in the speech that sanctions that view. This to my mind was a distortion of the facts, worse, inaccurate reporting and downright lies. While there are question marks concerning the actions of President Rajapaksa, again, the Obama’s Speech did not refer to him implicitly. So just why were both the Cuban and Sri Lankan Presidents singled out in the way they were when there were probably a dozen or more World Leaders Obama’s Speech could have been directed to? Simple, because The Speech was directed to all those Leaders who supported Mandela’s fight for freedom but deny that same right to their own people. You don’t need to name and shame anyone. They know who they are. So just why ABC decided to single out President Castro shows that the old prejudices still exists in the US Media, when there is President in the Oval Office ready and willing to put an end to a hostility that is based on long dead prejudices that have no place in America or anywhere else.
I spoke glowingly about President Jacob Zuma of South Africa in my last Editorial last week. It seems that is a view that is not shared by the great and the good in South Africa. The booing that occurred when he took to the stage at the Mandela Memorial Service was not a fitting way for people to behave at such an Event but it has been said that people so frustrated at not having a voice in the political process, felt the only way to make their voices heard was to do so at the Memorial Service. That is understandable but just watching it, I found it embarrassing so can only imagine how President Zuma must have felt as he stood up to address the audience. There had been concerns about Jacob Zuma’s character prior to his ousting of Thabo Mbeki and becoming Leader of the African National Congress (ANC). Given what may have been known about his character (or the lack of it,) he should not have been allowed the Leadership of the ANC nor the Presidency of South Africa if there was a question mark over his qualities and character. It is a little late to then bring one’s objections of Jacob Zuma to a Memorial Event to honour the Father of Modern South Africa where such objections have no place. There is a process in place as well as free and fair elections and a political process. Those in that stadium, who booed President Zuma, may have got their way in embarrassing their President but they did neither themselves nor their cause any good via their behaviour which resulted in embarrassing their Country in the process.
A person who follows through on an ideal and lives up that ideal is to be admired and congratulated for their persistence and determination to live up their ideals. However someone who doggedly follows through on a notion that is nothing more than dogma, ideology and the belief they are doing good for others when the opposite is true, deserves nothing but the contempt and derision that is heaped upon them. With this in mind, I could and cannot fathom what motivates Michael Gove, The UK Secretary of State of Education. This man has undermined and destroyed much of the achievements that have been made in the British State Education (which has always been far from perfect,) but over many years has shown an improvement in examination results of children and young people, with more of them going on to a college and university education.
I am all for finding solutions to the inequalities within the British Education System but I don’t believe in Michael Gove’s vision (if he has one,) because his approach seems very old fashioned and positively Dickensian in my view and I speak as someone who was educated within the British ‘Comprehensive’ Education System, so speak with some authority, being a recipient (or victim,) of various Government’s attempts (or meddling,) with the State Education System, without any kind of lasting improvement. The fact our children have been doing so well over the previous decade and half before Mr. Gove’s destructive meddling is a testament to the intelligence of our children to succeed in spite of Politicians like Mr. Gove who think he knows what is best, when he so clearly does not.
When he inherited his Portfolio, his department was known as ‘The Department of Children, Schools and Families’. He speedily renames it ‘The Department of Education’. There was a reason it was called the ‘DCSF. Simply because Children, Families and Schools and their issues are all linked. There is a reason why children fail or succeed with their education and the link is with the schools they attend and the families they are a part of. In one fell swoop Mr. Gove destroyed that link in renaming the Department he inherited as well ensuring everything that had been achieved over the past fifteen years, has been flushed down the toilet.
People, schools, families, children, support services such as Welfare/Social Services and the Police were actually talking to each other regarding cases involving children. Mr. Gove’s actions in one fell swoop put a stop to all that. To add insult to injury he embarked a ‘Free Schools’ School enterprise which costs twice as much to set up and run as schools in the State System. Furthermore many of these schools are Faith-based which further divides children and hastens in further social division. Free Schools are not answerable to any authority save their own. We have Muslim Free Schools practising a doctrines and behaviours that have already led to one school being put into ‘Special Measures’ which means that control has been taken out of the hands of the founders of that school. One could argue that it is just one Islamic Free School in Derbyshire and one could argue that despite the Queen being the Head of the Church of England, Britain is a multi-faith Society and I for one would not argue with that but that should be reason enough not to be setting up faith schools en mass, as it further dis-enfranchises large sections of British Society.
There are already enough problems, as Britain is largely seen as a breeding ground for Islamic fundamentalism. It seems as if the British Tax Payer is expected to finance the education of a generation of Muslim Islamists in the misguided belief that it is multi-culturism. It is not! It is the fragmentation of British Society. One could well argue why the vast majority of children from different ethnic and religious backgrounds such as Greek, Italian, Irish, Turkish etc., are not going to Free Schools based on their ethnicity and religious beliefs? The simple reason is children from those ethnic backgrounds go to State or Private Schools but attend Saturday/Weekend Schools where they can learn about their heritage and their parent’s native language. This way they received the best of both worlds. Going to a school where you learn about your parent’s heritage and religion and nothing else, is not good for an integrated Society. Is it any wonder one of Britain’s major exports is now Islamism. After all we have British Muslims fighting for the Islamist cause in Syria and elsewhere. We have seen a British Soldier killed on the Streets of South London by Muslims for nothing more than being a Soldier serving his Country. Should not Britain as a multi-racial, multi-faceted Society and Country be worried about a British Government causing further divisions, with an Education Policy that further divides British Society? Britain was once an Empire whose Citizens (including many parts of the Islamic World,) made great contributions to The Mother Country (Britain). One of the great crimes of the British Education System as a whole is that History and those contributions made by those Countries, were never taught in British Schools. So many people (myself included,) who were children of people from those former British-ruled Countries, were born and educated in Britain but were never taught about those Countries, that Empire and the contributions those Countries and its people made to that Mighty Empire. That in itself is one of the main reasons Britain is faced with the problems it now faces. Mr. Gove and his backward-looking view on Education is not going to solve the problems of Education in Britain because his view is outdated, has no place in a Britain of the 21st Century. 20th Century problems were not solved by 20th Century solutions as far as Education was concerned, anymore than Victorian values resolved any of the problems of the 20th Century. One cannot expect the problems of the 21st Century to be resolved by solutions that did not work in the 20th Century.
I have written much about the problems inherit in the British system of casting film and television productions here and elsewhere. So it is most fitting and enjoyable to announce that two Black British Actors – Idris Elba and Chiwetel Ejiofor are Lead Nominations for the Golden Globes. It is good news on an international level. It would be good to know that they were receiving the same kind of nomination for a British Academy Film and Television Award (BAFTA). We can but live in hope. This is one of the reasons I decided to set up the Magellan-Fifteen20 Initiative (http://magellanfifteen20.webs.com) in order to redress many of the issues so inherit in the casting of productions and encouraging new original, dynamic works that tell those stories that the established system either ignore or don’t bother with at all. As mentioned above we have received much positive feedback but we are working hard to spread the word and our message of our intentions to make a positive change to the way things work in the media and creative industries.
It is with great regret that at the time of writing, news of the death of Peter O’Toole was announced. All I can say is he was a fine Actor and his like will never be seen again. The Best Actor never to have won an Oscar. Tom Hanks was honoured twice but sadly Peter O’Toole was always the Bridesmaid, never the Bride, having being nominated nine times and never winning. Rest in Peace Mr. O’Toole, you deserve to. That said:-
There is plenty more to see, read, and watch domestically and internationally throughout this edition of Digital World Wired.
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