Displaced people, refugees, immigrants, colonisation and war

Ruth HartleyAfrica, Displacement, History, War, Zambia2 Comments

“Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” (Quote from George Santayana  but many other people re-quote or dispute this saying)

The Old Drift – Photo by Reynolds 1937 – the place where explorers crossed the Zambezi River before the 1906 bridge was built

The Nuremberg Trial and the Nuremberg Laws

I write this post 75 years after the start of the Nuremberg Trials of Nazi war crimes, antisemitism and genocide. It’s a day that grows more significant every year because we don’t seem to learn from history. 10 years before that trial the antisemitic and racist Nuremberg Laws were enacted by the Nazi regime to protect ‘German Blood and German Honour’. In the years between those two events, the Second World War took place and there would be almost no place and no nation in the world untouched by this conflict. John and I know this because in 2008 we travelled through 27 European countries – from north to south and east to west and we found no country without places of deportations and massacres and memorials to that war. It was a war that impacted Africa and in which African soldiers fought.

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Lines in the sand erased in the sea of history

Ruth HartleyArt Process, Colonialism, Creativity, History, Power, SlaveryLeave a Comment

‘Cometh the hour, cometh the man’

Atlantic breakers Ciboure

There was a regular history exam question at my school that asked students to debate whether ‘the hour made the man or the man made the hour’. It usually related to a period of history that we had just finished studying. For example – did Britain’s survival in WW2 depend solely on Winston Churchill’s leadership or were there contributing factors independent of his personality? Was Cecil John Rhodes the only person responsible for British colonialism in Southern Africa? Did William Wilberforce end the Slave Trade in Britain by himself? Must Robert Oppenheimer bear the sole responsibility for Hiroshima?

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Truth and storytelling, minds, hearts and history

Ruth HartleyHistory, Human rights, justice, Politics, Power, Storytelling, TruthLeave a Comment

Detail of installation drawing by Ruth Hartley

There are those moments when something you read strikes you so forcibly that you know you must embrace it and consider it carefully. When this happens to me it’s usually for an important reason. It may throw a clear light on something that’s happening in my life or in life in general that I need to grasp intellectually. It may arouse in me powerful feelings that my heart and soul recognise. It may do both. Because of the person I am, it probably means that I will have to follow up with online research or order another book to sit on my ‘To Be Read’ pile for when I’m not writing (or talking).

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Mpapa Gallery, westernised art and tribal heritage.

Ruth HartleyArt, Colonialism, Mpapa GalleryLeave a Comment

An interesting paper

Fackson Kulya, Mother and Child
Two Henry Tayali prints reproduced on the Artists’ Newsletter magazine

Gijsbert Witkamp has written an interesting paper on his blog Art in Zambia about Henry Tayali, and Fackson Kulya, two artists I knew through my work at Mpapa Gallery when Bert was away in Europe between 1979 and 1988. Bert describes Henry as an ‘academic’ artist and Fackson as a ‘folk artist’. This might describe the difference between a ‘westernised’ artist and an ‘authentically African’ one and relate to recent and important discussions about neo-colonialism and its effect on culture. As Zambia has very little recorded art history of the first 30 years after Independence, perhaps my post will be of interest in this connection.

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Writing and winning are wonderful!

Ruth HartleyStorytelling, Writing, Writing ProcessLeave a Comment

I am a prize-winner for the first time

Here I am at the 2019 Charroux Competition Event at Confolens when I was long-listed for a poetry prize. I don’t have a photo for this year because of Covid 19

I am thrilled to be a runner-up in the Charroux Litfest competition for my short story Truth, Dare, Command. Thank you Charroux Litfest and thank you Charroux organisers – Kate Rose and Barbara Sage. I know you do an unpaid, time-consuming labour of love. The theme of the competition was Truth and here are the links to the Charroux Litfest and to the competition winners and their stories. You can also download my story at the download button at the end of this paragraph. You may want to ask why I chose this subject matter?  All fiction and fantasy are more powerful when personal experience is at the root of story and character. The plot can be entirely invented, but readers need to trust a writer’s authority and truthfulness to connect with her stories. Stories open doors to new worlds and so they can be a road to liberation.  

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