Bernard’s travels (2)

In November 2018 I was at Bellapais Abbey, near Kyrenia, Northern Cyprus. It was my third visit. My first had been 61 years ago. My year in Cyprus (1957-8) in the British Army had been unlike any other of my life. I kept a diary and filled a photographic album. I was tanned and had learned to swim. I had my own Sten-gun and was licensed to use it to kill people in certain circumstances. All the time I was myself in danger of being killed.Cyprus at the time was a dangerous place for everyone. EOKA, a terrorist organisation dedicated to union with Greece, had started killing, and the army had retaliated. The Turks, who made up 20 percent of the population, were understandably not impressed. The two populations had never mingled on any scale. Very few Cypriots spoke both Greek and Turkish. Opinions and actions quickly polarised. Like most Mediterranean islands, Cyprus had a history of occupation by outside forces: Romans, Byzantines, Venetians, everyone had come and conquered. The British were the latest, given Cyprus as part of a deal at the Congress of Berlin in 1878. So my role was in the army of occupation, at a time when the British Empire was well into its dissolution. At the other end of the Med, the French were hanging on (at an even greater cost) to Algeria. The violent deaths in Cyprus raised its profile from a sleepy backwater to world news.At this time the British Army was incredibly naive in its standing on the global stage. It had yet to learn the lessons of the 30-year-long “struggle” in Northern Ireland. It not only failed to understand what was going on, but had no appropriate language to describe the events. Its response was a largely brutal one of facing violence with violence, with a far greater force of men, but out of its depth facing guerrilla operations. Back in the UK, politicians had to deal with a largely unsophisticated and uninformed electorate which resented the loss of colony after colony. In the words of US Secretary of State Foster Dulles, Britain had “lost an empire and failed to find a role”.My tiny place in these events was largely as a helpless, ignorant spectator. When I was sent to Cyprus, I received no political briefing on the reason for my presence there. Those in charge of us knew little better. In the words of the officer commanding a road block I manned “Use your common sense”.Let me return now to Kyrenia and introduce Lawrence Durrell. His brilliant book, _Bitter Lemons_ for the first time revealed to the English-speaking world the subtlety of the emotions behind the conflict, as well as the political pressures that had brought it about. He was recruited in a master stroke by the British government as their Information Officer; effectively head of their PR. _Bitter Lemons_ is his account of how he set about this job. Durrell was Irish and didn’t like the Brits very much. He did like the Greeks and one of a handful of Greek speakers in the service of the British government during its 80-year occupation of the island.He bought a house in Kyrenia and made local friends in including Kollis, the Custodian of Bellapais Abbey, whose photo is included in the early editions of the book. I met Kollis and the man who took over Durrell’s job, whose marvellous conversation I have sadly forgotten – but it was a wonderful contrast to the unremitting coarseness and obscenities of everyday army language.Bellapais Abbey is enjoying good times. The main room has been restored and at the time of my last visit was hosting a month-long music festival. Heaven only knows how they cope with the parking!Bellapais’ happiness and prosperity is reflected across Cyprus as a whole, both in my last visit, taking in Larnaca and Paphos, and in the previous one to the north. One new dimension is the development alongside tourism of archaeology, which has expanded rapidly in recent decades. The Cyprus Museum in Nicosia is clearly worth a visit.A more recent development still is the growing influence of Russia: one of the newest hotels is named ‘Odessa’, presumably as it is marketed largely in Russia. Russians and the Russian language pop up everywhere. How many poorly paid Cypriot employees are there working in the British bases? The security issues must be a nightmare.The division of the island following the Turkish invasion in 1974 is held on all sides to be a disaster, and many personal accounts concern genuine loss of homes and property. But the two groups of Greeks and Turks have never enjoyed much real integration, and now both appear at peace within their borders. A further happy dimension is the apparent peaceful relations they enjoy in Britain.—

This text is by Bernard Ineichen

Kuwakaribisha marafiki zangu kwa Sundsvall

Welcome to Sundsvall, Makunduchi friends. Next Sunday you are expected to arrive after a long and tiring trip. From the sunshine of Zanzibar to a Sundsvall profoundly immersed in the November cold and darkness. A dramatic contrast, but we will do what we can to ease up for you. I want to take the opportunity to fill you in on the events here since your last visit.

We have had a general election which means that Swedish voters chose their representatives on all three levels of government. As far as the national level is concerned there is a situation unique in Swedish modern history and after 10 weeks since the election there is still no government. What has mainly upset Sweden’s democratic set up has been the growing support for the Sweden Democrats a party with immigration issues at the center but where many experts widen the explanation to insecurity on some parts of the population about undefined future, brought about by modern technology, globalization and desertification of rural areas. We could safely say that this party thrives on people’s worries and fear. Somehow it has shifted Swedish  political map and we are experiencing now three main ideological fields, Conservative Nationalism, Liberalism and Democratic Socialism. The Green Party was practically wiped out despite awareness of climate change and pollution issues.

As far as the local Sundsvall government is concerned we are continuing with same partners, (Social Democrats, Center party and Left party).

On Monday Mohamed and I will give our local parliament a short presentation of our cooperation so far. I will share it here for your benefit.

I am leaving the chairmanship of the School Board but carry on with focus on Culture and Sport plus an elected seat on our Municipal Parliament.

I look forward to seeing you Mbanja Makame, Mohamed Muombwa, Suleiman Selele and Zainab Fadhil on Sunday, when we will try to start the “Friends of Makunduchi association” that I already have mentioned before.

I also expect that you will share with us the main questions affecting your beautiful island of Unguja with challenges facing Zanzibar and ideas to solve them.

Note: Swahili texts are also welcome here!

Why friends of Makunduchi?

It’s Friday. When I write something on my blog it generally happens on Fridays. The reason for that is that we generally have fewer meetings booked on Fridays. As I partially retire after the New Year I will probably write more often on my blogs. Promise or threat? You decide!

Today I am sharing thoughts about the reason to start in Sundsvall an association for friendship with the community of Makunduchi, southeast area of Zanzibar.

For three years now, the municipality of Sundsvall has been carrying out a project financed by ICLD ( International Center for Local Democracy) together with Makunduchi leaders. During this time and even before, people from Sundsvall have visited Makunduchi and many contacts have been established.

My experience is that when a project finishes the contacts generally die out. We would like to avoid that. What is then the purpose of the association?

Anyone that has been to Zanzibar and left the all-inclusive closed up hotels by the Indian Ocean can understand that the standard of living for people is low. The purpose of the ICLD project is the exchange of views and experiences aiming at developing democracy at local level. Even though we do not come with cash to make improvements our friends in Makunduchi have valued this cooperation and stuck to it. This is for me a sign of strength about the understanding that development happens when we put the effort and seldom does it end well if the aim is charity. Charity is the opposite of what our association should be about.

Most of us in the Sundsvall community are not mildly aware of the real deep issues that face Zanzibarians. It’s my hope that we can reach a better understanding of these issues. At the local level, we can see things happening in Makunduchi with the support of local elected people and other representatives. The needs for better education, healthcare, sanitation, jobs, electricity, running water are evident going into any village.

The purpose of our association, if it finds legs to walk, that is to say if there is a sufficient interest, is to find ways to support these needs without falling into the trap of charity. I am confident that with the help of this association a contribution can be made to create better conditions for development in Makunduchi.

Cruising to Russia

This text is written by Bernard Ineichen as my guest blogger. Enjoy!
I’ve just returned from my third visit to Russia; this time cruising to the remote (not so remote if you are in Sweden) north coast ports of Archangel and Murmansk. For a tourist it has been a rather sad experience.
For a start, the Russians seem unaware of the increasing age, frailty and girth of those who visit them. Not nearly enough public toilets, and those that exist not well signposted. Are pensioners a political force? Recent attempts to raise the age for female pensioners was defeated. This is a hopeful sign.
I did tourist excursions in both cities: mostly a litany of museums and monuments, though the guides (all untrained as there is no professional association of guides) did provide some information on social matters, particularly housing. I fancy the situation in Russia is even worse than in the UK. Not too bad if you can get a flat, but grim for those who can’t. Does anyone keep (and quantify) a waiting list? Decades ago, Shostakovich wrote a hilarious musical, Chereomushiki, where the hapless newly married couple were reduced to meeting in the zoo. The area around the port of Archangel was particularly depressing, with more dwellings falling down than standing up.
What I particularly missed was any idea of what we were NOT shown. No military bases, obviously, but it would have been nice to have seen some industrial areas close up to get an impression of Russia’s industrial health. Some attitudes have not changed since Soviet days. At Archangel our departure was delayed by almost half an hour as no one turned up to cast off the ropes.
What would I have given for a local map! Another leftover from the Soviet period is the fear of spying. There were only rudimentary ideas of, in capitalist terms exploiting the tourist market; or in consumerist terms, providing the material for an enjoyable and informative visit to a foreign country. Not a single postcard in sight, or the brilliant (and cheap – generally produced in China) glossy books about places that tourists want to visit. In one museum you had to ask for the shop to be opened.
The only beautiful buildings were churches and the only thing worth buying was a calendar illustrating places associated with the Russian Orthodox Church. Priests were on hand to help and add solemnity to the visit.

Why Bernard is Bernard

Bernhard Olthoff is a 37-year-old mariner, when on the 20th June 1882 he marries my grandmother’s grandmother Johanna Klingebiel. Both live in Shadwell, East London and it is at the local parish church the wedding takes place. Witnesses are Adelaide Grannemann and Jacob Schaumlöffel which witnesses on the German speaking community they must have belonged to.

By this time Johanna already had 2 children Henry William (14 years old) and my great grandmother Johanna Dorotea  ( 3 years old). Both these children and the deceased Arthur Henry Fredrik had the surname Rump. We have not been able to find anything on the mysterious Rump but Johanna most certainly came to England via Southampton where the oldest boy was born.

Bernhard became a father to these children and he must have been a most liked person as his name lived on never having himself any own children.

Henry Rump married Nancy Parker in 1892 and gives his daughter born in 1901 the name Johanna Bernhardine and his youngest son born in 1903 is Bernard.

Johanna Dorotea also wanted to Bernardise her children  so her son William my grandmother’s brother was christened William Bernard Ernest. My grandmother might have remembered Bernhard as she was 5 when he died because her son Bernard Ineichen is Bernard.

Bernhard Olthoff dies in 1905 and is buried at the Tower Hamlets cemetery having outlived Johanna by 6 years.

Hope the ancestry map above will help to keep track of the Bernards.

The Makunduchi papers 2017 (2)

The Sundsvall delegation arrived in Zanzibar on Friday afternoon the 6th of October and left on Thursday evening the 12th October. On such a short visit it was important to see and experience as much as possible on the spot. For the trip to Makunduchi from the airport we were assisted by motorcycle police which helped us regain some of the time lost on our way down.

We were pleased to be received by most of our friends including coordinator Mr. Mohamed Muombwa and senior citizen Mr. Hafith Ameir.

Makunduchians are proud of what they are doing to develop their region in south Zanzibar at the same time showing a fantastic hospitality. At the entrance of the hotel a considerable number of villagers were there to greet and welcome us.

I lift two main subjects during our visit1) The development of dialogue and participation aiming at improving school results and 2) Enterprising initiatives to develop the local economy.

In this set of mind I would like to refer to the workshops and study visits starting immediately at arrival during the weekend. We were shown several projects and I would like to lift the initiatives of agricultural production taking place in various parts of Makunduchi. Mr. Suleiman Selele could, with his experience in health care, fill us in on different aspects concerning nutrition and health. These production units engaged mainly unemployed women. All could witness on lack of water being the main setback for these units. We visited also productive agricultural units where there was availability of water.

Another important development already mentioned was the Swahili house under the wings and supervision of Mr. Mwita Masemo.

The education workshops gathered headmasters and school board members and some of the themes discussed were the role of headmasters in the school system, the role of parents, communication towards the central government and challenges of teaching and learning in the English language, foreign to both teachers and students.

 

Discussions took place among and between delegations in a spirit of hope and commitment. For my part I am proud to have led the steering committee on behalf of Sundsvall’s Municipality.

 

 

The Makunduchi papers 2017 (1)

Sundsvalls Municipality (kommun) cooperates with Makunduchi Wards on a two year project that can be extended for further activities next year. This cooperation is financed by the Swedish State as part of the national cooperation budget and is administered by the association of Swedish Local Authorities (SKL).

We have now established good relations with our partners in Zanzibar and are advancing in what can be described as a dialogue and exchange of experiences concerning Local Power and its responsibilities and duties towards local populations.

I am chairman  of the steering committee in behalf of the municipality of Sundsvall. My experience so far, is that there is progress being made and that our partners are aware that their role needs to be better defined and new responsibilities need to be formalized by Central government.

When we started our work with Makunduchi there was a natural incidence in education issues. What could be done so that more students could reach a higher level of education and how could local politicians contribute to make this happen? In this sense we discovered that we had the same goal in both communities even though there is an enormous gap between what the two communities are achieving today. Local elected members see now that they have a role to play and that this is dependent on gaining support and trust from the populations in order to increase the number of citizens that can support themselves economically, being that education is probably the most important factor of development.

In Makunduchi there are positive developments such as the “Food Festival” aiming at taking up questions of health and hygiene as well as developing the noble art of cooking. The outdoor museum ” Swahili House”, has its aim at showing traditional living as far as housing and daily chores are concerned. Courses are being held to improve leadership and management skills for community leaders. Discussions are progressing on how school boards can claim better results for the students and what the role of parents should be.

On this article I will mention the warm reception we were met with as the Sundsvall delegation came to Zanzibar last week.

At the airport, after an eight hour delay,we were expected and met by the Honorable Mayor of Zanzibar Town Mr. Khatib Abraham Khatib This reception was followed up by new and profitable contacts with central government. A visit to the House of Representatives where all Swedish guests were presented by name to the whole assembly. Later we could have a talk with the honorable speaker of the house Mr. Zubeid Ali Maulid and deputy speaker Mme. Mgeni Hassan Juma. From there we went for a reception at the office of 2nd Vice President of Zanzibar Ambassador Seif Ali Iddi and even present at that meeting was the minister of Education Mme. Riziki Pembe Juma.

I am pleased that the Sundsvall delegation together with our friends could take up important issues concerning the development of Makunduchi and its people.

The delegation of Sundsvall: Mrs. Arianne Sundman, speaker of Sundsvalls municipality, Mr. Hans Zetterkvist, Vice chairman of the Education Committee, Mrs. Maria Åström and Mrs. Linda Strandfjäll members of the Education Committee, Mrs. Christin Strömberg and Mr. Björn Swedén Project coordinators, Mrs. Åsa Jerfsten Technical advisor on Education matters, Mr. Hans Fridholm, Water technical Expert and myself João Pinheiro chairman of Education Committee.

Well done, Trump

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It’s over. I am referring to the presidential election in the United States. What a pity they missed out on giving Hillary a chance. She did have some commitments that would matter to people like the issue of Medicare and other issues that work all around the world but not in America. We will never know if the experienced Hillary would make a difference or not. What we will know is what Donald Trump will do or attempt to do. He will make America great again! This is his promise and my curiosity grows.

What I deduct from this election is that there are too many people in America looking for security and future perspectives that they seem to lack today. Their choice is arguable though. I just cannot see how the new president will do anything for his voters. I really tried to listen why people were voting for Trump yesterday. There will be mountains of explanations and theories. So based on what I heard yesterday this is my analysis. The people that voted for Trump were recognized as white men with lower education, living outside of the greater cities in expansion and over a certain age. Typically the groups that suffer most from loss of jobs, economic crisis, immigration. In short, globalization and the technical revolution .

The governments of America have not provided good answers and solutions for them. So they protest at the ballot, where else? But how does anyone think that a millionaire, born with a silver spoon in his mouth cares? Not with his record anyhow… What compels people to think that he has the will let alone the skills to put through legislation that really would help this people?

Does anyone really believe that chasing immigrants (in the immigration country) is the solution? I fear for America’s future and the world’s. Social unrest could be the outcome of the expectations that were so bluntly awoken. More social sustainability and less market solutions and capital uncontrolled ruling is what Americans need. . More hope and less exclusion too. This is what the defeated voters need to consider. The system is rotten and the solutions are not there. A majority of republicans in Congress want to and will, continue to steer.

The human being is not rational. We’ve seen it over and over as Sweden Democrats have made fast careers for themselves, how similar parties have appeared and grown how Brexit won in England. Despite a considerable level of education there are other needs that need to be fulfilled like security and hope for the future. These are lacking in American society, so well done Trump!

Urgeiriça coming to life

Urgeirica

The small mining village of Urgeiriça, and my first years spent there all came to life a couple of weeks ago. The mine has been closed since 1992 but has a history of 80 years during which thousands of workers got out some 1.6 million tons of usable mineral (mainly Uranium) and left behind another 2.5 million tons radioactive residuals.

My few years in Urgeiriça go back to the early fifties when my father João Manuel Pinheiro after completing his engineering studies in England got employment in the mine. It meant my mother Pamela Ineichen and I spent our first years in this northern village in the Viseu district. It was also during this time my brother Pedro came to us.

The pictures in my album from this period showed me playing around the house or out on outings and on the beach. I rode a tricycle, I recall the existence of small chicks and not an awful much more in those days when I was nothing else but Titi. The beach, I have now learnt, was Ericeira where the mothers and their children spent time on a rented apartment with their husbands coming down at weekends.

Responsible for this memory revival is film producer Ramsay Cameron. He has made a most interesting film about the history of the mine where the viewer discovers the economic and strategic importance of it. Many interesting aspects touching big world politics during and after the war, dictator Salazar’s involvement in this real “gold mine”. The Marie Curie, radium connection…The importance of the hotel Urgeiriça.

The mine’s large quantities of Uranium, needed for the nuclear weapon project, put a focus on this small and otherwise forgotten area. The film is available both in English as in Portuguese on https://vimeo.com/158161181. Watch it!

Ramsay’s father James Cameron was a chief engineer at the mines during the period that my family were there. I now know that it is Ramsay’s sister Cairine we can see on the photo shown above. I also learnt from Ramsay that the other girl is Dorothy Bennett. The Bennets were another family that my parents knew and spent time with.

The importance of writing a blog has been proven again.

The Wallenberg cube

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Students and teachers from the Västermalm secondary school  invited me to say a few words when the Sundsvall cube was inaugurated. Students worked  with their own interpretations on the subject of the “Right of asylum in other countries”. Students and teachers from 8 different countries participating in a Erasmus network were present.

This project was initiated  by the Raoul Wallenberg foundation. The project is about human rights but also about our obligations as human beings towards others. 30 cubes have been spread out to schools all over Sweden, each one representing a human right as stipulated and agreed by the United Nations. “The right of asylum in other countries” that the Västermalm School has been assigned to work with, fits all too well, with Raoul Wallenberg’s own commitments and achievements during and after world war two. Who was Raoul Wallenberg, you may ask? Wallenberg was a Swedish diplomat that saw how the Nazis persecuted Jews and others in Budapest where he was stationed. Wallenberg created false documents to help people out of the country and into safety. Later on he organized bus transports for many of the survivors of the holocaust and the surviving victims of Nazi crimes against humanity. Many of these refugees came to Sweden and started a new life here.

All this brings us to today’s situation in Sweden and in the rest of Europe. Europe is once again in trouble when it comes to coping with the refugee situation. Some countries try to pass on responsibility to other countries. We want to shut down frontiers and imagine that these people do not exist. We need each and every one of us not to feel guilty, but rather to understand the mechanisms that create the situations we are experiencing today. We have in Europe a good life and we need to share with others. If we permit that differences in society grow even more we will have more crimes and all other social problems that inequality create. Sweden is richer than ever. Every year we spend more in education and care. But many still expect more.

Here in Sundsvall we have 8 political parties at the local council. The third largest party was formed and grew based on the idea that we have too many refugees. The people that vote for this party must have a reason to do so. Racist people and people that are scared of foreigners exist in all our European countries  but now they have people that support them. We have to understand that many people are scared of globalization and feel that they are being ignored or pushed aside by technical development, new ways of communication and new competitive labor relations. These people feel unsure as whether immigrants and refugees are not presenting new threats to them.

My message to you today is only one. We all have an individual responsibility when creating the society we want to live in. We can choose to work together or we can choose to look after our own interests and let ourselves be influenced by cheap and easy propaganda or we can try to be aware citizens conscious that what we do and how we think or choose to express ourselves prepares the path for the future. A huge thanks to teachers and students that worked on this subject. The cube is yours!