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

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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!

Erasmus bringing people together

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Some very good things have been created by the European Union. One of these is the Erasmus programme. This programme aims at providing meetings within education, training, youth and sports. Sundsvall is currently involved in a programme that takes up “Active Citizenship and Environmental Awareness through Formal and Non-formal Education”.

This programme would most probably not be possible without the existence of the European Union. Meetings between students, teachers and school leaders give an invaluable possibility for advance and development of  questions of common and collective interest within education.

Joining Västermalm’s school in Sundsvall on this topic we find the, the International school of Ostrava, Czech Republic, the Cabrini Professional School in Taranto, Italy, the Ausros College in Taurage, Lithuania, the Lanchester school in the UK, the Liceum T. Zana in Wschowa, Poland, the Escola Casquilhos in Barreiro, Portugal and the Ienachita Vacarescu school in Targoviste, Romania .

To all visiting teachers and students I extend a most warm welcome to Sundsvall. The theme for this network is the spreading of good experiences through active citizenship on what can be done to enhance and improve our care and concern for the environment.

Truth is, that the environment belongs to all and affects all. Therefore, what we can do today is of great importance for our lives tomorrow. When heavy rains cause floods in Durham just off Lanchester it is a sign to all of us. When winters get shorter and warmer in Sundsvall we need to ask questions. Wherever we are, the need of awareness is there. Education is central in all our countries for a progressive and efficient improvement of knowledge, and practices concerning environmental issues.

When I think of this evening’s meeting and the people involved I feel optimism and I see possibilities. If we add up the numbers of citizens that live in our 8 communities we come to a number of over 700 thousand people. If all students in our schools would become active in making others aware of the environmental challenges we could reach a larger part of our population. It all adds up.

 

Makunduchi & Sundsvall 

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I am on the train from the Stockholm airport after 6 days in Zanzibar, Tanzania. These days were the kick off of a two year project, meant to bring the two communities closer to each other. Appropriate to make a short reflection over impressions so far.

Makunduchi. The leaders of Makunduchi are eager to help their villages develop. Some of these leaders work in the capital and are no longer residents. But they want to contribute and have moved to increase foreign presence. The Makundushi area has not benefitted from tourism as other areas have. The standard of living, due to lack of jobs and lower education is lower.  The levels of education have to improve so that Makunduchians can get jobs. Interest and commitment from such people as Mr.Mohammed Muombwa and Mr. Abdella Ali Kombo are important. Participation from former minister for Zanzibar Mr. Shamsi Vuai Nahodha  might show itself  valuable being someone that moves on highest circles of political power in the country. The people of Zanzibar have a long history to relate to. The will from central government to deliver solutions transforms itself into new challenges when resources are not applied. The friendly and hospitable Zanzibarians need to see to it that their schools have toilets, running water and enough competent teachers for the many learners.

Sundsvall. With this project the municipality of Sundsvall takes part on the generous cooperation budget, that the Swedish State puts aside, to have a positive voice in the world. Why it became Zanzibar is more connected to coincidence, as contacts were established by teachers and Swedish students before we could formalise the cooperation. In order to participate on this type of project Swedish authorities require that a steering committee is elected to supervise and lead. This committee is to be formed by politicians. Local parliament (Kommunfullmäktige) chose the education committee to form this group with me as chairman.

Mr. Hans Zetterkvist, Mrs. Ina Skandevall and myself went to Zanzibar as a first delegation. We did our best to represent our Community. We saw our task not as telling our friends what to do, but rather tried to find applicable  examples on how we solve political questions at home. Important in this context is history, as our people in Sweden have also been poor. This is what interchange is all about. All political parties except Sverigedemokraterna, approved our participation. Sweden Democrat’s no to this project is in itself a paradox, considering they always say that we should not allow people to come to Sweden and instead help them in their own countries. But from populist parties like this one, nothing surprises any longer. It is worse when Elin Nilsson (Moderates) herself member of the steering committee for the project, suddenly changes foot. I understand that some people think that Sundsvall politicians should not leave the municipality.When we choose to get involved in politics is beacuse we have an interest for human beings and to help get ourselves a better and fairer World. This is what first motivated me to become a member of the Social Democratic party of Sweden. And it still is.

It is my hope to engage people from the civil society of Sundsvall that aim at contributing to the same goals by helping to  solve some of the vital and basic needs in the field of education in Makunduchi,  such as putting a new roof in a school, help to build a toilet or drill for water.

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Hundreds of women


Meeting with Makunduchi teachers

We must by now have met hundreds of women in the villages of Makunduchi. The purpose of this cooperation project is to strengthen local government with focus on education. In this perspective it is extremely important to meet villagers and specially women that are those who take responsibility for school matters. We learnt that no schools have running water, they are overcrowded too. A school, for example,  has 800 students and twenty teachers. Some teachers come in as voluntary. This means they do not get a State salary. Teachers take money out of their pocket to finance these teachers. With classes having about 60 learners it is not surprising they need the extra help. Shortage of teachers is a problem. So is the quality of premises. In Kawenja they have locally built the walls for a new school but the government won’ t come and put the roof on.

We have just finished a meeting with 5 local teachers. Much of what was said at this meeting confirms what we have heard from local leaders and parents.

Sundsvall is not alone from Sweden, here in southern Zanzibar. Yesterday came a number of students from Celsius school in Uppsala. They are on an exchange program just as our own students from Sundsvall’s Gymnasiet will do later this week.

I do not know today to what extent our participation will make an impact. I am however impressed by the level of dialogue we can see, exists here. Mr. Mohamed Muombwa and Mr. Abdella Ali accompanied us yesterday which was valuable for our meetings and communication.

Right now I am expecting a call from a radio journalist back in Sundsvall eager to learn more about what we are doing here.