WHITTIER FOUNDERS DAY

first_imgThe Whittier High band and youngsters from Claylee’s Dance Studio in Uptown entertained the audience gathered around the park’s gazebo, while visitors snacked on bratwurst, strawberry shortcake and thick pieces of soft bread slathered with fresh butter and sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. Guests were also drawn to the antique cars and farm equipment, as well as booths with information on the Whittier Historical Society, the Friends of the Whittier Hills and the Whittier Conservancy. Although the event was meant to celebrate the city’s founding, Whittier was actually established 120 years ago – but the first Founder’s Day event didn’t take place until 1894, city employee Stacy Gonzales said. “This is put together as a sort of remembrance of things that people used to do,” Gonzales added. “We think the actual date \ is May 10, but this is Whittier’s 120th year of existence.” The parade’s grand marshals were Charles and Mary Hanson, longtime community activists. WHITTIER – It was back to the 1800s in Uptown Whittier on Saturday, where hundreds of residents and visitors savored the taste of freshly churned butter and lined the streets for a hometown parade at the 113th annual Founders Day Celebration. “It’s so nice seeing everybody in a brighter mood today with the music and performances and the young people,” said Farida Ali, 68, who attended the event with friends from the Whittier Senior Center. “This is the second time I’ve attended, and I just love this place,” Ali added. “It makes us seniors happy to be able to see all these young people around, having a good time.” The event began at City Hall at 9:30 a.m., with a small parade led by the Whittier High School band that made its way north on Friends Avenue for three blocks. It ended at Central Park, where dozens of organizations and agencies dotted the area with information and vendor booths. “Thank you all for the honor of being named grand marshals for Whittier’s 120th anniversary,” Mary Hanson told the crowd. “When we arrived here in 1951, we decided Whittier was going to be our home because we figured that a city named after a poet couldn’t be that bad,” she added. “Today, it is still home to wonderful people like yourselves – so thank you for this honor.” tracy.garcia@sgvn.com (562) 698-0955 Ext. 3051 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!last_img read more


SA, Jamaica eye stronger relations

first_img7 August 2012 President Jacob Zuma says he would like to see increased volumes of trade and investment between South Africa and Jamaica. “We are committed to encourage and facilitate South African companies doing business in Jamaica, resulting in the steady growth in trade and investment between our two countries,” Zuma said on Tuesday. Zuma, who was on a working visit to Jamaica, was speaking following talks with Jamaican Prime Minister Portia Simpson Miller in Kingston. As a first step towards this goal, the two countries envisage cooperation among universities on joint research projects, and student and academic exchange programmes. A number of additional agreements are being negotiated between the two countries in the fields of science and technology, defence and security, social development, sport and culture, bilateral air services and public works. Zuma said these agreements would serve to foster mutual cooperation, translating into stronger economic, social and developmental relations between the two countries. “The talks are a clear indication of our collective determination to take our relations to higher levels for the mutual benefit of our respective countries,” Zuma said. Currently, the Jamaican and South African governments have waived visa requirements for all South African and Jamaican passport holders to enable nationals to enter each others’ countries for up to 90 days without visas. This provision has facilitated the smooth movement of South Africans and Jamaicans who are engaging in music, education and sport, among other things. Zuma’s visit culminated in his attendance of a grand cultural gala to mark Jamaica’s 50th year of independence from British rule. Source: SANews.gov.zalast_img read more


Constitution Hill is a window on a brutal past

first_img“The Hill, as it is fondly known, is an engine of growth and transformation for downtown Johannesburg and a place where residents and visitors can interact in a space that takes the country’s history forward in a respectful but progressive manner,” explains Petal Thring, the chief executive officer of Constitution Hill. (Image: www.mediaclubsouthafrica.com) Melissa Jane Cook• Petal ThringCEOConstitution Hill+27 11 381 3100info@constitutionhill.org.za• ConHill is preferred heritage destination • Experts unpack meaning of human rights memorial • Gandhi’s memory lingers in South Africa• Values, heritage can be learnt here • ConCourt art tells South Africa’s storyConstitution Hill is home to the Constitutional Court, the foundation of all that is democratic in South Africa. It is a reminder to all who visit that dignity, democracy, freedom and equality are entrenched in the Constitution.For decades, South Africa was an international pariah, notorious for its apartheid policies. Today, Constitution Hill, in Braamfontein has undergone a phenomenal transformation, a microcosm of the changes the country as a whole has undergone. Once a place of inhumanity and brutality, it is now a place of justice and learning. A commanding presence, Constitution Hill overlooks Johannesburg and provides a unique perspective on the City of Gold and its rich history. This site is home to the Constitutional Court, Women’s Gaol museum, Number Four museum, and the Old Fort museum.“The Hill, as it is fondly known, is an engine of growth and transformation for downtown Johannesburg and a place where residents and visitors can interact in a space that takes the country’s history forward in a respectful but progressive manner,” explains Petal Thring, the chief executive officer of Constitution Hill.A living museumIt is a living legacy of a very complex, tumultuous past going back to 1892, when the Old Fort was built by the Zuid Afrikaanse Republiek (ZAR), under president Paul Kruger. It was built as a prison, but for a brief period during the South African War, or Anglo Boer War, of 1899 to 1902, it served as a military defence post.In the late 1800s and early 20th century, new buildings were added to the fort-like prison. These included the Natives’ Section and isolation cells known as sections Four and Five, where black male prisoners were held, a Women’s Goal in 1907, and an Awaiting Trial building in the 1920s.Collectively, these buildings were known as the Fort, infamous for its brutal treatment of prisoners. Common criminals and ordinary men and women who had contravened colonial and apartheid legislation were imprisoned here in abhorrent conditions.Old FortBefore it took on its role as apartheid prison, the Old Fort was used to defend the ZAR capital, Pretoria. Kruger’s soldiers walked its ramparts in the war, until the British marched into town in 1900, and took over the structure.The ramparts were built to protect the ZAR from British invasion, as well as intimidate migrant miners and keep an eye on them as they crowded into the village in search of gold. Reverting to a prison after the war, initially only white male prisoners were held here, except for Nelson Mandela, who, before the Rivonia Trial in 1962, was given a bed in the hospital section.It is a living legacy of a very complex, tumultuous past going back to 1892, when the Old Fort was built by the Zuid Afrikaanse Republiek (ZAR), under president Paul Kruger. It was built as a prison, but for a brief period during the South African War, or Anglo Boer War, of 1899 to 1902, it served as a military defence post. (Image: www.constitutionhill.org.za)Women’s JailThe Women’s Jail was a charming, Victorian brick building. A space of such grace, yet it humiliated and brutalised its female prisoners, which included criminals and murderers, as well as anti-apartheid activists. The infamous murderess Daisy de Melker was held here, as were prominent political stalwarts such as Winnie Madikizela-Mandela, Albertina Sisulu and Fatima Meer. The women were particularly vulnerable. An information board in the museum today quotes political activist Barbara Hogan: “I could hear a doctor screaming at her saying, ‘You say your baby is sick, but if you cared about your baby, you would carry a pass.’”Number FourThe sign above the entrance to the Natives’ section, Number Four, is a quote from Mandela: “It is said that no one really knows a nation until one has been inside its jails.”Built to house 997 prisoners, it housed 2 200. Here, thousands of black men were imprisoned and brutalised; yet many survived and defied their jailors. Walking down a dark corridor on to a concrete courtyard on a drizzly, gloomy day gave a minute glimmer into what the prisoners must have felt when they arrived at the frightening Number Four. For many, this was their last journey. During the apartheid era, police would arrive numerous times a day with prisoners, who were given a prisoner number; this number was how they were identified.Detainees were strip-searched and hosed down, in summer or winter, and forced to perform the dehumanising “tausa”. This was a diabolical movement that allowed the prison warders to check whether the inmates were smuggling any weapons or contraband up their rectums. Political prisoner Indres Naidoo describes it: “When performing ‘tausa’ the naked person would leap in the air, spinning around and opening the legs wide while clapping his hands overhead and then in the same moment coming down, making clicking sounds with the mouth and bending his body forward so as to expose his open rectum to the warders’ inspection.”Bob Gosani, a photojournalist, secretly managed to photograph the “tausa” from the top floor of a nurses’ home overlooking the prison.Living conditions at Number Four were excruciating and barbaric. In the food area, where prisoners collected their food from trolleys before moving off to eat in the yard or cells, today food drums display the ghastly prisoners’ menus. African National Congress stalwart Joe Slovo describes the drums in his unfinished autobiography: “The first drum, marked ‘Congress One’, contained cooked chunks of beef or pork for white accused. The ‘Congress Two’ drum, for coloureds and Indian prisoners, contained either porridge or boiled vegetables on top of which floated a few pieces of fatty meat that were most probably from the discarded cut-offs from ‘Congress One’ drum. The ‘Congress Three’ drum (for black prisoners) was always meatless and the contents alternated between a plastic-textured porridge and a mixture of boiled mealies and beans.”There were only eight, eastern style toilets that offered no privacy and were in close proximity to the food area. Writer and political prisoner Alex La Guma wrote: “One of the reasons for my disease [typhoid] is found in this jail. Filth. The mats are filthy, the blankets are filthy, the latrines are filthy, the food is filthy, the utensils are filthy, and the convicts’ clothes are filthy. The latrines overflow and make a stench.”Showers were allowed once a week, but prisoners were often denied a wash for months. The allocated shower time was 30 minutes for the 2 000 prisoners, and the gang members took most of this time. The inmates would then be forced to use the toilet to wash their faces, or would rub soap on themselves and wait for it to rain.The communal cells housed between 60 and 70 prisoners; they were only built for 30 and as a result were overcrowded, dirty and badly ventilated. They were lit by a small window, but ironically, as authorities tried to break the spirit of the prisoners, these communal cells became an area to build courage and discuss resistance. The inmates gave each other strength and sang resistance songs to entertain, comfort and maintain solidarity.As if life inside was not harsh enough, made worse by the hostility of the prison wardens, there was also a hierarchy in the cells. You slept according to status: the gang leaders in the place of most comfort. The bod guards protected them and then the bush, or slaves, were near the toilet. It was a stinking space, where the slaves, the lowest in the cell food chain, were abused. These unsanitary conditions created perfect conditions for diseases, including typhoid and enteric fever.Emakhulukhuthu, an isiZulu word meaning the “deep dark hole”, was reserved for the harshest punishments. These were the isolation cells, where “lunatics, juveniles and those with infectious diseases” were kept. Prisoners here spent 23 hours a day inside, subsisting on a diet of rice water. “They could officially be held here for 30 days but some spent over a year in these cells,” states one of the information boards.Emakhulukhuthu, an isiZulu word meaning the “deep dark hole”, was reserved for the harshest punishments. These were the isolation cells, where “lunatics, juveniles and those with infectious diseases” were kept. (Image: www.constitutionhill.org.za) To pass the time, the inmates were creative and did blanket sculpting. At the end of each week, the prisoner with the most artistic blanket sculpture won a reward. “The conditions here were so depraved that when the prisoners were moved to Diepsloot Prison, known as Sun City, they said it was like moving to a hotel, and was utterly luxurious compared to the horrific conditions they had to previously endure,” said Thring.Number Four is now a stark museum and memorial to the thousands of men who were confined within its walls, deprived of the most rudimentary of human rights. Photographic, audio and video material captures the rich heritage of the site. Artefacts of prison life are also on display, including recreations of the blanket and soap sculptures. It remains as it was when it was closed in 1983.Jailed for fighting for freedomMahatma Gandhi was the first to apply the concept of non-violent civil disobedience in South Africa, against the racial segregation laws of the time. The exhibition in the Old Fort, “Gandhi: prisoner of conscience”, focuses on the years Gandhi spent in Johannesburg, from 1902 until 1914, when he left South Africa at the age of 46.Of his experiences in South Africa, he said: “Truly speaking, it was after I went to South Africa that I became what I am now. My love for South Africa and my concern for her problems are no less than for India.” Mandela is quoted on the walls of the exhibition: “The spirit of Gandhi may well be a key to human survival in the 21st century.”Mahatma Gandhi was the first to apply the concept of non-violent civil disobedience in South Africa, against the racial segregation laws of the time. The exhibition in the Old Fort, “Gandhi: prisoner of conscience”, focuses on the years Gandhi spent in Johannesburg, from 1902 until 1914, when he left South Africa at the age of 46. (Image: www.constitutionhill.org.za) Constitution Hill has witnessed it all: South Africa’s history of injustice, detention and imprisonment, as well as democracy at work. People who passed through the complex include Gandhi, Mandela, Albert Luthuli, Walter Sisulu, Joe Slovo, Ahmed Kathrada, Treason trialists of the late 1950s, and students and schoolchildren from the 1976 Soweto uprising, as well as thousands of others active in the apartheid struggle, alongside common criminals.This multipurpose complex functions as a national symbol of a new South Africa and a public space where South Africans, and others, can debate and define the democratic order and this new world.last_img read more


DRI seizes 8,000 kg of shark fins in Mumbai and Gujarat town

first_imgThe Directorate of Revenue Intelligence (DRI) has smashed an international wildlife smuggling racket with the seizure of about 8,000 kg of shark fins in Mumbai and the coastal town of Veraval in Gujarat. Four persons, including the mastermind, have also been arrested.According to the DRI, the consignments were meant to be illegally exported to China and Hong Kong. The fins were procured from the seas along the coasts of Ratnagiri and Mumbai in Maharashtra, and Veraval and Okha in Gujarat. They are used for preparing “shark fin” soup in China and Vietnam. Usually served on special occasions such as weddings and banquets, it is considered a luxury food item and is of immense significance, with one bowl of soup costing at least $100.Acting on a tip-off that some exporters were indulging in the trans-border smuggling of fins of various species of sharks, the agency mounted surveillance and zeroed in on the suspects. The fins were to be smuggled out on the pretext of exports of dried ray skins, dried marine products, and fish maw, to evade detection. “In all, 3,000 kg of shark fins was seized from the godown at Sewri and 5,000 kg from the godown in Veraval. Investigations are under way to determine from when the gang had been operating,” said an official.The wildlife inspectors confirmed that the seized goods were shark fins. “It has come up during the investigations that the stocks are replenished regularly,” the official said.Through a notification dated February 6, 2015, the Finance Ministry has prohibited export of shark fins of all species. The agency said shark finning is an act of removing the fins, often while the shark is alive. Fishermen keep just the fins — only 1 to 5% of the fish’s weight — and throw away the rest, as they fetch a high price.With the fins having been removed, the sharks are unable to swim. As a result, they either sink to the bottom of the sea and die, or get eaten by other predators.In August 2013, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change had approved a policy on “shark finning”, prohibiting removal of fins on board a vessel on the sea. The policy prescribes that any possession of shark fins would amount to “hunting” of a Schedule I species under the Wildlife Protection Act.India became signatory to the Convention of International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora in September 2014 and listed five more shark species for conservation.last_img read more