Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Oscar Pistorius and Luis Suarez

So what is the connection?
There might be a connection.
Suarez, a superb athlete, has now bitten another player on the field of play for the third time.
It seems probable that he does this in terms of what is known in law as "automatism", i.e, an involuntary reaction. 
He certainly cannot be doing it out of hunger, lol.
The issue of involuntary reaction and/or automatism arises as regards Oscar Pistorius, another superb athlete ... because it is known that the brain is indeed a mischievous and sometimes capricious organ.
It already controls very important functions "involuntarily and/or automatically", like our breathing.
Sometimes it gets just a bit treacherous.
So is this a situation where, given the right stimulus, the one bites and the other attacks ... automatically/involuntarily?

A shocking experience: -
I grew up in racist Rhodesia.
It was a rough tough life for us Coloureds.
This was reflected at all levels.
So there was much physical confrontation in my life.
I had many, ,many fist fights.
At all times I was in control, even when under very severe intoxication.
I worked in the Courts, as a Prosecutor, then as a Magistrate, then as a Advocate, then as a High Court Judge.
A case came out in South Africa that brought out the concept of “sane automatism” as a valid defense to criminal conduct.
I was absolutely disinterested and dismissed this as nonsense, since I had always been able to maintain control even in the most violent of circumstances.
Then, one day, we were driving from Lake McIlwaine (now Lake Chivero) when another driver nearly wrote us off and them gave me the finger.
I became overcome by a need to get him, deprive his brain him of oxygen and then reprogram his brain with good manners. I knew from experience that when a man has been throttled to near unconsciousness his mind is thereafter very receptive to good ideas about behaviour.
So I went after him, very relieved to see that he was due to be stopped at the next set of traffic lights.
I accelerated to get there, block him and get him. I had a .45 H&R Revolver on my person that I was undoubtedly going to use if things got bad for me.

At the same time I was having a conversation with myself --- “Chris Greenland, you are a High Court Judge; you cannot do this; it is against the law; you cannot take the law into your own hands; it is wrong; it is unlawful …”
But there was NOTHING I could do to stop myself ... nothing whatsoever.
It was if I was a robot that had been programmed … as if I was possessed by something from within ... with no power to resist.
Nothing was going to stop me throttling him to near consciousnesses and then mentoring him on good manners as I allowed him oxygen. Past experience had proved that this was a sure fire way to reform a human being instantly.

It struck me forcefully that this was what was meant by “sane automatism”.
I did block him at the lights, but he managed to reverse out of it and get away as my vehicle was towing a boat.
This experience came as a huge shock to me .. a very huge shock indeed ... and has remained as a salutary lesson and education about the capriciousness of the brain.

Order ---

Wednesday, June 11, 2014

Brown Velvet Awards. Arcadia Community Center. Harare. Zimbabwe. 24 May 2014

Speech by the Hon Mr Justice Christopher Navavie Greenland
“Simple Truth and Great Hope”

Thank you everybody.
I would like to start with some acknowledgements.
In the history of this Community Center we can accept that it has never looked better. The décor and ambiance is simply fantastic.
I also must express my appreciation to Tracey Jane Bell for having accorded me the honour of leading us in this conversation.
I do this with love; love of truth; love for all of you; and love for social justice.

There comes a time as regards every person, community, country, when it must seek to review itself, to see who and what it is. That review, as always, entails looking back.

Everything has a beginning.  So I must start somewhere.
I thought I should start on another historic occasion, that was played out on this very stage all those years ago.
This was when Herbert Foya Thompson, a renowned champion of social justice, turned to Bernard Ponter, a Parliamentary Candidate for Ian Smith’s Rhodesia Front Party in the Willowvale Constituency.
He said to Ponter, “What is it that you have in your heart? Do you really have no love in your heart; as a Jew, who endured the Holocaust, where millions of your people were incinerated and others even had their skins turned into lamp shades? How are you now able to come here and seek to oppress others? Do you have no shame?
Ian Smith had made a speech in which he solemnly promised to take us Coloured people “along” with him and his party, to take us along, like we were some sort of luggage.
Led by Eugene Robinson, God rest his soul, we then formed a “guard of dishonour” for Ponter and his entourage, and slowly hand-clapped them out of this Hall, never to return.  The Rhodesian Front was never able to hold another meeting in any Hall in our community across the country.

You see Herbert Thompson was concerned with truth. Truth is indeed ever simple. “Veritas oratio simplex est”, the motto of one of our great Schools, Founders High that, incidentally I did not attend, being a product of Sacred Heart Home and Embakwe Coloured School.

The truth starts with acknowledging history. What we can all accept beyond all doubt is that throughout history the World has always been a mess. It has been a litany of wars and strife from the very beginning; from the time Cain killed Abel.
This was because man has always been obsessed with difference; racial, ethnic, religious, cultural … difference. The obsession with rejection, on the basis of difference, has been a scourge on this planet. Right now we have a terrible problem of young girls who have been abducted in Nigeria because of this obsession. 
We also know that historically man had a culture of “invade, conquer and subjugate”. Apparently this was in response to the biblical exhortation to “go forth and multiply” .  So this is what man did, from time immemorial. The Greeks did it. So did the Romans. Genghis Khan is credited with killing more human beings when he overran Asia than were killed in the last two World Wars.

Of course, this region was not spared; and that is how we had colonialism. Our White brothers arrived and took over. The culture was “might is right”, as it had always been. In this region, King Shaka Zulu, Mzilikazi and Lobengula did the same.

And, of course you never treated those that you have conquered as equals. So when the brown baby arrived a problem needed to be resolved. It seems to me that it was resolved by keeping Black folk oppressed and keeping us sort of half oppressed.

And this caused us a problem; and still does. This business of being caught in the middle, has ensured that we have always been beset by problems to this very day. I recall an eminent Black journalist penning an article, in which he postulated that colonialism had brought much trouble to this region; including “bringing the Coloured”. I took issue with him on this and boxed him up good and proper. We are not a scourge like small pox.

The problem of being caught in the middle has never left us. We have always been seen and treated as being irrelevant. There has been ambivalence about us. The dominant groups, White and Black, have always been concerned with each other as “us … and them …” but with our community being treated as “the other”, irrelevant, ambivalent.

It is important to understand that the World only changed its “might is right” culture in 1948, after two bloody World wars and the Holocaust. It was only then that the World reviewed its culture and said to itself that this cannot be right. In the result it conceived and signed off on the Universal Declaration of Human Rights at the United Nations, as a paradigm mindset change. For the first time the World decided that there was such a thing as human rights, that you could not just go around grabbing and certainly could not enslave others. This was a paradigm culture shift for the whole planet.
The evil was that South Africa and Rhodesia defied this paradigm shift and repudiated the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

And as said, we were always caught in the middle … as irrelevant … ambivalent … the other.

Now we need to go back to truth. What is the truth?  Before answering that question might I point out another truth … that the most powerful instinct that human beings have, is that of Hope. Hope surpasses all other instincts and feelings, even the instinct of survival and sex.  For instance, it is why people have voted the current government to power. It is because the government gives them hope. It is always about Hope.

So when we look at our community we find that, from day one, it is about the only community in the World that has never been obsessed with difference. In terms of skin tone and colouring our Black brothers and sisters range from midnight black to a nice shade of brown. White folk range from mid brown to snow white. We cover the whole spectrum. We range from ubu’m nyama tsu to ubu’m hlophe khe, that is from midnight black to snow white.

In addition, we include all racial, ethnic and tribal groups, as well as religions and cultures.
If you just look at a picture of our heroic soccer team that won the Castle Cup, all those years ago, you will see the whole spectrum of colour.
At my old School, Embakwe, every child could speak an indigenous language and we came from all the tribes in the region, covering then Rhodesia, Northern Rhodesia, Bechuanaland and Nyasaland. Some could even speak KhoiSan and could click away, sounding like typewriters.

We know that about 100,000 years ago a black woman, somewhere in this region, had children, who left and populated the whole planet. She is called Mitochondrial Eve. DNA coding has confirmed that she is the mother of nearly all of modern man.
I contend that our community represents the return of those children

The point to be made here, in the name of truth, is that despite this huge admixture our community has never been obsessed with difference. Our heroes have covered the whole range or spectrum of humanity.

So the truth is that … it is our community that is an example for the whole World, no more; no less.  It is … in our community that Hope reposes for this country, for this region, for Africa, for the rest of the World, for the whole planet, still beset with strife. The World needs to accept and appreciate the richness of diversity … as we do as a matter of course.

So Brown Velvet is the brand of Hope.

Before ending I think we should acknowledge the sacrifice made by many of our members such as Thomas Zerf, Charles Grey, Sisco Stool … who risked their lives to join the liberation struggle.  I was never brave enough.
We include those like Foya Thompson that were detained at Gonakudzingwa and David Kilpin who was sentenced to fifteen (15) years imprisonment for assisting freedom fighters and had his farm and possessions sold in execution by the Ian Smith regime.

Lastly can we have a moment’s silence in memory and honour of Richard “Sweetpea” Robinson who was hanged by the Smith government for trying to free all of us from oppression.

……. silence …….

Thank you.  May Brown Velvet be the brand of Hope.

Monday, June 2, 2014

Being Honoured at the Brown Velvet Awards

Being Honoured
On 24 May 2014 our Coloured Community in Zimbabwe came together, for the first time in history, to acknowledge and honour its own in a gala evening of joyous celebration titled the Brown Velvet Awards.
Awards were conferred in various categories of outstanding contribution to our people and society in general.
I was privileged to receive the award, in the Groundbreaker category, for having served the course of justice as the first non-White magistrate in this region, then as a Judge in Zimbabwe and South Africa and for having been an expert advisor to three governments in this region, with Botswana and Namibia now enjoying internationally unmatchable Road Crash Compensation systems.
Serving as an expert on Carte Blanche's live coverage of the Oscar Pistorius Trial of the Century was seen as bringing honour to all of Zimbabwe.
No one can be more greatly honoured than by his or her own in his/her country of birth. It was the most wonderful moment of my life.
I can go on to rest in peace knowing that my life was not wasted, because it made a difference, howsoever small, to other human beings during revolutionary and trying times.
It is the hope of my community and I that our example of NOT being obsessed with difference, be it race, ethnicity, tribe, skin tone, religion or culture, will be followed by all of mankind. 

May the Brown Velvet brand be the message of HOPE for the planet.

The event was organised by Ms Tracey Jane Bell whose conceived the brilliant concept of Brown Velvet.
Free counters!