In a World Obsessed with Passport Tiers, Citizenship Is Personal and Political

first_imgLate last week, I was informed that I would not be able to travel to Dubai for an important meeting scheduled months ago.Like other countries across the globe, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) halted travel for those with Guinean, Liberian, and Sierra Leonean passports during the height of the Ebola outbreak. It has not lifted these restrictions.The miniature red suitcase I had packed lay abandoned on my wooden floor. I caressed my dark green Liberian passport as if to reassure this inanimate marker of identity that my citizenship was not on trial here.The specter of Ebola had simply triumphed over reason.Yet, the irony of this episode hasn’t escaped me. Dubai is a hub for cross continental travel. In 2013 alone, the UAE boasted the fifth largest international migrant pool in the world—hosting 7.8 million foreign residents out of a total population of 9.2 million. Furthermore, foreign labor migrants account for 90 percent of the country’s private workforce, mostly from Pakistan, Bangladesh and India.Unlike the US and UK, where anti-immigrant sentiments have reached fever pitch, the UAE seems more pliant to international travelers. So, naturally, I thought it was odd when I attempted to complete the online visa form and Liberia was not listed as an option for ‘present nationality’. Nor were Guinea and Sierra Leone.This was punishment for simply being born in Africa with a particular African passport. Even the organizers of the meeting were shocked, disbelief sprinkled in their conciliatory e-mails and phone calls. All diplomatic channels had proved futile. The verdict was irreversible. I would not be getting on that plush Emirates flight.Never mind that Liberia was declared Ebola-free on May 9, exactly one month ago.Never mind that I have not been to my homeland in over 10 months. Nor was I asked about recent travel there.Never mind that my country and its people are slowly trying to recover from an invisible foe that killed nearly 5,000 and infected about 11,000.In the past year, I’ve seen my passport scrutinized more intently than ever before, but the UAE blanket bias felt like adding salt to a fresh wound.At first, I experienced blinding rage with a touch of indignation. The kind that gurgles in the pit of your gut, and then explodes.Then I was amused by the absurdity of it all. If I were traveling directly from Guinea, Liberia or Sierra Leone and had a passport from a country on UAE’s list of exemptions, I would have gotten a visa on arrival with ease. No questions asked.Mild acceptance slowly seeped in, reminding me that we maintain immigration hierarchies as a form of erasure and silencing. In our obsession with citizenship tiers, west is best. North trumps South. And white is inevitably right.Never mind black/brown solidarity. Or does that even exist?I have shied away from returning home fearing the kind of immobility that sees people not as complex beings but as nameless, faceless ‘threats’ to national security. A sedentarist kind of metaphysic that keeps certain people in their place.People like me.Truth be told, the natural human compulsion for mobility is currently under threat because of irrational immigration bans such as the UAE’s.For all the rhetoric about globalization’s free flow of ideas, capital and technology, the world remains obsessed with restricting the movement of people who don’t fit into our neat boxes of what is tolerable or even desirable. The UAE saga is a microcosm of a larger debate about the need for immigration reforms worldwide.The scapegoating of migrants across the globe deflects attention from the fact that most countries have failed to improve the quality of life of their domestic citizens. Afro-fobic attacks in South Africa, Australia’s Pacific Solution, and the plight of Rohingya Muslims off the coast of Indonesia are extreme examples. Immigration is framed as a zero sum game, with finite rights and resources available to a select few.I watch migrants who look like me risk their lives on sardine-packed, rickety boats to cross the Mediterranean, and know intuitively that they wouldn’t flee if they had a choice. With each desperate attempt to cross over, what they are effectively saying is that Europe must make amends for waging unjustifiable wars and supporting authoritarian regimes in some of their countries of origin.Centuries ago, Africans were so eager to escape lives of bondage, some dove to sudden death in the Atlantic. They were the first forced migrants I can recall. Now, many of us travel across these same waters for short-, medium- and long-term trips. Not because of some deep, abiding love for life abroad, but because it gives us a measure of flexibility. It keeps us physically connected to the rest of the world.And for someone like me with chronic wanderlust, the ability to travel unencumbered is almost as necessary as oxygen itself.Although a self-professed transnational, I used to be suspicious of Liberians who changed their nationality out of convenience. But after interviewing more than 200 of us across five urban centers in West Africa, North America and Europe for my doctoral thesis on citizenship construction and practice, I have become more empathetic. Many of us make the switch because of the access so easily denied me by the UAE.But we shouldn’t have to.I can’t say I would ever consider exchanging my passport for another, especially since Liberia prohibits dual citizenship. Yet, the UAE debacle has shaken me to the core. It’s made me acutely aware that citizenship is both personal and political.Robtel Neajai Pailey is a Liberian academic, activist and author based at SOAS, University of London.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)last_img read more

Brand South Africa congratulates Springboks for World Cup 2015 performance

first_img(Image: South African Rugby Union)Johannesburg, Friday 30 October 2015 – Brand South Africa joins South Africans across the country in congratulating the Springboks for placing third in the Rugby World Cup 2015 following their match against Argentina.Brand South Africa’s CEO, Kinsley Makhubela, said, “The Springboks have played with passion and from the heart throughout the World Cup. You carried the South African flag proudly and unwaveringly during this tournament.”“South Africa is proud is your performance, your commitment and your passion. We look forward to welcoming you home,” concluded Mr Makhubela.last_img

Maharashtra: BJP-Shiv Sena alliance leads

first_imgThe ruling BJP-Shiv Sena alliance was leading in at least 31 constituencies in Maharashtra and the Congress-NCP in 16 while the Vanchit Bahujan Aghadi led in one constituency as per early counting trends on Thursday.Union Minister Nitin Gadkari led in Nagpur, BJP State president Raosaheb Danve-Patil in Jalna, Maharashtra Congress president Ashok Chavan in Nanded, Supriya Sule-Pawar in Baramati and Swabhimani Shetkari Sanghatana chief Raju Shetti in Hatkanangale.Earlier, counting of votes started in Mumbai and Maharashtra amid tight security for 48 Lok Sabha seats, officials said.In Mumbai, the prominent candidates in the fray are: BJP’s Gopal Shetty, Poonam Mahajan, Manoj Kotak; Shiv Sena’s Gajanan Kirtikar, Rahul Shewale, Arvind Sawant; Congress’ Milind M. Deora, Sanjay Nirupam, Eknath Gaekwad, Priya Dutt, Urmila Matondkar; and Nationalist Congress Party’s Sanjay Dina Patil.last_img read more

Movie review: Yeh Khula Aasmaan

first_imgYeh Khula AasmaanCast: Raghuveer Yadav, Raj Tandon, Anya Anand, Yashpal Sharma, Manjusha Godse, Kishor Nadalskar, Nitin KerurDirection: Gitanjali SinhaRating:  A teenager grapples with his no-show in academics. The pressure to qualify for IIT is killing him. Mom and dad are too busy to pay attention and the boy has no one to turn to.You get the familiar picture of urban crisis this film is trying to set up. It’s not really the first time that Bollywood has tapped the subject, and debutant Gitanjali Sinha tries narrating her coming-of-age tale with a retrospective twist. When life gets messed up on the fast lane, get far away from the maddening crowd. Head back to the village for a pep dose of self-discovery.Debutant Raj Tandon plays Avinash, the young hero of the film who is lonely, depressed and confused. The turnaround in his story comes when Avinash visits his Dadu, Gulab Rai (Raghuveer Yadav). The boy finds a support system in the grandfather. Realising Avinash’s problem is psychological, Dadu – a kite running champ in his heydays – decides to instil self-realisation in the boy using the sport as a template.The kite-flying metaphor used to unravel lessons on life, love, friendship and hope are, however, predictably drawn. That bit is a snag, as is the snail’s pace of the narrative. Yeh Khula Aasmaan could have been watchable fare had its makers worked at a tighter screenplay.Raj Tandon makes a fine debut, and Raghuveer Yadav’s Dadu is credibly essayed. The actors, though, can’t save the tedious show.advertisementlast_img read more

More Big Names Join Global Citizen Festival

first_imgOver a dozen world leaders and prominent activists have announced their on-stage participation in the 2015 Global Citizen Festival.Among the names are Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and Malala Fund co-founder, Malala Yousafzai; UN Messenger of Peace with a special focus on climate change, Leonardo DiCaprio; U2 lead singer and cofounder of ONE, Bono; Sir Richard Branson; UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon; Bill and Melinda Gates; World Bank Group President, Dr Jim Yong Kim; Norwegian Prime Minister, Erna Solberg; Swedish Prime Minister, Stefan Lofven; Her Majesty Queen Rania Al Abdullah of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan; Prime Minister of Luxembourg, Xavier Bettel; the Prime Minister of Malta, Joseph Muscat; U.S. Senator Chris Coons; and U.S. Representative Charlie Dent.From the private sector, leading advocates, including: Facebook Chairman and CEO, Mark Zuckerberg; Unilever CEO, Paul Polman; CEO of Gucci, Marco Bizzarri; H&M Conscious Foundation Acting Global Manager, Maria Bystedt; Caterpillar Foundation President, Michele Sullivan; Stephen Bird, CEO of Global Consumer Banking, Citi, Ericsson Group President and CEO, Hans Vestberg; Wikipedia Founder and Wikia Co-Founder, Jimmy Wales; AOL Inc. CEO, Tim Armstrong; TED Curator, Chris Anderson; CEO of WPP plc, Sir Martin Sorrell; Safaricom CEO, Bob Collymore; Ooredoo Group CEO, Dr. Nasser Marafih; former Australian Prime Minister and Chair of the Global Partnership for Education, Julia Gillard; Executive Director of the Earth Institute, Professor Jeffrey Sachs; Telenor Group Vice President and Deputy Head of Corporate Affairs, Ragnhild Mathisen; and special guest Big Bird of Sesame Street will also take the stage, asking the world not to be bystanders but to take action to ensure the Global Goals are not just known globally, but are achieved.The 2015 Global Citizen Festival will also feature on-stage video messages and commitments from Prime Minister of India, Narendra Modi; President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos; and Vice President of Malawi, Saulos Chilima. The First Daughter of Rwanda, Ange Kagame; her father President Paul Kagame; South African WASH Minister, Nomvula Mokonyane; USAID Acting Administrator Ambassador Alfonso E. Lenhardt, and the President of Malawi, His Excellency Pro. Arthur Peter Mutharika will also appear during the Festival.This year’s Festival will also feature the Global Citizen Festival Honorary Congressional Host Committee, comprised of leading members from the United States Senate and the United States House of Representatives. The committee will include: Senator Robert P. Casey Jr. (PA), Senator Thad Cochran (MS), Senator Bob Corker (TN), Senator Barbara A. Mikulski (MD) and Senator Chris Murphy (CT), Congressman Earl Blumenauer (OR-3), Congressman Joaquin Castro (TX-20), Congressman Chaka Fattah (PA-2), Congressman Richard L. Hanna (NY-22), Congressman Raul Grijalva (AZ-3), Congresswoman Barbara Lee (CA-13), Congressman John Lewis (GA-5), Congresswoman Nita M. Lowey (NY-17), Congresswoman Betty McCollum (MN-4), Congressman James McGovern (MA-2), Congressman Ted Poe (TX-2), Congressman Adam Schiff (CA-28), Congressman Paul D. Tonko (NY-20), and Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz (FL-23).They join a star-studded lineup of musicians and celebrity hosts including Stephen Colbert, Deborra-lee Furness and Hugh Jackman, Salma Hayek Pinault, Kerry Washington, and Olivia Wilde, alongside 60,000 global citizens on the Great Lawn of New York City’s Central Park on September 26, 2015. The free-ticketed concert will feature headlining performances from Pearl Jam, Beyonce, Ed Sheeran and Coldplay.“I’m proud to go to Central Park to support this great initiative and show Sweden’s unwavering commitment to fight inequality, together with the global community. We are ready to be part of a new push for the eradication of poverty, especially through granting access to water, sanitation and hygiene around the world. It’s a huge task we have in front of us – so let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work,” stated Swedish Prime Minister, Stefan Lofven.“2015 is an unprecedented moment for global action. This extraordinary group of leaders, activists and advocates have the power to help realize the ambitious Global Goals, changing the lives of billions. I have never been more proud to be a part of the Global Citizen movement!”, said Hugh Evans, CEO, The Global Poverty Project.Proud core partners of the 2015 Global Citizen Festival include: presenting partner Gucci and the CHIME FOR CHANGE campaign, The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Citi, Unilever, YouTube, TIDAL, Google, iHeartRadio, Clear Channel Outdoor, msnbc, New York City Department of Parks & Recreation, H&M, and T- Mobile. Supporting partners are BBC Worldwide, Universal Music Group Distribution, Pratt Foundation, Waislitz Foundation, The Huffington Post, Milk Studios, RYOT and Riot House.The 2015 Global Citizen Festival will air live from Central Park on MSNBC and from 3-10 p.m. ET. YouTube will also livestream the Festival on, presented by T-Mobile, and an audio feed of the concert will also be simulcast live on the “Global Citizen Radio” digital station on iHeartRadio, and digitally streamed on the innovative music and entertainment platform, TIDAL. The Festival will be produced by Emmy Award-winning producer, Ken Ehrlich (Grammy Awards).For more information about the Festival, visit: read more

Polish pay and free TV broadcaster Polsat Group ha

first_imgPolish pay and free TV broadcaster Polsat Group has selected the first four film and TV original projects to come out of its Cyfrowa Strefa Twórców (Digital Zone) project.Polsat said it that over 250 pitches for films and TV series had been made under the Cyfrowa Strefa Twórców initiative, a digital platform designed and launched four months ago for content creators and producers to pitch projects – including for cinema release as well as TV – that Polsat Group would support, alone or in partnership with co-producers. The broadcaster committed to provide financial backing for development and longer-term support in the shape of joint sales activities, including international sales, as well as looking after copyright protection.The first projects selected for Polsat’s support under the scheme are Podwójny Ironman, a film based on the life of triathlete Jerzy Górski, directed by Łukasz Palkowski, which will be released in the fourth quarter of next year, Brawo My!, a romantic comedy to be released in 2018, directed by Bartosz Prokopowicz, Gwiazda, a biography of actress Anna Przybylska directed by Radosław Piwowarski, and Wilq Superbohater, a 13-episode animated TV series based on the cult comic book of the same name, directed by Bartosz Minkiewicz and Leszek Nowicki, which will be distributed via TV and online in 2017.Aleksander Myszka, member of the supervisory board of pay TV unit Cyfrowy Polsat, mobile arm Polkomtel and Polsat, said that the group intended to use the platform to invest in further projects of interest, adding that the Cyfrowa Strefa Twórców project would enable fast and efficient selection of projects based on criteria set by the broadcaster to the mutual benefit of all parties.Agnieszka Odorowicz, member of the board of Cyfrowy Polsat, said that more titles would be announced in December, which will be developed over the course of next year and produced in 2018.last_img read more