Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Meanwhile elsewhere in Slavland...#2

I have other things I should be posting about and I hope I will find to do so in the next few weeks. But for now, I though I'd better post about this since people will undoubtedly be emailing me about this all day.

(Via The Times) Nigerian-born Polish citizen, John Godson, becomes Poland's first black MP

Congratulations to Mr. Godson and Powodzenia!

Monday, October 25, 2010

Wait! What? A Brother IS Mayor in Slovenia?!

As the conclusion to our ongoing posts "Wait! What? A Brother Running For Mayor in Slovenia?!" (1, 2). I just want to report to you what the UK newspaper The Guardian has already splayed across their own pages....


As he said on BBC World Service this morning, "It will take some time to see if there will be any real change."

All who know me, know that I'm not holding my breath. I'm just celebrating.

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Sara Rajh, architect

Just came across another fascinating young Afro-Slovenian.

This lovely woman is Sara Rajh, a Ghanaian-Slovenian architect who enjoys the richness of her Hungarian, Slovenian, and Ghanaian heritages.

Sara Rajh with her husband, the academic sculptor Jürgen Rajh - photo credit

She was raised in northeastern Slovenia and now calls the Austrian town of Graz her home, but still works on projects in Slovenia and with family and associates in Ghana. Among her many endeavours has been: the establishment of a Slovenian association in Graz (which already had quite a large Slovenian population), working on the local radio station, organizing fund-raising exhibitions of Ghanaian jewelry/artistry, and developing an eco-farm in northeastern Slovenia (one of the most economically depressed regions in the country). All this from a woman that the article (Slovenian-language only) describes as "a true little miracle in a Slovenian countryside where no one had ever seen a dark-skinned person up close before."* Bravo and best wishes to you Ms. Rajh!

* As regular readers may have already noted, there is a lack of tact here, especially as regards race.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Yucky Tricks

A weekend or so ago, The Captain's mom, The Captain, and I went down to a family vineyard in the Dolenjska region where she's from. From what she told me, we were going down to have lunch and say hello to family members; she talked a LOT before we left but that was all the information she really gave. Off the back of that information, The Captain and I got dressed up smartly, loaded up the car, and left.

...so you can imagine how perturbed I was when we pulled up to the vineyard, got out of the car, and were handed buckets, scissors, and gloves. CapMama turned to us and was like "You guys have a change of clothes, right?" Steam blew out of my head and -- despite the fact that this happens all the time* -- it took everything I had to keep quiet and go with the flow.

I walked up the steep hill into the vineyard with my brand new ankle boots on, angered about the state of my new shoes and frightened I'd fall down the hill.

After leaning against a fence post for 15 minutes watching everyone else work, I finally decided to jump in and help pick some grapes. It was nasty work, as this year's mix of weather coupled with the neighboring vineyards bout with mold (the neighbour, who probably inherited the damn vineyard, refuses to come out and pick grapes anymore and just leaves them to rot year after year) meant that most of the grapes were either dried like raisins or totally moldy.

Our job was to knock away all the sour grapes and pick out the few decent looking ones. Messy, stinky, yucky work.

I ended up taking my shoes and socks off so I could get a grip on the ground and not slide down the hill.

It ended up being the best decision; though I did have to contend with pesky people walking past me every few minutes with admonishments and "concern" that I would catch cold (catching cold seems to be the worst fate that can befall you in this country, geez.)

Anyway, after an hour or two of this cruel punishment, at least I got a good meal (pictures to come)....and, of course, this little blog post.

*Slovenians have a bad habit of not giving you necessary information unless you explicity ask for it. Problem being that you don't know what you don't know. Frustration!

Monday, October 11, 2010

Update on Wait! What? A Brother Running For Mayor In Slovenia

Quick follow up to July's post Wait! What? A Brother Running For Mayor In Slovenia ....

According to news reports (Slovenian only), Slovenian-based Ghanaian doctor and politician Peter Bossman was in the lead with over 30% of votes after yesterday's election to become mayor of the lovely seaside town of Piran. The race will now go into run-offs against the current sitting mayor (who had just over 20%) of the vote. Here's hoping Dr. Bossman makes it all the way through and becomes the first black* mayor in Slovenia! Let's goooooo!

In further news, journalist Vlado Miheljak puts forth a more ambitious proposition..."Peter Bossman For President" and much mudslinging in the comments ensues! (Slovenian only)

*yes, say BLACK/črn not temnopolt/ "dark-skinned". Black comes in many shades (from light to dark) and is an experience, not just a state of melanin.

Venice Architecture Biennale 2010

The Captain and I made it over to Venice for the Architecture Biennale. Here are a few pics:

The Belgian pavilion was my favorite hands down. It was full of used interiors.

this was a work table surface that sat next to a copy machine

a big foam model of the city in the dutch pavilion

a big strange spanish toy sculpture thing

a detail shot

another detail shot

the cafeteria

the polish pavilion

the egyptian pavilion

the serbian pavilion, which happened to be full of a group of friendly young serbians

American pavilion

Czech and Slovak was lovely

the Canadian exhibition was an interactive manmade plastic forest

Saturday, September 11, 2010

Three Whole Years

Oh! The Places You'll Go!

Today is the 3rd anniversary of my residence in Slovenia (of all places). Amazing where a little adventurousness, blind faith, love, perseverance (and a healthy helping of foolishness) can get you.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Call for proposals: Publication on "Integration beyond Migration"

(via Black Women in Europe Blog)

Local Integration: A Durable Solution for Refugees
picture credit

Call for proposals: Publication on "Integration beyond Migration"

As a reflection of the debates in the Member States, the current EU debate on integration repeatedly combines the issues of migration and integration by maintaining a restrictive approach to integration policy focusing primarily on the integration of Third-Country Nationals. As a typical example, the 2004 EU Common Basic Principles on integration have been developed within the broader framework of the management of migration and its consequences, and therefore primarily concern migrants and Third-Country Nationals. However, people from a migrant background born in Europe or people from a European minority ethnic or religious background can no longer be considered as migrants as they are facing an entirely different set of challenges and hurdles in their integration process - many of which are certainly more akin to the integration/inclusion issues faced by specific economic classes of the majority community (in terms of poverty, underachievement in education, etc.). The linkages between anti-discrimination, integration and social inclusion therefore need to be rethought to develop a new approach to this policy area and enhance policy coherence. It is important that EU integration policies not only focus on new arrivals, but on the social inclusion of all migrants and minorities, irrespective of when they arrived in the EU.

Deadline 2o September 2010. More details here.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Irena Yebuah-Tiran

Picture credit

Not to turn this page into a Who's Who of Black Slovenians, but hey I think it can't hurt to show that the few black Slovenians and black people in Slovenia have done and can do remarkable things.

This vision of loveliness before you this time around is the lovely Ghanaian-Slovenian opera singer Irena Yebuah-Tiran.

Just the other day, someone mentioned to me that there was an old Ghanaian guy in Dolenjska who had settled down there and (much like every one else in Dolenjska) had started his own vineyard. A quick Google search led me to this 2004 story (Slovenian language only) on Mr. Robert Yebuah and then onwards to his talented and lovely daughter Irena. According to her website, Ms. Yebuah-Tiran has been training her voice since middle school and gained her Masters degree in Music from the prestigious Mozarteum in Salzburg, Austria, and has performed in both Ljubljana, Vienna, and beyond.

Check out her music on her Myspace page here and cheer her on!

Picture credit

As they say in Ghana, ayekoo! (well done!)

Monday, August 23, 2010

Best of

World Cup national flags for sale

Newsweek just came out with it's list of 100 Best Countries to live and Slovenia came in at 24. Congrats to Slovenia. The country is safe with a highly educated population and good life expectancy. No small accomplishment, of course.

That said, one has to interrogate how these lists are compiled and WHO praytell are they for? I don't think this list imagines that these conditions apply to just anyone who dropped out of the sky. It must be for the natives, most of whom are not going anywhere regardless of what this list says. I guess it would give them a boost of pride, which I guess is something. But what of the people that are looking at this list with an eye to moving to one of those countries? Can we get any glimpse into the life we would lead as an expat? Things such as access to services in multiple languages, the weather and environment, health care and social services, cultural events and resources, and importantly attitudes of natives towards newcomers/foreigners are what may be on the mind of a potential expat to that country. But I suppose that could be a hard thing to measure...Nonetheless in this globalised world, it would be nice to see one of those lists that gave more than a passing nod to the non-native's concerns and made this information useful rather than just a source of pride (or shame) for natives of the respective countries.

On a lighter note, the interactive tool is pretty neat on that site...check it out!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

A Visit to the Volčji Potok Arboretum

Dog water fountain. Curious, since I never see water fountains for HUMANS.