Monday, August 28, 2006


Year After Katrina

It is the first anniversary of the Katrina debacle and I have been slightly disconcerted by Amerika's own media coverage. Whilst the link above discusses the Ape Emperor's lack of response, I have been struck by a number of articles boasting headlines akin to "Celebrating the 1st Anniversary" of the event. Is the Amerikan conscience so shallow that it can be reduced to implying there should be some cause for festivities here? The mainsteam propaganda machine seems so addicted to its need for drama that the copyrighters, like Bush himself, seems to have no real empathy for those whose real lives suffered.

It's been noted that only 12% of government aid for the victims actually reached those affected and one independent commentator has even favourably compared Hezbollah's re-construction efforts in the Lebanon to US failings in the same department.

Here in Britain it has been an extended holiday weekend and today remains part of it.As tradition has it, the mood of the nation is boosted by giving us a day off from any substantial news. Here in London, the obsession is with "Carnival".

I must be getting old since the noise of it all has me in retreat. Yet, in some ways, this event at least is a cause for celebration, being as it is a cultural and ethnic mix. Sadly, these days its largely commerce-driven and marketed as a tourist attraction rather than the community festival in which it had its origins. The West Indian focus has long since expanded into additional celebration of Latin and African influence and the result is a veritable melting-pot of street culture, music and dance. As a costume drama too, it is probably without parallel.

But but me jaded if you will, in this supposed ethnic mix there also seems to be one thing missing. Asia!

There are exceptions - some of the Indian and Pakistani traders who actually keep the tradition of independent shop-keeping alive in this country will be earning their annual bonus in Notting Hill. A few truely multi-ethnic performance groups will be exhibiting themselves in the throng. But by and large, you will be hard pressed to find any substantial Asian or Arab involvement in the party proper. What has become a national institution representing multi-national Britain has become something self-serving to an extent that borders on ritual.

It is of course too big for its borders. Maybe now is the time to rethink its purpose and relocate it to a larger stage. Were it to be re-branded as a national celebration of world cultures in Britain, it's remit could be to extend those influences to include all cross-sections of our society today. Then we would have a "tourist" attraction of which we could be truely proud.

It might even make an ideal inauguration for the new Wembley if it ever gets completed - but thast;s another ball game!


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