Flat Earth

Rainbow nation's black and white

HOW times have changed. If four people had been killed in one South African riot under apartheid, it would have been world news, but the response last week to the worst violence since Nelson Mandela took power was a good deal more muted.

Why? Well, for one thing the people doing the rioting and getting killed were "Coloureds" - the mixed-race minority, about 9 per cent of the population, which speaks mainly Afrikaans and voted for its old oppressors rather than the ANC. The Coloureds now complain that they are being victimised by the new government, and get evicted or cut off when they refuse to pay rent or utility bills, unlike residents of the black townships. It's all a bit confusing, though, and certainly doesn't make for the same drama as the bad old days.

In many African countries, a German correspondent pointed out, when a black government takes over from whites "it is not so much the former ruling race that is bullied as the other minorities. In East Africa it was the Indians, in Zanzibar the Arabs, and in the new South Africa it appears to be the Coloureds' turn."

True, though there is also a problem with the way the issue is seen in the West. Call it double standards or unconscious racism, but black governments behaving badly are not considered as newsworthy as white governments doing the same thing.

Mine hosts

FOR those planning to holiday in Chechnya, a gap has been filled with the publication of a Chechen-English phrasebook. The first thing one realises is that the two languages have few common roots - "man" is stag, "child" is beer - the next is that tourism as we know it leaves something to be desired.

"In the absence of any good guidebook," say our lexicographers, "there is always the immense natural beauty of Chechnya, particularly the forests, teeming with wildlife." Sadly, they are also teeming with mines. What about sending postcards home? "When operational, the postal service in Chechnya is not always reliable," we are advised. "Have post delivered to a host organisation in another republic."

Probably the most useful phrases are "Gerza ma tooghala'!" (Don't shoot!) and "Quzah' ts'h'aa guuranash yui?" (Are there any booby traps nearby?). The authors clearly know the secret of survival in places like Chechnya - "Is it safe?" is immediately followed by "Show me", while the section on mines is admirably detailed, equipping you to determine their number, size, colour, location, composition and when they were laid.

The main thing this new work helped me to understand, however, is why there seem to be so few decent guidebooks to this scenic part of the world.

What's that Rao?

INDIANS are being plied with a pill made from the brahmi herb which is alleged to increase protein synthesis in the brain and enhance memory, even cure amnesia. The former Prime Minister, Narasimha Rao, helped to launch the product, and free bottles of "Memory Pills" are being doled out to every MP.

The makers must be hoping, though, that the public does not associate Mr Rao too closely with their wonder drug. He faces charges of accepting a bribe from a British-based Indian businessman, and it would hardly be an endorsement of their product if he falls back on the Reaganesque defence in the Iran-Contra affair: "I cannot recollect ... I do not remember ... I don't recall."

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Life and Style
Steve Shaw shows Kate how to get wet behind the ears and how to align her neck
healthSteven Shaw - the 'Buddha of Breaststroke' - applies Alexander Technique to the watery sport
A poster by Durham Constabulary
Cameron Jerome
footballCanaries beat Boro to gain promotion to the Premier League
Arts and Entertainment
Performers drink tea at the Glastonbury festival in 2010
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
Arts and Entertainment
Emily McDowell Card that reads:
artCancer survivor Emily McDowell kicks back at the clichés
footballShirt then goes on sale on Gumtree
Arts and Entertainment
Twin Peaks stars Joan Chen, Michael Ontkean, Kyle Maclachlan and Piper Laurie
tvBadalamenti on board for third series
Life and Style
Standing room only: the terraces at Villa Park in 1935
Ben Stokes celebrates with his team mates after bowling Brendon McCullum
sportEngland vs New Zealand report
Amal Clooney has joined the legal team defending 'The Hooden Men'
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Guru Careers: Software Developer / C# Developer

£40-50K: Guru Careers: We are seeking an experienced Software / C# Developer w...

Guru Careers: Software Developer

£35 - 40k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Software Developer (JavaS...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant / Resourcer

£18000 - £23000 per annum + Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitment Consu...

Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, AngularJS)

£25000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: UI Developer - (UI, JavaScript, HTML...

Day In a Page

Abuse - and the hell that came afterwards

Abuse - and the hell that follows

James Rhodes on the extraordinary legal battle to publish his memoir
Why we need a 'tranquility map' of England, according to campaigners

It's oh so quiet!

The case for a 'tranquility map' of England
'Timeless fashion': It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it

'Timeless fashion'

It may be a paradox, but the industry loves it
If the West needs a bridge to the 'moderates' inside Isis, maybe we could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive after all

Could have done with Osama bin Laden staying alive?

Robert Fisk on the Fountainheads of World Evil in 2011 - and 2015
New exhibition celebrates the evolution of swimwear

Evolution of swimwear

From bathing dresses in the twenties to modern bikinis
Sun, sex and an anthropological study: One British academic's summer of hell in Magaluf

Sun, sex and an anthropological study

One academic’s summer of hell in Magaluf
From Shakespeare to Rising Damp... to Vicious

Frances de la Tour's 50-year triumph

'Rising Damp' brought De la Tour such recognition that she could be forgiven if she'd never been able to move on. But at 70, she continues to flourish - and to beguile
'That Whitsun, I was late getting away...'

Ian McMillan on the Whitsun Weddings

This weekend is Whitsun, and while the festival may no longer resonate, Larkin's best-loved poem, lives on - along with the train journey at the heart of it
Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath in a new light

Songs from the bell jar

Kathryn Williams explores the works and influences of Sylvia Plath
How one man's day in high heels showed him that Cannes must change its 'no flats' policy

One man's day in high heels

...showed him that Cannes must change its 'flats' policy
Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Is a quiet crusade to reform executive pay bearing fruit?

Dominic Rossi of Fidelity says his pressure on business to control rewards is working. But why aren’t other fund managers helping?
The King David Hotel gives precious work to Palestinians - unless peace talks are on

King David Hotel: Palestinians not included

The King David is special to Jerusalem. Nick Kochan checked in and discovered it has some special arrangements, too
More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years

End of the Aussie brain drain

More people moving from Australia to New Zealand than in the other direction for first time in 24 years
Meditation is touted as a cure for mental instability but can it actually be bad for you?

Can meditation be bad for you?

Researching a mass murder, Dr Miguel Farias discovered that, far from bringing inner peace, meditation can leave devotees in pieces
Eurovision 2015: Australians will be cheering on their first-ever entrant this Saturday

Australia's first-ever Eurovision entrant

Australia, a nation of kitsch-worshippers, has always loved the Eurovision Song Contest. Maggie Alderson says it'll fit in fine