The other side of the Globo

Not since the flight of the Portuguese court to Rio in 1807 has Brazil been so important to Timor. Welcome news, this “Carnaval” in Dili, with its mix of Ivete Sangalo and trio elétricos. I even tip my hat to Gil Alves. Would have been fun to join in.

I remember noting the irony of watching a Brazilian novela, dubbed in Indonesian, on satellite television in Maliana in 2003. In fact it was a novela that helped me better my Portuguese as a student in Brazil in 1999.

Dubbed novelas have helped a generation of children learn their first words in Indonesian, across Timor.

I just want to say “parabens” to those who finally realized that Brazil can help Timor learn Portuguese, not through bilaterial aid, but by making its pop culture more accessible. (I will not be baited into talking about language. Portuguese was the choice, then it has to be made to work.)

It has been obvious for the longest time that Timorese children were not going to learn Portuguese from the classroom alone.

Their older brothers and sisters are busy listening to Brazilian country music – caipira, singing words they do not know the meaning of. Anyone who has ridden on a bus in Timor (oops I guess that excludes the people who make the decisions) would know that Chitãozinho & Xororó and Leandro and Leonardo have done more to promote Portuguese in Timor than anybody else. (Recognize this ditty?)

So great news that TVGlobo’s world famous soap operas are going to hit Timorese airwaves and Dili will parade in Carnaval.

And by the way, I also know quite a few Timorese also eager to soak up Brazil’s “social technology” — its dynamic social movements and forms of self-organization — can the embassies who funded Carnaval get behind supporting that too?


The brink

Just a quick post to say “phew.”

For those who would like to relive all of the uncertainty and surreality of last February 11, go back to Wikileaks.

If on the other hand you would like to celebrate Timor’s uncanny ability to come back from “the brink”, I wrote a post about a fight over cigarettes on a bus in 2006 which seems strangely appropriate.

Casus Belo

Odd times. The past is ever present in Timor.

Abílio Araújo suggests the Petroleum Fund is no more than a neocolonial imposition on Timor, based on the assumption that the Timorese are corruptable children who do not know how to take care of themselves. He writes, “the current justification for the creation of the Fund is based on the genetic-cultural propension of oil-producing peoples and countries to generate corrupt leaders that delapitdate the riches of their peoples.” A (dated) colonial critique which is applied with no subtly. His idea: spend Timor out of oil dependency, and fast.

José Belo is on the dock with criminal charges for what must be said is bizarre reportage on corruption by the Minister of Justice herself. The real story is that the project Timorese criminal legal code, where Article 175 will determine defamation, has conveniently not been passed in Parliament. So Belo can be tried with the outdated, repressive Indonesian version. Another relic from past vested with a great deal of power.

And Agiu Pereira published an opinion piece called “The Dreams of Kay Rala Xanana Gusmão“, quoting Portuguese poet Fernando Pessoa in the second paragraph. I can’t help but quote this extensively

Two contradictions are hovering in the conscience of Xanana Gusmão. One of them relates to the fact that he breached the promise made to his guerrillas that, after the liberation, he would not hold any position; the other is the conscience of the duty, the duty to serve, the duty not to let go what his guerrilla men achieved, for he saw many of them being killed and giving their lives so as to make their dream come true, a dream that is the dream of an entire people.

His desire to be a mere spectator of a new stage in the struggle for the sovereignty of his people, a stage of building a democratic State based on the rule of law, has not materialised because the national political reality dictates that Xanana must continue to row in this cyclopean boat that carries the hopes of the Timorese children so that they may one day be able to have more adequate living conditions, a happier life than that of their ancestors, a life proper of a modern people and country, in a globalised world.

His promise not to hold a political position was transformed by contemporary reality and converted into “Having Freed the Motherland, Let Us Free the People”.

Xanana continues to be a prisoner, but today he is a prisoner of freedom. The new prison cells are not made of walls and metal, but of his own conscience. The dream is, after all, a train that travels in a political process of the national liberation itself!

This train has neither stations nor does it stop to enable Xanana to step down.

How relevant are trains in Timor? (Maybe Timor Cartoon could do something with this image!)

I’m going to hop on my trusty kuda to take me to Central London.