Those nations and cultural groups lobbying Western museums for the restitution of cultural property acquired during the colonial period are accustomed to having their requests denied on the grounds that modern museums should not be required to atone for historical contingencies. A recent declaration by a group of leading international museum directors phrased it like this: 'The objects and monumental works that were installed decades and even centuries ago in museums throughout Europe and America were acquired under conditions that are not comparable with current ones.
Cape TownAnyone who wants to understand the inner workings of South Africa should pay careful attention to a speech made by President Mbeki at an official funeral in the Eastern Cape on 22 June. Surrounded by powerful black leaders of the new, liberated South Africa, Mbeki gave a eulogy for the departed man and urged the nation to rally behind his dream and to carry on his work. The deceased was the leading black supporter of apartheid, Kaiser Matanzima, the former president of the Transkei 'homeland', Pretoria's ultimate stooge in the days of white minority rule.
My new book, Thinly Disguised Autobiography, is not just good. It's absolutely bloody amazing. The drug scenes make Irvine Welsh look like Mary Poppins; the sex scenes are more realistic than the real thing; it's the finest dissection of the English class system since Evelyn Waugh; the dialogue rocks; it's funny and moving, pacy, and lyrical enough when it needs to be but never so purple that you get bogged down in descriptions of trees or furniture; it's at least as wittily post-modern as Dave Eggers but without the cloying sentimentality; the squalid bits outfoul Martin Amis; it's better edited than The Corrections; and the ending, when with sorrow you reach it, turns out to be so blindingly brilliant that you go, 'Bugger me.
Power cuts and rolling blackouts are about as Old Labour as rising taxes and paranoia about spooks, so it should come as no surprise that astute observers of the political scene are stockpiling candles. A report published this week explains why. According to the Institution of Civil Engineers (Ice), Britain is heading for a repeat of the 1974 three-day week, with the government forced to impose power cuts and homes left without light and heat.
They are among the most hated people in urban Britain and – because many of them are from west Africa – often the victims of racial abuse. But, says Andrew Gimson, without their bravery and dedication our civilisation might collapse Get a proper job, get a life, sod off back to Africa, black monkey, African prick, storm trooper, German scum. These are among the many insults thrown at parking wardens as they go about their daily work.