Monday, November 17, 2014

My Log 449 Nov 17 2014: CP Concordia screens Secret Trials5, a blockbuster of a film that one hopes may turn Canadian public opinion back in favour of traditional legal defences, away from secrecy and government skullduggery

Logo of the Canadian Security Intelligence Ser...
Logo of the Canadian Security Intelligence Service. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Christian Peacemaker Teams protesting at 277 F...
Christian Peacemaker Teams protesting at 277 Front Street, CSIS' Toronto Headquarters (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Supreme Court, Ottawa, Canada
Supreme Court, Ottawa, Canada (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
To judge from the experience of the five Canadian permanent residents of Middle Eastern origin whose cases are dealt with in the remarkable documentary film, The Secret Trial 5 which was screened last week by Cinema Politica Concordia, the condition of civil liberties in Canada is indeed perilous, and poses a threat to every Canadian. These men have spent a combined total of 30 years in detention, and none of them has ever been accused of a crime, or has never been confronted with the evidence on which he has been detained. They were made subject to an immigration procure known as a Security Certificate, originally designed to apprehend people before deporting them, but a procedure used in these cases to keep the detainees in jail indefinitely, even without their being charged with anything, but also used to extend control over them into their post-release lives.
If you think this is bad, it seems to be getting even worse, according to Adil Charkaoui, one of the two men who has succeeded in fighting his way through the Kafkaesque nightmare of the Canadian security system, who was present at the screening to answer questions. When these men were detained, legislation under which they were held was directed rather specifically at a certain limited part of the population, he said. But when he succeeded, with the help of the Toronto civil liberties lawyer Lorne Waldman, in having the security certificates declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, amendments were made to the legislation that has resulted in every Canadian being made subject to the laws, and, he said, proposed legislation following the recent disturbances in Ottawa around the House of Commons promises to make matters even more authoritarian.
The director of this powerful film is Amar Wala, a young man almost straight out of film school, who on the night of the Montreal screening was in the United States presenting his film, but the two producers, Noah Bingham and Madeleine Cohen, were present to help Charkaoui answer questions.
I don’t feel obliged here to run through all the arguments presented in these cases, which have already been much written about and discussed. But I should record the names of the five detainees, describe their fates, and  comment on at least one aspect of the case that struck me most forcibly.
First, the bare facts.  In 1999 Mahmoud Jaballah, a Scarborough high school principal, was
arrested and detained without charge, followed over the next few years by  Mohammad Zeki Mahjoub, of Toronto, Hassan Almrei of Mississauga, Mohamed Harkat of Ottawa, and Adil Charkaoui, of Montreal. All were detained under provisions of immigration control laws providing for use of a Security Certificate, preliminary to deportation.  Almrei and Charkaoui pursued cases to the Supreme Court, and each was eventually cleared and released, although the Court allowed the government a year to amend the law so as to make it constitutional. These amendments added to the process so-called Special Advocates, lawyers given special clearance to see a summary of the evidence held against the detainees, although, having once seen this evidence, they were forbidden from speaking to the lawyers or the detainees. When Harkat’s case came before the Court, the Court for the first time in its history conducted a session in secret to consider evidence, and subsequently found that the process was now constitutional. At one point during these years, a special prison was built in Kingston to house these men. It became known at Guantanamo North, cost $3.2 million to build, and has since been abandoned. The cost of this whole process, beginning to end, has been estimated at $60 million taxpayers’ dollars --- so far.
What I thought might be useful for me to  concentrate on here are the horrendously restrictive conditions applied to each of these men when the decision was made to release them from detention. These were so onerous that one of the five, Mahjoub, having been released after seven years of detention, during which he conducted several hunger strikes, found the conditions so destructive of his family life that after two years he surrendered to the authorities and requested to be put back in detention, as the lesser of two evils. He declined to take part in the film, in which he was joined by the five federal government departments which did not have the courage to answer questions from the filmmakers. Let’s name these cowards:

*Canadian Security Intelligence Service
*Canada Border Services Agency, Public Safety Canada
*Immigration Canada
*Correctional Services, Public Service Canada
*Canada Department of Justice.)

But the aspect of this terrible system that most impressed me when I saw the film was the agonizing recital given by Sophie Harkat of the actual restrictions imposed on these people after their release to their homes. (I was living in Ottawa during most of these years, and can testify that Mrs. Harkat was heroic in her defence of her husband. Other wives in other cities may have been as assiduous in that, but I have no personal knowledge of their activities.) In effect, the homes of the detainees were transformed into prisons, and their families into their jailers.  Ms. Harkat  told  of having to accompany her husband  virtually every time he moved, including if he wanted to go to the washroom, of his needing permission to leave the house, or to go anywhere (even to the store to buy a container of milk) and of the awful pressures such measures imposed on the men and their families. These restrictions made Canada sound more like East Germany under the Stasi, or the Soviet Union during the worst of Stalin’s excesses. I did not take notes of all these impositions, but I have since found a more detailed description of them on the web site Homesnotbombs.blogspot. ca.   and here is a slightly redacted version of an item that appeared on that blog:

TORONTO, FEBRUARY 11, 2009 – In a stunning confirmation of what secret trials opponents have long suspected, a redacted version of a secret Canadian government manual reveals that the draconian conditions of house arrest imposed on those subject to security certificates are being used as a cover for intelligence gathering purposes on the detainees, their families, their supervisors, their friends, and their communities.
There are currently four men under the most severe house arrest conditions in Canadian history, placed there because of the two-tier justice security certificate procedure declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court in February 2007. Before their release from prison, they had to agree to court-imposed restrictions that included wearing GPS monitoring bracelets 24/7, agreeing to phone taps and opening of mail, surveillance cameras both outside and, in one case, inside their homes, and unannounced searches and seizures by government agencies.
In addition, trips outside the house could occur only with government permission, no visitors are allowed without prior government approval, and there is no internet or cell phone access. These and a host of other measures are applied against individuals who have never been allowed to see the case against them, who face the lowest standards of any court in Canada, and who are fighting deportation to torture.
Difficult as these conditions can be, the men and their families have long charged that their lives have become even more miserable because the Canadian Border Services Agency (CBSA), whose role is to monitor compliance with those conditions, has been exceeding its authority. Indeed, CBSA has been introducing additional restrictions not approved by the court, making arbitrary decisions that allow no route of appeal, and behaving as if some of their agents have the heart-thumping theme music to CBC’s overhyped “The Border” performing repeat rotation on their ipods.

For example, upon releasing the detainees from Gitmo North, the Federal Court entrusted wives, older children, and community friends with monitoring the individuals’ compliance with terms and conditions. But as time has gone by, and more CBSA officers have been hired, the men and their families find themselves constantly followed and overtly surveilled, making it impossible for families to enjoy a rare outing together without being closely followed by officers wearing bullet-proof vests and sidearms. This behaviour unfairly marks the families as suspicious, if not dangerous, to the general public, and traumatizes the children and their friends.
Indeed, this fall, young children of the detainees testified in court about the impossibility of enjoying a government-approved family trip to a skating rink, to a parent-teacher interview, or even to a department store to buy Eid gifts because of the manner in which they were followed and felt criminalized by the overt (and unnecessary) monitoring of CBSA agents.
Why, the families ask, is such intrusive surveillance necessary when the court has declared its trust that family supervisors have promised to report any breach, when the men can be tracked via the GPS, when the phones are monitored, when they cannot make any move (including a quick trip to the corner store for milk) without the government knowing about it at least 72 business hours in advance? In addition, if the CBSA really felt that the detainees were up to no good, wouldn’t covert surveillance make much more sense? After all, someone allegedly up to no good is not going to try something when state agents follow his every move, often within a few feet of one another.
CBSA says that this is all needed to ensure compliance with the terms and conditions of house arrest. One suspects, though, that as an institution, CBSA, like its brother agency CSIS, simply does not trust any decision of the Federal Court of Canada with which it disagrees. Their approach, court decisions be damned, is that if Canada’s national security is to be protected, these agencies must do whatever it takes, even if it goes beyond the letter of the law or the terms of the release conditions.

The appearance of a presumption of guilt regarding the detainees, their families, and their friends, is well borne out by the national policy manual released almost in full following a secret hearing this week in Toronto for detainee Mohammad Mahjoub and his family. It follows on months of hearings during which officials from the CBSA confirmed that all mail to the detainees’ homes (including credit card bills, bank statements, phone bills, magazines, personal letters, and birthday cards addressed not just to the detainee, but to his wife and children) is photocopied and sent to their Counter-Terrorism branch in Ottawa for further investigation.
Also recorded and passed along to Ottawa are all phone calls, along with photos of the detainees, their family members, visitors, and bystanders who happen to be in the line of view when agents have taken shots.
The CBSA asked agents of the spy agency Canadian Security Intelligence Service (CSIS) to listen to all of those phone calls. In December, 2008, it was revealed that solicitor-client calls are among those recordings that have been listened to by CSIS agents for close to two years, allowing one party to the proceeding exclusive access into the defence strategy of the defendants. (The long-standing principle of solicitor-client confidentiality is a fundamental bedrock of a democratic society, and the Supreme Court of Canada affirmed in 2001 that it is a principle of fundamental justice and so is protected by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms).
While the Federal Court did issue an order calling on CSIS to stop listening to such calls, there was no penalty for this violation. Indeed, the judge hearing the case stated: “I don't want to hear any more about it. It is done. It is over. It is finished. It has happened. We understand it happened. It is unfortunate, but there is nothing we can do to change the past. We can only look at what goes from here in terms of where it will go from here.”
But what if those illegally obtained solicitor-client phone calls served an “intelligence gathering” purpose that allowed CSIS to continue to build up its unfounded accusations against the detainees, their families, and their friends? Where does the cycle of illegality end, and where is the bold statement that declares such behaviour will be severely dealt with? In a system supposedly built on checks and balances, an agency like CSIS needs to go to court and seek judicial approval for any intrusive investigation that may severely curtail someone’s privacy rights. While the Federal Court almost always grants warrants for CSIS investigations, it is highly unlikely that the court would sanction such an intrusion into the calls between a lawyer and her client. In this instance, CSIS got through the back door what it could not receive through the front.

These are damnable restrictions to be imposed in such an artitrary, secretive way by government agencies against people who have never been accused of any crime, who have insisted from the beginning that all they want is a fair trial in which they could defend themselves, but who have been deprived of one of the procedures, habeas corpus, that has always since the thirteenth century AD, been regarded as the bedrock of British law.
It is certainly to be hoped that this film will arouse Canadians to the tremendous dangers posed by this lunatic concentration on the so-called Security State, something that was inaugurated and carried to fruition by the Liberal governments, and has been very much deepened (and worsened) by the appalling government of
Stephen Harper.

When Adil Charkaoui was asked last week what sort of response they had received from Canada’s politicians, he said the Bloc Quebecois was originally the most sympathetic, the NDP was not bad, they had tried to interest the Liberal party in their dilemma, but had succeeded only in getting a favourable response from a few MPs, and as for the Conservatives --- he gave a contemptuous wave of the hand to indicate that nothing humane could be expected from them.

Friday, November 14, 2014

My Log 448 Nov 14 2014: Moussi, Racki and Tony Douvi --- I take my first tentative steps into the world of classical music --- and love the clash and bang of it

                                                                                  China's National Centre for the Performing Arts
English: Panorama of the Thermae of Caracalla ...
 Thermae of Caracalla (Baths of Caracalla) in Rome (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

A movie currently in our local cinemas has as a subtitle the expression, The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance.   I like the idea of that, because throughout my life as a scribbler for the vulgar journals --- newspapers, I really mean --- I have always considered myself a centre of ignorance masquerading as some sort of minor form of enlightenment. I never had what one would consider in these days an adequate education, and I have always prided myself on being able to hide my appalling lack of knowledge and judgment under a cloud of fancy writing. It has been good enough to fool some of the people some of the time, but not all of the people all of the time.
Thus, now that I am old, and no longer faced with competing to make a living, I can admit that the areas in  which I am a total ignoramus are many and varied. High among them is music. I was the last of six kids, all of whom were granted lessons on how to play an instrument, but in their turn each of them showed such lack of talent, interest, enthusiasm or motivation that by the time they got to me, a sports-obsessed pre-teener, my mother gave me the choice, to learn or not to learn.  To my later regret I voted decisively against wasting my time labouring over a keyboard or wrestling with a violin, and so was left to embark on the world ill-equipped to appreciate the finer things of life.
This became relevant only when my sons, as kids in our times are wont to do, turned out either to be skilled musicians, or to be veritable encyclopaedias of knowedge about  the popular arts, music included. In support of our oldest kid my wife and I attended more rock concerts than we could ever possibly count. But as for music itself, the greatest things I ever experienced heretofore were an evening of Betty Carter warbling, Edith Piaf wailing so heartbreakingly, Teddy Wilson tinkling on the ivories before an audience of 26 people, Nina Simone making the night crackle in an openair concert in Montreal  as she lay bare the soul of the United States with her furious, manic Mississippi Goddamn!, or of Lena Horne, in her seventies, singing Charles Aznavour.
I say all this because my present partner, though no better educated than  I am, has a keen appreciation for all those finer things that have been lost to me. She delights in going to her local symphony orchestra concerts, usually conducted by some of the great masters of the art in Europe, but, glorying in my ignorance, I have always chosen to stay at home on these occasions. On my side, my only exposure to the finer things of life  came when, on a motor-scooter and camping tour of Europe, my wife and I took our places in 1954 in the nether regions of the Baths of Caracalla in Rome while some company or other was sawing away at good old Aida on the barely visible stage, away up there, an experience that had little, if any impact on me.
Ever since then, confronted with one of those serious high culture guys trying to put me down, I have told the story of how in 1900 Tolstoy invited Rachmaninoff and Chaliapin to his home to perform for him, and  afterwards took the composer aside and asked, “Is such music needed by anyone? I must tell you how I dislike it all. Beethoven is nonsense, Pushkin and Lermentov also.” As they were leaving Tolstoy said to Rachmaninoff, “forgive me if I’ve hurt you by my comments, and the musician, nothing if not a gentleman, replied, “How could I be hurt on my own accord, if I was not hurt on Beethoven’s?”
This year, however, in a mellow mood, I agreed to go along with my partner Sheila to a few concerts, and so far I have attended two in the maison symphonique de Montreal, a beautiful new (four years) hall for the symphony orchestra, currently directed by Kent Nagano. I have always had a curiously schizophrenic attitude towards high culture and the massive public subsidies that are needed to sustain it. The proletarian in me argues that ordinary low-income people have participated in paying for the construction of these public places of culture-worship, but are excluded from enjoying the fruits of their contribution by the high prices charged for entry. I don’t believe that a single one of the artists mentioned above whom I have enjoyed has ever received a single nickel in public subsidy.
Personally, these concerts I am attending have set a new record for me in the matter of prices I have paid for any entertainment. Sitting in the far upper reaches of the hall, I have had to pay, first, more than $50 for a seat to hear the Montreal symphony, and last night, for the visit of the orchestra from China’s National Centre for the Performing Arts in Beijing, who are currently on a tour of Canada and the United States, I had to pay $119.57 per ticket. What? Say that again? I paid almost $120 to sit through a two-hour concert?  Am I off my head? (I remember the very first time anyone dared to charge $100 for a theatre ticket: it was on the occasion of a visit by the Royal Shakespeare Company of Britain to New York with one of their superb blockbuster productions. Everyone thought the price outrageous.)
All of this is by way of introduction to my first, and probably last, report on high cultural entertainment. The first concert featured music by Moussorgsy and Rachmaninoff, who turned out to be Russians, one of whom became particularly attached to Cleveland.  I took to referring to them as Moussie and Rackie , and I worked out a few jokes about them. Rackie for example, was a big cigar-smoker, and it was one of his cigars that he carelessly threw into the Cuyahoga river on that  much heralded day that caused the river to burst into flame. This is a joke along the lines of one made by the great comic master, Robert Benchley, who tossed off in one of his columns the information that Mozart never wrote a note of music until he was 97.  Inundated with letters of protest pointing out that Mozart died at 25 or thereabouts Benchley wrote that he was referring to Grandpa Mozart, the journeyman whistler.   To forestall the customary outrage at my statement, I have to point out that Rackie, as the boys on the street in Cleveland used to call him, died in 1943, long before the two major fires on the river in 1952 and 1969. But it is just as well to be wary of so-called facts. The river burst into flames at least three times --- 1936, 1941 and 1948 --- when Rackie could have been there, so maybe there is some truth to my little fantasy.)
Anyway, so much for the context of my concert-going. As for the actual experience of being there and hearing it all, I was impressed by the fact that periods of quiet, gentle music were usually interrupted by tremendous clashing bangs on the huge drums, blows on the bassoons and the like, and this seemed to me to be the very centre of classical music, as presented in this concert.
Okay, on to last night’s epic: this orchestra, of about 80 youthful musicians who appeared on stage, was half made up of women --- very attractive, slim, energetic women, too, enough to set any male heart aflutter --- and these musicians seemed to be on a higher level of expertise than those in the Montreal symphony. The quiet periods followed by the huge banging and clashing about was still there, but in a piece they played by Dvori, as I called him, known to the knowledgeable  as Antonin Dvorak --- if I’d known that before, I would have called him Tony ---  these musicians under the leadership of conductor Lu Jia played with such astonishing precision as to make their music sound quite thrilling, even in my ears.
Before getting on to our Western music, the orchestra played two numbers from a Chinese repertory, the major one of which was the Butterfly Lovers Concerto for Violin, in which a remarkable violinist Siqing Lu brought the house down, leaving the audience on its feet demanding an encore, which he gracefully provided. (I noticed that lagrimoso was followed by presto resoluto, which, in my terms, probably means soft and gentle followed by clash, bang BOOM!)
When Tony Dvori’s piece was concluded after a dazzling exhibition of musical precision, especially in the passages in which two resoluto passages followed each other, the violins and the clash-bangers, although following one on the other produced sounds that were completely separated, and once again brought the audience to its feet cheering, and Conductor Lu led them in a longish encore, which, if the audience had had its way, would have been followed by another.
It must have been gratifying to these musicians to have aroused such enthusiasm here in the middle of the Western world. And it sent me out into the streets thinking that music might be one of the best ways of bringing our two deeply divided worlds together in future.
I forgot to mention that Tony Dvori’s piece was Opus 88. There was no explanation as to what happened to the first 87, or not a hint of what the hell an opus is, and why it should have such a number.

Never mind, chaps, on to the next one!

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

My Log 447 Nov 11 2014: Cinema Politica film on Franz Fanon and violence by Swedish filmmaker raises as many questions as it answers: an audience engages the film-maker by Skype

The Wretched of the Earth
The Wretched of the Earth (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Cinema Politica last night screened an old-fashioned sort of documentary film, Concerning Violence made by a Swedish filmmaker Goran Hugo Olsson  who was committed enough to his message to stay up until after 3 am Stockholm time to engage in a question-and-answer session with the considerable audience in Montreal.

In saying that the film has a slightly old-fashioned air, I am more or less agreeing with an audience member who told the filmmaker his film was “ahistorical”. Although not wholly agreeing with that, Olsson did say that the film was designed as an illustration of a text written “fifty years ago” by the Martinique-born philosopher Frantz Fanon --- in fact, the text was drawn from the first chapter of the last book Fanon wrote before dying at the age of 36, The Wretched of the Earth --- and implying that it was not his business in this particular film to follow up the various spokespersons he used to illustrate his text as they proceeded through life in their various ways.

The particular point of contention arose around his use of an early Robert Mugabe quote, taken from not long after he became the leader of Zimbabwe. In those days Mugabe was a leader much-admired by progressives in the Western world, an admiration that has diminished as he has doggedly clung to power, during his later years driving most of the white farmers from their farms, in the process plunging his nation into an economic crisis.

The burden of the film, both written on the screen as quotes from Fanon’s book, and carefully enunciated by Lauren Hill, handling the commentary, was that violence lies at the root of all relationships between colonialists and their subjects, and that only by mastering their own responsive violence could their subjects hope to break the circle of their oppression. When an audience member mentioned to Mr. Olsson that Mandela did not fit that prescription, he sharply reminded the man that Mandela had been the head of the armed wing of the African National Congress, and thus was no exception to the rule. This is the second Cinema Politica film  to deal with violence or non-violence within two weeks. The previous film, called Everyday Rebellion made an earnest plea for non-violence, dealing with many inspiring resistance movements that have sprung up around he globe, from the Egyptian spring in Tahrir Square to a movement of topless feminists in Ukraine. As one of that film’s blurbs describes it:

“From the Occupy movement to the Spanish ‘Indignados’ to the Arab Spring and from Iran to Syria to the Ukraine, everyday people are expressing themselves through nudity, performance, silence, sound, creation and community. Everyday Rebellion is a high velocity exploration of the power of ideas and the courage it takes to use the body as a non-violent tool in protest, showing us the infinite possibilities of people power in the imagination of a better world.”

Though that film, directed by two Iranian brothers, is persuasive, one’s scepticism is aroused by, for example, the final result of the Tahrir Square rebellion, which has led to a military takeover that appears to be more oppressive than what went before. (It’s not the first time that social revolutionaries have made matters worse: the 1960s U.S. “revolution” of manners ended in the election of the repulsive Nixon as president).
For me, the history of the African National Congress in South Africa makes the ultimate and virtually unanswerable case for the use of violence: the apartheid regime shut off all political expression for the country’s black African people, even changing every law under which the protesters won court cases, until they were left with no option but to turn to violent struggle. The wave of crime that has overcome South Africa  since then surely is more attributable to the many years of twisted government by the white oppressors, and the deformations it worked in the South African body politic, than to the fact of the use of violence by the revolutionaries. Many prescient observers during the apartheid years warned that if apartheid continued, the country that would be left behind would be almost ungovernable.
Last night’s filmmaker, Olsson, said that no white man had a right to set up a camera in Africa, and that filming of their reality should be left to Africans themselves. (That did raise a question in my mind as to what Olsson himself was doing making such a film, in that case).  I sympathized with his aim, to make a film illustrating a set of complex ideas, for I have myself tried to make films directed to the same purpose, and I know it is not easy. Most of the questions he received from the audience last night dealt with political realities in various parts of the world, and he expressed himself as wishing more questions had been directed to pure film-making subjects, on which he confessed he could have used some guidance, or at least reasonable commentary.
His case was certainly made strongly, beginning with an interview with a horrendously smug, racist, Rhodesian, who appeared to believe he was pre-ordained to lord it over the local population in perpetuity, and who did not hesitate to speak of them in the most scurrilous tones. It reminded me of my years in journalism, when I numbered the white Rhodesians as the worst single population of people I had ever run across, a group of plumbers and carpenters and  store clerks from Lancashire or Yorkshire, simple people on a lower income level at home, suddenly transferred into a Master Race with their swimming pools, and endless servants, and pretensions to grandeur. Although even there the peculiarity of human beings , their irrepressible individuality, shone through: one young woman I knew was strongly against the local political system, while the rest of her family, including her sister, blindly accepted their destiny as Master Race.  How does one explain such a thing, in rational terms?
I was pleased to see an extended quote spoken by the late leader of Burkina Faso, Thomas Sankara, especially since, in introducing last night’s film, a professor from Ottawa appeared to suggest that the recent overthrow of Blaise Compaore in Burkina Faso was simply yet another example of white European interference in African governance.  Unless I was mistaken in what he said (and I confess it was difficult to follow his rambling address), this formulation simply ignored the fact that Compaore assassinated Thomas Sankara, who was one of the most progressive young leaders Africa has ever thrown up, and immediately jettisoned all his progressive policies.  It also ignored the fact that Compaore was brought down after an estimated one million people thronged the streets of the nation’s capital demanding his resignation. Not likely that the French organized that, surely. Sankara’s assassination has stayed with me over the years as an especially unfortunate event in the history of Africa, but a few years ago I saw a film on Burkina Faso, of which the very last image was of a small boy, running along with one of those wheel rims that kids everywhere have always played with, and singing a song in praise of Thomas Sankara. That remains with me as positively the most hopeful image I have ever seen for the future of Africa.
Sankara’s contribution to Olsson’s film was one of the mot memorable things in the film: a catalogue of freedom measures, including such stirring statements as that anyone wanting to provide food aid should send seeds, shovels, tractors, hoes and implements to help them grow their own food, which was followed by a reasoned critique of he International Monetary Fund and its perilous measures, designed to hand over Africa to international businessmen. Eschewing IMF aid, Sankara nevertheless succeeded in making his country self-sufficient in food in the four short years he was given as leader.
I thought the decision to have a local professor introduce the film was rather unnecessary, especially since the very first images in the film itself are of an Indian woman professor outlining the history and message of Fanon’s book that the film was intended to illustrate. I would have liked to question Olsson on Sankara and his message and fate, but Olsson in answer to another question had more or less renounced any responsibility to provide follow up to the statements shown that were made during earlier years in independent Africa, and whose validity might have been called into question by later events.

Much as I admired the effort and the educational purposes that prompted Olsson’s film, I am not sure that it can be described as an unequivocal success.