Jan van Riebeeck controversial in Cape Town
In 2002, the Verenigde Oostindische Compagnie's initial arrival
at the Cape the Good Hope, South Africa, 350 years ago will be commemorated.
Is Jan van Riebeeck, the man whom the history books credit with
the 'discovery' of the Cape, a hero or a criminal? According to
the activist group 'Citizens for Truth and die Waarheid' (Catew),
van Riebeeck's statue should actually be in a prison. Van Riebeeck
was a convicted criminal sent abroad with the VOC for punishment,
according to Catew. The VOC celebrates its 400th anniversary this
year. The Cape VOC Foundation will convene at an international conference
in April in Stellenbosch celebrating the world's largest trading
enterprise during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. The
Catew campaigners fear that little attention will be given to the
original Cape inhabitants, the Khoisan, during the commemoration.
In defence of their own culture:
Cat protected, dog on the menu
The city council of the Italian capital of Rome proclaimed a group
of stray cats to be cultural heritage last month. The municipality
refers to the historical connection with these animals: cats are
among Rome's oldest inhabitants. Meanwhile in South Korea, twenty
members of parliament proposed a bill to legalise the consumption
of dog meat. According to them, dog meat is part of the national
tradition and culture. In 1988, during the Olympic Games in Seoul,
the government prohibited the consumption of dog meat for fear of
what its visiting international neighbours would think. During the
upcoming Soccer World Championships in 2002, the attention of the
international community again will be focussed on South Korea.
Ex-president Senghor of Senegal dies
On Thursday December 20, 2001 the Senegalese ex-president Léopold
Sédar Senghor died in France. He settled there after he voluntarily
resigned as head of state in 1980. In 1960, Senghor became the first
president of Senegal. History will remember him as one of the rare
democratic heads of state in Africa. In addition to being a statesman,
he was a writer and a poet.
Modern French translation of the Bible
a great success
A modern French translation of the Bible has made it to the best-seller
list in France. Well-known French writers, poets and essayists translated
the Bible in a contemporary literary style, as modern as rap-music
and minimalist poetry. The translators have no special knowledge
of Hebrew or Greek. The translation was published in September by
publishing house Bayard and appeared on the best-seller lists in
France in December.
Kenya has banned the circumcision of girls up to seventeen years
of age. The law has passed parliament and is awaiting ratification.
Girls older than seventeen can choose.
In the Netherlands, female circumcision is widespread among the
Somali community. The Dutch Member of Parliament Dittrich (D66)
made a proposal in December to punish female circumcision separately
under Dutch law. According to Minister of Justice Korthals, this
is not necessary. The current laws are sufficient: currently when
girls are discovered to have been circumcised, the case is dealt
with as child abuse. Adults can be persecuted on the basis of grievous
Beethoven's Ninth World Heritage
UNESCO, the UN's culture organization, wants to keep Ludwig van
Beethoven's ninth symphony for future generations. The composition
has been added to the register of the 'Memory of the World' UNESCO
program. The Berlin State Library, which currently has the original
score, made this announcement. The Memory of the World program is
all about preserving and making documentary heritage, such as manuscripts,
printed books and archives available.
More information: UNESCO
Memory of the World Programme en Staatsbibliothek
Trouw, de Volkskrant, South
African Broadcasting Corporation, UNESCO,