All posts by nene azu

The Rise of the Non-Stereotypical Politician.

Proud, repugnant, cocky, ‘sleezy’. These are a couple of the words that have been used to describe the presumptive candidate of the Grand Old Party(Republican Party) in the upcoming United-States election. However, looking at the manner in which he swept multiple states in the primaries there must have been something he was doing right. We are going to explore the rhetoric, strategy and appeal of Donald Trump and his rise from just controversial to also critically crucial in the November 8th election.

statue-of-liberty-1442160So what makes him so appealing to over 8.7 million people currently(according to a article dated 25th April, 2016) across the United States you may ask. In my view, it is not so much his lack of ‘appropriate’ statements or somewhat-bigoted comments that draws in his audience but more of the direct approach he takes. In a world where politicians are the 2nd most distrusted people( According to the Readers Digest), one who consistently gets straight to the point and avoids ‘wishy-washy’ political tendencies can seem rather attractive. Regardless of his content, his supporters appear to value his resolve which is crucial to all aspects of decision making, especially for a president.

us-capitol-1233848The Donald, as he is popularly called, has shaken the era of political correctness. Raw, uncensored and almost  gnarly, he has continuously broken the laurels of ‘the model politician’, making him somewhat dissociated from the tainted image of everyday politicians. I will give him props for how far he’s come from people joking about his run for presidency to becoming the most likely Republican candidate.

“He is the first media-made candidate. It all comes down to money”
– Gabo Zavala

However, all the credit doesn’t necessarily go to him, with the media giving him hours and hours of unpaid airtime(the New York Times estimates that he has received over $1.8 billion worth of free media) coupled with current occurrences across the states which have aided his rhetoric. The wave of terror attacks  has also paid its due, leading to mass insecurity, racism and islamophobia. Many share in my personal sentiment that Mr. Trump is the true voice of a large section of Americans, that have been silenced by an increasingly politically correct society in recent times. Waves of anti-immigration fanatics and a fight to ‘protect the Second Amendment’ have been at the centre of Trump’s campaign. Thus he appeals to this ‘silent majority’ and given the process that democracy follows, he has a strong chance of becoming the leader of the free world.

In retrospect the fear of  an unconventional candidate may be what our society has needed for some time.  A shock to our social way of life, where people’s views are not particularly aired but masked under a guise of non-controversial half truths. Given the events that have gone on including Panama papers, the Paris Terror Attacks & the Orlando shooting, it is about time we as a global community take action.  A time to have discussion and conflict resolution devoid of violent and hate-speech, where we can find peaceful focal points for progressive solutions. The general elections are taking place on the 8th of November and we can only hope that the true representative of the American people assumes office.




Ramadan: The Islamic Holy Month of Fasting

Guest post by Elisa Gallaccio.
BA Political Science minor in Economics.

Ramadan Mubarak

ramaRamadan is the ninth-and holiest-month of the Islamic lunar calendar and the month of fasting for Muslims. Ramadan is considered the holiest month because it was in Ramadan that the Qur’an was first revealed.
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Fasting is one of the five pillars of Islam, along with confession of faith, five daily prayers, zakah (almsgiving) and Hajj (pilgrimage to Makkah).Ramadan starts upon sighting of the moon. This year, it began on the 7th of June.


The purpose of fasting during Ramadan is to help Muslims grow closer to Allah. Fasting is recognized for its health, spiritual and psychological benefits, and is considered by Muslims as a means to improve their moral character and provides an opportunity for spiritual renewal.


A typical day during Ramadan


Muslims will wake up before the sun rises and eat and drink to prepare for their day. Once the sun is up, there is no eating, drinking, smoking, or intimate encounters until sundown, otherwise known as iftar. Iftar then begins by consuming dates and drink, before beginning their post-iftar prayers. Once the prayers are performed, dinner is typically after 9 pm, until the next day, when the fast begins again. Muslims fast for 14-18 hours per day during Ramadan.


Fasting is significant to Islam in many ways. It is not meant to starve Muslims of substance, but rather serves as a lesson on how to control and discipline human desires. When fasting, one learns to say no to things that are otherwise permissible and good. And when one can say no to things that are normally permissible, then one would be able to easily control and avoid that which is forbidden. In essence, it allows one to understand better with those who have very little-the poor and the destitute-and as such, teaches empathy, sympathy, and takes away some of our human selfishness and self-centeredness. Fasting is seen as an opportunity to exercise self-control, cleans the mind, body and spirit, and build a greater connection with Allah through prayers, which ultimately promotes peace. Ramadan is also a time of charitable services, where Muslims can give back to their community and connect with one another.


Ramadan is set to end on or near July 6th 2016, depending on the sighting of the new moon. Eid-ul-Fitr celebrations begin for three days after the end of Ramadan. It is during this celebration that practicing Muslims come together to be with their families, prepare feasts, exchange gifts, continue to be charitable, and forgive any harm done to one another. It is a time of love, of prayer and blessings, and connectedness with Allah.


To all those participating in Ramadan this year, stop by the International Programs and Services office(UNC 227) on July 6th and 7th for treats and celebration! Eid Mubarak!



Apathy in politics: Case Study the UBCSUO election 2016.

suoAre elections really the best way of choosing representatives in leadership? Should there be a mandatory percentage turnout to make an election valid? These were the questions that came to mind when I pondered over the immediate past UBCSUO elections that were held in mid-March, which brings us to the theme of this article, apathy in student politics.

Most of us are guilty of it, myself included, failing to realize the extent to which our inconsideration affects our long term benefit. Across various electoral boards, the phrase, “it makes no difference”, is the excuse many give for their non participation. The belief that individual votes do not really count, in the grand scheme of things, is in itself detrimental to the concept of democracy.

What interested me the most about this particular election was the social media buzz which came with it. Yik Yak, a platform that has some ‘Twitter-esque’ features with an anonymous identity option, was the go to for many keyboard warriors. Refreshing the app every other hour, a plethora of different sentiment could be seen; from the good, to the bad to the ugly.  In some cases people advocated for change while others propagated hateful comments, but the most popular ‘Yaks’ were mainly attacks on the Student Union. The legitimacy of the union was questioned in multiple instances barring an allegedly rigged election, which I personally also found interesting.

The fact of the matter is, under 1,500 people voted. Less than 20% of our student body decided who runs our student union and this is an increase as opposed to the under 10% turnout in previous years. This real question of representation, because can we say the views of under 20% account for the full campus population? Can we truly say democracy is functional in this setting? Could the apathy be a sign that we need to work on building the credibility of our union so students actually feel the system works? I think so. I believe the union can do a lot more to show what they do and how they do it, so students know the importance of having a voice in campus affairs and the benefits of unionization. Also I believe campaigns where students can collaborate with the union to further the campus society and local talent in our small community can also help alleviate this issue.

I will end this piece with one of my favourite quotes from, in my view, one of America’s greatest Presidents:

“Let us never forget that government is ourselves and not an alien power over us. The ultimate rulers of our democracy are not a President and senators and congressmen and government officials, but the voters of this country.”

Franklin D. Roosevelt

Politics of Hair a part of “Rule out Racism Week.”

The Rule out Racism Week is hosted by the Equity and Inclusion office in collaboration with other campus partners including the International Programs and Services, UBCSUO, and SARA to mitigate the cancer of racism in our campus community .


The Politics of Hair event was hosted by Siona Coker, a 4th year Philosophy, Gender and Women’s studies double major, who prepared a presentation on black hair. She approached the topic from the concept of good hair as perpetuated by the major hair brands and media. Touching on topics including what hair is ‘professional’ , the problem with touching people’s hair without permission, and the differences in texture of natural hair, as well as appropriation.

rastafarians-1-1430384For a long time, Eurocentric beauty standards have been the order of the day and people who have not subscribed to these standards especially in the professional world sometimes face institutional racism. They are sent home from school because of their hair whose texture they have little control over, or are less competitive for job opportunities because of their ‘unprofessional’ hairstyles. Siona spoke on the reasons why ‘wearing your mane’ was a source of pride, as well as the damage that heat use (for straightening) does to black hair and the costs black women have to go through to be professional.

The discussion moved on to why touching peoples hair is a complete No-No, especially as it pertains to women, because of the long history of patriarchy and inequality in the system. It was revealed that hair is perceived as very intimate, and when people who have not been given permission to touch it, reach in, they reinforce the privilege that they have, more so when men do it. Many of the participants believed that their hair is a symbol of liberation, which when people randomly touch,  re-oppreses them.

Post discussion, I thought about why, in the 21st century, some people are still concerned about how people look instead of what skills they bring to the table. It is part of the reason why mitigating systemic and institutional racism as well as all forms of discrimination from our society. More discussions like these in our community can contribute to our minute quota in the world, in attempts to curb discrimination.




International Women’s Day Interviews (Part 3)

International-Womens-Day1In light of the celebration of International Women’s Week, the Global Spectrum, in collaboration with International Programs & Services, will showcase interviews with our UBC-O community. Enjoy!


Dushun Wilson

Q: What makes a self-identified woman remarkable or exceptional?

The ability to fully embody their identity. Just, the ability to completely know what they are, and not take anyone else’s perception of themselves as they take their own

Q: Do you have a remarkable woman in mind? Why?

My mother is exceptional because she has been able to take on roles that I feel men would typically take on, without compromising her femininity and without being shoehorned into a role that people would call manly.


Vicky Medeia

Q: What makes a self-identified woman remarkable or exceptional?

I think that what makes someone exceptional is being strong, being able to keep going on when everyone and everything is trying to stop you and going against you, while being selfless; caring more about how it will affect others, than how it will affect you.

Q: Do you have a remarkable woman in mind? Why?

My mum. Last year my mum was diagnosed with cancer, and when she was diagnosed, she didn’t tell me because the first thing she thought was how I was going to feel guilty of not being able to be with her. So, she waited a while and let me know that everything was fine, that she was sick and getting treatment, and that everything would be fine. Even though I know she was sad and emotionally stressed and drained, she kept thinking about how I would take it. That for me is a very strong woman.

IMG_1217 2

Karlee Friesen 

Q: What makes a self-identified woman remarkable or exceptional?

I think to be a remarkable woman is to be someone who stands up for what you believe in, someone who is confident, you don’t have to be confident all the time, but to do what you can with the resources that you have. Being yourself and knowing who you are.

Q: Do you have a remarkable woman in mind? Why?

I have a lot of self-identified women role models. Especially since there’s so many amazing women out there in pop culture right now that are taking a stand and telling it how it is, and that is really awesome, because several years ago you wouldn’t have got that in popular culture. Now it is such a big topic, which is really good, as it brings forth so many opportunities for women especially young women, because they’re the ones seeing it the most on different media. It’s a really good time to be a woman! Even though there’s still progress to be made.


Murad Alnashef

Q: Do you have a remarkable woman in mind? Why?

A woman who I think is remarkable would be my mom. The reason being that my mom has been a very hard working, dedicated, loyal and ambitious woman. Reason why I think she’s remarkable is because she is basically selfless. Her goal in life was to raise me right and do what’s best for me. She raised me with a set of values that I’ll always carry on in my entire life. And even to this day what I am and what I’ll become will always be a result of what she has done for me.

International Women’s Day Interviews (Part 2)

International-Womens-Day1In light of the celebration of International Women’s Week, the Global Spectrum, in collaboration with International Programs & Services, will showcase interviews with our UBC-O community. Enjoy!


Joseph Khouri

Q: What makes a self-identified woman remarkable or exceptional?

What makes a woman special is the achievements and goals that she puts in her mind and actually achieves them, goes for it and doesn’t hesitate when it comes to it being difficult or out of her way. A woman’s courage in society will help bring about gender equality, especially in countries that are less developed and have that issue that bring their economy down thus women play a major role in the human cycle by raising children that are well educated and self-reliant.

Q: Do you have a remarkable woman in mind? Why?

I think my sister would fit the characteristics I have given because she has come to Canada all by herself and she has been doing great, going to university, studying and getting the potential that she deserves. Living along for an Arab girl this is a big step in her life especially since there aren’t many people she can rely on being away from home.


Avery Bridge 

Q: What makes a self-identified woman remarkable or exceptional?

Confidence, and being able to follow her dreams. Someone who isn’t held back by identities and by what someone should be.

Q: Do you have a remarkable woman in mind? Why?

My mum, because she is an engineer, and people told her she shouldn’t be an engineer because she was a girl, so yeah, I think it’s cool she did it anyways.

IMG_1225 2Jessica Sulz 

Q: What makes a self-identified woman remarkable or exceptional?

To me, even in the face of adversity, when you stand up for what you believe in is something that makes a woman remarkable.

Q: Do you have a remarkable woman in mind? Why?

My mum. I know it’s pretty cliché and many people say that, but my mum to me is really remarkable because she was a police officer and when she was going into the police industry, there wasn’t many women in there. I think that’s really inspiring to me, that she did that anyway. She ended up being singled out because she was a woman, because she was able to get pregnant and take time off work, and she ended up losing her job, but she still took a stand against this. She is now a big advocate for women, she gets recognition from others.

IMG_1222 2Mary Song 

Q: What makes a self-identified woman remarkable or exceptional?

Q: Do you have a remarkable woman in mind? Why?

What makes a woman exceptional would be the things that they have encountered in their lives and things that they have pushed through and fought for. A woman that I think that has both those qualities is my mother as she’s a residential school survivor. She’s been sober now for 13 years. This past year she’s overcome so many obstacles in regards to a different way of living, learning to be around people, learning how to talk about residential school, learning how to read about it without feeling too uncomfortable and pushing it away. Learning to understand and read where I come from being her daughter and the impact it’s had on my family. She’s just really inspired me to keep pushing, to move forward with helping other families heal and other individuals who are still suffering or else live with those impacts within their own communities or family structures


Drenched in Blood stained crimson,
Embellished in Gold plated armour,
Adorned in vibrant Green raffia,
I am none other than the Black star.

I am none other than mighty Senegambia,
A valiant warrior; Asantewaa of the Gold Coast.
The Ivory that is the horn of Africa,
A son of a land I’m proud, I boast.

Oh Mother Africa, have your offspring failed you?
Running off to America, in search of a dream …
… long turned nightmare.
Our forefathers who fought for our freedom,
Turn in their graves in disdain.
But our efforts, our efforts, they are not in vain.

Compton, Detroit, Kingston, Libreville.
Brothers are bound by their unending title,
Negro, Black, Coloured, African.
A struggle for identity crucially vital.

But I dream of an Africa,
One where we aren’t marred as charity cases,
But strong, resilient, happy faces.
One where we see ourselves as a unit, one people,
UBUNTU; I am because you are.

–  Nene Azu


Lost in the aisles of somewhere,
Entrapped in the concept of nowhere.
I am in search of a destination,
Crossing paths across terminal location.
Citizen, bound by an ethnic circulation,
International, condemned to encircling global territory.

Immigration, I march down barricades,
Guarded by soldiers of treason, renegades.
A buzzer goes off and I fail the test,
of what you may ask,
Colour, race? Identity, space?
Would I pass the test?

Confined now to seats with strangers,
embarking on a similarly different journey.
One hundred and ninety-six unique people,
variant definitions of home.
A cataclysm of diverse cultures,
within an arms reach, yet ever so often untouched.

If “airports”, symbols of sincere goodbyes,
could become springboards of eternal companionships.
and harness their true potential, it would not be a pity.
A serene-ly-deep-pity.
Violence and destruction,
for fear of superstition and conventional thinking.
A chance at multi-culturalism & ethnic-integration,
lost at each passer-by, neighbour and attendant.
All masked by a determination to reach home;
a mere destination.

by   Nene Azu

Nzulezo: The world heritage site on stilts.

Nzulezo-1This December break, I had the pleasure of visiting  Nzulezo, a town on stilts, located in the Western Region of Ghana. Nzulezo directly translates to ‘on the water’ in Nzema, one of the major languages in Ghana.  To get to this town you need to take an hour’s ride on a canoe, through a river that leads to the settlement: a town of about 1500 -2000 people living on water, with the closest land 15-20 kilometres away.

“According to local legend, the village was built by a group of people from Oulata, a city of the ancient Ghana Empire and in present-day Mauritania, which came about from following a snail.” (Wikipedia, 2016) . The story was further verified by our tour guide and one of the local elders who met us and greeted us with their local drink, palm wine. He told of a time when his ancesntors had to migrate from their ancestral home in the great old Mali/Ghana empire located in the regions of current Mali/Gambia Senegal region. They were conquered by the Senegalese nation and thus chased away for fear of their return. They were led by a snail god, who advised them to make rafts and go into the river until they reached a place where he would advise them how to build.Nzulezo-3

What really got to me about this place was the ambience of happiness the villagers exuded. Walking in we were met by singing and warm welcomes as the people, who normally see foreigners come in, take pictures and enjoy the experience, were shocked to see other Ghanaians coming in to appreciate their way of life.
It gave me a breath of fresh air as I realized how distant we sometimes are from our own cultures, taking vacations and safaris to other parts of the world and not critically exploring our own surroundings.  Thus, I took a keen interest in the history behind this bewildering site and listened keenly to the local elders who shared in the history.

The people there have been there since the beginning of the 14th century. They have all social amenities including a clinic, a kindergarten and primary school, night clubs, a church, chop bars (local restaurants), a community centre and even guesthouses for visitors who want to spend the night. The people seemed very friendly and were insistent on taking photos with us and welcoming us to see their residences. They spoke at length on the medicinal herbs found around and the longevity they enjoy living off land, with most people living beyond the century mark.

I brought back some souvenirs from the site, which the United Nations has dubbed a World Heritage Site. The people have also been given some land close to the settlement by the government so they can farm. Some interesting images of baby canoes which the young ones who choose to go to the local school on land use, as well as the architectural plan they use to build on the river. All in all this was an amazing experience, seeing the different local wonders of the world which are not characteristically shown on mass media. If you get the chance to visit Nzulezo, don’t pass up on it!




Homosexuality, Moral Panic and Politicized Homophobia in Ghana – a public talk by Dr. Wisdom Tettey

Written by Stella Mozin, Maisha Maliha Badhon and Nene M. Azu


On January 22nd the Dean of Irving K. Barber School of Arts and Sciences, Dr. Wisdom Tettey, gave a talk on ‘Homosexuality, Moral Panic, and Politicized Homophobia in Ghana’.  It was a very informative talk, giving the audience an insight into the way homosexuality is perceived in Ghana. If you were unable to attend, here is a synopsis of Dr. Tettey’s valid argument.

Homosexuality is an issue that is still seen as a taboo in many non-Westernized societies. Ghana can be seen to be one of such societies where certain sects of the society may “use homosexuality as a weapon to create unnecessary moral panic, feeding on homophobia”. Dr. Tettey explained how the very right to citizenship is eroded due to the categorization of homosexuals as ‘devils’,  that makes them ‘lesser citizens’ in the eyes of many .

This is reflected in the politicized nature of the subject. From what we heard, there are three main parties of the society that propagate homophobia: the media, politicians and moral leaders. Despite the constitution of Ghana dictating that everyone is equal in front of the law, homosexuals are seemingly discriminated. Ghanaian media sets the political agenda, amplifying homosexuality as a threat to the social order and implying that it needs immediate intervention. Dr Tettey highlighted that many politicians use it as a tool in politics to smear other politicians, by depicting them as supporting homosexuals which they then have to denounce. This furthers the propaganda of the media, and other agents who benefit from the constant vilification of homosexuals. Furthermore, religious leaders have often blamed homosexuality for the many problems people face in daily lives. A pastor was quoted saying,

“God of Heaven told him that the current rationing of electricity and the water shortage situation in the country was caused by the fact that some Ghanaians were tolerating homosexuals”

The talk gave an insight into the struggles of homosexuals in the country, which can be said to be very similar to the experiences of homosexuals in other societies that have not accepted them. However we can say that even in developed countries like the US, legalization of same sex marriage only happened recently in the year 2015, 200 years after their independence. Thus it is hopeful that in time progress can be made.