Monika Zak

first_imgThe Puma’s Daughter was finally published in 1986. The book was well-received in Sweden and abroad, wining several prizes for its commitment to a humanitarian cause. In 1991, Zak returned to Central America to help have her book made into a film. As the war in Guatemala was ongoing, filming had to be done in Mexico. Even so, Monica tells me it was a highly dangerous project. “We expected sabotage from the military in Guatemala because they didn’t want the story to be told. The military had come into Mexico from Guatemala to murder Guatemalan refugees before, so that was a danger. The project was kept very secret and every time a scene was completed, the roll of film was immediately sent away to Denmark.” Since then, the incredible risks taken by Monica and many others in completing the novel and film seem to have paid off. In response to the novel, an organisation called Colchaj Nac Luum (A rough translation from the Mayan language would be ‘Saved by land and freedom’) was set up in Sweden to raise money for the Mayan community Zak had written about. Almost all the money collected by the charity has been raised by Swedish school children, and has been spent on new homes, a secondary school and land for the Mayan community. The profits of every copy of The Puma’s Daughter sold in Guatemala also go towards the organisation. The novel has now become part of the Swedish syllabus and secondary school students across the country study both the novel and the film adaptation. In fact, though her works are read by children and adults alike, the majority of Zak’s novels are aimed more specifically at children and young adults. She explains that she likes to write for younger age groups because they have been so passionate in getting involved in the causes her work deals with. “If you write for grown-ups, it just doesn’t have the same impact,” she argues.Zak is also convinced of the enduring power of novels to effect change. And as far as her own work is concerned, she seems to have a strong case for her argument. In response to her novels, a student organisation called Elevorganisationen (Organisation of the Pupils) was established, which on the 6th of May each year organises Operation Dagsverke (Operation Day-Work). Pupils take the day off school to work, and the money raised is donated to a charity in a different country each year. Zak tells me that with the money they raised for El Salvador, three dozen new schools were built.Zak is keen to emphasise that despite the often very bleak issues she tackles in her writing, she and her works ultimately remain positive. She recalls in particular the hope she found in the children and young adults she met during her visit to El Salvador, some of whom were child soldiers, others political prisoners at just 11 years old, others orphaned by the war. “I was struck by their tragic and unbelievable lives, but also by their spark, their strength, their humour, their intelligence and their desire to live. They will never leave my memory,” she tells me. “I met a boy of fourteen who’d just been let out of prison. He told me about the terrible torture he’d suffered there, and then of his dreams of a future of peace, without torture, or children in prison. “I’ve written about war and torture, but it will always have some positive twist – it’s not completely black. I’ve found a lot of fantastic people and hope in the world, and I remain an optimistic person.” With authors like Monica Zak working to make a difference it seems that this hope is gradually being made reality. The Swedish journalist who exposed human rights atrocities to the world talks to Iona Bergius about torture, terrorism and life undercover Monica Zak first travelled to Latin America in 1965 on an old fishing boat. Since then she has travelled extensively across the continent, reporting, writing novels, and producing films about the child soldiers, genocide, drugs cartels, and racism which have blighted much of Latin America’s history. She has risked her life on more than one occasion while researching for her work, convinced of the power the pen can have in making a positive difference in the world. Of the fifty novels Zak has written to date, one of the best-known deals with the 36-year Guatemalan civil war. The novel centres around the true story of a young girl’s search to find her brother, who was kidnapped by government soldiers for supporting the guerrilla movement. Zak tells me about the long and dangerous journey which led her to write The Puma’s Daughter. In the early 1980s she met Marianela García Villas, a lawyer from El Salvador forced into exile after her defence for human rights had led to her attempted murder. Zak befriended Villas and the two decided to travel to El Salvador – then in the midst of a bitter twelve year civil war – to write a book about the government’s abuse of human rights. Zak is reluctant to talk about exactly what happened when she first arrived in El Salvador, and skims over the details. “I arrived in the capital and then Marianela and I met up in the countryside. But there was an army invasion and we lost contact. She was captured and tortured to death. I was never able to write the book because all the material was stolen – I returned only with my life.” She was forced to flee the country because when the military had captured Villas, she had had a photo and a taped interview with Zak on her person. “I was accused of being an international terrorist with plans to destroy the country. It took me several months to get out of El Salvador under false papers.” Eventually Zak succeeded in escaping from El Salvador and crossed the border into Guatemala. Fearing for her life, she was forced to hide out in the Swedish Embassy. It was there that she learnt about the repression of the indigenous population taking place in the countryside. She tells me her greatest motivation for writing about Guatemala was the dearth of coverage of the people’s plight. “The world had no interest in Guatemala. No one wanted to go there. So I felt I had to write about it. I wanted to write this book because no one cared about the horrible things that were happening there. I wanted to tell people what it was like. The purpose of my writing is to try and make a difference,” she explains. Zak returned to Guatemala on two more occasions to research her novel, spending much of her time interviewing survivors of the government-led repression. She explains that some of the things they described were so terrible that she felt they could not be included in the novel, because no one would want to read about such atrocities. “The violence described in my book is all true. For example, the massacre of the villagers of San Francisco took place on 17 July 1982 and is told just as I heard it from the mouths of the survivors, except that I had to leave out some things, because if I had explicitly described the way in which many children were murdered, I think most people would have stopped reading the book.”Her research was fraught with difficulties and dangers. “I wanted to get to the Mayan village of Yalam, but the military forbade anyone from going in. Two American journalists had tried and then they had disappeared. A few years later their bodies were found – they’d been beheaded. I could get in thanks to a letter from my editor in Sweden which claimed I was writing a book on Mayan culture and wanted to look at the Mayan ruins of Yalam. At that time, there were no roads to the village so I had to walk for three days to get there, and to the neighbouring village of San Francisco, where the massacre had taken place.” On another occasion, she befriended some Guatemalan nuns who lent her a habit so that she could enter a Mayan village occupied by the military, in order to gather testimonies from the indigenous people. Zak denies that she acted bravely, simply stating, “There’s a magic to not being afraid. I never imagine the bad things that could happen to me.”last_img read more

Ogun Babes Pick Final Qualifying Slot in Ibadan

first_imgZENITH WOMEN’S B’BALL LEAGUEThe Ogun Babes Women’s Basketball Team Wednesday at the Liberty Stadium in Ibadan picked the final national qualifiers ticket of the ongoing Zenith Bank Women’s Basketball League.It was not a feat achieved easily as the team had to endure a highly competitive match to pip Oluyole Babes 74-73. The one point victory was recorded in an entertaining tie which was a winner-takes-all for both sides.Coach Peter Akindele of Ogun Babes said he was elated with the development which came at the home of the Oluyole Babes.“My players are so young and I did not expect them to exhibit such composure and determination which gave us the victory. We worked so hard for it and of course luck was on our side. The crowd cheered and cheered our opponent but it did not affect us too much,” Akindele recalled.As expected, First Bank and Dolphins finished as first and second respectively in the centre which is the South West Zone of the League.In the final match of the centre on Wednesday, First Bank defeated Dolphins 66-58.In the Abuja centre, Nigeria Customs who have been consistent walloped Nasarawa Amazons 101 – 29 points and whipped Black Gold 63-29 to shoot on to the top of the table.Also at the Package B of the Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Air Warriors Babes beat Plateau Rocks 56-25 and also defeated FCT Wings 83-40.The Zenith Women’s Basketball League comes to an end today at the four centres nationwide as teams are expected to depart on Friday.Share this:FacebookRedditTwitterPrintPinterestEmailWhatsAppSkypeLinkedInTumblrPocketTelegramlast_img read more

Peruth, Nakaayi eye first Ugandan women’s medal since Inzikuru

first_imgUganda’s Gold medal favourite  Joshua Cheptegei (left) will run the 10,000m final seven days from now, on the final day October 6, a day after Stephen Kiprotich in the marathon.Uganda has participated in IAAF World championships in Athletics since 1985 and won 2 Gold medals by Dorcus Inzikuru Helsinki 2005 and Stephen Kiprotich Moscow 2013; 2 Silvers by Davis Kamoga Athens 1997 and Joshua Cheptegei 2017, and Bronzes by Moses Kipsiro Osaka 2007 and Solomon Mutai in Beijing.Ugandan team in DOHA – Women (10)400 MetresLeni SHIDA800 MetresHalimah NAKAAYIWinnie NANYONDO1500 MetresEsther CHEBETWinnie NANYONDO5000 MetresSarah CHELANGAT10,000 MetresRachael Zena CHEBETJuliet CHEKWELStella CHESANGMarathonLinet Toroitich CHEBET3000 Metres SteeplechasePeruth ChemutaiMen (12)1500 MetresRonald MUSAGALA5000 MetresOscar CHELIMOStephen KISSA10,000 MetresJoshua CHEPTEGEIJacob KIPLIMO 1Abdallah Kibet MANDEMarathonStephen KIPROTICHFred MUSOBOSolomon MUTAI3000 Metres SteeplechaseAlbert CHEMUTAIBenjamin KIPLAGATBoniface Abel SIKOWO Share on: WhatsApp Uganda’s Peruth Chemutai wins the Women’s 3000m steeplechase heats at the 2019 IAAF World Athletics Championships at the Khalifa International stadium in Doha on September 27, 2019.PHOTO AFP TODAY  9.50pm 3000 M Steeplechase final (Peruth Chemutai) 10.10pm 800 M Final (Nakaayi, Nanyondo)Prizes Finalists win…. $60,000 $30,000 $20,000 $15,000 $10,000 $6,000 $5,000 $4,000Doha, Qatar | THE INDEPENDENT | Going by her performance in the heats, Peruth Chemutai will be one of the favourites to make it to the podium when she runs her first World Athletics Championships 3000m steeplechase final today.Twenty-year-old Chemutai easily won one of three heats on day one to make the final in a race that brought Ugandan Dorcus Inzikuru glory, way back in 2005.On August 8 2005, Dorcus Inzikuru stunned the world with her victory in the 3000m steeplechase women’s final, ending a 33-year-wait for a global athletics title for Uganda. The national anthem had last been played at a world athletics event in 1972, legend John Akii-Bua having won gold in the 400m hurdles.Of Uganda’s six medals at the worlds, Inzikuru’s is the only one by a woman, a feat Chemutai can match today, if she gets it right in an experienced field.Kenyan Beatrice Chepkoech is the favourite having set a magnificent world record last year.  She is unlikely to make the mistakes of two years ago in London where Emma Coburn and Courtney Frerichs went 1-2 in the women’s steeplechase after a series of bizarre events.Also eyeing a podium in their debut World Championships final are Winnie Nanyondo and Halimah Nakaayi , who showed in the semis that if they are in the leading pack in the final 200m, have the pace to match the best.last_img read more

Lacey Spring Fun Fair Offers New Attractions for 2016

first_imgFacebook63Tweet0Pin0Submitted by The City of LaceyThis year marks the 29th anniversary for the Lacey Spring Fun Fair! Free to the public this family friendly event includes activities for all ages! More than 16,000 folks stop by the fair each year, finding food, vendors, and entertainment to please everyone. The event will be held at Saint Martin’s University Saturday May 21 from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and Sunday May 22 from 11:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.Thanks to many local businesses, the Lacey Spring Fun Fair is completely free.This year the on-site parade, presented by LeMay, will be returning with the theme ‘The Sights and Sounds of Spring!’ School groups and community organizations are encouraged to apply and join us on Saturday, May 21 at 12 noon. This ‘walking only’ parade weaves throughout the heart of Fun Fair on the grounds of Saint Martin’s where participants will strut their stuff with music, dance moves, and more fun!“As some may have already heard, the Grand Parade (on the street) is not happening anymore,” Fun Fair committee member Jordy Beasley said, “we were pulling a lot of resources and staff away from an already very large event to put on a parade where the participation and spectator numbers weren’t growing.“Beasley also stated, “We (the committee) knew this news would be disappointing for the community and we are so grateful to all the groups who helped us to make this parade possible.” Lacey Spring Fun Fair, as a whole, would not be possible without the assistance and support of the City, Saint Martin’s University, and local businesses and organizations.The Mariner Moose will be at the Lacey Spring Fun Fair this year. Photo courtesy: The City of LaceyOther Fun Fair events you can expect to see are: two stages of entertainment, 50+ booths inside Kid’s World, food vendors, as well as a multitude of arts, crafts, and commercial vendors. The special attractions will include the ever-popular pony rides, pirate’s revenge, and circus train. NEW features this year include the Ballistic Swings, Cliff Jump Jr., and 3-Story slide!The Mariner Moose will also be stopping by from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. on Saturday, sponsored by BECU.Scheduled for Sunday is the annual Car Show, sponsored by Capital Heating and Cooling, from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. and talent Show, sponsored by WSECU, beginning at 2:00 p.m.There is still time to get involved! Information on the event, volunteer opportunities, and applications for the On-Site Family Parade, Car Show, and Talent Show are available on the Lacey Spring Fun Fair website.www.laceyspringfunfair.comlast_img read more

Port Invests in Thurston County’s Small Cities

first_imgFacebook191Tweet0Pin0Submitted by the Port of OlympiaCurrent Port Commissioner, Bill McGregor spearheaded the Small Cities program in 2010. It has become a success marking 2017 as the eighth year projects in Thurston County’s small, incorporated cities received a boost from the Port of Olympia. Port Commission approved funding matches for economic development projects in Bucoda, Rainier, Tenino and Yelm, at $10,000 each at the April 24 Commission meeting.The intent of the Port’s Small Cities Program is to assist with projects that will contribute to local economic development. The program requires an equal cash match from the city. The Port awards the funds after the city has completed the project and submitted the required information.Small cities are defined as incorporated cities within Thurston County with a population of 10,000 or less.The Board of Directors of the Port Economic Development Corporation reviewed Finance Director Jeff Smith’s analysis of the cities’ applications, qualified the eligibility of the projects, and recommended that the Commission approve the funding awards.Here is how the cities plan to use their 2017 Small Cities Program funds:Bucoda will continue the renovation of the historic Oddfellows Building into a community center that serves both residents and visitors. Included will be the purchase and installation of two ductless heat pumps.Rainier plans to help fund the Tipsoo Loop Resurfacing project.Tenino will use the funds to remove the existing security fence at the Tenino Quarry Pool. Relocation of the fence will create additional space within the security zone to allow for additional sunbathing, picnicking, and greater freedom of movement for lifeguards. The fence itself will be replaced by a higher-quality, longer lasting, more pleasing to the eye vinyl wrapped chain link.Yelm plans to acquire electric vehicle charging stations; acquire and install a Bikeshare kiosk and acquire professional services for logo upgrade.last_img read more